Hearst Sandlot Classic – 1947
- U. S. All-Stars 13; Journal American All-Stars 2
As Good as it Gets
“The game he (Babe Ruth) graced so well was graced once more by Ruth as it passed another unforgettable milestone with the greatest sandlot game in history” – Lewis Burton, New York Journal American.[i]
“The Hearst papers would have us on the move for every minute (of our stay in New York). (They would have us) in the spotlight on this famous old Manhattan Island, showing us off, and promoting the game for all it was worth, and each of us loved every minute of the astronomical, All-American week!” – U. S. All-Star center fielder Bobby Hoeft.[ii]
Newspaper headlines were focused on the confrontation between Howard Hughes and Senator Owen Brewster in hearings in Washington. Front-page stories also addressed the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the cold war between the united State and Russia.
But the kids were focused on the game of their young lives – as they should have been.
The agenda was similar to that of 1946 with a couple of additions that made the trip more memorable. At West Point, the boys met with All-American footballers Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. At Bear Mountain, while waiting for dinner to be served, the boys could look out toward the basketball court and see Pee Wee Reese and Pete Reiser of the Dodgers taking a few shots. A busy agenda was expanded to include a tour of the clubhouses at Yankee Stadium by Joe DiMaggio.
When the U. S. Stars first arrived, most of them assembled for a group picture atop the Hotel New Yorker with the Empire State Building in the background.
On Friday, August 8, after practice at Yankee Stadium, the boys went to Gracie Mansion to meet the Mayor of New York, saw the observation tower at the Radio City Music Hall, and in the evening were taken by bus (the Yankee team bus) to the fights at Madison Square Garden, where they had ringside seats. For young Bobby Hoeft, his night was made complete when none other than the great entertainer Lena Horne sat next to him.
Major league baseball was on the menu and the boys saw the Giants play the Braves at the Polo Grounds on August 9 after a morning practice at Yankee Stadium. The practice featured an intra-squad game with pitchers Ken Fingeroid and Don Ferrarese starting for the respective clubs and looking impressive as did pitcher Jimmy Ehrler of San Antonio. Ray Schalk’s team lost to Occar Vitt’s team 2-1 and the loudest hit of the game was a triple of the bat of K Chorlton of Seattle. That evening, they were back at the Radio City Music Hall for the show. In those days, the price of admission included not only the floor show featuring the Rockettes, but also a movie. The floor show was called “Melody Time” and featured dancer Paul Haakon, soprano Marjorie Williamson, and the symphony orchestra playing Rimsky-Korsakow’s “Capricio Espagnol.” On that particular night, the movie was “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer”, an innocent piece of fluff starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Rudy Vallee and 17-year-old Shirley Temple – all grown up. The film was in the midst of its World Premium run and the four stars were at the theater that evening, according to Bobby Hoeft of the U. S. All-Stars, and seated two rows in front of the players. It was announced that Shirley Temple would be attending the Hearst Classic the following Wednesday night.
On Sunday August 10, there was no practice, but the agenda was full. A boat ride around Manhattan Island was followed with an excursion to the amusement park at Coney Island. On Monday, the boys, after another intra-squad game, departed up the Hudson River for the annual trip to West Point and the Bear Mountain Inn. On the evening before the game, they saw “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Ethel Merman on Broadway.
Manager Ray Schalk was in awe of his strong and talented players. “My goodness, these boys must have been eating raw beef to get into shape for this game. They’re big and rugged. If they can hit a ball as far as fellows their size should, then these short Polo Grounds fences will be a cinch for ‘em.”[iii]
The 1947 Hearst Classic was played on August 13, and the Class of 1947 produced nine major leaguers. Playing for the U. S. team, which won a lopsided 13-2 decision, both New York runs scoring in the final inning, were three men who would be reunited in the 1960 World Series – Gino Cimoli, Dick Groat and Bill Skowron. After New York pitcher Mike McCarron pitched a scoreless first inning, the U. S. All-Stars erupted for four second inning runs against McCarron and three third inning runs to open up a big lead. One of the big blows for the visitors was Skowron’s eighth inning inside-the-park homer of Rudy Yandoli, the first home run in the short history of the Hearst Classic.
The game was the highest attended in the history of the classic, as 31,232 attended the game which featured a Golf and Baseball exhibition by Babe Didrikson-Zacharias, an appearance by boxer Rocky Graziano, and a performance by the Clown Prince of Baseball, Al Schacht, who had also performed at the 1946 Hearst game. Also in attendance was flyer Bill Odom who had recently set a new record by circumnavigating the globe in 73 hours and five minutes, and tennis player Alice Marble. Prior to the game, there was a music and drill exhibition by the Raymond A. Garbarina Memorial Post 1523 drum and bugle corps.For the great Didrickson-Zacharias, who hailed from Denver, it was her first look at a big league ballpark. As she noted, “I’m going up for myself to have a gander at what a major league park looks like. I had never seen a big league game nor park before last night (August 11) and before I start telling people that I’m apt to knock a drive out of the Polo Grounds, I want to see that place!”[iv]
Rabbit Maranville was back at the helm for the New York All-Stars and had help from coaches Frankie Crosetti, John “Red Corriden, and Dick Rudolph. The Rabbit prior to the 1946 game had said this about Al Schacht. “Wherever Al goes, he brings with him all the side-splitting humor of baseball. No big league World Series is official without him and we felt the same way about our own game. That’s why we were so tickled when Schact informed us today (August 9) that he will participate. We had Al on hand for our New York City sandlot championship game last year (1945). That was the one which made a success of the Journal-American’s first (local) sandlot program.”[v]
Once again, top umpires were involved. This time around, Dolly Stark, who had been an arbiter the prior year, was joined by American League umpires Charlie Berry and Hal Weafer.
And the game was televised in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, and Schenectady with Bob Stanton and Jim Stevenson, the Giant announcers, at the microphones.
Steve Ellis served as Master of Ceremonies.
The icing on the cake was one of the last public appearances by the game’s honorary chairman, Babe Ruth. Ruth took his seat at the start of the third inning of the game and was accorded a standing ovation that stopped the game. His lateness was due to his accepting a series of engagements that would tire the healthiest of men. He was late due to two prior engagements. First, he had visited the bedside of a sick youngster in New Jersey. He then, before heading to the Polo Grounds, made appearance at New York’s amateur boxing finals where he signed more than a few autographs.[vi] The Babe was interviewed during the slugfest by Jack Conway of the Boston Daily Record. Ruth proved himself to be quite the prognosticator when he said that “I would not hesitate to predict that a least a half-dozen of the 23 boys on the United States All-Stars will be in major league baseball within three or four years.”[vii]
Left-handed pitcher Don Ferrarese of Alcanes High School in Lafayette, California, represented Oakland and was selected the game’s MVP. His high school career had been sensational. He never lost a game and struck out an average of two batters per inning.[viii] In his senior year, his six wins included a no-hitter, four one-hitters, and a two-hitter. He and Alameda’s Ken Fingeroid earned the trip to New York by starring in the annual all-star game at the Oakland minor league ballpark. Ferrarese hurled all nine innings, had 12 strikeouts, and was credited with the win, as his County All-Stars defeated the City-Catholic All-Stars 6-5. He also had a pair of singles in the game. Fingeroid also pitched the complete game for the Catholic All-Stars, striking out 11.[ix]
The Hearst papers sent Ferrarese, Fingeroid, and the two San Francisco players, Cimoli and Reno Cheso on the trip of their lives. First, Ferrarese and Fingeroid accompanied the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League to Hollywood where they met several celebrities including Maureen O’Hara and Joan Crawford. Then it was up to Vancouver and across Canada and on to New York. They left San Francisco in cool weather and were not prepared for the heat wave that they encountered when they arrived in New York. On the afternoon of game day, August 13, the temperature was expected to approach 95 degrees. One thing Ferrarese remembers is that the uniform that he brought along with him was an old woolen softball uniform that was not quite as nice as some of the uniforms worn by his teammates.
