KOM League Class D Baseball

Current stories about the men who played minor league baseball in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri league from 1946-52. Many went on to very long baseball careers while others were successes in other fields. This blog keeps up with them through what is called "The KOM League Flash Report."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Former KOM Leaguer found

Former KOM Leaguer "found"

The KOM League
Flash Report
Friday October 13, 2006

One of my favorite dates in history:

On this date, forty-five years ago, I was living in Davenport, Oklahoma but spent the early morning in Oklahoma City following a long day there on the 12th. It was even a longer day for my wife. At 8:15 A. M. on the 13th, Cynthia Lynn Hall was born. I headed back to Davenport with a stopover in Chandler, Oklahoma to do a live radio show on KUSH.

Gosh, the years evaporated as quickly as the early morning frost did this morning. This evening a celebration of that birth will be held at a local eatery. Forty-five years later that little group of my wife and daughter has expanded to a son-in-law and three
grandsons. No all that comes with advancing age is bad...well, maybe my advancing weight, loss of hair and increased wrinkles aren't all that great.

The Holloways enjoy contacts

John: Thanks for all the info. I clearly remember Dad telling about the home-run hitting contest, and I have heard him speak of Virdon and Heiserer.

Sam Holloway

Many Thanks
Ron Holloway

After hearing the news of the passing of Sam Holloway of the 1950 Independence Yankees a few of his former teammates passed messages to me which were passed along to Sam's sons. It appears they enjoyed hearing from those of their father's past.

Crab Orchards

John I just finished reading the latest K O M Report.There may be more than one but there is a Crab Orchard At Carbondale, Illinois----the home of Southern ILL. University.

Hope things are well with you and your family. Charlie Weber--2nd baseman for the 1949 Independence, Kansas Yankees

Ed note:

Crab Orchard, Tennessee was the place where the late Sam Holloway coached for many years.

Comments after mentioning a 2007 gathering of KOM Leaguers.

John, Hurray, hurray. The Lord willing and the creek don't rise you can count on us. Getter (Dick and Joan Getter--Dallas, Texas)

John, Great news. Will be there for sure. Judy and George Boselo-Canton, Ohio

Just a thought. Where is it written in stone that is has to be on a weekend? Desirable maybe, but absolute?

Joe Stanka-Fulshear, Texas

NAMESAKE Early August is a lot better many of us have grandchildren to care for and watch and school in Florida starts in the middle of August........Bucky Hall--Sarasota, FL

Premature death announcements

John, They are in good company! Wasn't it Mark Twain who said "The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated"? Dave Richwine

Ed note:

Dave Richwine would have known that quote since he went to Mark Twain grade school in Carthage at about the same time Yours Truly was attending Eugene Field grade school. The other grade school in town was Hawthorne and I'll let you all guess his first name. Of the three writers I guess you'd have to admit that Twain is more widely quoted than either Field or Hawthorne.

The two names mentioned as having passed away by Baseball America but have refused to "meet their maker" just yet were Jim Eriotes and Steve Polewski

Passing along obituaries

John: If you hear of the deaths of any major leaguers, I would suggest you sent them to me rather than Baseball America. I think one of their problems is receiving data from too many sources. I always verify data before I send it to them.

Bill Carle

Ed note:

There won't be many former Major Leaguers that Yours Truly comes up with prior to Carle hearing about them. The one brought to my attention late yesterday was Eddie Pellagrini.

New book

Hi John: I know this may be competition. Late last month David and Danny Mantle (along with another author) came out with a different kind of biography on their dad Mickey Mantle. What sets this book apart from any other sports book is the inclusion of interesting Mantle sports memorabilia (10 different reproductions in protective covers throughout the book) There are many new and previously unpublished pictures
in the book from the Mantle family. If you are a fan of the Mick, this is another book to add to the library. I expect the Mantle boys will join the author's circuit this month. The list price on the book is $35.00. I found the book to be very enjoyable.

Regards, Bob Imperato

Mickey Mantle School Advisory Board

New York City

To attend Mantle birthday painting unveiling

John I talked to Max (Mantle) and he said he was planning on going down there (Spavinaw, Okla.). My wife is doing fair thanks for asking. Johnny LaFalier

Ed note:

The place where Max Mantle is going is to Spavinaw to celebrate the birth of his first cousin, Mickey. Johnny Lafalier's wife and Mickey's
wife were sisters.

For the record, it appears Yours Truly and his wife will celebrate part of their 46th wedding anniversary that same day in Spavinaw, Oklahoma.

Former KC A's batboy glad to hear another reunion is in the offing

Re: Coming attraction: GOOD DEAL JOHN !!!

You must be in a good mood. You should be: Tomatoes are up and eaten, dog(s) doing well, MM books are continuing to free up space in your garage, retirement agreeing with you, doing stand up comedy routines (similar to the KOM reunions?), Walt has

calmed down, photos being well received and ................. you must have convinced Noel Anne to celebrate your wedding anniversary in Spavinaw, OK. on October 20. Obviously, she must be related to Marjorie Wallace (her favorite kissing cousin?) for you to accomplish such. You both will be well received at the dedication. Jim Jay

Ed note

Jim Jay knows just about everything. Marjorie Wallace was the lady instrumental in getting the Mantle celebration together. She is kin to
Mickey on he maternal side of the family. It just so happens that my wife's last name was Wallace up to October 20, 1960. After that she
was stuck with the one with which I was born.

Letter of the week

The most gratifying aspect of researching the KOM League rosters is locating someone after a long search. The latest person to
be located is Frank Winkler.

