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."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas eve, eve

The KOM League

Flash Report


December 23, 2006


Try this blogspot sometime: http://komleagueone.blogspot.com/

This site contains the previous 28 Flash Reports along with some photos. If you access this site it will prompt Google.com to add it to their frequently visited sites and thus it will enable others, searching the web for long-lost news about their loved one, a chance to locate something on the KOM league that they would otherwise miss.

I think that I should shut down the Flash Reports for a while and say

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

I might add that this isn't a bad Flash Report, read it and see why!

A Christmas visit

On Friday December 22, Ed Rush and his son Keanan paid a visit to the KOM League
Hall of Fame and "loaned scrapbook repository." Ed's grandfather was the business manager back in the early days of Carthage, Mo. baseball. That being the Arkansas/Missouri league. Last summer Ed sent a scrapbook with some great photos of early Carthage Pirate clubs and some great newspaper clippings.

All the material was identifiable, even though not all the photos carried the names of the players. For future research he left behind one 8X10 glossy of a Carthage Pirate club that never appeared in the local paper and it mystifies me as to who some of the players were. Some of the players were were Pirate jerseys but had on civilian slacks. They were a "rag tag" looking bunch, at best. I'm going to do some more research and attempt to figure out who some of those guys were. My inclination is that the photo was taken in the early spring and most of the guys never made the 1940 club.

Anyway, this case proves it pays to advertise. I left a few of the KOM League newsletterd in a local barber shop. A patron picked one up and sent it to Ed Rush in Hickory, North Carolina where he is the administrator of a hospital. The newsletter announced the 2006 KOM League reunion and when Ed saw "KOM League" it rang a bell. His grandfather, George, who served as the Postmaster at the Post Office in Carthage for many years had kept an immaculate scrapbook. Ed dug it out and allowed me to look it over for six months. I had to inform Ed that his grandfather and former Carthage manager and player, Woody Fair, had a feud about every other day as to how the baseball club should be handled. I guess Rush won the argument for Fair finished the season at Winston Salem as a teammate of Harvey Haddix et. al.

No need to go into "gory" details, but George Rush wound up in his latter years as a resident of Fair Acres Nursing Home in the southern most part of Carthage. One day he was missing. A search was conducted and he was located at the C & W Cafe located on the town square. That was his favorite eating place along with every player who ever played for the Carthage baseball teams. It was also the place where a number of Carthage Cardinals were shocked one evening, in 1946, to see the famous movie actor, Clark Gable, enter to have a bite to eat with Carthage Press sportswriter, Fletcher Cupp. Yep, everything happened in Carthage, in those days. Well, after all it was THE CROSSROADS OF AMERICA--the intersection of highways 66 & 71.

More from Holloway's teammate

Hi John, don't know if you ever located Neil Holloway but we got a note
from his son saying Neil died last Aug. After KOM he returned to his
hometown of Crab Orchard, TN. and coached baseball and basketball. Said he
talked often of the KOM league. Hope you already know all this.

Jim and I are fine. Trust you and family are well and looking forward to
the holidays. Best Wishes. Marge Qualls

Ed note:

Jim Qualls was a teammate of Neil Holloway at Independence in 1950.

A consultant role for the Editor?


I have a favor to ask you for my granddaughter. My granddaughter Katie has visions of writing a book or some facsimile of one. She is an English major with minors in movies and theater. Katie has just finished an internship with the Sean Astin Productions (Hollywood).

She is intrigued with my stories of the old Negro league. I guess my stories of playing against some of the teams and especially facing Ole Satch on numerous occasions made somewhat of an impression on her. Also the hardships they endured with no chance of playing in the big leagues at that time.

After reading of your recent problems this may be bad timing. But with your permission could she e-mail you explaining her concepts and questions. Don Annen --'50 Carthage Cubs

Ed reply:

Merry Christmas to you, Katie and the rest of the family. Anything I can do to assist her I'll be happy to do. Sounds like she is already far beyond me being much help. Thanks for getting in touch. Katie can e-mail, write or call me at her convenience. John

A Major League Christmas

Have a peaceful, restful and merry Christmas! Granddaughter Shannon Merced is hosting our gang this year------and I'm only bringing the dressing and
pies!!! That's a first except when we have been away at Christmas (Puerto Rico and Cuba). The way I've been procrastinating this year, I probably wouldn't
have been able to cook and get it on the table by evening anyway! I hope I can get the pies made!!
Take care--It's time for me to get my beauty rest! Bill's already getting his!
Shalom, Shirley Virdon

Ed note:

The Virdons granddaughter married former Pittsburgh Pirate, Orlando Merced.

