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       1922 Post Team                              

 

REMEMBERING BASEBALL IN BATTLE CREEK

 

By Alex W. Fisher

 

 

Those of us who have lived in Battle Creek 60 or more years have, naturally, seen many changes. Among these changes we find sports and leisure time activities - specifically baseball. While my own memory goes back to the ‘20s, here are a few bits of information, going back as far as records were kept.

 

The 1870s showed the first indication of baseball in Battle Creek, with a team called the “Nine Spot,” claiming to be the first organized team in Battle Creek (actually softball). The year was 1877 and they “cleaned up on all the teams in the area in the ‘70s.”

 

Most of these teams were formed in the various parts of town and played at any open space that was appropriate. In the 1880s old “blue-laws” were invoked, outlawing baseball games on Sundays. Probably the first ball park, with a grandstand for spectators was near Goguac Lake, where Jewel Food store is now located (Capital and Columbia).

 

The first Battle Creek team to play in an organized league was the “Battle Creek Crickets” in the Southern Michigan League. This was in the early 1900s.

 

Arch Flannery, born in a log cabin in Kentucky, came to Battle Creek as a young man to play with the “Crickets.” He attended Battle Creek College for two years and graduated from Western State College (now Western Michigan). He was hired as Battle Creek public schools’ first physical education teacher. It was during this time (1921) that he, as a volunteer, started the first organized baseball league in the city. I consider it a privilege to have known this man, first as a physical education teacher in my elementary grades, through later years, and finally playing golf with him. After his retirement, at his beloved Binder Park he was referred to as the “father of baseball,” in Battle Creek, as he had much to do with the bringing of the amateur baseball series to Battle Creek. He was the city recreation director from 1929 until 1963.

 

This is a picture from 1907 of a Battle Creek Paper Co. team; the factory later became Carton and Container Division of General Foods. From this time on, many teams were formed, as many more industries were growing in Battle Creek. Along with this expansion of teams, naturally, came the improvement of baseball diamonds, with bleachers and/or covered grand-stands for spectators.

 

The most popular of these parks was Postum Ball Park, on East Michigan Avenue, soon to become a neighborhood park (not for ball). Others were Kellogg’s, behind Southeastern Junior High, Grand Trunk, near their shops, Liberty Park at Goguac, American Legion Hospital and VA Hospital, in the Ft. Custer area. Wilcox-Rich, later Eatons, had diamonds near their plant on 20th Street.

 

Some of the schools where later teams played were Central, Urbandale, Verona, Southwestern and Southeastern. Many lake resorts had ball diamonds, for ball games on Sundays and holidays. Ramona Park, on Long Lake, which is now Portage, was the scene of many games between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo teams. Other diamond sites were Clear Lake at Dowling, Lee Lake, Duck Lake and Coldwater Lake. Also, most of the nearby towns, Climax, Athens, Bellevue, Hastings and Marshall, had teams that played against Battle Creek teams.

 

One other indication of early baseball activity in Battle Creek was an account of an “old-timers” game in 1932 between the “Woodmen of the World” team of 1911-12 and the “Modern Woodman” of 1932. Of course really big games of the ‘20s and early ‘30s were between Kellogg’s and Post’s semi-pro teams and also between them and the other traveling pro teams. The Kellogg and Post games drew many fans. The newspaper referred to these games as “clashes,” with some “bitterness” between fans. There were almost always “double-header” games on weekends and holidays. A hard-fought “play-off” series was held at the conclusion of the season. Many times Post and Kellogg brought in players from minor-league teams to make the series more competitive, (and controversial).

 

Both Kellogg and Post played many touring teams, among them “House of David” from near Benton Harbor. This team was made up of former major and minor league players. They brought their own portable lights, such as they were, and generators mounted in buses. These were the first night games that I was to see. House of David players all let their hair and beards grow, in accordance with their religion, but hardly unusual today. House of David also introduced “donkey baseball” to Battle Creek. I recall feeding and leading donkeys around when this team came to town. On at least one occasion “Babe” Dedrickson Zaharias, female Olympic athlete pitched a few innings for House of David, against Post.

 

There were many outstanding black teams from Negro leagues, which toured throughout the country. Most of them played at Post Park. One of these was the Kansas City Monarchs, who also brought portable lights. Another touring black team in the ‘30s had Jesse Owens, Olympic gold medal winning sprinter.