Ferrarese and Fingeroid first saw action during an intra-squad scrimmage on August 9, and Don also performed during the team’s final tune-up on August 11. He did so well during practice sessions that he earned the start in the Hearst Classic. He remembers that, “In the week leading up to the big game, we played two inter-squad scrimmage games at Yankee Stadium. In the first game, I struck out six or seven of the nine players I faced and said, ‘Hmm, this is really fun.’ I just let it all sink in. It was a dream coming true. So on the day of the second inter-squad game, I struck out another six or seven or something. I was on fire. Nobody was hitting me.”[x] Manager Ray Schalk said, “That boy Ferrarese has just about the sweetest control for a young lefty that I’ve ever seen.”[xi] In the second practice, he allowed only one unearned run in five innings of work.[xii]
In the Hearst game, he pitched three hitless innings, facing only 11 batters, and struck out six batters in gaining the victory. At the plate, he contributed to the onslaught with a run-scoring double. After the game, he was carried off the field to the clubhouse in center field by Cimoli and Cheso. In accepting his MVP award, he said, “Thanks He also got to meet Babe Ruth. Ruth was quite ill with throat cancer and was barely audible, but he asked to speak with the game’s MVP. Upon his return to California, Ferrarese was given a parade in which there were upwards of 113 cars.
Ken Fingeroid, Ferrarese’s travelling companion, was the fourth U. S. All-Star pitcher to appear in the game in New York. In the game’s final inning, he was touched up for two runs but struck out the side, bringing the total number of strike outs by the U. S. staff to 16.
Ferrarese’s travels in 1947 were not through at the conclusion of the Hearst game. Although the Esquire’s Game had been discontinued, several of the sponsoring newspapers got together and sent a group of deserving young men to Chicago where they were treated like the All-Americans they were. The agenda included three days of watching baseball at Comiskey Park, and a meeting with baseball commissioner Chandler. Ferrarese was accompanied east by Bill Leiser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The highlight of the trip was the annual contest between the College All-Stars and the Chicago Bears. The sponsoring newspapers were hopeful of revising the All-American Baseball Game but their attempts would prove fruitless.[xiii]
Ferrarese enrolled at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, not far from San Francisco. During his time at St. Mary’s he roomed with Gus Triandos who, while Ferrarese was at the Hearst Game was preparing to travel east to play in Brooklyn Against the World. Triandos would play in the majors for 13 years and Don and Gus were major league teammates with the Orioles from 1955 through 1957.
Ferrarese started his minor league career in 1948, signing with Casey Stengel who was with the Oakland Oaks. He first played for Vince DiMaggio with their Class-C Stockton, California farm club, but, after walking 48 batters in 32 innings and posting an ERA of 7.31 in seven games, he was sent to Class D Klamath Falls, Oregon for the balance of the season. After another three minor league stops and a two year hitch in the Army, he made his major league debut with Baltimore in 1955. He started the season with the Orioles and appeared in six games before being sent to San Antonio in the Double-A Texas League. He got off to a 9-0 start and a 1.48 ERA with San Antonio and was promoted to Oakland of the PCL. He returned to the majors in 1956 and played with five teams over the course of eight years posting a 19-36 record.
His major league career did have a few highlights. Ferrarese, like most pitchers, likes to dwell on his hitting prowess. On May 26, 1959, he was pitching for the Indians against the White Sox at Comiskey Park. He started that day and, in his three plate appearances, had three consecutive doubles. The only pitchers in the American League who had done this previously were Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth. Nobody has done it since Ferrarese. He pitched the first six and one-third innings that day, allowing no runs and three hits.
The May 26 contest was scoreless through four innings when he came to bat in the fifth inning with two outs and Woodie Held on second base. Ferrarese’s second double of the game scored Held with the game’s first run, and Don came around to score on a double by Jimmy Pearsall. Two innings later, with the score 2-0 in Cleveland’s favor, Ferrarese came up once again with Held on base and two outs and once again delivered a run scoring double to drive in Held with Cleveland’s third and final run.
Although, he had a three run lead and had allowed only three hits in his first six innings on the mound, Ferrarese was unable to complete the game. At the conclusion of the sixth inning, there was a 23 minute rain delay. When Don took the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning, his arm had stiffened up. Thus, when he allowed his sixth walk of the game with only one out in the bottom of the seventh, he was removed from the game and Jim Perry finished up the shutout.
After his baseball days, Ferrarese has been successful in business, and is still working in real estate in Apple Valley, California in 2015, sixty-eight years after appearing in the Hearst Game.
Gino Cimoli represented the San Francisco and was accompanied to New York by teammate Reno Cheso, U. S. All-Stars coach Oscar Vitt, Vitt’s wife, and sportswriter Walter Judge. The group departed San Francisco by rail on Saturday August 2 aboard the Twentieth Century Limited. It was the first train ride ever for Cimoli and Cheso. During a stopover in Chicago the boys saw their first major league game, and encounter between the Cubs and Cardinals on August 4. They also got their first dose of heat, as the game was played in 97 degree weather. The following evening, they were the first of the U. S. All-Stars to arrive in New York, and took in a game between the Giants and Phillies at the Polo Grounds. The following day, they saw former San Francisco Seal Larry Jansen in action as the Giants defeated the Phillies 5-2. The following day, Cimoli and Johnson met with Jansen. Vitt got more than a little attention during his time in new York and, appeared on one of the area’s top radio program’s “Luncheon at Sardi’s.”[xiv] He was interviewed by Frank Graham of the Journal American and said, “Great kids (Cimoli and Cheso). Walter (Judge) and I travelled hundreds of miles and looked over 6,000 sandlotters, and these are the best. You’s like them, I’m sure.”[xv] The first practice was held at Yankee Stadium on August 8.
Cimoli was better known for his basketball feats in high school. He only played baseball in his senior year, batting .607. He continued to excel at the Examiner baseball school, which opened on June 23, and was selected for the Hearst squad. He opened eyes in New York during his team’s intra-squad game on August 11, slamming a double and a triple. After completing high school, he attended junior college and played semi-pro ball in the San Francisco area. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and his first year in organized ball was in 1949 when he split his time between Nashua, New Hampshire and Montreal. He finally made it to the majors in 1956 and was selected for the National League All-Star team the following season.
When the Dodgers and Giants moved to the left coast in 1958, Dodger manager Walt Alston had Cimoli bat leadoff in the first ever West Coast game, when the Dodgers visited the Giants at Seals Stadium in San Francisco. After 1958, Cimoli was traded to St. Louis, where he slugged 42 doubles. From there it was on to Pittsburgh, where he was a member of the 1960 championship team (“They set all the records, but we won the game”). By 1962, he was with Kansas City and, during 1962-1963 his 26 triples were the best in the majors. He retired after the 1965 season, and took a job with UPS.
On the afternoon of October 17, 1989, Cimoli and his friend Big Ed Silva went to Epplers for coffee after Gino completed his shift at UPS. Then the rumbling began, as San Francisco was experiencing one of its more turbulent earthquakes. Gino and Ed ran out into the street and, in short order, the UPS truck became an ambulance. Gino and Ed checked the houses along Scott Street. Cimoli entered one of the homes and saved a woman who had been trapped on the third floor. He helped out other victims as well, travelling throughout the Marina area.[xvi]
Cimoli was one of two candidates from the San Francisco Examiner baseball school to be chosen to go to New York. In 1947, once again, Oscar Vitt headed up the program, and was assisted by Johnny Verges, Walter Mails, and George Wolfman, coach at San Francisco’s Mission High School. Further help was offered by former Coast League shortstop Bernie Deviveros, who gave an exhibition in sliding.[xvii] After one week, the field of hopefuls in San Francisco was cut down to 30 and two intra-squad games later, 15 young men were selected to represent San Francisco in the regional All-Star game at Seals Stadium. In the first of those intra-squad games, both Cimoli and Cheso doubled to make a good early impression. In the second of those games, Lloyd Dickey impressed the coaches by going 4-for-4 and pitching four innings. Lloyd signed on as a pitcher with the San Francisco Seals and played nine minor league seasons, mostly at the Triple-A level. His record was 82-73.
The baseball school was not only for the older kids. The two week session in San Francisco attracted 5,000 enrollees ages 10-18, and some of those youngsters would return in subsequent years for a try at the big trip to New York.
So as to reach even more kids, the school, after two weeks on the playgrounds of San Francisco went on the road to various communities in Northern California. Walter Judge chronicled the “tour” through Santa Rosa, St. Helena, Petaluma, San Rafael, Vallejo, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Lodi, Stockton, and Exeter mentioning the names of so many hopefuls whose dreams would not outlast their teenage years. At Stockton, Vitt got his first glimpse of Al Facchini, who would be selected to go to New York in 1948, and who would play 10 seasons of minor league ball. At the completion of the ten city trip, Vitt and his associates chose the Northern California team for the big game at Seals Stadium.
