1916 TROLLEY LEAGUE RETURNS WITH A VENGEANCE--Never has a "Bush" or semi-pro baseball league seen the likes of so many major league ballplayers than the 1916 Trolley League. The league's 1st order of business was to return to a 6-team format with the addition of the Gridley Rice Millers and the Sacramento Demons. Woodland dropped out while the Colusa Prune Pickers returned. Sacramento's new addition was managed by Charlie "Demon" Doyle. Doyle would have had first-hand knowledge regarding disputes between "outlaw" leagues and "organized" baseball, especially the Pacific Coast League. Doyle led the "outlaw" California League in pitching twice when the Sacramento Gilt Edge won 3 consecutive titles from 1898-1900. He went 10-5, 28-11, and 19-18 during those years. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the PCL dropped to 4 teams and were looking to expand. The California State League was thriving and the two leagues began to feud over territory and quality ballplayers. Sacramento owner Charlie Graham opted to transfer his team to the PCL and began raiding CSL players including Charlie "Demon" Doyle. It marked the beginning of the end for the "outlaw" CSL.
It was evident that the best way to increase attendance was to put a better product onto the field. Major League and top-notch Coast League players were expensive so the 1916 Trolley League began the season by raiding some the best semi-pro teams in the state from the San Francisco Bay Area; but in the end the league comprised mostly of Major League, Pacific Coast League, and Northwestern League players. The Marysville Giants and the Colusa Prune Pickers were the main culprits. The Giants lured first baseman Al Sears and middle infielder Babe Pinelli away from the Petaluma Leghorns and Tommy Scanlon from the Sebastopol Apple Growers. The Apple Growers also lost Eddie Reed to Colusa who also snagged Len Hollwood, Joe Devine, and Barney Kearns from Petaluma. The Gridley Rice Millers took Red Powers and Rudy Merani away from the Ambrose Tailor team. As the season progressed many players switched teams and since the Trolley League played on into November, many major league players also joined the circuit.
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 loyalist 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--Clampers, as in the fraternal Org. dedicated to the preservation of the history of the American West, especially the Mother Lode area or the gold fields just east of Marysville. The group has also been known as an historical drinking society. With the exception of the Orovile Olives, the TL remained a tight race between the other 5 competitors with Marysville, Sacramento, and Colusa each taking turns leading the way with Chico and Gridley remaining just a few games behind.
Shortly after the season began, 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 a 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.
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 3 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's outfielder Dewitt Bevo LeBourveau at .304. The 19 year old LeBourveau 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 5 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 (the minor's top league) in batting including his best year in 1926 when he hit .377 with 17 home rums and a .562 slugging % 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 Trolley League existed as a breeding ground for future professionals, especially Coast League players, and also a final resting place for aging or unsuccessful professionals. Nineteen year old Brooke Realty P/SS Dutch Ruether spent part of the 1913 season with Sacramento and Los Angeles of the PCL before finishing the year with Brooke Realtys of the Trolley League. He moved on to spend 11 years in the major leagues before returning to the PCL in 1928 where he logged another 8 years before retiring at age 42 as a playing/manager for the Seattle Indians of the PCL. As a pitcher and pinch hitter, Reuther won 137 games while losing 95 (.591 win %) and averaged .258 in 969 MLB at bats. He went 19-6 (.806 win%, best in NL) with a 1.82 ERA (NL's 3rd best) for the 1919 Cincinnati Reds and beat the Chicago White Sox 9-1 in the opening game of the World Series. He also hit 2 triples that day in a series won by the Reds and later declared a "fix" with Chicago being labeled the Black Sox with 8 of their players getting suspended for life. Reuther hit .351 for the 1921 Reds and a year later went 21-12 with a 3.53 ERA in 267 innings for the NL Brooklyn Robins. He went 12-6 for the 1927 champion NY Yankees (often considered as the greatest baseball team of all-time) where he was Babe Ruth's roommate which often got him into trouble. Reuther also hit .333 for the 1925 Washington Senators and .316 for the 1928 PCL champion San Francisco Seals while posting a 29-7 record (most league victories) and 3.03 ERA in 303 innings pitched. The '28 Seals are considered as among the top minor league teams of all-time. Reuther, from Alameda, California attended St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco before the left-handed pitcher signed a professional contract with the PCL's Portland Beavers in 1911 at age 17.
