OLD-TIMERS BASEBALL GAME
Joe Pinkie was in our office several weeks ago talking about baseball history in Watertown. The topic came up when Joe learned the Watertown Cardinals were going to take a one-year "hiatus" from competition while the team reorganizes and works on getting a solid roster.
The fact that the Cardinals would not be playing this year brought back a flood of memories for Joe. He talked about many of the great baseball teams that played in Watertown, including the Watertown Cardinals and Hiawathas. Since that article Joe reminded us there was a third baseball team in the city for some years and that was the Crosby Squares which was sponsored by the local school factory.
Joe also recalled one day back years ago when baseball enthusiasts in Watertown pulled together a special "old-timers" day when the players of years gone by along with some of the more recent players got together for an exhibition game out at Washington Park.
That game was held under the auspices of the Watertown Baseball Association. Organizing the event was spearheaded by Bob Lessner, a popular name in local sports.
Back in the 1930s and 1940s the Cardinals and Hiawathas were always competing for supremacy on the local diamond, and it was decided for the old-timers game that two well-known managers would be called into action again.
Managing the Watertown Cardinals old-timers was Kermit Biefeld and managing the Watertown Hiawathas was Heine Maltz.
A host of familiar names were listed as potential pitchers for the game, but no one was ruled out from having a chance on the mount.
Those who were pitchers during their tenure with one of the two teams and who had agreed to come back for the old-timers game, which was held in the summer of 1969, were Ron Braunschweig, Dave Balmer, Don Drost, Don King, Les Pruefer, Bob Schauer, Louie Winkelman and Butch Zoellick.
The full list of players who signed up to participate in the old-timers game is a list many of our readers will recall well. They included William Beisner, Ronald Braunschweig, Glenn Braunschweig, Orrin Bisbee, Dave Balmer, Wallace Block, Richard Block, Herold Dettman, Don Drost, Lavern Ebert, Frank Engelbrecht, William Fitzgerald, Melvin Gruenewald, Paul Hoppe, Joe Hady, Lou Kuckkan, Don King, Wayne Kressin, Harold Kuckkahn, Vic Krueger, George Lewandowski, Erich Loeffler, Gordon Madsen, Earl Maas, Floyd Neubauer, Lester Preuffer, Herman Rohr, Ron Reynolds, John Steckling, Ben Schumacher, John Scullin, Arthur Schramm, Bob Schauer, Ernie Schramm, Martin Schramm, Ray Schumann, Arnold Schultz, Howard Smith, Herman Schumacher, Clarence Schumann, Herman Storbeck, Lester Theder, John Schumann, Robert Schultz, A. A. Ullrich, Dave Veldhuizen, Melvin Wagner, Carl Woelffer, Louis Winkelman, Wayne Wendt, Roger Wilkes, Carl Winkelman and Butch Zoellick.
Ewald (Spitz) Griep, who had been the official "batboy" for five different local baseball teams over the course 40 plus years, had consented to be the bat boy once again for this special game.
The results of the game meant little, but for the record Biefeld's Bombers defeated Maltz's Mashers by a score of 15-8.
Johnny Schumann was the top hitter, going 4-for-4. Biefeld's team had eight hits and Maltz's team had a dozen.
One of the oldest of the old-timers, George D. Weber, who played with the Hartig teams of about 1906, was on hand for the event but he used good judgment in not participating other than his cheering!
All totaled, over 500 people came out to Washington Park that day for this big old-timers baseball game.
Joe Pinkie was right about the game. It was a dandy and brought back memories for so many of the players and fans.
As we looked at that roster of "old-timers" we were surprised at how many of them we knew personally. That was quite an era of baseball and we're sure many of our readers will remember these names and they are likely to bring back some memories.
The game lasted only a couple hours in the afternoon, but the lively conversation, the beer and some food lasted until they had to turn on the lights at the diamond.
Joe told us, "Those were the days. We just had a ball, whether you were playing on the teams or in the stands cheering them on." I was always glad to be a part of that great era, even if it was only from the safe distance of the bleachers."
We expect to see Joe again in the coming weeks. He does like the warmer weather and can usually fit in a couple minutes of discussion before heading to his favorite pub for a pint of the golden lager.