Summer Baseball, 1964

by John Tischer on February 15, 2010 · 0 comments

Fonda Baseball Team 1964At last the baseball season had arrived.  This would be a new team for me, as I had played baseball the summer before in Sioux City making the 13 year old All-Star team.  So new team, new players…it had to be accepted and I had to prove I could play.  In the 60’s you played Little League baseball at ages 10, 11, 12, Babe Ruth baseball at 13, 14, 15 and American Legion at 16 and 17.

Our coach was Bill Evans.  Bill was one of the finest men I ever met.  Very competitive, yet Bill would never yell at you, he would just give you that look of  “what are you doing?” and made you feel so bad cause you let him down.  Bill was an excellent baseball man and had played the game and could teach it.  He also was a WWII veteran who played the game to win the game.  WWII veterans had a much different outlook as they were placed in an environment where losing was not acceptable.   They did bring a mentality of winning at all costs.

Today with our socialized athletics we don’t get that.  When I played, the best 9 played until the game was decided.  Then the substitutes would get their turn.  It was understood, and if you wanted more playing time, then you had to get better.  Today, it is you have to play everyone at least 2 innings and they have to get to bat at least once.  Where is the reason to get better if you get to play whether you are good or not?  I never liked that approach and still don’t.

We had a pretty good team that summer.  I pitched and played shortstop.  We had 17 kids on the team: Gerald Johnson, Tim Stauter, Doug Kruchten, Bob McLaughlin, Dean Harrold, Gary Stairet, Danny Noethe, Ed Fitzgerald, John Sebben, Terry Cole, Les Miller, Doug Evans, Garry Fulcher, John Hartnett, Larry King, Pat Murphy and myself.  Roger Evans was the batboy.

Our best player was Doug Evans.  He was a very good pitcher as well as a great catcher.  Doug threw really hard and when he caught, he would throw the ball back to me harder than I threw it to him sometimes, especially if he was mad.  Evie did have a temper. 

Some of the other good players were Terry Cole, Larry King, Pat Murphy and John Sebben.  We were having a pretty good year till we went to Newell to play a game.  It had been raining and their field was very wet and muddy.  Doug Evans went to slide into second base and his cleats caught and he broke his ankle.  Doug, to his credit, would not let that deter him and he tried to play with a leg in a cast.  He caught the rest of the year.  Doug, Pat Murphy, and myself made the county All-Star team that summer.  Doug continued to catch and in the All Star games it hindered his play.  He hit into a couple of double plays to end innings and hard for him to chase after the passed balls.  We lost both games and had an early exit from the tournament.  No fault of Doug’s, yet he was put in a situation that was not the best for him or the team.  In those days there were no designated hitters so you played or you sat.

I believe the team ended up with a 10 and 6 record; however, would not swear to that one.  We played in a beautiful ball park, as Fonda had one of the best.  Old time ball park.  Big green fence, good hitting background, grass infield and a nice backstop.  Nothing better than playing right after the grass had been cut and could smell the freshly cut grass.  Nothing better than baseball in the summer in Fonda.  We always had a big 4th of July celebration and every year played a game.  We used to have big crowds of 500 to 600 people come to those games, followed by fire works afterwards.  These were the best of times.

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