Winkler caught for the 1951 Pittsburg Browns. On page 114 of the book, The KOM League Remembered is a great photo of him in the crouch position as the Pittsburg signal-caller. Included with his 5-page handwritten letter was a photo of him in his Detroit Police uniform. I must say he hadn't changed all that much in physical appearance. From here on are the words are those of Lt. Winkler.

Dear John:

I surely enjoyed our conversation the other day. It brought back so many good memories of my time in Pittsburg, Kansas, a lovely
city with great people.

I signed with the St. Louis club on my birthday, February 1951. I had been scouted by quite a few major league teams and could have signed up but my dad said by signing with the Browns it would be quicker to advance, so I did.

In March I reported for spring training at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a former Army base. After spring training I made the Pittsburg club under manager Bill Enos. At that time I weighed approximately 170 pounds...I made the all-star team. Toward the end of July and August I lost weight and barely weighed 150 pounds.

It didn't affect my fielding or throwing, but the bats felt like they had lead in them. I ate many dinners at the Mitchell home, she kept after me to eat more. I ate milk shakes by the dozen to no avail. The heat at times was almost unbearable and those wool uniforms
felt like lead weights on your body. After the season I returned home to Detroit. The next year I reported for spring training at Thomasville, Georgia at another Army base. I made the Class B team from Anderson, South Carolina. I was having a good year,
Bob Otteson played right field. They decided to sent me to York, Penn. another Class B league but rated higher. I tried too hard to prove worthy, pressed and did not have a good year. I wish they had left me in South Carolina. Who knows, how things may
have turned out. The following year I played for Corning, New York in the New York/Pennsylvania league. I retired after the season from pro baseball. Some people said I retired too soon, that I had a chance to go further, but that never happened.

In 1954 I joined the Detroit Police Dept. We had a baseball team that year and 1955. We had 4 or 5 players who played minor league baseball and we won the championship each year. Due to financial constraints they never had a team after that. I was married to my wife, Bernice, in 1955 and we have been together for over 51 years, a great gal. We have a daughter and a granddaughter who will be 14 in December. She attends Shrine Academy, a Catholic School and is an honor student. She is an equestrian rider on
weekends and rides in shows.

During my time on the Departmetnt I was promoted to detective, to srgeant and finally lieutenant, at which rank I retired. I forgot to mention my daughter is an engineer with the Ford Motor Company. My son-in-law is a physicist with the same company. Speaking of baseball Gosney (Lloyd)--Pittburg '51) was as fast as anyone I caught. He had a terrific fastball, but he fell in love with a curve which is the only thing they could hit. I caught Ryne Duren who later played for the Yankees. He also was very fast. He had glasses like Coke bottles, which he took off, wiped them with a red hankie and stared in. He intimidated the hitters for they thought he couldn't see, and he let them think that. I also played with Tito Francona whose son now manages the Boston Red Sox. I played against Maury Wills of the Dodgers and Bobby Richardson of the Yankees. I never thought he would make the majors and he stayed the longest of all of them. So much for
my judge of talent.

The Police Department and City of Detroit experienced one of the worst riots in modern history. We had four-car convey and were shot at many times. Fortunately, none of us were wounded and this finally ended after about a week. The City has never fully recovered form this devastation. The downtown are is thriving, new stadiums, restaurants etc., but the neighborhoods in some areas never recovered.

After being promoted to Lieutenant I was put in charge of the Tactical Mobile Unit (Riot Squad.) I was there for approximately 10 years. In my early 50's they gave me a desk job at Police Headquarters. I was in charge of the Equipment Central Section and we bought all the weapons, cars, uniforms etc.. They gave me a new Department car and I had a secretary in my office. I stayed there for approximately 10 years until I retired.

Back to baseball. I also played for Tony Lupien who had played for the Red Sox and the White Sox. I remember one night I hit one that tipped the outfielders glove and hit the wall. It was a base hit, but since no one else got a hit they called it an error and gave the pitcher a no-hitter. The pitcher's name was Ron Kline of Bartlesville. Boy was I mad at that. On the team was the manager, Bill Enos who played first base. Second baseman was was Ken McGee. The shortstop on the team was George Wegerek, a Canadian. He was not a pitcher as stated. Third baseman was (Loyd) Simpson was released during the years. Also English (Ed note: Jim England) and Tom Skole arrived later. Right fielder was Bob Otteson and centerfielder was Joe Carolan, from Detroit--now deceased. Later came Stan Costales from Hawaii. I can't remember who payed left. Time has a way of claiming the memory. Some of the names look familiar, but I cannot place the face.

I remember traveling among the cities and stay at the local hotels. However, I think we traveled back-and-forth between Carthage and Pittsburg on our bus. How far was it between them? (Ed note Winkler's memory is correct. It was cheaper to drive the 60 miles round trip than put two guys in a room at $2 per room per night. Remember gasoline was about 20 cents a gallons in those days. Do the math. At 20 cents a
gallon that bus could make the trip for less than a buck-and- a-half. If Pittsburg put the club up at the Carthage's Drake Hotel the team bill for one evening would be about $15. Add to that the $2.25 meal money for a day then you're talking about big bucks.)

It is hard to believe we are all in our mid 70's or older. You will have to excuse the handwriting as I was trying to write as fast as I was thinking, impossible to do. I know things aren't in chronological order, as I finished a couple of paragraphs I would think of something I should have included aft I started another paragraph.

Well John, that’s about it for now, hard to believe its been 55 years. I am including a small picture of me in police uniform when I was 40 or thereabouts. That about sums up my history. Hoping to hear from you again. I have included my address, phone, and e-mail address on page one of this letter.

Sincerely yours, Frank.

Ed note:

If any of you fellows recall Frank Winkler, and would like to get in touch, I'd be happy to share his contact information.


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