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Baseball History in Evansville, Wisconsin
Researched and Written by Ruth Ann Montgomery - Published in The Review, 2005

1867 | 1880s | 1890s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s
| 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

1867 - 1880

Evansville fans have watched been watching local baseball players win and lose at the game of baseball since 1867. This is the year that the first local baseball team was reported in the Evansville newspapers. It was one year before the start of the first professional baseball team in the United States and Evansville men already had formed an attachment to the game.

The April 24, 1867 issue of the Evansville Citizen announced the organization of the Evansville Baseball Club. Dr. C. M. Smith was elected president, E. S. Watts, vice President and Daniel Curry, Secretary & Treasurer. A regular meeting was held once a month and practices were held on the Evansville Seminary grounds on Wednesday and Saturday of each week.

Only the last name of the players and their positions on the team were listed in the lineup printed in the July 24, 1867 Evansville Citizen: Curry, catcher; Carville, pitcher; Nelson, short stop; J. Spencer, 1st base; Vervalin, 2nd base; Bennett, 3rd base; Dudley left field; C. Spencer, center field; and Haskins, right field.

The Evansville Citizen reporter praised this new organization: “We are pleased to see this popular and healthful amusement entered into by our young men. It has already become a national recreation, and has excited a healthy emulation between towns and states, and may ere long spread to nations.”

The team played against a Beloit team known as the Line City team. The game was played on the grounds south of the Seminary. According to the report, a crowd of several hundred people turned out to watch the game.

Scores of early games were much higher than today. The Evansville team lost 25 to 76. By the ninth inning, Beloit’s score was so high, the game was called. Even though Evansville had only one out in the ninth inning, the winning team was obvious to the umpire.

According to the local newspaper, “It was a lively game, and well done.” The reporter told readers that though the fans hoped Evansville would win, the local team was not a match for their opponent. “Of course we would much rather to have our boys beat, but when it is known that the Evansville Club is of recent organization and but very little time has been devoted to practice, and nearly all new players, we think they did remarkably well.”

Baseball was becoming the favorite summertime pastime of men and boys. For those who wanted to learn more about the game and how to play, local news stands carried Haney’s Base Ball and promised to order “quantities for clubs on short notice.”

Haney’s Base Ball of Reference by Henry Chadwick was published in 1867 It was the first official rulebook of the game.

Chadwick described the model player, “The principal rule of action of our model base ball player is, to comport himself like a gentleman on all occasions, but especially on match days, and in so doing he abstains from profanity and its twin and vile brother obscenity, leaving these vices to be alone cultivated by graduates of our penitentiaries.”

“He never censures errors of play made by a brother member or an opponent, as he is well aware that fault finding not only leads to no improvement in the play of the one who blunders but on the contrary is calculated to have the very reverse effect.”

“He was never known to dispute the decision of an umpire, for knowing the peculiar position an umpire is placed in, he is careful never to wound his feelings by implying that his judgment is weak.”

According to Chadwick, the model player was “able to throw a ball with accuracy of aim a dozen or a hundred yards.” The player should also be “fearless in facing and stopping a swiftly batted or thrown ball.”

The rules given to the pitchers may have been responsible for the high scoring games. The pitcher was to pitch the ball close to the center of home base and where the batsmen requested it.

Gloves were rarely used by the early players and the results were injured hands and crooked fingers. Catching a ball without having it hurt the player’s hands was part of learning to play the game. Even the catcher was considered a “sissie” if he wore a glove.

The baseball of the 1860s was ten inches in circumference. Usually just one ball was used for the entire game, and it was awarded to the winning team as a trophy.

Area communities with baseball teams in the late 1860s included Clinton, Janesville, Beloit, Milton, and Evansville.

The first Wisconsin Base Ball Tournament was held in Beloit starting September 3, 1867. There were teams from Madison, Delavan, Milton, Whitewater, Milwaukee, LaCrosse, Clinton, and Beloit. Beloit had seven teams in the tournament. Several Illinois teams also participated, including players from Belvidere, Forest City, Chicago, Freeport, Rockton, and Roscoe.

Although there was plenty of interest from baseball fans, no Evansville team participated. However the local newspaper reported that the Beloit tournament site was a “beautiful piece of prairie, level as a house floor, on the Stateline road, near the Northwestern depot.”

Prizes were awarded for adult senior and second class clubs, junior clubs with players under the age of eighteen, and pony clubs with players under the age of fifteen. Additional prizes were offered by Rock County businesses for best catcher, best pitcher, best thrower, best runner of bases. There was also a prize of a box of soap for the “club securing most whitewashes.”

One of the first of the tournament games played was called at dusk with Whitewater at 46 points and the Beloit Badgers at 25. Another game between two junior teams, the Intrepids of LaCrosse and the Capitol Juniors of Madison, resulted in a win for the Capitol Juniors, 62 to 17.

The first professional baseball team organized in 1869. That year, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first team to pay all of their players. In 1869, the Stocks had an annual payroll of $9,300 and the star of the Cincinnati team, short-stop George Wright,was paid $1,400. His fans said he was worth every penny of it. Within a few years, Evansville could claim one of it’s own players as a professional baseball player.

There were only a few articles about baseball in the Evansville newspapers during the 1870s. The May 27, 1874 issue of the Review reported, a game of baseball between the “Graded School boys and the Seminary boys.” The game was held on the grade school grounds (the current location of the J. C. McKenna Middle School.) The Seminary students were beaten by twenty points.

A race horse track near the cemetery was used for many of the games played by the adult players.

In 1878, Evansville had a team called the Red Stockings that practiced every day. They played an Oregon team known as the Squealers.

On the 4th of July, a baseball match was held that was “witnessed by scores, with manifest delight for the skill and ingenuity of those who participated.” No mention was made of the players on the team. The reporter considered any mention of the details of the game as “not particularly necessary for these notes.”

In 1879, the Evansville Baseball team, the Evansville Mutuals, played ball against teams from Magnolia, Stoughton, Janesville and the Footville Clippers. Wild fielding and a “want of practice” caused the loss of the games with Magnolia and Footville, but the local team was victorious over Stoughton by a score of 18 to 3.

A game was played against the Janesville Mutuals on October 17, 1879. The locals beat the Janesville team 10 to 2. Cal Broughton, Morehouse and Owen are mentioned as having “played their positions finely.”

In March 1880, another Evansville baseball team was organized. Livery stable owner, Matt Broderick, served as Manager. The team was once again called the Evansville Mutuals. Cal Broughton was catcher, Bayard Andrews, pitcher; Morehouse, Owen, F. Broughton on the bases; Heath, shortstop; and Purdy Thompson and Hunt in the field. Two men acted as extras, John Silverthorn and A. Broughton.

The local teams usually began practicing in March and the season ended in September. One of the first reported matches in 1880 was between the Evansville Mutuals and the Janesville Mutuals for a prize of twenty dollars.

The game was played at Evansville's Fourth of July celebration. Evansville's team won with a score of 32 to 20. Other games were played against teams from neighboring towns and sometimes there was an incentive of prize money offered to the winning team. The Mutuals always drew a crowd.

Baseball playing in the 1880s took on new importance for Evansville fans as one of their own players was picked to play professional ball. Cal Broughton whose name is mentioned in the 1870s as one of Evansville’s team members was called to play for Cleveland.



The Evansville baseball fans and team members knew there was potential for a talented player to join the legendary baseball professionals. One of Evansville’s favorite players, Cal Broughton, made that transition to the professional leagues in the 1880s.

Cecil Calvert Broughton was a popular catcher and played with area teams. In the early 1880s, Broughton joined the Janesville Mutuals as their catcher. When the Janesville Gazette covered the Mutuals’ games, they often commented on Broughton’s playing ability.

During the summer of 1882, the Janesville Mutuals challenged teams from Chicago, Rockford, Detroit, Beloit, and Milwaukee. In July 1882, the Mutuals played the Greens of Chicago. The Gazette described Broughton’s playing as “fine.” The Gazette also said that Cal continued to improve, and “is now as good a catcher as there is in the country.”

Broughton made his major league debut with the Cleveland Blues on May 2, 1883, at the age of 22. He played in only four games as the team’s catcher. He was in Evansville for the 4th of July celebration that year. The Review noted his return and called him the “best player in the U. S.” However, the competing newspaper, the Enterprise, said that “there are a great many equally as good in the country.”

Broughton returned to Cleveland and before the season ended he was released from the team. For the rest of the 1883 season, he played catcher in eight (or nine) games for the Baltimore Orioles, depending on the statistics reported.

The following year, Cal Broughton played for the Milwaukee Cream City team. A Milwaukee newspaper, anticipating Broughton’s arrival in the city reported in April 1884, “Cal Broughton is practicing regularly with McGinley, at Albany, Wis., and writes that he is in better condition than ever before. McGinley is pitching in splendid style, and great things are expected of the ‘Wisconsin battery’ this season.” Broughton played eleven games for Milwaukee in 1884.

In 1885, Broughton played for two teams. At the beginning of the season, he played four games for the St. Louis Browns. Then he transferred to the New York Metropolitans and played eleven games. That season Broughton was at bat for 58 times, but he only had 7 hits and scored 2 runs.

In 1886, Cal was not chosen for a major league team. However, he reported to the Evansville Review, that he was going to play for a Savannah, Georgia team. The Review report said that Broughton’s salary for the season would be $1,200.

He played for a Memphis team and won a gold medal for “his efficiency.” He took great pride in this medal, one of the few awards he gained during his professional career.

In November 1887, he was signed to play with the Detroit Wolverines in the 1888 season. Broughton left on the 15th of February for Detroit. The team was to make a trip through the south before they opened the league games.

The season was short-lived for Cal. He played only one game for the Detroit team and his final game in the major leagues was played for the Wolverines on April 21,1888. The Evansville and Janesville newspapers reported his return home in early May.

However, in 1889 and 1890, Broughton had two more years of play with a St. Paul minor league team before returning to Evansville. There are no known records of his work with this team.

Following his professional career, Cal returned to Evansville and worked for the D. E. Wood Butter Company. In the early 1900s, he served as Evansville’s elected police chief. He continued to play baseball for many years, leading his Evansville team to a contested state championship in 1896. He always played the catcher position.

The local players kept a close eye on their hero. Each spring the local players organized teams and games with teams from other communities. When the teams had no challengers from away, they played each other or teams from the rural area surrounding Evansville.

There were several Evansville teams playing in the 1880s, the Deceivers, the Acme Ball Club, and the Mutuals. These were traveling teams and played teams from communities that could be reached by railroad. Games were scheduled as they could be arranged with the other teams from Edgerton, Milton, Oregon, Madison, Beloit, Janesville, Reedsburg, Brodhead and Lodi.

The teams from towns closest to Evansville seemed to form the biggest rivals. If Evansville lost to Brodhead, Edgerton, or Milton, it was frequently reported by the Enterprise and the Review, that the Evansville team was playing “in a crippled condition,” without their best players. Sometimes an unfair umpire was blamed for Evansville’s loss to a rival.

Local newspapers did not often bother to name the players on the team. An exception was made when Oregon and Evansville played a tie game of 14 to 14 in September 1883. The Evansville team members were Web Owen, Aaron Broughton, Frank Broughton, Van Wart, Stearns, Millspaugh, H. Royer, J. Eastman, and Henry Royer.

The reputation of some Evansville team members, gave them opportunities to play for teams in other communities. Frank Broughton was a catcher, often compared to brother, Cal, as being one of the best in the area. Broughton and Web Owen from Footville, both members of the Evansville traveling team, were often called by other teams to fill their roster.

In August 1883, Broughton and Owen were asked to play for a Harvard, Illinois team in a game against a Marengo, Illinois team. According to local newspaper reports, Marengo’s teams was stacked with Chicago and Elgin professional players. Harvard’s team was defeated but the Evansville players, Broughton and Owen, were praised as “the best players the Harvard Club had.”

The following year, in May 1884, Frank Broughton played for the Janesville Mutuals against the Beloit College team. “The catching of Frank Broughton was loudly praised and many said that, with a little more experience, he will equal his brother, Cal.”

The enthusiasm for the game of baseball was as lively in the farming community surrounding Evansville as it was in the Village. The Jug Prairie area in Rock and Green County west of Evansville had organized a team for baseball beginning the in the 1870s.

The Jug Prairie team had a baseball diamond on a farm west of Evansville. In July 1883, the Evansville Deceivers played the Jug Prairie Club on Mr. Pike’s farm. The Evansville team won the game 22 to 15.

In 1884 there was a country team called the “Tangle Legs.” Cainville also had a team that challenged the Evansville players.

On special occasions, when a visiting team did not show, or there was a special celebration in Evansville, the organized teams played scrub matches with teams that could be quickly organized with local men.

The public school grounds on South First Street were most often used for these games in the early 1880s. The neighbors and school officials complained about the broken windows, destruction to lawns on neighboring properties and foul language that was sometimes used during the game.

In 1883, Levi Leonard and Lansing Mygatt sold part of the addition north of the residential area on Second Street to the Village of Evansville. The Village Board intended to develop a park on this piece of property that was 19 x 51 rods. Some suggested that a baseball diamond be built in the park “where boys may play ball without breaking window lights or damaging anyone’s private property.”

The Village Board did not spend the money to build a ball diamond and the teams made do with the school grounds. In the late 1880s, the local ball teams used a diamond at the race track on McEwen’s farm southwest of the Village limits. This later became the Rock County Fairgrounds and teams continue to play on the Fairgrounds for many years.

By 1886, Evansville had ten baseball clubs organized. Only the team captain’s names were mentioned in the newspaper, but several of the captains also were members of Evansville traveling team. The team captains were Fred Gillman, George Hardin, George Wiggins, Elmer Scoville, Fred Springer; Fred Scoville, Earle Mihills, Bert Bevier, Bert Hoyl, Fred Clifford, Corey Dolph.

Baseball games usually earned only a brief report in the local newspapers until May 13, 1887, when a play-by-play report of a game against Oregon appeared in the Evansville Review. The report was signed “an old player.”

Evansville’s players won the game with a score of 27 to 6. The game was umpired by a Mr. Croak of Magnolia. The reporter said that Croak was “able and impartial” in calling the plays.

The first four innings were “goose eggs,”with no scores for Evansville. Then the whole Evansville team batted in the 5th inning. Evansville’s Broderick stepped up to the bat and hit the first (and only) home run of the game. Fred Gillman’s hit was short and he was out at 1st. Lieu Van Wart, the next batter, was also out at 1st base.

Slightham made it to second base. Frank VanWart hit the ball to left field and made it to second, with Slightham making it home, for the second run of the inning. Web Owen hit a line drive in the 5th inning, bringing Van Wart home. The next batter, Aaron Broughton hit a line drive, made it to second base, bringing Owen home.

Nay Gillman (Fred’s brother) was Evansville’s next batter and he made it to first base. Frank Broughton hit a fly ball that Oregon’s player fumbled and Broughton got to second base.

The first of the team’s batters was up again and Broderick bunted the ball and he made it to 1st base and Broughton came home. Fred Gillman was next at bat and he made the third out.

For the next four innings, it was Evansville’s game. The Review’s report of the plays and statistics was two columns long. The “old player” gave high praise to the Evansville team. “Oregon tried hard to hit the ball, but because of good fielding and the difficult curves pitched by F. Gillman very few of them reached first.”

Both the Oregon and Evansville teams were praised for their gentlemanly conduct. “The game was played without any kicking or any use of vulgar language whatever, both nines being gentlemen in every respect. Patrons of the game may be assured that the best of order will be kept, nothing will be allowed to be said that would shock the most fastidious.”



The 1890s were exciting times for the Evansville ball clubs. The favored location for the home games was the McEwen Driving park. The adult teams used the McEwen grounds and the baseball diamond on the school grounds of the First Street school was abandoned to the high school, or quickly put together adult baseball teams that played in the this decade.

"Baseball is becoming epidemical again," the Evansville Review announced in May 1891 and the perennial sport of summer began. Evansville's traveling team, usually referred to in news reports as the "Evansville Club" had a strong following of fans that would attend both home and away games.

Rivals for the Evansville team included teams from Oregon, Stoughton, Jefferson, Milton, Edgerton, Portage, Sun Prairie, Reedsburg, Sharon, Beloit, and Janesville. An exhibition game with a Chicago team became a popular fund raiser for the traveling team. Admission of 25 cents was also charged at the gate and the money was used to purchase uniforms for the team and to pay travel expenses.

The Evansville charges were small compared to the Janesville team playing in the Wisconsin League. The Janesville team charged one dollar to get into the games.

Cal Broughton, Evansville's only professional ball player in the 1800s, was still the popular hero of the baseball fans. His friend, Fred Gillman told local reporters that he was playing for a Seattle club in 1890. The following year, Cal was back in the Evansville area.

Only the best players were called to serve on the traveling teams, as the object was to win. Fans often had bets on their favorite team and to increase their chances of winning, the baseball teams hired men from outside their communities to increase the strength of their team. Fred Gillman and Cal Broughton played for an Edgerton team against Lake Mills in an August 1891 game.

For Evansville baseball players, it was an honor to be chosen to play for other area teams. However when an opposing team used players that were not from their community, there was an outcry of unfair tactics, especially if the Evansville team lost.

The Black Devils was the team name used by the Evansville traveling team from 1894 to 1896. This was a team that grew in strength over that three year period. The Evansville Tribune considered this a "hideous" name, but praised the team's winnings.

The Edgerton and Evansville rivalry that had begun in the 1880s continued into the next decade and the two teams played several games against each other each season. For a game in July 1895, more than 100 Evansville fans traveled to Edgerton to watch their team play. The Evansville fans cheered wildly when their team came back from a score of 4 to 1 in the fourth inning to defeat the Edgerton team by a score of 10 to 7.

In the ninth inning the Evansville fans watched their team make the final three outs for the Edgerton team. According to the Tribune, the Evansville fans "yelled themselves hoarse as the alleged ball players from Edgerton were fanned out in one, two, three order."

Although there were four newspaper published in Evansville in the mid-1890s, it was rare that player's names were given in the reports of the games. A game with Edgerton in 1895 was an exception. Three Evansville players were mentioned as playing excellent ball during the battle with the Edgerton team.

The Tribune reported that Fred Gillman, the Evansville team's catcher, made "a thrilling race" for home plate, scoring a run. Two other players were mentioned only by their last names, Hayden, the pitcher was credited with striking out 17 of Edgerton's players and a player, Libby, had an exceptional hit that "went far enough to strike a silver mine."

In August 1895, an Edgerton team beat the Evansville nine by a score of 5 to 2. The Evansville newspaper, the Tribune called the game a sham: "We acknowledge the defeat at baseball by the Edgerton boys, but would you recognize a nine from Evansville composed of all but two first class record breaker professional players? We lost money, so would many others, if they bet on their own team against the field."

Evansville had a team that was growing stronger with each game. The Evansville and Edgerton rivalry had become so well known throughout the area that the mayors of the two communities called for a game to be played on neutral ground, in Janesville. The mayors chose an umpire and his name was not revealed to either team until the start of the game.

Hundreds of people watched the two teams complete. The Black Hussar band of Evansville played before the opening of the game. Then the mayors announced their choice of umpire, Harvey Clark of Madison.

It appears that Evansville decided to play team "professionals" who did not live in the Evansville area, as the team roster included a third baseman named Possell, a short stop named Nichols, a first baseman named Minton and a left fielder named Cossibone. The only recognizable Evansville names were Cal Broughton as catcher, Fred Gilman at center field, and Crall at right field. Stewart at 2nd base and Runkle, the pitcher may also have been professional players.

Evansville was the winning team with a score of 9 to 5 and the Evansville Enterprise declared the Evansville team to be the champions of Rock County. "We knew it" from the start that the other fellows were not up to the scratch. They had professional men, and we had to protect ourselves also."

The next year proved to be the best year of the century for the Evansville baseball team. The local players won against Fort Atkinson, Lake Mills, Edgerton, Stoughton and Waterloo in June and early July.

When Cal Broughton mangled and dislocated his thumb while playing a game against Durand, it was reported in all four Evansville newspapers. The loss of their favorite catcher made the Evansville team vulnerable and Evansville lost three games without one of their key players.

Evansville's lineup for most of the season included J. F. Nonemaker, pitcher; Cal Broughton, captain and catcher; Tom Morrissey, first base; Pat Holleran, second base; Tom Sullivan, third base; John Gregg, third base; Frank Broughton, Jr., shortshop; Chet Brewer, left field; Charles Newman, center field; Fred W. Gillman, right field, and manager; E. H. Libby, outfield Ray Broughton, infield; Chester A. Morse, mascot. Frank, Jr. and Ray Broughton were nephews of Cal Broughton.

In the new few weeks, they lost to their rival Edgerton, but beat Sun Prairie, another game against Fort Atkinson, Waterloo, and Sharon. By the end of the season, Evansville had won 19 games and lost five.

In league play for the Wisconsin State League, Edgerton had won 11 games and lost three. Evansville had won 12 league games and lost 2 and was declared the Champion of the Wisconsin State League.

However, since their percentages were the same, .357, Edgerton challenged the Evansville team's claim to the pennant and wanted a game to decide the true victor. The game of the century was played for a championship that would be a subject of controversy for the next twenty years.

Evansville played against Edgerton on September 5th 1896 for what the two teams and their fans considered the championship game. The action of the game got little notice in the Evansville newspapers but made headlines in the Janesville Gazette, as it drew crowds of people from Janesville, Edgerton, Evansville and all of Rock County.

Edgerton had some Rockford men by the names of Ferguson, Warner and Dillon and further improved the chances of their team by having league players from Janesville Fort Atkinson and Madison. According to a report in the Janesville Gazette, twenty-one years later, "Evansville never entered words of protest, because they well knew that Edgerton, under the rule of the league had a perfect right to use the men they did. It was alright for Edgerton to load up."

Evansville lost the game by a score of 5 to 1, in favor of Edgerton, but controversy about the real winner of the championship of 1896 remained strong. It was noted in the May 15, 1926, Janesville Gazette article about the game played twenty years before that several of the players had been successful away from the ball diamond. Four of the players became chiefs of police, Fred W. Gillman, Cal Broughton, (Evansville chiefs), and Charles Newman and Tom Morrissey (Janesville chiefs.)

The baseball fever that had been so prevalent in Evansville in the 1880s and 1890s quieted some at the end of the 19th century. The traveling baseball teams that had brought such excitement to the sports activities in Evansville became a thing of the past.

In the late 1890s, the legendary Cal Broughton and his team mate, Fred Gillman were elected to Evansville political offices. At the time both the Police Chief and City Clerk positions were elected officials. Cal Broughton became Evansville's Police Chief in 1899 and Fred Gillman held the job of City Clerk. Gillman also held the appointment of Deputy Sheriff and frequently assisted Broughton in solving crimes.

Their new occupations brought the two well-known Evansville men as much notice in the local newspapers as their baseball playing had in earlier years. Both men held their political offices for many years. Broughton and Gillman had great success in capturing burglars and others who were unlucky enough to come to Evansville to engage in criminal activities.

In their spare time, Broughton and Gillman continued to play baseball. Cal Broughton played for a Milton traveling baseball team against some old foes of Evansville, the Whitewater and Cambridge teams. Frank Broughton, Jr. also a former Evansville team player played on the Clinton ball team, against his Uncle Cal's Milton team.

When Evansville did not have a baseball team to excite local fans, the baseball lovers turned their attention to other teams. Exhibition games with a team from Chicago, the Chicago Unions, were the highlight of the season for Evansville baseball fans at the turn of the century. The Chicago Unions, sometimes called the Chicago Union Giants, or the Leland Giants was a team composed entirely of Black players from Chicago.

Every summer the Union Giants traveled to small towns in Wisconsin and other states in the Upper Midwest, playing local teams. The Giants also played against other professional traveling baseball teams. According to the Negro League Baseball Players Association, the Union Giants caused such a sensation wherever they played that if the local teams won, it was the highlight of the season.

The Chicago team made their first appearance in Evansville in 1897 and played against a team of Evansville men. According to the local newspaper, the Badger, an immense crowd witnessed the game.

The following year, on September 29, 1898, the Union Giants returned to Evansville and a crowed of thirteen hundred people came to the Driving Park to watch the game. The Evansville players were "a picked nine."

The Evansville Review noted that this Evansville team was a newly organized and had not played together before the summer of '98. Evansville lost to the Chicago team by a score of 12 to 9.

For the next few years, Evansville was part of the Chicago team's circuit of play. After the first two years, there were no longer local teams to challenge the professionals. The games were played at the Evansville Fair Grounds (formerly the Driving Park), against another professional traveling team. In 1899, an estimated crowd of two thousand people watched the game with the Chicago Unions and another professional traveling team, the Cuban Giants. In 1900 the Unions played against the Western Indians and the following year, the Beloit College team challenged the Chicago Unions at the Evansville fair grounds. The Chicago team won by a score of 14 to 7.



There was very little enthusiasm for local adult baseball teams in the early 1900s. If fans wanted to watch a good game of baseball, they usually had to travel to another city or village. Fans and players were also required to follow the local norms for conduct on Sunday, or face the wrath of the community.

The Evansville fair grounds was the favored spot for the local teams to play and this land was owned and operated by the Rock County Fair Association. When a game of baseball was played on Sunday, the owners of the fair grounds received complaints and the team was reprimanded in the local newspapers.

In early July 1903, the Fair Association secretary, W. W. Gillies placed an advertisement in the columns of the four local newspapers chastising the local Evansville teams for playing a game of baseball on Sunday.

"Complaint having been entered to the Fair Management on account of baseball on the Fair Grounds on Sunday, therefore, notice is hereby given to the Public that it will not be allowed hereafter on the Fair Grounds. The management has no objections to innocent games on the grounds any other day of the week. W. W. Gillies, Secretary."

Another game was scheduled on a Sunday on land known as "Purington corners, a mile east of this city." A team from Monticello was to play an Evansville team. The announcement of the game noted that the Evansville team included players with the last names Thurman and Farnsworth.

Fans were expecting a spirited game, but the local newspaper challenged the Sunday game. "Credit is due our City Council and Fair Association that such games have been barred from the fair grounds in this city on Sundays." The fans and players submitted to the prevailing thought on Sunday games and cancelled the event.

Sometimes baseball games were put together to raise funds for a needy family. In August 1904, the Baker Manufacturing Company organized a team of baseball players to challenge a team from the D. E. Wood Butter Company, another local manufacturing firm. The game's proceeds were to go to Oscar Little, a former Baker employee who was suffering from cancer.

Admission to the fund raiser was only 10 cents and ladies were admitted free. Nearly $40 was given to Mr. Little following the game. "No one was better pleased with the result than those who took part in the game."

Those baseball fans who wanted to see a good game of baseball traveled to the nearby community of Footville to watch the White Sox play against many of the same teams that Evansville traveling ball team had challenged. Footville's team received more notice in the local newspapers than Evansville's own teams.

While it appeared that adults had lost their enthusiasm for playing in a traveling baseball team at the turn of the century, the young people had not. A new generation of ball players was in training at the local high school. It was the high school games played in the spring of the year that received the most notice in the early years of the twentieth century.

In 1896, the Evansville schools had hired a new high school principal H. F. Kling. The new principal pressured the school board to put emphasis on new areas of the curriculum and recommended that athletics, music and art be added in order to improve the student's mind and body.

Kling was convinced that in addition to their academic courses, students needed athletic programs that were organized, supervised, and supported by adults. He took an active role in the student's athletic instruction and coached football, baseball and track.

In the spring of each year during his administration, Kling ran both the track and baseball programs. The Evansville High School baseball teams traveled to other communities, playing Brodhead, Madison, Edgerton, Beloit, Janesville, Stoughton and other nearby communities. The team had appropriate uniforms and baseball caps.

It was unusual for the newspapers to name the players whether they were adults or high school students, but games against local teams were the exception. In the spring of 1905, the Evansville High School team played the Evansville Seminary team and won.

Although only last names and some first initials were given for the players, the following team players for the high school were listed: Slausen, Gardner, Winter, Ames, Le Baron, Pearsall, Churm, Brooke and Reckord. Players for the Seminary were given as Jordan, Will Brooks, Combs, H. Marsh, Hendricks, C. Marsh, Meinke, Newman and Westby.

The Evansville High School team appears to have been heavily weighted with Seniors.
Palmer Slausen, Paul K. LeBaron, Paul H. Ames, and Percy Churm are all listed as graduates of the Evansville High School class of 1905.

Another high school team was photographed a few years later. The players were identified as Earl Gillies, Roy Reckord, Paul Chase, Forrest Durner, Fred Slightham, Bill Benson, and Robert Pearsall. This photograph appeared in the August 28, 1985 Evansville Review.

Evansville's baseball teams of the future were based on the players being trained in the high school sports program. By 1907, the enthusiasm for adult baseball teams in Evansville was being revived. A traveling team was organized and games were once again played against Oregon, Clinton, and Beloit.