The San Francisco and Northern California All-Stars squared off on July 20 at Seals Stadium. While in San Francisco for the big game, the Northern California youngsters stayed at the Palace Hotel. Actor William Bendix was scheduled to be on hand to present awards and help out in roles ranging from batboy to coach.[xviii] However, due to a scheduling conflict, he had to withdraw, and actor Eddie Bracken came to entertain fans with his “The Rookie Pitcher” pantomime.[xix] The boys, prior to the big game, rubbed elbows with area sports celebrities at the San Francisco Press Club on Friday night and went to the dinner show at the Forbidden City Chinese Nightclub on Saturday. The players’ uniforms came courtesy of the Pacific Coast League. League president Clarence “Pants” Rowland was en route to the game, but had to cancel when his flight was grounded in San Diego. The San Francisco team wore the home whites of the Seals and the Northern California team wore the gray road uniforms of the Oakland Oaks.[xx]
Among the 14 boys selected from Northern California was first baseman Wayne Belardi. Belardi was not selected to go to New York for the Hearst Game but would sign a bonus with the Dodgers and went on to play parts of six seasons in the majors with the Dodgers and Tigers.
On July 20, 1947, at Seals Stadium, the San Francisco All-Stars defeated their Northern California counterparts 8-0 in front of 15,000 onlookers. Cimoli stared in the game with three hits and three RBIs. He also excelled in the field at third base.[xxi]
The other San Francisco representative was Reno Cheso (his given name is Oliver Anthony Cheso). In the game at San Francisco, he reached base in each of his plate appearances (including two walks) and drove in a run with a single. His status for the game in New York became doubtful when he hurt his arm making a throw in one of the early practices. However, he mended by game time, and started the game at second base. In his first at-bat, he singled in two runs. He went back to San Francisco after the Hearst Game in New York. Although he never signed on with a major league club, he enjoyed many seasons in the minors, mostly playing for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. In 1953, he had his best season with the Seals, he batted .297 with 11 homers and 80 RBIs. In eight minor league seasons, the infielder batted .286.
Dick Groat, who also appeared in the 1948 Hearst Classic, was an All-American basketball player at Duke and one of two Hearst alums to play both major league baseball and NBA basketball. He represented Pittsburgh in the Hearst Classic, by virtue of his performance in the Pittsburgh Sun-, Telegraph All-Star game at Forbes Field on August 5. The game had been rained out when originally scheduled and the boys took to the field after a game between the Pirates and the Reds. Among those involved in selecting the boys to go to New York was Ottie Cochran, a Pittsburgh businessman highly involved in Sandlot ball and Pirates’ great Honus Wagner.
Groat was representing the Swissvale Legion, and played for the “East-West” squad. As Groat stated, “I was fortunate enough to be one of two players picked to represent Pittsburgh both as a junior and a senior in high school in Hearst All-Star games in New York. That’s how I knew I had special talent. Scouts saw me both years but I turned them down when they offered me contracts after I graduated. As much as my father wanted me to play major league baseball, he wanted all his kids to get college diplomas before doing anything else.”[xxii]
Actually, in 1947, Dick’s older sister tried to dissuade him from going to New York. He went into the Hearst Game in Pittsburgh as a defensive replacement for John Caravola and singled in his first at-bat. Then, with his team trailing by three runs and runners on first and second, he tripled to close the gap and scored the tying run in the top of the eighth inning. The game was called after the completion of the top half of the eighth inning due to darkness.[xxiii] The triple came off Joe Zugay, who had represented Pittsburgh in the 1946 classic.
After graduating from high school in 1948, Groat went to Duke University. His first competition came during his sophomore year at Duke and he was off to a very good start. However, he left school on February 10, 1950, missing the end of the basketball season and the entire baseball season in Durham. He returned to Duke in the fall of 1950 and simply excelled during his final two years in college.
He earned first team Helms Athletic Foundation All-American status after his junior year in 1951, when he set an all-time collegiate scoring record with 831 points. He put his squad into the finals of the Southern Conference tournament with a game winning shot against William and Mary, tying the tournament single game scoring record with 31 points. In the final against North Carolina State, Groat, who was selected tournament MVP, once again scored 31 point to set a tournament record of 85, but the Wolfpack defeated Duke 67-63. Turning to baseball, he batted .386 and was named to the All-American team. That summer, he was offered a baseball contract by Branch Rickey of the Pirates but elected to return to Duke for his senior year.
He was named to the first team All-American squad and garnered the United Press Player of the Year honors in 1952. On February 29, 1952, he wrapped up his regular season in basketball with a record performance, scoring 48 points as Duke defeated North Carolina before 7,000 fans who gave him a tremendous ovation as he left the game with 15 seconds left to play. He averaged 26 points a game in his senior season at Duke, as the Blue Devils won their last 13 games of the regular season. [xxiv] In the Southern Conference tournament, he scored the winning field goal as Duke edged Maryland in the quarterfinals. He followed that up, tying his own tournament single game scoring record with 31 points as Duke defeated West Virginia 90-88, before losing the final against N. C. State.
Groat’s Duke team won its conference baseball title in his senior year and went on to play in the NCAA District 3 Tournament. Wins against Tennessee and Rollins College put Duke in the finals against Florida University. Against Florida, Groat went 2-for-5 with a triple as Duke advanced to the NCAA Championship Tournament in Omaha with a 4-3 win. Coach Jack Coombs in his final year at Duke led his team to Omaha and in the first game, with Groat getting three hits, the Blue Devils trounced Oregon State 18-7. Losses to Penn State and Western Michigan ended the team’s dream of National Championship.
He had promised to sign with the Pirates after he had completed his basketball and baseball careers at Duke. Not long after his final collegiate game on June 14, Groat signed with the Pittsburgh. He joined the Pirates at the Polo Grounds on June 17, 1952 and saw his first action the following day. He batted a team-leading .284 in 95 games and finished third in the Rookie-of-the-Year balloting.
After the 1952 season with the Pirates, he returned to Duke to finish his degree and played 25 games with the Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBA. The next two seasons were spent in the Army and he rejoined the Bucs in 1955. He remained with Pittsburgh through 1962, batting .300 or more on three occasions. In 1960, he batted a league leading .325, was selected for his second All-Star team, and was voted the National League’s MVP, as the Bucs won their first pennant since 1927 and their first World Series since 1925.
He played with the Cardinals from 1963 through 1965. In 1963, he led the National League in doubles with 43 and finished second in MVP Balloting. In 1964, he picked up his second World Series ring as the Cards defeated the Yankees in the World Series. He also was named to the last of his five All-Star teams. After his playing days, Groat returned to the Pittsburgh area, pursuing two sports related interests. He and Pirate teammate Jerry Lynch built and ran the Champion Lakes Golf Course in Laurel Valley, Pennsylvania and Dick did commentary for the University of Pittsburgh basketball broadcasts.
Bill Skowron, known to his legion of fans as “Moose” hailed from Chicago. The Weber High School senior earned his way to New York by winning the Herald-American’s “Home-Run King” Contest in March, 1947, and prior to coming to New York in 1947, played in a game in Milwaukee featuring all-star teams from Chicago and Milwaukee. In the August 1 game at Milwaukee’s Borchert Field, Skowron, already known for his home run hitting, played shortstop, as the Milwaukeeans defeated the Chicago squad 10-7. In the game in New York, Skowron was a headliner when his eighth-inning inside-the-park homer to deepest center field was the first home run in the history of the Hearst Sandlot Classic. He launched the ball beyond the reach of New York’s Steve Hamersky, and it rolled all the way to the wall. Skowron was called safe at the plate by umpire Berry, his head first slide bearly beating the catcher’s tag.[xxv]
Skowron went on to play collegiately at Purdue and in 1950, his sophomore season, set a Big Ten Conference record with a .500 batting average (20-for-40). He also led the conference in total bases, amassing seven extra-base hits.[xxvi] He only played one varsity season at Purdue. He signed with the Yankees in 1950, and tore things up on the farm. In 1952, at Kansas City, he hit 31 homers with 134 RBIs and a .346 batting average. Believe it or not, they made him stay another year in Kansas City. He began the 1953 season with an 18 game hitting streak. In 1954, he was called up and played with the Yanks for nine seasons. He finished his career in the National League with the Dodgers. Over the course of his career, he had 211 homers.