 

Many major-league teams or groups of players “barnstormed” after the season was over. They would play Post or Kellogg or a city all-star team. Of these I can remember Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics, about 1931, “Babe” Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1928; also “Gabby” Hartnett, Lon Warneke, Guy Bush and some Chicago Cub players. I also recall the 1934 exhibition game between Detroit and St. Louis and the 1935 game between St. Louis and Boston. Among St. Louis players were Leo Durocher, “Pepper” Martin, Joe Medwick and Manager Frankie Frisch. Boston was managed by Joe Cronin. Detroit players were Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, and Charlie Gehringer.

 

Newspaper scrapbook records indicate the first organized city baseball league was formed by Arch Flannery in 1921, a forerunner to the first city industrial baseball league, organized in 1924. Seventeen teams expressed a desire to join at their first meeting. These included - Duplex Printing Press, Michigan Carton, Battle Creek Sanitarium, American Legion Hospital, Clark Tractor, AB Stove, U.S. Wire, Grand Trunk, Armour Grain, (Ralston), Rich Steel, (Eaton’s), Woodmen of the World, (lodge), American Steam Pump, Consumer’s Power, Maple Street Methodist Church, Post Cereal employees, BC Tigers, BC Independents, Presbyterian Church, Rumleys, BC Bread Wrapper and an all-black team called the “Cloverleafs.” Duplex was the city champ this first season.

 

The year 1925 saw the establishment of the Battle Creek Recreation Association, covering all city sponsored sports. Within this organization were the city baseball leagues, governed by a group headed by George Genebach, head of U.S. Wire Co. This group drew up various rules, etc., of the leagues. The league games were played at twilight. Five innings was considered a legal game. The two teams agreed before the game started how many innings they would play. Membership fee was $1.00 per team. A special event of July 1925 was a game at Post Park, between the Chicago White Sox and a local all-star team. Chicago won 8-1.

 

Even back in this era, there was much praise for the facilities and players in Battle Creek. One newspaper account stated, “it is a matter of note that Battle Creek now has a greater percent of recreational players, proportionate to population, than any other city in the U.S.A.”. In 1925 the city title,, was won by Duplex, defeating Rich Steel, (Wilcox-Rich/Eatons), before “many rabid fans.”

 

The year 1926 saw 18 baseball teams in the in four leagues. Nichols and Shepard (later Olivers), was a new team in the league. Eight diamonds were available for league games.

 

The year 1927-28 showed further increases in number of teams. The leagues were designated as Major, Municipal, Industrial, and Fraternal. Two “brackets” of teams were created for play-offs, the final games drawing 4,000 and the final double-header 1,500 fans. Vets Hospital was city champ in 1928. All-star teams played games against the city champs and challenged Post and Kelloggs.

 

In 1929 indoor softball was introduced. It was played in gyms at schools, Kellogg’s and Sanitarium Union (Central Field House). A total of 40,500 attended ball games during the 1929 summer season.

 

In 1930 baseball activity increased and participating teams included Legion Hospital, Grand Trunk, Duplex, Wilcox-Rich (Eatons). The first three Class A games were seen by 2,300 fans and one Class B game, Bishops vs. Eagles, attracted 3,000 fans at Southwestern Junior High field. A total of 66,000 saw local leagues baseball games in 1930.

 

Other organized activities were appearing in city recreation programs such as golf, tennis and softball. A “highlight” of the 1931 season was a boy’s baseball school, sponsored by the city recreation department and Enquirer and News. This was directed by “Bob” Knode, BC Central coach, and assisted by Carroll Grimm, manager of Post, and other Post players. This activity was held once a week during the spring and summer months. As many as 300 boys showed up each week, and were grouped by age and by position played. One day, Harry Hellman, former Detroit Tiger great and later radio announcer, dropped by unannounced. He had heard of the program. Later the Tigers sent several dozen baseballs. The newspaper printed a story of one persistent 12-year old who hiked 9 miles (one way), from South of Stanley Corners to attend this baseball school. No mention was made of how he got back home. About this time, American Legion-sponsored baseball teams were formed. This program was for boys 17 and under, playing for a city championship and chance to compete in regional and state tournaments.

 

In 1932 nine American Legion Junior teams competed in the city. Among teams competing in city league play in 1932 were VA Hospital, American Steam Pump, Taylor Produce, BC Transportation (called Street-Carmen), and Columbia Cleaners. Many games were purposely scheduled at VA Hospital and American Legion Hospital diamonds, in order to entertain veterans at those facilities. 1932 also produced a crisis for city recreation, as some city commissioners did not want to appropriate money for the program, “while some people were going hungry.” A city-wide election was held and the vote was 8,000 for and 7,000 against the funding. $1,800 was given to the recreation program.