The 1908 traveling team for Evansville included former high school players Roy Reckord, the pitcher and Robert Pearsall, a 1908 high school graduate, the team captain. The adult players of baseball were once again gaining favor in Evansville.



Evansville's organized baseball activities in the early part of the 20th century were sporadic. Baseball games were used to draw a crowd to fund raising events. Promoters tried to get closely matched teams of baseball players and they were willing to pay the teams to play.

Exhibition games were played at the Irish Picnic, a fund raising activity by St. Paul's Parish, and the Rock County Fair at the Evansville Fair grounds. The Irish Picnic was held in the early summer.

The 1909 Irish picnic game was played against Albany and started at 10 o'clock in the morning. The early morning game was intended to draw a crowd for the 11 o'clock meal served by the women of the church.

The afternoon entertainment included track and field events and a second game of baseball. "The second ball game was the feature of the day, according to a report of the events in the June 23, 1909 Enterprise. The competing teams in afternoon were the Footville and Beloit, and the game went fourteen innings, with only one score deciding the difference between the teams.

The Footville Whitesox continued to be a favorite local area team with excellent players, including members of the Broughton family. The Evansville newspapers often featured more articles about the Footville games, than Evansville's. "Baseball fans who like to see a good game, would do the proper thing if they went to Footville on Saturday, July 3rd and watched the game between the Beloit and Footville teams, which played in Evansville at the Irish picnic. Each team has won from the other once this year and are not playing for fun, marbles, but for the championship," a reporter for the Tribune & Enterprise said in the June 30, 1909 issue of the newspaper.

Evansville was able to organize a traveling baseball team in 1911. That year Evansville played Belleville for the beginning game and Footville at the Irish picnic.

The team names were mentioned in the Evansville Review issue on June 1, 1911. However in some cases only surnames were given for the players. "The new base ball nine recently organized in this city consists of the following players: Taylor, pitcher, Geo. Thurman, catcher, Paul Gray, first base, Howard Keefe, second base, Henry Gardner, third base, Fairman, center field, Roy Reckord, right field, E. Lee, left field, and Harry Broughton, short stop."

Roy Reckord was one of the more versatile players and also pitched some of the games. For the Irish Picnic, the Evansville team recruited some well known players from other communities. George Fucik, a Stoughton player, served as pitcher, with Reckord also pitching part of the team. Despite the increased playing power for Evansville, they were defeated by Footville with a close score of 4 to 3.

When the Rock County Fair was held in Evansville in 1911, the only Evansville team that was invited to play was the Evansville High School team playing against the Albany High School team. Although there were baseball games each day of the four-day fair, the Evansville traveling team did not play.

In February 1913, the Rock County Fair committee announced that Cal Broughton would be in charge of the sports activities for the fair. Later that same year a new baseball team was organized for Evansville. Homer Shultz was elected president and Louis Abtz, a former Elroy third base player, was chosen to act as secretary treasurer. An Evansville favorite, Roy Reckord was named team manager.

The team practiced three times a week. Bernard Munson, a former Argyle baseball team player, pitched for the Evansville team. To raise funds, the team held at dance at the Magee Opera House on East Main Street, asked for donations from local merchants and sold season tickets to the games.

To prevent any controversy, the team also promised not to hold Sunday games. The team played on Friday afternoons. For the first game, the local team played Oregon and a large crowd gathered to watch the game. The lineup for Evansville was Abts, 3rd base; Reckord, center field; Sholts, 1st base; Gardner, 2nd base; Munson, pitcher; Gray, left field; Gillies, catcher; Christman, right field; and Jones, short stop.

The game was described as a "pitchers' battle. Munson struck out twelve of the Oregon players and was credited with a double play in the 6th inning. The game was lost to Oregon in the 11th inning.

Other games in the 1913 season were played against the Madison teams, Fauerbach Brewing Co, and Madison Kipps; Brodhead; Beloit Moose; Van's Colts of Beloit; and Argyle, where Bernard Munson pitched against his former team mates.

Exhibition games the 1913 Irish Picnic with Evansville playing Footville. No score was given in the local reports of the game, but it was described as a "snappy game and furnished plenty of excitement for local and visiting fans." Evansville also played an exhibition game at Brooklyn's Field Day in early August with Evansville pitted against Oregon. In another exhibition game that season, Evansville played Van's Colts of Beloit at the Rock County Fair.

There were only occasional baseball games played by Evansville teams during the next years of the 2nd decade of the 20th century. No Evansville teams played at the Rock County Fair held at the Evansville Fairgrounds in 1914. The lineup of teams that year included a Belleville team that placed second in the Southern Wisconsin Amateur League. Belleville played against Oregon. Brodhead's team played Monticello and the Milton and Footville Y.M.C.A. teams played for the Rock County Y.M.C.A. league championship. The winner of the Oregon vs. Belleville and Brodhead vs. Monticello games played against the Footville Whitesox.

One of Evansville' favorite umpires made the more headlines than any of the Evansville players in 1915. Pete Libby, a local tobacco buyer, had been an umpire for baseball games for many years. In June 1915, Libby was hired to umpire all of the games in the Madison City Baseball League.

The Wisconsin State Journal ran an article on Libby. In an early game against the Fauerbach team and the Olympic team from Madison, Libby had done such creditable work behind the plate that "after the game the fans poured into the box-office and congratulated him on his good work." This was rare praise indeed for an umpire.

Libby was pursued by the Madison League to come to umpire the games. The League secretary bargained with Libby until they reached a satisfactory agreement and Libby was signed on as umpire just a few minutes before the second game of the season started.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal report, "Libby donned the mask and protector and took charge of the field. His "Batter Up" - screeched at the two teams, put both on edge. Libby got a big hand from the crowd on this expression. His "Str-r-r-ike One" rang all over the park."

During that same game, Libby a thrown pitch hit his mask and stunned him momentarily. He fell to the ground but got up quickly and yelled his famous "Batter Up," and play resumed. Libby maintained his residence in Evansville and drove his automobile to and from Madison every weekend to officiate at the games.

Evansville's traveling team had disbanded, but games were organized locally between the men from the Baker Manufacturing Company and a team composed of other business men. These two teams played at the Irish Picnic in 1915.

Baker's Half Feds team included Paul Jones, C. Weaver, E. Sperry, L. Wilder, R. Frazer, C. Eggleston, M. Jones, Chester Hurd, W. Decker, and H. Morrison. The local businessmen's team had C. Main, F. Durner, Leffingwell, Ace Fellows, Covert, Tomlin, Knudson, Stewening and Roy Reckord. The pitchers for the game were Reckord for the businessmen and C. Hurd for the Baker team. The businessmen beat Bakers by a score of 9 to 7.

According to the Review, "The game was an interesting one to watch and showed there is a lot of good baseball material here in Evansville that ought to be developed into a fast team." For the 1915 Rock County Fair, the Baker team played and won by a score of 10 to 5 against a Magnolia team. The Baker team had Bob Kivlin and Dale Smith serving as pitchers, while the Magnolia team had pitchers with the surnames Post and Roberts. The Fair committee also hired teams from Footville, Albany, Edgerton and Oregon to play, so that there was a ball game each day of the 1915 Fair.

If the adults could not maintain a traveling team, the high school boys were still eager to play baseball. In 1916, a strong Evansville High School team had the following players: "Logy" Terry Durner, Loyal "Hap" Baker, R. Kendall, Felix Fellows, Earl Tolles, Elzie Libby, Honore Hubbard, Seth Cain, Patterson, and Phillips. Durner served as pitcher for the team. In a final game of the season, the Evansville team played the Evansville Seminary and was defeated by a score of 14 to 7.

A report of a July 4th committee's expenses gives a clue as to the cost of equipment for the baseball games played by Evansville teams. An Evansville team played a Stoughton team for the July 4, 1917 celebration.

The committee paid a local tailor to make the sacks for the bases at a cost of 70 cents. They bought two balls at the Grange Store at a cost of $2.50. The committee also paid the Stoughton Ball Club $35 and the local team $40 to play that day.

The cost was well worth the money for the 4th of July Committee, as the total receipts for the ball game portion of the activities of the day were $205.85. This was 27% of the total receipts for the entire celebration.

World War I put a halt to many of the amateur sports activities for Evansville athletes. One of the star players, Leroy (Roy) Reckord served in the military. Others who played baseball for Evansville and served in World War I were Chester Warren Hurd, John W. Golz, Paul Rowley Gray, Paul Weaver Chase, and Paul M. Jones.



Organized baseball returned to Evansville in the 1920s. The American Legion McKinney Post formed in 1919 and the Athletic Committee of the Post issued a news release the following April asking for volunteers for a new city baseball team.

The announcement was printed in the April 8, 1920 issue of the Review. "Spring is coming, sometime, and a bit of athletic activity will be worth while. Good sport is essential to health and a good disposition. The American Legion invites all who are interested in baseball in Evansville to a meeting Friday evening at 7:30. Let's show a little life, encourage sports, and boost the town."

The meeting drew a crowd and baseball was promoted to the local businessmen as a way to boost business in town. William Dake, a local barber, formed a team known as Dake's Dogs and Baker Manufacturing teams was known as the Baker Monitors. The only game reported for Dake's team was a game against the local high school team.

The Monitors was Evansville's traveling team in 1920. They played teams from Oregon, Beloit, Orfordville, the Janesville Eagles and the Janesville All-Stars. Players on the team included Fred Sperry, Cain, Brown, Hain, Morrison, the pitcher, Kittleson, Larsen, Jones, and Funk.

In 1921, Art Dake again formed a team, known as Dake's Veterans. The first game of the season was against the local high school team. The team included several fellow barbers and past stars of the local high school team. Floyd Morgan, Ace Fellows, Phil Pearsall and Chester Hurd.

The local high school and Dake's team had arranged for a series of baseball games to be played on the fairgrounds diamond. However, in 1921, the grounds were used to pasture the horses from the livery of Dr. Charles S. Ware. Although he had rented the pasture until mid-June, Ware agreed to let the games be held on the land.

Local baseball players wanted a new baseball diamond near Leonard Park. The park was becoming a popular tourist camp and the scene of many summer picnics. The Evansville Review's baseball promoter, Robert Antes, proposed that a plot of land owned by the Eager Estate, just west of the park, be leveled for a baseball diamond.

The plot of ground was a little uneven, but properly prepared, it "would make an admirable ball diamond, where city people could attend without having to go in cars or walk a long distance" to the fairgrounds. The Review urged the City Council to rent the property from the owners.

When this proposal was not accepted by the Council, a petition was circulated to have a diamond built on a piece of land owned by the Canning Company on Cherry Street. This proposal was also denied and the games continued for the next few years at Evansville's Rock County Fairgrounds.

In the spring of 1922, the Evansville ball players attempted to join the Southern Wisconsin Base Ball Association. The fee was $250 and the towns already in the association were Whitewater, Fort Atkinson, Edgerton, Hebron, and Cambridge.

The effort to join the league was unsuccessful, but this did not keep the local team from playing ball. The team included high school players, Roland Barnum, Buck Roberts, Seth Cain, Tom Cain and seasoned City team players, Chet Hurd, Ray Covert, Clifford Harper, Jens Knudson, Buster Libby, Ralph Noyes, Bill Tilley, Paul Jones, James Temple and Harold Zwicky. The 1922 games were played against Brodhead, Durand, Argyle, Belleville, Footville, the Janesville Black Cats and Stoughton.

In 1923, Robert J. Antes, representing the Antes Press and Fred Sperry, representing the Barbers of Evansville, were responsible for keeping baseball alive in Evansville. In the April 5 issue of the Review, Antes issued a challenge to the local barbers: "The boys of the Antes Press who have been pining for a game of baseball for some time and not long ago challenged the barbers, state in their opinion, the barbers should change the color of the stripes on their signs and make them yellow, as so far they have failed to accept the challenge thrown to them to cross bats."

The Barbers, including Mark Moore, William Dake, Fred Sperry, Floyd Morgan, Bernie Christensen, Waller, Redlen, Vandervilt, Flint, and Phelps accepted the challenge of the Antes team that included Bob Antes, Phil Pearsall, Harold Zwickey, George Greenway, Glenn Tomlin, Jack Seipp, Forrest Brigham, and other team members named Graves, Strack, and Reynolds.

There is no indication that these teams played against other teams during this season.
Once again the Review issued a call for a baseball diamond at the park. "The logical place for all ball games is in the new park so that all the people may see the games, women and children, as well as men. The argument may be raised that at the park there is no grandstand to seat the crowd-granted-but who in these days of covered autos ever sees a ball game from a grand stand anyway?"

A new road into the park on the east side made better access to the area near the renewed Lake Leota. It made this area an ideal place for a ball diamond. The City Council again took no action to bring the ball games to the park and the games continued at the fairgrounds and the school diamond.

However, the following year, the city teams increased in number and a regular schedule of games was prepared for the six teams. The league was sometimes called the Home Talent League or the Junior League.

The teams each had a line-up of 12 players and were managed by the following: Johnson's Pirates, managed by Grant Johnson; Ford's Tigers, managed by Bruce Ford; Devine's Giants, managed by Art Devine; Durner's Yanks, managed by Forrest Durner; Dake's White Sox, managed by Art Dake; and Gillman's Cubs, managed by old-time player Fred Gillman.

The 1924 schedule began on June 30 and ended September first. The games were played on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings beginning at 6:30 and since there were no lights on the ball diamonds, the games were called at dark.

Robert J. Antes once again challenged City Ball players for a series of games in the spring of 1925. Four teams formed, the Bakers, D. E. Wood Butter Company (also known as the Creamery or the Greasers), the Businessmen and The Antes Press, (known as the printers.)

The local teams were known as the Twilight Ball League. Twenty-four games were scheduled for the season. Officers for the organization included Robert J. Antes, president; Richard Brigham, Secretary and Treasurer.

Baker's team included Ray Covert, the Apfel brothers Lloyd and Lindle, John Gundlach, Schartz, Parr, Larson, Roberts, Griffith, Brown, Estes, Baker and Graham.

The Businessmen included Fred Sperry, manager, G. E. Johnson, Tom Cain, Roy Reckord, Ace Fellows, Bernie Christensen, Melvin Furseth, Forrest Durner, Ed Carns, Art Tomlin, Clayton Cain, Reuben Helgesen and Fay Ellis.

The D. E. Wood Butter Company included Evansville's first professional ball player, Cal Broughton. Broughton always had substitute runners, but was listed in his old position of catcher for the team. Other players for the Creamery were Roy Lewis, Forrest Graves, Roberts, Jacobsen, Hubbard, Dill, Lundy, Bly, and Ben Ellis.

There were also country teams that played the Antes Press and other teams. In early May 1925, the Antes Press played a game against the Jug Prairie team, the Farmers.

Players for the Antes Press included Bob Antes, Phil Pearsall, Harold Zwickey, Jack Seipp, George Greenway, Glenn Tomlin, Richard Brigham, Graves, Strack, Braclaus, and Reynolds. The Farmers team included John Golz, E. Golz, Fred Abey, McGuire, Powers, W. Krause, R. Krause, and B. Purington. The Farmers won by a score of 12 to 11.

With so many local teams playing each other, the City Council finally agreed that there was a need for a ball diamond at the city park and in June 1925, the project began. A tractor and grader were brought in to "skin" the infield and the sod was hauled away to fill in other low spots in the park.

The D. E. Wood ball team defeated the Businessmen in the first game played on the new diamond on Tuesday, June 23, 1925. The Businessmen won the League Championship in 1925, with 8 wins and 3 losses. Antes followed closely with 7 wins; the D. E. Wood Butter Co. 4 wins and the last team, the Baker Company with 3 wins.

Ace Fellows led the individual batting averages with .462, scoring 17 runs. Tom Cain was a close second with a .444 average and 11 runs for the season.

It was the great desire of the Evansville ball players to have a team in the Southern Wisconsin League and in September 1925, Evansville made a try for a spot. Ed Carns was elected Captain for the Evansville traveling team and Roy Lewis was named manager. Bob Collins was named Secretary and Treasurer. Other team members included Tom and Seth Cain, Harold Zwickey, Ray Covert, Jack Seipp, Roberts, Anderson, and John Gundlach.

The team planned to buy new uniforms and raise the funds to join the league. To prove their worth in the traveling league, Roy Lewis booked games with Albany, Orfordville, Brodhead and a Beloit team for September and October, after the Home League had finished their season.

In the spring of 1926, the Evansville City Baseball team was invited to join the Southern Wisconsin Baseball League. Members of the League were Milton, Brodhead, Albany, Edgerton, Footville, Janesville and Evansville. Evansville's home games were played at the fairgrounds diamond, where there was a grandstand and plenty of room for cars to park near the field.

Local businessmen donated uniforms. Local citizens and businesses also donated funds for the entrance fee and other expenses. Gates receipts for that first year were reported as $1,257.97, a good indication that there were plenty of Evansville baseball fans.

Several players from the Evansville Twilight League were members of the new team.
Ed Carns was the pitcher, Jack Seipp, 3rd base; Gerald Anderson, short stop; Rice, catcher; Tom Cain, center field, Calhoun, right field; Reuben Helgesen, catcher; Harold Zwickey, 2nd base; Phil Pearsall, 1st base; Seth Cain, left field and Parquette, a substitute pitcher for Carns. Other members who joined the team throughout the season were George Greenway, Calhoun, Krause, Melvin Furseth, Schultz, Libby, McGuire, Fred Sperry, Ray Covert, and Hatzinger.

Evansville's first Southern Wisconsin League game was played with Milton and the first ball was thrown by old-time player, 66-year-old, Cal Broughton. In an interview with the Review, Broughton claimed 1896 as the best year an Evansville team ever had. It was the year Evansville won the State Championship.

Evansville team lost the first game of the 1926 season, with Milton scoring 6 runs to Evansville's one. Most of the first season with the League was filled with disappointment for the newly organized team.

By early June, Evansville was at the bottom of the league standings with five losses and no wins. It was not until early July that Evansville got its first win against the Milton Wolves. Although Evansville won three straight games at the end of the season, the team remained at the bottom of the League.

When the Southern Wisconsin League formed an all-star team to play against the State Line League, Tom Cain was the only Evansville player chosen. Cain played center field in the last two innings of the exhibition game, but never got up to bat.

If the traveling team was not playing, there were plenty of local baseball games for the Evansville fans. The Businessmen, Antes Press, Baker Company and D. E. Wood Butter Company teams of the Twilight League kept the home fans entertained.

Many of the members of the Evansville City team also played in the Twilight League. Seipp, Cain, Zwickey, Anderson, Helgesen, Furseth, and Pearsall are all listed as playing for one of the four Twilight League teams. Fred Sperry, manager of the Business Men's team and Rueben Helgesen, captain, accepted the silver cup trophy for winning the most Twilight League games in the 1926 season.

The 1927 baseball season began with the Evansville High School Baseball team organized for the first time since 1920. The Evansville School District had hired a new athletic director at the high school, Floyd Wheeler. Wheeler was a star athlete from Beloit College, and had also been an assistant director for the YMCA in Beloit.

Wheeler put together a team of young men that loved to play baseball and they did not end their season when the school year was completed.

Clifton Cain, the brother of Tom Cain, the popular player for Evansville's Southern Wisconsin League team, was named Captain of the newly formed high school team. Pete Ellis was the manager and pitcher. Coach Wheeler had more than enough willing players to form a team. The following names are mentioned in the 1927 newspaper reports of the games, Richard Baird, Bill Wood, Bill Ware, Lewis Devine, Don Elert, Jake Blum, Herbert Hungerford, Philip Waite, Patterson, Walters, Howard Dougherty, Walter Johnson, Ray Smith, "Red" Reynolds, Maurice Woodworth, Pete Merrill, and LaVerne Miller, Hillis Buxton.

The high school team scheduled games against Brodhead, Janesville, and Clinton. Before the high school season ended, the team of young players joined the Twilight League to test their skills against Evansville's adult players. The high school team placed second in team standings through most of the baseball season. The Business Men again won the coveted silver cup.

The City team in the Southern Wisconsin League reorganized to play in the summer of 1927. They were pitted against the same teams as the previous year and many of the same local players returned for another season. John Gundlach of the Twilight League joined the 1927 traveling team, along with Don Dawson and his brother Mike Dawson. Other new players were Dunphy, Delaney, Leary, and McCaffrey, a local high school player.

On Sunday May 1, 1927, the Evansville traveling team got their first win against the Albany team. In its second year of play, Evansville's Southern Wisconsin League team showed great improvement and was in the middle of the pack in team standings by the end of the season.


The 1928 season would go down in the history of Evansville baseball as one of the greatest. Both the high school team and the Southern Wisconsin League had winning seasons.

The new Southern Wisconsin League included Orfordville and Beloit. Evansville had new men in their lineup, Schifflebein, McKenna, Bernie Christenson, Parkinson, Thostenson, Edwards, Frank Francis and Delaney. Clifton Cain now joined his brother Tom and Pete Finstad, the new high school baseball coach, was a back-up player. Roy Lewis served as manager.

After two games, the Evansville team was in the middle of the team standings with one win and one loss against the Beloit team. By the middle of May, the Evansville team was tied with Janesville for first place in the League.

In late May 1928, Janesville lost to the Evansville team in an exciting game that put Evansville ahead by 9 runs in the first two innings. With a final score of 13 to 5, Evansville's stood first place in the Southern Wisconsin League.

During the season Christenson and Parkinson took turns on the pitcher's mound for Evansville. Three teams fought for first place through the rest of the season, Janesville, Beloit and Evansville. Each team had a large crowd of local fans that followed them from game to game. The Evansville Review urged people to "Get out and make a noise that will help Evansville to win this championship."

On August 16, 1928, the Evansville Review announced that the Evansville team had cinched the title in the Southern Wisconsin League. "Hot Battle Sunday Defeats Beloit and Insures Evansville Pennant. Can Lose Rest of Games and Win." The local team was three games ahead of the rest of the teams in the league and finished the season at the top.

After the season ended, the Evansville team was invited to play several exhibition games around the area. Edgerton, New Glarus, and the Beloit Chryslers, second place winners in the Rock-Walworth County League, were on the schedule for the special games.

To insure that the team had enough money to equip themselves for the 1929 season, the local team held a dance with Leaver's Orchestra playing at Magee's Hall. They yearned to again become champions.

In the 1928 season, the high school team was also having great success. The Evansville High School had belonged to the Rock River Valley League and in 1928, this League was broken up.

The new Rock Valley League included Whitewater, Milton Union, Jefferson, Lake Mills and Evansville. The local high school superintendent, Mann, was president of the new organization. New mathematics teacher, Peter Finstad, took over as baseball coach.

The park ball diamond was used for most of the high school home games and the Twilight League games. The Southern Wisconsin League used the fairgrounds. For a few months in the 1928 season, it looked as though Evansville would lose its diamond at the fairgrounds, as Evansville had lost the Rock County Fair to Janesville and the land was for sale. Fortunately a group of civic mined citizens bought the land and held it until the City of Evansville could make arrangements to purchase the property, and preserve one of the favored recreation spots in Evansville.

The City Council also purchased property near the Evansville park in 1928. This land was known as the Wood property and the city had rented the land for a baseball diamond. With the purchase of the additional park land, new driveways and a permanent baseball diamond was created north of the Lake Leota Bath House.

Peter Finstad, Evansville's High School baseball coach had thirty prospects show up for practice at the opening of the 1929 season. The 1928 winning team had inspired 30 young men to come to the first workout in early April. Finstad's new recruits gave the team depth and talent in nearly every position.

The team needed to replace the 1928 graduates Tom Cain, Pete Ellis, Richard Baird, "Red" Reynolds and Hillis Buxton. These young men continued to play baseball in the Twilight League. Cain also played in the Southern Wisconsin League.

Among the young hopefuls for 1929 high school season, Finstad needed to find a catcher, first baseman, third baseman, pitcher and two outfielders. There were only four of ten returning lettermen, Lewis Devine, Pete Merrill, Herbert Hungerford and Norman McCaffrey.

Stan "Pop" Sperry, a freshman, tried out for the pitcher's position, along with Lloyd Mabie, Harold "Doc" Schuster, Pete Merrill and Norman McCaffrey. Mabie won the position and proved to be a powerhouse on the mound. The others took other positions on the team and served as relief pitchers.

Sperry was given a spot on the new team at third base. His hitting and fielding in the next four years would earn Sperry much acclaim in the Evansville Review and a try at professional ball after graduation.

Norman McCaffrey's younger brother, Vic, also tried out for Finstad's team and earned a spot as catcher.
The McCaffrey's including two more brothers, Leo and Lester were talented players in Evansville high school sports in the early 1930s. Another brother, Nile, played in the adult baseball leagues.
The first game of the high school season pitted the young men against the alumni and family members against each other. Stan Sperry and his father, Fred, were on opposite sides. Tom Cain played for the alumni and his brother Clifton Cain for the high school. Coach Finstad put himself on the alumni side, against his young team. The alumni defeated the high school players, 8 to 6, in the five inning game.

Mayor Elzie H. "Pete" Libby, Evansville's favorite umpire, officially opened the Rock Valley League season with Evansville playing Whitewater's high school team. Milton Union, Lake Mills, Monroe and Orfordville were in the other teams in the League.

The local high school players stayed at the top of the league and won the Rock Valley Title for 1929 with 5 wins and no losses. In the total season play, the team had won thirteen of the fifteen games played.

Pitcher Lloyd Mabie had pitched 62 innings and allowed only 17 earned runs and 38 hits. Mabie had struck-out 100 batters in his first season of play. The Evansville team was given high praise for their success.

Stan Sperry, the young third baseman had a batting average of .520. He was a "hitting sensation" according to a June 13, 1929 Evansville Review article. Pete Merrill, Vearle Hockett, and Lloyd Mabie were next in line in the batting rankings.

Robert J. Antes served as president of the four-team Twilight League in 1929. The league used its own money to make improvements on the fairgrounds ball diamond and to purchase benches for the players. They hoped to put up a wire fence so that fans could drive their cars closer to the diamond without fear of getting struck by balls.

The high school team, the Business Men, Baker Manufacturing and Antes Press each had teams in the Twilight's 1929 season. The competition between the Sperry's continued as both served as pitchers on opposing teams, Stan for the High School team and Fred for the Business Men. It was great fun for the fans to watch the competition. Baker's team won the Twilight League season.

The Southern Wisconsin league began in late April with Evansville meeting Beloit. Bernie Christensen served as the team manager and pitcher. Other players included Tom Cain, Schifflbein, Shadel, Thorstenson, Sands, Keenan, Rau and La Hail.

A new team, the Watertown Goslings entered the league. More than 300 fans turned out for see Evansville beat the Beloit team in the first League game at the local fairgrounds diamond. Footville dropped out in mid-season, claiming their fans were not supportive.

Evansville took an early lead in League standings in 1929 and into early September the local team was battling for first place. At one of the final games in the season, Evansville defeated Palmyra and took "undisputed lead." The champion team with the same players returned to play for the Evansville traveling team in 1930.




Baseball had won favor with the local fans and the 1930 Evansville high school season opened with seven returning lettermen. One of the favorite players, Vic McCaffrey, was ineligible for the high school team because he had been a student for nine semesters.

The season began with the first practice on March 31 and thirty-three men turned out. Favored pitcher, Lloyd Mabie, had a shoulder injury from playing football the previous fall. Ben Hubbard and Stan Sperry were considered replacements in the pitcher position, if Mabie could not play. However, Mabie responded to therapy by the athletic trainer at the Univestiy of Wisconsin. He recovered and was able to pitch the first game of the season.

The season's prospects looked "dark" according to Coach Finstad. The team was hitting as good in practice as Finstad had expected. Some of the players showing exception talent were the McCaffery brothers, Leo and Lester, Ken Cain, Bob Cain and Ben Hubbard. The team was cut to 15 on April 9 and also included Lawrence "Pete" Merrill, Roy Sands, Stan Sperry, Vearle Hockett, Norman McCaffery, Maurice Apfel, Norman Odegaard, Cliff Fellows and Leonard Nelson.

Despite the dire predictions at the beginning of the season, this high school team proved to be a match for every team they played in the 1930 season. After the first game, Finstad declared his team to be "the strongest the school has had in the past several years."

The Evansville High school baseball team ended an extraordinary undefeated season. Coach Peter Finstad was given credit for building and coaching the team to victory. Evansville team. Finstad praised his team as the "best balanced prep team I have ever seen."

However, he lost several seniors for the 1931 season, Lloyd Mabie, Robert Hubbard, Maurice Apfel, Lawrence Merrill, Norman Odegaard, Roy Sands and Vearle Hockett. A photograph of the team appeared in the May 15, 1930 issue of the Evansville Review and a separate photo of Lloyd Mabie appeared in the June 12, 1930 issue.

The Twilight League was beginning to loose momentum, but in April 1930, Robert Antes was once again began organizing the teams to play in the Evansville league. The D. E. Wood Butter Co. had players, after not being able to form a team the previous season. The high school team dropped out of the summer League, but many of the players joined the other teams. The Business Men, managed by Art Cain and Roy Record, Baker's "Windmillers" and the Antes Press returned for the 1930 season.