A note from the past!

I notice that you received a Christmas card from the Speakes (Bob and Joan). We were both members of the same Baptist church in Topeka many years ago and, if it is not against your policies, I would like to have their e-mail address.

Best to you and all your family.

Chuck Stevenson--Austin, Texas

Ed note:

Mr. Stevenson and Yours Truly worked together for many years with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. During most of that time he was my boss. So, when he asks for something, he gets it, if I can accommodate his request.

Speaking of Christmas cards here are more

I've shared the messages in Christmas cards over the past couple of Flash Reports for the purpose of letting you that some of your former teammates and acquaintances are still around and at least able to sign their name, affix a stamp and get it into the mail. For some that is a significant accomplishment and I appreciate their kindness in doing so.

Len Vandehey--Carthage '51--Best wishes to you and Noel for a great holiday season and a rewarding 2007. We continue to enjoy the best of two worlds with our Wisconsin summer and the 2nd summer in the Rio Grande Valley......Again, the best of everthing. Van and Kathy.

Don Potts--Former Rock Hill, SC batboy.

Paul Nichols--'48 Independence Yankees. Paul sent along a photo of him and his wife at the 1996 KOM League reunion in Pittsburg, Kansas. They were in his "newly created" Independence Yankee/KOM League universal uniforms. Paul's note read "Think of you often." I take that to mean all the KOM League friends as well.

Dick McCoy--They sent along a Christmas letter and I was pleased to see where Dick's 102 year-old mother sent along her greetings.

Wayne Benstead--"52 Blackwell Broncos. His card stated "Thanks for looking after all us old guys for another year, we like the attention. Keep it up if you can."

Ernie Chastain--"52 Iola Indians.

Alex Muirhead-'48 Ponca City . Alex mentioned that he hoped the icy blasts we received in the Midwest in recent days has let up. Fortunately, it has. But winter hasn't officially arrived as yet.

Betty Bumgarner--Wife of Jack Garner '46 Bartlesville. She had some kind words about Yours Truly's mother. The Garner's cared for her mother who lived to be 91. For those not familiar with some of the names, Betty is the sister-in-law of actor James Garner.

Jack Cooley--'49 Pittsburg. In his card Jack stated that he hoped to make the KOM League reunion in 2007. He is affiliated with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League.

Don Mitroff--'50 Chanute Athletics. His note said "Once again, thanks a million and congratulations for keeping the KOM alive! Mitroff resides in Anaheim, CA.

Joe Gilbert--'50 Iola. The long-time Hall of Fame coach in Oklahoma high school athletics sent along some clippings of the day by day activity of the 1950 Bartlesville Pirates. They are in the midst of a countdown to the American Legion World Series to be held in Bartlesville from August 24 to 28th, 2007. It appears the 1950 Bartlesville Pirate season is featured each day in the Bartlesville Examiner, leading up to that event. In the article, sent by Gilbert, the prominent names were Harry Neighbors, Dean Miller, Charles Sauvain and Don Hinchberger. The sad thing about that listing is that only one of those men are still with us, Dean Miller.

Jim West--"50 Chanute Athletics. For a few years West has been "missing." His Christmas card was addressed to "Mr. KOM and Noel."

Boyd Bartley--Ponca City 1947-52 sans 1951. The Bartleys card read "The reunion this past September was lots of fun!"

Ramona Long--Widow of Alvin N. Long '49 Independence.

Johnny Lafalier--Merlyn Mantle's brother-in-law.

Rev. Thomas J. Imfeld--'47 Independence & '50 Chanute. In handwriting Father Tom said he couldn't write so that I could read so he was sending a form letter. I read both quite easily. He seems to be doing well but is thinking about cutting back on bird hunting.

Bob Nichols--"48 & '49 Iola Indians. The Nichols live in Canton, Ohio.

Ralph Tielsch--"50 Iola. Tielsch sent along a lot of information in his card. His card note read "I see by the latest newsletters that the old KOMers are leaving us one after another. Nobody can hold back old age. I can't believe I'm 75. I just lost two of my siblings, in the last three months, to cancer. However, as long as you can keep the KOM Remembered going while a few of us are still alive, I'm happy to send my dues. (Enclosed) Thought you would get a kick out of this write-up. (It was a gathering of former Pittsburgh Pirates. Tielsch is shown in a photo with "the real" Frank Thomas.)

