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Flashback Friday: Opening Day (1940)12/17/2010 12:01 PM ET
By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
The Appleton Papermakers made
their debut on May 9, 1940 with a 4-3 win over the Green Bay Bluejays at Spencer
Safeties in 9th Bring Win
If Mr. and Mrs. Appleton and
all the little Appletons aren't talking about Class D baseball and the local
entry in the Wisconsin State League today, then they'll never become
interested in organized ball.
A roar rose from the crowd as it sensed a kill. Then Murphy Malattia, first baseman, ambled up to the plate. In view of the fact he already had gotten two for four, the fans sat tense. They didn't have to wait long, either, for Murphy obliged by punching a grounder past first into right and Kubiszak rounded third and scored standing up. The ballgame was over, a perfect finish to a good game.
A capacity crowd, part of it most skeptical about the caliber of ball, saw the game and was agreeably surprised. There were two double plays by Green Bay, and one by Appleton. There were great stops, rather smart ball, some pretty hefty hitting and all kinds of poise.
Bob LaGrow was on the mound for Appleton and Victor "Deacon" Delmore for Green Bay. LaGrow gave up 12 hits as compared with 13 for the Deacon. However, Bob gave up only two extra base wallops whereas Delmore gave up three. Delmore issued four walks and fanned one. LaGrow walked none and fanned four.
Appleton got away to a none too impressive start when a double play erased the first two batters. Despite the jolt, Manager Eddie Dancisak beat out a single that caromed off Delmore's glove to Bluege at short. Then Kubiszak drew a walk again putting two on the bases. Malattia waggled his war club with a scorching drive past the pitcher into center and Dancisak scored to win prizes offered by Appleton merchants for the first hit and the first run.
Green Bay Scores
Green Bay got the run back in the second. Rudy Novak, a bad performer at the plate all afternoon, started things with a single through short to center. Bennie Bedrava, the Bay catcher, singled to right and Novak drew up at third. He scored when Bilech lofted to center.
Four singles in a row gave Green Bay another run in the third and the lead. The Papermakers ran into another double play in their half of the third. It really hurt when Malattia doubled immediately thereafter.
Appleton knotted the count in the last of the fourth. Hoeffken, first up, singled through short. Chojnacki laid down a bunt but the catcher elected to throw to second and the toss was poor with all hands safe. Then LaGrow bunted with Hoeffken being forced at third and Chojnacki reaching second. The latter went to third on a high fly to right and crossed the rubber on Malewig's single to right.
Kubiszak smashed a triple to deep centered and then tallied in the home half of the fifth to put Appleton in front, 3 to 2. The lead lasted only until the seventh when, with two out, Curran of the Bays singled, went to second on a balk and tallied on Rudnicki's smash to right.
It appeared Green Bay would have the lead in the eighth when Novak opened the frame with a triple to center. However, Appleton turned in some excellent ball to retire the side on an infield roller and two fly balls with Novak still at third. A double play squelched the Bays in the first of the ninth and then came Appleton's turn and the story has already been told.
Considering that the dirt area of the infield was a heap here and there and there on Wednesday afternoon, it looked great yesterday. And the only errors of the afternoon could hardly be attributed to the diamond or the infield. The grass made the layout look like big time stuff.
If the kids start plugging for baseball the team will get a lot of word-of-mouth publicity. The youngsters turned out in droves.
The crowd jammed the center section of the grand stand and would have taken over the wings, too, if the park attendants hadn't kept them out. That center section is claimed to hold 1,100 persons. Estimates as to the attendance, including the kids, was about 2,500.
The park attendants boasted new uniforms and each carried a badge. They really looked like something.
Foul balls had to be watched rather closely because there isn't a screen for the bleachers and only a partial screen for the grand stand. Only one youngster was tagged with a foul. The adults escaped.
If there was any criticism of the game, it was that the umpires didn't keep at the athletes to hurry. But they can be excused for the first couple times.
Green Bay wore a grey uniform with blue and red trim. Appleton has the conventional white of the home team. And the umpires had the usual dark uniforms and shiny new shoes. It all made for an impressive appearance.
And the weather, it couldn't have been better. It gets chilly when the sun starts going down in the west but there was little to complain about yesterday
Same teams this afternoon at the same place at 3 o' clock. Tomorrow the Papermakers open the season at Sheboygan, play there again Sunday and are back in Appleton for games on Monday and Tuesday. Then they'll be away for nine days
Also at Rattler Radio, there is an advertisement for O.R. Kloehn Co. Buick - GMC Trucks. If you bought a used car from the dealership, you received a season ticket to all 60 "Paper Makers" home games.
Kloehn was located at 210 N. Morrison Street in Appleton. This is what is at that location now...approximately.
Drives column by MAC reminds me a little of Caught
on the Fly in The Sporting News by
Sadly, the variety of prizes that were given to Dancisak for the first hit and the first run by a Papermaker from the local merchants was not recorded for posterity.
Eddie Dancisak was a player-manager for the Papermakers. Ossie Bluege was a player-manager for the Bluejays. Bluege played in the major leagues with the Washington Senators, won a World Series with them in 1924, would go on to manage the Senators from 1943-1947, and was credited with discovering Harmon Killebrew. It's all right there at this link.
Badges for ushers, I mean attendants? That is awesome...or weird. Still making my mind up on that.
How about the nonchalance of the fact that there was only a partial screen behind home plate to protect the fans from foul balls? Also, the "Oh, by the way, a kid got hit with a foul ball, but the adults were okay" way in which that piece of news was passed along to the reader. Don't ever change, 1940, don't ever change.