Thursday, November 13, 2008

John Bohna 1928-2008

John Bohna, 80, passed away on Sunday, November 9 at his apartment in Oakland, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He was a pitcher and outfielder for the Fulton Railroaders/Lookouts and Union City Greyhounds/Dodgers from 1949 to 1954.


Playing record (SABR Minor League Encyclopedia)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A New Ballpark for Owensboro?

There has been talk of building a new minor league ballpark in Owensboro, Kentucky for several years now. For three seasons, the city has been home to the Owensboro Oilers, a summer collegiate team in the KIT League that took the old nickname of the popular Kitty League team that played there from 1936 to 1942 and 1946 to 1955. But it's no secret that residents would prefer a professional team, either independent or affiliated with a major league club.

Renewed development in the downtown area has revived talk of a new ballpark. (There's a video segment to watch as well).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anecdotes and Site Updates

I will begin posting various stories and anecdotes I've come across while researching the Kitty League. I'll try to post a new one at least every other day.

I'm way overdue for updating the Kitty League site. I've been busy revising, publishing, and promoting a non-baseball book. I'm working on new team pages, which I hope to start adding this weekend.


While pitching for the Clarksville Colts on Opening Night in 1947, rookie hurler Dave Stender stepped off the rubber and staggered around behind the mound. Manager Harley Boss went out to check on him, but not before Stender rushed past him into the dugout. He ran to the corner where a bucket of water was kept and took a big drink from the metal dipper. The pitcher had accidentally swallowed a large chaw of chewing tobacco!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Work on 1923 Season Has Begun

As part of my SABR-Yoseloff Research Grant requirements, I have begun work on gathering individual and team batting, pitching, and fielding statistics for the 1923 Kitty League season. I have started collecting box scores from newspapers that covered the league (both local and regional). Hopefully I will have as complete a set of statistics as possible by Spring 2008.

Once 1923 is finished, I plan to move forward to the 1924 season. Both seasons lack stats for several categories such as extra base hits, runs batted in, and bases on balls for hitters and strikeouts, bases on balls, and shutouts for pitchers. I also plan to continue using estimated earned-run averages for pitchers, a formula created by Carlos Bauer.

I'll check in from time to time with research updates!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jack Hugh Bankhead 1921-2007

Jack Hugh Bankhead passed away on March 13, 2007 at the age of 85.

He was a shortstop with the 1941 Union City Greyhounds, batting .219 in 99 games with 33 stolen bases. Born in Kansas City, MO December 18, 1921, he as initially signed by scout Bill Essick of the New York Yankees during his senior year at Northeast High School. In 1940, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and played for their Class D Kitty League club the following season.

Jack enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 83rd Infantry Division of the 330th Regiment during World War II. He ended the conflict as a decorated veteran, having fought at The Battle of the Bulge and receiving three Bronze Stars for heroism and a Purple Heart.

A baseball-related injury as well as his service in the war peaked his interest in medicine. He became a physician and practiced anesthesiology until his retirement in 1986.

Click here to view his obituary and/or leave a comment on his guestbook.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Umpire Bob Meinert's Memories

Recently I received an e-mail from Bob Meinert, who served as an umpire in the Kitty League in 1949 and 1950. Umpires are often overlooked in the study of minor league history, yet their roles in the National Pastime should be recognized just as much as the players and managers. They have memories to share, too; thank you, Bob, for sharing yours.

"I attended Bill McGowan’s umpiring school in Florida and was assigned to the Kitty League. I was living in Chicago at the time and drove down to Hopkinsville to meet Shelby Peace. He was a fine Southern gentleman. Ricky Onorato and I were paired to work together and our first game was in Fulton. KY. That’s when I met Ivan Kuester, the fire-breathing manager of the Fulton Railroaders. Being raised in Chicago and attending many of the Cub games, I was shocked to see an all-dirt infield and the lighting left a lot to be desired. We made it through the opening night.

"We stayed in Fulton with Mrs. Phillips who provided room and board for all the umpires working the games in Fulton for $2.50 a night. She was a wonderful person and treated us like part of her family. We had similar arrangements in the other towns but none like Mrs. Phillips.

"We worked Union City and Jackson staying in Fulton and driving back and forth to take advantage of our great room and board. It was then on to Mayfield, Cairo, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, Owensboro and Clarksville.

"Owensboro had the best ball park with Madisonville a close second. The other town’s parks were not as good as the Little League parks of today but we just carried on as though we were in the Major Leagues!!

"Rained out games were very rare. It could rain all day and if it stopped prior to game time a gasoline truck would pull on to the diamond and spray the infield with gas. It was then ignited and burned off. After that the sand truck would come in and sand the diamond. Quite a site to see for someone who watched Major League baseball growing up.

"Games were played seven days a week with the rare exception of very heavy rains. We played all night games except Sunday was an afternoon game. Those were hot days. Rudy York always enjoyed being thrown out on Sundays. He didn’t like the heat. He had two problems. Because he was the catcher and getting older he chose not to get in the normal catching position. When I would ask him to get down, he would say, this is as far as I’m going. Do the best you can. His other problem was throwing runners out stealing second base. He would say to me, he’s stealing on the pitcher. The fans would get on his case and you can imagine what he said about them."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kitty League Player Article

This is an article about the baseball career of Vance Kidwell, who played for the Lexington (TN) Giants in the Kitty League in 1937. Thanks to it, I've had the opportunity to contact Mr. Kidwell who shared his memories of playing in the league.