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Professsional Baseball In Saginaw
By Richard Curry
Saginaw had Minor League Baseball from 1883 to 1951. During that
time the city participated in 10 different professional leagues, most
recently in 1940 as the Saginaw Athletics, a Philadelphia farm team in the
Michigan State League.
The team played ball at the Fairgrounds and switched affiliation in 1941
when they became the Saginaw White Sox.  The team made money but the attack
on Pearl Harbor ended baseball in town until after the war. It returned in
1948 and from that time until 1951 Saginaw played in the Central League,
the first 3 years as the Saginaw Bears and the last season under new
ownership as the Saginaw Jack Rabbits, playing ball at Saginaw Stadium
(Veterans Park).

John Clarkson

Notable players included: John Clarkson who played for the Saginaw 'Old Golds' in 1883-1884 and went on to pitch Major League Baseball for 12 seasons. John won 326 games, had a 2.81 E.R.A. and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1963 by the Veterans Committee, which took quite a while considering that he led the league in complete games, wins, and strike-outs for the years 1885, 1887, and 1889. He also threw a perfect game on July 27, 1885. Bill McGunnigle was Clarkson's teammate with the Saginaw Old Golds and was a Major Leaguer from 1879 to 1882.

Charles Hemphill and his brother Frank played for Saginaw in 1896. Charlie later played Major League ball for 11 years averaging .271. Frank played two Major League seasons after leaving town.

 
John 'Red' Klienow played for the Saginaw Lumberman in 1900. John was in
the Majors from 1904 to 1911 and averaged .213 with three lifetime homers.
Ed Kusel was 22-7 for Saginaw in 1909. That same season saw Ed move up to
St. Louis where he was 0-3 in the American League.
Frank Gilhooley played in Saginaw in 1910. He went on to play in the Majors

for 9 years averaging .271.
Joe Kutina was with the Saginaw Kittens in 1911. He later played for the
St. Louis Browns in that same season and again in 1912.
Ducky Holmes, a former St. Louis Brown, caught for and managed the Saginaw
Ducks in 1913. He led the Ducks to 2 pennants.
Jesse Haines was 17-14 for that 'Ducks' team. He went on to pitch 19 Major
League seasons, 210 wins, and a spot in the Baseball H.O.F. Jesse won 44
games for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Earle 'Greasy' Neale hit .332 for Saginaw in 1915. He went on to hit .259
for 8 Major League seasons with the Reds and the Phillies. Earle hit .357
in the 1919 World Series for Cincinnati. He is the only man in sports to
ever play professional baseball while coaching at the college level in
football. He also played for the pre NFL Canton Bulldogs from 1915-1917.
Earle later gained greater fame as a football coach in the NFL, coaching 10
seasons and winning two NFL championships with the Eagles in 1948 and 1949.
Earle was elected into the Pro Football H.O.F. in 1969.

Archie Yell

Saginaw High's Archie Yelle played for Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers in 1917-1919, totaling 87 games and batting 199 times with an average of .161. He later starred for the San Francisco Seals.

Frank Wayneberg threw 47 consecutive innings in 1923 for the Saginaw Aces without allowing a run. He went on to pitch for the Cleveland Indians in 1924.

Saginaw Aces' Les Nunamaker in 1925 managed and played numerous positions while hitting .324 for the home team. Years earlier, on Aug. 3, 1914, as a Yankee catcher Les became the only man in the 20th Century to throw out three would be base runners in an inning. The three were Donie Bush, George Moriarty and Hugh High of the Detroit Tigers.

In 1940 the Saginaw Athletics finished second in the Michigan State Class C League. Hank Camelli, as the team's catcher, hit .345 and 13 home runs. During one stretch Hank caught six double headers in a row. On June 18th, 1940, Hank took over as the player manager. Camelli went on to play for five Major League seasons, 1943 to 1946 with Pittsburgh and 1947 with the Boston Braves. He totaled 159 games in five years, batted 376 times averaging .229, and hit 2 home runs. He had 26 RBI's and scored 33 runs.

 
1941 saw Saginaw become Chicago's farm team and they changed their name to
the White Sox. Stan Platek was the team's star, hitting .320 and 17 homers.
WWII halted baseball in Saginaw until 1948. The 1948 Saginaw Bear's Lou
Farotto hit .325, Ralph Rhames .319 and manager Finley .311. Saginaw's own
19 year old Bob Buhl won 11 games and went on to a 15-year Major League
career with 166 wins, 1268 strike-outs and a 3.55 ERA. In 1956 Buhl beat
the World Champion Brookyn Dodgers 8 out of 9 games. This became an area
tradition as Midland's Larry Jaster shut out the .A. Dodgers five times in
1966.
1949 sluggers were Timber Dahlberg and Ron Bowen for the Bears. In 1950
Hank Camelli returned to manage in Saginaw. Jimmy Wallace was the team's
best pitcher.
On June 28, 1950, Saginaw hosted its first Negro-American League game. Only
493 fans bought tickets. The Chicago American Giants beat the Houston
Eagles 12 to 11. Satchel Paige pitched one inning.
The Saginaw News reported, "Both teams played bang up baseball. There were

numerous sparkling fielding plays, and two almost forgotten baseball arts -
the drag bunt and daring base running - were given a thorough demonstration
by speedy runners on both nines." The Negro-American League ceased
operations after the 1960 seasons.
In 1951 Saginaw became the Saginaw Jack Rabbits. Ed Albosta returned from
the Major Leagues and won 19 games. In 1941 Ed was 0-2 for Brooklyn and in
1946 was 0-6 for Pittsburgh. Oscar Khederian hit .326 for the Rabbits. This
was Saginaw's last professional baseball team.
The Lansing Lugnuts drew 380,820 fans last season, the West Michigan White
Caps of Grand Rapids drew 400,196 people, and Battle Creek has the Battle
Creek Yankees.
Saginaw should bring back baseball.

 

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