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May 23, 1945 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1945-05-23

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WE NS DA , MAY 923, 19145









Daily Sports Editor

Michigan Baseball Nine Netters Favored Michigan, Illinois Again
Plays Badgers rdyIn BigeMeet Loom as Co-Favorites
Ploy BaqersSaturdayT1i5Week-End
ill* Ti ~ I - £,ubl 'VUtb.

EVERY TIME the subject of Lou Novikoff arises, which it does every now
and then, the inevitable question of his hitting prowess comes up, and
to attest to this, his partisans say: "Didn't he lead every minor league he
was ever in." Then they go on to state that something is wrong someplace.
The main puzzle to the average baseball fan of today concerning
Novikoff is why he should be floundering around in the minor leagues
now when all teams need all of the potent and experienced personnelI
that they can get. Their main grief is that many inferior ball players
are stumbling around the majors today, and, after brief speculation,
the puzzle becomes so involved as to lose any semblance of coherence.
Novikoff. who is now with Los Angeles, is a colorful ball player with
a fiery disposition. and his many circuit clouts have labelled him as a longl
idistance hitter of the type which would be welcome to most teams at
present. !
LOU HAS BEEN given many nicknames by the various sports scribes all
over the country, some of which are "The Mad Russian," "The Sock-
ing Soviet and several others. As implied by the pseudonyms given to
Novikoff, sports writers admit that he can hit, and everybody who has
ever seen him play admits that he can hit. And although he isn't the
greatest defensive fielder to come out of the minors, neither was Dick
Wakefield, but his heavy bat more than offset his fielding, and the same
situation is found with Novikoff.
"The Mad Russian's" feats as a slugger are well known and. while
leading every minor league in which he played, the best known are the'
Three-Eye, Texas, Pacific and American Association.
After failing with the Cubs in his initial attempts, Lou was sent
back to the minor leagues and when he returned he was billed as the
greatest rookie outfielder since the Yankees first brought Joe DiMag-
gio to their ranks.a
Although Novikoff hilt a little above the charmed .300 circle in his
first year, the following years saw him relegated to the position of a bench]
warmer as some sort of punishment, and the ironic part of his treatment
was that the Cubs particularly lacked the heavy hitting that he could havei
Manv major league ball clubs have been trying to acquire Novikoff
and as one baseball executive stated: "Any club in the major leagues t
would like to have him and he'd be a regular, too."l
A number of reasons are given for the failure of this so-called eccen-
tric ball player, but these can all be dispensed with, as the real reason
centers about that ever-important term--money. The Cubs fully realizec
that Novikoff is worth much more than the $7,500 waiver price which
any team would hand over immediately and they are out to get it, whethert
they ruin the baseball career of one man or not.'

Wol verne ia
High winds cancelled the last home
baseball contest of the season yester-
day afternoon at Ferry Field, where
the Wolverines were scheduled to
tangle with the Bunker Hill Naval
Training Station crew.
Although the Michigan squad has
four Big Ten contests to play, none
of these is scheduled for Ann Arbor
and local fans will not have a chance
to view the present team again unless!
Coach Ray Fisher is able to schedule'
another practice game on a week-
Impirtant Series{
A doubleheader between Michigan;
and Wisconsin Saturday will prob-
ably clinch or lose the Conference=
title for the Wolverines. The Badgers
have suffered two defeats so far this
season, and the Michigan nine would
have to loe as many games before
their title hopes would be threatened.
In Saturday's games, Fisher is
planning to use Red Louthen. ace
right-hander with a perfect record of
five wins, against Wisconsin's Gene1
Jaroch. Louthen is the top hurler
in the Conference at present. Ac-
cording to Coach Fisher, he is rated
just above Jaroch in the Big Ten,
from the point of games won and
strikeouts regiutered against the op-
position. Bo Bowman will get thel
call in the second of the two games.
starting against Badger hurler John
Robinson. Bowman has a near-per-
feet slate of five wins in six starts for
the year. Another possible Wisconsin
pitcher is veteran Wally Pearson.
Have Veteran Team
The Badgers have a veteran team
this season, composed of two men
back from the 1943 season and seven
regulars from last year. The prob-
able lineup which Coach Arthur
"Dynie" Mansfield will field Satur-
day finds Bob Sutton at third, Jerry
Thompson or Orvell Zimmerman at
second, Bob Perthel in center, Jim,
Ackeret at short, Eric Kitzman in