New team members were playing for Evansville's entry into the Southern Wisconsin League. Seth Cain, a former Evansville player who had moved to Brodhead was the manager of the team. Jack Heffel served as president; Orrie Steele, treasurer; and Kenneth Gilbertson, secretary. Six teams were in the League in 1930, Evansville, Palmyra, Delavan, Janesville, Milton, and Footville. Footville was reported to have some Beloit players.

Team members were McKenna, Tom Cain, Shadel, Ennis, Sheffelbein, Fallant, Thosten, Floyd Francis, Arthur Lorentzen, Satrang, Sagen, Roy Sands, J. Woodling, Clifton Cain, Don Elert, and F. Eldred, and Bill Schneider, an Edgerton player, who had pitched for the Highway Trailer team.

Another traveling team was organized in the 1930, calling themselves the Evansville Blues. Don Elert, Sid Smith, Pete Merrill, Lloyd Mabie, "Red" Reynolds, Maurice "Butch" Apfel, the Gundlach brothers, and Vic McCaffery, and Nile McCaffery, manager. This team, made up primarily of former Evansville High School baseball players, was also a traveling team and played other teams from Albany, Newark, Madison's Capital City Colored Giants, and the Janesville First Ward Cubs.

Tragedy struck one of Evansville's outstanding athletes. Thomas Cain, 25 years old, died from a ruptured appendix in June 1930. He had excelled in the sport of baseball, playing in high school, then with the Twilight League and the Southern Wisconsin League, from the time that it was first organized. His brothers, Kenneth and Clifton Cain had followed him into the baseball leagues. His parents, the Arthur Cain's, and the entire community were heart-broken at his untimely death.

Arthur Lorentzen, another Evansville team member was invited to play for the Madison Checker Cabs and left the Evansville Southern Wisconsin League team. Evansville's team, champions of the 1928 and 1929 seasons, began losing games in late June. The Review did not report the standings at the end of the 1930 season.

The 1931 season opened with the Evansville High School team returning to the game with several veteran players. The team members were: Stan Sperry, Leo McCaffery, Lester McCaffery, Howard Thompson, Clifford Fellows, Kenneth Cain, Robert Cain, Thayer Lutz, Clifford Eastman, Leonard Nelson, Edwin Haakenson, Alfred Brooks, Dwain Knutson, Gilmond Spersrud, Raymond Miller, Dale Thompson, Ben Hubbard, Lowell Thompson, Mark Miller, Harold Jones, Frank Hungerford, Wilmer Janes, George Zapherio, Ronald Brown and Marion Jones.

The American Legion formed a new team, the Juniors. Roy Reckord, a former Twilight League player was the manager.

Reuben Helgesen served as president of the Evansville City traveling team in the Southern Wisconsin League. Charles Seguine served as treasurer and Nile McCaffery as manager. The officers asked for donations to pay for new uniforms for the team.

Evansville baseball fans were ready for another great season.

Evansville's 1931 season of baseball began with a winning high school team. They opened with a victory over Sun Prairie. In their second game the young players defeated Lake Mills 21 to 1 in what the Evansville Review reporter called "a free-for-all hitting contest."

Later in the season Lake Mills gave Evansville their only defeat. Milton, Orfordville, Brodhead, Whitewater College, and Elkhorn teams fell to the superior playing of the Evansville team. Robert Hubbard had replaced Lloyd Mabie on the mound.

At the end of the season, Coach Peter Finstad gave letters to Norman McCaffery, Leonard Nelson, Howard Thompson, Alfred Brooks, Stanley Sperry, Cliff Fellows, Ben Hubbard, Leo McCaffery, Lester McCaffery, Ken Cain and Robert Cain for their outstanding performance on the field.

The local American Legion decided to give the high school players a chance to prolong their season and sponsored the American Legion Junior Baseball team. In its first year, the members of the American Legion team were Leo McCaffery, Lester McCaffery, Kenneth Cain, Edwin Haakenson, Marvin Janes, Wilmer Janes, Clifford Fellows, Don Miller, Kenneth Holden, Robert Cain and Benjamin Hubbard.

Under Roy Reckord's coaching, the team captured the district title, defeating Edgerton, Beloit, and Racine teams. They were scheduled to play in the state meet, but the sponsors had neglected to send the boys birth certificates to the tournament administrators, to prove that none were more than seventeen years old.
Roy Reckord quickly got the proper paperwork to the tournament organizers and Evansville's team was allowed to play. Their opponents, a Milwaukee team had won the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Dakotas championships.

The game was played at the Evansville Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 6, 1931. The local team suffered their only defeat of the season at the hand of the Milwaukee team. Although Ben Hubbard pitched seven innings without a hit, the game was lost 10 to 2. The local fans considered Hubbard to be the star of the game, walking three players and striking out 14.

Evansville's Southern Wisconsin League team did not fare as well as the younger teams in the 1931 season. Mayor Elsie Libby opened the first game at home by throwing the ball to Cal Broughton, famed ball player of the late 1800s. The home team was victorious over Clinton and the Review reported that there was a fair-sized crowd watching the game.

Among Evansville's Southern Wisconsin League players in 1931 were many of the favorite high school players. Team members were Don Elert, Nile and Vic McCaffery, Lloyd Mabie, Frank Hungerford, Reuben Helgesen, Maurice Apfel, Clifton Cain, Morris and Leonard Lee, Sid Smith, John Golz, Paul Dooley, Patterson and Kenneth Gilbertson. Two players from Evansville's team the previous year, Floyd Francis and Edwards, had defected to Albany. Many of Evansville's games were lost by only one run.

Peter Finstad had built up a winning baseball program in Evansville and many young men hoped to be part of another victorious team. In early April 1932, 45 potential players showed up as spring practice began. The local team hoped to capture the Rock Valley League title one more time. After all, the Evansville High School team had only lost one game since 1929 and they had many returning letterman and veterans of previous seasons.

Coach Finstad cut the squad from 45 to 25 men and for the first game he placed Cliff Eastman at second base; Leo McCaffery, catcher; Marvin Janes, left field; Stanley Sperry, third base; Clifford Fellows, center field; Robert Smith, short stop; Ken Cain, first base; and Robert Cain, right field. Ben Hubbard was on the pitcher's mound.

In the Rock River Valley League each high school team had to provide local umpires. Fred Sperry, Grant Johnson and Phil Pearsall agreed to alternate the umpiring of Evansville's home games.
The high school team trounced Brodhead in the season's opening game by a score of 18 to 1. The remaining league opponents were also beaten and once again Evansville took the Rock River Valley championship.

It was Stanley "Pop" Sperry's final year with the high school team and within a month after graduation, Sperry had earned a tryout with the Milwaukee Brewers, an American Association team.

Sperry's batting average had remained at .500 for the four years of high school and he had only one error in his high school career. He was ready to try out for the major leagues. Although he did not play for the Brewers, in 1933, Sperry was given a position at third base on the Eau Claire team of the Northern Baseball league. It was the beginning of his professional career and Evansville's baseball fans could now brag that the city had produced two professional players.

The American Legion Junior Baseball team reorganized for 1932. Roy Reckord, the American Legion commander and team coach told the Evansville Review that the Legion hoped to buy new uniforms and improve the equipment for the young players.

After completing a successful year with the high school team, Ben Hubbard, returned as the Legion team's pitcher. Kenneth Holden, Don Miller, Marvin Janes and Wilmer Janes also came back for a second year of play with the Legion team. Leroy Scoville, Robert Smith, George Howard, Jimmy Lovejoy and Kenneth Allen were new players on the team.

The American Legion team, in another undefeated League season, took the Eastern Wisconsin Regional title. They were defeated 5 to 0 by an Appleton team and placed second in the state championship tournament in August 1932, a proud showing for the local team. The Chicago Cubs invited the entire team to Chicago to watch the last game of the season against the New York Giants.

Adult baseball was hit hard by the Depression. The financial crisis caused many businesses to hold the line on spending and the Evansville manufactures and businessmen, who had willingly sponsored teams in the previous years were no longer willing to fund the games.

In 1932, the men who wanted to play local baseball were divided into four teams, The Reds, The Greens, The Blacks and The Blues. Each player was assessed 25 cents and the money was used to purchase balls and other equipment. The Twilight League asked baseball fans to make voluntary donations to help with expenses.

Arthur Dake served as president of the Twilight Baseball organization. Lloyd Apfel was captain of the Blacks. Richard Williams was captain of the Blues. The Greens were managed by Nile McCaffrey and Leroy Lewis was captain of the Reds.

The four teams played every Monday and Thursday evenings. The Greens, managed by Nile McCaffery, led the league at the end of the season.

The 1932 city team, the Southern Wisconsin League elected new officers in April 1932. Reuben Helgesen took over as president; Donald Wissbaum, secretary; Clifford Keylock, treasurer; and John Gundlach, manager. Evansville played teams from Orfordville, Albany, Janesville, Footville and Stoughton. The Stoughton Orioles replaced Clinton in the League.

Evansville did not have a winning season in the Southern Wisconsin League and they dropped out of the league in 1933. A traveling baseball team organized in April 1933, but they had decided to play independent ball. The Evansville Review sponsored the team, known as "The Reviews."

Fourteen Evansville merchants contributed money to purchase new uniforms for the team. The merchants' names were printed on the back of the shirts. The local team played against Stoughton Athletics, New Glarus, Brooklyn, Madison Frank Fruits, Orfordville Legion, Beloit Hansen Bungalows and Madison Schoeps.
Leonard Lee was elected manager; William Antes, president and Horace "Red" Reynolds, secretary and treasurer. Many of the favorites, including Ellis, Mabie, Nile and Victor McCaffery, Maurice and Leonard Lee, and Don Elert, returned to the team. New players included Joe Hartl, Robert Hubbard and Wilbur Knapp. Floyd Francis occasionally played for the team.

The Reviews played teams from Orfordville's Legion team, The Newark Bears, Stoughton, and Verona, with mixed success, but they came back in the 1934 season to play again. Richard Williams managed the team. However, they lost their favorite pitcher, Pete Ellis to the Stoughton-Cooksville Orioles, members of the Southern Wisconsin League. Lloyd Mabie, who had been playing in the infield returned to the mound for the Reviews.

The high school team continued their proud record through the 1933 season, ending as a championship team. In four years, the team had 32 wins out of the 36 games.

The next spring, when the 1934 season began, Peter Finstad told the Review that his team was part "green and inexperienced material." Graduating seniors had left the team with only a few lettermen and veteran players, Marvin Janes, Wilmer Janes, Roylton Blunt, Harold Robinson, Kenneth Allen, and Eddie Gilbertson. Other veteran players on the team were Howard Lawrence, Harold Keehn, Harold Rasmussen, Robert Wood, Alvin Bone, Robert Hungerford, Floyd Main, Kenneth Montgomery, and Earl Gransee.

Finstad considered 1934 to be a year of rebuilding and he had some players with great potential. The team had daily practices and Finstad told a reporter that he was looking for good hitters.

A new pitcher took the mound for Evansville High School in the 1934 season opener. Alvin Golz, "a freshman weighing only 120 pound but who has the makings of a fine pitcher," pitched his first game against the Brooklyn High School.

Golz won a letter in his freshman year and proved to be a high school star throughout his four years of play and then, like many of Finstad's players, went into the adult leagues after graduation.

Finstad was right when he warned the fans that his team would not be champions in 1934. They lost several games during the season and the title for the Rock River Valley League went to another team.

Enthusiasm for baseball ran high with the young men and several of the players from Finstad's team joined the American Legion Junior Baseball team in its second year of play. Legion member Charles Gibson took over as coach and Dan S. Williams served as manager.

The team had plenty of reserves with 21 players on the roster: Roy Phelps, Robert Hungerford, James Lovejoy, Warren Howard, Earl Riley, Donald Montgomery, Alvin Golz, John Lange, Ted Thompson, Arthur Cowell, Clarke Beale, Clayton Sperry, Roland Lewis, Otis Thompson, Lewis Woodstock, Gordon and Roger Thompson, Harold and Howard Brunsell, Howard Woodworth, and Omar Haakenson.

In 1934, the Reviews continued their second year of play as an independent ball team and included current and former high school players trained under Peter Finstad. Ed Haakenson and Leslie "Snowball" Gilbertson were the star pitchers. George Howard, Mike Holden, Morris "Butch" Apfel, and Ken Allen were the infielders and Robert "Ossie" Hubbard, "Watt" Christianson and Larry Keehn were the outfielders. Bob Demrow, a Footville favorite also played for the Reviews, as third baseman.

The Reviews were scheduled to play several Pure Home Talent League teams. This was a new league and the area teams were part of the eastern section of the Pure Home Talent group. The Reviews played the Stoughton Athletics, whose roster included two former Evansville high school players, brothers Lester and Leo McCaffrey.

Another Pure Home Talent League team, the Brooklyn Cardinals, included former Evansville player, Floyd Francis. The Reviews had scheduled a game with the Brooklyn Team for the 4th of July Celebration.
The Review also played other independent teams and an All-Star team made up of Evansville High School alumni who were not playing for the Reviews.

With so many teams playing, the ball diamonds at Leota Park and the Fairgrounds were constantly in use. The fairgrounds site was a favored spot for the baseball teams, who also had to compete with the kittenball (softball) teams for the diamonds.

The fairgrounds diamond was in a sad state. Heavy rainfalls flooded the field, making it impossible to have games. In the summer of 1934, Robert Antes used local unemployed men working as FERA employees working under a Federal Civil Works administration program to build a new baseball diamond at the fairgrounds.

The new diamond was placed directly in front of the grandstand so that the spectators were closer to the players. The pitcher's mound was elevated to allow the field to drain well during heavy rains and the outfield was planted with grass. The turf of the outfield was also part of a new football field built at the same time.

Baseball news appeared early in 1935 with two reports that former Evansville High School baseball players were receiving notice in professional ball circles. In the February 14, 1935 issues of the Evansville Review, Marvin Janes, a 1934 graduate of the local school received a scholarship to attend the All Star Baseball School operated by Ray Doan in Hot Springs, Arkansas. "Dizzy Dean" the famous St. Louis Cardinals pitcher was the coach for Janes' team.

Janes had stared on the Evansville American Legion Junior Baseball team that made it into the state tournament in 1932. Janes was a letterman in three high school sports and had been captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams in his senior year of high school.

The summer after graduation from high school Janes had also tried out with the Crookston Pirates, a Minnesota team in the Northern League, but had been cut after a week. It was expected that he would receive an invitation to join a professional team once the All Star camp was completed.

Janes' team won the baseball school tournament and Janes was the leading hitter on his team. He was offered another contract with the Crookston Pirates, and received several offers to join other class D teams.
Another former Evansville High School athlete was already a professional player and a headline in the February 21, 1935 issue of the Review told readers that Stanley Sperry was a "Big Leaguer Now." Sperry had a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Sperry had played with the Eau Claire Bears, a semi-pro Northern League team for two years and had led the team in batting. On March 5, 1935, he reported to the Phillies' Spring training camp at Winter Haven, Florida.

In the training camp, Sperry made a great impression on the coaches and reporters, even though there was competition from many other young men who wanted into the major leagues. One reporter wrote, "Sperry, recruit second-sacker from Eau Claire of the Northern league stole the spotlight. He handled himself like a veteran around second base, made a hit and otherwise conducted himself as a fine young prospect."

Stan Baumgartner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, said of Sperry, "Sperry's fielding ability has been the highlight of the Phillies spring training although his power at the plate still remains in question. The team has a host of veterans in camp and it would be expecting too much to look for the youngster to break into the lineup this year."

Baumgartner's prediction was correct and before the regular season started the Phillies decided to put Sperry and five other rookies on their Class A farm team in the New York-Pennsylvania league, the Hazleton Mountaineers. In early May 1935, Sperry had an attack of tonsillitis and returned to Evansville for rest and a tonsil operation. Within a few weeks he was back in play as second baseman for the Mountaineers.

Baseball season opened in Evansville with the high school team starting practice with one of the largest groups that Peter Finstad had ever seen. Six lettermen returned to play including Harold Robinson, Alvin Golz, Don Montgomery, Clayton Sperry, Robert Hungerford and Roland Lewis.

However, Finstad told the lettermen that there were many fine recruits among the 55 enthusiastic students who showed up at the first practice. No one was assured a position until they had proved they could make the team.

There were at least five young men wanting the pitchers position and the same number after a position as catcher. The students were split into two teams and competing with each other in five-day-a-week practices.

The Rock Valley League had dropped interscholastic baseball from its schedule, so Finstad had arranged for the team to play independent games with Stoughton, Edgerton, Orfordville, Brooklyn, Brodhead, South Beloit, New Glarus and Middleton.

To generate some public enthusiasm for the high school games, Finstad placed two baseball bats in the window of the Straka Jewelry Shop. The bats were signed by Stan Sperry and Marvin Janes.

Before long, Evansville baseball fans began to add their own memorabilia to the display. Scrapbooks, photographs, and newspaper clippings of Evansville's baseball victories going back to 1887 were put on display in the window. The Gillman brothers, Fred and Nay, put in a large scrapbook with day by day and year by year newspaper clippings of Wisconsin baseball history.

In an article about the display, the Review reported, "Sports memories…with different men and different victories to the days when Sperry and Janes are again making America conscious that out here in Old Wisconsin there is a little city so thoroughly baseball conscious that since the time Cal Broughton put her on the baseball map back in the early eighties, she has been producing players who get into the banner lines of the sport pages."

The first game of the season was played against Brodhead and Rolly Lewis, 2nd base; Glenn Julseth, right field; and Bill Bewick, center field were the stars of Evansville's winning team. Al Golz shared pitching honors with Clayton Sperry. Other players in the first game of the season were Don Montgomery, left field; Bill Mykytuik, catcher; Bud Phelps, center field; George McPherson, center field; Jay Feldt, 3rd base; Warren Howard, short stop; Harold Robinson, Robert Hungerford, 1st base and Harry Keehn, center field made up the group of players to challenge their opponents.

As in the opening game of the season, depth in all of the positions was also a big bonus for Finstad's team. Fielding was an especially important part of the success of the team and during the season, Finstad also used the following players in the outfield, John McKenna, Rolland Worthing, Lee Ringhand, and Harold Brunsell. James Lovejoy could fill in for Hungerford at first base. Harry Keehn played first base as well as center field. Clark Beal filled in as catcher and Bernie Golz, younger brother of the pitcher, Al Golz, played short stop.

The turnout for the high school team also showed great promise for the American Legion Junior Team that played in the summer. In April the American Legion sponsored a baseball movie at the Rex Theater. "Play Ball" was a history of baseball and a training film for young men wanting to play baseball. It showed the fundamentals of batting, pitching, catching and base running. The Legion hoped to inspire young athletes and encourage them to play the game that "sharpens wits and builds strong healthy bodies."

The 1935 summer players on the Evansville Legion team were Bernie and Al Golz, Glenn Julseth, Clark Beal, Thompson, Robert Horne, Rolland Worthing, and Howard Brunsell, George McPhearson.

In 1935, The Evansville Review baseball team reorganized and signed on with the Southern Wisconsin League after a two year stint as an independent team. Twenty-two men showed up for practice in April and once again, the crew was made up of former Evansville High School athletes. In a practice game against their neighboring rivals, the Footville team, the Evansville Reviews won.

Milton Junction, Janesville Merchants, Beloit Goodalls DX's, Afton, Clinton, Orfordville, and Albany were Evansville's other rivals in the Southern Wisconsin League. Milton Junction withdrew form competition after six games.

Games were played on Sundays. The first league game was with Milton Junction at the Evansville Fairgrounds diamond. Gordon "Pete" Ellis and Norman McCaffrey served as pitchers; Cliff Cain, first base; Mike Holden, second base; Maurice Apfel, short stop; George Howard, third base; Lloyd Mabie, left field; Stanley Smith, center field; and Ken Allen, right field. Others listed on the team were Otis Odegaard, Gus Keehn, Leslie Gilbertson, Howard Thompson, Bob Demrow, John Gundlach, and recent high school graduate, Harold Robinson.

Evansville ended the 1935 season in the middle of the team standings with five wins and 5 losses. Beloit led the league, losing only one game during the 1935 season.

After the final game of league play, the Review reporter blamed the weather, that cause the cancellation of four out of seven scheduled games and the loss of Ken Allen, after he broke his ankle in a game against Orfordville. Lloyd Mabie and "Butch" Apfel had also not played as often as the team had hoped during the 1935 season.

Even the team's star pitcher had not been at his best, according to the reporter: "Pete Ellis, star pitcher, at no time equaled his 1934 performance when he pitched stellar ball for the Cooksville Orioles and Brooklyn Cardinals." Qualifying his statement somewhat, the reporter also blamed the rest of the team for lack of support, "His (Ellis') play, however, was a great asset to the team this year and had he had more support from his fellow players it is believed that his work would have been more outstanding."

The Reviews continued to play ball after the regular season ended. The team invited Stan Sperry to play with the team in an exhibition game against the Stoughton Athletics at a Fall Festival in September 1935.
Sperry signed a contract to return to the Philadelphia Phillies training camp on March 2, 1936. Sperry left Evansville for the training camp at Winter Haven, Florida.

Sperry played for the farm team at Hazelton for the first part of the season, then in July he made the Phillies lineup. Stan Sperry played his first game major league game on July 28, 1936. The game was against the Chicago Cubs and the Review said that second baseman "Sperry justified his club's hopes in him by playing a stellar game including a sensational stop."

The Phillies won the game, scoring 5 runs against Chicago's 3. Before the 1936 season ended, Sperry got an ankle injury and the Phillies sent him home to recover.

Evansville High School's team organized again in the spring of 1936. Pitcher Al Golz was a returning player and his brother Bernie, took the short stop position. Bernie was described as being fast, a good hitter, and an excellent fielder. According to Finstad, Bernie Golz was likely to follow in the footsteps of Marvin Janes and Stanley Sperry.

The team ended the season by shutting out the Edgerton High School team 3 to 0 in a seven inning game. Finstad thought the local high school baseball prospects looked good for the next year even thought he was losing six lettermen. Rollie Lewis, Jim Lovejoy, Warren Howard, Clark Beal, Ray Wells and Gordon Thompson graduated in 1936.

The Evansville Review team did not form a team until late in the 1936 season and they did not participate in league play. Some of the old favorites were back, Al Rasmussen, Harold Robinson, Bert Hungerford, Mike Holden, Dick Williams, Ken Allen, Morris Lee, Stan Smith, Horace Reynolds and Curly Thompson. Former high school star Harry Keehn also joined with the team manager, Dick Williams.

In 1936, the favored summer ball game was kittenball. Several former baseball players turned to the fast pitch game so that they could get in as much ball playing as possible. Some of the men who played both baseball and kittenball were Floyd Francis, Harry Keehn, Otis Thompson, Clifford Fellows, Omar Haakenson, and Horace "Red" Reynolds. Teams in the local kittenball league were Butts Corners, Magnolia, Evansville Review, Union, County Line and Bernie's Busters.

Baseball season opened in 1937 with Stanley Sperry in Oklahoma to play with the Oklahoma City Indians in the Texas league. His ankle injury continued to bother him and for a short while it appeared that Sperry would not be able to play during the season. He still had a slight limp but he was good at getting ground balls and managed to "gobble up hazardous hoppers, always in position to make the proper play," according to the team manager Keesey, in an interview with the Review. He was also strong at the plate and managed to get doubles and triples when he was at bat. His batting average for the team was .355.

The Evansville High School baseball team had a new coach for the 1937. At the end of the 1936 season, Peter Finstad had resigned his position as business practices teacher and baseball coach at the high school and took a job as an education instructor in the Civil Conservation Corp at a camp in northern Wisconsin.
Finstad was credited with developing Marvin Janes and Stanley Sperry, both playing on professional teams. Finstad was credited with being more interested in young baseball players than any other one person in southern Wisconsin.

The team's new coach was Harold Roethel, the mathematics teacher. The high school players were in a new league called the "Little Four." The other members of the league were Stoughton, Brodhead and Orfordville. Although other sports, including basketball and football were in the Rock Valley League, baseball had not been included since 1935.

Evansville won its first game against Orfordville in the season opener by a score of 5 to 2. The team lineup included Myktiuk at short stop; Ted Thompson at 2nd base; Jack McKenna, catcher; Bernie Golz, center field; Don Montgomery 1st base; Al Golz, pitcher; Roger Thompson, left field; LaVerne Helgeson, 3rd base; Bob Brunsell, right field; alternates were Jim Bovre, 3rd base; Jerry Fellows, pitcher; and Ted Greenway, right field. Dick Williams and Gordon Thompson served as umpires for the game played on the Evansville fairgrounds diamond.

Stoughton beat the Evansville team 5 to 4. Then Evansville came back and trounced the Edgerton high school team 15 to 1. The season ended with Evansville in second place with a 3 and 3 standing in the four-team league. Evansville finished the season with two non-league games. The high school team played the faculty and won by a score of 8 to 5. The final game of the season was with Orfordville and Evansville won with a score of 9 to 3.

Star pitcher, Al Golz received the American Legion athletic medal for outstanding athletic achievement during graduation ceremonies at the Evansville High School in June 1937. Golz had played on the high school team for three years and was given the opportunity to attend a baseball school. The sports writer for The Flaming Arrow said: "He will be the third Evansville High school player to go on further in the great American game."


High School baseball kept the sport alive in the late 1930s, as Evansville sports fans and ball players turned their attention to the game of kittenball. A national tournament of the American Softball Association held during the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 had brought this sport to the attention of players and fans and it replaced baseball as the amateur's choice of summer sports in Evansville.

At the height of baseball's popularity in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Evansville's summertime baseball fans had been able to watch four home teams usually sponsored by Baker Manufacturing, the Evansville Review, the D. E. Wood Butter Company, and Businessmen. There were two traveling teams, an American Legion team of young players and a Southern Wisconsin League team.

In the summer of 1937, kittenball was the sport with many Evansville teams. There was only one baseball team representing Evansville. A team of graduates and current high school stars, Roger Thompson, Al Golz, Wilbur Luchsinger, Bernie Golz, Paul Dooley, Roland Golz, Franklin, Art Phillips and Gordon Thompson, put together a schedule of games to play teams from other cities in the summer of 1937.

Local baseball fans were still fascinated with the career of Stanley Sperry and articles about the professional ball player appeared regularly in sports news. An ankle injury in 1936 had threatened his career. The Philadelphia Phillies traded Sperry to the Oklahoma City Indians and at the Sperry reported for spring training at the beginning of the 1937 baseball season.

He did not make the starting lineup for the spring season, and he returned to Evansville and practiced with the high school team to try to overcome his injury. When another player was hurt Sperry was called to play for the Texas League team . Although he was still limping, Sperry rushed to Houston, Texas to join his team mates.

Sperry injured ankle made some Oklahoma fans doubt his ability to play and during the season he was injured a second time, with a cut over his right ankle. However, Sperry managed to overcome the injuries and late in the summer, the manager of the team told a reporter that Sperry was roaming all over the field to capture ground balls and he was batting .349.

Oklahoma City Indians manager Jim Keesey praised the second baseman's abilities on the field and at bat. "We would not be where we are today, were it not for the brilliant hitting and smart base-running of Stan Sperry," Manager Keesey said. "Sperry has proved a lifesaver, plumed knight, and fair-haired boy."

Sperry played 29 games with at least one hit, the third best record ever made in the Texas League. A Dallas baseball writer, Flint Dupre, said that Sperry was "one of the smartest deals" made by the Oklahoma team. "Sperry has developed into an outstanding new player in the league." Dupre expected Sperry to move up in the baseball world.

The Oklahoma City team was in the running for the championship of the Texas League in 1937 and this brought Sperry's abilities to the attention of scouts for the Philadelphia Athletics. In a telephone deal between the Oklahoma team president and Athletics president, Connie Mack, Sperry was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics in September 1937.

Connie Mack, owner and manager of the Athletics from 1901 - 1950, offered Sperry a contract. Sperry signed and in March 1938, joined the Athletics for spring training at Lake Charles, Louisiana. "Stanley Sperry may turn out to be the answer to Connie Mack's prayer for a second baseman," one sports writer commented.

The 1938 baseball season opened for Evansville High School players in April and there were only three teams in the league. Coach Roethel, in his second year with the team found the most of the players were underclassmen, with little experience.

The pre-season play included games with Oregon, Albany, Brooklyn, and the Evansville High School alumni. In regular season play, Brodhead and Edgerton formed the small league with Evansville.

The coaches of the three teams met in the early spring to establish rules of play. They decided that the seven inning games would begin at 4 p.m. and the home team would supply the umpire behind the plate and the opposing team would supply the base umpire. The game ball would be given to the winning pitcher.
Coach Harold Roethel told the Evansville Review reporter that he thought the chances of the Evansville team winning the league title looked good. There were to be two home games and two away games and Evansville would play each opponent twice during the season.

