After the Don Cockell- Rocky Marciano fight many a British sports-writer encouraged the folks at home to believe that Cockell was a fighter of competence who had been ruthlessly jobbed out of the world heavyweight championship. After Cockell met seventh-ranked Nino Valdes in London and was unable to come out for the fourth round, British boxing experts understated it this way:
"We must write off Don Cockell as a future contender for world title honors."—Tom Phillips, Daily Herald.
"This fight at the White City ended any ideas that Cockell can figure again among boxers of real world class."—Steve Fagan, Daily Sketch.
It is widely conceded that baseball's minor leagues have been permanently spavined and that their most frantic efforts can do no more than put off an inevitable rendezvous at the glue factory. But the state of baseball in the Pacific Northwest, an area where the game has had its tribulations, would suggest that there is more life in the old carcass than anyone had imagined. Since last spring, in fact, a lot of Northwest clubs have been so involved in highly competitive baseball that they have forgotten all about being sick.
By actively recruiting up-and-coming youngsters, the new Class B Northwest League (which has sprung up from the ruins of the Western International League in Washington, Oregon and Idaho) has not only drawn spectators but big-league scouts to its parks. The new order is probably best exemplified by the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds. Baseball flopped terribly in Eugene (a college and lumbering town of 36,000) in 1950 and 1951. It was rescued by 28 well-to-do Eugene businessmen. They bought the Emeralds, remodeled the baseball park, sternly resolved to plow back profits and successfully shopped the big leagues for young players in need of development. This summer the Emeralds not only played winning baseball (they won the second half of the league's divided pennant race) but drew 84,000 paying customers, paid all their bills and had a profit of $4,500.
The northern end of the Pacific Coast League showed similar signs of renewed health. The Portland (Ore.) Beavers were purchased by their fans early this year, raised their attendance from 135,000 to 200,000 despite 15 rainouts, contracted to play in city-owned Multnomah Stadium, and then got $200,000 (to be spent for new ballplayers) by selling the decrepit park in which the team had been incarcerated for 55 years. Vancouver, British Columbia, a town almost as baseball-hungry as Milwaukee, gave sanctuary to the dispirited Oakland Oaks (who lost $500,000 in the last three years) and seemed hardly able to wait for baseball to begin next year.
Meanwhile the Seattle Rainiers won the Pacific Coast League pennant (by three games in a nerve-racking finish), outdrew all other Coast clubs with 342,000 customers (despite the fact that California teams have access to much bigger centers of population) and made a profit of $40,000 after taking heavy losses for three years. The Rainiers, owned by Millionaire Brewer Emil Sick, have an excellent modern ball park, and they were not above promotion stunts—$100,000 was offered to the player who could hit one through a baseball-sized hole in the centerfield fence, and a lucky woman got a mink stole on the final ladies' night. But they had the same park and tried similar stunts last year and often sold only a few hundred tickets.
The real difference was simply baseball. Last year the Rainiers finished last. This year under the guidance of ex- Detroit Manager Fred Hutchinson—who is remembered as a boy wonder who won 25 games for Seattle at the age of 19—the Rainiers gimped their way to victory in a thrilling race. They hired a photographer to rush news pictures of their diamond feats to the local newspapers, televised every home game to keep themselves in the public eye and packed their ballpark repeatedly. When the season ended, Seattle's venerable Sports Columnist Royal Brougham could not resist giving some free editorial advice to the owners of California clubs: they ought, he suggested, to quit trying to get big-league franchises and recognize the business opportunities at hand. "It's no wonder your parks have been as empty as haunted houses.... Let's forget the big leagues and sell our own baseball to our own fans."