left. Dick Carpenter in right. George
Wirtz or Phil Nelson at first. and
Dan Murphy behiind the plate.
Beird s Jr h' .t; d, Pil 'Dr'nt.' fih'

U~ps rreani's Chances

c es a cl ani rear~suon, i
After copping high honors in a
Wisconsin veterans of past seasons triangular meet with Ohio State and
include Murphy. Kitzman. Nelson. Northwestern last weekend, and de-
Perthel, Bob Sutton. Zimmerman.s
and irt. Akert, arpnte. ad fating Oberlin Monday. Michigan's
and Wirtz. Ackeret, Carpenter, and unbeaten tennis squad is rounding
off the sharp edges in preparation
for the Western Conference meet at
Evanston this weekend.
The Wolverines will go into the
Conference meet as decided favorites,
especially after their 7-2, 9-0 wins |
over Ohio State and Northwestern.
respectively. Led by Captain Roger
Lewis. the netters encountered little
difficulty in squelching their two
Big Ten foes.
Lewis downed Aris Franklin, the
Bucks' number one man. 6-4, 6-4. and
proceeded to take his second singles:
win from the Wildcats' White. 7-5.
Teamed with Jack Hirsch, Michi-
gan's Number Thiee player, Lewis
assisted in defeating"White and Ry-!
an of Northwestern. 7-3, but dropped
a close match to Ohio States' Aris
and Alex Franklin, 7-5. 6-4.
Jinx Johnson. holding down the
number two singles position for the
Wolverines, took both of his singles
matches with ease, and gained two
more victories in the number three
doubles slot with Bill Haynes.
The only two Wolverine defeats,
both of which occurred against the
Buckeyes, were hard fought and lost;
only by very small margins. Roy
Boucher, playing in the number five
BOB STEVENSON Isingles slot, was defeated by Bowen.
MichiganOcather 8-6, 9-7. The other defeat suffered
by Michigan was the match dropped
by Lewis and Hirsch.
Thompson are all members of the Backed by an impressive record of
1944 Badger grid squad. 10 wins in as many starts. the Mich-
The twin bill at Madison will start igan netters should have little trouble
in the afternoon, according to Coach in winning the laurels at the. Big Ten

Fisher. but must end before 4:55,1
when the Wolverines will have to
catch a train back to Ann Arbor.
Fisher also announced that Dom To-
masi, who has been out of town dur-
ing the last three gamnes, will prob-
ably be back at second base for the1

Conference play-offs this week-end.
Coach LeRoy Weir's charges will be
defending champions in the meet,
having beaten the best the Confer-
ence had to offer last seaso in a
photo finish which was not 3ecided
un1til the last doubles match had
been played off.

Rags to Riches'

Story of Dick

XWakcfied Recounted

"From third string catcher on the
Michigan baseball squad, to a $50,-
000 major league contract-in four'
months . . . " This is the 'Cinder-
ella' story of Dick Wakefield, who is
now playing ball in a bigger league,
on the roster of the United States
Dick, who was born in Chicago, Ill.,
first came to the University in 1940,
and when spring rolled around that
year he reported for freshman base-
ball. Although he did not stand out

above any of the other candidates,
he kept at it, and was put at the
catcher spot by coach Ernie McCoy.
1941, the year which saw Wakefield
skyrocket to national fame as the
Detroit Tiger's $50,000 rookie, started
out no better for the big gangling
reserve catcher. He was slated to
sub for George Harms, one of the
outstanding receivers in the Big Ten,
but varsity coach Ray Fisher soon
switched him to the outfield.
That tremendous power at the
plate began to catch the eye of coach
Day or Night
Continuous from 1 P M.
Weekdays 30c to 5 P M.
, Oavprt7 i m 'dzprr TvEwaTA
Last Times Today
Raymond MASSEY
Peter ORRE
Helrut AN
- Starts Thursday --

