Seattle Rainiers Roll of Honor -- A Slideshow

  • By David Eskenazi
  • Posted 6/02/2005
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7326
In the spring of 1954, Seattle baseball fans were asked to vote for their all time favorite Seattle Rainiers. Always enthusiastic about their diamond heroes, Seattle baseball boosters elected eleven players as charter members of the Rainiers Roll of Honor: “Kewpie” Dick Barrett, Bill Lawrence, Jack Lelivelt, Jo Jo White, Fred Hutchinson, Jim Rivera, Dick Gyselman, Mike Hunt, Bill Schuster, Hal Turpin, and Alan Strange.

“Kewpie” Dick Barrett, who won more than 200 games in a Seattle uniform, tallied the most fan votes. He was followed closely by two other key players from the Rainiers championship years of 1939-1941, centerfielder Bill Lawrence and offensive sparkplug Jo Jo White.

Seattle’s favorite baseball son, Fred Hutchinson, was fourth in the voting, despite having only played for the Rainiers for one year. Fresh out of Seattle’s Franklin High School, Hutch won 25 games for the inaugural Seattle Rainiers squad of 1938 en route to being named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year, and Seattle Man of the Year by the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

1954 marked the 17th year for the Seattle Rainiers franchise. It had been a very successful tenure under the stewardship of beloved owner Emil Sick. The period from 1938 to 1954 included four Pacific Coast League pennants, including the 1939, 1940, 1941 championship trifecta. For their first two pennants, the Rainiers were managed by the great veteran PCL Manager Jack Lelivelt.

Managed by Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, the Suds captured their fourth pennant in 1951. This exciting squad was led on the field by five-tool dynamo Jungle Jim Rivera.

The Rainiers led all minor leagues nationwide in attendance from 1939 to 1954 -- a testament to their popularity and fan loyalty. In 1955 Fred Hutchinson came back to Seattle to manage the Rainiers, teaming up with his Franklin High School friend and teammate, Rainiers General Manager Dewey Soriano. This brain trust brought Rainiers fans their fifth P.C.L. championship.

Rainiers Roll of Honor

Before a Sicks’ Stadium doubleheader with the Oakland Oaks on Thursday, August 12, 1954, a pre-game ceremony honored the 11 elected Seattle Rainier greats. Rainiers color commentator Bill O’Mara acted as master of ceremonies. He first recounted the diamond achievements of the honorees unable to attend, Fred Hutchinson, Jim Rivera, Jo Jo White, and Bill Lawrence, and then read telegrams from these men. Jackie Souder’s band, a fixture for many years at special events at Sicks’ Stadium, provided the musical backdrop for the evening’s activities.

The honorees present for the event, Dick Barrett, Hal Turpin, Dick Gyselman, Alan Strange, Mike Hunt, and Bill Schuster, were then introduced to the 2,715 fans at hand. “Seattle” Bill James, star pitcher for D. E. Dugdale’s 1912 champion Seattle Giants, presented the Rainier greats with handsome Roll of Honor trophies and large framed photographs of themselves, as emcee O’Mara read brief histories of their diamond achievements. Upon accepting their awards, the newly enshrined players acknowledged their gratitude for the honor, and spoke enthusiastically of their baseball days in Seattle.

The only deceased honoree, legendary Rainiers skipper Jack Lelivelt was remembered by O’Mara, and commemorated with a display of his famous Rainiers jersey #1 over a mounted floral wreath.

These Seattle baseball Hall of Famers were elected by local fans over 50 years ago, and their contributions to Seattle baseball history still resonate today.

The following screens show the players selected for the Roll of Honor, including their names, nicknames, and years they played in Seattle.

Images courtesy David Eskenazi Collection.


Sources: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sunday, February 21, 1954, p. 8; The Seattle Times, Friday, August 13, 1954, p. 21.

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