The Alou Siblings

According to the mysterious people who run the @RainiersLand twitter account, today is “National Sibling Day.” This caused them to publish on twitter a great shot of Clay Huntington interviewing all three Alou brothers at Cheney Stadium.

I don’t know what the heck “National Sibling Day” is, but if it spurred the Rainiers to dig out this gem from the photo archives, well, I’m all for it.

It’s an awesome photo, I thought it would be fun to CSI it a little bit.

First off, here is the picture:

Click photo to enlarge

That’s definitely Cheney Stadium – the right field light tower, shipped to Tacoma after they tore down Seals Stadium in San Francisco, has been in place at Cheney since 1960. It even survived the remodel.

You can see the then-undeveloped Foss tennis courts hill in the background.

On the left, we have Felipe and Matty Alou in their San Francisco Giants uniforms. On the right, Jesus Alou is in his Tacoma Giants uniform. In the middle, we have Mr. Huntington in a snappy sports coat adorned with a Tacoma Giants lapel badge.

Felipe Alou – who would become a great manager – never played in a game as a member of the Tacoma Giants. But the San Francisco Giants used to play an annual exhibition game at Cheney Stadium against the Tacoma affiliate, and this picture is clearly from one of those exhibitions.

(These exhibitions are the reason why some older fans remember seeing Willie Mays play in Tacoma. Mays played in several of these exhibitions between 1960 and 1965).

Matty Alou was one of the stars of the inaugural 1960 Tacoma Giants, hitting .306 while playing in 150 games. Matty cracked the San Francisco opening day roster in 1961 as a reserve outfielder – but he couldn’t break into the starting outfield of Mays, Willie McCovey, and his brother Felipe.

Matty was a back-up outfielder in 1961 and 1962, and in 1963 his playing time really deteriorated so he was sent back to Tacoma for a month to get some at-bats. Eventually he was traded to Pittsburgh where he became a starter and won a batting title.

The appearance of Jesus Alou in a Tacoma uniform makes this CSI an easy project: Jesus only played for Tacoma for one season, in 1963.

Jesus had one of the best full-seasons in Tacoma’s long franchise history, batting .324 over 648 at-bats in 1963 – a batting average that still ranks as Tacoma’s 11th-highest single-season mark. He played in 158 games, a Tacoma single-season record that may last forever, since the PCL only plays 144 now.

It appears this photo was taken prior to a San Francisco Giants vs. Tacoma Giants exhibition game in 1963. It must have occurred during a portion of the season when Matty was up with the big club.

Jesus got called up in September of 1963 and three times that September the San Francisco Giants fielded an all-Alou outfield – although, as the New York Times mythbusted, they never did all start the same game.

Links:

  • Larry LaRue has a story in The News Tribune about how the Mariners are better than they were last year. I agree with the sentiment: the team is improved from one year ago, even if it doesn’t really show in the won-loss record. They are much more fun to watch.
  • In the Times, Geoff Baker has an excellent article on the remarkable turnaround of Mariners reliever Oliver Perez. Perez signed as a minor league free agent and opened the season in Tacoma.
  • Justin Smoak hit a pair of home runs last night in the Mariners 5-4 loss at Anaheim. Smoak is on yet another September tear… hey, I think I figured out what to do with him! Here’s the plan: we keep him in Tacoma all season, while the Mariners contend for a wild card in the majors, and then when the roster expands they make the call – and here comes September Smoak, ready to blast the Mariners into the post-season! Who’s with me?
  • So you want to operate a Class-A team in the middle of nowhere? The Mariners High Desert affiliate is hiring a general manager.
  • The Wall Street Journal has a study entitled “How Biased Is You Baseball Announcer?”
  • Something good has come from the NFL referees lockout: it reminded Larry Stone to write about the 1979 umpire’s strike. Great stuff here.
  • Congrats to former Rainiers outfielder Michael Saunders, as he and his wife Jessica had a baby.
  • Prospect analyst John Sickels tried to make something of Danny Hultzen‘s season. His conclusion: don’t panic.
  • Yet another step towards El Paso: the ownership group signed an agreement to purchase the Tucson Padres.

Some excellent pennant races going into the final week of the season. Maybe the Mariners can be a factor and help bury the Angels?

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