The Wenatchee Chiefs were a minor league baseball team based in Wenatchee, Washington. The team was founded in 1937, and was a part of the Western International League from its founding until 1954, although the team did not operate in 1941 and the entire league was suspended during World War II, for the seasons from 1943 to 1945. The Chiefs were one of the seven founding members of the Northwest League in 1955, where they remained until the team suspended operations after the 1965 season.
The Chiefs were founded in 1937 as one of the inaugural teams in the Western International League by Canadians Gerald McClay and Art Nevison. The team played a 144-game season, with its home field at Wenatchee's Recreation Park. In its early years, the team drew as many as 3,000 fans attending games, with ticket prices of 5 cents for the bleachers and 40 cents for grandstand seating for adults. With baseballs costing as much as $1.50 each, the team would pay children 50 cents per game to retrieve balls that went into the stands as foul balls or home runs so that they could be reused. The team was taken over by Charles C. Garland in 1938, who began an affiliation agreement with the New York Yankees, and the team won its first league pennant in 1939.
Future major league pitcher Bill Bevens threw an 8-0 no-hitter on September 21, 1939, against the Tacoma Tigers, with the only opponent reaching base on an error. The win gave the Chiefs its first playoff win in a series in which it had lost the first three games to Tacoma. Bevens would later throw 8⅔ innings of no-hit ball in a World Series game known as The Cookie Game, in which Bevens and the New York Yankees lost by a score of 3-2 on a ninth inning, game-winning hit by Cookie Lavagetto.
Frank Dasso was a one-time major league pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds who finished his lengthy minor league career in Wenatchee, and took on a management role after retiring from on-field play. As general manager of the Chiefs, Dasso organized a promotion in July 1953 called "Bust Down the Fences Night" in a game against the Tri-City Braves, in which attendees at the game were told that you could "pay what you like; no regular admission". Gate receipts from the 3,200 in attendance at the game was $1,251, an average of 40 cents per fan, earning the team more in profit from that one game than any three games they had played in that season to-date.
The team was a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees from 1938 to 1940, the Cincinnati Redlegs during the 1957 and 1958 seasons, and the Chicago Cubs from 1961 until 1965. The team was affiliated with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1954.
- Staff. "All hail the Chiefs: almost 70 years ago, Wenatchee's first professional baseball team was formed.", Wenatchee Business Journal, July 1, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2009.
- via United Press International. Bevans Hurls No-No Game for Wenatchee", Eugene Register-Guard, September 21, 1939. Accessed June 24, 2009 Note that the player's surname is spelled "Bevans", while there was no player with a name spelled that way on the team that season.
- via Associated Press. "Pay What You Like at Wenatchee", Eugene Register-Guard, June 27, 1953. Accessed June 23, 2009.
- Wenatchee Chiefs, Baseball-Reference. Accessed June 24, 2009.