CALIFORNIA BASEBALL HISTORY-----NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL
THE 1919 BLACK SOX SCANDAL--Charles Comiskey was a key person in the formation of the American League and founder of the Chicago White Sox. He was also tight with his money and his lack of pay may have resulted in the the "fix" or the conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series by several of his White Sox players. San Francisco native Charles "Swede" Risberg was a member of the 1919 Sox team and considered as one of several players who felt they were being underpaid. After all, they were considered as the best team in baseball (88-52) and were favored to win the World Series. Risberg convinced several of his teammates that they could make more money by losing than what was being paid by Comiskey. There have been several books, articles and movies produced about several ballplayers which played for and against Trolley League teams in 1916 including the movie Eight Men Out which depicts the "fix" or Black Sox scandal of 1919. Christopher Lloyd plays the role of Sleepy Bill Burns, the same Billy Burns who pitched the Marysville Giants to the 1916 Trolley League championship. Burns also pitched for the 1909 and 1910 Chicago White Sox and testified that he was a go-between for "the Mob" (supposedly New York gambler Arnold Rothstein) and former White Sox teammates and acquaintances who threw the 1919 World Series. Risberg and 7 other White Sox players were banned from organized baseball for life by new MLB commissioner Judge Kenesaw Landis. Joe Gedeon, a friend of Risberg's and member of the St. Louis Browns at the time, knew about the fix and tipped off some of his gambling buddies in St. Louis. He later became known as the Ninth Man Out after he testified for the prosecution and later became banned himself.
The 1914 Trolley League remained much the same with the exception of Northern Sacramento replacing Brooke Realtys. Trouble began to brew well before the start of the season when Carl Zamlock of Denver and Al Heiser of Vancouver bolted for the Colusa Prune Pickers of the Trolley League for more money. Pacific Coast League president Allen T. Baum issued a warning to Trolley League officials not to tamper with Coast League players even though the PCL had robbed several Trolley star players including Decannier, Ach Lohman, Pat Fulton, Jack Bromley, Henry Hausman and Gil DeForest after the 1913 season. There seemed to be a double standard when it came to "organized" baseball and the "bushers" or "Bush" leagues.
The feud led to Trolley League teams overpaying in order to land experienced professional players and by mid-season, the league was in financial trouble. Colusa's salary rose to $300 per game which included double-duty pitcher Harry Killilay who was 6-2 and also pitching for the Coast League's Oakalnd Oaks. Several players were playing in the Coast League and traveling on Sundays to compete in the Trolley League to pick up some easy extra cash. William von Waldschmidt was pitching for the Fresno Raisen Eaters with a 6-7 record and leading the PCL with 87 strikeouts while also leading the improved Marysville Giants of the Trolley League. The Giants had hired Dolly Gray as their new skipper even though the famed lefty was released the previous year while leading the Trolley League with a .666 win% (8-4). Gray had recently logged 3 seasons (1909-1911) with the lowly Washington Senators of the American League where he was 15-51 with a career 3.52 ERA however, in 1907, he led the Pacific Coast League in victories (32-7) with a 1.71 ERA for the champion 115-74 Los Angeles Angels. Adding to Trolley League woes was the fact that the Colusa Prune Pickers were running away with the pennant with a 12-2 record at mid-season on July the 25th, three full games ahead of Marysville.
Other teams in the Trolley began to whimper, especially Oroville, about financial problems and lack of attendance. In order to generate enthusiasm, the league proposed a format whereby Colusa would be awarded the 1st half title and a new 2nd half would begin with a championship series played at the end of the regular season. The Prune Pickers scoffed at the idea and withdrew from the league. On August the 14th, League president Richard Belcher announced the suspension of all games and the Trolley League folded for the rest of the season.
