Jack Lelivelt, manager of the Rainiers baseball team, speaks to Royal Brougham, 1938

  • By Lorraine McConaghy
  • Posted 4/04/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8133

This is a Seattle Post-Intelligencer interview of Jack Lelivelt (1885-1941), legendary manager of the Rainiers baseball team, conducted in September 1938 by Royal Brougham (1894-1978). In 1937, Emil Sick purchased the struggling Pacific Coast League Seattle Indians franchise, built Sicks' Stadium, and christened the new team the Seattle Rainiers. In 1938, Fred Hutchinson (1919-1964) won 25 games and was named the minor league Player of the Year. The Rainiers played until 1964. The interview  appeared on September 8, 1938, and is taken from Vol. 1 of Fred Hutchinson's scrapbooks, which may be seen in the archives of Seattle's Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI accession 1990.7). The interview was transcribed by Lorraine C. McConaghy, Ph.D., historian at MOHAI.

The Morning After

By Royal Brougham

September 4, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer 

Mr. Jack Lelivelt Takes the Stand:  Rainier Skipper Praises Hutch and Gyselman

A man of few words is Jack Lelivelt.  You have to use the prime-and-pump system when interviewing the skipper of the Rainiers.  But because he has done an exceptional job with the Seattle club this year, we are putting him in the witness box today and giving him the third degree via the question and answer method.  Mister Lelivelt, take the stand.

Q  Is it true that you have serious designs on the [Pacific] Coast League pennant this year?

A  Well, I didn’t think we had a chance a month ago, but we’re going to be knocking at the door for the next couple of weeks.

Q  Did you or did you not say one day last March that you had a fine hitting team but that the pitching was weak?  Answer yes or no. 

A  Well, yes, but I didn’t know that Hutch was going to win 23 games, and that [Hal] Turpin would win 15.

  Q  What is your private opinion as to where Hutch will pitch next year? 

A  Right here in Seattle.  I think he will be sold this fall but for 1940 delivery.

Q  Who is the most improved player on the team? 

A  [Edo] Vanni, without a doubt.  Why, that kid has developed 50% in the last month!  He can hit and run with the best of them, and he is fast learning to field and to throw. 

Q  With both [Hal] Spindel and [Dick] Gyselman playing major league ball, which is the more likely to be drafted this fall? 

A  I’m going to cross you up with my answer to this one.  Both Hal and Dick are being eyed by the big leagues but the man I think is most likely to be drafted is Gregory.  With pitchers scarce, Paul would be a bargain at the $7,500 draft price.

  Q  What about your problem child, Ernie Fernandez? 

A  Well, that kid is such a great hitter that he is a cinch to find his niche somewhere. He caught a swell game in San Francisco but I think I’ll tell him this winter to play the outfield.  He is fast, his arm is strong, and what a sweet hitter!  Maybe the outfield is where he belongs. 

Q  Answer this one quick:  who is the most valuable man on your club?

A  You’ve got me there.  The first name that enters my mind, of course, is Hutch.  Then I think of the many games [Bill] Lawrence has saved for us in centerfield.  But do you know the fellow who has to be considered for that honor?  Gyselman.  I’ve never seen a third baseman play better ball in majors or minors than Dick in the last two weeks.  You better leave that question unanswered ... . 

Q  Well, what about [Mike] Hunt?

A  There’s a problem I haven’t been able to solve.  When I took over this club, I thought Mike was the hardest hitter in the league, and the worst outfielder.  But he has shown me he is a rattling good defensive man.  His work has been surprisingly good in the field but he has had trouble at the plate.  It’s one of those things that you can’t explain. 

Q  Now, Mr. Lelivelt, one more question:  you have graciously given all the credit to Hutchinson, Lawrence, Gyselman and the rest of the team, and to Emil Sick’s new deal for the exceptional showing of the club this year.  Is it or is it not true that you are modestly withholding the fact that the man who is largely responsible for the success of the Rainiers is the manager?

A  Upon advice of counsel, I refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. 

Witness dismissed.

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