Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The town Commercial League baseball

If you lived in a small town 50 years ago, you probably either followed or played or sponsored a sports team.  These fine young athletes were sponsored by Dewey's Gulf Service, and they took second place in the Commercial League during the first half of play.  The competition were teams from the Moose, VFW, and Corbett Oil.  Members of the "Gashouse Gang" are (kneeling left to right) Jim Watt, Bill Lundholm, Harold Hanke and Orion Brunk.  Standing left to right are classmate Dave Bartow, Stan Messer, Bob Hanke, Bob Bartow, Dick Duffy, Don Morehouse and Bob Rawes, as identified in the July 21, 1955 Mt. Morris Index.

Bill L., Murray T., and Dave S. all played on these teams and have supplied me with some additional information not in the above article. Bill reports that in the mid-50s it was a strong league with Lou Behrens in charge.  You had to be in high school to play, but he remembers that Dick Highbarger played while still in elementary school because he was such a good hitter. There were also college age men on the teams.  Murray says the teams were built around the pitchers (he was a pitcher). Dave's recollection includes the teams for the younger players too.  He says, "The leagues were pretty much run by Lou Behrens. Depending on age, sign-ups were at the gym or at school. The Playground League, ages Jr High through Sophomore were: Police, Townview Dairy, Ogle Cafe and Zickuhr's. Commercial league was for anyone Junior through adults: Corbett-Coffman, VFW, Moose and Dewey's.

How team captains were selected, I don't know. However, Lou would get them together and each captain would select a player off the list of those signed up until all were selected. As teams were only as good as their pitcher, the first selected were guys like Darrell Cory and Bill Lundholm."

Thanks to all who contributed to this article!


Anonymous said...

Usually the pitchers were the captains of the teams and since the teams were built around the pitchers they made the team selections. Lew was a choice player so one year, while selecting for the VFW, I asked Lew if he was playing that year and he told me he wasn't sure. But after the all the players were placed he scanned over the teams an exclaimed he would just add his name to Deweys. I guess he thought the VFW wasn't quite strong enough! LOL
When I pitched I threw a "riser". I recall an incident when I had two strikes on the batter and threw this riser for the third strike and it went up to high but the batter swung and missed anyway. Gene McGee, the umpire, had turned away to avoid getting hit and called it a ball. I argued to no avail with McGee as he refused to correct his call. So, I turned to the first base umpire Dave Bartow for help and for some unknown reason he refused to help with the call. So, I was left with doing it all over again.
Lew ran both the men's commercial league softball and basketball leagues. He also ran the kids playground leagues. He did a terrific job. He also kept the line scores for all the games.

Mike and Judy said...

I remember one time one of the teams chose Dick Lewandoski for their 3rd baseman. Lew about had a bird as Dickie was left handed. Who ever had a left handed 3rd sacker??? Lew said "Put him on first, put him in right, but for Pete's sake, not 3rd base." Mike B

Anonymous said...

The beautiful boys of summer. Was life ever that simply and carefree? Or were we just so caught up in our young lives to realize. Altho I would not want to be 16 again,I do long for a simpler way of doing things. Maybe that IS Old Age,when you start to do this.It is a lovely old photo. Thanks to whomever located it and shared it.