THE 1915 VERSION OF THE TROLLEY LEAGUE was reduced to a four team affair as no teams from Sacramento were represented and Colusa was still smarting from the previous year's debacle leaving only Marysville, Oroville, Woodland and Chico as competition. The big stars were gone in order to save money leaving players with unproven experience like Oroville's Mickey Shader to handle the bulk of the pitching. Shader, from Petaluma, California, would spend 5 years in the minor leagues (1913, '14, '18, '29 and 1932 at age 41), with all but 8 innings (SF Seals) pitched at the "D" level. He won 21 games and lost 22 during his minor league career. The most notable Trolley Leaguer for the 1915 season was twenty year old Woodland outfielder Les Sheehan. Sheehan, a native of Sacramento, California, would move on and spent 12 years (1916 thru 1929) in the minor leagues with 11 years in the Pacific Coast League with San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Hollywood, and Portland. He averaged .297 over the course of those seasons with a .304 career mark in the PCL. His most successful years were at hitter-friendly Salt Lake where he hit .338, .346, and .342 with 36, 22, and 33 home runs respectively from 1923-'25. Sheehan hit .306 with 5 HR's for the 1925 Hollywood Stars.
The Oroville Olives led throughout most of the 1915 season, however the Woodland Oaks caught fire towards the end of the season with outfielders Les Sheehan and Ed Carrigan along with pitcher Red Gage leading the comeback. The final standings showed the Olives and Oaks both tied for the pennant race with identical 9-4 records. Chico was at 8-6 and Marysville finished last at 3-11. Once again, there would be trouble with Oroville in the midst of the debate. The Olives filed a protest when an umpire's decision apparently turned a win into a loss in a game played earlier in the season. After discussions with players and fans, the league's president decided that the game should be replayed from scratch. Also, Marysville did not show for their final game against Woodland causing a forfeit which boosted the Oaks into a tie for the pennant. The Giants were still smarting after a mysterious fire had burned their ball field's grandstands to the ground. When the league ordered a playoff game between the Olives and Oaks to determine a champion, Oroville cried "foul", refused to play, disbanded, and sent their players home. League president Brown stated that he had no choice except to award Woodland with the championship. On November the 14th, the Oakland Tribune reported that the Richmond Elks captured the California semi-pro championship by defeating the All-Star Trolley League 4-2. Mickey Shader took the loss allowing 8 hits while "Lefty" Gordon picked up the win allowing 6 hits. The Trolley team was a combination of Woodland and Oroville players.
MARYSVILLE, 4TH OF JULY, 1908
Holt Rinehart Winston
1st edition, 1963
1913 TROLLEY LEAGUE
OROVILLE OLIVES 19-13
WOODLAND OAKS 17-13
CHICO DIAMONDS 17-13
BROOKE REALTY 13-16
COLUSA PRUNE PICKERS 12-18
MARYSVILLE GIANTS 11-16
The 1916 Trolley League pennant boiled down to 2 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 went 10-14 with a 2.42 ERA for the Oakland Oaks. Burns, from San Saba, Texas, had previously spent 5 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 2 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 league) and amassed 364 innings pitched. The final game would feature 9 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 5 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 5 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 9 hits with 13 strikeouts. Ozzie Vitt went 3x5 for the winners. Tommy Fitzsimmons belted 2 doubles and Walt Schmidt collected 2 hits in the Giants 13-hit attack. Bill Leard went 3x5 for the losers. Decanniere suffered the loss tossing 7-plus innings and allowing 8 hits and 6 runs while Killilay entered in the 8th and gave up 2 more runs.
1916 TROLLEY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
On July the 9th, Van Buren and his Gridley Rice Millers folded. At 3-7, they were in last place, trailing co-leaders Marysville and Chico by 5 and a half games with just over a third of the season being played. The Giants and Diamonds were tied with 11-2 records and held a 4-game lead over Oroville at 5-6. Other teams incuding Sacramento were having financial problems and were also theatening to quit. World War l was raging and when league president Jack Dooley reported for military duty, the entire league shut down. After five turbulant years (1913-1917), Northern California's Trolley League would be history.