Chicago’s other representative in 1947 was chosen at the annual Herald American All-Star game on July 1 at Comiskey Park. Floyd Brown’s City squad defeated Lou Lange’s Suburbanites 4-0, and starting pitcher Eugene Nelson of Fenger High School was chosen to accompany Skowron to New York. Nelson had led his school team to the Chicago city championship in 1945 and 1946. The only reason that his team did not win in 1947 was that his coach decided to give another hurler the start. By the time, Nelson entered the game in the second inning, his squad was behind 2-0. He held the opposition scoreless, but his team was unable to mount a comeback.[xxvii] A crowd of 13,988 (8,779 paid) looked on as the kids took the field after the White Sox and Tigers had completed their American League contest. Nelson, in five innings, allowed only three hits and struck out four. He helped his cause at the plate with a third inning leadoff single and came around to score the his team’s first run of the game. American League umpires Jim Boyer, Art Passarella, Cal Hubbard, and Ed Hurley officiated. Boyer said of Nelson, “That kid knew how to pitch. He had good stuff and poise.”[xxviii] For the August 1 game at Milwaukee, Chicago manager Ray Schalk named Nelson the starting pitcher, but Nelson was ineffective and absorbed the loss. In New York, Nelson got extra tutelage from Schalk, Vitt, and Yankees’ pitcher Spud Chandler. On August 13, he pitched two scoreless innings in relief, striking out two batters. He signed with the Cubs and spent five seasons in the minor leagues, posting a record of 28-37.
Skowron and Nelson were joined on their trip east by the Milwaukee representatives Ron Unke and Ed Granitz. The Broadway Limited arrived at Grand Central Terminal, and the boys made their way to the Hotel New Yorker. Unke, at age 15 was one of the youngest players on the field, and Granitz got the nod to start at shortstop on August 13.
Harry Agganis, of Lynn Classic High School, who made it to the majors with the Red Sox in 1954-55, represented Boston on the 1947 U. S. team. He was born Aristotle George Agganis, and was called Ari growing up. “Ari” became Harry. He earned the trip to New York going 3-for-4, including a triple, as his “Red Sox” team beat the “Indians” at Fenway Park on July 29[xxix]. In the game’s second year, the coverage in the Boston Daily Record increased and the teams (with real names this time around) were managed by A-listers. The “Red Sox” were managed by Joe Cronin, who was assisted by Claude Davidson. Davidson was the head of the New England Sandlot League. The “Indians” were managed by Lou Boudreau, assisted by Bill Barrett. In the first practice in New York on August 8, he homered during batting practice and the next day, in the first intra-squad scrimmage, he deposited two balls into the seats. In the game in New York on August 13, Agganis walked in each of his two plate appearances before leaving the game after being spiked in the left shin while sliding into second base in the top of the third inning.[xxx]
After high school, Agganis went on to Boston University where single-handedly, he brought the school into national prominence. Agganis, a 50-minute man, played offense, defense, and did the kicking. The biggest game of Harry’s football career came at Fenway Park against Maryland, ranked second in the nation. It was Saturday, Nov. 1, 1952. The Terrapins had a simple game plan — injure Agganis. After several gang tackles his ribs were so badly banged up that he had to be helped off the field. X-rays showed nothing broken, but severe bruises made it painful to breathe and caused him to miss the next two games. The Terriers finished with a record of 17-10-1 in Harry’s three years at quarterback. He was second-team All-American at quarterback, Agganis left B.U. holding school records for passing yardage, touchdown passes, punting average, and defensive interceptions. After the regular season in his final year at Boston University, Harry dominated the North-South Senior Bowl in Alabama, with Paul Brown as his coach. Agganis had already been drafted #1 after his junior year by the NFL powerhouse Cleveland Browns. They offered him a large bonus, and Coach Brown planned to make him Otto Grahams replacement.[xxxi]
However, Agganis signed with the Red Sox organization in November, 1952 for a bonus of $50,000. By signing when he did, he avoided the implementation of the new bonus rule that would have forced him to spend two years in the majors.[xxxii] He was able to get some needed seasoning in the minors in 1953, batting .281 with 23 home runs and 105 RBIs at Class-AAA Louisville. In 1954 he made his Boston Red Sox debut and batted .261. The future was bright and he was en route to the most promising of careers, batting .313 in his second major league season, when he was hospitalized with what was diagnosed as a massive pulmonary embolism. He died six weeks later at the age of 26. Red Sox general manager Dick O’Connell always felt the beating he took in the football game against Maryland in 1952 contributed to his death.
He came to New York with Walt “Huckleberry” Kearney, a third-baseman from Dedham, Massachusetts. To get into the selection game at Fenway Park, Kearney had survived, with seven others, a tryout of 680 players at Braves Field in early July.[xxxiii] Kearney, in the game in New York, did not start, but when inserted into the game took full advantage, banging a long double in his first at-bat in the eighth inning. Rabbit Maranville admitted that it was the “hardest hit ball of the entire game.”
Rudy Regalado (Rudolph Valentino Regalado – his mother named him for the silent film star) was from Glendale, CA, and got into 91 games with the Indians from 1954 through 1956, batting .249. His road to the Hearst Classic was not the easiest of paths. His grandparents had come to Texas from Mexico and eventually settled in California. His father was born in Texas, and his mother was from Mexico. His father and mother worked hard and his father instilled his love for baseball in his children. Rudy excelled at shortstop at Glendale High School, where one of his coaches was former Dodger Babe Herman, batting .561 in his senior year.
Rudy was accompanied to New York by Tom Riach, who was his best friend. The two traveled on their train ride east with John B. Old of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Tom was an outfielder who signed with the Chicago White Sox, and played one season of minor league ball in 1952, getting as far as Class B. After his playing days, he was very successful in the construction industry in Newport Beach, California and remained close friends with Rudy until Tom died in 2006.
After the Hearst Game, Rudy and Tom he stayed in school and played for legendary coach Rod Dedeaux at the University of Southern California. Rudy batted .411 as a sophomore and .375 as a junior. In his junior year, 1950, USC went to the College World Series.
While in college, Rudy joined the National Guard to avoid the draft. After his junior year of college, his National Guard unit was activated and he went to Japan and Korea during the Korean conflict. Upon his return to the United States, he was playing semi-pro ball in Fergus, Minnesota and caught the attention of a scout for the Cleveland Indians. He was signed by scout Cy Slapnicka and given a $10,000 bonus by the Cleveland Indians.[xxxiv] Before signing, Regalado sought the advice of both his father and coach Dedeaux, and both told him that he should take the money.
Regalado was part of the Cleveland Indians’ 1954 American League championship team, and returned to the Polo Grounds for the 1954 World Series. He came off the bench in each game of the Series, was the only Hearst Alum to appear in the 1954 Series, and went 1-for-3, with a pinch hit in the fourth game, as the Indians fell to the Giants. One of his claims to fame was being a voracious reader. He was known to complete a complete novel during a plane flight during his time with the Indians. Most of his time in Organized Baseball was sent in the minor leagues. He appeared in his last major league game on June 1, 1956 and was sent down to Indianapolis in the American Association, where he roomed with Roger Maris and played alongside his former Hearst teammate Billy Harrell. He batted .322 during the regular season and batted .500 in the Junior World Series, as Indianapolis swept Rochester, the International League champions, in four games. The following season, with San Diego in the Pacific Coast League, he put together a 26-game hitting streak and batted .306 for the season.[xxxv]
Over the course of seven minor league seasons, he hit .303, finishing up with Seattle in the PCL in 1960.
After his baseball career ended, he worked in television in San Diego for 25 years.
Harrell earned a second trip to New York by virtue of his play in the second annual All-Star game held at Hawkins Stadium in front of 1,700 onlookers. Harrell, playing for the Capital District All-Stars played a pivotal role in tying the game in the ninth inning. He singled, stole second base and went to third when the catcher’s throw sailed into center field. He later scored on a throwing error when the Albany shortstop overthrew first base on a ground ball by the Capital District’s Cookie Sherwin. Albany won the game 3-2 on a balk in the tenth inning. Harrell and Sherwin, who combined for two of their team’s three hits, were selected to go to New York. Sherwin never played professionally.[xxxvi] The 1947 All-Star game in Albany was the last held to select players for the trip to New York. In subsequent years, committees of coaches selected players and the lucky youngsters were informed via mail.
One of the New York pitchers on the short end of the thrashing was Bob Grim. Grim was high on Maranville’s list of candidates to start the game. On the eve of the game, the Rabbit said, “Grim showed himself a top-flight pro-prospect at the tryouts. But evidently he was nervous then, for he’s even better now.”[xxxvii] Grim pitched the third inning in the game after completing his junior year of high school, and went on to success with the Yankees, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1954 with a 20-6 record. Grim pitched in two World Series, was named to the All-Star team in 1957 and finished his eight year major-league career with a 61-41 record. In that 1957 season, pitching exclusively as a reliever, he was 12-8 with a league-leading 19 saves and a career best 2.63 ERA. He finished 16th in the MVP balloting.