 

1933 was the 9th season for city organized programs. There were 34 teams competing sponsored by drug stores, bakeries, gas stations, coal companies, along with the larger factories and organizations. American Steam Pump won the city title. All-star teams continued to be picked for special games. A Kalamazoo - Battle Creek series was played with 2,500-3,000 spectators at each game.

 

In 1934 the federal WPA (Works Progress Administration) was authorized to create more neighborhood ball diamonds on vacant land, and to make improvements to Bailey Park. New teams in city leagues were Quality Grocers, Welcome Café, BC Gas, Postum Juniors, Perfection Dog Food. Kellogg discontinued their semi-pro team in the early ‘30s. Postum found it harder to find teams to play and draw people to pay to watch. Bailey Park diamonds, with many free games to watch, became popular with the fans.

 

1935 saw improvements to Bailey Park, with 100 WPA workers employed. The newspaper stated that this was the “depression’s gift to Battle Creek”. The season started with 42 baseball and softball teams and 4,000 fans attended the season openers. New teams in the major league were IPI, Tatums and CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) from Ft. Custer. The first State Municipal Tournament was held in Battle Creek. IPI won the City title and also the State Championship and went to the National playoff at Dayton, Ohio. There they were eliminated, but only after defeating a Des Moines, Iowa team 1-0. In that game Bob Feller, as a 16-year old, struck out 18 IPIs. More than 87,500 fans attended baseball and softball games in 1935. Many major league scouts began coming to Battle Creek; some players were signed to contracts.

 

In 1936, IPI again won the city title, but was eliminated in state tournament. The “new” Bailey #2 diamond and brick grand-stand was dedicated. The brick was from the streets of Battle Creek, when the street car tracks were torn up. Arch Flannery and other Battle Creek people convinced C.O. Brown, president of the Amateur Baseball Congress (ABC), to move the national series to Battle Creek. Many of the series games and the finals were played at Post Park. There were no lighted diamonds. There was much praise from out-of-town people, including Frank Navin, owner of the Detroit Tigers, regarding the fine baseball facilities in Battle Creek.

 

In 1937 Post joined the AA City league and competed against IPI, U.S. Wire, Michigan Carton, Legion Hospital and others. U.S. Wire won the city title and was host team to the ABC. Post won the state title, but was eliminated early in the National series. This was the first ABC series in Battle Creek. U.S. Wire and St. Paul, Minnesota played for the national title at Post Park, before 7,000 fans. St. Paul won.

 

The year 1938 saw further increased participation in city leagues, with 44 “hardball” teams competing in six leagues. An “all-star” game between AA and A league players drew 3,000 fans. The ABC series in the fall of 1938 had 14 teams competing. A season ticket for all the week’s games was $1.00. US Wire was, once again, host team and once again Post won the state title. US Wire was eliminated and Post went to the final game, losing to Oklahoma City before a crowd of over 7,000.

 

For several summers, including 1939, the St. Louis Cardinals held try-out camps in Battle Creek. Big-league hopefuls from all over the state,came and played for a week. A total of 585 tried out; 16 were signed to big-league contracts. In 1939 Post and US Wire were again city finalists (pictured below). In the ABC series, Post lost to Linden, New Jersey, before a crowd of over 7,000.

 

 

In 1940 Bailey Park had 6 hardball and 2 softball diamonds. The first mention was made of games under lights at Bailey. Birmingham, Alabama, defeated Post for the ABC championship. In 1940 another capacity crowd was on hand at Post Park.

 

In 1941 Ft. Custer had a reception center for civilians entering the military service. They were able to keep ball players, for their team entry in the city league. The major city league consisted of teams from: H.B. Sherman, Ft. Custer Reception center, two Clark teams, Post, US Wire, Grand Trunk and others. It was the biggest year yet for baseball in Battle Creek from the standpoint of the number of teams and spectators. Ft. Custer Reception Center defeated Post for the city title and went on to win the National ABC. More than half of the Reception Center team was made up of former Battle Creek players, now in the army.

 

1942 saw the country at war and more war materials being produced by local industries. Many ball players had either gone into service or were working so many hours in local plants that they couldn’t find time to play baseball. That is except for Ft. Custer, which had 5 teams entered in city baseball leagues. Other highlights of summer of 1942 were an Old-timers game which attracted 600 fans. The Detroit Tigers played exhibition game with Post, before a capacity crowd at Post Park. The admission was $1.00 per person. The ABC tournament definitely was cancelled.

