Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Pitchers of Beer" celebrates legendary Seattle minor league team

Given that the Mariners, even after the last couple of rounds of expansion, are still one of Major League Baseball's relative newbies, it's easy to overlook Seattle's significant baseball history. But long before the M's came to town in 1977, and even before the Pilots took up a very temporary residency in 1969, the city was a hotbed for professional ball.

Minor league baseball in Seattle dates all the way back to 1890, when the Hustlers were part of the four-team Pacific Northwest League. In 1903, the Seattle Indians became one of the charter members of the Pacific Coast League. After a stint in the Northwest League, the Indians returned to the PCL in 1919, winning occasionally over the next two decades, but struggling to escape the second division most years. The franchise's fortunes improved dramatically when local businessman Emil Sick purchased the club in 1937 and renamed it the Rainiers, after his Rainier brewery.

Dan Raley, who covered the Mariners for many years for the now defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer, fell in love with the Rainiers in 1964, the team's final season. Now, five decades later, he has honored the fabled minor league team with a comprehensive history, Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers. My full review is now available on BaseballAmerica.com.

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