He was a bit of a free spirit with a passion for the outdoors. Five major auto accidents, three of which tossed him through a car's windshield and almost killed him, paid a toll as the resulting broken shoulder blade all but ended the pitching career of Yreka's Dennis Bennett. Bennett was born in Oakland, California and moved to Northern California at age 10. He attended Yreka Union High School where he was 15-1 with a .458 batting average as a P/!B. He pitched for Shasta Junior College in Redding before signing as an amateur free agent with the Phillies organization in 1958. Unlike his younger brother Dave, who signed a pro contract with a $70,000 bonus and pitched one inning in the majors, Dennis received a $500 bonus if he lasted 90 days with a salary of $250/mo. before embarking upon his 7 seven years in the major leagues.
Bennett began his professional career at age 18 in 1958 with the Johnson City (Tennessee) Phillies of the lower "D" Appalachian League where he led the league with his three shutouts and posted a 7-3 record with a 1.52 ERA. He steadily climbed the ladder of the minor leagues for 4-plus seasons before making his major league debut with the Phillies in 1962 where he posted a 9-9 record with a 3.81 ERA. He struck out 149 batters in 174.2 innings and his 7.7 K's/9inn. was the best on the staff. The next season was his best when his .643 Winning % (9-5) and stellar 2.64 earned run average led the 4th place 87-75 Phillie pitching staff. He began the 1964 season as Philadelphia's ace and opening day starter however an undiagnosed shoulder injury took its toll later in the year. After beating the Dodgers 5-1, shutting out Juan Marichal and the Giants 1-0, and shutting out Huston 1-0, Bennett's shoulder and the Phillies began to wane. Philadelphia blew a 6-game lead with just 17 games left in the season. Bennett finished the year at 12-14 with a 3.68 ERA. That winter, they traded Bennett to the Boston Red Sox for slugger Dick Stewart.
During his seven years in the majors, the 6'3", 192-pound Bennett won 43 games while losing 47 with a career 3.69 ERA. Bennett spent parts of 12 seasons in the minors, mostly at the AAA level, including five years in the Pacific Coast League ('69-'73) with Hawaii and Salt Lake City. In his 16 seasons of professional baseball, Bennett won 131 games while losing 120 (.522 Win %) with a 3.80 ERA.
Right-handed pitcher Gordie Tench was born in Trail, British Columbia. The hard-throwing Canadian pitched for the University of California Golden Bears at Berkeley before embarking upon a minor league career with the St. Louis Browns and Baltimore Orioles organizations. During his five years at the professional level, Tench won 48 games while losing 40 with a career 4.91 ERA. Tench was one of three Tiger players to play for the Redding Browns of the Far West League where he logged a 19-9 record for the pennant-winning 76-55 Browns. Fast and wild, Tench walked 163 batters in 183 innings pitched. He began his pro career at age 19 with a 9-5 record and 4.07 ERA for the Appleton Papermakers in the level-D Wisconsin State League.
In 1947, at age 20, Billy Jack Rice (B.J.) from Lindsay, Oklahoma began his professional baseball career when he hit .176 for the Clarksville Colts of the class D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League. B.J. spent the next two seasons in Northern California with the Willows Cardinals of the "D" Far West League. In the spring of 1950, he suited up with the Chico Colts of the semi-pro Sacramento Valley League before reporting with the Pocatello Cardinals of the class-C Pioneer League where he hit .227 with 19 home runs. Rice for the semi-pro Glen County Cardinals in 1952 and again in '56 when he was crowned Northwestern League batting champion. Rice toiled 6 years in the minor leagues with a career .226 batting average. He finished his pro career at the A level in 1954 when he hit .269 in 29 games for the Lewiston Broncs of the class A Western International League.
Lefty Fred Kara, at age 22, started one game and tossed four innings for the Wenatchee Chiefs of the class-B Northwest League. He allowed 12 hits and 9 runs. He was used as a batter for the rest of the season and hit .190 in 269 at-bats. Redding clean-up hitter Don Cauble, who led the Sacramento Valley League in home runs in 1956, was the only starting member of the Tigers without any prior or future professional experience.
A typical day at the office during league play for Redding was seen on June the 15th when the Tigers thrashed league foe Klamath Falls 18-1. B.J. Rice went 5-7. Masterson and Mancasola each collected four hits while Rosburg went 3-4 with a double and homer. Ray Swarts drove in 4 runs while Gordie Tench tossed a 3-hitter. By August the 21st, the Tigers were averaging 10 runs per game and batting .333 as a team with a 23-9 record. B.J. Rice was leading the team in hitting with his .440 average followed by Ray Swarts at .417 and Don Cable at .400. Don Masterson was hitting .386. while outfielder Dave Brewer was batting .336. Russ Rosburg was at .928 but only had 23 at-bats. Ron Mancasola at .276 and Al Hoff at .214 rounded out the starting lineup. Gorden Tench was considered the pitching staff's ace winning 14 of 22 games while Fred Kara led the team in winning percentage with his 8-1 record including a 5-hit, 14-6 victory over the always tough Tacoma-Cheney Studs of Washington. Two of the team's losses came earlier in the season when the Tigers were edged by the professional Salem Senators of the class-B Northwest League and in July when the Tigers took a 9-4 lead into the 9th inning against the powerful Bellingham Bells only to fall 13-9.