For the first league game, Jerry Fellows and Jack McKenna took the pitcher's position for Evansville. Ted Greenway, Wilbur Luchsinger and Jim Bovre covered the bases with LaVerne Helgesen, at short stop. Kenneth Moe, Bernie Golz and Bob Graham were in the outfield. Other members of the team were George Fritscher, Frank Dangerfield, Robert Olson, Bob Brunsell, Jim Johnson, Bob Horne, Art Phillips, Jerry Lynch, Kenneth Wahl, and Roland Golz.

The team won the opening games against Brodhead and Edgerton. In the second round Evansville lost to both teams. They finished second in the four-team league.

On Memorial Day 1938, the Evansville High School team played the Alumni to close the season and defeated the former players 5 to 2. The baseball season in Evansville ended with the alumni game.
Former school pitchers Al Golz and Pete Ellis were members of the alumni team, along with Curly Thompson, Rusty Robinson, Ken Montgomery, Clayton Sperry, Bob Hungerford, Jim Lovejoy, Rollie Lewis, Ken Allen, Pete Howard, Bill Bewick Don Miller, Wilmer Janes, Otis Odegaard, Don Montgomery and Roger Thompson.

The Southern Wisconsin League's strong rivalry continued, with teams from Janesville, Beloit, Milton, Beloit, Edgerton, Madison, Afton, Sharon and Footville. Evansville was not represented in the League in 1938.

An old timer's game was organized by "Roundy" Couglin, sports writer for the Wisconsin State Journal and Fred Gillman, a former Evansville great was asked to bring Evansville players to the game. Gillman placed a notice in the Evansville Review to notify former players to bring their shoes, baseball cap, glove and their original baseball suit, if it was available and would fit. The old timer's game was to be played before the Madison Blues played a Sheboygan team. This organization continued to have an annual meeting for several years, to recall the "good old days" of baseball.

Once again the focus of summer baseball fans was on the major league player, Stan Sperry. In late April Fred Sperry and wife, William Sperry and wife, Mrs. Stanley Sperry and Stanley "Peck" Sperry traveled to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to watch the Athletics play ball.

During the 1938 season with the Athletics, Sperry played in 60 games and was at bat 253 times. His batting average had dropped to .273.

Injuries early in the season forced Sperry out of the game until he was recalled in August, just in time for a series of games with the Chicago White Sox. The former high school coach, Peter Finstad and Stanley's parents went to Chicago to see a game.

When another series of games with the Chicago White Sox was played in September, a large crowd of Evansville fans was on hand to watch one of the games. Local fans arranged a "Stan Sperry Day" during one of the series games and they began taking up a collection for a gift to be presented at home plate before the game began.

Grant Johnson's drug store served as the collection point for a gift for the young player. Johnson also made arrangements for a Greyhound Bus to leave Evansville early in the morning and arrive in Chicago in time for the ball game. The Chicago and Northwestern Railway had also offered special fares to the sports fans and altered its schedule in order to pickup and drop off fans at the Evansville depot.

More than 100 fans traveled by car, bus and train to Comiskey Park to see Sperry play. Peter Finstad, who was credited with starting Sperry on his baseball career, presented him with a shotgun, purchased with the funds collected from Sperry's fans.

During the winter, Sperry, his wife and young son lived with his parents. His father, Fred Sperry, said that baseball was the topic of conversation year-round at his Evansville barbershop. Stanley refereed basketball games and chopped wood to keep himself in shape during the off-season.

The Athletics called Sperry back for the spring training camp at Lake Charles, Louisiana in March 1939.
March was the month when baseball players and fans began planning for the next season. Stanley Sperry was Rock County's only professional player in 1939 and when he entered spring training with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics.

Shortly after spring training began, Sperry was sold to the Atlanta Crackers, a member of the Southern Association, a Double-A League. The Crackers were sometimes called the Yankees of the minors because they had captured so many titles in their league. Sperry played for the summer season as 3rd baseman for the Crackers.

The high school team was taking form in early March, but cold weather delayed outdoor practices and the team prepared the best that they could in the high school gymnasium. Fifty hopefuls turned out for the team in 1939. Only six of those turning out for practice were six returning lettermen, Jim Bovre, Wilbur Luchsinger, Ken Moe, Jerry Fellows, Frank "Bud" Dangerfield and Robert Olsen.

The high school team continued to play independent ball and Coach Harold Roethel scheduled games with Monticello, Brodhead, Oregon, and Edgerton. Coach Roethel's team lacked experience and fielding errors and injuries plagued the players during the season. They won only three out of the seven games played with their opponents.

In the first game against Monticello, three lettermen, Moe, Dangerfield, and Bovre had errors. The catcher, Earl Carlson, got hit in the head with a pitched ball and was forced to the bench in the third inning. He recovered to play in other games.

Coach Roethel tired a number of different players in the line up during the 1939 season. Besides the starting players, Rollin Golz, Bob Brunsell, B. Hurd, Jackson, Richard "Snuffy" Smith, Wally Olsen, Bob Graham, Haakenson, Don Wall, Schuster, Louis Jessessky, Porter, Arthur Kahl were listed on the rosters of some games.

At the end of the season, Carlson, Smith, Fellows, Olsen, Dangerfield, Kahl, Wall, Luchsinger, Bovre, Golz, Graham, and manager George Fritscher received letters for their participation on the baseball team.
Fred Gillman called for the old-time baseball players to attend the second annual meeting of the Old Timers' Baseball Association in Madison. The organization wanted to sponsor and encourage amateur baseball players to help them to get tryouts with the major leagues.

One of the old timers who had been very encouraging to young players did not answer the call. Cal Broughton, Evansville first professional baseball player died in March 1939, just as the baseball season was about to begin.

After several years of playing independent ball, Evansville's adult baseball players formed a new amateur team in 1939, this time the team joined the County Line League. The team was called the Evansville Blues, the first game was an exhibition game played against the Brooklyn Baseball team, members of the Southern Wisconsin Home Talent League. Leroy Lewis was the manager of the team and Richard Smith was the scorekeeper.

Many of Peter Finstad's former students and baseball players were listed on the team roster. Pete Ellis was the pitcher and sometimes played first base. Harold Robinson played second base; Harry Keehn, center field; Ken Allen, short stop; Wilmer Janes, pitcher; Lloyd Woodstock, catcher; Perry Janes, third base; Elmer "Buck" Allen, right field; and Cy Janes, left field.

Other members of the County Line League were Orfordville, Footville, Hanover, Tiffany, Newark and Janesville. By the end of the season, Evansville and Orfordville were tied for the league title. Each team had 12 wins and 3 loses.

The final game was played on October 1, 1939 to break a tie for first place with the Orfordville team. The potential list of players for the championship game included several players that had not been listed on the original roster: LaVerne Elmer, Ward Popanz, Roland Lewis, Frank Woodstock, Roscoe Janes, Curt Carlson, and Francis Sullivan.

The championship game was close with Evansville and Orfordville tied in the fifth inning. Orfordville was able to rally and took home the league trophy by winning the game in the eighth inning with a score of 7 to 4. Evansville came in second in the County Line League but had made a good showing in their first season back in league play.

The American Legion had also revived the Junior Legion Baseball team and scheduled games with Milton Junction, Janesville.

Dan Williams, former commander of the Evansville Legion Post was the team manager. The high school players continued on into the summer with Marvin Luchsinger, L. Jessessky, Robert Olsen, E. Jessessky, B. Hurd, Jackson, Bob Graham, Rollin Golz, Jerry Fellows, Art Phillips, Richard Smith, Wally Olsen, and Jim Johnson playing for the Legion team.

Errors and bad hitting made for several losses for the Legion team. They did not fare as well as their older County Line league players.

Big leaguer Stan Sperry returned to Evansville in late September to spend the winter. Although his batting average for the 1939 season was .323 he had suffered several injuries including a broken finger, a lacerated ankle and a cracked cartilage in his left knee.

In December 1939, the Evansville Review announced that Stan Sperry was sold to the San Diego Padres. The club was a member of the Pacific Coast League and a Double-A team. Sperry reported for spring training at El Centro, California, in late February 1940.




Coach Harold Roethel's high school team in 1940 had more experienced players and better luck in the games that they played. Bob Olsen and Art Phillips pitched for the high school team. Frank Dangerfield, Jerry Fellows, B. Hurd and Phil Halbman were also listed as pitchers.

The team suffered more losses than wins during the season. They were twice defeated by Monticello and lost to Oregon and Edgerton. Some of the high school players also joined the American Legion Junior baseball team. The team was once again coached by Dan Williams.

An adult baseball organizational meeting was held at Bernie Christensen's barbershop in early April 1940. Ball players indicated their willingness to participate in the Southern Wisconsin Home Talent League, if they could get local businessmen to sponsor them and pay the entrance fee. An incentive of season tickets was offered to those who contributed. B. B. Bowling alleys, Evansville Feed and Fuel, Bernie Christsensen's barber shop, Arthur Rasmussen, and Heffel Chevrolet were some of the local businesses that supported the team.

Bernie Christensen volunteered to be the business manager and publicity chairman and Chick Bruni, the athletic director for the Brooklyn High School was named the manager of the team. Art Rasmussen, manager of the Union Implement Company submitted the registration fee collected from Evansville businessmen.

The team opened its season with a non-league game against the 3-F Laundrymen of Madison. The Home Talent League was the largest amateur baseball organization in the United States and in Wisconsin there were 41 teams playing in eight divisions.

The goal of the Home Talent League was to "perpetuate baseball and to create additional enthusiasm in the sport." The organizers even dreamed that several of the baseball players in the League would attain positions in organized professional ball.

Evansville was in the eastern division with London, Cambridge, Stoughton, McFarland, Marshall, Cottage Grove, and Oregon. The games were played on the city park diamond west of the park store. Players and fan worked hard to get the diamond in good condition for games.

Those who turned out to practice with the Evansville team were Milo Merritt, Jerry Fellows, Wilmer Janes, Robert Hungerford, Jim Bovre, LaVerne Elmer, Cliff Smith, Ken Allen, Roland Lewis, Cy Janes, Lester Rasmussen, Jack McKenna, Lloyd Woodstock, Harold Robertson, Robert Graham, Richard Elmer and Chester Kivlin. Jim Johnson was listed as the official scorekeeper and Hans Nielson was the home team umpire.

The players prepared for the league play with three weeks of drills and then played a practice game against the Orfordville team, former opponents from the County Line League. Evansville won the game with a final score of 13 to 7. Evansville entered the Home Talent League with great confidence after winning their first game and defeating their rivals.

However, Evansville played London in the first game of the League and lost. London had a large following of fans and Evansville expected to have 700 spectators at the game at the Evansville park. Bleachers from the high school were brought and set up around the park baseball field to accommodate the spectators. The cost of admission was set at 10 and 15 cents.

London won the game with a 9 to 2 score. Cottage Grove and Evansville's team were more evenly matched and Evansville was able to win a game against this opponent.

In late August a game was scheduled with the Footville, a member of the Southern Wisconsin Baseball League. The game was a pitching battle against two former High School baseball team mates, Alvin Golz was the Footville pitcher and Marvin Janes, the Evansville pitcher. Footville won the game 5 to 1.

Although Evansville did not have many wins in their first season back in the Home Talent league, they did have the support of the local businesses and fans. The team looked forward to a better season in 1940 and in 1941, Evansville's Home Talent league was making front page news in the local paper.

Bernie Christensen called the first meeting of the Home Talent team players and sponsors in the first week of April 1941. He reported that there were going to be seven teams in Evansville's section and he hoped to have a roster of about 20 players.

Walter Graham was elected president of the local club, Robert J. Antes, vice president; Harold Roethel, treasurer; Bernie Golz, team manager; Bernie Christensen, team captain, Hans Neilson, director and Jim Johnson scorekeeper. The season ticket price was set at one dollar and eight home games were scheduled.
The towns joining Evansville in the league in 1941 were Cottage Grove, Orfordville, McFarland, Blooming Grove, Janesville Merchants, and Albion. The high school baseball coach, Harold Roethel played on the team and Al Golz shared the pitching position with Roethel. Other members of the team were Evansville High School baseball greats: Jack McKenna, Rolland Lewis, Harold Robinson, Jerry Fellows, LaVerne Elmer. Tom Golz, Ken Allen, Marvin Janes, Roland Golz, J. Bovre, Jerry Johnson, Olson and Smith.

The team started by winning their first home game against the Oregon team. Then local pitcher, Al Golz pitched one of the most exciting games of the season against Blooming Grove.

Golz allowed only one hit during the game. The Review reporter said "Golz was well nigh invincible with his pitching and retired the first twenty men in order. He gave up his only hit in the seventh inning."

By mid-July 1941, the Evansville Home Talent Baseball team had assumed the lead in league play. However, they finished the season in second place. With the Albion Tigers placing first.

The War Years

Before the 1942 baseball season began, the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 had brought the United States into World War II. Many of the men who had played for the Evansville Home Talent League team and on other Evansville baseball teams had been drafted or enlisted in the military.

Former Evansville baseball players serving in the military were Robert Hubbard and LeRoy Scoville. Both had enlisted in the National Guard's 192nd Tank Division and had been taken prisoner during the battle for the Philippine Islands. Alvin Golz, the team's star pitcher enlisted before the 1942 season began. Don Wall enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1940. Clifton Cain, LaVerne Helgesen, and Horace "Red" Reynolds were also unable to play because they were in the armed forces.

Bernie Christensen attended the League's organizational meeting for the 1942 season. He reported that other teams were in the same position and over the next three years, one by one the local team members entered the military, diminishing Evansville's ability to put together a baseball team.

Christensen, the local Home Talent League business manager, reported to the Evansville Review that there were plenty of reserves to cover the positions on the team. Walter Graham, served as President of the Evansville Boosters, a group of businessmen who sponsored the team.

In late April the Evansville team, known as "The Blues" won their first game against the Madison Dodgers. Three pitchers, Roger McCaffrey, Bob Olsen and Marvin Janes, took the mound for Evansville during the game.

Other team members were Dick Elmer, Wallace Olsen, Roger Schwartz, Jim Bovre, Ernie Kowal, William Elmer, Bernie Golz, Wilmer Janes, Tom Golz, Pete Klitzman, Jerry Fellows, Thomas Smith, Jim Johnson, Harold Roethel, Harold Robinson and Don Graham. Janes served as the team manager but was replaced by Nile McCaffery early in the season.

Season tickets cost $1 for five home games and business manager, Bernie Christensen also made arrangements for a theater performance of "Bubbling Over" to bring in additional funds. The proceeds from the play were used to rebuild the park ball diamond.

For several weeks before the performance, Christensen advertised the play in the Review. A director from Chicago was hired for the play and local performers did the singing and acting for the musical comedy. "Choruses of Evansville's most attractive girls in colorful costumes" were promised.

The season opened on May 3, 1942 and Evansville lost their first two games against Oregon and McFarland. They defeated Sun Prairie and then lost a game against Cottage Grove and were defeated a second time by McFarland, the League's leaders in the previous season.

Three Evansville players were chosen for the League all-star team game. Bernie Golz was chosen for third base, Kenneth Allen, short stop, and Dick Elmer outfielder. Nile McCaffery was picked for the third base coach. The game was played at the Oregon park and a large group of Evansville baseball fans attended the game. Before the game Kenneth Allen was called to duty and entered the U. S. Army on July 5, 1942.
By late July, so many of the players had been called into the military that Bernie Christensen reported that there were many changes to the team roster. There was no bragging about a winning team when the season ended in 1942.

High School Athletic Director, George O'Neil was keeping the dream of baseball alive as he encouraged younger players during the summer of 1942. O'Neil was the city park activities director and he organized several teams of grade and high school players for games at the park.

The younger players were on three "minor league" teams and older boys played on the "major league" teams. The teams were named after nationally known teams, the White Sox, Cards, Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox and Yanks.

Stan Sperry played for the San Diego Padres in the 1940 and 1941 seasons and was their regular 2nd baseman. His hitting abilities earned him a .326 batting average with the Padres and he was credited with being one of the outstanding place hitters in the Coast League.

In June 1942, Sperry quit the Padres. He had been having problems with "a bad charley horse and has decided to quite the Padres," the San Diego Tribune-Sun reported in their June 23, 1942 sports news. The same report said that Sperry also wants to be nearer his family and has decided to quite baseball. Sperry had become a father for the third time.

By July 1942, Sperry was playing for the Louisville Colonels, Baseball Club in Louisville Kentucky, a member of the American Association of Baseball. He finished out his professional career with the Louisville team, retiring in the spring of 1943.

In 1943, the high school did not participate in inter-school baseball because of gas rationing during the war.
Many of the Home Talent League members were now serving in the War. Those who had reported for duty before the 1943 baseball season began were Jim Bovre, Jerry Fellows, George Golz, Jim Johnson, Robert Olsen, Wallace Olsen, and Roger Schwartz.

There were no traveling baseball teams in 1944. "The old "slugging" games which this city once had have been sent overseas to Hitler," the Review reported in August 1944.

In May 1945, the high school baseball games resumed with Evansville playing in a Tri-city baseball league with Brodhead and Oregon. George O'Neil was the high school baseball coach. The home games were played on the park baseball diamond.

When the season ended, letters were given to Oliver Julseth, Don Olsen, Curtis Fellows, Jerry Johnson, Phil Collins, Albert Apfel, John Hatlen, Merritt Tuttle, Gene Hartl, Carrol Hartl, and Manager Borger Hanson. Most of the players intended to play on the American Legion Junior Baseball team in the summer. Apfel could not compete in the summer games because he was inducted into the Navy in May 1945.

Other team members were LaVern Seeman, Kenneth Devlin, John Toepfer, Kenneth Kueltz, Willis Martin, Rodney Douglas and Walter Clark.

The Legion sponsored team competed with other teams in The Southern Wisconsin Junior American Legion Baseball League. Teams from Beloit, Edgerton, Fort Atkinson, Janesville, Monroe and Evansville competed in the league.

School reports indicated that many of the high school students who were too young to enter the military had taken jobs in local factories, on farms and in businesses to replace the men in the service. Because the Evansville team was short of players under the age of 17, they were allowed to have players under the age of 18, but they waived all rights to compete in championship games, and county, district, regional and state play-offs.

Bernie Christensen served as the team's business manager, assisted by Ace Allen. In late August, Christensen arranged for the Junior Legion team to play the Old Timers. The Old Timers were led by Willard Waeffler and he claimed to have 20 men in his line up who were ready to challenge the junior boys. Leo Brunsell, Butch Apfel, Les Patterson, Howard Beecher, J. C. McKenna, Tom Golz, Wilmer Janes, Elmer Allen, Jay Feldt, Harold "Rusty" Robinson and Bill Templeton were listed in the lineup.

"The enthusiasm is high and there surely will be a battle before the inning closes," Christensen promised. However, rain prevented the game from taking place and Willard Waffler's team was spared a defeat for another week.

When the game was finally held the following week, the Old Timers gave the youngsters a tough game. Ace Allen, Jerry Johnson, Mike Coyne, John Hatlen, C. Popanz, Curtis Fellows, P. Fox, Rollie Gundlach, Bill Meredith, and W. Olsen played for the Legion. The young men won by a close score of 6 to 5.

The Boys Come Home

Veterans returning from military service following World War II were happy to find the American Legion sponsoring a baseball team in the spring of 1946. Former baseball professional Stan Sperry had agreed to be the team manager.

Bernie Christensen, old time player and long-time financial backer of Evansville baseball, served as business manager for the team. He was also the American Legion athletic officer and Christensen arranged for new uniforms for the players.

More than 20 potential players turned out for the first practice in April 1946. Trying out for the catcher's position were Francis Sullivan, Don Graham, Rusty Robinson and Tom Smith. Bob Olsen, Roger McCaffrey, Bub Janes and Alvin Golz tried out to be the team's pitcher.

In the infield, the first baseman spot had three candidates, Babe Brunsell, Cliff Cain and Glen Julseth. Leroy Root and Ace Allen were the only two trying out for the second base position. Stan Sperry agreed to play second base, if no one else was available.

LaVerne Elmer and Marvin Luchsinger wanted the short stop position. John Hatlin and Dick Elmer tried out for third base. The outfielder hopefuls were Bernie Golz, who was assured of being placed in left field, Jerry Fellows, James Bovre, Arthur Phillips, Don Miller, Roger Schwartz and Earl Carlson. Erwin Wilde, Howard Seeman, and Glenn Elmer were added to the team's lineup in late April.

As the new American Legion team was organized to play in the Home Talent Baseball League, a new baseball diamond was being prepared for their home games. In the spring of 1946, the City Park Board built a new athletic field at Leota Park. A contractor was hired to level the ground and prepare the field.

A new lighting system was installed by the Evansville Water and Light Department and was said to be "better than in any other city of this size in southern Wisconsin." The Memorial Athletic Field had bleachers for 500 people and would also serve as a football field and kittenball diamond.

The City collected a portion of the gate fees to help pay for the new athletic field. Admission was 35 cents for a game. The new baseball diamond was not ready when the 1946 season began, so the fairgrounds diamond was restored for the home games. In the first half of the season, the team won more than half of the games played.

A Junior American Legion ball team was organized in May 1946. Both the Home Talent team and the Junior Legion team played games during the first post-war 4th of July celebration.

The new Memorial Athletic Field was dedicated in an afternoon program on July 4, 1946. The dedication included a fly-over by Navy Hellcat fighter planes and speeches by Richard Williams, chairman of the Junior Legion baseball team, Bernie Christensen, Park Board chairman, Robert J. Antes, and Mayor Ben T. Green.

High school athletic director, George O'Neill was in charge of the summer recreation program at the park and had enough baseball players to form four teams. The young men playing on these teams were the future of the high school and adult baseball teams for Evansville.

Although neither the adult nor the junior teams had winning seasons, they had played "good ball throughout the summer" according to the Evansville Review's August 29, 1946 issue.

George O'Neill left his position as physical education director and athletic coach in November 1946. He had served in these positions for 17 years and resigned to take a job in Minneapolis. The school board hired Melvin C. Erickson to take O'Neill's job.

Erickson was an avid baseball fan and had played professional ball with the Minneapolis Millers in the American Association. He had most recently played in the Industrial League in Madison.

In the spring of 1947, Erickson organized the Evansville High school team to play in competition with other high school teams. It was the first time in four years, Evansville's high school players had competed in Rock Valley conference.

The players earning blue 7 inch letters for their baseball jackets were Gerald Easton, the captain of the team, Marion Benton, Kenneth Kuelz, Neal Moldenhauer, Roger Valentine, Andy Hollibush, LaVerne Gallman, Fred Elmer, Kenneth Devlin, Matt Meredith, LaVerne Seeman, Willis Martin, Jim Finnane, Marvin Hollibush and Roger Wood. Charles Fritcher earned a manager's letter and Brownie Finnane, a junior manager's letter. Many of the young men were underclassmen and formed a stronger team as they progressed through high school.

Mel Erickson also organized the American Legion Baseball Team, with assistance from Bernie Christensen. Once again the team joined the Home Talent League. This organization was the largest amateur league in the United States. Wisconsin's Home Talent League had 42 teams, divided into 4 sections.

The Wisconsin League was reported to have some of the best baseball talent in the Midwest. The local team played home games on the new Memorial Athletic Field. Practices started in late April.

As the City and baseball organizers had hoped, the new Athletic Field drew bigger crowds to the games. Parking places near the field were at a premium and fans were warned not to park cars on the hill east of the park store. The park grounds crew had recently planted sod in the area and the cars would ruin the grass.

Teams from Albion, Pleasant Hill, McFarland, Monroe, Utica, Oregon, Deerfield, and Stoughton were Evansville's opponents in the Home Talent League. Evansville's team was hampered in the early part of the season, by not getting in enough practice games.

As serious play got underway, the League team was bolstered by several college students spending the summer at home. Tom Smith, arrived from the University of Wisconsin; Roger McCaffrey from Whitewater State Teachers' College; Jim Johnson, Ace Allen, and Phil Collins from the La Crosse State Teachers' College.

With a revitalized team, Evansville began to show improvement in hitting. Wally and Bob Olsen led the team in batting averages. Because of the number of players who tried out for the team, there was depth in almost every position. Ralph McKenna was a reserve pitcher. Jack McKenna and Albert Apfel traded time at the catcher's position.

By mid-season, the Evansville team was in fourth place. According to Bernie Christensen, the local barbershop crowd favored the Evansville team to finish in first or second place.

Mel Erickson's brothers and cousins played for the Madison Penn Electric team, a member of the Industrial League. Erickson scheduled a non-League game with the Madison team. The game was played at the local diamond midway through the regular season. Evansville lost the game featuring the Erickson family players. However, the local team finished in second place in regular season competition play, just as the local fans had predicted.

In addition to his work with the Home Talent team, Mel Erickson also ran the City park summer recreation program and worked with several baseball teams of younger players. He was no doubt looking for talented youngsters for the high school baseball program.

The 1947 baseball season in Evansville ended with the American Legion treating the young park recreation baseball players to a doubleheader ball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. The Legion rented William Bone's Leota School bus to transport the boys to Chicago. The boys were chaperoned by Coach Erickson and Jim Johnson.

The players on the Junior American Legion team and on the park recreation teams developed skills that helped them earn positions on the Evansville High School team. Erickson was also able to retain several of the members of the 1947 high school team to play again in the 1948 season.

When the season ended in May 1948, Erickson awarded second baseball letters to some of the upper classmen. Blue letters were earned by Willis Martin, captain of the team, Ken Kuelz, Ken Devlin, Jim Finnane, Fred Elmer, Roger Valentine, Bob Apfel, Jack Deininger, Randy Feldt, Jim Kaltenborn, Ed McCaffrey, Dick Losey, Roger Sell, Bill McCarthy and Dean Mittness. Other 1948 high school players were Ronald Strassberg, Phil Pearsall, Jr., Byrl Rowley, Jerry Johnson, John Hazlett, Elwood "Bud" Heacox and Sid Jones.

The spring weather was still a month or so away when Mel Erickson, Bernie Christensen and Dick Williams went to Madison in March 1948 to line up the Evansville team's games for the Home Talent League play in the summer. The Eastern section of the league the same nine teams that had played each other in 1947.
Christensen, Williams and team manager, Mel Erickson arranged for Evansville to battle their old opponent, Oregon for the 4th of July celebration.

However when the team members met for the first time in April 1948, they decided to play independent ball. The lineup included three Elmer brothers, Dick, La Verne and Robert; Ralph McKenna and his brother, John; Robert Olsen, Al Golz, Tom Smith, and John Hazlett.

At the organization meeting the team members voted to keep their franchise in the Home Talent League. This meant that the local team maintained the right to re-enter the league in 1949.

The first independent game was scheduled with Madison's Gardener Bakery team. Mayor Winn tossed out the first ball of the season. During the 1948 season, the local team played against teams from Madison, Janesville, Beloit, Rockford and one of the Home Talent League teams, Pleasant Hill.

When Evansville's team defeated the Pleasant Hill team at the end of the 1948 season, it was an incentive to rejoin the Home Talent League the following spring. In 1949, the Evansville team was once again on the Home Talent Baseball League's schedule.

Robert Olsen and Al Golz shared the pitching. Golz played left field when he was not on the mound. The team lost the 1949 opening game with Stoughton, 15 to 7.

Until the winter weather disappeared, Coach Mel Erickson had the Evansville High School baseball team practice in the school gymnasium. The practice season started in late March 1949.

Some promising players had signed up for 1949 baseball with Coach Mel Erickson. A sophomore Randy Feldt was a young player that had professional potential.

Seniors returning to play were Jim Finnane, Byrl Rowley, Roger Valentine, Jerry Johnson, Roger Sarow, and Neil Moldenhauer. Others who signed on in the spring were Fred Elmer Ed McCaffrey, Charles Fritscher, Jack Deininger, Jim Kaltenborn, Robert Easton, LaVerne Gallman, Phil Pearsall, Bill Mc Carthy, John Hazlett, Donald Guse, Malcolm Hall, Steve Losey, Gordon Brunsell, Dan Finnane, and Jack Miller. Donald Gallman and Duane Tomlin served as team managers.

In 1949, the team played in the Lakeland League's southern division with opponents from Edgerton, Stoughton, and Milton Union. Each team in the section played two games with the other teams. The northern division of the Lakeland League included Fort Atkinson, Lake Mills, Watertown and Jefferson. At the end of the season, the winner in each division played for the Championship.

World War II had halted many of the high school sports activities and many schools that had dropped baseball from the school sports activities were just beginning to develop teams. Madison East was one of the schools that developed a team. Madison East's team was in their second year of play and they were losing many of the games that they played.

Erickson had set up a pre-season game with Madison East to test the skills of his players. In the game against Madison East, LaVerne Gallman, "a lanky right-hander" pitched for Evansville. Gallman got good support from the outfielders and the Evansville team won by a score of 4 to 2.

