The Western League was a class "A" league in 1953. In 1953 the Pacific Coast League was classified as an "Open" league in anticipation of it becoming a third major league. Of course the moves of the Dodgers to Los Angeles and the Giants to San Francisco stopped the move of the PCL to major league status. There were two "AAA" leagues, two "AA" leagues and four class "A" leagues in 1953.
Western League 1953 Standings
President: Senator Edwin C. Johnson
|Colorado Springs Sky Sox||95||59||--||Chicago White Sox||141,117||Don Gutteridge|
|Denver Bears||94||60||1||Pittsburg Pirates||322,128||Andy Cohen|
|Pueblo Dodgers||78||77||17 ½||Brooklyn Dodgers||103,878||George Pfister|
|Des Moines Bruins||77||78||18 ½||Chicago Cubs||98,972||Kemp Wicker|
|Omaha Cardinals||74||80||21||St. Louis Cardinals||115,512||George Kissell|
|Lincoln Chiefs||71||83||24||Milwaukee Braves||87,615||Lou Finney|
|Sioux City Soos||70||84||25||New York Giants||45,412||Ray Mueller|
|Wichita Indians||58||96||37||St. Louis Browns||68,683||Mark Hausmann|
Des Moines beat Colorado Springs 3 games to one.
Denver beat Pueblo 3 games to 0.
Des Moines beat Denver in the finals 3 games to 1.
BA: Kent Pflasterer, Pueblo, .350
Runs: Len Johnston, Colorado Springs, 133
Hits: Glen Gorbous, Pueblo, 204
RBI's: Jerry Crosby, Colorado Springs, 115
HR's: Jerry Crosby, Colorado Springs, 25
Wins: Norman Brown, Lincoln, 21
SO's: Karl Spooner, Pueblo, 198
ERA: Walt Montgomery , Omaha, 2.43
Pitching was a strong point for Omaha in 1953 as Walter Montgomery led the Western League with a 2.43 ERA and future major league all star Lawrence Jackson had a 2.44 ERA. Hitting was below average as Omaha was 5th in the league in average and had only one batter above .300 for the year.
Roster based on Spalding Guide for 1954 and program from the 1953
Earl Weaver returned to Omaha for the 1953 season at second base. He averaged .243 for the season.
Herbert Mancini played 66 games at third in 1953 and averaged .232. The infielder from Youngstown Ohio played for Lynchburg in 1952.
Miguel Rivera played 81 games at third and averaged .267. He was from Coama Puerto Rico.
Robert Rooney was a regular at Winston Salem in 52. Many of the Omaha players had played in Winston Salem before coming to Omaha. He averaged .276 in 39 games.
Hector Mayer averaged .228 as a regular at short stop in 1953.
George Kissell was the manager for the Omaha team in 1953. He took Omaha to the Western League crown in 1951 after leading Winston Salem to a pennant in 1950. Signed by the Cardinals in 1940 he played in the majors for ten years. He was a manager, coach, coordinator and instructor for the Cardinals and is a fixture in the Cardinals organization.
James King averaged .328 for Fresno in 1952 which earned him a promotion to Omaha in 1953. The 20 year old from Elkins Arkansas averaged .280 as a regular in the garden. He made his major league debut in 1955 with the Cubs and played in the majors for eleven seasons.
Andrew Jackson Lee averaged .373 at Johnson City in 1952 which earned him a promotion to Omaha. The garden tender from Jackson Alabama averaged .254 in 150 games for Omaha in 1953.
Russell Rac led the Cardinals in batting in 1953 with a .302 average in 126 games
Harold/Louis Smith returned to Omaha for the 1953 season. The masked man from Barling Arkansas was the regular catcher for Omaha in 1953 and averaged .215. The program calls him Harold, the Spalding Guide calls him Louis.
William Hinson from Candler North Carolina, played in Tucson in 1952 and averaged .293. He caught 12 games for Omaha in 1953.
Walter Montgomery returned to Omaha in 1953. The lefty who spent his off season in Leavenworth Kansas led the Cardinals in wins. He led the Western League in pitching with a 2.43 ERA. He pitched in 37 games and had a 13-9 record. He had 135 strike outs in 196 innings.
Thanks to the generosity of Walter's brother Gary, here are some stories by Walter during his time in the minor leagues.
From Miserable to Memorable
Spring Training 1950
The Other Joe D
Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter
Homer Head, Dick Cordell
And Then There Was the Mick
Hoyt Benedict from Altus Oklahoma was 3-4 in 26 games. He was in the army in 1952 and was assigned to Omaha for the 1953 season.
Louis Ciola was 7-4 in 42 appearances. He also averaged .258 at the plate for the Cardinals.
Eugene Swinger appeared in 23 games and had a 4-8 record.
Melvin Greer appeared in 19 games and was 3-8.
Paul Doughty was 1-4 in 25 games.
Paul Dewey from Geneva Alabama, was 13-8 in 44 games.
Robert Heins from Gorham Illinois appeared in 25 games and was 3-3.
Tony Stathos , a lefty from Sacramento California, managed a 9-8 record in 33 games.
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