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NEW WESTMINSTER FRASERS Baseball Club
Researched & written by (L) Rod Drown & (R) Ken McIntosh
The 1974 New Westminster Frasers emerged from the fertile imaginations of two young men in Ohio University’s Master’s Program in Sports Management -- Dean Taylor of Roseburg, Oregon and Mike Manning of California, both 23 years old. They wanted to establish a minor league baseball franchise. After contacting the expansion-bound Northwest League, Taylor and Manning decided to base their fledgling team in New Westminster.
The Frasers struggled during the 1974 Season. Minor League legend Frosty Kennedy, starting out with the franchise as playing coach, left the team prior to the start of League play. He was replaced by John Wojcik, in turn replaced by hitting specialist Gerry Werdick, formerly with the Padres (San Diego) organization.
At season’s end, the Frasers were last in the Western Division but ahead of the Eastern Division Lewiston Broncs and the Tri-Cities Ports. The Frasers experienced several hurdles in 1974: unable to sell beer or have billboard signage in Queen’s Park Stadium, they drew barely over 10000 fans. The book’s “where are they now and how do they feel” approach to the team’s players allows readers glimpses into the narratives, both then and now of their lives.
GERRY PRICE’S MEMORIES
Retired New Westminster police officer but entirely active baseball fan Ken McIntosh is looking for two women! No they haven’t broken any law – except perhaps the one about decorum and minor league baseball players.
He wants them for the book he is writing on the City’s long ago “one season wonders”, the New Westminster Frasers baseball team, which played in the Northwest Short Season A League in the summer of 1974. He recently finished an earlier book on professional baseball in Vancouver from 1951 to the present.
McIntosh told the Piffle that he has been looking into the Frasers since early April. General Manager of the team was 24 year old Dean Taylor, who is now a Vice-President with the Major League Kansas City Royals. The Frasers were funded by Taylor’s then father-in-law Bill Forrest of Roseburg, Oregon. Forrest was big in the Pacific Northwest plywood industry in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The team only lasted one season, finished at the bottom of the Northwest League’s Western Division and was 7th overall in an eight team league. The Frasers were described, in the old Columbian newspaper as one of the “worst professional baseball franchises in North America, in terms of attendance” Over the approximately 10 week season, they attracted 10, 290 fans to their 42 games in 35 home dates – an average of 245 per game.
Since he started working on the book, Ken has been able to track down about half the players from that era. Just recently, he feels he hit a sort of jackpot when he was able to track down the Frasers’ former Public Relations guy, Gerry Price, now a City Editor on the Antelope Valley Press in Southern California.
“Like a number of my other correspondents, Gerry Price remembers a lot of rainouts, as well as the time the team had to burn tires on the infield to get Queen's Park Stadium to get it ready for the home opener. He also added that, because Queen’s Park had been just previously used for the Canada Games, it had seemed to take forever to remove all the larger wood chips from the sawdust that had been put on the field.”
One of the other stories that Gerry told Ken McIntosh was very entertaining and it concerns two of the 1974 Frasers players, Dave Willoughby and Dave Abdalla. As told to Ken by Gerry, early in the season, the Frasers had a campaign going asking local residents to billet players. In Gerry’s words:
“Anyhow, right after we make the announcement, there's a knock on the press box door, and in walk two of the hottest women you'll ever hope to see — one was blond and the other raven-haired, as I recall. One of them asked about the housing request, and then said, "We want THEM," pointing at Jim and Dave's numbers in the program. Somebody took down their information, and they left. At that point, everybody in the press box was on the floor laughing. Talking to the guys later, I found that they did move in with the two hotties for the rest of the season.”
Ken McIntosh is wondering if those two ladies, now likely “hotties” in their late 50’s or early 60’s, would like to come forward and give that little extra something to his book, by telling what they remember about that long ago summer of 1974. He would also be interested in anyone who supplied housing to the team – “hottie” or not.
Anecdotes from that summer concerning the Frasers are very welcome. Ken would also like any information concerning Glyn Lewis, former Sports Editor of the Columbian newspaper, who had some witty things to say about the city’s short-lived baseball heroes back then. -30-
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