However, Evansville was defeated in the first game of league play when Edgerton shut out the local team with a score of 4 to 0. Later in the season, in the second game against Edgerton, Evansville lost again and Edgerton took the Lakeland League southern division championship. Evansville took second place in the four-team league, with three wins and three losses.

To increase the team's chances for winning in the next season, Coach Erickson encouraged his players to join in the summertime American Legion Junior League team. Erickson also coached the Legion team and the young players had a chance to play against teams from New Glarus, Monroe, Milton and Milton Junction, Monona Grove and Beloit.

The Evansville teams had tough opponents in the Legion games, winning three games and losing five. Their wins were over the Monroe, Milton Junction and New Glarus teams. "The local ball is playing good ball and deserves the backing of the home fans," the Evansville Review reported in late July 1949. "The defeats were at the hands of Beloit, district champions."

The 1949 adult league season found the Evansville Legion team once again in the Home Talent League. They opened their season with pitcher Bob Olsen on the mound.

Chuck Endres, a former Madison star was the team catcher. Davis was the short stop, Jim Johnson at 1st base; Roger McCaffrey at 2nd base; G. Elmer at 3rd base, Ace Allen in right field; Wally Olsen in center field and Al Golz in left field. Dean Mittness and Robert Elmer were also listed as players on the rosters of some 1949 season games.

Football and basketball dominated the sports scene at the Evansville high school during the fall and early winter months. As soon as basketball season ended in March, the 1950 baseball team took over the school gym.

Coach Mel Erickson told the Review that he had 31 players report for practice. Bill Green and Larry Main had agreed to be managers for the high school team.

Once again the team played in the Lakeland League, southern division. Evansville won their opening league game by beating Edgerton, the 1949 champs. Jack Deininger was the game hero, with a double that scored three players on bases.

Mel Erickson resigned as high school teacher and athletic coach at the end of the school year. Erickson had also served as the summer recreation director at the park, while pursuing his Master's degree at the University of Wisconsin. Erickson was replaced by Robert Madding.



When Bernie Christensen went to the first meeting of the Southern Wisconsin Baseball club in late March 1950, he was elected president. However, the American Legion had decided not to sponsor the adult Home Talent team during the 1950 season.

When the team organized in April they announced that they hoped to cover their expenses with season ticket sales prices at $2. Tickets were sold at the Sport Shop, Hamilton Hardware, Bernie's Barber Shop and the Kaltenborn Studies.

The team expenses were expected to be $400 for the season. This included the $25 league fee, balls, bats, bases, caps, catcher's equipment, umpires and lights for the night games.

As older League players bowed out of the game, the local high school favorites took positions on the adult team. Randy Feldt and Robert Olsen shared the pitcher position. Roger Valentine played short stop, Jim Kaltenborn, 2nd base; Fred Elmer 3rd base, Ed McCaffrey left field, Jim Finnane, 1st base, Jack Deininger catcher, Bob Apfel, right field, Phil Collins, center field.

Without an official sponsor, the 1950 traveling team was known simply as the City Baseball team. Evansville played against Orfordville, Janesville Optimists, Albany, Janesville Merchants and Brodhead teams in the Home Talent league.

The season was divided into two rounds, with the first round ending in late June. Between the rounds an all-star game was scheduled for June 29 in Evansville.

Weather interfered with several games during with season. Rain and wet ball diamonds forced the Evansville team to postpone three of ten scheduled home games. Some of the re-scheduled games were also postponed due to rain. According to the rules of the League, the make-up games had to be scheduled within two weeks of the original date.

The Evansville team ran into scheduling problems with the local softball teams for the local diamond. The City Baseball team had to transfer one of their games to Footville and due to some confusion, the Footville team did not show up for the game.

Raining weather in the second half of the season and more scheduling difficulties put the local team in debt. The team tried to revive their treasury but scheduling several non-league games.

Before the season ended eight games had been canceled due to rain. In late July the Review compared to local team to the Old Testament Jonah. The local team had just started to play against the Janesville Optimists when it rain so hard that the ball diamond was unfit for play. This was particularly distressing, according to the report, because when the game was called, the Evansville team was at bat and had scored 3 runs and still had a man on base. Evansville had every chance of winning the game.

A report late in the season told a sad story of financial problems for the team. The club treasury had $10.56 on hand and outstanding bills for baseballs of $72.00. They also owed money to Hamilton Hardware and the Sport Shop.

The 1950 season was not a good one for the Evansville City Team and they hoped for a better season the next year. However some of the young players had proven their skills and ended the season with excellent batting scores. Randy Feldt had been at bat 26 times and had 13 hits. Roger Valentine was at bat 13 times and hit 5 times. Robert Olsen, a seasoned player, was at bat 23 times with 11 hits.

Robert Madding replaced Mel Erickson as the physical education instructor at the high school and served as the high school baseball team coach for the 1951 season.

The high school team played their first game against Edgerton and won. This was a good beginning for the team. In the 1951 season, they team lost only one game and won eleven.

Players in the 1951 season included Pat Finnane, Jack Deininger, Gordon Guse, Tom Cromheecke, Randy Feldt, Bert Schenck, Bob Dixon, John Hazlett, Dave Losey, Bud Hatlevig, Ed Walker, Peck Sperry, Steve Losey, Malcolm Hull, Don Allen, Jack Miller, Norman Tomlin, Bill Heffel, Robbie Petterson, Don Guse, Phil Erpenbach, Dan Finnane, and Don Gallman, Phil Pearsall, Jr., David Lovett and James Butcher were the team managers.

The high school team took an early lead in the Lakeland League. "Blues Out In Front In H. S. Baseball," the Review touted as the team moved into first place early in May. The high school team was described as sparkling when the district tournament was held in Evansville.

Evansville beat Brodhead and Albany in the district tournament and advanced to the sectional tournament. The 24 - 3 win against Brodhead and 13 to 1 win was credited to Randy Feldt's outstanding pitching. In the Albany game, the Review said: "Feldt was the team's big gun, hitting well, and getting 15 strike-outs in the game."

In the sectional, Evansville beat teams from Mukwanago and Wilmot. The team lost their bid to get into the state tournament by losing the game against Shullsburg by a score of 3 - 0.

An American Legion Junior Baseball team was revived for the 1951 season. Robert Madding also coached this team. The team was limited to boys who had not reached their 17th birthday by January 1, 1951. Bernie Christensen continued to support this American Legion activity by serving as president of the League and athletic officer of the local American Legion.

In 1951, Edwin W. Walker became manager of the adult baseball team and local high school football coach Dave Demichei was elected secretary-treasurer of the organization. Eight teams had agreed to join the Southern Wisconsin Home Talent League, Footville, Brodhead, two Janesville teams, Albany, Utica and Evansville.

The local Lions Club agreed to pay the entry fee for the Home Talent League team. However, the team still had to cover the equipment and other expenses during the season.

It was a winning season for the team, with the high school baseball coach Bob Madding playing with high school greats, Randy Feldt and Jack Deininger. Coach Dave Demichei served as catcher for the team. Jim Finnane, Jim Kaltenborn, and Andy Hollibush were also listed as players for the Home Talent League team in 1951.

The City Team had a winning season, beating Beloit, Uttica, and New Glarus early in the season. Feldt continued to pitch winning games, striking out as many as 17 men in one game, sometimes with the bases loaded.

In February 1952, the Evansville Review announced that Randy Feldt had been signed by the Chicago White Sox to go to their spring training camp in Kentucky.

The Evansville High School baseball team of 1952 looked like one of the best teams in the league as the season began in April. They won their first game in non-conference play against the Oregon High School team with a score of 16 to 6.

Their opening conference game of the season was against Milton. The Evansville team won the game with Stanley "Peck" Sperry pitching against 24 batters in a no-hit game. The Milton team's only score was due to a walk and errors that brought the runner home.

Coach Robert Madding and co-captains Pat Finnane and Malcolm Hull led the team into a series of winning games and had a near perfect season. After beating Milton, Evansville won their next conference game against Stoughton and then suffered a defeat, losing to the Edgerton baseball team.

Every member of Evansville's team seemed to be in top form. Two reserve pitchers, Bob Dixon and Ronald Knudson, were available when Peck Sperry needed a break on the mound.

The 1952 team was loaded with senior players: Daniel Finnane, Donald Allen, Donald Guse, Bill Heffel, Malcolm Hull, and Jack Miller. Under classmen on the team were Norm Tomlin, Ronald Brigham, Bud Hatlevig and Jerry Apfel.

The team became the Southern Division champions for the second year in a row. In the WIAA district tournament the Evansville team played against Stoughton and won easily with a score of 9 for Evansville and 4 for Stoughton.

In the final game of the tournament, Evansville overwhelmed the Milton team with a score of 33 to 0. The Milton Coach called the game in the fourth inning. Evansville was to play Watertown, the Northern Division champions. However no report of the game appeared in the local paper and there was no further mention of the Evansville team advancing in tournament play.

No adult baseball games were reported in the summer of 1952. The younger players preparing for team play in high school and in adult leagues played organized ball games in the park recreation program.
The summer playground program at the city park was led by Vivian Sanderson, the first woman to hold the recreation director position. There was a full range of programs including swimming, tennis, and baseball.
The baseball teams were limited to boys 12 and older. Enough boys signed up to form three teams with David Losey, Bud Thompson and Ronnie Peckham serving as captains.

An all-star team included the three team captains and Jim Knapp, Ross Sperry, Dean Allen, Rich Hallmark, Dick Curless, David Lovett and Mickey Finnane. There were also plenty of substitutes when the regulars were on vacation or unavailable for a game. Dick Myers, Larry Amidon, Jack Fritscher, Dick Dille, Bob Rasmussen, Jerry Rowley, Leo Schumacher, and Harry Becher were ready to step in for the all-star team's summer games.

High School Coach Bob Madding took a year's leave of absence for the 1952-53 school year and went into the Navy, during the Korean Conflict. He was replaced by Don Grubb.

All of the underclassmen from the 1952 season returned to play in the spring of 1953. There were 40 potential players that Coach Grubb had to select from to form the new team. The first game was non-conference against Oregon. Grubb chose Peck Sperry to pitch, Pat Finnane at the catcher's position, Bud Hatlevig at first base, Norm Tomlin at second, Norman Zee, short stop, Ron Brigham at third, Jerry Apfel in center field, Rollie Zilliox in left field and Dean Allen in right field. Team members that played in other games during the season were Doug Hull, Gene Martin, Gordon Guse and Mickey Finnane.

Once again Evansville took the lead in the Conference and for the third year took the championship in their division. However, they were defeated in the playoff game against Edgerton, who then won the right to play Fort Atkinson, the leader of the Northern Division of the league. Coach Grubb also arranged for a tournament during the 1953 season, with Evansville playing against Madison East, Edgerton and Beloit High School.

In July 1953, Robert Madding officially resigned as the Evansville High School coach to take a job in the Barrington, Illinois school system. Bernie Golz, a former star athlete with the Evansville High School baseball team, was awarded Madding's position.

For the second year, there was no adult baseball team reported in 1953. The playground program for summer baseball for boys continued under the direction of Margaret Antes, recreational director for the season. From July to August the young players practiced and played against each other. An All-Star team played home and away games with teams from other communities.

Coach Golz reported 45 boys turned out for the beginning of the 1954 baseball season at the Evansville High School. He started the practice for pitchers and catchers in the high school gymnasium in March. Snow kept the players practicing indoors until early in April. By the time the team was allowed to practice outdoors, the number of players was down to 37.

There were only five lettermen returning to the 1954 team, Peck Sperry, Norm Tomlin, Doug Hull, Norm Zee and Ron Brigham. Eleven hopefuls tried out for the pitchers position and Golz had trimmed this number down to four by the time the team was able to get outdoors to practice hard throwing.

Golz worried that because of the bad weather his team would not be ready for the 1954 season. He scheduled the first game against faculty members and a non-league game with Orfordville. The baseball squad had been trimmed to less than 15 potential players and Golz built his team around the five returning lettermen. Sperry was to be the lead pitcher with Dave Losey and Larry Amidon as backups.

Finding a catcher to replace Pat Finnane, a 1953 graduate, proved to be difficult for the new coach. Ron Peckham and Norm Tomlin both tried for the spot, along with Amidon, who was also a potential pitcher. Golz finally decided on Peckham at the catcher's position and put Tomlin at 3rd base.

Outfielder candidates were Bud Thompson, Ron Brigham and Rollie Zilliox. However, Golz did not know if Zilliox would be ready for opening season play. Zilliox had broken his hand in a football game in the fall and was still not completely healed when the baseball season began. Mickey Finnane took Zilliox's place in the field for the first game of the regular season against Edgerton.

In the infield Doug Hull, George Franklin and Paul Strassburg were candidates for the short stop position. Norm Tomlin was at 3rd and sometimes in the catcher's position, Amidon played third and sometimes pitched. Norm Zee was the regular second baseman and Dean Allen at first.

The Evansville High School Baseball team abandoned the Lakeland League, as had other teams and was playing in the Western Division of the Badger League against Edgerton, Stoughton, and Middleton.

When the team defeated Edgerton in the opening game of the 1954 conference play, Golz said, "I was very pleased with the team's hustle and spirit." However, Golz also noted that the players needed a lot of practice running, bunting and catching signals.

By May, the Evansville team was in first place in the Badger Conference and took the Western Division title, winning all five of their conference games. The Blue Devils met Jefferson, the Eastern Division champions for the League title.

Peck Sperry pitched a no-hit game against Jefferson and walked only two players during the game. It was a close game as Jefferson's pitcher allowed Evansville only one run.

Evansville's winning run was described in the Review's May 27, 1954 issue. "The big run for the Blue Devils was registered by Larry Amidon in the fifth. He singled and got to second on a wild throw from center field. He made third on an infield out by Norm Zee and was driven home on a single by Norm Tomlin."
This one run was enough for Evansville to take the Badger Conference title in 1954. Coach Golz praised the Evansville team, "The boys wanted the Badger conference title pretty bad, so they worked hard and they got it." Golz awarded every team member a baseball letter and he announced that Peck Sperry and Norm Tomlin would be the honor co-captains of the 1954 Blue Devil baseball team.

Evansville's participation in the Badger Conference was short-lived. Just as the 1954 spring sports season ended, the school superintendent, J. C. McKenna announced that Evansville was leaving the Badger Conference because the competition between the high schools was too uneven. Enrollment at some of the high schools was 400 to 500 pupils, while Evansville had less than 300.

Along with teams from Milton Union and Lake Mills, Evansville joined the Madison Suburban League beginning with the 1955-56 sports season. Evansville had often played Oregon, one of the other teams in the Suburban League, in non-conference games. "Having built up rivalries with Milton Union, Lake Mills and Oregon, Evansville high school will not be a total stranger in the Suburban League," McKenna said.
In the summer of 1954, a former Evansville high school baseball star was making headlines in the military newspapers published in Japan. Randy Feldt was playing with the Tachikawa Red Devils, a United States Armed Forces team. Feldt's batting average of .360 was the best on his team. He played in the outfield for the Red Devils and had 27 hits in 75 times at bat.

A new recreation director was hired for Evansville's summer park program in 1954. Bob Kleinfeldt, a local high school teacher, had served as an assistant basketball coach at Evansville. He had also served in the army and had been the physical training director at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Baseball was one of the activities he planned to coach during the summer.

Boys in the eighth through the 11th grades were invited to participate. Local teams and a traveling team were organized. Some of the star athletes of the "sandlot" games reported in the Review that summer were Don Albright, Barry May, John "Jug" Thurman, Kenny Wood, C. J. Powles, Bob Swanson and Arlie George, all potential candidates for the high school baseball team. The boys played games against the local Wyler School team and Milton's park recreation program team.


Baseball players of all ages had a chance to compete in the 1955 baseball season. From the playground crowd to the old-timers, the game of baseball was a top priority in the spring and summer.

The Badger Conference baseball champions of 1954 began play in April. It was Evansville's first try in the re-organized Suburban League. The high school team began the season with a non-conference game against Brooklyn High School.

There were seven returning lettermen, Larry Amidon, Dick Meyers, Mickey Finnane, Ron Peckham, Rollie Zilliox, Doug Hull and Ron Brigham. Coach Bernie Golz told a reporter that he had plenty of reserves for every position, except the pitcher.

Larry Amidon was leading the hopefuls, but he became ineligible to play before the regular season began. The only other seasoned pitcher was Dick Meyers. Six younger players competed for Amidon's position, Si Chapin, Dick Dille, Don Anderson, Jim Crans, Ron Templeton and David Franklin.

During early practices, Ron Peckham was Golz's choice for catcher. Rollie Zilliox, who had shared the catching position on the 1954 team was chosen for a fielder's position. Zilliox had been plagued with an inflamed appendix and it was doubtful if he would be ready to play when the season opened. Irvin Schwartz was the only other team member trying out for catcher.

The first baseman was Ron Brigham. Ross Sperry, son of famed baseball star Stanley "Pop" Sperry was competing with C. J. Powles and Norm Hull for a chance to play second base. Charlie Farrell also trying out for the spot.

George Franklin was Bernie Golz's choice for third base with Doug Hull was scheduled to play shortstop. Gordon Hopper, a junior was also trying out for 3rd base. An outfield position went to veteran Mickey Finnane.

With Zilliox's health a big question mark, Coach Golz also had Jerry Propst, Harry Becher, Jim Cook, Larry Decker, Roger Kloften, Bob Krajeck, Phil Fellows, Dave Rowley, Larry Golz, Jerry Turner and Arlyn George as possible players in the outfield.

Edgerton appeared to be the team to beat in the 1955 season. Before regular season play began, Edgerton had beaten Edgewood and Madison West. "Blue Devils Lose Heartbreaking Opener, 6-5, to Edgerton Baseball Squad Monday," the Review noted as Evansville ended its first game. The Stoughton High School team also beat Evansville.

Hoping for a win in the third conference game, Golz took Ron Peckham from his usual position as catcher and put him on the pitcher's mound. The regular pitcher, Dick Myers took the catcher's position.

It proved to be a successful maneuver as Evansville won a game against the second place Middleton Cardinals. Throughout the rest of the season Golz used both Peckham and Meyers as pitchers, with Arlyn George as backup.

Dick Meyers was back on the mound in a second game against Edgerton, with Arlyn George also pitching a few innings. Edgerton won by a score of 13 to Evansville's 3 runs.

Zilliox was back on the team for the second Middleton game. Ron Peckham continued to pitch with Meyers playing in the catcher's position. The game was tied until the 9th inning when Meyers bunted and brought Zilliox home. The tie was broken and Evansville won by a score of 3-2.

Although Evansville had not had a very successful year, there were several under classman who would return to play in the 1956 season.

Across the Pacific Ocean, Randy Feldt, the former Evansville High School player, was in his second season with the United States Armed Services team, the Red Devils. Feldt had been a star on the high school teams of the late 1940s and early '50s.

At the end of his high school career, Feldt had been offered a scholarship to play for the University of Wisconsin, but turned down to scholarship to play pro ball. He played one year for the Chicago White Sox farm team, based in Madisonville, Kentucky and then went into the military.

From Japan, the Review picked up a report from the Red Devils coach and his praise of Feldt's work with the military team. "He showed me much more polish than any other player I've seen in service ball and we're lucky he's hitting for us and not against us," the coach said. Feldt was considered to be one of the top infielders on the team. His batting average with the "Red Devils" had improved to .450 in early season play.

For the first time in several years, Evansville had enough players and the financial backing to form a Home Talent League. In the spring of 1955, the team signed up to play in the Eastern Division of the Wisconsin League. Two local clubs gave the team funds, the American Legion and Lions Club. The team was known as the Legion team.

Fourteen games were scheduled for the regular season, but the team also played an exhibition game with a Beloit team for Evansville's 4th of GI celebration. There were several non-league games. The Eastern Division opponents included Albion, Utica, Sun Prairie, Cottage Grove, Deerfield, McFarland and Pleasant Hill.

The preliminary roster was made up of many former Evansville High School players. Peck Sperry, Verne Gallman and Bert Schenck brought plenty of depth in the pitcher's position. The team also had depth in some of the other positions, Fred Elmer, Jack Dieninger, and Bob Radcliff as catchers, "Bud" Hatlevig and Dean Allen on first base; Bob Madding and Al Patterson at second. Only one player was named for the following positions, Bob Elmer at shortstop; Norm Tomlin at third; and Dan Finnane at left field, Jerry Apfel at center field, and Don Biely in the outfield at right field. Don Ferries was also listed as an infield or outfield player.

It took a few games for the team to begin playing good baseball. They were beaten in their first league game by Albion. The Albion team scored 12 runs to Evansville's 2. Then Cottage Grove beat Evansville 9-6 and Deerfield won the third league game with a score of 6 to 4.

Following the Deerfield game, Doug Hull and Larry Amidon joined the team with Bob Olsen as coach. Amidon began pitching in a game against Pleasant Hill and Evansville's Home Talent team won the game. "Evansville played perfect ball Sunday afternoon," the Review's reported. The glory was short lived as in the next three games, McFarland, Cottage Grove and Albion beat the Evansville team.

Evansville was successful against the Sun Prairie and Utica teams. At the end of the season, Evansville's standing was fourth place in the eight-team league with four wins and seven losses. However, because of the young players on the team, Evansville's Home Talent team was described as "very promising" for future seasons.

To end the season the Home Talent Baseball team agreed to play the "Evansville Old-Timers" at the ball diamond in Leota Park. The game was a fund raiser for the new swimming pool the community hoped to build in Leota Park.

The Old Timers team was expected to attract former players from high school and summer Home Talent League teams of the 1930s. Former professional player, Stanley "Pop" Sperry was scheduled to play. This put him on the team playing opposite his son, Peck Sperry.

Jim Johnson, Bernie Golz and his brother, Al, were also signed up to play for the Old Timers. Mel Allen, the three Elmer Brothers, Dick, LaVerne and Bob, Marv Luchsinger, Francis Sullivan, Roger McCaffrey and Harold "Rusty" Robinson had also agreed to play. The game promised to be a good one, with the Home Talent league being the favored winners and the Old Timers' sentimental favorites.

There were plenty of good jabs at the older players in the newspaper articles advertising the game. There were speculations that the old timers were making predictions of a win based on the players' abilities of 10 or 15 years past. There was speculation that the Home Talent players team would hold the old timers to a scoreless game.

Several new rules were proposed in jest. It was suggested that Marv Luchsinger be allowed to run for Stan Sperry. All foul balls would be declared automatic outs because of the inability of the older men to reach them. Al Golz could use a 2 x 6 for batting.

The benefit game was rained out of the first date and again for the second scheduled game. This gave the Old Timers a chance for a few more practices. The game was finally played in mid-August and Stanley "Pop" Sperry proved to be one of the outstanding players. He got two hits, including a double from the starting pitcher, his son, Peck Sperry.

As the score for the Home Talent team increased, Bert Schenck, a right handed pitcher, took Peck Sperry's place on the mound later in the game. Schenck pitched left-handed to the last two Old Time players.

The Home Talent team won the exhibition game with a score of 16 to 4. It was a successful fund raiser for the community swimming pool and a chance for local fans to see their favorite local players, young and old.

Throughout the summer of 1955, there was new talent preparing for high school and Home Talent league play. About 100 boys took part in the playground baseball games held at Leota Park during the summer of 1955. The teams were divided into three age groups. The 1955 season had been one for all ages.

When the 1956 Home Talent team began practicing in April, there was a reunion of the best that Evansville High School had to offer on the baseball field. There were more than enough players from the high school teams of the 1940s and 1950s who wanted to play on the Home Talent team. Sixteen former high school stars showed up for the first practice on the high school practice field.

Bob Olsen and John Loghry agreed to be co-managers and they started a ticket selling campaign and held a bake sale to raise funds for the league fees and other expenses. Although they were officially sponsored by the American Legion, they also got support from nearly 100 local merchants.

Police Chief George Walk and Howard Becher donated their time to umpire the home games for the Home Talent League.

The high school team had also started practicing and 19 potential players had shown up for the first practice. Coach Bernie Golz, assisted by Gene Schulz, trimmed the team to 14 players by the first game played with Cambridge.

Dick Meyers, Rollin Zilliox, Ross Sperry and George Franklin were the returning lettermen. Larry Amidon, Arlyn George, Bob Ovre, Don Anderson, C. J. Powles, Dave Rowley, Harry Becher, Jerry Propst, Richard Haakenson, and Norman Hull also made the cut when the team roster was finalized. Managers were Tom Wickersham and Terry Jones.

Wild pitching and errors were given as the reasons for the first defeat at the hands of the more skilled Cambridge team. Cold and rainy weather caused the postponement of practices and games in the early part of the season.

Though Evansville won against DeForest, they were defeated in conference play by Stoughton. Coach Golz said "Evansville's performance at the plate leaves much to be desired." He pushed his young players to better performances in the next game against Oregon and they won 18-1 with Larry Amidon pitching a three-hit game.

This put them in a three-way tie with Stoughton for first place in the western division of the conference. By the end of the season Golz was much happier with the team, as they took the championship. He secured funds from several local businesses and ordered medals for the 13 players and two managers of the team.

Golz encouraged the eligible players to join the team that was forming to play in the Stateline Junior Legion Baseball League. Forrest "Frosty" Parrish and Stan "Peck" Sperry had agreed to coach the team, with the assistance of Golz and Gene Schulz. Games were scheduled with teams from Orfordville, Edgerton, Brodhead, Janesville and Beloit.

The Home Talent League, Junior Legion and a Little League team gave Evansville baseball fans plenty of opportunities to see local games. The Little League team was a traveling team and won every game except a loss to a team from Sharon. There was also baseball for kids 8 to 11 in the park program. Some of the young players would benefit by this early training and later appear on the high school rosters. Listed on the Little League team were Jim Ganoung, Bill Bewick, Ken Nelson, Tom Cain, John Peterson, and Randy Decker.

The Home Talent League played the usual opponents in the summer of 1956, Utica, Cottage Grove, Deerfield, and Albion. Bob Elmer, Malcolm Hull, Norm Tomlin, Larry Amidon, Bob Olsen, Mickey Finnane, Pat Finnane, Roger Venden, Ron Brigham, Jerry Apfel, Bud Hatlevig, Jim Knapp, Bert Schenck and Peck Sperry were on the roster for the 1956 Home Talent League. The team ended in 4th place in the league.

By the spring of 1957, some of the playground baseball players of earlier summers were ready for high school baseball. Barry May, Chuck Peterson, Don Albright, Ken Wood, Randy Decker, Paul Brown and David Jusleth had played summer ball in the park recreation program. Now these former sandlot stars were considered potential baseball players for Coach Bernie Golz.

Pat Finnane had agreed to manage the Evansville Home Talent team for the 1957 season and Randy Feldt had returned from military service. Feldt, Bert Schenck and Larry Amidon took turns on the mound as the local players met teams from Belleville, Monroe, Stoughton, Albion, Deerfield, and Cottage Grove.

Howard Beecher volunteered to manage the Junior Legion baseball team. Twenty three players had signed on to participate on the team. Don May and Russell Peterson were assistant managers and coaches. George Walk, Gene Schultz, Harold Robinson and Frosty Parrish umpired for the home games. Baker Manufacturing had contributed enough to buy insurance for team. The City Council agreed to furnish lights and preparation of the field.

Although all three teams tried their best, none had a winning season in 1957. It was July before the Junior Legion baseball team got a win. They ended the season with 5 wins and 14 losses. Leading hitters were Chuck Peterson, Don Spooner and Harry Becher. Edward Wood had the highest batting average, but he was only at bat twice and had one hit for a .500 average, while the others were at bat between 45 and 60 times.

Feldt, in his return to local baseball, was praised for spearheading the Home Talent team with his excellent hitting. Amidon and Schenck also received praise for the pitching abilities. Norm Zee, the short stop, did well in defensive plays and at bat.

However, the Legion Home Talent team was plagued with injuries. Malcolm Hall was hit by a line drive while pitching batting practice late in May and was considered lost for the season. Peck Sperry had injured his knee. The team also lost Doug Hall who was serving in the Navy.

The next year proved to be brighter for the Evansville High School Team. Chuck Peterson and Barry May were the pitchers most often taking the mound in the 1958 season. Peterson pitched "masterful ball" in a 9-0 defeat of the DeForest High School team in an early season game.

Then Bernie Golz' high school team moved up to second place in the conference with a 24-3 win over Oregon. Chuck Peterson, Dave Rowley and Bob Carlson rallied the team with their hits. A win against Sun Prairie brought the team into a first place tie in the Madison Suburban League. The Evansville team was defeated by Edgerton in the first game of the district tournament with score 3 for Evansville and 14 for Edgerton.

Though the high school tournament season had ended, the high school players were ready to take on the other teams in the State Line Junior Legion League. Barry May and Chuck Peterson continued their pitching and Paul Brown's hitting abilities got special notice early in the season. Ken Wood and Randy Decker received praise from coach and manager, Howard Becher who said that he thought the boys showed "a lot of hustle."

By the end of the 1958 season, the Evansville Junior Legion baseball team had won 16 games and lost six. This put them in 3rd place in the Western Section of the State Line League. Janesville and Beloit teams were in the number one and two spots.

