The 1916 Trolley League pennant boiled down to two final games between the Colusa Prune Pickers and the Marysville Giants. Jack Killilay and his Pickers got the best of Ellis Johnson and the Giants in a 9-6 slugfest. Johnson had spent the 1912 and 1915 seasons with the AL Chicago White Sox and later with the Philadelphia Athletics but never won a big-league game. He had just spent the 1916 season with the PCL's Vernon Tigers where he went 15-10 with a 3.05 ERA. The Colusa victory set up a final game that would decide the Trolley championship and both teams brought in new starting pitchers. The Prune Pickers brought in one-time Oroville Olive ace Frank Decanniere from Greeley, Kansas who had just completed the 1916 campaign with Vernon of the PCL where he was 16-13 with a 2.20 ERA. The Giants added lefty Billy Burns, who at age 36, had just gone 10-14 with a 2.42 ERA for the Oakland Oaks. Burns, from San Saba, Texas, had previously spent five years in the majors (1908-1912) with a career 30-52 record and 2.72 ERA. Twice, he carried no-hitters into the 9th inning with two outs and twice had to settle for 1-hitters. He never had a winning season in the majors however went 96-96 during his 8-year minor league career including a 24-17 season for the Los Angeles Angels of the PCL in 1907 with a 2.10 ERA (3rd best in the league) and amassed 364 innings pitched. The final Trolley League game would feature 10 major league ballplayers as Marysville also brought in ex-Oroville Olive 1st baseman Louis Guisto who started the 1916 season with the Portland Beavers of the PCL (.286) before making his MLB debut with Cleveland. He would spend five seasons with the Indians and 9 with the Oakland Oaks of the PCL where he averaged .295 for his minor league career.
Colusa clung to a 1-0 lead through 6 innings before Carl Zamlock unloaded with a 3-run homer in the 7th and Marysville added five more runs in the 8th to secure an 8-1 victory and the Trolley league championship. Billy Burns picked up the complete-game victory while scattering nine hits with 13 strikeouts. Ozzie Vitt went 3x5 for the winners. Tommy Fitzsimmons belted two doubles and Walt Schmidt collected two hits in the Giants 13-hit attack. Bill Leard went 3x5 for the losers. Decanniere suffered the loss tossing 7-plus innings and allowing eight hits and six runs while Killilay entered in the 8th and gave up two more runs. Billy Burns became immortalized with the book and later the movie titled Eight Men Out. Christopher Lloyd played the part of the ex-Marysville pitcher who was a link between "The Mob" and some his ex-teammates during the Black Sox scandal.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL
CALIFORNIA BASEBALL HISTORY MARYSVILLE BASEBALL
The 1st attempt at a Trolley League took place in 1908, but the league folded at mid-season with the Marysville Giants running away with the pennant. The 2nd Trolley League began in 1913 with Marysville barrister Richard Belcher, son of Marysville forefather Issac Belcher, acting as league president. The Oroville Olives won the initial championship. The Trolley League lasted five years, ending during the middle of the 1917 season when league president Jack Dooley of Marysville left for military duty during WWl.
In October, the Pickers added Bill Leard as playing/manager, Utschig, and Frank Arellanes of the PCL, Jack Killilay of the Northwestern League, and 2nd baseman Joe Gedeon of the New York Yankees. Leard would spend 20 years in the minors including a .351 season the next year at Seattle before making his MLB debut with the Brooklyn Robins. Arellanes, from Santa Cruz, Calif., attended Santa Clara Univ. where he went 13-2 before joining the Boston Red Sox at mid-season. He pitched for the BoSox from 1908-1910 with an MLB career 24-22 record and stellar 2.28 ERA including a 1-hitter against the Philadelphia A's. In 1909, he replaced the legendary Cy Young and went 16-12 for the Pale Hose with a 2.18 ERA and led the American League in games finished (15) and saves (8) in 230 innings pitched. He began the 1916 season with Vernon of the PCL before joining the Prune Pickers. Arellanes spent a total of nine seasons in the minors (73-76, 3.04 ERA), mostly in the PCL, including 1912, when he went 22-16 for the Sacramento Senators with a 2.79 ERA in 315 innings. A year earlier, 1911, he had tossed a no-hitter against Vernon but lost 2-0.