 

In 1943 more players went to military service. There was no ABC series.

1944 was mentioned as the 21st Battle Creek City recreational baseball season. Among teams competing were Clark’s, Percy Jones Hospital, Post, Kellogg Field Air Base, and the 701 Military police at Ft. Custer. The BC Chamber of Commerce gave $50 to become a member of the National Amateur Baseball Federation, a smaller amateur baseball organization than the ABC. June 6, 1944, D-Day was solemnized and all city league games were called off. Later in the summer the Detroit Tigers played a city all-star team. War bonds were sold and also were given as door prizes. 3,000 servicemen were admitted free, part of a capacity crowd at Post Park. Clark’s won the city title in 1944 and took a train to Youngstown, Ohio, to compete in NABF tournament they returned the runner-up.

 

In 1945 shortages of gasoline and other items persisted, but 32 baseball and softball teams competed. The Civic Recreation Department stated this was the fewest number of teams in ten years. Clark’s won the city title in 1945 and once again competed in the NABF tournament in Youngstown, Ohio.

Many veterans returned in1946, , therefore more teams were competing. Post management turned Post Park over to the city. More games were played at Post Park and an admission charge was put into effect to help pay for city maintenance of the park. Battle Creek and Kalamazoo teams maintained a rivalry for many years that drew good crowds. One game between Post and Sutherland Paper drew 4,000 fans at Post Park. Clark’s once again won the city title. They applied to enter the NABF tournament, in Youngstown, Ohio. As the time drew nearer, they still hadn’t had confirmation. On further checking, they learned that they had been turned down because they had one black player,the 1st baseman Zack Redden, on the team. They withdrew and competed in the 1946 ABC, in Battle Creek, and won the National tournament. That same year Clark’s played, and beat, a team of major leaguers that included George Kell at 3rd base.

 

In 1947 witnessed the introduction of girls’ organized baseball in Battle Creek. The Grand Rapids “Chicks” played several games here. Clark’s the host team won the city title for the 6th straight time.. Oliver was runner-up.

 

The year1948 was listed as the 25th city recreation baseball season. Bailey diamond #2 had additional bleacher seats added and on July 7, 1948, the first night ball game, under new lights, was played there. The next three weeks over 1,000 fans, per game, turned out to see night games. Admission was 30 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. Oliver’s and Clark’s played for the city title and drew 15,000 fans to the 4 games. The expansion and lighting of Bailey diamond #2 was called the “highlight of the year 1948.” Rogers Hornsby visited Battle Creek and praised the city baseball programs.

 

Teams in the AA league in 1949 were Post, Percy Jones Hospital, Model Plumbing, Michigan Carton, Clark’s and Oliver’s. City-wide Junior baseball programs were organized for boys 9-15 years old. Clark’s won the city title and Kalamazoo Sutherland won state, and then went on to defeat Clark’s in the National ABC. The final game drew 6,000 fans.

 

 

Early in the season of 1950 a city all-star team played the Brooklyn Dodgers at Post Park, before 5,000 spectators. The Dodgers had won the National League pennant, in 1949 with black players Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson (pictured above), and Don Newcombe competing for the first time. The game was sponsored by Post, through a friendship with Branch Rickey, Dodger general manager. Admission to game was $1.00 per person. AA league teams were Post, Clark, Michigan Carton, Hall Drug, Oliver, Ft. Custer, Reichart Steel. Clark’s won the city title; Oliver was runner-up. The State Tournament also was held in Battle Creek.

 

In 1951 “The Battle Creek Belles,” girls’ baseball league team, made their debut, playing at Bailey with 3,000 spectators on hand for the first game. In the city leagues were 21 baseball and 12 softball teams. The eight teams in AA were Oliver’s, Ft. Custer, Clark’s, Farm Bureau, Hall Drug, Percy Jones Hospital, Michigan Carton, and Eaton. Increased military activity due to Korean War brought more personnel to Ft. Custer. They detained some former major and minor league players, among them Ray Herbert, who had spent a few seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Ft. Custer won the city title. Oliver was runner-up and Kalamazoo won the National ABC. This season of 1951 marked the first year in over 30 that Post didn’t have a baseball team, either semi-pro or major city league entry.

 

A cold and wet spring hurt the start of the 1953 season. In the fall ABC tournament Kalamazoo Sutherland won the State title and battled host Hall Drug for the National. Hall Drug won before 6,500 fans.