The Home Talent team did not play in the 1958 or 1959 seasons. The younger ball players were getting a chance to shine.

The summer playground program at the park was headed by Harry Becher and he divided the baseball program into two sections with boys 10-13 in one section and boys 13-15 in another. He also arranged for the playground group to attend a Braves game in Milwaukee. The trip was sponsored by the Tri-County-YMCA.

Evansville High School coach Bernie Golz had left the school system. The 1959 team's new coach was Phil Schroeder, a University of Wisconsin graduate hired to be the Physical Education and Social Studies teacher at the high school.

The team included David Jones, Bob Natz, Ed Wood, Don Filter, Scott Sperry, Randy Decker, Tom Cain, Paul Brown, Bob Carlson, John Weber, Steve Crull, Dan Weber, Steve Petersen, Barry May, Rod Carlson, Mel Schneeberger and Ken Wood.

Barry May and Dan Weber pitched winning games against Edgerton, Cambridge, and Edgerton, and Whitewater College High School. The team won the district baseball championship and was pitted against Orfordville for the WIAA sectional tournament. The game was held in Evansville.

At the top of the fifth inning, with Evansville leading 3-1, Orfordville's coach filed a protest with the umpire that Evansville had 16 ball players in uniform. The WIAA ruling was that a team could have 14 players suited for the game, with a coach and a manager on the bench during tournament play. Although Evansville won the game against Orfordville 11 to 1, the WIAA ruled that Orfordville was correct in protesting on the technicality and Evansville had to forfeit the game.

No Junior Legion or Home Talent games were mentioned in the summer of 1959. Local baseball fans watched the younger boys play ball in the park program or waited for the spring of 1960 for baseball to resume on the local diamonds.

There were enough players to form varsity and junior varsity teams. Dan Weber and Eldon Peterson pitched for the varsity team, who had a winning season and entered the tournament season with a 4-0 record. Roger Bollerud, Randy Decker, Robert Lay, Jim Ganoung were listed in the reports of the winning season and heavy contributors to the success of the team.

The Evansville High School Team won the WIAA district tournament. Dan Weber pitched a no-hitter against Clinton in the first game of the tournament and a 6-hitter against unbeaten Orfordville. Evansville won the Orfordville game by a score of 8 to 2.

The tournament games were played so close together that Coach Schroeder needed to relieve Weber. The team's number two pitcher, Eldon Peterson had to attend a funeral, so Schroeder called on freshman Robert Lay to pitch against Juda. Lay struck out 10 men during the game and Evansville won with a score of 14 to 4. Decker, Bollerud and Ganoung each got three hits, insuring the team's victory.

As the team moved on, hoping for a state championship, they lost to Wilmot. Pleased with his team's good work, Coach Phil Schroeder told the reporter for the Review, "The boys did a wonderful job this season and had the will to win. I'm as proud of them as any coach could be and I'm sure the town is, too."



Community support for baseball programs was very strong in the 1960s. A new scoreboard was erected near the ball diamond and football field at Leota Park in May 1960.

The scoreboard was donated with memorial funds for Jim Johnson, a local baseball player and owner of a tavern at the old golf course on Evansville-Brooklyn road. Johnson had died in a car accident in 1959.

Prudhon Products donated the steel posts and Laufenberg Lumber Co. assisted with the project. City employees helped put the scoreboard and spotlights in place.

Richard Antes was in charge of the park playground program during the summer of 1960. Baseball games were scheduled and many future high school players signed up for the games. Bill Norby, Terry Allen, Bob Allen, Tony Wyse, Kenny Reese, Denny Reese, Dean Devlin, John Wilde, Ron Wood, George Prudhon, Jerry Polich and Daryl Elmer were scheduled for the Monday and Wednesday games.

Tuesday and Thursday games were played by Victor Rasmussen, Tom Allen, Tom Reese, Terry Jorgensen, Jerry Jorgensen, John Rasmussen, Dennis Ihus, Jeff Ihus, Mike Finnane, Eric Thompson, Allen Hurst and Brent Feldt.

The City Council, at the urging of Councilman Ralph Bennett and Park Board Chairman Ida Conroy, granted $150 to the Evansville Little League to purchase equipment. Mrs. Conroy was a principal sponsor of sports programs in the 1960s. Other funds were received from local merchants so the teams were insured and had head gear for protection during the games.

The Little Leaguers, also known as the Little Sluggers, were organized into eight teams. The coaches and managers were primarily fathers of the boys who were playing. By early July, there was a waiting list of boys who wanted to play ball.

The following year, the coaches for the Little Sluggers started campaigning early for funds for the 1961 season. Melvin Allen was named president of the League; Victor Fuchs was vice present and Bill May secretary treasurer. The players were divided into three age groups, the Midgets for eight-year-old boys, the Nationals for boys nine through eleven and the Americans, for boys 12 through 14.

The coaches sponsored a series of basketball games to raise funds for the Little Sluggers. The exhibition games featured boys in grade school and junior high. The final game was between the men of the Evansville school faculty and high school alumni players. Most of the time, the teams were on the floor to have fun, rather than playing serious ball. They dressed in costumes and entertained the crowd with their antics. The basketball series netted the baseball program $350.

While the younger boys waited for their 1961 games to begin, the high school team began practicing in early April for a series of games against Verona, Deforest, Oregon, Janesville, Sun Prairie, Edgewood and Milton Union. The Verona and Edgewood games were non-conference games.

Lettermen returning for the season were John Weber, Steve Crull, Eldon Peterson, Scott Sperry, Roger Bollerud, Randy Decker, James Ganoung, John Petterson, Tom Cain, Everett Propst, and Robert Lay. The varsity squad ended their league play with a 2 and 2 record and lost in early tournament play against Janesville.

No adult baseball was formally organized in Evansville in the summer of 1961. However, many of the former players in the Home Talent League played softball in the 1961 season. Horne's A & W root beer stand sponsored Bert Schenk, Rollie Zilliox, Randy Feldt, Malcolm Hall, Doug Hull, Norman Tomlin, Norman Zee, Don Allen Charlie Mallard and John Grunzel in a traveling league. Mitch and Mark Hull, future Evansville stars, served as bat boys.

The summer teams of Little Sluggers played under the names of National and American League teams, the Pirates, Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, Braves, White Sox, Red Sox, Orioles and Indians. The eight-year-olds on the T-Ball teams played for the Twins, Colts, and Mets. The 1961 season ended with all star games. The all star teams were chosen by the coaches and the American League champion, the Indians, played against the all stars from the National League. All stars from the American League played the Cards, the champions of the National League.

The 1962 baseball season began with forty-five players reporting for the start of the high school baseball season. Coach Phil Schroeder said that "If things go well, the boys should do well for themselves." His prediction was correct.

Fifteen of the young men made the team and all were experienced players from the 1961 season and earlier. The team included Ron Silverthorn, John Petterson, Everett Propst, Duane Reese, Jim Ganoung, Larry Elmer, Tom Cain, Dick Kersten, Randy Steindorf, Gerald Silverthorn, John Hopkins, Jim Nielsen, Robert Lay, Dick Harper and Gordon Odegaard.

Pat Finnane was the assistant coach and also coached the JV team. The JV team had games scheduled with Milton, Beloit Catholic and Sun Prairie. There was also a freshman team game scheduled with Beloit Catholic.

The high school varsity won their first two non-conference games against Lake Mills and Deerfield. They also had games against Cambridge, De Forest, Janesville Javees, Oregon, Sun Prairie and Milton.

Coach Schroeder, and his assistant Pat Finnane, led the team to an undefeated season in league play in 1962. The final game of the season was played against Milton for the championship of the eastern division of the Madison Suburban Conference in the WIAA District Tournament. Evansville lost by a score of 3 to 1.

The entire team was awarded letters at the Award Night held before graduation in May 1962. Managers Ron Scott and Mike Hansen also received letters.

Some of the high school players joined the Evansville Junior Legion team during the summer. Pat Finnane and Malcolm Hull managed the team. Jim Ganoung, Bob Silverthorn and Bob Lay were mentioned as starring in several of the games.

At the beginning of the Little League season, Merlin Reese was elected president of the organization. Robert Turner served as vice president and Arthur Baumgarten as secretary - treasurer.

Nearly 200 boys turned in applications to play. There were enough players to form fourteen teams. The Little League included four eight-year-old T-ball teams, six teams in the National league for nine to eleven year olds and four teams in the American league for boys 12 through 14 years of age.

Since so many teams were practicing and playing, the baseball diamonds at the park and at the First Street school were in heavy use. There was also a diamond on the Lutheran Church grounds. The Little League was fortunate to have high school students and adult volunteers to help supervise the practice and games. Each team had a manager and two coaches.

Some parents were unhappy that their sons did not get enough playing time. Merlin Reese explained the process of choosing the players on the field in an article in the June 28, 1962 issue of the Review. "It is well to remember that each team has fifteen players on the roster and it would be next to impossible for every boy to play exactly the same amount of time even if they had the same ability and still try to win the game, which is the objective along with sportsmanship. The manpower to operate Little Sluggers Baseball, managers, asst. managers, scorekeepers, officers, umpires and groundskeepers are all unpaid volunteers and are doing the best job possible."

In July 1962, the managers chose an all star team of the best players from the Little Sluggers. Evansville's team included Dan Bishop, Tom Allen, Dave Baumgarten, Daryl Fuchs, Denny Reese, Mark Vandervort, Ron Thornton, Kenny Fuchs, Steve Farney, Kent Lesandrini, Steve Erbs, Jeff Bair, Richard Kimberley, Dave Hatlevig, Tom Reese and bat boy, Gary Fuchs. Bob Olson and Jim Knapp served as team managers.

The Evansville team played against Edgerton on the 4th of July and won by a score of 2 to 1. In a return match, they lost to the Edgerton team in early August. Then they played an old Evansville rival, a Footville all-star Little League team and won by a close game, scoring 10 runs against Footville's 9.

At the end of the season photographs of each team, the list of players and their adult leaders appeared in the Evansville Review. The stars of tomorrow were in training.

When the 1963 season for high school play began, Howard Seeman and Doug Schuler were announced as coaches for the Blue Devils. Seeman said he was optimistic about the team's ability to win and he had many players who had played for the varsity and JV teams in past years. Thirty three reported for play.

The first game was a non-conference game with Janesville and another with Edgerton. DeForest, Cambridge, Deerfield, Oregon, Sun Prairie and Milton were included in the conference schedule. The District Tournament was held in late May.

Bob Lay was most often chosen as Evansville starting pitcher. The team included Randy Steindorf, Gordon Odegaard, Jim Nielsen, John Hopkins, Brent Feldt, Bob Dammen, Dick Harper and Ron Silverthorn. Milton Union halted Evansville's advance towards another championship season. The win-loss recorded was described as "unimpressive" by the Review reporter.

The Junior Legion team played most of the summer with Pat Finnane and Malcolm Hall once again serving as coaches. High school players worked on their skills during the summer with possible team mates for the next season.

The team included Roger Brewer, Bob Dammen, Dave Romstad, Bob Lay, Ron Silverthorn, Mike Schuster, Ray Heritage, Don Nelson, John Turner, Ken Reese, Elmer Krause, Vic Rasmussen, Roger Brewer, Jim Nielson, Roy Heritage, Don Oates, Michael Schuster, Gordon Bair, Ken Dienberg, Jerry Silverthorn and Ken Dienberg. They practiced on the field west of the First Street school.

The team's first game was played against Brodhead on June 10th and won. Then the Junior Legion team took to the diamond against Beloit, Janesville, Whitewater, Orfordville, Footville and Lake Mills and won each game. They were defeated by Monroe.

An exhibition game with Brodhead was held on the 4th of July. Advanced ticket sales were held to try and get funding for the team's equipment and travel expenses. Once again Evansville won the game.

The stars of the Little Sluggers in the 1963 summer games were chosen for the all star team. Coach Jim Knapp's 1963 team lineup included several from the 1962 team and a few new players. Dave Baumgarten, Dennis Reese, Steve Ehle, Bill Vandervort, Steve Erbs, Ron Krause, Daryl Fuchs, Ken Fuchs, Allen Hurst, Tom Allen, Larry Luchsinger, Steve Farney, Kent Lesandrini and Dennis Palmer were the all star players of 1963's Little Sluggers.

The lettermen of Evansville High School sports were eligible to become members of an exclusive group known as the "E" Club. Early in 1964, the club sponsored a chili supper and raised funds for a pitching machine. Although it was purchased for use by the high school baseball team, the machine was also used by high school physical education classes.

When the 1964 high school baseball team coach, Howard Seeman announced the first practice, 44 young men came to try to make the varsity team. There were only five returning lettermen, John Hopkins, Bob Dammen, Jerry Silverthorn, Brent Feldt and Ken Ostrander.

"Largest Baseball Group Here Ready for Opener" headlined the April 9, 1964 article in the Evansville Review. The writer had not taken into account the turnout for teams in the 1930s when Peter Finstad was coach and the candidates for the team reached a high of 55 in 1935.

Still, 44 was a respectable number of hopefuls and Coach Seeman divided the group into Varsity and Junior Varsity teams. The final selection of the team was made before the first conference game with Edgerton on April 10, 1964.

The Blue Devils faced tough teams in the Suburban conference, Edgerton, Stoughton, Monroe, Janesville J. V., McFarland, and Cambridge. There were also non-conference games with Deforest, Milton and Waterloo.

The roster for the first non-conference game with Monroe revealed Seeman's choices for the team line-up. Steve Ehle, Brent Felt, Bob Dammen, John Hopkins, Ken Ostrander, Jerry Silverthorn, Mike Schuster, Steve May, Ron Krause, Ken Reese, Mike Hancock, Lon Zhe, Milt Hosely, Kendal Howard, Alan Hurst, and Brad Beal had made the cut.

Fans saw some of the team's star hitters in the Monroe game. Hopkins hit a home run, Feldt a triple, and Ken Reese a double in the game against Monroe. The game was tied at six innings and then called because of darkness, as Monroe's diamond did not have lights.

During this season Evansville also beat the Janesville JVs 4-3, with Hopkins serving as the pitcher. The Evansville players also won a game against Edgerton with a score of 5 to 4. This game went into extra innings as the teams were closely matched.

The game was called a "thriller, with Edgerton leading 2 to1 until the fifth inning when Silverthorn singled, then stole second and scored on a hit by Feldt. Edgerton tied up the game in the 7th inning until Silverthorn once again scored on a hit by Brad Beal. In the 9th inning Edgerton had the game tied again and this time Evansville's Schneeberger hit a triple to bring in Feldt and Dammen hit a single to bring in Schneeberger. The game was Evansville's.

When the spring games were finished the summer baseball programs were already planned. These games continued to be the training opportunities for the future of high school and adult teams.

It was the dedication of the fathers of the players and other volunteers that kept the programs active in Evansville. The continuation of the programs depended on these volunteers and the financial support of the City's Park Board, the American Legion and local businesses.

The baseball program was open only to boys and the beginners in the "T" league learned the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, throwing and running. The age limit for this group was 8 years old.

Melvin Allen and Bill Erbs were managers of the 1964 Little League baseball program. Ida Conroy, the City Council's park board chairman asked for volunteers to umpire the games and coach the teams. More than 100 boys signed up for the program. There were also T-ball games scheduled into the summer park program, for the youngest baseball players.

The Dodgers won the 1964 Championship in the National League with Howard Norby as manager. Team members included Bill Norby, Gary Corbitt, Terry Bund, Greg Helgesen, Bill Shelby, Jeff Hurst, John Schoenenberger, Scott Allen, Gregg Wood, George Marenes, and Mike Harris.

The 1964 champions of the American League were the Orioles team, managed by Melvin Allen and Bill Erbs and captained by Bob Allen and Steve Fahrney. The team also won the American League tournament. Future high school baseball stars playing on the team with Allen and Fahrney were Tim Walsh, Steve Erbs, Joe Popanz, Dan Shotliff, Norman Schnabel, Dean George, Jerry Jorgensen, Roger Barrenger and Cameron Erdman. .

The All Stars from the National League were Ron Thornton, Tom Reese, Steve Milz, Richard Kimberley, Daryl Fuchs, Dan Bishop, Jay Johnson, Stan Zweifel, Kent Lesandrini, Russell Hrdlicka, Mike Gallman, and Bob Johnson.

The American Legion agreed to sponsor a Junior Legion baseball team and donated $100 to help with expenses. Jim Knapp volunteered for the manager's position. This traveling team played in a league with Janesville, Sun Prairie, and

High School players on the Legion team included Steve Ehle, Mike Hancock, Terry Allen, Ron Krause, Daryl Elmer, Kenneth Fuchs, all graduates of the summer Little League program.

Ehle, Allen, Elmer, Krause and Hancock also played on the Central League All Star's of the VFW Teener Baseball League. This All Star team played in a national baseball tournament at Del City Oklahoma in August 1964. Jim Knapp served as one of the coaches for this all star team.

The enthusiasm for baseball continued into the next spring when Coach Howard Seeman announced that 40 boys had reported for practice. The assistant coach for the varsity and the junior varsity coach was Doug Schuler, who also coached the cross-country team.

In April 1965, near the beginning of the season, the Lion's club sponsored an athletic banquet that was attended by nearly 250 people. The program was held in the high school gym and the coaches handed out letters and awards to star athletes. Bob Dammen received the Dan Finnane Memorial Trophy for the Outstanding Senior Athlete of the previous year.

Members of the 1964 baseball team were awarded letters at the banquet. Dammen was also one of twelve team members to receive a letter in baseball. Steve Ehle, Brent Feldt, Ken Fenrick, Steve May, Ken Ostrander, Ken Reese, Hans Schneeberger, Mike Schuster, Jerry Silverthorn, Lon Zhe and manager Bob Runkle also received letters for their work in the previous season.

These lettermen continued as stars of the new high school baseball season. The 1965 team included Steve Ehle, Ron Krause, Ken Fenrick, Hans Schneeberger, Ken Ostrander, Ken Fuchs, Dennis Reese and Don Oates. Ehle, Oates and Reese were on the mound for Evansville.

A former Evansville High School player was also receiving honors for his play with the Whitewater State University baseball team. Robert Lay, was one of four Whitewater players to receive an award from the NAIA at the end of the 1965 college season.

The Whitewater team had finished fifth in the national small college baseball tournament. Lay was named the fourth best hurler in the national games. He was given the All-American honorable mention.

Enthusiasm for the summer program was evident by the number of boys who turned out for the signup. Approximately 100 boys signed up to play in the two leagues. Boys ages 9 to 12 were on the roster of the National League and boys 12 to 15 played in the American League. Eight teams were listed in the National League schedule and four teams in the American League.

However, adult volunteers were needed in order to maintain the growing program. Howard Seeman issued a plea and admonishment to fathers of the baseball players: "The lack of volunteers indicates that there are only a few fathers who are willing to participate in this program. It also shows that they are neglecting their responsibility of giving a helping hand to their sons at a time when they are developing habits and attitudes that will remain with them the rest of their lives."

Parents and other adult volunteers who came forward to help with the teams were Larry Skoien, Howard Brunsell, Jerry Klassey, Cloyence Zweifel, Darwin Crull, Fred Koehler, Howard Norby, Dan Holzem, Bob Pendall, John Paulson, Harold Miller, Peter Marenes, and Ken Devlin.

If Seeman could not encourage parents to volunteer, he was willing to take high school and college age students to act as managers. Recent high school players, Alan Hurst, John Turner, Ron Krause, Steve May, Brent Feldt, Bob Dammen, Dave and Mike Losey, Allen Fahrney, Denny Reese, Mike Schuster, Steve Ehle, Terry Allen, Greg Wood, Ken Reese and Ken Fuchs all stepped forward to take on coaching responsibilities for the younger boys.

Little League players who made the reports of winning pitchers and key players during the season were Lee Dammen, Rodney "Hotrod" Maxwell, Mark Lesandrini, Charlie Allen, Mark Roeben, Ron Crull, Bill Shelby, Dale Miller and Daryl Fuchs.

There were so many high school and junior high school age boys out for baseball that the traveling teams were divided into two teams. Try-outs were required because of the number of boys interested in playing on the Teener League and the Junior League teams.

1965 was the first year that the summer older youth's teams were sponsored by the VFW. The VFW sponsored both teams. The high school coach, Howard Seeman, coached the VFW traveling teams. The age limit for this league included boys who would be 16 before August 1, but were not 19 before that date.

The Teeners were one of eight teams playing in the state VFW Teener tournament held in Stoughton in July 1965. They helped to pay for their travel expenses with a soap sale. Lee Maxwell, manager of the team, declared the soap sale a success and enough cash was received to pay for entry fees, insurance, equipment and other incidentals needed during the season.

The Juniors were signed up to play against Oregon, Iowa National, Cambridge, Stoughton and Richwood. By late July they were in a tie for first place with four wins and one loss. Gordon Bair and Steve Ehle were credited with excellent pitching skills. John Paulson, John Turner, Ron Krause, Brent Feldt, Darrel Elmer and Junior Schneeberger were praised for their hitting. Mike Schuster's fielding skills also received notice in the reports of the team. Evansville hosted the state tournament for the Junior VFW teams in August.

A Sports Booster's Club organized in 1965 to assist the high school sports programs with fund raising and volunteer activities. By April 1966, the club could boast of 133 members. One of the first activities was sponsoring an "All Sports" banquet in the high school gym.

The stars of the Evansville High School team of 1966 continued to play on the summertime VFW Junior ball team. The 1966 Varsity Baseball squad was coached by Gary Grossman and finished the 1966 season as the sectional runner-up.

The VFW team played many of the same opponents as the Varsity had in regular school conference play. Opposing teams included Stoughton, McFarland, Edgerton, Cottage Grove, Lake Mills, Deerfield and Edgerton. The Edgerton baseball team proved to be Evansville's greatest challenge during the season and the VFW team played Edgerton five times.

The VFW Juniors started the summer season with a tie game with Edgerton, called because of darkness. Evansville's team won 13 games and lost five in the summer of 1966. Three of the five games that Evansville lost were defeats by Edgerton. The other two defeats were at the hands of Stoughton and Lake Mills teams.

Bob Hrdlicka, Dave Baumgarten and Tom Allen most often pitched for the 1966 teams. Steve Fahrney, Kent Lesandrini, Terry Elmer, Daryl Fuchs, Steve Erbs, Carey Jackson, Baumgarten, Allen, Hrdlicka and his brother Russ were recognized as top hitters during the baseball season. Tom Kerkenbush and Marv Anderson were the team coaches.

Evansville's VFW Junior team won the second round of play in their VFW section. Then they went into the state tournament and won the first game against Stoughton with Tom Allen pitching just three hits and striking out eleven batters.

The local team lost to Edgerton in the second game of the tournament although Evansville had plenty of opportunities to score against the Edgerton team. During the game, Evansville left 13 men on base. Evansville was still able to take third place in the 1966 State Tournament.

Then Evansville placed first in the second round of the Teener baseball season. As Edgerton had won the first round of games, Edgerton and Evansville went into a playoff game to decide the season championship.

During the playoff game, Bob Hrdlicka was the starting pitcher. Hrdlicka allowed eight hits in seven innings and then relief pitcher Dave Baumgarten came in with Evansville leading 4 to 1.

Edgerton tied the game after a walk and two singles. There were also two errors by the Evansville team. Evansville scored again in the 9th inning, but lost when Edgerton scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. It was a heartbreaker in what had been an excellent season for the young Evansville team.

It was also a winning season for the Little League All Star team in 1966. The team was managed by Fred Koehler and Lee Maxwell. At the end of the summer program, the All Stars beat the Cardinals, winners of the summer Little League program and then went into tournament play in Orfordville.

The Evansville team beat Orfordville and two Beloit teams to win the tournament championship. Jeff Hurst, John Wood, John Schoenenberger and Ron Crull were congratulated for their excellent hitting skills for the All Stars.

The Evansville Sports Booster Club held one of their most successful fund raising events in the spring of 1967. Four hundred people attend a banquet to honor the star athletes of the Evansville High School. Bob Skoronski, offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers, was the speaker for the evening.

Officers of the club were Robert Olsen, president; Bill May, vice president; Alfred Brooks, secretary; Don Olsen, treasurer and Bill Schuster, publicity director.

During the program, Dennis Reese received a medal from the "W" Club of the University of Wisconsin. He earned the medal as an "all around athlete and student."

Ida Conroy was also recognized for her contribution of funds to purchase sports equipment and uniforms. She was made an honorary lifetime member of the Booster Club.

Evansville High School baseball was heading into a winning season and came close to getting a place in the state tournament in 1967. The High School Varsity team finished the 1967 season with 15 wins and 5 losses.

Coach Gary Grossman's team included Ron Krause, Ken Fenrick, Steve Ehle, Denny Reese, Terry Allen, John Paulson, Bill Vandervort, Tom McCaslin, Alan Hurst, Del Schneeberger, Jeff Bair, Ken Fuchs, Bob Hrdlicka, Dave Baumgarten, Daryl Fuchs, and the manager Gary Schull. They headed into the playoffs at Darlington hoping for a place in the state tournament.

Their first opponent was Cassville and the Evansville team won 4 to 2. Steve Ehle was the winning pitcher. Then Evansville went up against the Big Eight Conference champion, Janesville. The Janesville team proved too much for the Evansville team and the local Varsity lost 3 to 1. Once again Evansville was the sectional runner-up, for the second year in a row, just missing a chance to play in the state tournament in Eau Claire.

As Evansville high school baseball players ended their season, one of Evansville's star players of the early 1960s was completing his college baseball career at Whitewater. Bob Lay received his fourth varsity letter for his participation with the Whitewater Warhawks baseball team. The Whitewater team was in second place in the state final standings and As one of Whitewater's pitchers, Lay had a 3-1 record for the 1967 season.

The young boys suited up for summer play in the park program with 65 boys signed up for the National League teams, enough for four teams. There were only three teams playing in the American League and two T-Ball teams. No VFW Youth baseball team was reported in 1967.

Fourteen games were scheduled for the Evansville Varsity team in the spring of 1968. Madison Suburban Conference games with Lake Mills, Milton, DeForest, Cambridge, Oregon and Waterloo and non-Conference games with Janesville Parker, Juda, Monticello and Orfordville led into the post-season W.I.A.A. tournaments,

Evansville won five Conference games and ended the season as undefeated champions. Their only defeats were in non-conference play. Bob Hrdlicka, Mike McElroy, Daryl Fuchs, Dave Baumgarten, Ken Fuchs, Dan Bishop and Joe Popanz were listed as leading hitters in the games.

Evansville was defeated in the tournament games by Deerfield, again eliminating the team from the State Tournament.

Dennis Reese was playing the 1968 season with Stout State University's baseball team. Dwain Mintz, the Stout coach, said he had high hopes for Reese, a freshman pitcher for the team. "Reese so far has shown a good curve ball," Mintz told a reporter.

Sponsorship of the older boys' summer baseball team shifted between the VFW and the American Legion in the last half of the 1960s. After several seasons without an American Legion baseball team, Evansville's organization supported a team for boys between the ages of 15 and 19.

The teen baseball team was to play in the State Line Legion Conference and 13 games were scheduled for June and July. Seven of the games were to be played in Leota Park. Many of the boys participating were also high school players. The American Legion team was coached by the high school Varsity coach and 1968 park recreation director, Gary Grossman.

The summer of 1968 baseball season ended with the report of a unique opportunity for two Evansville baseball players. Daryl Fuchs and Bob Hrdlicka attended the Art Gaines Baseball Camp at Hunnewell, Mo. The two-week camp was held in August, after the Legion team had finished their season.

The summer opportunities for the teenage baseball players meant continued success for the high school team in the 1969 season. Coach Grossman had a strong group of returning athletes.

Evansville's leading hitters in the 1969 season were Daryl Fuchs, Dave Baumarten, Mike McElroy, Stan Zweifel and Steve Erbs. Erbs was also the team's leading pitcher. Other pitchers for the high school Varsity team were Dave Baumgarten and Russ Roberts. Evansville's baseball team of 1969 was defeated for the Madison Suburban Conference Central Division championship by DeForest. Evansville hosted the district baseball tournament in 1969.

Although it was the end of the high school season, Gary Grossman planned to continue the opportunities for improving the team members' skills by offering a summer baseball program. By early June 30 boys between the ages of 13 and 15 signed up for the V.F.W. Teener baseball team to compete in the Southern Division of the state V.F.W. baseball conference. Lee Maxwell served on the board of the Southern Division. Teams in the Southern Division came from Edgerton, Stoughton, Oregon, Milton and Brodhead.

Summertime baseball was a one-hundred-year-old tradition in Evansville. Fans and players had been faithful to the game since the 1860s and baseball had been kept alive throughout the 1960s by the summer park program, the American Legion and V.F.W. teenage ball clubs.



Evansville had gone an entire decade without an adult baseball team. All that would change in the early part of the 1970s as Evansville's Home Talent League team was revived with the support of local businesses, Coach Gary Grossman and Lee Maxwell.

