Baseball History in Evansville, Wisconsin
Researched and Written by Ruth
Ann Montgomery - Published in The Review, 2005
1867 | 1880s | 1890s
| 1900s | 1910s | 1920s
1940s | 1950s | 1960s
| 1970s | 1980s | 1990s
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
Scores of early games were much higher than today. The Evansville
team lost 25 to 76. By the ninth inning, Beloits 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 Haneys Base Ball and promised
to order quantities for clubs on short notice.
Haneys 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
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 players 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 its 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
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 Evansvilles team members was called to play for Cleveland.
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The Evansville baseball fans and team members knew there was potential
for a talented player to join the legendary baseball professionals.
One of Evansvilles 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 Broughtons 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
Broughtons 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 teams 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 Broughtons
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
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 Broughtons
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 Evansvilles 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 Evansvilles 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
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, Marengos teams was stacked with
Chicago and Elgin professional players. Harvards 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. Pikes farm. The Evansville team won the game 22 to
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
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 anyones 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 McEwens
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 captains 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.
Evansvilles 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. Evansvilles Broderick stepped up to the bat and hit
the first (and only) home run of the game. Fred Gillmans 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 (Freds brother) was Evansvilles next batter
and he made it to first base. Frank Broughton hit a fly ball that
Oregons player fumbled and Broughton got to second base.
The first of the teams 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 Evansvilles game. The Reviews
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
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.
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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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
"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
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
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
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
The Evansville High School team appears to have been heavily weighted
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.
TOP OF PAGE
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
TOP OF PAGE
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
CHAMPIONSHIP BASEBALL RETURNS TO EVANSVILLE
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
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
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
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
TOP OF PAGE
STAN SPERRY AND THE 1930s
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
BASEBALL OR KITTENBALL?
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
TOP OF PAGE
BASEBALL IN THE 1940s
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
TOP OF PAGE
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
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
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
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
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,"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
TOP OF PAGE
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
TOP OF PAGE
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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.
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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.
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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: http://www.hometalent.org
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
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