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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Baseball on the Peninsula


As we head into the baseball season; yes, we are still in spring training , but before we head into the regular season I thought it would be a great time to take stock of the great baseball played on the Gig Harbor Peninsula.

If you have had the opportunity to read  Along the Waterfront, a History of the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula Areas written by the students of 1974-75, Goodman Middle School, Gig Harbor, Washington, you have had the privilege of seeing pictures of some of the early teams.

1.  Early Home Baseball Team
2.  Vaughn High School Baseball 1937
3.  Cromwell Baseball Team 1913
4.  Arletta Reds 1915

But lets talk a little bit more in detail about the game itself and some of the people that played on the various teams.
Gig Harbor Team 1924 or 1925

In 1909 baseball games were played by the Schultz and Hunt families on Pioneer Way (7521) where The Peninsula Gateway was located in the late 1970-80s.  Those two families were joined by the Kimball boys from the top of the hill and the Cruver boys.

Longbranch was the best community known for its ball teams per The Peninsula Gateway  in an article written by Gladys Para on June 5, 1985.  Longbranch was definitelyy a “baseball town”.  They had a great ballpark, and a very stron team.  The team frequently traveled out of tow to Fort Lewis, Tacoma, and Steilacoom for games as well as other surrounding Peninsula commutes.  Gladys indicated a long held sentiment in Longbranch that “some folks liked to say that when the Rickert family came from Wisconsin in 1902 they brought kids (6 sons) and baseball to Longbranch”.

Marv August Rickert was born in Longbranch January 8, 1921 and went on to play professional ball for the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Red Sox.  Marv was an ‘emergency’ player in the 1948 World Series.  All told for you baseball buffs, he batted .211 in the World Series (4 for 19) which was won by Cleveland in 6 games. 

Gladys Para wrote another two-part article on the 1950 Gig Harbor baseball team in The Peninsula Gateway in July 9th and July 16th, 1986 paper.  Back in the 1950 the Gig Harbor team was unedited having won the 15th straight game.  “Bristling with confidence they promptly challenged the local businessmen to a game of softball Monday night at Goodman Middle School (now Harbor Ridge)”.

The outcome shocked the young team, especially since the businessmen’s team was made up of a bunch of “broken down, out-of-condition has-beens who stepped out on the field not knowing they were a bunch of broken down, out-of-condition has-beens because someone forgot to tell them.  ..(who) just went out and played a game of ball the best they could”.  On the other hand, the young team was a winning team that had overcome every obstacle the opposing teams presented.  But the outcome of this particular game…well it seems as though the has-beens weren’t as has-been as the young team thought..  The has-beens won the game 3 to 2!

The Gig Harbor baseball team faded out in the mid-50s when slo-pitch was introduced using players mostly over age 28.  Their games were played at Peninsula High School every Sunday.  Although the games were very popular with fans they never did as well as the Longbranch team.  In 1950 the Gig Harbor team beat Longbranch for the first and only time.
Gig Harbor Team (Unknown Year and players)

As well as Marv Rickert, Gig Harbor’s Gary Moore received offers from several teams such as Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees but unlike Marv, Gary declined.  Gary Moore’s history is explained in a blog the Harbor History Museum published on July 3, 2012.

And in that blog you will also learn the names of some of the other men and women from the Gig Harbor Peninsula that are members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Hall of Fame:  Nancy Jerkovich, Marco Malich, Paul Gustafson, Fran Pinchbeck, Russell White, Bill Turnbull, Denise Hoober, Frank Ruffo and two basketball players, Gregg Lovrovich and Roger Iverson.

So I hope this little taste of Gig Harbor’s history in the field of baseball will encourage you to get out and enjoy the game.  Anyone ready for some peanuts or crackerjacks at the old ball game?
Cromwell Baseball Team 1913: Front row: Felix Dagasso, Hartman Stang, Olr Olson, Knute Sande.  Back row: Edward Carlson, Manfred Samuelson, Victor Samuelson, Oscar Samuelson, Arthur Berntsen


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Denise Hoober is NOT in the hall of fame!! Untrue blogs aren't interesting just fantasy 😞

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please refer to 1974 McKnight's Food Women's Slowpitch Team - http://oldtimerbaseball.com/72-74Mcknights.html

    Denise Hoober is a member of the team and the team and its members is in Old Timer's Baseball Hall of Fame

    ReplyDelete