Coach Gary Grossman's Evansville High School Varsity baseball team had ten returning lettermen when the season began in 1970. Evansville played in the Central Suburban Conference with teams from Clinton, Beloit Turner, Lake Mills and Milton. Non-conference games during the 1970 season were scheduled with Monroe, Orfordville and Delevan-Darien.

Evansville won the opening conference game against Clinton by a score of 24 - 6 with Rod Maxwell as the winning pitcher. The team went on to win 9 games, 7 in conference play. The Blue Devils were defeated in 3 conference games, with a total loss record for the season of 6 games.

At the end of the season, Daryl Fuchs was chosen as the most valuable player and also was one of the leading hitters. At the annual sports banquet held in early May, Daryl Fuchs received both the Laurence Janes Award and the Dan Finnane Award. Fuchs' outstanding baseball record earned him a spot on the University of Wisconsin baseball team the following year.

Other leading hitters during the 1970 season were Steve Fahrney, Paul Rowley, Mike McElroy, Stan Zweifel and Terry Bund. Rod Maxwell, with 5 wins and 3 losses and Russ Roberts, with 4 wins and 2 losses, had pitched for the team.

The letters for the baseball season were given to Seniors: Russ Hrdlicka, Terry Elmer, Russ Roberts, John Rasmussen, Mike McElroy, Stan Zweifel, Steven Fahrney and Daryl Fuchs. Juniors receiving baseball letters were Terry Bund, Mike Harris, Paul Rowley, Bob Hall, Rod Maxwell and team manager, Gordon Balch.

Several of the high school baseball players were also stars in other sports. Four team members, Fuchs, Elmer, Zweifel and McElroy, each earned three letters for outstanding performance in sports activities in the 1969-70 school year.

When the school games ended, McElroy, Fuchs and Evansville baseball alumni John Turner and Dennis Reese helped chose the VFW Teener team for the summer of 1970. There were 35 young men who showed up for the tryouts.

After two days of watching the potential players hit, field, throw and run, the roster was narrowed to team members: Charles Allen, Dan Byrns, Gary Fuchs, Mike Hall, Jeff Hurst, Rod Janes, Rick Kopp, Rich Neuenschwander, Dave Olsen, Tom Polich, Karl Rasmussen, Roger Roberts, Mark Roeben, Daryl Wilson and John Wood.

Four boys were chosen to be alternates, Dave Devlin, Bob Edgington, Scott Holzem and Robert Lawrence. Dean Fuchs was picked to be the team's bat boy.

Lee Maxwell served as the business manager of the team and headed the fund raising efforts for travel and equipment that was not covered by the local VFW sponsorship. A door-to-door candy sale was held and fans were urged to attend as many games as possible to help support the team.

Future high school baseball stars, Jeff Hurst and Charles Allen served as pitchers in the first game against Cottage Grove and with successful hitting by their teammates won this non-conference game 19 to 11. However, the Evansville team failed to earn a place in the state Teener Baseball Tournament that was held in Evansville on July 31, August 1 and 2, 1970.

In December 1970, Lee Maxwell and Gary Grossman announced that there would be a revival of the Evansville adult baseball team. There had not been a Home Talent League in Evansville since the 1957 season. Slow pitch and college ball teams had kept some Evansville High School alumni baseball players and Home Talent League players on the ball diamonds in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

To allow players who were away at college to help organize the adult league team, the first meeting was held during the Christmas vacation. There were choices to be made about which league to join and how to raise funds.

There were two possibilities for leagues. The Central Wisconsin League had no restrictions on the residency of players. Central Wisconsin also allowed payment of players.

The Home Talent League rules said that team members must live within a six mile radius of the city where the team was located. Home Talent League players could not be paid for participating on the team.

Each league also differed in the way umpires were paid. The home team supplied the umpires for the Central Wisconsin League and in the Home Talent League, the League paid for the umpires.

The group chose the Home Talent League and the home games were played at Leota Park. A request was made to the City Council for an outfield fence at the upper ball diamond. The request was turned down.

Prior to the organizational meeting, Grossman and Maxwell contacted businesses to be sponsors and the two men had received enough pledges to cover the cost of uniforms. The local businesses contributing to the team were Anderson TV, Baker Manufacturing Co., Brunsell Auto Service, Chapin's Fine Foods, Grange Store, Hull's Meat Processing, Laufenberg Lumber Company, Turners Standard Service, Dr. H. C. Youngman, Willis Pharmacy, Winch Insurance Agency, Zurfluh's Bar, R & L Auto Service and Zweifel's Lanes. Mr. and Mrs. Orrie Krause also contributed funds for the program.

"Let's Play Ball" could be heard throughout the city as men signed on to organize the Evansville Home Talent League for the 1971 season. The team chose the name "The Evansville Merchants," because of the many local sponsors.

The Home Talent League began play in April without three college players and several others who joined the team later in the season. In the spring of 1971, Stan Zweifel played in the infield for the Wisconsin State University-River Falls team, Dennis Reese played for Wisconsin State University-Whitewater, and Daryl Fuchs was a catcher for the University of Wisconsin team.

The starting team included high school coach Gary Grossman, and several high school baseball alumni, Ken Fuchs, Dan Bishop, Mike McElroy, Ken Fenrick, Paul Schwenn, Hans Schneeberger, Steve Fahrney, John Turner, George Franklin, Steve Erbs, Dave Nelson, Larry Amidon, Ron Krause, Steve Ehle, Lance Hittman and Ron Peckham. Ehle, Amidon and Nelson shared the pitching assignments.

After two League games against Argyle and Wiota, the Merchants were tied with Oregon for first place. Local fans had plenty of opportunities to watch winning teams in the spring of 1971, as the high school team was also having a good year.

The Blue Devil's baseball team made it into the WIAA Tournament but were defeated in the second game. Terry Bund, Bob Hall and Ron Crull were given credit for leading the hitting. Bund hit a home run and batted in four runs in the first game of the tournament.

A summer schedule of games gave baseball fans many opportunities to watch players of all abilities. The Evansville Merchants, the VFW Teener team and the playground program players all played at the City Park.

Evansville's Home Talent team battled to stay near the top of the standings in the early part of the season. The Merchants lost to Mt Horeb and dropped into second place. Then in early June the team was bolstered by the return of the college students. Fuchs, Reese and Zweifel had joined the team. Bob Hall and Terry Bund, 1971 graduates of Evansville High School, also joined the team after the high school season was finished.

The Merchants tied Mount Horeb for the first round championship in June. In the game that earned the team the tie, a 6 to 3 win over Hollandale, the team's sports writer said, "The win was sparked by a spectacular pitching performance by lefty Steve Ehle. Ehle pitched the complete nine inning game, striking out ten batters and walking none. He completed his masterful performance by retiring the last 22 batters he faced, in order."

Ken Fenrick and Dan Bishop were also given credit for their hitting ability. By the middle of June, Bishop had been at bat 28 times and had a batting average of .321. Fenrick had batted 32 times, with an average of .219.

Although the season started with great success, the Home Talent team finished with more loses than wins. The team was overcome by stronger teams in the second half of the season.

With only one game left to play, the Evansville Merchants had a 7-14 record according to a report in the August 12, 1971 Review. However, plans were already in place for the continuation of the adult baseball team in the 1972 season.

While the adults were playing their first season of baseball in over a decade, the younger players were in training for the high school and adult teams. Gary Grossman and his assistant, Daryl Fuchs, organized the baseball program for the summer playground.

Bob Hall and Evansville High School teammate, Rod Maxwell coached the VFW Teener Baseball club. The Teener team, for boys between the ages of 13 and 15, included several players who had played baseball for several years in the summer park program.

The VFW Teener team included Charles Allen, Dan Byrns, Gary Fuchs, Mike Hall, Scott Holzem, Mitch Hull, Tom Kopp, Rich Neuenschwander, Bob Edgington, Steve Parish, Jim Schoenenberger, John Schneider, Dale Schultz, Jed Sperry, Mark Roeben, Boyd Williams, Mark Hull and Mark Hall. The VFW team played twelve league games and several non-league games during the summer of 1971.

High school players and the Home Talent Teams began practice for the 1972 season as soon as the diamonds were ready in the spring. The Home Talent Team held its first practice at Leota Park on April 22. New players listed on the roster were Danny Poffenberger, Dave Holz, Paul Rowley, Bill Shelby, John Rasmussen and Terry Elmer.

The high School team was made up of several players from the park programs and Teener team. Dale Miller, Gary Fuchs, Ron Crull, Jeff Hurst, Mike Hall, Roger Roberts, Bill Shelby, Lee Dammen, John Wood, Dave Holz, Dave Olsen, John Bryant, Dick Anderson, Dan Byrns and Bob Poffenberger, earned places on the 1972 Evansville Blue Devils Varsity team. Shelby was the team captain.

The Central Suburban Conference included Oregon, Parkview, Clinton, Columbus, Beloit Turner, Lake Mills and Milton. Non-conference games were scheduled with Monroe, DeForest, Edgerton and Brodhead.

The Blue Devils had a record of 11 wins and 4 losses for the season and ended in second place in conference play. They were only one game behind Lake Mills, the conference champions for 1972. Evansville lost the sub-regional tournament game to Orfordville by a score of 12 to 10.

The team had plenty of depth in the pitcher's position, with four young hurlers. Lee Dammen, Dave Olsen and Bob Poffenberger were each credited with 3 winning games. Jeff Hurst had pitched one winning game during the regular season. Ron Crull earned the team's most valuable player award for 1972.

Two Evansville alumni earned letters in baseball at U-W River Falls. Stan Zweifel and Hans Schneeberger were given letters for their work as infielders on the Falcons' team. Both returned to Evansville to play on the Home Talent team for the summer.

By the end of the first round of play, the Evansville Home Talent team had won ten games and lost only one. Larry Amidon pitched six of the winning games. Returning college student, Stan Zweifel was counted as a hero for his hitting and fielding abilities on the team. The season ended with the Home Talent team recording 20 wins and six losses.

Fourteen players were chosen for the 1973 Evansville High School Varsity Baseball team. Jed Sperry, the youngest son of Evansville professional ball player Stanley "Pop" Sperry, was one of the Sophomores to join the varsity squad. Sophomores Bob Edgington, Mark Harvey, Ron Wanless and Mark Hall were also new to the Varsity team.

Returning to the EHS Varsity squad were Seniors, Mike Hall, Roger Roberts, Mike Olmstead and Bob Poffenberger. Roberts also served as the team captain. Juniors Dan Byrns, Mark Roeben, John Schneider, Bill Harvey and Gary Fuchs completed the 14-member team.

Fuchs had finished the 1972 season with the highest batting average, of .370. Poffenberger and Bill Harvey were the varsity pitchers returning to the team.

Gary Grossman served as the Varsity Coach. Robert Dorn, a first-year teacher at Evansville served as the JV coach. Dan Schneider was the manager. Home games were played at Leota Park, since there were not an adequate baseball diamond on the high school campus.

The team finished fourth in the Central Suburban Conference, with three wins and four losses. With a season record of 8 wins and 6 losses, they had made a good showing. The team made it through two games in tournament play, but were defeated in the third game.

Two members made the conference all-star team, Bob Edgington and Gary Fuchs. In an interview, Grossman shared his confidence in next year's team, "Throughout the season, we had a very young team but with experience, our team should improve."

At the annual awards day at the high school, Coach Grossman presented the baseball awards. Bob Poffenberger, was named the team's most valuable player with a record of 8 wins and 89 strike-outs. Poffenberger had set a school record for the most strike-outs in a season and tied Dave Baumgarten's record for the most wins in one season.

Evansville was also represented in college baseball. Daryl Fuchs once again made the University of Wisconsin team and was awarded a letter by UW athletic director Elroy Hirsch. He had played two years as catcher and in 1973 also played third base. A busload of Evansville fans traveled to Milwaukee to watch the UW team play the Milwaukee Brewers in an exhibition game.

Preparation for the summer baseball games was underway by the end of May. The 1973 VFW Teener baseball team was organized by manager, Tom Kerkenbush. Daryl Fuchs returned from college to serve as the team's coach. Once again the Evansville businessmen were asked to donate for equipment and other expenses for the team and they were generous in supporting the young players.

By mid-July the VFW team had a chance for first place in the Southern Section League. The scores told the story of Evansville hitting ability. They beat Footville 26-13 and McFarland 19-14. However they lost the first place position in a defeat by Brodhead in late July and ended the season with eight wins and 5 losses.

The Teener team included several members of the Varsity and Junior Varsity high school teams, as well as future high school baseball players. Jed Sperry followed in the footsteps of his father and brothers with an excellent summer season. He had a batting average of .437, the best hitting average for the team.

Jeff Benedict, Mark Harvey, Doug Knapp, Brad Knapp, Bobby Bennett, Steve Parish, Jed Sperry, Dan Whitmore, Randy Crans, Steve Kimberley, Roger Gray, Tim Allen, Eric Hurtley, John Brennan, Jim Brzezinski, Bernie Baldwin, Jake Schonenberger, Randy Fuchs, Steve Krueger, Scott Hipke and Dale Nipple were listed as 1973 Teener players.

Kerkenbush also organized the youngest players in the City Park program. T-Ball, American and National League teams were formed. Evansville High School players, high school baseball alumni and fathers served as coaches. Kerkenbush arranged for the local players to have weekly games with young teams from other communities

Baseball's popularity among the youngest boys was demonstrated by the participation in the park program. More than 100 boys signed up to play baseball in the park program. There were two teams in the American League, four teams in the National League and 32 players in the T-ball program.

The Home Talent Team began practice in early April 1973. John Olson, the team's business manager for 1973 asked for donations from local businesses and once again the community generously gave so that the team could continue into its second year of play.

The teams competing against Evansville's Home Talent team in 1973 were Oregon, Brodhead, Hollandale, Argyle, Wiota, Milton, Belleville, Verona and Mt. Horeb. Evansville lost the season opening game to Verona. Bob Dorn, the local high school JV baseball coach was the only Evansville player to get more than one hit in the game.

Steve Ehle and Larry Amidon pitched for the team. By the time the college students returned to play, the Home Talent team had improved. Games were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

One of the team players, Robert Hall was injured in one of the early Home Talent games. Hall was hit in the face by a pitched ball and was knocked unconscious. Hall was taken to University Hospital in Madison and had surgery to repair a bone that was broken in three places. He still managed to compete and was credited with 48 times at bat and 15 hits, by the end of the season.

By late July 1973, the team's leading hitter was Hans Schneeberger, who ended the season with a .400 average. Schneeberger was at bat 78 times, with 31 hits and 23 runs. Stan Zweifel and Mike McElroy were each credited with 25 hits. Dan Bishop, Terry Bund, Dave Holz, Tom Allen, Bill Shelby, Jim Anderson and Gary Fuchs were also listed on the team roster.

Several Home Talent players made the All-Star game, playing on the Southern Home Talent team. Evansville's players were Steve Ehle, pitcher; Hans Schneeberger, shortstop; Bob Dorn, outfielder; and coach Mike McElroy. The Southern team lost to the Western team.

After a long winter, Coach Gary Grossman put the high school baseball team back together for the 1974 season. There were eight returning letterman.

The team practiced on the baseball diamond at the Junior High School on First Street, where adult and school teams had been practicing for more than 100 years. Bob Berezowitz served as Grossman's assistant.

At the annual Sports Boosters' banquet held in the early spring, two Senior baseball players received awards. Following in the footsteps of his brother Daryl, Gary Fuchs earned the Finnane award as the top senior athlete. The award was based on athletic achievement, attitude and scholarship. Gary had not only lettered in baseball, but also in football and basketball. He was also chosen as an all-conference short stop, two years in a row.

Dan Byrns was awarded the National "W" Award for his participation in football, basketball and baseball. Byrns and Fuchs had also earned points for competing and lettering in high school sports. Each had earned more than 1,000 points.

In addition to Fuchs and Byrns, the returning players for the 1974 EHS team were Jed Sperry, Bob Edgington, John Schneider, and Mark Hall. Ken Moore was a new Varsity team member. Mark Harvey, Steve Parish and Jim Crans pitched for the EHS Varsity team. The team had its first bat-girl, Carol Reynolds.

The year did not go well for the Varsity baseball team. The record for the entire season was four wins and nine loses and the team did not win a single conference game. Bob Edgington was chosen as the team's most valuable with a .333 batting average.

Gary Grossman announced that he was giving up the Varsity coaching job after nine years with the Blue Devil's baseball team. The EHS baseball teams coached by Grossman had compiled 89 wins and 52 losses, with one championship in the Central Section of the Madison Suburban Conference. During the time that he coached, Grossman's teams had finished second in conference standings four times and had taken third place, twice.

As the high school players were ending their season, the Home Talent team was just beginning theirs. The 1974 season did not start as the team had hoped. They lost their first game to Orfordville.

The second game with Argyle turned out much better for the local Home Talent team and they won 18 to 6 with Steve Ehle pitching for 7 innings. Bob Hall, Dave Holz, Bob Poffenberger, Hans Schneeberger, Mike McElroy, and Gary Fuchs were leading hitters

Hall, Terry Bund, Tom Allen, Schneeberger, Stan Zweifel, Dan Byrns, and Ehle starred in the next win against Barneveld with a score of 3 to 2. Zweifel coached the team.

A series of errors by Evansville's Home Talent team caused a loss to Oregon. They were up against a former teammate. Larry Amidon was pitching for the Oregon team. . Although Tom Allen pitched a good game for Evansville, fielding lost the game for the team.

Oregon proved to be the toughest team for Evansville in 1974. Later in the season, Amidon's pitching and the Oregon team's hitting gave Evansville a second loss.

With Bob Poffenberger pitching the first game of a double header against Belleville, the Evansville team won. Although Tom Allen started pitching the second game, Steve Ehle was credited with the win after he took over in the fourth inning. Schneeberger, John Rasmussen, McElroy, Byrns, Zweifel and Dan Bishop were the lead hitters for the games.

Evansville lost another game to Oregon, with Amidon pitching for the opposing team. Then they lost to Wiota 7 to 0. By mid-July the Evansville team was in second place, with Oregon in the Home Talent Southern Section lead.

When it came time to choose the All-Star team for the Home Talent League in 1974, Evansville was well represented. Shortstop Hans Schneeberger, center fielder Terry Bund, first baseman Mike McElroy, second baseman Stan Zweifel and the team's leading pitcher's Bob Poffenberger and Steve Ehle made the all stars.

It was the fifth time that Steve Ehle had been chosen for this honor; the third time for Schneeberger and McElroy and the second time for Zweifel and Bund.

The 1974 Home Talent Team ended its fourth season in late August with a defeat at the hands of the Oregon team. Larry Amidon was the winning pitcher for the Oregon team in a playoff game that gave Oregon the Championship in the Southern Section. Evansville finished the season with a record of 11 wins and 9 losses.

Evansville High School's baseball coach for the 1975 season was Bob Berezowitz. Returning senior lettermen Bob Edgington, Jerry Fuchs, Ken Moore, Mark Hall, Mark Harvey and Jed Sperry were guaranteed positions on the team.

Winter weather continued late into the practice season and the team was not able to be outdoors for batting practice. Going into the season without sufficient batting practice worried Berezowitz. The previous year's team had ended the season with a team batting average of .234.

Evansville was scheduled to face three very tough opponents right at the beginning of the season. Berezowitz favored Oregon to take the conference title. Milton and Beloit Turner also had strong teams according to Berezowitz's calculations.

Evansville won its first non-conference game against Monroe and then was defeated by Brodhead. More losses to Beloit Turner, Milton, Oregon, Parkview, Clinton and Columbus high school teams followed. In a second game with Monroe, the Evansville Blue Devils suffered a 9-7 defeat.

In nearly every game, Evansville used three pitchers and the team had plenty of depth in this position. Pitchers Randy Crans, Bob Mosher, Mark Harvey, Steve Parish and Jake Schoenenberger tried their best to give Evansville a winning season. However, Evansville's fielding errors and strong defense by opposing teams kept the local high school baseball team from winning.

Evansville had won one non-conference game. However, they were the only team in the Central Suburban Conference to suffer defeats in every Conference game in the 1975 season.

Despite the losing season, Berezowitz praised his players and told a reporter: "We started playing well at the end of the season. I wish we could have done that sooner." Two team members, Jed Sperry and Bob Edgington, were picked for all-conference players.

In mid-May, the Evansville Home Talent League started the first round of play. Stan Zweifel and Mike McElroy served as co-managers for the team, known locally as the Merchants. Evansville, Oregon, and Orfordville were considered the top teams in the league.

The Merchants were ready for a winning season and had 12 players from the previous year signed on to play in the summer of 1975. Three of the returning players were pitchers, Steve Ehle, Tom Allen and Bob Poffenberger. Bob and his brother, Dennis Poffenberger, also played for the Milton College team.

High School players Jed Sperry and Bob Edgington were also eligible to join the Home Talent League, as they graduated in 1975. Dan Byrns, Dave Holz, Dan Bishop, John Rasmussen, Hans Schneeberger, Terry Bund, Mike and Bob Hall and Daryl Fuchs also played for the Home Talent team.

The Southern section of the Home Talent League had two divisions, the Southwestern and the Southern. Evansville played in the Southern with Oregon, New Glarus, Orfordville and Belleville. The first round of play included games with Barneveld and Argyle from the Southwestern division.

Throughout the first round of play, Evansville and Oregon were neck and neck for first place. Zweifel, Ehle and Bob Poffenberger pitched for the Merchants, but with a record of 3 wins and 2 losses, Evansville could not maintain the lead. Oregon finished the first round at the top with 4 wins and 1 loss.

During the first round of play two team members were injured. Bob Poffenberger had a sprained ankle and Tom Allen had tendonitis. Terry Bund pitched during the second round of the season.

The second round of the Home Talent schedule began on June 28, 1975, with Evansville playing against Belleville, Oregon, New Glarus, and Orfordville. They also played Hollandale, Wiota, and Blanchardville from the Southwestern division.

Once again, Oregon beat the Evansville team in the early part of the second round and Oregon and Orfordville were in first place with 2 wins and 1 loss each. Evansville was third with 1 win and 1 loss.

Evansville came back to tie for first place with Oregon and Orfordville. Playoff games for the second round tie-breakers were held in August. The Merchants played three games in two days. Evansville beat Orfordville in the first game with Steve Ehle pitching.

Then Evansville played a double-header with Oregon. The first game was to determine the second round champions and the second game was to determine the season championship.

Bob Poffenberger pitched the entire first game and 5 innings of the second game. Evansville won the first game, 5-4, which put them in the lead in the second round of play. Then, in a playoff game for the season championship, Evansville lost to Oregon.

Seven Evansville players earned places on the 1975 All-Star team for the league, Stan Zweifel, Mike McElroy, Bob Hall, Terry Bund, Bob Poffenberger, Dave Holz and Dan Bishop.

At the end of the season, recent college graduate, Stan Zweifel, left Evansville to teach English at Markesan High School. He was also named Markesan's head football and assistant baseball coach.

A VFW Teener team also played in the summer of 1975, with Mark Elmer, Royce Smelcer, Chuck Van, Mike Hartin, Greg Gard, Ron Soetaert, Brad Knapp, Jim Hyne, Scott and Todd Hipke, Gary Feldt, Jeff Farnsworth, Dean Fuchs, Sam and Perry Gallman, Rick Brigham and Ken Schmidt on the traveling team. Rick Neuenschwander was in his first year of coaching the young team.

The VFW League, Southern Division, had six teams with games scheduled in two rounds. Oregon, Brodhead, Footville, Orfordville and McFarland were Evansville's opponents. The Evansville Sports Boosters helped to sponsor and promote the Teeners.

Feldt, Soetart and Knapp served as the team pitchers. The Teeners ended the first round in fifth place. They had won only two of the games in the first round of play, losing 3 games at the beginning of the season to Oregon, Orfordville and McFarland.

When the Teeners won their first game in the second round, Coach Rick Neuenschwander told a reporter that his team was "looking a lot better. Our defense is really coming around." At the end of the season, however, it was errors in the field that put the Evansville Teeners into fourth place, with an overall season of 4 wins and 6 losses.

In the fall of 1975, the Evansville High School athletic department announced that Daryl Fuchs would replace Bob Berezowitz as head baseball coach for the Evansville High School team in the next season. Fuchs had tried out with the Oakland A's after he graduated from the UW-Madison in 1974 and during the summer of 1975 played for the Madison Howard Johnson team in the A.A.B.C, amateur league.

When the 1976 season opened for the Evansville High School Blue Devil's baseball team, Fuchs found that he had only five lettermen returning to the team. Four of these were Seniors, including Bernie Baldwin, Randy Crans, Doug Knapp and Jake Schoenenberger. Eric Hurtley was the only Junior letterman returning to the team.

Several players were vying for the opportunity to pitch. Fuchs said that Crans and Schoenenberger were the most likely, with Mark Rowley, Gary Feldt and Steve Blum, also having a good chance to pitch.

The rest of the team included Dan Whitmore, Bill Drefahl, Bob Chitek, Terry Hatlevig, Scott Hipke, Royce Smelcer, Tom Davis, Jim Hyne, Mark Elmer and Perry Gallman. Most of these players had been playing ball since they were old enough to join the T-Ball park programs.

"We plan on being an aggressive team," Fuchs said in a news release just before the team's opening game with Beloit Turner. The team was hopeful they could stop a losing streak that had plagued the high school team for the last two years.

The high school team was successful in the first conference game and won by a score of 5 to 2. However, the rest of the season was uneven and they lost more games than they won, being beaten by Columbus, Clinton, Brodhead, Monroe, Oregon, Lake Mills, Milton, and Edgerton. They entered the WIAA state tournament and lost the first game to Janesville Parker 12 to 2, eliminating Evansville from the competition.

The summer recreation program for T-Ball was organized as it had been in the past, with one exception. In 1976, girls were allowed to join the park program T-Ball teams for the first time. Although the park program organizers had hoped to have an all-girl baseball team, not enough signed up, so the girls were placed on the boys' teams. Anne O'Connell played on the Cubs team. Kelly Thompson and Amy Flood played for the Padres. Kristin Grossman, Kelly Bratzke, and Becky Dobbs played for the Twins.

Recruitment for the Home Talent team began in late March 1976 with a meeting at Zweifel's Bowling Lanes. The advertisement of the meeting said that the Merchants were "looking for another good season."

In the first game against Belleville, Mike McElroy was the leading hitter with a home run and Evansville won the game 5 to 4. With Bob Poffenberger doing most of the pitching, the Merchants beat Verona, Wiota, Blanchardville, and Argyle in the first round of the season.

Stan Zweifel, Daryl Fuchs, Dennis Poffenberger, Hans Schneeberger, Mike McElroy, Dave Holz, Robert Hall, Bob Edgington, and Terry Bund were listed as leading hitters in the Merchants team statistics.

Throughout the first round of the play, the Merchants stayed close behind the Southern Division leading champions and Evansville's chief rival, Oregon. In one of the last games of the first round, Evansville defeated Oregon by a score of 14 to 4 and earned a tie for first place in the league.

Evansville's Home Talent team was also playing in the Night League Central division, with Dodgeville, Cross Plains, Verona, Cottage Grove, and Orangeville, Illinois. After two games, Evansville and Dodgeville were tied for first place in the Night League.

However, the local Home Talent team was not without its share of problems. First there was a protest from the Blanchardville team, Southwestern division champions. Blanchardville claimed that in the Home Talent regular season game, the Evansville Merchants had used an illegal ball.

Evansville's manager, Stan Zweifel, filed a protest, although he admitted that Evansville had run out of regular game balls after six innings against Blanchardville. Evansville had then used a ball that was an official ball used in the Night League. The brand used for the Night League games was not allowed in Southern Section Home Talent League play. A re-play of the game was scheduled for July and this time Blanchardville won.

Then in a second setback, Oregon players reported that Evansville had an illegal player on the team and this resulted in Evansville having to forfeit three of the first round games. The first round title was given to Oregon.

In mid-season, the Merchants entered the National Baseball Congress state tournament playing against Verona's Town Pump team. The Merchant's were eliminated from the tournament in the second game.

When the Home Talent team started their second round of play, they beat Belleville by a score of 15 to 5 with Randy Schneider pitching for the Evansville team. Dan Bishop was listed as the leading hitter of the game.

The team was on a winning streak and won games against Dodgeville, the unbeaten champions of the Night League. This put the Merchants in a tie with Dodgeville for first place. The locals also defeated Verona and Cross Plains in the Night League. However, Cottage Grove moved into first place in the Night League and Evansville forfeited a rained-out game to Dodgeville.

Evansville also won against Argyle, Hollandale, and New Glarus in Southern Section play for the Home Talent League. Once again Oregon and Evansville were fighting for the Home Talent League's Southern division title. By late July, Evansville was one game behind Oregon in the standings. Evansville had two more games to play, one with Oregon and another with Wiota.

