Flashback Friday: Game one, 1942 playoffs

The headline from the September 4, 1942 edition of The Appleton Post-Crescent after Game One of the playoff series between the Appleton Papermakers and the Green Bay Bluejays. (Appleton Post-Crescent)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | December 20, 2012 6:54 AM ET

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The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers won the 2012 Midwest League Championship.  Seventy years earlier, the Appleton Papermakers had qualified for the 1942 Wisconsin State League playoffs.

The 1942 Papermakers faced the Green Bay Bluejays in the best-of-five first round series.

Flashback Friday will take a look at that series with the neighbors to the north over the next few editions.

Game One in Green Bay was played on Thursday, September 3 ends in heartbreak and a true "homer" report from Dick Davis in the September 4 edition of The Post-Crescent.  

Credit Chapman With Win as Bays Nip Papers
Opalach Strikes Out Three in Ninth but Ump Has Other Ideas

They'll probably have a "Chapman night" when Appleton returns to Green Bay this evening for the second game in the Wisconsin State league Shaugnessy playoff series.  Because to the Windy City umpire more than anybody else do the Bluejays owe their 2 to 1 ninth inning win over the Papermakers last night.  To say that "we wuz robbed" is putting it mildly.

If ever a pitcher deserved to win it was Eddie Opalach last night.  The slight Papermaker hurler had Green Bay handcuffed in a stirring pitcher's duel with Milo Johnson.  It was marred only by Chapman's foggy umpiring.  Until the ninth, neither pitcher had allowed more than one hit in any one inning.  Eddie, throwing curves which came in from all over the place and occasionally steaming in a fast one, had given only four hits in eight frames and two of those went between the mound and the second baseman with Ken Manarik being a little slow on the draw.

With a 1-0 lead in his back pocket, Opalach came up to the last of the ninth and in a magnificent exhibition of control poured six straight strikes at two batters.  He was throwing his heart out.  Bobbie Perthel laced a single over third base and then old man Deacon Delmore pinched hit for Johnson.  Delmore planked one into right and Perthel went to third.  "Opie" had two strikes and two balls on Tommy Swittel and then sent in a perfect strike that cute across the heart of the plate and easily was at least knee high.  The most rabid Green Bay fans attest to this.  

Opalach Gets Mad  

Eddie heaved a sigh of relief and began walking happily to the dugout only to hear Chapman bawl 'ball.'  Now Eddie isn't the kind that flares up without provocation.  He's one of Appleton's coolest mound performers.  He knew that Swittle was out and ran in to tell Chapman just that.  Opalach was ready to chew Chapman's ears off.  And might have if the other boys hadn't pulled him away.  Going back to work, Opalach then walked Swittel to load the bases.  The heavy-hitting Earl Gillespie came to bat and whaled one into left field just out of Fritz Romple's reach which fell for a double and the ball game.

Appleton will be back at Green Bay for a game at 8 o' clock tonight and it's a safe bet that they'll make the Bluejays pay through the nose for that one.  They played swell ball and only the vagaries of Umpire Chapman turned the tide.  Opalach's nine strikeouts against the heavy-hitting Bluejays were worth just as much if not more than Johnson's 13 off our team.

The "crowd' was something to behold.  It really rattled Green Bay's spacious stands.  Estimates ranged from 100 to 200 with the official figure being buried under the box office.  And well over half of those on hand were from Appleton at that.

Play Here Saturday  

The third game in the 3-out-of-5 series is slated for 8 o'clock Saturday night at Spencer park and no doubt a packed ouse will greet the up and coming Papermakers.  A fourth game would be played here also Sunday night.  Sheboygan, league pennant winner, polished off Fond du Lac, 10 to 2, in their first game last night in the first round of the playoff.  The winners of the initial series will meet in a best 4-out-of-7 for the playoff championship.

Mike Garcia will do the pitching tonight while Ernie Groth is ticketed for the game here Saturday night.  The Appleton pitchers have had plenty of rest and more of the topnotch twirling as shown by Opalach last evening can be expected the balance of the series.  Manager Dutch Zwilling said today there was no doubt but what Chapman missed the third strike on Swittel and the only thing Appleton could do is step out and get enough runs to cushion any such unfavorable decisions.  "It was a great game, though," Dutch said, "you won't see any one better.  The heck of it is, it always has to be that Green Bay bunch that wriggles out from under.  It would have been a swell one to win but we'll make up for it," he promised.