Late in August, the 23-9 Tigers traveled to Eureka, California to meet the 23-5 Humboldt Crabs in a doubleheader to determine Northern California semi-pro supremacy. The 1st match-up pitted two Canadian fire-ballers--Tiger pitcher Gordie Tench from Trail, British Columbia, and 6'2", 212 pound Crab hurler Kim Elliott with his 10-1 record from Vancouver B.C by way of the University of California at Berkeley. Tench proved the better in the opener with a 3-2 victory with Fred Kara picking up a save in relief. Tench would finish the season at 15-7. In the nightcap, Ray Swarts got a rare start and got blasted 15-2 with Kara once again pitching in relief.
FAR WEST LEAGUE
YR RECORD FINISH
1948 61-62 6th
1949 63-64 4th
1950* 86-54 2nd
1951 76-55 1st
* denotes league champion
CALIFORNIA BASEBALL HISTORY NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL
1957 REDDING TIGERS -- The 1957 Redding Tigers semi-pro baseball team finished the regular season with a 32-10 win-loss record including a 9-8, twelve inning triumph over the Hatzell Radio Cardinals from El Cerrito to capture the 1957 National Baseball Congress Northern California semi-pro championship. Dave Brewer knocked in the winning run while Melvin “Bush” Dalrymple, a left-handed pitcher from Chico, picked up two victories on the final day of the tournament by winning the semi-final contest and then tossing four innings of 2-hit, no-run relief to close out Hatzell in the final. Playing-Manager/catcher Don Masterson collected four hits in the final including a double while outfielder Russ Rosburg singled, tripled, and walked 4 times. The tournament began with Redding blasting Shasta-Trinity 11-0 and Napa defeating the Oroville Olives 1-0. Redding's only loss in the tournament was to Napa. Other teams in the tournament included: Richmond, the Lucky Lagers of Oakland, the San Leandro Merchants, Mexico AC from Sacramento and Dale’s Service of Sacramento.
The ’57 Tigers were a good example of what it takes to win an NBC California Semi-Pro qualifying tournament as nearly all of the starting Redding players were former or future professionals. Playing manager Don Masterson had spent six seasons as a professional beginning in 1949 as a 19-year-old catcher with the Redding Browns of the class-D Far West League where he hit .259 in 67 games. Masterson, from Woodland, Calif., managed a .249 average over the course of his 6-year career advancing as high as the "open" status when he hit .222 for the 1956 Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League. The Mounties were managed by San Francisco native "Lefty" O'Doul. Northern California teammates included Fred Besana from Lincoln, Spider Jorgensen from Folsom, and Jim Westlake of Sacramento. Masterson spent the 1952 season with the California National Baseball Congress champion Fort Ord Warriors. The Warriors finished in 4th place at the NBC semi-pro World Series in Wichita, Kansas with a 4-2 record.
1st baseman Russ Rosburg, from Seattle, Washington, began the '57 season with the Sacramento Solons where he hit .291 (25 hits in 86 at-bats) with 3 home runs before getting released. He began his stint with the Tigers by hitting safely 21 times in his first 23 at-bats after joining the Tigers midway through the season. Rosburg had spent nine years in the minors including 2 other stints with the Solons in '55 and '56 and part of a season at the AAA level with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. All total, Rosburg hit .306 with 155 home runs and 165 doubles in 2,813 at-bats during his 9-year minor league career. He began at age 19 when he hit .276 with 12 homers for the Redding Browns of the class-D Far West League. The following year he hit .356 with 27 home runs and a .627 slugging percentage for the same Redding Browns. In 1955, he batted .347 with 40 doubles and 33 homers for the Modesto Reds of the class-C California League.
Left-handed pitcher Melvin "Bush" Dalrymple was an all-conference baseball and football player at Chico State for four consecutive years (1947-1950}. In 1949 he set Wildcat pitching records that still stand today when he won 11 games without a loss including 11 complete games in 11 starts. In 1950 he pitched for the class C Salt Lake City Bees of the Pioneer League where he gave up 99 hits and 67 walks in 89 innings. "Bush", brother of major league catcher Clay Dalrymple, won 4 games while losing 6 with a 5.97 earned run average for the 6th place 55-70 Bees. He was a member of the 1946 Chico Colts after his senior year at Chico High School and was a Sacramento Valley League all-star in 1952 while pitching for the semi-pro Colts. Dalrymple spent the season with pennant-winning Yreka Indians before he was added to the Tiger roster for the NBC Northern Ca. tourney.
