Wichita Aviators

From BR Bullpen

In 1929 the Western League team in Wichita, KS changed from the Wichita Larks to the Wichita Aviators. The Aviators finished fourth at 77-79. Glenn Spencer (24-9) tied for the WL lead in wins while Jim Mosolf (.362) was third in batting average. Indian Bob Johnson hit .273, the lowest of any regular, with 16 homers, but would go on to the best career. Woody Jensen (.302) would also go on to a fairly long big-league career, while Wilbur Swansboro (.321, 17 HR, 4th in the league with 43 doubles) would not.

The Aviators won the pennant in 1930 with an 89-56 record. Spades Wood (22-3, 2.65) was second in the WL in ERA and led in wins and strikeouts (197) while Andy Bednar (18-7, 3.83) tied for third in wins. Joining those two on the league All-Star team were C Jack Mealey and OF Jensen and Gus Dugas. Dugas tied for second in the league in homers (26) and was second in hits (203), total bases (339) and average (.349) and third in RBI (123). Jensen won the batting crown (.354) and led in hits (207), doubles (41, tied for the lead) and triples (19, tied for the lead) while placing third in total bases (328) and tied for 4th with 114 RBI. Mealey hit .279 with 6 homers. Swansboro tied Dugas with 26 homers and tied for fourth with 298 total bases; he hit .306 and drove in 99. Howard Lindimore was 5th in average (.341), third in hits (195) and fourth in runs (126).

Wichita won the first-half title in 1931 (44-27) and finished second the next half (48-31) after switching spots in the standings with the Des Moines Demons. Wichita then lost in the finals 4 games to 2 to Des Moines. All-Stars were 2B Tony Piet (.336, 15 HR, 100 RBI, second in the league with 42 steals), utility man Pep Young (.315, 13 HR, 100 RBI, second with 41 doubles and third with 195 hits), C Bennie Warren (.280, 17 HR) and P Art Jacobs (25-7, 3.41, tied for third in ERA, first in wins). Also having a fine year were future Hall-of-Fame SS Arky Vaughan (.338, tied for 4th in the WL with 21 homers, tied for 4th with 16 triples, third with 283 total bases, first with 43 steals and first in runs. He just missed the top 5 in average), Swansboro (.304, second in the loop with 26 homers) and John Stoneham (.315, second in the league with 290 total bases, tied for second with 91 walks, tied for third with 123 RBI and 5th with 193 hits). Felix Vigare and Stan Schino played for both Wichita and the Omaha Packers. Vigare tied for 4th in the league with 39 doubles and drove in 100. Schino hit .330, was third in the WL with 24 homers and tied for third with 123 RBI.

In 1932 Wichita became a farm team of the Chicago Cubs and went 63-86. C Huron Horton (.299) was the sole All-Star, though the team had the league's top three home-run hitters: Dick Goldberg (30 HR, .359, 108 RBI), Luther Harvel (.343, 22 HR, 115 RBI) and Gene Lillard (.283, 19 HR, 108 RBI). Harvel tied for third with 52 doubles and was fourth with 317 total bases. Wichita became the league's last team to install lights that year. Emmett Nelson (18-14) was third in the WL in wins, tied for fourth in losses, second in innings (255) and second in strikeouts (169) as the staff workhorse.

In '33 the club was renamed the Wichita Oilers.

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

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1929 77-79 4th Art Griggs none
1930 89-56 1st Art Griggs none League Champs
1931 92-58 2nd Art Griggs / Howie Gregory Lost League Finals
1932 63-86 6th Jimmy Payton