Grim was born in Manhattan’s Yorkville section and his family moved to Brooklyn when he was three-years-old. He went to Franklin K. Lane High School in the Woodhaven section of Queens where his high school coach, Bob Berman, taught him the subtleties of pitching. He pitched his sandlot ball for the Havenwoods in the Queens-Nassau Alliance, for whom he threw a no-hitter. He impressed managed Rabbit Maranville who stated, “He’s going to be one of the greatest ever to come out of this town.”[xxxviii] Grim, in 1947, also tried out for “Brooklyn Against the World” but was told “to come back in a year. The Yankees got to me before the year was up.” He was scouted by Buster Brown, Paul Kritchell, and Harry Hesse of the Yankees, and Hesse inked him to a contact the day after he graduated high school in 1948, and was on his way to the Bronx.[xxxix]
Another of the Hearst New York All-Star pitchers, Hy Cohen, was also signed by the Yankees, but had little success at the major league level. Cohen attended Thomas Jefferson High School, but did not play baseball in High School as the school did not field a baseball team. He did play football and was offered a scholarship to Columbia University by the legendary Sid Luckman. After his junior year of High School, Hy, who pitched his Sandlot Ball for the Royals on Brooklyn’s Parade Grounds, was encouraged to try out for the Journal-American All-Stars by sportswriter Al Jonas of the Journal-American, and his 6’ 5” size got everyone’s attention. Prior to the Hearst game, Babe Didrickson borrowed Cohen’s glove when she did her pre-game exhibition. Cohen’s father, who did not know much about baseball, was at the game and was seated right next to Babe Ruth. He neither recognized the Bambino nor knew who he was.
In the game, Cohen followed Mike McCarron (who started, was knocked out in the second inning and was charged with the loss) and Bob Grim to the mound. McCarron had entered the game with a 14-0 record for his team in New York’s Catholic Youth Organization league, but he was overmatched by the visitors during his second inning stint. Cohen entered the game with his team trailing 7-0, pitched the fourth and fifth innings, and gave up two runs on two hits while striking out four. After graduating from Jefferson High School in 1948, he was signed by Paul Kritchell of the New York Yankees for a bonus of $750. He spent a couple of years at Class-D in the Yankee organization, and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs organization after the 1949 season. After going 62-45 in five minor league seasons, he got the call from the Cubs in 1955. Seven games, 17 innings, and no decisions later, he was back to the minors, where he pitched until 1958, compiling an overall minor league record of 100-77. Arm trouble forced him to give up on his dream after finishing the 1958 season with Nashville. By then, he was living in the Los Angeles area. He had relocated there when playing with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in parts of three seasons (1954-56). He received his degree in Physical Education from Los Angeles State in 1960 and embarked on a teaching career that took him to Birmingham High School in the San Fernando Valley where he also coached baseball and football for 30 years. He wound up switching from Phys. Ed to History and counts David Gregory of NBC News among his students.
But most of the players didn’t make it. Bill Hopper represented Pittsburgh in 1947 and, after college at Penn State, signed on with the St. Louis Cardinals. One season of Class-D, and it was on with the rest of his life.
Jimmy Ehrler represented San Antonio, where he played his Sandlot Ball with the 7-Up bottlers. By the time Ehrler entered the game in New York, the contest was decided, but he pitched effectively in relief, striking out three batters. On his trip to New York, Ehrler was accompanied by Rene Urbanowich. Rene was playing for South San Antonio in the San Antonio major league when he was selected to go to New York. Ehrler gained some renown during his college days at the University of Texas, pitching the first no-hitter in the history of the College World Series, defeating Tufts 7-0 in 1950.[xl]
Neither made a significant impression in the ranks of organized baseball. Ehrler signed with the Boston Red Sox in 1951 and spent most of the next two seasons (1952-53) in the Army at Fort Sam Houston. After leaving the Army, he made it as far as Triple-A Louisville for a brief stay in 1954. He was back at Class-A Montgomery in 1955, and that is where the dream ended for him at age 25. He had gone 12-11 in 57 minor league appearances. Urbanowich, although he was never signed to a big league contract, kept competing for many years. He first hooked on with Harlingen in the Class C Rio Grande Valley League in 1950, and also played in the Class B Big State League in 1954-55 with Harlingen and Austin. In 1960, the catcher was playing for the Kelly Air Force Base in the Spanish-American League.
Bobby Hoeft (not to be confused with pitcher Billy) represented Detroit, and his 4-for-4 performance in an intra-squad drill at Yankee Stadium on August 11, earned him a slot in the starting lineup for the big game on August 13. He signed with the Tigers, on October 2, 1947. He played minor league ball beginning in 1948, but only made it as far as Class-C. While in the Navy in 1953 and 1954, he played against many major leaguers including Willie Mays. After being released from the Navy, he played one last season of minor league ball in 1955. In time, Bobby Hoeft became quite well known in his native city. A super-fan of the Tigers, he publishes the “Detroit Tigers Quarterly”, a newsletter. He has served as the pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and, in 2002, authored a book entitled When Baseball was Fun.
In an email interview with Tom Owens, Hoeft remembered that wonderful experience in 1947 when he was selected to play in the Hearst Classic.
“After moving down from the farm (in Moltke, Michigan) to the lower east side of Detroit I became a center fielder for as many teams as I could squeeze into a 24 hour day. That’s why in 1947 it was natural for me to be found on Belle Isle with another thousand Detroit amateur players trying out for the Hearst All American Baseball Team. The first step was to make the cut on the Island. The next step was to make the cut the following week at Northwestern field. Not only did I make the cut at NW I managed to hit a ball out over Grand River! The last step was to play on the City All-Star team against a Michigan All-Star team at Briggs Stadium. I had a field day, stealing three bases, including home, getting three hits and making a solid “country catch” in center field.
That night I shook hands with Charles Leonard Gehringer! What a thrill! He was the manager of the out-state team and was given the honor of calling up the two winners. The place was slightly jammed. For the Out-state team read off “Jim Engleman from Pontiac, Michigan, and the place went starkers. Jimmy went up to the speaker’s table to accept the honor. After the crowd settled down the great Charley Gehringer cleared his throat and said: ‘And representing Detroit will be that home plate stealer, Bobby Hoeft, from Southeastern High School.’
I can still hear my Dad’s whistle. I can still feel Charley’s handshake. And I can see my Mom crying. The place was the Book Cadillac hotel where the Quiet Man and I met several times and where this East Side kid would cherish every word that this man directed my way.”[xli]
Hoeft and Engleman were accompanied on the trip to New York by sportswriter Edgar Hayes of the Detroit Times who sent story after story back home. Fifty-five years after the trip, Hoeft remembered it all, including the shows he saw and the people he met. The first order of business upon arriving in New York was meeting his manager Ray Schalk, coach Oscar Vitt, and his fellow teammates. When he went 4-for-f to earn his spot in the starting lineup.Later on during his stay in New York was his team’s final intra-squad game at Yankee Stadium on Monday, August 11. It represented his first meeting with the team’s other coach, Honus Wagner.
From the dugout, Hoeft took in the entirety of the majesty of the cathedral in the Bronx. “My eyes started going up and up and up and up at the most majestical architecture in the history of baseball. The right field pavilion, from where I was standing in the dugout, reached right up and touched the sky! My eyes drank in every detail my ears drank in every sound, and my nose drank in every aroma of this Utopia! Voices were shouting all around, echoing back and forth in this cavernous ballpark. The sun split through the clouds from somewhere up there in the heavens, and just like that this giant field is drenched in glorious sunshine.”[xlii]
Manager Schalk took to calling Hoeft “The Little Giant” after Bobby performed well in the practice in the Bronx, going 4-for-4.[xliii] Hoeft started the game on August 13 in center field and was involved in two plays that helped his team secure the victory. At the plate, he went 1-for-3 with a double in the fourth inning that ignited a two-run rally to put the US All-Stars up by a score of 9-0. In the bottom of the same inning, he gunned down a runner trying stretch a double into a triple leading off the fourth inning.
Richard Saunders was the first player of color to represent New York in the classic. The switch-hitting first baseman represented the Police Athletic League and had graduated from Dewitt Clinton High School. Al Jonas of the Journal-American devoted a column on the 17-year-old on August 5, but the youngster did not get any pro offers.[xliv]
K Byron Chorlton
K Byron Chorlton represented Seattle in the Hearst game and showed significant promise. Chorlton was no stranger to Kids’ All-Star games, having participated in each of the four All-Star games in Seattle, dating back to 1944. His parents named him K after a cousin, who was christened Kermit, a name he despised. Kermit, an FBI agent, began using a solo initial, a tag passed on to his young relative.
