1962 EVERETT ORIOLES
The 1988 Everett Merchants club achieved the highest level possible as a team, winning the National Baseball Congress World Series but it was its predecessor the Everett Orioles who started the tradition. Amazingly that inaugural 1962 team, which posed the most individual talent on it, did not win the league title nor did they advance to the NBC World Series. The Orioles played in the Northwest Semipro Baseball League, competing against teams from Fort Lewis, Centralia, Shoreline, Seattle and the Cheney Studs. They played a 24-game league schedule in addition to non-league games
That summer the Orioles had four players that went onto play in the major leagues: Jim Lonborg, Wally Bunker, Tim Cullen and Ron Stone. They would combine to play in 1,719 major league games.
Head Coach Eddie Coleman, a former minor league player in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, organized the first Everett team. He was able to recruit some of the best collegiate talent on the West Coast from such prominent programs as Washington State University, University of Washington, Oregon State University, University of California, Brigham Young University, Santa Clara University and Western Washington University to come and play for the Orioles.
Bunker, the youngest player on the Orioles, was the team’s ace and showed why as he struke out 20 Shoreline hitters in a 2-0 victory on opening night, June 20th. A high school pitcher from San Bruno, California he made his major league debut on September 29, 1963. He pitched in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles (1963-1968) and with the Kansas City Royals (1969 -1971) and had a career record of 60-52 with a 3.51 ERA. As a 19-year old in 1964, Bunker won the Sporting News American League Rookie Pitcher of The Year Award. Selected in the 1969 expansion draft by the Royals, he threw the very first pitch in franchise history.
The other ace on the squad was a pitcher from Stanford named Jim Lonborg who pitched one of the most impressive games of the season against the league’s top team, Fort Lewis. According to reports, the Fort Lewis team had more than 30 professional players and 10 major league players stationed on base (due to military commitments), at various times playing for them during the season. They were almost unbeatable. On July 6, Lonborg and the Orioles handed them only their second loss in 30 games with a 4-2 victory. Lonborg struck out 14, walked five, hit one batter, and scattered five hits in a complete game performance.
“That was my first summer living away from home, and it was a great experience,” he remembers. “I was young and strong and had a rubber arm. In a playoff doubleheader against Bellingham I won the first game, told the manager I felt good, and wound up pitching the second one too — 18 innings in one day” said Lonborg.
Lonborg would go to play 15 years in the major leagues where he compiled a 157-137 record with 1475 strikeouts, a 3.86 ERA, 90 complete games, 15 shutouts, and 2,464.1 innings in 425 games. His best season came in 1967 when he led American League in wins (22), games started (39), and strikeouts (246). That season he made his first and only All-Star Game and won the American League Cy Young award.
Stone played part of five seasons in the major leagues between 1966 and 1972 for the Kansas City Athletics and the Philadelphia Phillies. In his big league career, he hit .241 average and had 89 RBI.
The other future big league player, Cullen, played six seasons in the major leagues from 1966 through 1972 where he hit .220 with 9 home runs and 134 RBI. A Topps Rookie All-Star in his first season, he appeared in the 1972 World Series with the Oakland Athletics.
Future Everett Orioles teams went onto play in the NBC World Series but none of those teams had an much individual success at the big league level as did the 1962 team.
Also on that team was a young pitcher who just completed his freshman year at Western Washington University, Harold Pyatte and future long time Everett civic leader Jim Langus.