 

The year 1954 brought a “new look,” as the ABC held regional play-offs. Battle Creek had been home of the ABC series for the past 17 years. Hall Drug defeated Kalamazoo Sutherland for this region and survived a grueling train ride to Watertown, South Dakota, and cold weather with less than perfect playing conditions, to end up National runner-up.

 

In 1955, a “Michigan State League,” was formed, consisting of teams from Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Saginaw and Pontiac. The Behnke team represented Battle Creek, playing on Saturdays and Sundays. The AA city league had five teams, Behnke, Michigan Carton, Hamblin CC, Eaton and Archway Cookies, who had taken over the Hall Drug team. Archway was host team, and Behnke won the State title by defeating Kalamazoo Sutherland. Once again a big crowd witnessed this BC-Kazoo rivalry. The 1955 state high-school baseball tourney was held in Battle Creek, with Battle Creek Central winning their 4th straight mythical state title, under coach Gerry Graham. The Kansas City Monarchs visited Battle Creek accompanied by the ageless “Satchel” Paige.

 

The 1956 season opened with some new team names, with familiar player names. The new teams were Verona Vending, and “State Champs” (independents). Verona won the city title. There was discussion of the amount of money needed to sponsor a team and that Battle Creek didn’t have the necessary sponsors to field a competitive team from 1953 to 1963. It might be noted that during this period there were no larger local industries sponsoring teams in the major city baseball league. Some of the team sponsors were Civics, Elks Lodge, BC Glass, Weigand Construction, Union City, Halstead’s, Bryant Elks, Strohs, Pfieffers, Athens, Actionrod, and Marshall AC. More and more city recreation department emphasis was put on the Junior baseball program.

 

In 1959, more improvements were made to Bailey Park, which now had a total of 13 diamonds, including a lighted softball field. Detroit Tigers held a try-out camp and clinic.

 

In 1960, it was announced that Battle Creek would host the 7-team National AABC finals for three more years.

 

The year1961 was the 40th year of organized city league play. There were 26 city junior league teams. Seventeen major league scouts were on hand at the AABC series.

 

Once again in 1962 the Detroit Tigers held their baseball clinic and 500 13-year olds and younger showed up. The lineup of teams in the 1962 major city league was BC Civics, Coldwater, Custer Post, City Cab, Independents, Nashville, Hastings, Marshall, and Bellevue. The many outlying towns entered to have a chance at qualifying for the state tournaments and also for having regular league competition. Fewer out-of-town touring teams were playing here, as it was difficult to draw a crowd. Softball participation continued to expand and “slow-pitch” made its appearance. Connie Mack teams youth under 18 grew and then would progress into the city major league.

 

The year 1963 brought the retirement of Arch Flannery, called the “father of baseball” in Battle Creek. There were 6 leagues of slow-pitch softball. Coldwater Kerr-Dean Realty won the city title and went on to win the National AABC the first local team to win in 10 years. There were 3,000 fans at the final gameand 15,000 for the series. Total profit was $984.74.

 

The AABC was named Stan Musial in 1964. Bob Feller threw out first ball for the series opener. Barney’s Glass won the city title before 800 fans, described as the “largest crowd of the season.”

 

In 1965 teams in major league dropped to five, while there were 44 teams in adult slow-pitch softball leagues. C.O. Brown, president of the ABC since its beginning, died suddenly in the AABC office in the Youth Building.

 

Lincoln Hackim became president of AABC in 1966 and moved the AABC office to Akron, Ohio. Larsen of Coldwater won the title, and was host to regional and national tourney. It was noted that only 1,200 fans were on hand for the series final game. The series finished with a deficitand the community was asked for more support.

 

Battle Creek was the site for the 1967 series. 2,200 fans saw “King and Court” 4-man touring fast-pitch softball team play against a local team. Many slow-pitch tournaments were held on weekends throughout the season.

 

In 1968 Joe Cooper, local player, coach and teacher, became National AABC vice-president. Only five teams were in major league, including Eaton’s, Clark’s, El Grotto after many year’s absence , Coldwater-Dean, and BC Roofing. Due to lack of support and enthusiasm in Battle Creek, officials of AABC threatened to move the series from the city. Local business people appointed Gerry Graham, recently retired teacher, coach and athletic director, to head up the Battle Creek Health and Recreation Association. This group started a fund drive early in 1969, and tried to inspire interest in the AABC series. Among the teams in the major city league was a new entry, Ferrari Hair Stylists. It was noted that 31 out of 75 players in the major league came from outside the Battle Creek metro area. Clark’s won the city title and was host team for the Series. There were 26 major league scouts on hand, bigger crowds, and the series realized a record profit of $3,000.