Jack Killilay was 8-6 with a 4.16 ERA with the Great Falls Electrics before joining the Pickers. In 1911, he won four games while losing two for the Boston Red Sox with a 3.54 ERA. Killilay spent a total of 11 seasons in the minors with a career 146-132 record. His best year as a pro was 1910 when he went 24-10 for the Spokane Indians of the "B" Northwestern League. He also spent four seasons in the PCL (47-55, 2.93 ERA while with Oakland and San Francisco. Colusa also brought in Johnny Vann to handle the catching. Vann from Fairfield, Ok., attended the Univ. of Arkansas before spending 17 seasons in the minor leagues. His best year was 1913 when he hit .328 for the Sioux City Packers of the "A" Western League and got one at-bat as a pinch hitter for the NL St. Louis Cardinals.
Joe Gedeon, from Sacramento, Calif., hit .211 as the Yankees starting 2nd baseman before joining the Prune Pickers late in the season. A year earlier, he had hit .317 with 19 HR's for Salt Lake City of the "AA" Pacific Coast League and his 67 doubles was a new PCL record. He averaged .295 during his three years in the minors and .244 during his seven seasons in the major leagues that included stints with the Washington Senators (1913, '14), NY Yankees (1916, '17) and St. Louis Browns (1918-1920). He hit .292 for the Browns in 1920, his best year as a major-leaguer. After the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Gedeon became known as "The Ninth Man Out" as he was also banned from organized baseball for life due to his involvement (he tipped off the gambling community of "The Fix") while in St. Louis during the 1919 World Series.
Colusa also added major league infielder Sammy Bohne. His real name was Samuel Cohen from San Francisco who would spend seven seasons in the majors with a career .261 average while with the St. Louis Cardinals (1916), Cincinnati Reds (1921-'26) and Brooklyn Robins (1926). Cohen, who changed his name to Bohne due to biased religious reasons, started the 1916 season with the San Francisco Seals (.286 in 7 games) before suiting up with the Tacoma Tigers of the "B" Northwestern League (.271 in 129 games) and .237 for the Cardinals before joining the Prune Pickers. His best year as a professional was 1920 when he hit .333 with six HR's, 19 triples, and 41 doubles (.475 SLG) for the "AA" Seattle Rainiers of the PCL.
Not to be outdone, the Marysville Giants began to reel in a few big fish of their own. They brought in Tommy Fitzsimmons to replace Babe Pinelli who returned to the Bay Area and play for the Richmond Elks. Earlier in the year, "Fitz" had hit .315 (his best of 8 years in the minors and career .261 hitter) for the Butte Miners where he was a teammate of Wiz Meikle. Fitzsimmons also got into 4 games with the 1919 NL Brooklyn Robins but went 0-4. The Giants also added 2nd baseman Clair Goodwin who would manage the Univ. of Calif. Berkeley baseball team in 1918 and outfielder Carl Zamloch who also managed the Golden Bears (148-91-7) from 1919-1929. Zamloch, from Oakland, Calif., pitched for the 1913 Detroit Tigers but won only once and lost 6 with a 2.45 ERA. He also spent 15 seasons in the minor leagues, both as a pitcher and outfielder/1B, where he compiled a 25-25 record, mostly in the PCL. Before suiting up for Marysville, he was hitting .464 for Spokane of the Northwester "B" League and later hit .320 for the 1920 Seattle Rainiers of the PCL. Zamloch also managed the Oakland Oaks for three seasons (1930-'32) and Twin Falls in 1926.
