Baseball Tacoma Inc - 2006 Dill Howell Award

Gus Paine

Gus Paine played his high school baseball for coach John Heinrich at Bellarmine from 1928-30. Among Paine�s teammates were some of the city�s best baseball players of that era � Joe Salatino, Frank and Ernie Ruffo and Loue Spatafore. During his high school years and into the 1930s, Paine played in the Industrial, Timber and Northwest leagues. From 1936-41 he caught for and managed Cammarano Brothers, called by sportswriter Ed Honeywell �the best baseball team of that era.� Paine played for the House of David for two years in the 1930s, barnstorming up and down the West Coast with the Satchel Paige Negro League All-Stars. When the All-Stars� catcher got hurt, Paine donned a Kansas City Monarchs uniform and caught Paige for three games. After World War II, Paine was a key figure in the creation of the City League. Teams in the league included K Street, McKinley Hill, 38th Street, Proctor and South Tacoma. The City League at that time was very popular and outdrew the Tacoma Tigers in attendance. Games were played in Lincoln Bowl and the hat was passed among the crowd for the teams to meet their expenses. Paine played for the 1949 K Street team that won both halves of the City League, and since there were no playoffs the team toured the state and took on all comers. K Street played a team from Prosser, led by eventual professional baseball and basketball legend Gene Conley, and won the game, 10-3. They also beat the Mount Vernon Milkmaid, who went on to play at the national tournament because most of the K Street players had jobs and were unable to get time off. The team�s only �travel game� loss came by a 1-0 score against the Walla Walla Penitentiary team. That season, the team finished with a 38-4 record. The 1950 K Street league championship squad was arguably one of the finest amateur teams in the city�s history.

When professional baseball came to Tacoma and Cheney Stadium, Paine became one of the team�s owners and rarely missed a game. After Paine died in 1983, Tacoma sportswriter Earl Luebker wrote this about him: �He was an important part of the Tacoma baseball scene, as a player, as a manager and as an owner and a fan�.He was a baseball man through and through.