You will notice they moved me up a few classifications for special effects. (The article had Tielsch playing Triple A baseball in the KOM League.) I'm still hanging out with all the big leaguers thanks to my buddy, Dick Groat. We just had our Christmas Party at PNC Park. They all treat me great and most of the folks would never know my baseball highlight was the KOM League. Elroy Face, he of the 18 win --1 loss season, and I are very good friends and play a lot of golf together. Groat owns one of the best golf course in Western Pennsylvania, so we have a lot of our outings there. Pat and I are leaving for Florida after the holidays. We are so lucky to be able to be able to spend the winter there--our 12th." Best Wishes: Ralph and Pat Tielsch

Dan Dondero--'48 Chanute Giants. It scared me when I received this card for the return address had the name of Lucille Dondero on it. When that happens, 99% of the time that portends that the husband has passed away. I was pleased to open the card and see Danny's name thereon. Dondero is the former Chanute Athletic who "borrowed" the team uniform at the close of the 1948 season. In an act to clear his conscience he sent it to Yours Truly in the mid 1990's. He rationalized that I was now the "head" of the KOM League and if I was in possession of it then all would settle the matter. The Donderos still reside in Cortlandt Manor, NY.


Obituary sent from Bill Dunstone


I found this on the Yahoo Groups Minor Leagues site. You probably already have the info and put it in the Flash that I devour when I get them but the memory is not as good as it use to be so if you don't have this info, you do now. Bill Dunstone

December obituaries

Posted by: "ewash25" ejw2@comcast.net ewash25

Thu Dec 21, 2006 3:09 pm (PST)

I conducted a search of baseball player obituaries in the 'America's
Obituaries' part of NewsBank – GenealogyBank and found obituaries
for the following players --December 8

Alex Coleman – 1933 El Dorado (Dixie), 1933 Oklahoma City (Texas),
1934 Tulsa (Texas), 1936 Omaha (Western), 1939 Decatur (Three-I),
1939 Columbus (South Atlantic), 1940 New Orleans (Southern), 1940
Mobile (Southeastern) ,
1946 Chanute (Kansas-Oklahoma- Missouri)


The career of Coleman cited above somewhat from what was shared in the Flash Report earlier this month. This obituary is more accurate as far as Coleman's profession career is concerned. The Flash Report indicated where Alex was playing ball during the 1941-45 era. Basically he was playing industrial league baseball in Wichita, Kansas.


In case you old-time baseball fans missed it!

Cecil Travis; Washington Senators Legend

By Matt Schudel

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 22, 2006; Page B06

Cecil Travis, a sweet-swinging infielder with the Washington Senators in the 1930s and '40s, whose stellar career was interrupted by World War II, died Dec. 16 of congestive heart failure at his farm in Riverdale, Ga. He was 93 and was one of the oldest surviving former Senators.

For years, historians and former players have debated the merits of Mr. Travis's truncated career, which is one of the most tantalizing what-if stories in baseball history.

At his peak, he was one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, and his lifetime batting average of .314 is the third highest of any shortstop in history, trailing only those of Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan.

Ted Williams, Bob Feller and other baseball greats have said Mr. Travis belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame despite a relatively brief career in which he played only nine full seasons. In 1993, Williams, the famed Boston Red Sox slugger, told The Washington Post: "Cecil Travis is one of the five best left-handed hitters I ever saw."

Mr. Travis joined the Senators as a 19-year-old rookie in 1933, replacing an injured Ossie Bluege at third base. Arriving by train just 30 minutes before the opening pitch, the lanky young Georgian had five hits in his first game and reached base six times. His five-hit debut remains a major league record, equaled only by Fred Clarke in 1894.

Led by player-manager Joe Cronin, the Senators reached the World Series in 1933 -- the last time a Washington team won the pennant -- but Mr. Travis was left off the Series roster. The next year, he won a starting job in the infield and hit .300 or better for eight of the next nine seasons. In those years, the Senators never finished higher than fourth.

After becoming the regular shortstop in 1937, Mr. Travis blossomed into one of the finest players in the league and was named to three all-star teams. He had his best year in 1941, the now-legendary final season before World War II, in which Williams batted .406 and Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games.

Mr. Travis quietly had a season that was almost as good. His batting average of .359 was 2 percentage points better than DiMaggio's and was second only to Williams's. Mr. Travis led the major leagues with 218 hits, including 39 doubles and 19 triples. He had a 24-game hitting streak and struck out only 25 times the entire year.