Among Marysville's best acquisitions was catcher Walt Schmidt who had just spent his rookie season with the NL Pittsburgh Pirates and would go on to become the best catcher in all of baseball. The 29-year-old Schmidt from London, Arkansas, had previously spent five seasons with the San Francisco Seals (1911-1915) and would spend 10 years in the Majors, nine with the Pirates and 1 with the St. Louis Cardinals before ending his career back with Seals at age 42. His best year as a major leaguer was 1922 when he hit .329 for the Pirates. He was a career .257 hitter which spanned over the course of 22 years including 12 in the minors. The Giants also added 3rd baseman Oscar Vitt who also logged 10 years in the major leagues. "Ozzie" Vitt, from San Francisco, Calif., spent the 1916 season with the Detroit Tigers where he batted .226 before signing with Marysville. He averaged .238 during his MLB career and .301 during his 10 years in the minors (.315, .337, .333, and .345 at Salt Lake City from 1922-'25) but then everybody hits over .300 at Salt Lake. Vitt also managed professionally for 18 seasons including 3 with the Cleveland Indians (1938-'40) and 15 years in the PCL, 10 with the Hollywood Stars.
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THE GREATEST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF YUBA-SUTTER BASEBALL -- There have been other Y-S teams with better records (the 33-5 Marysville Giants of 1953, the 34-7 Yuba College 49ers of 1980, the 31-9-1 Yuba-Sutter Rebels of 1954 or even the 29-9 Twin Cities Giants of 1970), however, the competition that these teams faced would pale if compared to that faced in the 1916 Trolley League. The majority of these Trolley players were current, past, and future major-leaguers, Pacific Coast and Northwest League players, and the best semi-pro players from the San Francisco Bay Area. All were paid professionals. The Trolley League played a 30-game schedule on Sundays which enabled several PCL players to play in both leagues. Also, the Trolley scheduled games well into November so some major and minor-leaguers joined Trolley teams after there own leagues had ended. The 1916 Trolley season was a tight race with the Giants, Colusa Prune Pickers, Sacramento Demons, Chico Colts, and Willows Rice Millers all fighting for the pennant. Only the Oroville Olives were eliminated early but made a late charge at the end and had a say in determining a champion. The pennant was settled on the final game of the season between Marysville and Colusa. The Prune Pickers hired and fired 54 players during the season including several top professionals towards the end in an attempt to overthrow the leading Marysville Giants.
MAYSVILLE, CALIFORNIA--4TH OF JULY, 1908
At mid-season, the Sacramento Demons (10-4) were leading Marysville (8-6) by 2 full games and both Chico (7-7) and Colusa (7-7) by three games. Gridley shortstop Red Powers was leading the league in hitting at .357 followed by teammate Rudy Merani at .354, Sacramento's Bob White at .339, and Marysville outfielder Dewitt Bevo LeBourveau at .304. The 19-year-old LeBourveau ("Bevo") from Santa Clara Univ. and native of Dana, Calif., would go on to spend 14 seasons in the minors (career .349 avg., 2,315 hits, 120 HR's) and average .275 during his five years in the major leagues. In 1918, Bevo hit .348 while slitting time with the Oakland Oaks and Seattle Giants of the PCL before batting .270 during his rookie year with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1919. He hit .295 at age 24 for the 1921 Phillies. LeBourveau twice led the "AA" American Association (minor's top league) in batting, including his best year in 1926 when he hit .377 with 17 home rums and .562 SLG for the Toledo Mud Hens. He led the AA again in 1930 with his .380 mark. He also got into 12 games and hit .313 for the newly 1929 Philadelphia A's of the American League.