Fisher, and Dick soon moved up to
the starting lineup. Wednesday, April
9, when the Wolverine club left for
its annual invasion of the south, he
was named as a member of the travel-
ing squad.
-After the first three weeks of the
season, Wakefield was the owner of a

Fisher termed, "the longest drive
ever made at Ferry Field;" as lhe
sparked the Maize and Blue club to a
7-2 victory over Illinois. After get-
ting a. triple and a single in the Indi-
ana game a week later, big league
scouts began filtering into Ann Ar-
bor to get a look at the heaviest hit-
ter in the Conference.
In a two-game series against Pur-
due, Dick stepped up the pace, blast-
ed two home runs over the fence of
Columbia Park Stadium. one going
430 feet on the fly. In a Memorial
Day tilt with Northwestern he dupli-
cated this feat, thus helping Michi-
gan clinch the Big Ten crown on a
9-7 victory.
The slugging outfielder wound up
the season as the team's leading hit-
ter, possessing a .368 average. He
had lashed out 39 hits, including two
doubles, five triples, and seven home
runs and was topping the Conference
in runs-batted-in.
It was on June 7 that the "pro"
bug actually bit the college star. He
announced that the offers were "too
attractive to turn down" and that he
would be leaving college to try the
big leagues.
i Three major league clubs, the
Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Dodg-
ers, and Detroit Tigers, were all put-
ting the pressure on Wakefield, seek-R
ing to have him sign on the dotted
line. Alva Bradley, owner of the
Indians urgently reminded him that
Howard Wakefield, Dick's father, had
been a member of that club; Larry
MacPhail, Dodger backer, pointed out
that he was a Michigan alumnus;
and Walter O. Briggs used the argu-
ment that any Wolverine ball player
belonged with the Tigers.
Dick followed that old batting ad-
vice at this stage of the game, and
merely "waited them out," and after
the dust had cleared away from the
bidding, lie found himself the prop-
erty of the Detroit club. with a $52,-
000 bonus for signing and a two-year.
$10,000 contract on the price tag.
Coach Fisher. who is now in his

25th year of coaching at Michigan,
remarked that "Wakefield was the
most powerful hitter to ever play in
the Conference, and to my mind the
only college ball player comparable
to George Sisler."
Continuing, he said, "Not only did
Dick have that necessary natural
ability that real hitters possess, but
he was a great 'clutch' player, and
had plenty of confidence in himself.
Although he had never been an out-
fielder, he did improve with practice."
But this is by no means the end of
the story. as the Major league rec-
ords show. Dick went on to be the
rookie of the year, and in 1943 was
the runner-up to Luke Appling for
the American League batting crown.
He was named to the All-Star team,
and was the only player to get as
many as 200 hits that year.
It very evidently is not yet mid-
night for this "Cinderella," and the
close of the war will undoubtedly
see the magic name of Wakefield
drawing those fans who "love to see
'em hit" to Br'iggs Stadium once
Major Lea Cue esuls


New York 3, Philadelphia
Only game scheduled.
No games scheduled.


.333 batting average, and on April
3, he pounded out his first circuit
clout of the year, a 400-foot drive
to the Ferry Field tennis court-a
homer which gave Michigan a 4-3
decision over the Spartans of Michi-
gan State.
Stubby Overmire, the stocky little
hurler who later became Wakefield's
teammate on the Tiger club, rang up
two victories over the Wolverines
that year, but "Diamond" Dick, as he
later came to be known, nicked him
for one of Michigan's five hits in theE
first game, and barely missed getting
a home run in the second.
May 11 saw him hit what Coach

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