Early on, the Seattle media took to calling him K “Frank Merriwell” Chorlton. He entered Roosevelt High School midway through his sophomore year in high school, and in his first game as a pitcher, he threw a no-hitter. He would be the starting pitcher in the Seattle All-Star game in 1946. He was also a basketball phenom, leading the school to a 32-2 record over his last two years, highlighted by s State championship in his junior year. He also played for the football team, but his chiropractor father refused to allow him to be tackled, so he handled punting duties. The kicking assignment didn’t prevent him from scoring touchdowns on consecutive weeks following a bad snap and a fake punt. When the school’s track team challenged the baseball nine, K won both the 100- and 200-yard dashes.
After graduating from Roosevelt, he played for the King-Pierce County team in the annual Seattle Post-Intelligencer All-American event on July 14, and was selected to play in the Hearst game in 1947.
Hype for the doubleheader in the days preceding the event was substantial and the players for the Statewide team were housed at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle. Among the State All-Stars was outfielder Russ Rosburg, who had represented Seattle in 1946. Event organizers, always on the lookout for the unusual, scheduled, between games of the evening doubleheader at Sicks’ Stadium, a one-inning game pitting nursery school kids against residents from the local old-age home. It was “Yesterday’s All-Americans” against “Tomorrow’s All-Americans, with Father Time calling balls and strikes. On the evening prior to the doubleheader, the boys dined with members of the Seattle Rainers of the Pacific Coast League. In the doubleheader, each of the 36 players had an opportunity to start in one of the games.[xlv]
On the afternoon of the game, the kids participated in several field events, showing off their speed and Chorlton excelled, winning the 50-yard-dash, and the race around the bases. He was scheduled to start the second game that evening. Fireworks lit up the evening sky between games of the doubleheader and the only bit of disappointment during the festivities was a rain storm that began during the exhibition between the toddlers and the old guys, limiting the “contest” to one-half inning. It was great fun as the kids came on to the field on a float in the shape of a giant shoe, reminiscent of the “old woman who lived in a shoe.” The oldsters took to the field in automobiles rivaling the players in age. The rain continued as the players took the field for the second game and the contest was played in a constant downpour.
The Seattle team swept their opponents by 2-1 and 8-5 margins in the pair of seven-inning contests. Center fielder Rosburg, scheduled to start the first game, injured himself just prior to the game and was unable to play in either game. His place in the lineup for the first game was taken by Chorlton. In that first game, pitcher Bob Peterson of the State squad limited the Seattle boys to two infield hits (a slow roller and a bunt) which were all they needed. The first hit came off the bat of Chorlton who stole second base, advanced to third base on a fly ball. A walk put runners on the corners and Seattle executed a double steal with Chorlton scoring and tying the game. Chorlton contributed to the rally that scored the winning run, executing a sacrifice bunt and reaching safely when the catcher overthrew first base. That was vital, as the lead runner advance to third and Chorlton wound up at second. The next batter flied to center field and the center fielder gunned down the runner trying to advance from third to home. Chorlton advanced to third base and scored the winning run on a wild pitch. Peterson, who pitched in hard luck, went on to be named the alternate for the trip to New York, but he did not play professionally.
Chorlton went on to further stake his claim for the New York trip in the second game. He drove in his team’s first run with a ground ball and then doubled home a run that put his team up 3-2 in the third inning. In the fifth inning, when his team scored three runs to take a 6-3 lead, and error on a Chorlton grounder brought in two of the three runs scored in that frame. In the seventh inning, Chorlton swatted his second double of the game but was cut down trying to steal third base. Nevertheless, he wound up the doubleheader with three hits, two run scored, two RBIs, and three stolen bases, and a fielding gem at third base in the second game.[xlvi]
Chorlton received the official word that he had been chosen to go to New York at a luncheon held on the afternoon of July 15. After receiving word from Toastmaster Torchy Torrance, Chorlton said, “It’s thrill I’ll never forget and I want to congratulate every one of the boys for their fine play and good sportsmanship.” The fourth time was the charm for Chorlton whose pitching made him an alternate in 1944. He was also named alternate after starting at third base in 1945. He had also played in 1946.
In addition to Peterson, four youngsters received honorable mention. They were Louie Soriano, Bob Andersen, Leon Mangia, and Jack Armitage.[xlvii] Armitage played only one season of minor league ball, 1950, but what a year it was. He batted .342 with 38 extra-base hits for the Globe-Miami Browns in the Class-C Arizona-Texas League. That league ceased operation after 1950. Armitage was expected to join Idaho Falls in the Class-C Pioneer League the following season but was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. His career in organized baseball was over.
At the game in New York, Chorlton met Joe DiMaggio. At the time, the Yankees outfielder was recovering from a knee injury. Chorlton recounted the meeting during a newspaper interview in 2004. “I admire you so much,” the teenager told the star. “I wish I had your legs,” DiMaggio replied. Chorlton had the opportunity to show off his speed in the first intra-squad game, booming a triple past Gino Cimoli, who was stationed in left field during the scrimmage.
At the conclusion of the game in New York, Chorlton put some comments together in an article that appeared in the following day’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He said, “I am still in a whirl over all of the exciting events of the past few days. Things have certainly been coming fast. You already know how our team beat the New York boys 13 to 2. There was a big crowd and I was lucky enough to drive in a run with a single and steal a base. It was a lot of fun playing in it. But today (prior to the game), I had another great thrill. The New York Yankees invited me to work out with them. I played center field in practice alongside Joe DiMaggio. It was pretty wonderful for a Seattle boy to be chasing flies with the great DiMaggio showing me pointers. The Yankee players were all swell. I’ll never forget it a long as I live. After the workout, I sat in a box seat and watched the New York team beat Philadelphia. I only wish all of the fine kids who played in the Seattle game could have been with me.”[xlviii]
Chorlton was scouted by the Boston Braves, Detroit Tigers, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and Washington Senators. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Chorlton went on to play basketball and baseball at the University of Washington, where he, in 2001, was named to Washington’s All-Century team. In 2004, the Seattle Times named him the top Roosevelt High School athlete of all time and he was inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame the following year.
On June 30, 1949, he signed on with the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League for $10,000, and was sent to their Vancouver Capilanos farm team in the Class-B Western International League that July. With his terrific speed, Chorlton often batted leadoff for Vancouver. He became a fan favorite.
“One of the prettiest local sights on a summer’s evening is that of Chorlton scudding around the base paths out at the ball park,” Eric Whitehead wrote in the Province. “Graceful as a young gazelle and about as speedy, Chorlton would rate a quick boost up the ladder if he could only develop the elusive knack of getting on the base paths more often.”
In 1950, after batting .333 in 249 at-bats, with 10 doubles, six triples, and four home runs for the Victoria Athletics in the WIL, he appeared with Seattle in 70 games. He began the 1951 season with Seattle and was managed by Rogers Hornsby, one of the more difficult managers for whom to play. Hornsby could be hard on the media as well as on his own players.
One play effectively shattered Chorlton’s dreams of a major league career. He dropped a routine fly ball in left field. An infuriated Hornsby immediately removed Chorlton from the game and the angry youngster, after a nasty exchange of words with his manager, exited the dugout and stormed straight to the clubhouse. This further infuriated Hornsby who had a standing rule mandating that players stay in the dugout once removed from the game. The next day, Chorlton was with Tacoma in the WIL, effectively blackballed by Hornsby.[xlix] Later in the season, he was sent to Vancouver. Chorlton returned to Seattle in 1952, playing for new manager Bill Sweeney, but he would never advance beyond the Pacific Coast League. After an unproductive 1952 season, he was returned to Vancouver for the last two seasons in organized baseball. In his final season with Vancouver (1954), he batted .349 with a career-high 16 home runs, but his fate was sealed.[l]
After his death in 2009, Tom Hawthorn wrote about Chorlton, stating that, “The ball player showed speed, a steady bat, and good if occasionally suspect fielding. But what many fans first noticed was his name, K, which K Chorlton insisted be spelled without a period.”[li]
Chorlton became a salesman and later a sales executive for a company selling fuel additives. He remained active in the Washington Athletic Club, where his Rainiers jersey is on display to this day. After the death of his wife, Diane, he discovered romance again with Gloria Ehrig. He died of pneumonia on March 17 at Bellevue, Wash. He was 80. He left four children, 10 grandchildren, and a sister.
