Baseball practice moves into high gear this week as Coach Floyd Stahl returns from a well-earned two-week Ohio vacation to take over the reins from Warron Berg and Adolph Samborski, who have been handling the squad in his absence.
Wholly untested and still largely nebulous after two sketchy weeks of practice, the Varsity nine present a mixed and not over-encouraging picture at this point. A lot of concentrated work will be necessary before the team can take the field against Kings Point on April 19, the first game of the season.
Squad Numbers Seventy
Some seventy candidates have been working out in Briggs Cage and, when weather permitted, on Soldiers Field. But surprisingly few of this number can be regarded at present as probable starters; only three remain from last year's squad.
The infield seems to be the brightest sport in the Crimson picture, with at least two positions pretty well sewed up at the moment. Bill Fitz, a veteran of the '42 summer team, and the first man to play. Varsity ball under the wartime Freshman eligibility, looms are one of the best first base prospects in many years, while Don Swegan, of football and basketball fame, is holding forth at shortstop.
Jack forte, younger brother of the '12'43 football captain, is leading the field in the competition for the second base post that he held last spring and summer, while John Coppinger, also a holdover from last year, is contending with Paul Butler, who played on the '44 Freshman squad, fear the keystone sack.
Knowler Head Moundsmen
The mound corps, greatly weakened by the graduation last fall of Jack Wallace, is currently headed by Johnny Knowles. The lean southpaw will be starting his third campaign for the Crimson, having spent the past two years carrying the Jayvees and turning in valuable relief jobs for the varsity on occasion. Other prospects for the pitching staff include Norm Wholley and Dick Morris, with several other candidates also in the running.
Bill Barron and Bill Holbrook both veterans of the '44 Freshman squad, stand out at present as the leading conlenders for catcher. The outfield, however, is the least settled of all sectors, with all three gardens open at this writing.
No Ivy Competition This Year
Fortunately for Crimson prestige, the team will not rejoin the Ivy League roster until next year. Yale and Dartmouth are, however, on the list of scheduled opponents this spring. Two games will be played with the Elis, on June 5 and June 24; in the interim between the two the entire Crimson squad will of necessity be revised as some players graduate while new ones enter for the summer term. This state of affairs was brought about by the discrepancy in term endings between Harvard and Yale; the two games were arranged so as to coincide with commencement exercises at the two schools.
One new game has been added to the Varsity schedule: the Stahlmen will trek down to Rhode Island for a game with the Quonset Naval Air Station team on April 24. This is the only service team to appear on the schedule this year, in contrast to the lean years of '44 and '45 when almost all games were played against the numerous star-studded training camps and bases in the vicinity.
This year's games, being against teams in the collegiate class, should give the Crimson nine a chance to better its records of the past few years, when the experienced and smooth military squads often hit the Stahlment hard and long.