When it came time for the Evansville-Oregon game, Evansville's team was ready and defeated their traditional rival by a score of 9 to 4. This put Evansville in a tie with Oregon for the Southern title and the chance to play the Southwest Section leader Blanchardville once again.

A loss to Wiota at the end of the season ended Evansville's hopes for the Southern Section title. Evansville ended in second place in the Southern Section.

At the end of the 1976 season, the overall record for the Evansville Home Talent team was 16 wins, 10 losses and 1 tie game. Bob Poffenberger was the star pitcher with 8 wins and 5 losses. Leading hitters were Terry Bund with a batting average of .362 in 24 games and 80 times at bat. Stan Zweifel was a close second with a batting average of .361 in 20 games and 91 times at bat.

High School baseball coach Daryl Fuchs expected that the 1977 high school season would be better than the previous seasons that had left Evansville near the bottom of the league standings. The players on the 1977 team had more experience with two and three-year veterans returning to play.

There were eight returning lettermen, Gary Feldt, Warren Howard, Dan Whitmore, Eric Hurtley, Mark Elmer, Royce Smelcer, Jim Hyne and Bob Chitek. Brad Knapp, a Senior was playing his first year with the team. Other new members were Todd Hipke, Marty Hull, John Meredith, Jim Benash and Sam Gallman.

The 1977 high school baseball season's opening conference game with Edgerton was lost by wide margin, 13 to 2. Evansville made seven errors during the game.

In the next two games, the team pulled themselves together and with Gary Feldt pitching, beat Brodhead and Monroe in non-Conference games. Then Brad Knapp took the mound against Stoughton, but once again seven errors and poor hitting gave the Stoughton team the win. Beloit Turner won a close game 4 to 3 and Blackhawk (a South Wayne team) defeated Evansville in both games of a double-header.

The mid-season statistics of errors and walks told much of the story of the Evansville team. Coach Fuchs told a reporter, "They committed 35 errors to 18 for opponents and gave up 49 walks while getting only 29 themselves." However, the batting averages had improved Mark Elmer's average was at .380 and Mark Rowley had .360. There was still hope that Evansville could get some wins.

A win over Lake Mills gave the team hope, only to be crushed by a 10 to 5 defeat by Milton. The Blue Devils ended the season with three wins against Columbus, Brodhead and Clinton, giving the team 6 wins and 8 losses during the 1977 season.

Evansville ended the season in 5th place tie with Beloit Turner in the 8-team Central Suburban Conference. Five members of the Evansville High School baseball team were given honorable mention in the 1977 All-Central Suburban baseball team, catcher Eric Hurtley, outfielder Dan Whitmore, 2nd baseman Warren Howard, pitcher Gary Feldt and outfielder Jim Hyne.

Coach Fuch's team entered the WIAA tournament with the first game against the Big Eight Conference leaders, Janesville Craig. Evansville lost.

During the summer Fuchs played for the Madison A's, a semi-pro team. He was injured in a National Baseball Congress state tournament game and had to have knee surgery. This put Fuchs out of play for the rest of the season and the doctors gave him a 50-50 chance of being able to catch again.

While the high school season was in full swing, the Merchants were entering their seventh season. The team had signed on to play in two leagues, the regular Home Talent Southern Section and the Night League. Both Leagues included many of the same teams. Mineral Point, of the Night League, was the only team not playing in both Leagues.

Home Talent's Southern Section had two divisions. Evansville was in the Southern Division with New Glarus, Oregon, Footville and Belleville. The Southwestern Division included Wiota, Argyle, Blanchardville, Orangeville and Hollandale.

Team members of the 1977 Merchants were brothers, Bob and Dennis Poffenberger, Stan Zweifel, Dan Bishop, Bob Hall, Hans Schneeberger, Jim Hyne, Warren Howard, Terry Bund, Eric Hurtley, Mike McElroy, Dave Holz and Kevin Bavery.

The team's starting pitcher was Bob Poffenberger and in the first game against Blanchardville, the locals were defeated 8 to 4. Schneeberger and Zweifel continued into the season as the team's leading hitters.

By the end of the first round of play, the Merchants were near the top of the southern division race, with four wins and 2 losses, in a tie with Oregon for 2nd place. New Glarus stood in first place.

In Night League play the Merchants lost to Mineral Point and won a Night League game against Blanchardville. Usually Poffenberger pitched an entire game. However in the game against Blanchardville, the Merchants tried three different pitchers. Poffenberger and Gary Feldt each pitched three innings in the game and Randy Schneider came in to finish the win in the last three innings.

Feldt got his first win with the Merchants in a Night League game against Mount Horeb. Feldt's first win in the regular Home Talent League play was in early July against Wiota.

In mid-season, the Merchants entered the National Baseball Congress tournament. Evansville defeated Arena in the first game. This game was called after six innings. Ground fog had moved in, making it impossible for the outfielders to see the ball.

In the second game of the tournament Evansville defeated Belleville and then they lost the third game to Waunakee. There was still hope for a spot in the state tournament when Evansville beat Wiota. Eric Hurtley was the star of the Wiota game when, with bases loaded, he hit a 3-run homer and Evansville won 18-7.

The NBC tournament continued at Sauk City in Mid-July and Evansville beat Waunakee, 1-0, with a ninth inning homer by Mike McElroy. Then they defeated Bangor, 5 to 4. A heart breaking loss to Menominee Falls put the Evansville team out of contention for the State NBC tournament.

In the second round of South Central Division Night League play, Wiota took revenge and beat the Merchants. Only nine Evansville players showed up for a night game with Dodgeville and the Merchants lost 10-0. After this defeat, Evansville stood in fourth place in the Night League.

In the second round of regular season play, Evansville was in first place in the Southern Division of the Southern Section of Home Talent standings in early August.

It was the first time in the team's history that they had a chance for a Southern Section title. The season record at this point was 20 wins and 10 losses. Bob Poffenberger was credited with 10 of the winning games.

Team manager, Bob Hall said: "We're playing consistent, good ball for a change. We're getting good pitching and our defense has been good too." Evansville had only to defeat Blanchardville to win the right to get into the Home Talent playoffs for the Southern Section.

Blanchardville won the sectional title with the game score 8 to 6 and Evansville had to be satisfied with the division title. Despite the defeat, it was Evansville's Home Talent team's most successful season with 21 wins and 11 losses.

Terry Bund led the league with a .487 batting average. Bund had 4 triples, 8 doubles and 34 base hits. He had also stolen 17 bases during the season. Bob Hall was third in the league's southern section with .422. Hall also held his team's 1977 record for the most runs batted in. The team's top pitchers were Bob Poffenberger with an 11-3 record and Randy Schneider with 5 wins and 3 losses. If the team could hold together, the 1978 season promised to be even better.

In late summer of 1975, the coaches of the Central Suburban Conference met to plan for a reorganization. Three new members were added to the conference, Brodhead, Edgerton, and Jefferson. Lake Mills and Columbus went into the Capitol Conference and Oregon joined the Badger Conference. The reorganized conference was to begin in with the 1977-78 season.

Evansville high school baseball teams had played Brodhead and Edgerton in non-conference games in the past. Although they were losing their main rival, Oregon, to another conference, high school athletic director Jim Ganoung promised that there would be non-conference games with the neighboring team.

Daryl Fuchs recovered from his surgery in the summer of 1977 and was back as the Evansville High School baseball coach for the 1978 season. His team had lost five lettermen from the previous year, but still had six lettermen returning to play.

Although he picked Edgerton or Jefferson to win the conference title, he gave Evansville a "dark horse" chance. Gary Feldt, who had been pitching in the summer with the Home Talent League was expected to be the starting pitcher, with back up from Mark Elmer and Mark Rowley.

Scott Brunsell served as the team manager. Royce Smelcer, brothers Scott and Todd Hipke, Marty Hull, Dean Fuchs (the coach's youngest brother) Ken Neuenschwander, Kim Hanson, Peter Wegman, David Jeans and Ron Soetaert made up the rest of the team. Jeans was the only freshman on the team.

They lost the first game of the season to Edgerton and the second to Jefferson, the two top teams in the conference. Then Evansville defeated Orfordville Parkview, only to be beat by Brodhead in the next game.

Rainy weather prevented practices and caused postponed games in the 1978 high school season. They were also plagued by injuries as Scott Hipke suffered a broken nose, when his brother, Todd collided with him at full speed in an effort to catch a fly ball.

Evansville defeated Beloit Turner and Clinton. In a close rematch with Edgerton, Evansville was defeated by a score of 7 to 6 and Jefferson once again defeated the Blue Devils 14 to 2. Orfordville, Milton and Brodhead won games against Evansville. At the end of the season, Evansville was beat by rival Edgerton in the Blue Devil's first game of the WIAA tournament.

Jim Hyne was credited with the Most Valuable Player for the team when awards were given at the end of the season. Mark Rowley had the top batting average of .279. Although Gary Feldt had pitched most of the games, Ron Soetaert had the most wins with a season record of 3 wins and 2 losses. Royce Smelcer was named Captain of the team.

Seniors Gary Feldt, Scott Hipke and Mark Rowley and Juniors Mark Elmer, Todd Hipke, Marty Hull, Jim Hyne and Ron Soetaert received letters. First year players David Jeans and Dean Fuchs and manager Scott Brunsell also received letters given at the Sports awards ceremony in late May.

1978 top Athletic Awards for young men went to three members of the 1978 high school baseball squad. Mark Rowley received the Dan Finnane Award. The Laurence C. Janes Award was given to Royce Smelcer and Gary Feldt received the Evansville Sports Boosters Club Award.

Home Talent team was entering its first championship season in the spring of 1978. Twenty-nine merchants and individuals had signed on as sponsors for the team.

Once again, the Merchants played in two leagues of the Home Talent competition. The regular Home Talent Southern Division games were held on Sunday and the Night League games on Tuesday.

Holiday games brought much success to the Merchants. Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Merchants defeated three opponents, Marshall, Argyle and New Glarus. More wins came against Oregon, Verona Town Pump and Lake Mills. The team lost to Albion and Wiota.

The Merchants lost the first game of the NBC tournament in 1978 and they were out of the running for a chance for this trophy. However, by late June Evansville was at the top of the Home Talent Southern Division of the Southern Section, with 4 wins and 1 loss.

During the 4th of July celebrations in Evansville, the Merchants defeated Footville. Later in July, Evansville defeated Orangeville.

Then in a rematch Footville won 11-4, tying the two teams for first place. Evansville was on top of the league after winning three more games in play against Oregon, Argyle and New Glarus with 13 wins and 2 losses in the Sunday games.

Randy Schneider pitched many of the season games in 1978. "Randy pitched great ball. Three complete games in 10 days is a real tough feat at any level," Manager Bob Hall said after one winning series of games. Denny Poffenberger, Jim Hyne, Terry Bund, Eric Hurtley, Mike McElroy, Bob Hall, Dan Bishop, and Hans Schneeberger led the team in hits for the season.

The team was also vying for first place in Night League play until Middleton took the championship and received the Night League trophy for 1978.

When the Home Talent team made it into the playoffs in late August 1978, the local fans were overjoyed. The local team won a ten-inning game against Argyle and then defeated Rio to earn a spot in the League playoff finals.

In 1978, the Home Talent League celebrated its 50th anniversary. In the Home Talent League season playoff final game, Evansville went up against Cottage Grove's team. Right from the start Cottage Grove was in the lead with the score, 6-0 after three innings. Evansville came back with five runs, but the final score was 8 to 5 in favor of Cottage Grove.

At the Home Talent Awards Banquet the Merchants earned a local award, the Cloyence Zweifel Memorial Award and three other trophies. Cloyence Zweifel was a local businessman and owner of the local bowling alley. He was also a baseball player, manager and umpire before his death in the summer of 1978. Zweifel's son Dave made the first award of the trophy to the Merchants.

Bob Hall was honored as co-manager of the year. The other co-manager was from the Cottage Grove team. Hall also accepted the trophy for the Merchant's first place standing in the Home Talent Southern Section and Southern Division. Dennis Poffenberger received a trophy as the leading batter in the Southern section with a .469 average.

From the late 1890s through the 1930s, the fairgrounds was used for athletic fields for high school and adult sports activities. In the late 1920s, improved ball diamonds and other sports facilities were built at the park. The fairgrounds and park facilities were rebuilt and maintained during the Depression era by out-of-work men employed in federal works programs.

After the high school was built on the old fairgrounds in the early 1960s, sports boosters and high school coaches urged the school district to build an athletic complex on the school grounds. Tennis courts and a track were built but football and baseball games were played at the park. Within a few years both the track and tennis courts were in need of repair and sports boosters, coaches and players were lobbying for new sports facilities on land near the high school, owned by the school district.

There was a local committee of sports fans already in place. Coaches Bob Berezowitz and Ron Grovesteen told the board they had worked with a local committee to prepare a plan. The committee and the coaches had gone as far as they could and they were ready to work with a professional planner to design the new sports complex.

Berezowitz said that a high school sports complex had in the planning stages for many years. The coaches pointed out that the City had not put much effort into maintaining the park football fields and baseball diamonds. Any improvements had been made by volunteers, including coaches, players and parents. Over the years, fences, bleachers, lights, dugouts and score boards had been put in place and some did not see the need to move the facilities to the high school grounds.

At their May meeting in 1978, the Evansville High School Board approved a study and authorized the development of a master plan for building and improving the athletic facilities. The School Board allowed $3,500 to hire a professional sports facility planner. The local sports boosters used money from fund raising activities to cover any costs above the funds allotted by the Board.

While the details of the new sports complex were in the planning stages, the baseball teams continued to play. The Evansville High School baseball teams (Varsity and JV), Home Talent League team, Teener team and the T-Ball and Little League summer park program teams scheduled their games at the Park. The programs for the youngest players and the Teener team brought some of the best players into the high school and adult baseball programs.

The Evansville Teener Baseball team of 1978, was coached by Tom Kerkenbush. Thirteen local businesses and the Lions Club sponsored the Teeners.

The Teener League included 26 teams in the state, divided into four sections. The Evansville team's season included 12 League games and two games with a Milton team, that was in a different section. Other teams in the South section were Orfordville, Footville, Afton, Brodhead and Monroe.

Teener team members were Pete Steinhoff, Tim Paton, Dave Jeans, David Meinke, Charlie Anderson, Keith Thome, Greg Kerkenbush, Kevin Cook, Paul Flood, Paul Hurtley, Scott Gransee, DuWayne Baumberger, Tom Petterson, Matt Crull, Todd Sperry, Jim Kober, Scott Nimz, Ron Wustmann and Neil Hrdlicka. The Teeners earned second place in their section in the summer of 1978 and those who were not already part of the high school baseball team were planning to join.

During the fall and winter, the athletic complex was in the planning stages. Just as the 1979 high school baseball season was about to begin, the proposed athletic complex at the high school was revealed to the general public through a series of local newspaper articles. The plan showed the athletic fields on the school property west of the high school.

The design included a baseball diamond, a practice diamond, tennis courts, track and football field. The portion of the cost allotted for the baseball diamond was $15,000. Lighting of the baseball diamond was left out because the high school team did not usually play night games.

There was an access road from Fifth Street with a second access road on the northwest corner of the school property that fed into the main parking lot near the high school. The plan called for a chain link fence around the perimeter of the complex. Storage buildings and a ticket-concession stand were to be built at the entrance to the fields. The plans also included lighting and bleachers for sports fans.

The supporters noted that the complex had been in the planning stages for many years. Because the sports facility had not been built when originally planned the construction costs had increased from $90,000 to $289,000 within a ten-year period. Evansville was also the only school in the Rock Valley Conference that did not have an athletic complex.

The School Board sent approval of the complex to the public in a referendum held in May 1979. Publicity, editorials and newspaper articles about the proposal were put before the voters prior to the special election.

The proposed complex became the talk of the town and editorials with comments and editorials from both sides. Some felt that the current arrangement with some activities at the park and some at the school was working just fine. Others pushed for the new facility, noting the convenience of having practice and playing fields and diamonds in the same area.

The average cost of a home in Evansville in 1979 was $35,000 and the tax impact of the athletic complex was expected to be $8.40. Unfortunately, just before the vote, Evansville taxpayers received new assessment notices and some had received substantial increases.

It was the price tag that finally defeated the proposal. On May 17, 1979, voters in the Evansville School District went to the poles and voted an overwhelming "no," 616 to 475. The proposal was defeated in the City of Evansville and every township except Porter and one resident who voted for the proposal in Janesville township.

This did not stop the Evansville Boosters from their fund raising activities. The group continued to meet and encouraged their members to participate in raffles, slow pitch tournaments and other fund raising activities to purchase equipment for the high school athletic program.

High school baseball teams were forced to play on the park diamonds over the next few years. As the sports complex referendum was in process, Daryl Fuchs already had his team at play in the 1979 season. As the baseball schedule started, Fuchs said he was optimistic. However, he was worried about the defense.

Seven Senior players, Jim Hyne, Mark Elmer, Marty Hull, Ron Soetaert, Todd Hipke, Dean Fuchs and David Jeans had returned to the team. Soetaert and Elmer were expected to be the starting pitchers for most games, with back-up from David Meichtry and Ken Neuenschwander. The coach put Jim Hyne in the catcher's spot.

The team won the opening game against Brodhead. However, they lost the next four games to Clinton, Jefferson, Milton and Edgerton and dropped into the basement of the Rock Valley Conference with a 1-4. Later in the season, Evansville beat Beloit Turner on a grand-slam home run by Soetaert, but lost to Jefferson again in an 8-1 game.

Fuchs tried several different pitchers, including his star catcher, Jim Hyne. Nothing seemed to work. Although the team's best hitter, Hyne was batting at .400 and Elmer followed close behind with a .381 average, by early May, the team's batting average was .265. Errors also plagued the Evansville Blue Devils.

Then Evansville beat Parkview in a game that had only one error by the Blue Devils. A 17-5 win over Clinton, late in the season was followed by a defeat at the hands of the Brodhead team. In tournament play, Evansville was defeated by Edgerton in the first round and eliminated from the games.

Although the high school team's season was less than Fuchs had hoped for, two members of the team made the all-conference team. Jim Hyne was named the All-Rock Valley catcher on the first team and Ron Soetaert was given honorable mention as a pitcher.

The most valuable player of the season went to pitcher, Mark Elmer. Jim Hyne, with a .436 average for the year, had captured several school batting records. Hyne was voted captain of the team for the 1979 season.

Several Senior baseball stars had signed on to college sports teams. Soetaert, who was also a star football player, had signed to play with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team. Jim Hyne played for the University of Wisconsin as a freshman catcher.

Evansville's Home Talent Team of 1979 returned to play with most of the same members from the 1978 Southern Section championship team. Sixteen games were scheduled in the two rounds of the Southern Section Sunday games and nine games in the Wednesday and Thursday Night League Eastern Section. In the Night League, the Evansville team was not considered serious contenders for first place.

The season got off to a great start with Evansville beating Wiota. Evansville's 21 hits gave them a 17-11 victory. Catcher Bob Hall had six RBIs on three hits. Dennis Poffenberg, Hans Schneeberger and Darris Henning were also responsible for scores made by their teammates. The game reporter noted that "The bats of the Evansville Home Talent team certain were not in cold storage."

For the first three games, Evansville's Home Talent team remained undefeated in the Sunday afternoon games. Then with Bob Poffenberger and Randy Schneider pitching, the Merchants lost to Hollandale. However, wins against Footville put the Merchants in a tie for first place in the first round and a win against Oregon made the local team the undisputed champions of the beginning round of the 1979 games.

The Merchants ended the first round with a 6-1 record. Footville and Orangeville were tied for second. Evansville went into the second round of play tied with Oregon for first place. Then a loss in a game with Blanchardville put the locals a half game behind. A second round loss to Hollandale put them further behind.

Mark Elmer pitched a winning game for the Merchants against Jefferson. The Merchants scored 15 runs. Six men, Dave Holz, Terry Bund, Dennis Poffenberger, Mike McElroy, Hans Schneeberger and Ron Soetaert, had two hits each during the game.

However, it was not enough to take the title from Oregon. Evansville lost to Oregon at the end of the season, giving Oregon the undisputed league for the second round of play. The Merchants ended the second half with 2 wins and three losses. Since the Merchants had won the first round, they were in the playoffs for the 1979 season.

In the first game of the playoffs, Evansville beat Oregon 5-4. A home run by Eric Hurtley in the ninth inning cinched the win. However, in the second game against Blanchardville, the Merchants lost and they were quickly out of the tournament. They ended the season with 9 wins and 5 losses in regular season play.

The Evansville All-Star Little League players were earning rave reviews for their 1979 season. Players for the All Stars were Shawn Haas, Jon Hazlett, Butch Koch, Paul Page, Todd Amidon, Bob Tanner, Doug Neefe, Jeff Mavis, Eric Crull, Tim Ganoung, Pete Franklin, Billy Woodstock, Jay Hrdlicka, Jack Pierce, Brad Petterson, Jamie Cornwell, Phil Updike, Chris Reigle, John Spanton, Jon Waller and Rusty Youngman.

With Dan Hazlett as their coach, the All Stars had lost only one game during the season and won the Footville All Star tournament. "If these young men stick with baseball, it looks like our high school will have some good teams in years to come," said the team's reporter.

When the 1980 high school baseball season started, the Little League Stars and Teener team players of past years appeared on the team roster.

Bob Berezowitz had returned to coach the high school ball players. As with many teams of the past, the practices began indoors, with base running, sliding and other practice activities. Berezowitz described his team as "young but enthusiastic." If the team had a .500 season, the coach said he would be satisfied.

David Meichtry, Keith Thome and Jim Kober were expected to pitch with Tim Paton in the catcher's position. David Jeans was placed in the short stop position; DeWayne Baumberger at third; Marc Flood at first; and Dave Harnack at second base. Keith Thome also played in the outfield with Scott Gransee, Ken Neuenschwander and Dave Manke.

The Varsity team lost their first game to Brodhead. However, the Junior Varsity team defeated the Brodhead Cardinals with Keith Thome pitching. Todd Sperry and Charlie Dunphy were leading hitters in the JV game.

Then Evansville's Varsity beat Clinton, but lost to Jefferson and Milton. The Blue Devils won a game against Parkview but, as in past years, it was Evansville's errors that hurt the team in their game against Edgerton. The Blue Devils played a close game against Edgerton, the Conference leaders, as Edgerton got 4 runs to Evansville's 2.

Defending his young players, Berezowitz said his team was showing "marked improvement and high enthusiasm, characteristic of a young baseball team." After a loss to Beloit Turner, the Varsity had a record of 2 wins and 5 losses.

In the second round with the Conference teams, Evansville beat Edgerton and Clinton. Then they lost to Brodhead, Parkview, Jefferson and Milton.

The Blue Devils ended the regular season with a win against Beloit Turner. DeWayne Baumberger, Tim Paton and David Harnack were credited with hits that won the final game of the season against Turner. Jim Kober was the winning pitcher.

The team was defeated in the first round of the tournament games by Parkview. The Varsity team's season record was 6 wins and 11 losses. They ended the season in a fourth place tie with Beloit Turner. Paton earned honorable mention on the All-Conference Team, the only Blue Devil to earn a spot.

It was not a good year at the plate for the Blue Devils. Paton's batting average was .289 and he was leading the team. Ken Neuenschwander was the leading pitcher with a 3 and 2 record and an earned run average of 3.



The Home Talent League team, the Evansville Merchants met for a fund raising banquet in early February 1980. A Milwaukee Brewer pitcher, Jerry Augustine, was the featured speaker. The money raised from the dinner was used to purchase equipment and pay part of the expense of the team for the 1980 season.

By early June, Evansville's Home Talent team was in first place in the South Central Division. They had won 6 games and lost only one in season play and their overall record for the first round was 10 wins and 3 losses.

In Mid-Season, Evansville hosted the 1980 National Baseball Congress District (NBC) Tournament at Leota Park. The local team played their first game of the tournament against Albion. Other teams participating in the tournament were Milton, Stoughton, McFarland and Monona.

Evansville was eliminated from the tournament in the first game. Albion won 5-4 in an 8 inning game.

Reports in the local newspapers, the Evansville Post and the Evansville Review, dwindled as the season progressed. When the Merchants entered the second round of the 1980 season, they were tied with a 2-2 record in Sunday afternoon play and a 4-1 record in the Night League. There were no reports in the local news about the final standings.

Interest in Home Talent League play had dwindled. Some said it was because softball had become more popular. Others said that it was because the team players were aging.

Whatever the cause, 1980 was the last season of play for the Evansville Home Talent League and there were no Home Talent League teams playing in Evansville for the next 25 years. There was no doubt that from 1971 to 1980 the Home Talent League in Evansville provided adult baseball players and fans with exciting games.

The tradition of local baseball was carried on by the summer park program and the Evansville High School Baseball teams. Many of those who advanced to the high school team had been in training since their T-ball days.

Generation after generation of Evansville ball players followed in the footsteps of the first baseball team organized in 1867. For many years, adults were the only ones to play organized baseball. The Broughton's and Gillman's dominated the news about local players in the late 1800s.

Then high school baseball was organized by the school principal H. F. Kling in the late 1890s. The game became a school tradition, with fathers and sons taking up the bat and glove for Evansville High School teams.

In the 1970s, even younger players were introduced to the fundamentals of the game. Tom Kerkenbush, the Park Playground program coordinator, organized T-ball games
in 1973. Girls were first allowed on the T-Ball teams in 1976.

The 1983 Evansville Teener Baseball team earned a spot in the State Tournament after defeating teams from Milton, Edgerton, Oregon, Footville, McFarland and Orfordville. Their league record was 12 wins and no losses. They had played a total of 23 games during the summer and lost only 2. Six pitchers, Jon Hazlett, Bob Tanner, Jeff Mavis, Pete Franklin, Tom Madsen and Phil Updike were credited with the team's successful year. Phil Updike's batting average for the season was a remarkable .530.

The long-awaited high school baseball diamond was built on the athletic complex west of the high school (currently the Theodore Robinson Elementary School) in 1989. The Evansville Booster Club maintained their interest, after the defeat of the referendum for the project and gradually added facilities, including new track and tennis areas and a new football field in the 1970s and 1980s.

For baseball fans, the location of the baseball games had come full circle. The high school athletic events were once again held on the school grounds, the old fairgrounds, a favored spot for ball games from the late 1800s to well into the twentieth century. The Baseball Diamond was named for Stanley "Pop" Sperry.



The 1990 All Stars summer team took the League title with a record of 10 wins and 1 loss. The summer program home games were held on the Leota Park diamonds. Joe Knudtson, Dave Eaton, and Steve Fenrick served as team pitchers and leading hitters. Other noted hitters for the team were Kevin Brown, Ethan Allen, Ryan Lindemann, Kevin Brown and Shane Buttchen. Other team members were R. J. Laube, Johan Kleisch, Andy Tomlin, Ryan Arndt, Andy Schultz, Declan Every, Eric Fenrick and Gary Hallmark. Jim Eaton, Roger Brown, Dick Knudtson and Ken Fenrick were the team's coaches.

Evansville High School's 1991 Varsity Baseball Team made it into the sectional tournament, but suffered a defeat by Wilmot.

The strongest tradition of family baseball in Evansville is held by the Sperry family, with five generations playing on Evansville teams. The tradition began with Fred Sperry playing in the 1920s. Fred's son, Stanley "Pop" Sperry was the local hero of the 1930s and 1940s. "Pop" Sperry played for a number of professional teams. Then, "Pop" Sperry's sons, Stanley "Peck", Ross, Scott and Jed, played for high school and Home Talent teams from the 1950s to the 1970s. "Peck" Sperry's sons, Todd and Jay, began playing with the T-Ball teams in the 1970s and played on the high school team in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The fifth generation of Sperry's, Kyle and Drew became the family's 21st century ball players.



Home Talent baseball was revived in 2005, a quarter of a century after the last game was played in Evansville. The 2005 Evansville Home Talent players were sponsored by local businesses and individuals. The Evansville Jays played their first season in the Southeast Section, West Division of the league and ended at the bottom of the standings with 3 wins and 13 losses.

Most of the members of the 2005 Home Talent Team were veterans of the park program and Evansville high school baseball team. Others, like Jon Frey, the team organizer, had moved to Evansville with Home Talent League experience. Frey had played baseball since his T-ball days and helped to build a winning Home Talent team in Marshall, Wisconsin.

There was more than 20-years difference in the ages of the new Home Talent players, but they all share a passion for the great American game. The Home Talent League players of the past cheered them on and encouraged the team in their first year of play. Although the Jays' first season did not end as the fans and players hoped, the Evansville team and the loyal fans dream they will someday have a Home Talent championship team.

To learn more about Evansville's Home Talent Baseball and its newest team visit the following websites: and

There are many people to thank for contributions to this series, "Peck" Sperry, Bill Morrison, Natalie Golz, Gary Grossman, and Phil Montgomery. Special thanks to Jon Frey for his suggestion to write the history of Evansville baseball and best wishes to the Jays.

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