Three players, in addition to U. S. infielder Billy Harrell and New York starting pitcher Rudy Yandoli, had returned for a second consecutive appearance in the Hearst game in 1947. John Martin, Al Scacco, and Gene Muller played for the New York team. Martin and Scacco did not attract much interest and went unsigned. Muller signed on with the New York Giants. In a career interrupted by service during the Korean War, he played in 1950 and 1953 at Class-C, appearing in 243 games and batting .259. Another New York player, Joe Della Monica concluded the youth game hat trick. His appearance in the 1947 Heart Game followed appearances in the 1945 Esquire’s Game and the 1946 Brooklyn Against the World contest.
And Rabbit Maranville kept doing clinics in New York. On Thursday August 14, he conducted a clinic at Yankee Stadium with Charlie Dressen , Don Johnson and Bobby Brown. Two days later he was back at the stadium with Yankees Frank Shea, Allie Reynolds, Bobo Newsom, and Bob Johnson. He would champion the need for schools, clinics, and improved facilities for as long as he could speak.[lii]
Brooklyn Against the World – 1947
Played in a Heat Wave
The Newspaper headlines in the Brooklyn Eagle spoke of increasing tensions in the Middle East as young men from 20 cities in three countries descended on Brooklyn to represent the World team in the second Brooklyn Against the World Series. Games were played on August 15, 16, and 17 at Ebbets Field. And the heat wave that had greeted the players who came east for the Hearst game had lost none of its intensity.
The World team in the 1947 contest featured a catcher who would move up to the big time. He had a passed ball during the game, something for which, unfortunately, he became known during his days with the Baltimore Orioles. Gus Triandos of San Francisco’s Mission High School batted cleanup in the first game of the series, going 0-for-3. He was signed by Joe Devine of the Yankees and saw limited experience with the Bombers during the 1953 and 1954 seasons. Prior to the 1955 season, he was part of a colossal deal with Baltimore, involving 17 players. He spent eight years with the Orioles, banged 142 homers, and was named to three All-Star teams.
The third game starting pitcher for the World team in 1947 was left hander Cleveland’s Moe Savransky. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1948 and got off to an unbelievable start in his third minor league season with Columbia in the Class-A Carolina League. His first game was a no-hitter, and his second game was a one-hitter (a bunt).[liii] He finished with a 15-7 record with Columbia in 1950 and continued to move up the ladder, making it to the majors in 1954. He appeared in 16 games in relief. His major league career was over at age 25.
Once again, Brooklyn Against the World had well-known managers. The Brooklyn squad was led by Arthur C. “Dazzy” Vance, and the World team was led by John L. “Pepper” Martin. What did Vance do as a player? To quote Tommy Holmes of the Brooklyn Eagle, “He was the greatest Dodger pitcher of all time. That’s all.”[liv]
The series was played during the continuing heat wave and a record high temperature of 93.6 degrees was reached toward the end of Game One. The teams split the first two games of the series with Brooklyn winning the opener 7-5, behind the pitching efforts of Carl Maloney and Bob Sundstrom. Both would go on to sign major league contracts. Maloney, who hailed from Oyster Bay, Long Island, signed with Giants and during his third minor league season went 17-9 at Sunbury, Pennsylvania in the Class-B Interstate League. That was as good as it got for him. He went on to pitch three seasons at Class-A Jacksonville, but he would leave baseball after the 1954 season. Sundstrom, who signed with the Dodgers after playing for coach Jimmy Wagner at Brooklyn Technical High School, experienced arm problems early on in his career, and the put together a 15-5 record at Class-C Geneva New York in the Border league in 1949. His campaign included a league leading 2.39 ERA and five shutouts. The following season, he was 4-3 in Class-A, before being shipped off to Pueblo in the Western League, where his brief career ended.
The World came back to win the second game 2-1, in an abbreviated contest. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the clouds opened up and the field was deluged. Although the contest was held in Brooklyn, the hosts batted first in the middle game of the series. Thus, by this point, the game was official. Play was stopped and by the time the rain halted, the field was deemed unplayable. There were none out and the bases were loaded when everyone was sent home. The key hit in the contest came off the bat of Porfirio Espinosa of Havana, Cuba in the bottom of the fourth inning. After the World had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Brooklyn kids tied the score with an unearned run in their half of the fourth inning. Espinosa came up with runners on second and third and two out. Espinosa hit a sharp single to left field scoring Montreal’s Danny Caduc from third with the go-ahead and eventual winning run. Neither Espinosa nor Caduc played in organized baseball.
The starting pitcher for the World in Game Two was Frank Stewart from St. Paul, where he attended Stillwater High School,[lv] and appeared to be headed back to the University of Minnesota where he starred not only on the diamond but on the gridiron and basketball court as well. He pitched a masterpiece, striking out the first two batters he faced and allowing only one hit, an fourth inning infield single by Dan Daum. In five innings of work, he struck out six and was credited with the complete game victory. The Dodgers wasted no time in signing the hurler who had registered four no-hitters in high school and American legion play. He was sent off to Santa Barbara in the Class-C California League in 1948.[lvi] After two years in the Dodgers’ organization, he was traded to the Braves and spent the next two seasons toiling at Denver in the Class-A Western League. In his best season, 1950, he was 11-7 with Denver. He missed two years serving in the military and in his last season, 1954, he was 4-5 at Lincoln.
Daum, the right fielder who spoiled Stewart’s no-hit bid in 1947, signed with the Dodgers and proceeded to move up in their system, batting .293 and .284 in his first two full seasons. It was then off to the military for a couple of years after which he batted .361 at Class-D Union City, Tennessee in 1953 and .255 at Class-B Newport News, Virginia in 1954. But 1954 would be his last season. The Dodgers were fully stocked with outfielders at all levels and Daum’s future would be in something other than baseball.
Martin chose Savransky to pitch the climactic third game for the World team against Brooklyn’s Victor Barbella. Moe was up to the task. The skies were threatening again and the crowd was only 5,376. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning when Ralph Gebhardt legged out an infield single on a slow roller to Savransky. Moe allowed only one other hit, a solid single by Jim Felton, in his seven innings of work, as the World won 4-0. Felton did not play professionally. Barbella, who fell victim to defensive lapses by his mates, was charged with three second inning runs and absorbed the loss.
Brooklyn’s Gebhardt, whose infield hit spoiled Savransky’s no-hitter, did not play professionally. He played collegiately at Holy Cross and saw his hopes of a future in baseball doomed by a devastating shoulder injury. After baseball, he took over the family’s restaurant, and became involved in tennis.[lvii]
Tony Pellarin came on in relief and struck out six World batters in 4 1/3 innings. Pellarin attended St. Francis Prep, where he pitched two no-hitters, and went on to Seton Hall University, where he never lost a game. He earned his spot on the Brooklyn team by excelling in a tryout at Ebbets Field on July 25. One of his no-hitters in high school was a classic pitcher’s duel. He was matched up against Rudy Yandoli of St. John’s Prep, who had been the starting pitcher for the Journal-American All-Stars in the 1946 Hearst Game, and appeared in the 1947 Hearst game as well. There was only one run in the game and it was scored against Pellarin’s squad. Tony lost despite throwing a no-hitter. Rudy allowed only two hits in his win.[lviii] Years later, their paths would cross again. By then, Pellarin was working with an auto finance company. He looked up from his desk and Yandoli, who was behind in his payments, was seated across from him. Pellarin remembered his old nemesis and worked out an arrangement allowing Yandoli to keep his car.
Pellarin was scouted by Ed McCarrick, who also served as Executive Secretary of the Brooklyn Amateur Baseball Foundation. He tried out with Branch Rickey looking on, and signed with the Pirates in April, 1952. H was assigned to Burlington-Graham in the Class-B Carolina League. His first and only appearance that season came on April 20. He started and pitched 3 1/3 innings in a 7-2 against Raleigh. About a week later, before he could pitch again, he was off to the Army. He injured his arm in the Army and when he came out of the Army in 1954, spent an inactive few weeks with Burlington, getting into shape, before being reassigned to the Dublin Irish in the Class-D Georgia State League.
He pitched in only one game, on July 8. He entered the game in the fourth inning in relief of Bob Long. At the time, his team was trailing 4-1. He pitched the last six innings as his team came from behind with three eighth inning runs to win 7-5. His professional record was 1-1. But he was pitching in pain and decided to move on with his life. He returned to New York’s Long Island, married his girl-friend, went into the auto financing business, and raised five children. Almost 70 years after his appearance in Brooklyn Against the World, he cherishes many memories including his children, 13 grandchildren, and his first great-grandchild born in 2015.