The 1916 Trolley season began with Marysville crushing Cack Henley and his Demons at Sacramento's Buffalo Park in front of 2,000 fans, 1,000 of which were Giant loyalists headed by their Clampers Brass Band. The 31-year-old Henley had just finished his 11-year professional career (235-179) which included a 31-10, 1.56 ERA season for the 1909 Pacific Coast League champion San Francisco Seals. Henley's .736 win% was the league's best and his 24-inning shutout over the Oakland Oaks is a PCL record that still stands today. The Giants then followed by hammering ex Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bill Tozer and his Colusa Prune Pickers in the 2nd game of the season which was dedicated to Marysville's new ball field--Clamper's Park (a year earlier, the grandstands had burned to the ground at mid-season). Clampers, as in the fraternal Org. dedicated to the preservation of the history of the American West, especially the Mother Lode area or the goldfields that once lay just east of Marysville. The group has also been known as a historical drinking society.
Shortly after the season began, legendary Marysville skipper Dolly Gray resigned and the Giants lost 3 straight games with team officials attempting to manage the ball club. On June the 3rd, Sacramento at 8-3, had a 3-game lead over 2nd place Marysville. After getting knocked out of 1st place, the Giants hired San Francisco native Pete Smith to run the club who immediately began to clean house. "Steamboat" Flannigan, "Hap" Smith, and shortstop Billy Menges were released. Pitcher George Sparks and 3rd baseman Tramutola then quit the team. Menges was leading the Trolley in hitting at the time with a .400 average and quickly landed a job with the Seattle Giants of the "B" Northwest league where he hit .224 to finish out the season. Menges was replaced by "Babe" Pinelli. The 20-year old Pinelli from San Francisco would go on and spend 8 years in the major leagues (between 1918-1927) and compile an MLB career .276 average. He led the NL in games played with 156 in 1922 and batted .305 for the Cincinnati Reds and twice led the NL in sacrifice bunts (33, 34, in 1924, 1925 while with the Reds). He also hit .306 for the 1924 Reds and .324 for the '27 San Francisco Seals, a team that also included Smead Jolley .397, Lefty O'Doul .378, Earl Averill .324, Ping Bodie .324, Roy "Chief" Johnson .306, Gus Suhr .293 and pitcher Duster Mails 11-11.
1916 MARYSVILLE GIANTS
The Trolley League title gave Marysville the right to meet the Richmond Elks for the California State "Bushers" or so-called semi-pro championship. The Elks had previously beaten Martinez for the Bay Area title and picked up their ace pitcher "Pop" Arlett with his famous spitball before defeating the Merced Bears, winners of the South. Arlett would later, at age 36, hit and pitch the Marysville Giants to a Sacramento Valley League title in 1926 when he went 16-4 and hit .406. Although an Oakland Tribune writer stated that the Marysville team was the best that money could buy, Richmond also added major league stars "Dutch" Reuther, "Babe" Danzig, and Al Wolters of the New York Americans (later Yankees) to their lineup and future Chicago White Sox shortstop/pitcher "Swede" Risberg while Marysville's best pick-up of the year proved to be Oroville pitcher "Wiz" Meikle. In the first game of the best of three semi-pro championship series, "the Wizzer" bested "Pop" Arlett by shutting out the Richmond Elks 5-0. Carl Zamloch and Harry Harper each doubled and singled for the Giants. In the final, Meikle hurled another shutout, this time a masterful 2-0 victory while again outdueling the Elks' Arlett. Zamloch was once again the hitting hero. His home run in the 6th inning was the game-winner and his line drive in the 8th knocked Arlett out of the game with a broken hand. "Swede" Risberg finished the game by striking out 3 of the 5 batters he faced. Risberg later became the starting shortstop for the 1919 Chicago White Sox and was one of the eight players banned for life from organized baseball. He eventually moved to Weed, Calif to escape the hoopla. His son Mickey led the 1959 Marysville Giants to a Placer-Nevada League title with his .425 average. The shutout was Meikle's 4th while in a Trolley League uniform and a perfect 7-0 record while only allowing five earned runs for a stellar 0.71 ERA. Fourteen years later, on November 22nd, 1930, an article in the LA Times reported that Meikle's body was found in Placer County with a bullet hole in it. A note left behind stated that he had planned the suicide for quite some time.