I Love The Old Pacific Coast League.
As you’re all probably very aware, I love everything about the old Pacific Coast League. It’s probably because I’m from the West Coast (born in SD & I currently live in SF) and have lived the majority of my life on this side of the country. Add the fact that I’m a sucker for anything related to California history of the early-mid 20th century (this includes Baseball, duh) and of course my interests are forever sparked in regards to the old PCL .
During my childhood I heard stories from my parents and grandmother about watching the San Diego Padres while they were a minor league team in the PCL. For a long time, all I really knew about the league was what I heard from them and that Ted Williams played with the PCL Padres thanks to THIS card from the 1992 Upper Deck Baseball Card set. As I got older, I decided to learn as much as I can through books, documentaries and anything I was able to find on the internet. Let’s just say that I know much more than I ever thought I ever would.
I’ve done strictly just PCL posts in the past (HERE & HERE), but not for a few years now. I feel it’s time to share some PCL photos again that I have collected over time that I really like. With all that said, I hope you enjoy.
I came across this photo a couple years ago of a player on the 1939 Oakland Oaks. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to figure out who this as the 1939 team photo is not the best quality and I can’t match his face to anyone the team. I assume he must be an infielder, but still this does not help much. One day, I will figure out who this. It’s inevitable.
With all that said, I’m sharing this photo because in my opinion, the 1939 Oakland Oaks wore one of the greatest uniforms of all time. There’s a reason that Ebbets Fields Flannels have recreated this jersey and cap; it’s unique and timeless. I imagine it has to be one of their best sellers.
1934. Joe Cronin of the Washington Sentaors poses with Babe Dahlgren of the San Francisco Mission Reds. This photo caught my eye due to the fact that Dahlgren is wearing a Missions cap along with a Seals Jersey. I imagine this photo was taken during an exhibition game between the Senators and Missions at Seals Stadium as it was quite common for big league teams to come out West prior to the season and play games against PCL teams.
Maybe the Missions uniforms were not ready that day and they had to borrow uniforms from the Seals, who shared Seals Stadium with them? Maybe it was a team made of both Missions and Seals players and they mixed/matched uniforms? In any case, this is the kind of stuff that I find extremely interesting and if anyone out there knows the back story on this photo, please share.
By the way, the name Babe Dahlgren should ring a bell with most readers as he was the man who replaced Lou Gehrig at first base on May 2nd, 1939 and therefore ended his 2130 consecutive game streak. Something else Dahlgren is famous for is that he was the first player in the Baseball to be tested for a non performance enhancing drug. Dahlgren volunteered to be tested in 1943 due to rumors that he smoked marijuana. All tests came back negative yet his image was forever tarnished in the eyes of many. If you’re interested in this story, click HERE.
1953. Big Luke Easter shows his teammates on the San Diego Padres how to hold it down at first base at old Lane Field. Easter is one of my favorite players in Baseball history due to the fact that he played in the Negro Leagues, Pacific Coast League and the Major Leagues. I like to call this the trifecta of great Baseball leagues.
Another reason I admire Easter so much is that he played professionally until he was old (in Baseball terms), which is something that always fascinates me. He retired at the age of 48, after playing his last six years of Baseball with the Rochester Red Wings, the AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
Here we have Joe DiMaggio from a photo that I assume is from 1935 due to the gifts and flowers. My guess is that this is a ceremony celebrating DiMaggio winning the PCL MVP that season. If not that, then it may be a farewell from the Seals as he was on his way to the Yankees at this point. Either way, I really enjoy this photo of a young Joe DiMaggio during his time in San Francisco.
Steve Bilko of the Angels crosses home plate at Los Angeles Wrigley Field after hitting one of his 55 home runs in 1956. Bilko is a PCL legend due to his three years with the Angels (’55/’56/’57) in which he hit a combined 148 home runs. During this three year stretch, Bilko won the league’s MVP each season. Bilko returned to the PCL in 1959 with the Spokane Indians and added an additional 26 home runs to his PCL career stats. He was inducted into the PCL Hall of Fame in 2003.
While he was never able to quite replicate the success he had in the PCL during his time in the big leagues, he did manage to hit over 20 home runs twice as he hit 21 with the Cardinals in 1953 and 20 with the Angels in 1961.
A great photo of the 1955 Seattle Rainiers in the dugout at Sicks’ Stadium. I have always loved photos and video of players in the dugout; for some reason it has always intrigued me. Something to take from this photo is that there’s quite a healthy crowd in attendance. Maybe it was opening day or they were playing a team who drew big crowds, such as a MLB team on a exhibition tour? But then again, it would not surprise me if this was just a normal home game against another PCL team.
During the golden years of the PCL (1903-1957), PCL Teams often drew more fans than many MLB teams and in return PCL players often made more than their MLB counterparts. It was not uncommon whatsoever for players to turn down offers to play in the big leagues so that they can continue to play “On The Coast.” The travel was great, the weather was great, the pay was great, and they usually had a longer season. If I was a professional Baseball player back then, I’m almost certain that I would have strived to play in the PCL due to these reasons.