Earlier this week, I mentioned the very first Welcome Home Banquet was in 1958. I thought that I would actually follow through with the story of that banquet - held on April 24 of that year - in this edition of Flashback Friday.
John L. Paustian has the story in the April 25 edition of The Post-Crescent.
Foxes Receive Enthusiastic Reception at 1st Banquet
Suder Says He Has Good Ball Club
The Fox Cities welcomed the baseball Foxes with open arms Thursday night.
If the enthusiasm shown by nearly 300 fans, officials, and players at the first big local baseball banquet in five years is anywhere near a reflection of the sentiment of the entire Fox Cities populace, organized baseball can't help but make a successful comeback.
Helping to give local-level Class B baseball a muscular send-off along the road to success last night were such men of prestige as Warren Giles, National League president; Hal Totten, 3-I League president; and Pete Suder, former major league player and first manager of the Fox Cities Foxes.
2 Standing Ovations
For his personal interest in the new project, Giles received a standing ovation both before and after his talk - as sincere and vigorous a reception as anyone has received in the Appleton Elks Club banquet room for years.
Suder, after introducing the players who will be carrying the Fox Cities colors in the 130-game 3-I League baseball derby said, "We like the people here, and hope when the season gets under way you'll like us."
Club president Ray McClone observed, "If the players' conduct has any bearing on their ability on the field, we should have a fine season."
Suder, who also received a noisy welcome, said, "I'd be foolish to say where we might finish in this league, but we have a good ball club - 2 to 1 better than my last year's club."
McClone thanked his fellow directors for the work they have done and commended Appleton city officials for their cooperation in getting Goodland Field in shape. Like some of the other speakers, McClone underscored the difference in quality between "B" ball and "D" - the brand this area once had. He also said the club has tried to keep ticket prices down within reach of everyone who wants to see games.
Among the guests introduced from the floor by Master of Ceremonies Bob Lloyd were three heads of Municipal government - Mayor Clarence Mitchell of Appleton, Mayor Joseph Bayorgeon of Kaukauna, and Village President Paul Kostka of Little Chute; and ball club officers and directors.
McClone paid tribute to his predecessor as club president, Judge Andrew Parnell. The assemblage responded with a big round of applause for Parnell, who has done so much in the past on behalf of organized ball and who continues to serve on the board of directors today.
The first ball hasn't been thrown out yet - that will come in eight days at Goodland Field. But, in every other way - youngsters collecting players' autographs, oldsters spinning baseball yarns, and banquet goers expressing optimism about the new venture - professional baseball returned last night.
Instead of a longer NOTES section, here is a second story from that same edition of The Post-Crescent. This one deals with the keynote speaker, National League president Warren Giles.
Minor Leagues Play Vital Role Says Giles
NL President Salutes Return of Baseball to Fox Cities, Stresses Community Values of the Game
"As the game of baseball is played, so will the life of America be lived."
With these words, National League President Warren Giles Thursday night expressed his regard for the national pastime and his delight at seeing it return, on a professional scale to the Fox Cities.
"I'm just a minor leaguer at heart," Giles told a "Welcom Foxes" banquet audience in the Appleton Elks Club. "I enjoy sharing the enthusiasm you show. Unfortunately, we don't have that in the majors - we're inclined to be a little stuffy."
Giles said that the kind of time, energy, and money that's put into baseball at the grassroots level make him feel good about being in the game.
Has Special Interest
He congratulated the Fox Cities on their first season of 3-I League play and pointed out that he has a special interest in the teams since his brother-in-law and sister (Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Miedke) live in Neenah.
"I own a share of stock," Giles revealed.
Through baseball has great emotional and entertainment values, it offers more than that to a community, Giles pointed out. It gives the community a focal point of interest, he said.
"Baseball offers a common ground for common thought," the National League's chief executive explained, "they'll all be talking the same language about the same thing. The baseball park is a place where people from all walks of life interact with each other."
With baseball of a higher plane coming in, it should provide even greater interest than before, he indicated. Just as the big difference between the majors and the higher minors is that there are more experts in the former, so there are more experts in class "B" ball than "D", Giles added.
Minor Leagues are just as important in the baseball structure as the majors, Giles asserted. "We can't exist without you folks," he added.
Giles related that he's been active in both minor and major league ball and knows there are common problems.
"I know that a large number of major league operators have sympathy with minor league problems," said Giles. "It's unfortunate," he pointed out, "that when one or two clubs follow some policy contrary to the best interest of the minors, all 16 major league clubs are lumped together in accusations of selfish moves."
"The most important factor in athletics is determination," was the advice Giles directed at the Foxes. "Human will is the most potent force in the world. It can stimulate us to perform beyond our rate of capacity."
The impact of a popular player goes far, Giles indicated. "Our standards of sportsmanship, determination, and effort make you a teacher to the public, and mostly to the youngsters in the stands."
"Baseball has its serious side," Giles told his listeners, "but it's a game - and if you don't get fun out of it you're missing what it has to offer."
Giles told an anecdote about Willie Mays. As Giles presented Mays with the "most valuable player" award several years ago in the Polo Grounds, he called the Giant outfielder the most exciting player in the National League. Later Willie, slightly confused by the compliment, said, "Mr. Giles, I don't get excited. I just pound my glove."
The Appleton Elks Club is located at 1103 W. College Avenue.