Pueblo Dodgers

From BR Bullpen

Team History[edit]

Until 1995, the most recent professional baseball team from Pueblo, CO was the Pueblo Dodgers. The Dodgers began operating in the Western League in 1947 when the WL was re-formed after World War II. The Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate went 70-58 in the regular season, good for third place, but Walter Alston's team beat the 75-52 Des Moines Bruins 3 games to 1 in the playoffs and then toppled the 81-49 Sioux City Soos 4 games to one in the championship match. The club, which drew 80,163, had two All-Stars: 1B Preston Ward and OF Reggie Clarkson. Ward (.325/~.442/.589) led the WL in triples (21), total bases (274), RBI (121) and runs (120); he was 4th in average, 5th in homers (17) and third in walks (98) and also led first basemen in fielding (.985). Clarkson was 3rd in average (.335), second in hits (170) and doubles (36), tied for 4th in triples (12) and third with 112 runs scored. Larry Shepard (15-10, 3.94) was second in the circuit in victories while Turk Lown (13-7, 4.50) led in walks (133) and was four strikeouts off the league lead (he whiffed 129).

Pueblo went 69-70 and fell to 5th in the close six-team league in 1948. Attendance improved to 116,304 (fifth in the league) - the top performers were 1B Herb Gorman and pitchers Lown and Clem Labine. Gorman (.341/~.446/.576) was second in average and hits (173), first in total bases (291) and doubles (45), third in RBI (103) and walks (96) and fourth in runs (113); he also hit 20 homers and may have led in OBP and slugging. Lown joined him as an All-Star - Turk went 17-6 with a 4.08 ERA and ranked second in the circuit in wins (though he was third with 112 walks). Labine (13-10, 4.32) led the loop with 3 shutouts.

Pueblo went 71-68, tied for second with the Denver Grizzlies and 3 and a half games behind the Lincoln Athletics in another close race. In a one-game playoff, Pueblo lost to Denver to decide second place. They then beat Denver 3 games to 1 in the scheduled playoffs and took their second title in three years by beating the Bruins 4 games to 3 in the finals. Attendance remained 5th but rose to 138,726/ The club had three All-Stars: OF Victor Marasco (.330, 121 RBI, 16 HR, led in average and RBI), 2B Joe Torpey (.294) and pitcher Ken Lehman (16-12, 4.46). Marion Fricano (10-2, 3.52) had the best winning percentage that year.

Things fell apart for the Dodgers in 1950, who had no shot at three titles in four years as they finished last with a 54-100 record. Attendance slipped to 91,299 (7th in the expanded 8-team league). NBA star Bill Sharman (.280, 11 HR) would be the most prominent name on the team, which lacked any All-Stars.

Pueblo improved to 74-80 and sixth place in 1951 and moved up to fifth in attendance (104,254). All-Star 3B George Freese led the Western in average (.338), RBI (106), hits (183) and total bases (286), was second in doubles (37) and triples (15) and third in runs (104). Also making the All-Star squad was top pitcher ElRoy Face (23-9, 2.78), who led the WL in wins and complete games (25) and was fourth in ERA.

In 1952 Pueblo continued to rebound with a 81-73 record and a fifth-place finish. The Dodgers were 4th in fans drawn (122,746) and again had two All-Stars: pitcher Marvin Williams (15-12, 3.69, a league-high 172 walks) and outfielder Norman Postolese (.303; third with 175 hits, second with 263 total bases; led league with 16 triples). Ken Fustin (19-7, 4.29) led the circuit in ERA.

Pueblo returned to the playoff picture in 1953 after a 78-77 record earned them third place, but they were swept by the Denver Bears in the best-of-5 semifinals. Attendance remained fourth but fell to 103,878. Maury Wills (.286) briefly passed through, but the three All-Stars were 1B Jim Gentile, OF Glen Gorbous and pitcher Karl Spooner. Spooner (11-6, 2.53) led the league with 198 strikeouts. Gorbous (.336) was second in the league in average, fourth in RBI (103) and triples (10) and first in hits (204) and total bases (286). Kent Pflasterer led the league with a .350 average but missed the All-Star team. Gentile (.270) led the loop in homers (34) and strikeouts (135), was second in total bases (280), third in runs (115) and tied for fifth in RBI (102).

