Max West, outfield & first base
Padres: 1947, 1949-50 Max West was one of the all-time great Pacific Coast League sluggers. Three times, he led the league in home runs. In 1949, he smashed 48 circuit blows, 166 RBIs and, incredibly, West was walked 201 times. He was the star of the 1940 All Star Game when his 3-run, first inning home run was all the National League needed in their eventual shutout of the Americans by a 4-0 score.
[Max West, interview by Bill Swank and Bill Capps, 16 February 1995, transcript notes.]
I was doing well [with the San Francisco Missions] and had a new Chevrolet. I was in the clubhouse at Wrigley Field [Los Angeles] and I was told, “Don’t put on your uniform.” I was sold to Boston. I cried. It was like going to Siberia! But, Casey [Stengel] treated me like a son. After the War, I was in Cincinnati. I wanted some money from Giles [Red’s owner] and he sent me a telegram that said, “You didn’t like it here and you won’t like it where you’re goin!” It was San Diego and I was treated like a King! Bill Starr was a great guy. That was the nicest time in my life. I lived in Coronado. My brother-in-law was in the Navy. I would take the ferry.
There wasn’t a game I played [at Lane Field] that the place wasn’t full. Those stands were full of sailors and Starr sold them a million beers. That Starr . . . he made me play every inning of every game. He made me earn every dollar. We’d play two hundred games. At that time, it was my opinion that the Coast League was better than the National League. Just a couple of pitchers more and the PCL would have been better.
I hit off my back a lot. The pitchers would test you: inside, outside and then they’d say, “Put him on his ass.” Al Rosen told me that he was always on his ass, because I’d hit a home run and he was up after me.
We were up in L.A. We had those juiced balls for batting practice. Easter and I were hitting them over the scoreboard. We had Harvey Storey and Buster Adams would hit home runs to lead off a game. That day, Red Adams refused to pitch against us. The whole lineup could hit ’em out!
I had to take a cut to go to Pittsburgh, but I needed it for my pension. Most of the guys who played out here wanted to stay. Playing a season in Pittsburgh is like dying. We’ve got the good climate here.
When we had Easter, Storey, Adams, Smith, Minoso, Simpson–it was a picnic. We’d be four or five runs ahead and we’d just laugh at them. Minnie scored for me on a fly ball from second! I never left him on base. That’s how I got so many RBIs: Minnie Minoso. When we got to the playoffs, he’d say, “Let’s get money. Get money. No speak English.” They’d hit him and he would laugh, “Me no get black and blue.” He always gave 100%, 110%. If there was money, Minnie wanted it!
There was a foundry beyond right field in Portland. You’d get covered with soot. It was worse for the fans. I remember a time in San Diego when Billy Martin hit a short single to right. I came in and he had rounded first. He liked to dance, so I threw right at him! I can still see him trying to get out of the way of that ball. He called me everything. I was just having a little fun with him. I understand he lost every fight he was in.
The dew was so bad at Lane Field that you’d come in from the outfield, take off your shoes and pour water out of them. Our cars looked like somebody put a hose on them. I had my Cadillac ruined by parking it there.