Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
June 18, 1992, Page 28
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
~ Oldies ~
By Dee Zimmerman
“Take me out to the ball game,
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks,
I don’t care if I never get back,
For it’s root, root for the home team.”
These words are from a popular song of the 20s. It reminds us of the many small town and community baseball teams of the past. During the early 1900s, playing the game of baseball or being a spectator was a Sunday afternoon past-time enjoyed by many.
The first baseball game I saw and remember was in the mid 30s. It was during the years of the Depression, drought and grasshoppers in eastern South Dakota. With those three plagues, the money was scarce and entertainment wasn’t some-thing that had a fee.
My parents were in the business of farming. Across the river from their farm site, some young farming friends had gotten together a baseball team. On one of the player’s farm, they fashioned a baseball diamond on a prairie grass, cattle grazing portion above the west bank of the river. The fellows didn’t have money for baseball uniforms, so wore the uniforms of their daily work, “bib overalls.” They did manage to have the baseball gloves, three or four baseball bats and two base-balls.
One Saturday, in early August, my dad announced we were going to a baseball game the next day because he heard there was to be a good game played that day. The Farm Boy’s Team was undefeated up to that time and heard about another un-defeated team “The Springs,” located about fifty miles from the area.
On that Sunday, we arrived at the diamond early. Dad sat me up on one front fender of the ’27 Buick Coupe. My dad sat up on the other front fender. Mother chose to view from in the car. We watched the Farm Boys warm up. A set of brothers played on the team, Jack was pitcher and Foy the catcher. After the Springs team arrived, they took warm-up practice. As they ran out on the field, I said “Dad, look, they are dressed like real ball players.” After all, they were wearing uniforms. I was impressed. Then, my dad said, “Don’t let those fancy baseball uniforms fool you! If Jack’s pitching arm is working and the other boys do their job, those Springs boys will be lucky to get a run over home plate. Just remember, a fancy baseball uniform isn’t what makes the baseball player!”
Well, the Springs Team did get a couple runs but that wasn’t enough as the Farm boys had more runs and won the game.
My dad lived to watch many more years of baseball games. In his later years, it was major league, games on television. Whenever we would be together in those later years and the conversation would get on sports, my dad was sure to bring up that baseball game of the 30s. He would say, “Remember that time when the Farm Boys beat that fancy Springs Team?” Then he would chuckle and go into the details (which is why I remember that event). So, I just know dad thought that was the most exciting and enjoyable baseball game he ever watched; the day his farming neighbors and friends won a good game. A day, they momentarily forgot their financial farming woes and saw something to cheer and be happy about. Also, he taught his daughter a lesson in making judgments.
Many of you could probably remember such exciting and enjoyable baseball games which were viewed through-out Clark County during the Hometown-City Baseball games era. There were teams representing communities of Greenwood, Eaton Center, Veefkind, Lynn, Willard, Loyal, Christie, Abbotsford, Lublin, Owen, Globe, Thorp, Columbia, Colby, Heintown, Grand View, Atwood, Chili and Neillsville. The players were fellows with the ability and desire to play the game which was above all their idea of fun.
Eaton Center Team – 1928: Back row, left to right: Ralph Kocker, George Scherer, Jack Syth – manager, Eugene Christie, Orville Kalkofen; middle row left to right: John Syth, James Syth, Mike Podobnick, Ernest Christie; front row left to right: Art Christie, James McConnell, and Gilbert Rohde.
Greenwood Baseball Team: Back row left to right: Eugene Christie, Mike Podobnick, Leo Barton, Ken Rodgers, Ernie Christie, Ortin Dahlby; front row left to right: George Scherer, Fritz Moberg, Gaylord Mullendore, Art Christie, Gib Rohde, and Orville Kalkofen.
Neillsville Baseball Team – 1947: back row left to right: Ernie Christie, Armond Wachholz, R. McIntyre, Harold Milbreit, Bud Bremer, and Joe Urban; front row left to right: Earl Magnuson, Hank Lukes, Gordon Vine, Gene Christie, Bob Urban, Jim Bairel, and Bat Boy Jerry Christie.
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