Pueblo fell a bit to 4th in 1954 though their record (79-74) was better; their attendance slipped to 80,768 and fifth place. Gentile (.314/~.426/.563) failed to repeat as an All-Star and fell to a tie for third in homers (26). Armando Suarez (15-7, 2.68) was third in ERA. Wills (.279/~.343/.379) was second in steals (28, 12 behind Sioux City's Bill White) and tied for fourth in triples (10) and strikeouts (104). 3B Willard Davis Jr. hit .319/~.382/.499 and was among the leaders in average (5th), hits (175, 4th), doubles (36, 4th), total bases (274, 4th) and K's (114, 3rd). The second baseman was Sparky Anderson, who hit .296/~.393/.342 but lost the All-Star spot at 2B to another famous future manager, Earl Weaver of Denver.

The Dodgers went 79-71 for a second-place record in 1955 but they were ousted in the semifinals by the Wichita Indians. Glen McMinn (9-7, 2.92) was fourth in ERA and tied for the shutout lead (4). The lone All-Star was SS Clarence Moore (.328), who led the league in hits (194) and triples (12), was second in steals (17), third in runs (112), tied for third in total bases (272) and fifth in average. Pedro Almenares (.329, 22 HR) was fourth in average and tied for 5th in homers. Attendance fell further to 73,941, 5th in the league, which had shrunk to 6 teams.

The Brooklyn farm team went 68-70 in 1956 and were 7th of 8 teams in attendance (51,496) but had three All-Stars - Don Russell (.306/~.400/.511) at third base, Ken Worley (.303/~.356/.491) at catcher and Wills at short. Maury hit .302/~.372/.448, tied for fourth in triples (8) and stole 34, leading the league by one over Lincoln's Ken Toothman. 1B Larry Stankey (.298/~.443/.635) was fourth in homers (42) and strikeouts (121) and second in walks (117). Ace Larry Sherry (13-13, 4.39) was third in the WL with 184 strikeouts and with 132 walks.

In 1957 Pueblo was 66-88, tied for sixth in the Western. Attendance fell to 40,887, last in the league, where the high attendance was now barely over 100,000 in the dark age of baseball. Dick Tracewski (.298) stole 23 bases, second in the WL while Almenares ranked fourth in doubles (37); he also hit 19 homers, drove in 105 and batted .310.

Pueblo's final season came in 1958 when they went 73-74, 4th in the league. They became a Chicago Cubs farm team that year and are also called the "Pueblo Bruins" in some sources. Only 39,179 fans showed up (7th in attendance) and no one made the All-Star team. Lou Jackson hit .320 with 22 homers, 97 RBI and a league-high 14 triples. Dave Stenhouse (16-8, 2.91) was second in the league in ERA and complete games (17), third in strikeouts (176, just one behind the co-leaders) and tied for fourth in ERA. Also on hand for a short spell was future Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams, who hit .250 with 2 homers and 11 RBI.

When the Western League folded in 1959, four of the eight teams found a home in another league, but Pueblo did not have a professional baseball team again until 1995 when they were briefly home to the Pueblo Bighorns of the Texas-Louisiana League.

Source: "The Western League" by W.C. Madden and Patrick Stewart

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1947 70-58 3rd Walter Alston League Champs
1948 69-70 5th John Fitzpatrick
1949 71-68 3rd Ray Hathaway League Champs
1950 54-100 8th Ray Hathaway
1951 74-80 6th Jim Bivin
1952 81-73 5th Bill McCahan
1953 78-77 3rd George Pfister Lost in 1st round
1954 79-74 4th Goldie Holt Lost in 1st round
1955 79-71 2nd Goldie Holt Lost in 1st round
1956 68-70 5th Ray Hathaway
1957 66-88 7th Ray Hathaway none
1958 73-74 4th Ray Mueller none