With the pitchers spacing the hits and the fielders giving sterling support, the first four innings clicked off beautifully.  Appleton broke through in the fifth for two runs but one was disallowed because Romple failed to touch third.  Russ Adams poled a long one to left-center but Perthel pulled it down.  Opalach walked and Romple grounded to the pitcher, who threw to Delsing at second in an attempted double play.  Delsing took his foot off the bag too soon to make Opalach sage and then threw badly to first, both runners advancing.  There was a play on Opalach going to third and the throw from first went through the third baseman with Opalach scooting for home.  For some reason or other, however, Chapman waved him back to third.  Bill Elliott then hit past first to drive in the two runners but Romple breezed over the sack at third to make it only one run and two out.

Pardon Swats Triple  

Bill Pardon lofted a ball in the sixth which went over the center fielder's head for a triple the would have gone for a home run in the Appleton park because it was a clout of about 370 feet.  There were some monkeyshines in the seventh when Allendorf got to second after hitting to right and proceeding when Pardon's throw caromed off the runner.  Delsing grounded to Opalach and Eddie fired it to second.  Dunlap blocked the base and put the ball on Allendorf as he tried to get back but La Fond ruled him sage.  Allendorf then attempted to steal third and a perfect throw from Kapust gave Anderson worlds of time to nip him.  La Fond again ruled Allendorf safe but Chapman, believe it or not, reversed the decision and called him out.


Appleton - 1  AB     R      GH     PO     A
Romple, lf    4      0      1      0      0
Elliott, cf   4      0      1      1      0
Anderson, 3b  3      0      0      1      3
Dunlap, ss    4      0      2      5      1
Pardon, rf    4      0      1      1      0
Manarik, 2b   4      0      0      0      3
Kapusta, c    4      0      0      9      1
Adams, 1b     3      0      1      9      0
Opalach, p    3      1      0      0      2

Green Bay - 2 AB     R      H      PO     A     
Swittel, 3b   4      0      0      3      2
Gillespie, 1b 4      0      1      4      0
Raddant, c    3      0      1      13     0
Henrichs, lf  4      0      2      0      0

Oddo, 2b      4      0      0      0      2
Allendorf, rf 4      0      1      2      0
Delsing, ss   4      0      0      2      0
Perthel, cf   3      1      1      2      0
Johnson, p    2      0      0      1      0
 Delmore, ph  1      1      1      0      0

PAPERMAKERS   000 010 000 - 1
BLUEJAYS      000 000 002 - 2

Errors - Manarik, Delsin, Pardon. Runs batted in - Elliott, Gillespie.  Two base hits - Gillespie.  Three base hits - Pardon. Sacrifices Johnson.  Left on bases - Appleton 8, Green Bay 10.  Bases on balls - off Opalach 2, off Johnson 3.  Struck out - by Opalach 9, by Johnson 13.  Hits - off Opalach, 7 in 9 innings for 2 runs; off Johnson, 6 in 9 innings for one run.  Hit by pitcher - by Opalach (Perthel, Raddant).  Winning pitcher - Johnson.  Losing pitcher - Opalach.  Umpires - Chapman, La Fond.  Time of game - 1:54

Remember the words of Dick Davis in this article.  Let's just say that the Papermakers fans in Appleton were riled up for Chapman when the series got to Appleton for Game Three.

Earl Gillespie who had the "walkoff" double is the Earl Gillespie who went on to become the radio voice of the Milwaukee Braves, a sportscaster for Channel 6 in Milwaukee from 1963 until 1985, and a member of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Jim Delsing would play ten seasons in the Major Leagues with the White Sox, Yankees, Browns, Tigers, and Athletics.  His Bullpen page at baseball-reference has some interesting notes about his career - he pinch ran for Eddie Gaedel, was replaced as Detroit's centerfielder by Al Kaline - and his son and grandson.

Flashback Friday returns on January 11 with Game Two of the Shaugnessy playoff series between the Papermakers and the Bluejays.  Will Mike Garcia, an Appleton Professional Baseball Hall of Famer, deliver the goods and even the series?  Wait and see.

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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