1913 SAC. SENATORS
The Trolley League's best game of the season took place on Sept. the 10th when Oroville's new pitching sensation Willard "Wiz" Meikle shut out Gridley 1-0. It was the "Wizzer's" 4th straight win for the lowly Olives which included 2 shutouts, the other being a 5-0 whitewashing of Colusa. A week later, in a match-up between the league's two best pitchers, Meikle improved to 5-0 with a 3-2 victory by outdueling "Cack" Henley, now with the Chico Colts. The 28 year old Meikle had earlier in the year gone 16-13 for the Butte Miners of the level "B" Northwestern League. He began his 8-year minor league career (74-83) with the 1909 San Francisco Seals of the PCL where he won 2 of 3 games with a 2.25 ERA. In 1911, he went 10-11 for those same Seals with a 3.16 ERA. In 1913, Meikle compiled a 13-9 record for the Seattle Giants of the Northwest League.
1913 OROVILLE OLIVES
Tracy Hoag, 2b
Blain Durbin, cf
Howard Wasley, rf
Louis Guisto, 1b
Oscar Lohman, ss
Bob White, lf
Clarence Scruggs, 3b
Harry Lucas, c
Frank Decannier, p
Billy Meader, 2b
JACK KILLILAY, 1904
The most notable and successful Trolley League acquisition was Marysville pitcher "Speed" Martin. Elwood "Speed" Martin was born in Wawawai, Washington and spent most of the 1916 season with the "AA" Oakland Oaks of the PCL where he won 16 games and lost 18 with a 2.81 ERA. He started the 1917 campaign with Oakland (12-5, 2.06 ERA) before joining the Giants and then making his MLB debut with the St. Louis Browns on July 5th. Martin would become a Chicago Cub in 1918 (5-2, 1.84 ERA) and spend parts of 6 seasons in the majors (29-42, 3.78 ERA), 5 with the Cubbies. His best season as a major leaguer was 1919 when he won 8 and lost 8 with a 2.47 ERA including 2 shutouts, one of which was a 1-0 victory over his ex team, the Browns. "Speed" would also log parts of 9 seasons in the minors (99-99) mostly in the PCL. In 1926, he went 14-12 with a 3.18 ERA for the Sacramento Senators.
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. Career .261 hitter) for for the Butte Miners where he was a teammate of Wiz Meikle. Fitzsimmons also got into 4 games with the 1919 NL Brooklyn Roblins but went 0-4. The Giants also and 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 3 seasons (1930-'32) and Twin Falls in 1926. SEE
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 5 seasons with the San Francisco Seals (1911-1915) and would spend 10 years in the Majors, 9 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 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 manged professionally for 18 seasons including 3 with the Cleveland Indians (1938-'40) and 15 years in the PCL, 10 with the Hollywood Stars.
AS OF JULY 25, 1914
NORTH SAC. 6-9
CHICO COLTS 4-10
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 spit ball before defeating the Merced Bears, winners of the South. Arlett, with 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. The shutout was Meikle's 4th while in a Trolley League uniform and a perfect 7-0 record while only allowing 5 earned runs for a stellar 0.71 ERA. Fourteen years later, on November the 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.
Colusa 1st baseman Joe Williams won the batting title with his .330 average. Sacramento's Bob White finished 2nd at .308 followed by Chico's Pell Henry at .301 and Marysville's Al Sears at an even .300.
As in previous years, Trolley League teams who had no chance of winning the pennant began to send their players home and forfeit the rest of their games. Sacramento was no exception. Remaining contenders began to bolster their lineups by adding players from non contenders, the Northwest League, the Pacific Coast League, and the Major Leagues. Colusa was the most active as they hired and fired 54 players throughout the season. 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 Sox from 1908-1910 with a MLB career 24-22 record and stellar 2.28 ERA including a 1-hiitter 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 9 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 4 games while losing 2 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 4 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 the Souix City Packers of the "A" Western League and got 1 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 3 years in the minors and .244 during his 7 seasons with MLB, including stints with the Washington Senators (1913, '14), NY Yankees (1916, '17) and the St. Louis Browns (1918-1920). He hit .292 for the Browns in 1920, his best year as a major leaguer. Colusa also added major league infielder Sammy Bohne. His real name was Samuel Cohen from San Francisco who would spent 7 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 6 HR's, 19 triples, and 41 doubles (.475 SLG) for the "AA" Seattle Rainiers of the PCL.