Shortstop Ray Swarts from Redding, California attended Stanford University before averaging .310 during his three years in the minor leagues ( '54-'56). His best season was 1954 when he hit .357 with 15 home runs and a .543 slugging percentage in 597 at-bats for the Phoenix Stars of the class C Arizona-Texas League. He also tasted a cup of coffee with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League that same year.
Second baseman Ron Mancasola played one year in the minors. In 1958, at age 22, he hit safely 4 times in only 14 at-bats for a .286 average for three teams--the level C Tucson Cowboys of the Arizona-Mexico League, and the Eugene Emeralds and Yakima Braves, both in the level C Northwest League. Outfielder Dave Brewer, who played for Menlo Junior College, also spent the '58 season with the Tucson Cowboys where he hit .310 with nine home runs in 458 at-bats. Utilityman and 3rd baseman Al Hoff played sparingly (8 at-bats) in 1955 for two class C minor league teams--the Roswell Rockets of the Longhorn League and the Channel Cities Oilers/Reno Silver Sox of the California League. No hits were recorded in eight games.
During the first part of the 20th century, Redding fielded three local base ball teams: the Eaton Confectionary Team, the Redding Base Ball Club, and the Redding Royal Tigers who became the Redding Tigers in 1908. The Tigers opened the 1923 season against another local team, the Redding Elks Base Ball Club at their brand new ballpark -- Tiger Field. In 1948, professional baseball came to town when Redding hosted their only MLB affiliated team, the Redding Browns, owned and operated by the American League's St. Louis Browns. The Browns were charter members of the Class-D Far West League and only one of the three original eight teams that lasted the circuit's full 4-year realm. The others being Klamath Falls and Medford.
THE REDDING BROWNS (1948-1951)--The Browns' playing-manager, Ray "Little Buffaloe" Perry, from San Francisco, was labeled "Mr. Everything" as he lead the FWL in nearly every offensive category while also serving as Redding's part-owner and aand act as the league's vice president. Perry spent a total of 18 seasons in the minor leagues including parts of five years with the San Francisco Seals and part of another with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. He combined to hit .323 with 348 HRs and a .562 SLG over the course of his long career. During his four years at Redding, he averaged .382 with 143 homers, 112 doubles, and 1199 total bases with an amazing .724 slugging percentage. He logged 14 years as a manager and playing/manager (845-791) beginning with the 1948 Browns and ending with the 1966 Lodi Crushers of the level-A California League. He ended his playing career at age 40 with the 1960 Macon Dodgers of the South Atlantic League. In 1948, Ray Perry led the FWL in batting (.411), hits (179), RBI's (163), and Home Runs (36). In '49, he led the league in runs (135), RBI's (155), and Home Runs (45). In 1950, Perry led the FWL in Runs (162), RBI's (170), and Home Runs (44). In 1951, Perry led the FWL in base on balls with 180.
The 1949 Browns included future Redding Tiger Don Masterson (.259) and Russ Rosburg (.276, 12 HR's), and future major-leaguers Al Heist (.326, 11 HR's) and Darrell Johnson ( 276, 9 HR's). Perry hit .404 with a league-leading 45 homers and incredible .846 SLG. Rosburg was also a member of the 1950 league champion Browns when at age 20, hit .356 and 27 home runs with a .627 SLG. Al Heist logged a total of 16 years in professional baseball including three years in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Colt 45's. He hit .275 for the 1965 Cubs. He also spent six years (1955-1960) with the Sacramento Saloons of the PCL. He hit .299 with 13 homers for the 1960 Solons at age 32 and averaged .255 for his major league career; .278 during his 14 seasons in the minors.
Catcher Darrell Johnson was born in Horace, Nebraska and attended Richmond High School in Richmond, California before accepting a scholarship from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He spent 15 years in professional baseball beginning with the '49 Redding Browns and included six years in the Majors. Johnson averaged a .234 average during his major-league career and .287 during his 10 years in the minors. He hit .282 in 29 games for the St. Louis Browns and .315 in 20 games for the 1961 Reds. His best year as a pro was 1956 when he hit .319 for the AAA Denver Bears of the American Association while with the Yankees organization. Johnson is best noted for his 15 seasons as a professional coach and manager including eight years with MLB teams. He was a player/coach for the Cards in '61 and '62 before becoming a coach with the Red Sox in '68 and '69. He became the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1974 and lead them to a World Series appearance in 1975 where they bowed to the Cincinnati Red and the "Big Red Machine in seven games. Johnson later managed the expansion Seattle Mariners in 1977 and took over the reins of the Texas Rangers at mid-season from Don Zimmer, the man that replaced Johnson in Boston. In 1975, Johnson was named Sporting News' National League Manager of the Year.