On Christmas Eve 1941, when he was 28 and in his athletic prime, Mr. Travis received a summons to enlist in the Army. He missed almost all of the next four seasons. He was on active duty in Europe in the winter of 1944-45 when he suffered frostbite to two toes on his left foot.

He was discharged in time to play 15 games for the Senators in 1945, then returned to the lineup full time in 1946.

Before World War II, Mr. Travis had a career batting average of .327 and was clearly becoming the dominant shortstop in the American League, ahead of such future Hall of Famers as Luke Appling, Lou Boudreau and Phil Rizzuto.

Afterward, he was not the same player. He hit .252 in 1946, slumped to .216 the next year, then retired. The quickness and pop were gone from his smooth, left-handed swing, but he refused to make excuses.

The Flash Report revisits the newest controversial book


I don't know if you are aware that Peter Golenbock has written a book about Mickey Mantle called 7:The Mickey Mantle Novel. It is written "in Mickey's voice" and the premise is him telling, from the afterlife, about all of his sexual encounters. The book is referred to as an "inventive memoir" and it has been seen by some key people in the industry who have called the book "porn", "vile" as well as other things. Worse yet, Golenbock claims that these are stories that he heard from Mickey's teammates over the years! You can go to http://publishersweekly.com/article/CA6399499.html for that review from Publishers Weekly. The ironic thing is that this book is being published by the same publisher, Regan Books, that was going to publish the O.J. Simpson book "If I Did It". Regan Books is a subsidiary of Harper Collins. I contacted them and asked who I could write a complaint to and they gave me the email address of complaints@harpercollins.com. Please read the review from the link above and if you agree with me that this book should never get published, please pass the word to your readers. Maybe as a collective angered voice, we will be heard.
Best Regards, Randall Swearingen


And finally, the end of a great career for my buddy, Corky Simpson

http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/frontpage/36484.php (Pull this up to see his photo)
Published: 12.22.2006

Corky balances his box score one last time

It began 48 years ago in Carthage, Mo. It ends here today
Tucson Citizen
Adiós, adieu, happy trails, goodbye.
There. It didn't hurt a bit.
And while we're at it, auf wiedersehen and arrivederci. I would say the same to my friend Pete Tountas in Greek, except the free translation function on my computer would explode.
This is my final day at the Citizen. I'm retiring as a day-to-day sportswriter. Today my records tally. Hopefully, my box score balances.
It's been a great adventure, the past 32 years at the Citizen, 30 of them in the toy department. I am grateful to those who hired me and to those who let me hang around.
I am thankful to those who read my stuff.
But more than anyone else, I am indebted to the most wonderful person of all, my favorite figure in sports or any other category:
Marge, my wife.
My career began in a log cabin. . . . Well, not really. It began 48 years and 10 months ago in an old brick building in the beautiful little town of Carthage, Mo. I accepted the offer of E.L. Dale to take a sabbatical from college and become the sports editor of the Carthage Evening Press.
I would soon learn that I was also the fire department, police, highway patrol and building-permit editor.
My ambition was to make a little money and return to college. I did the former - I made very little money - but never got back to college.
I quickly fell head over heels in love with this business.
And to borrow from an old fishing buddy of mine, Herman Melville, who said of his whaling ship: "This is my Yale College, this is my Harvard . . ."
The newspaper craft is my alma mater.
From Jurassic-looking iron monsters spitting out lead and lines of type, through flat-bed and tubular presses. From clanky but dependable typewriters loaded with paper and carbon copies, to disdainful and temperamental computers.
From multiple editions and deadlines a day to the 24-hour online computer-news operation that never sleeps.
I've pretty much seen it all.
My contribution has been sports writing. The part most fun to write about is the human heart.
And with all due respect to the Internet-iPod-blogger generation, permit me to share the One Great Truth as I see it: Ink on newsprint is better than pixels on screens.
Try it some time.
I've borrowed already from Melville, so permit me to use the words of a couple of poets to put this departure in perspective.
First, my favorite, by Stephen Vincent Benét:
"Things will happen, news will break and time will pass away."
And finally, from George Meredith:
"The old hound wags his shaggy tail,
"And I knew what he would say:
"It's over the hills we'll be bound, old hound,
"Over the hills and away."
Thanks for everything. So long.


Did you notice that Kilroy, a feature on the header of long ago Flash Reports made his Christmas comeback appearance?
John G. Hall

John G. Hall


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