Flashback Friday: Pomp & Circumstance (1940)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | December 10, 2010 4:36 AM ET

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Part one of a two part Flashback Friday this week because we are flashing all the way back to the first Opening Day of the Appleton Papermakers.  Next week, the Flashback will be the Gordon McIntyre game story from the May 9, 1940 opener at Goodland Field.  This week's Flashback is the story from the May 10, 1940 Post-Crescent on the pomp and circumstance of the day.

Organized Baseball Back In Appleton With All the Trimmings and Fanfare

Organized baseball returned to Appleton yesterday with all the trimmings.

It was hard to believe that the city hadn't had the pastime or anything similar to it for 26 years, because the response was much more enthusiastic than had been expected.  And that included everything from the dinner at the Conway hotel to the capacity crowd at the game, and down to the fact folks remained until the winning run was scored in the last of the ninth, a few minutes after [5] o'clock.

Shortly after noon 85 persons sat down to a baseball booster dinner at the Conway hotel, a gratifying turnout in view of the fact arrangements got started rather late.  William Van Dyke was chairman of the event and Dr. George T. Hefner the toastmaster.

The first speakers were the managers of the competing teams, Eddie Dancisak for Appleton and Otto Bluege for Green Bay.  Both were rather short because they had their minds on other things.  Dancisak thanked everyone for the interest already shown in the team and promised that if it continued Appleton would have a good club.  Bluege had only to say that Green Bay was ready for the game.

No Recreation Program

Percy Moore, baseball coach at Lane Tech high school in Chicago, which houses 8,900 boys was the principal speaker.  He immediately set the crowd down with the comment that he was surprised to see so many fine things in Appleton but no supervised recreation program.

Keeping boys busy in organized play will cut your crime among youth 75 per cent he told the group.  "Maybe you feel you have a crime problem among young people," he followed, "but youth is youth and the slack rope must be taken up somewhere by some kind of program."

He commented that the season's baseball ticket plan in Appleton, 25 cents for children to ninth grade and $1 for high school students, was the first step in such a recreation venture.  Baseball is definitely an outlet for young people, he added.

"Be patient" was his keynote when he came to discussing the opening of the Class D season.  Some of the boys will strike out, he said, they'll make errors and lose games but the city that has a good team will be a patient city.  "Stand back of the team," he pleaded reminding the audience that many of the boys are just out of high school, out of college, or have just come from the sandlot and need to learn to work together.

He cited Joe McCarthy of the Yankees as one who has gotten far by words of praise for his boys.  "Nice going." Will go farther to making a winning team than anything else, he said.

"Discovered" Cavaretta

Moore added a word for Legion baseball such as Appleton has each year.  He handles a team in Chicago and while discussing his squads recalled how he picked Phil Cavaretta of the Cubs "out of a gutter in Little Italy" and got him interested in baseball.

Other speakers were Gerald Hopkins, president of the Green Bay Baseball Club, Mayor John Goodland of Appleton, C.O. Baetz, president of the Appleton team, Vern Lewellen, one of the promoters for the Bay club, Gordon McIntyre, sports editor of the Appleton Post-Crescent, and William Van Dyke, the dinner chairman.  John Buchman of Lawrence college added a touch to the program with a baseball monolog.

With the dinner and program over at 2 o'clock, the group left the hotel with the two ball teams and took places in cars to form the parade to the field.  It was led by the Sons of the Legion drum and bugle corps.

The arrival of the parade at the field was the signal for the center section of the new stands to start filling up.  The wing sections still are being worked on and won't be ready for another ten days or two weeks.  The center section is minus the plank seats and the fans sat on the cold, hard concrete.

The program at the park featured a flag raising from one of the light poles in centerfield, talks over the loud speaker by Mayor John Goodland of Appleton and Mayor Alex Biemert of Green Bay, presentation of a basket of flowers to Manager Eddie Dancisak of the Appleton team, introduction of Percy Moore and another plea to "be patient" and then pitching of the first ball with Goodland hurling - er, beg pardon, tossing - and Biemert catching.


First lesson in giving a speech to this type of crowd: Don't insult them.  Percy Moore sounds like about the worst possible choice for a keynote speaker.  "Hey, nice place you got here. I'm just surprised you rubes don't have any organized sports to keep your rampant youth crime rate in check."  At least he wasn't lying about pulling Phil Cavaretta "out of a gutter in Little Italy."

I wonder if I can get away with saying something similar at the 2011 Leadoff Experience...probably not.

The reason for the [5] o'clock in the game ending time: There is a blotch on the microfilm over the number.  Since the first pitch was a 3pm, I am guessing that the game wrapped in two hours instead of three hours.

Other headlines from this page of the paper: Yanks Get More Boos At Home Than on Road; Daniel Cahill, No. 1 Cub Fan, Succumbs; Ambers Is Expected to Hold Lightweight Title; Springfield Still In Unbeaten Class In Three Eye Loop; Gantenbein, Herber Sign. Wow! Even in 1940, the Packers got coverage in May.

There is also an ad for Marvel Cigarettes: Now I know why they call them MARVELS, the cigarette of quality for less money. The mascot is a rooster and his motto is: Worth CROWING about!  Oh, 1940, just stop.

Check out this post at Rattler Radio to see a picture of Eddie Dancisak in uniform and one of those vintage Marvel Cigarette ads.

Here is a link to Eddie Dancisak's baseball-reference bullpen page.  This is a link to his baseball-reference page.

Past Flashbacks:

October 8: In fair territory (1994)

October 15: Fans flock to see Foxes (1987)

October 22: New Park (1995)

October 29: Logo Decision (1994)

November 5: Ed Sedar, Pitcher (1985)

November 12: Abarbanel no-hitter (1966)

November 19: McCauley no-hitter (1972)

November 26: Monroe no-hitter (1975)

December 3: Conner, Smith no-hitter (1990)

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

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