 

At the beginning of the 1970 season there were 61 slow-pitch softball teams in city league play. A Slow-pitch Metro Association was formed to govern and administer the leagues. In the mid-70s the sports pages were dominated by slow-pitch activities.

 

In 1973 there were 86 slow-pitch teams in seven leagues. The sports news called it “slow-pitch frenzy” and listed 1,500 players on 126 teams in 1974. When Coldwater Deans and Ferrari played off for the city title, there were 3,000 fans at each of the last two games. Coldwater Deans won the AABC National title, the first local team to win since 1963, when Coldwater also won it. The Coldwater sponsored team had won the city title or appeared in the AABC series in 1963-65-69-70-71-72-73. They won the National title 1963 and 1973.

 

Tom Harter resigned as president of the Health and Recreation Association. This group had sponsored the Musial series for the past several years. Harter had been BC City recreation director for many years. The year 1975 saw this group renamed “The Battle Creek Area Amateur Sports Association.” Arch Flannery died in Tennessee at age 86. Ferrari Stylists were city champs. The state and national tournaments were moved up to an earlier date to accommodate the growing number of college players and hopes for better weather, which had caused problems in past years. There was an indication of added city support. A record 151 teams of slow-pitch softball participated in city leagues.

 

Ferrari Bros. won the city title and was host team in 1976. Joe Ferrari was honored as AABC “Sponsor of the Year,” for the many teams sponsored in city leagues. The 1976 series had good weather and was a successful tournament, with over $2,000 profit. Gerry Graham, active in junior baseball programs as a coach and athletic director for over 50 years, died at age 72. Jim Drikakis, AABC series director, city recreation director and sports official for over 20 years, died while serving as a referee at a high school football game. Drikakis Softball Field was named in his honor.

 

Dean’s of Coldwater dropped out of the city major league in 1977, after 15 years of competition. Slow-pitch softball continued to expand with a record 185 teams and 3,000 players. Del Seat Construction was city league champ and host team. Ferrari was runner-up. The year 1977 was the 40th year for AABC. Comments were, “great series” and “improved crowds.” During the 70s Mrs. C.O. Brown visited at AABC series time and declared “Battle Creek the home of Amateur baseball.” Also “the city’s responsiveness led to its being picked to return, year after year.” It was noted that 51 of the 105 players in the city major league lived 50 miles or more from Battle Creek. About this time the quality of local teams was questioned, noting that during the past five years (‘73-’77) the host team had not won a single series game. However, EPI Printers went to the finals in 1979.

 

In 1981 the city major league consisted of Ferrari’s, EPI Printers, Del Seat Construction, EPI Astros, Hastings, OK Wrecking, Olivet, and BC Independents. It should be pointed out that in early days there were several baseball leagues, whereas now these teams made up the one hardball league, other than junior baseball. Stan Musial attended the 1981 series, and threw out the first ball.

 

In 1982 major league was divided into two divisions, A and B. Lincoln Hackim, president of AABC, died in Akron, Ohio.

 

Lou Brock, former St. Louis Cards player, appeared as special guest and threw out the first ball to open the series in 1983. Joe Cooper became president of AABC, its 3rd president in its 48 year history. Ferrari was city champion and OK Wrecking was runner-up. Ferrari went to the finals of AABC series. Ferrari continued to dominate city major league and won the National AABC title in 1986.

 

In looking back from the beginning of baseball in Battle Creek up to the present, one would have to note the change in purpose, and the make-up of personnel, of the city teams. Originally, young people came to Battle Creek from nearby towns to find a job. If that company had a ball team and the person was able to play for recreation, so much the better. As time went on and teams wanted to be more competitive, they searched for, or recruited, ball players for the teams, and got them jobs. Not to be overlooked was the publicity and advertising value, which became more purposeful in later years.

 

Beginning in the 30s, more and more college players joined teams for summer play. Presently many of the teams in the AABC finals are composed of college players. In 1972 the tournament was changed from the last week of September to the first week, to accommodate the large number of college players. Many players who have competed in the AABC series had moved up to the major leagues. Each year a major league player is honored and added to the growing list.

 

All in all, even with the numerous invasions of other recreational activities, through wars and depressions, somehow baseball in Battle Creek has managed to survive. Maybe the vast improvements to the facilities at Bailey Park in 1989 may mark the beginning of a new era in baseball in Battle Creek.

 

Acknowledgements –

- Local history room - Willard Library

- My own memory

-(Written in circa 1990)