League’s heyday created some of baseball’s best moments and players

SEATTLE, May 14, 2010 – Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, the Hollywood Stars, LA’s own Wrigley Field; all of this came out of the Pacific Coast League, arguably one of the most cherished baseball leagues from 1903 until the late 1950’s and a time when the minor leagues were independent and the players were local heroes. While Ebbets Field Flannels (EFF) celebrates the Pacific Coast League every day of the year, the legendary apparel company wants to give special awareness to the league’s history during the month of May.

During the PCL’s peak, there were only 16 teams in the majors in ten cities (none west of St. Louis), so it developed as an unofficial third major league.

“Because of the mild weather, the PCL teams played 200 games a year,” said Ebbets Founder and President Jerry Cohen. “Local players could stay in the PCL and make as much money as in the majors, as well as be close to family and off-season jobs. Los Angeles had its own Wrigley Field, where the original Angels played. Their bitter rival was the Hollywood Stars.”

In fact, there were many natural rivalries: The San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks, the Portland Beavers and Seattle Rainiers, and others. The other PCL teams included the San Francisco Mission Reds, Sacramento Solons, Salt Lake Bees, San Diego Padres, Vernon Tigers, Vancouver Mounties and the Hawaii Islanders

“The West Coast had its own baseball culture and unique style,” said Cohen. “The uniforms were unusually colorful and innovative.”

For example, the Hollywood Stars experimented with shorts and pullover rayon shirts in 1950, two decades before the rest of baseball abandoned wool uniforms. The Oakland Oaks reflected Italian heritage in the late 1930s, with bold green, white and red uniforms. The Portland Beavers sported a large embroidered beaver perched on a bat on the front of their jerseys.

Here is some other fun history involving the PCL:

  • Los Angeles was the very first PCL Champion in 1903.
  • Los Angeles had its own Wrigley Field at 35th and Avalon.  this park was featured in many baseball movies and hosted the TV show “Home Run Derby.”
  • Three DiMaggio brothers – Joe, Dom, and Vince all played for the San Francisco Seals.
  • Ted Williams was signed right out of high school by San Diego and played for $150 a month.
  • Casey Stengel managed the 1948 Oakland Oaks to a pennant, with volatile rookie Billy Martin at 2nd base.
  • The 1934 L.A. Angels are considered the best minor league team of all time, winning 137 games.
  • The PCL was given a special “open” certification in 1952, with the intention that the next step would be certified as an official major league.  This changed in 1958, when the Dodgers and Giants moved west, taking the PCL’s two top territories and displacing three of its franchises.

Ebbets’ features a part of baseball history every few months and zeroes in on the story of one historic uniform each month in its “Flannel of the Month” blog. During April, Cohen highlighted the uniforms of the Hollywood Stars, “Who Wore Short Shorts? The Hollywood Stars!”

You can read the blog at: http://flannelofthemonth.blogspot.com/. Ebbets Field Flannels continues to make history:

Since 1988, EFF has made historically-researched jersey, cap and jacket reproductions using original fabrics and manufacturing techniques. Each of their garments tells a story rooted in baseball history. The company has been called on to do projects for films, plays and major league baseball teams, including providing the uniforms for the legendary Yankees like Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford when the original Yankee Stadium had its finale in 2008. However, most of its products are sold to individual fans who feel a special connection with the apparel, and who love to relate the history behind the product to people who ask them about their jersey or cap.

This month, fans will find specials on Pacific Coast League reproductions. For more information, visit www.ebbets.com or call 888-896-2936.

To speak further with Jerry Cohen on the history of the league, please contact Dana Dyksterhuis at dana@boasthouse.com or 206-271-2891.