THE TROLLEY LEAGUE got it's moniker because fans and players traveled to and from ballgames by way of trolley cars. The Sacrament Northern Railway linked the towns of Sacramento, Woodland, Colusa, Marysville, Oroville, Gridley, Chico, and Willows, California. Northern California's 1st attempt of a Trolley League began in 1908 with the Marysville Giants running away with the pennant before the the league folded at mid-season. The rest of the '08 league included teams from Oroville, Gridley and Chico. A 2nd and successful Trolley League, also known as the Sacramento Valley Trolley League, began in 1913 with Marysville barrister Richard Belcher acting as the new league's 1st president. A 30-game schedule was to be played on Sundays only, beginning on April the 6th and ending October the 26th. Gate receipts would be split on a 60/40 basis with the visitors receiving a guaranteed $125.
The Oroville Olives, under the guidance of manager Walter Sharkey, captured the 1st Trolley League championship when Frank "Dec" Decannier tossed a clinching, season-ending 6-0 four-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts against the 2nd place Chico Diamond Matches. More than 3,000 fans (or 1,500) watched the final game with gate receipts totaling $768. Chico's Jack Bromley suffered the defeat however his batterymate, catcher Melvin French was named league MVP. The 21 year old Bromley would move on the next year and spend 7 seasons in the Pacific Coast League, mostly with Oakland, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City where he combined to win 50 games while losing 62 with a career 4.31 ERA. His best season was 1918 when he went 12-10 with a 3.15 earned run average for the 48-48 Sacramento Senators .
At the midway point of the 1913 season, Oroville had hit 23 home runs, more than twice that of any other Trolley team and 5 Olives were hitting above the .300 mark with 1st baseman Lou Guisto leading the way. He was batting .436 followed by Blaine "Kid" Durbin at .406, Oscar Lohman--.333, Howard "Swat" Wasley--.323, and Clarence Scruggs--.316. Guisto, Oroville's burly 18 year old 1st baseman from Napa, California would continue at St. Mary's College and later spend 5 seasons with the American League Cleveland Indians (.196 career avg.) and 9 years in the PCL, 8 with the Oakland Oaks (career PCL .295 hitter). He hit .320 for the Oakies in 1921 and .337 in 1925.
The 26 year old Durbin from Lamar, Missouri, was the team's ace until Decannier showed up, and played center field when not on the mound. The lefty had previously spent 3 seasons (1907-'09) in the majors where he pitched 16 innings (0-1, 5.40 ERA) and hit .275 in 41 at bats for the NL's Cubs, Reds, and Pirates. He also averaged .237 during 6 years in the minors which ended in 1912 when he hit .293 for the Oakland Oaks of the PCL. Durbin finished the 1913 season by hitting .351 for the Olives (3rd best in the Trolley and finished 2nd in the league in win%). Durbin played for 3 world series champions but never got into a WS game.
1917 VERNON TIGERS
1917 TROLLEY LEAGUE--The teams remained the same except the Chico Colts became the Diamonds as they were now sponsored by the Diamond Match Company. The core players were mostly the same as the previous season with a few players switching sides. Barney Reed became Colusa's new manager. Big Bill James took the helm at Oroville and Deacon Van Buren became Gridley's new skipper. Van Buren was an outfielder with the Brooklyn Robins and Philadelphia Phillies during the 1904 season and hit .250 in 13 games at age 33. Bill James, also known as Seattle Bill, was born in Iowa Hill, Ca., and attended Oroville Union High School before pitching for the St. Mary's College Phoenix. He spent 3 years with the Boston Braves (1913-'15) including a 26-7, 1.90 ERA, 332 innings pitched season in 1914 at age 22. His .788 Winning % led the NL and his 26 wins was the league's 2nd best. The Braves (94-55), swept the Philadelphia Athletics 4-0 in the World Series with James tossing a 1-0 shutout in game 2 over Hall-o-Famer Eddie Plank and picking up another win in relief during game #3. James compiled a MLB career 37-21 record with a 2.28 ERA. He also spent 5 seasons in the minors, mostly in the PCL, but less successful (25-34, 4.07 ERA).