CLICK BUTTONS FOR
'57 REDDING TIGERS
RICH MORGAN, LF
RAY SWARTS, SS
B.J. RICE, 1B
RUSS ROSBURG, CF
DON CAUBLE, 3B
DAVE BREWER, RF
DON MASTERSON, C
RON MANCASOLA, 2B
GORDON TENCH, P
MEL DALRYMPLE, P
FRED KARA, P
DAN BURKE, C
AL HOFF, 3B
1957 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL LEAGUE
YREKA INDIANDS 12-2
REDDING TIGERS 10-4
MT. SHASTA SEALS 8-5
KLAMATH FALLS KUBS 7-7
SCOTT VALLEY STARS 6-7
McCLOUD LOGGERS 5-7
WEED SONS of ITALY 4-9
DUNSMUIR MERCHANTS 1-12
Including Shasta & Siskiyous Counties
The battery for the 1964 Northern California Baseball League champion 14-0 Calaveras Cement Co. were teenage sensations John Strohmayer on the mound and Bill Plummer behind the plate. Both wound up in the major leagues. Plummer was born in Oakland, California, attended Anderson Union High School in Anderson, Ca. and Shasta Junior College in Redding before signing an amateur free agent contract at age 18 with the Chicago Cubs in 1965. Plummer, noted mostly for his defensive skills and Johnny Bench's backup, served 10 years in the major leagues with a career .188 batting average although he did outhit the great Cincinnati catcher in 1976 when he hit .248, his best year, and Bench hit .234. The 102-60 Reds went on to win seven consecutive post-season games by sweeping the Phillies in the NL championship series and the Yankees in the World Series. Plummer's best season as a pro was 1971 when hit .266 with 17 home runs and a .470 SLG for the Indianapolis Indians of the AA American Association. Plummer also logged 21 years as a manager beginning in 1980 when he piloted San Jose of the Class-A California League. The following year, he guided the 84-48 Wausau Timbers to a Midwest League championship and in 1987, his 84-57 AAA Calgary Cannons won a Pacific Coast League North title. In 1992, Plummer managed his first and only season in the major leagues when his lowly Seattle Mariners finished dead last with their 64-98 record. He moved on to manage the AA Jacksonville Suns for two years leading the Suns to a 1st half-title in 1996 and most recently, skippered the independent Chico Heat to a Western League championship in 1998.
1957 Northern California NBC Semi-Pro champions.
Kneeling (left to right): Mel Dalrymple, Al Hoff, Rich Morgan, Ron Mancasola, Fred Kara, and Dan Burke.
Standing (left to right): Al Mancasola (coach), Russ Rosburg, Gorden Tench, Don Masterson, Ray Swarts, B.J. Rice, Don Cauble, and Dave Brewer.
JOHN STROHMAYER was originally from South Dakota. After moving to Northern California, he attended Central Valley High School at Shasta Lake, Calif. and the University of the Pacific in Stockton. During the summer of 1967, Strohmayer led the semi-pro Yuba-Sutter Twins to a Placer-Nevada League championship. He pitched all three games of the league's 2-out-of-3 championship series, losing 2-1 on a 2-hitter in the opener and winning 7-1 and 5-2 in games 2 and 3. On the season, he logged a 5-2 record with a 1.80 ERA while striking out 64 batters in 49 innings. After his initial collegiate 4-5 season in 1967, Strohmayer won 8 of 14 games for the '68 Tigers. He struck out 114 batters (7th in school history) and his team-leading 2.13 earned run average remains as UOP's 6th best all-time. The 32-15 Tigers enjoyed one of their best teams in school history. Their 32 victories remain as the team's 2nd most and the Tiger's .688 winning % is the school's 4th best. A month later, Strohmayer was taken in the 26th round of the 1968 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Oakland A's and was sent to the Rookie Gulf Coast League where he was 5-0 with 0.66 ERA in 41 innings for the Athletics. That same summer, Strohmayer posted a 3-3 record with a 1.85 ERA for the Peninsula Grays of the Class-A Carolina League.
Strohmayer made his major league debut in 1970 and won 3 of 4 games with a 4.86 ERA for the Montreal Expos after stints with the Lodi Crushers of the A level California League (2-3, 1.36 ERA) and the Birmingham A's (3-3, 3.63 ERA) of the AA Southern League in 1969. He spent four years at the minor league level with a combined 17-13 record and 2.15 ERA. He put in the better part of five seasons in the majors with the Expos and Mets (11-9 career mark and 4.47 ERA) with his rookie year being his best when he averaged 8.8 K's/9 Inn. pitched. His busiest year in the majors was 1971 when he logged a career-high 114 innings with a 7-5 record and 4.34 ERA. Overall, Strohmayer spent seven years as a professional with a 28-22 record and 3.39 ERA.