Dick Spady of Omaha pitched the final two innings for the World in 1947 and did not allow a hit. Spady was signed by the Dodgers and moved up through the ranks. Appreciative of the opportunity he had been given, Spady donated $500 of his bonus from the Dodgers to his local American Legion post to promote baseball.[lix] In 1951 and 1952, he won 10 games each season at the Class-B level and then received his draft notice. He missed three seasons but returned in 1956 to post an 11-8 record at Class-A Pueblo, Colorado. However, there was no opportunity for further advancement and Spady was out of baseball at age 26.
The leading batter in the series was Bud Ware of Toronto. The first baseman had four hits in eight at-bats, including an infield single in the second inning of the third game that ignited a three-run rally. He eventually signed with the New York Giants but only got as far as Class-D in the minor leagues.
The Chicago Daily News sent Joe Naples to the games in Brooklyn. He was chosen for the honor by Rogers Hornsby who was serving again as the director of the Chicago Daily News Free Baseball School. Naples was a shortstop who had batted .455 in his senior year at Chicago Vocational High School.[lx] Although not signed by a major league team, he pursued his baseball dream to Class-D ball in 1949 playing in the Alabama State League and the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League. Over the course of the season, he batted .234 and the reality of his not necessarily being the next Marty Marion set in.
In Montreal, tryouts were held throughout the province of Quebec and on July 19, a contest was held between an English speaking team and a French speaking team to determine which player would be heading on to Brooklyn for the big event.
And for Brooklyn which lost the series 2-1, it was “Wait Till Next Year!”
After completing the series the Brooklyn kids to the road, playing in Kingston, New York against the Hudson Valley All-Stars. The upstate team was not without talent. Clark Mains, a pitcher, signed with the Giants and was 34-25 in three minor league seasons, and Jake Charter batted .288 in three minor league seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization.
[i] Lewis Burton, “Record Crowd Sees U. S. Sandlotters Win,” New York Journal American, August 14, 1947: 24.
[ii] Bobby Hoeft. When Baseball was Fun: A Baseball Memoir (Xlibris, 2002): 57.
[iii] Kouzmanoff, “U. S. Prep Stars in first Drill for National Series,” Chicago Herald-American, August 8, 1947: 23.
[iv] Jeane Hoffman, “Babe Didrikson Plans Thrills for Sandlot Fans at Polo Grounds,” New York Journal American, August 12, 1947:18.
[v] Rabbit Maranville, “Schacht to Entertain at Hearst Classic,” Chicago Herald-American, August 10, 1946: 10.
[vi] Edgar C. Greene, “Babe Still ‘Do as I Please’ Guy,” Chicago Herald-American, August 14, 1947: 24.
[vii] Jack Conway, Jr. “Sandlotters Back; Hail Keany Clout”, Boston Daily Record, August 15, 1947, 40
[viii] Al Jonas, New York Journal-American, August 14, 1947, 22
[ix] Gene Perry. “Ferrarese, Fingeroid Voted Winners of P-E’s N. Y. Trip”, The Oakland Post-Enquirer, August, 1947
[x] Todd Anton, Big Leagues – Bigger Heart: Personal Life Stories of Major League Pitcher Don Ferrarese (Victorville, CA, Don Ferrarese Charitable Foundation, 2014): 55
[xi] Kouzmanoff, “U.S. All-Stars in Final Drill for N. Y. Sandlotters,” Chicago Herald American, August 12, 1947: 16
[xii] Al Jonas, “Final Drills for Classic,” August 12, 1947: 20.
[xiii] Al Warden, Ogden Standard-Examiner, August 20, 1947: 10
[xiv] Walter Judge, “Cimoli, Cheso See Jansen Win; Say Seals Better Than Phillies,” San Francisco Examiner, August 7, 1947: 23, 25.
[xv] Frank Graham, “Visit with Oscar Vitt,” New York Journal American, August 6, 1947:21.
[xvi] Fitzgerald, San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 1990, and Interview with Lorraine Vigli
[xvii] Judge, “It’s Field Day for Little Guys,” San Francisco Examiner, July 1, 1947: 21.
[xviii] “Bendix Joins Baseball School!” San Francisco Examiner, July 6, 1947: 23.
[xix] “Bracken in Cast for Kid Classic,” San Francisco Examiner, July 15, 1947: 19.
[xx] Judge, “Examiner Game Players to Enjoy Royal Fete, San Francisco Examiner, July 16, 1947: 17.
[xxi][xxi] Judge, “15,000 See Stars Win,” San Francisco Examiner,” July 21, 1947: 20.
[xxii] Peary: 157
[xxiii] Bill Heyman, Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, August 6, 1947: 22
[xxiv] Jack Horner. Durham (NC) Morning Herald, March 1, 1952: II-2
[xxv] Lewis Burton, “Record Crowd Sees U. S. Sandlotters Win,” New York Journal American, August 14, 1947: 24.
[xxvi] “Skowron, Boilermaker Sophomore, Sets Conference Batting Record,” Daily Illini, June 8, 1950: 5.
[xxvii] Rabbit Maranville, “Chicago Schoolboy Looms U. S. Stars’ Hill Ace in Sandlot Classic,” New York Journal American, August 1, 1947: 16.
[xxviii] Dan Desmond, Chicago Herald-American, July 2, 1947: 17.
[xxix] Alex MacLean. “N. Y. Sandlot Finals for Agganis, Keany”, Boston Daily Record, July 30, 1947
[xxx] Jack Conway, Jr. “Agganis is Injured in All-Star Classic,” Boston Daily Record, August 14, 1947: 27.
[xxxi] Nick Tsiotis and Andy Dibilis, Harry Agganis, The Golden Greek
[xxxii] Mark Brown and Mark Armour, “Harry Agganis”, SABR Bio-Project
[xxxiii] Boston Daily Record, July 19, 1947: 33
[xxxiv] Steve Johnson. “Rudy Regalado” in Pitching to the Pennant: the 1954 Cleveland Indians: 110-112.
[xxxv] Earl Keller. “Rapper Rudy Well on Way to Coast Loop Swat title,” The Sporting News, July 17, 1957: 33
[xxxvi] Stanley Levine. “Albany All-Stars Subdue Area Stars in 10th, 3-2,” Albany Times-Union, June 23, 1947: 8.
[xxxvii] Al Jonas, “Grim Looms as Met. Stars’ Hill Starter,” New York Journal American, August 9, 1947: 12
[xxxviii] Kouzmanoff, “Maranville High on N. Y. Preps,” Chicago Herald-American, August 11, 1947: 20.
[xxxix] Don Zirkel. North Country Catholic (Ogdensburg, NY), August 27, 1954: 6
[xl] Miami (Oklahoma) Daily News-Record, June 16, 1960: 4.
[xli] Tom Owens. Baseball by the Letters Blog, December 27, 2011.
[xlii] Hoeft: 58-59.
[xliii] Al Jonas, “Final Drills for Classic,” August 12, 1947: 20.
[xliv] Al Jonas. “Met Sandlotters Have Ace Switch Hitter in Saunders”, New York Journal-American, August 5, 1947: 16
[xlv] Harold Torbergson, “All-American Stars Await Monday’s Games,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 13, 1947: 20.
[xlvi] Torbergson, “Seattle Junior Stars take Thrilling Games, 2-1, 8-5: State Drops Double Bill,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 15, 1947: 21-22.
[xlvii] Torbergson, “Chorlton All-American Winner: Versatile Star is Choice,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 16, 1947: 19-20.
[xlviii] K Byron Chorlton, “Drills with Yankees,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 15: 18.
[xlix] Dan Raley, Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers: 150.
[l] David Eskinazi and Steve Rudman. The Wayback Machine, May 21, 2013.
[li] Thomas Hawthorn, April, 2009.
[lii] Rabbit Maranville, “Maranville Sees Need for More Coaches in Met. Stars Defeat,” New York Journal American, August 15, 1947: 16.
[liii] Ben Gould, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 26, 1950: 19.
[liv] Tommy Holmes, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 15, 1947: 10.
[lv] “World All-Star Nine Defeats Eagle Sluggers by 2-1 Count,” Brooklyn Eagle, August 17, 1947: 23
[lvi] Ben Gould, “Dodger Front Office Holds High Promise for Ex-World Hurler,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 28, 1949: 15.
[lvii] Ralph Gebhardt Obituary, February 1, 2016.
[lviii] James J. Murphy, “Pellarin’s No-Hitter Goes for Naught,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 16, 1947: 21.
[lix] Lincoln Evening Journal, October 11, 1947: 4.
[lx] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 3, 1947: 23