Flashback Friday: Walkoff Homer, 1941 Style

(L) Pat Seery is mobbed by his Papermakers teammates after a "walkoff" homer against Sheboygan on May 15, 1941. (R) The Goodland Field faithful celebrate. (Milwaukee Journal/ Frank J. Scherschel)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | February 15, 2013 5:55 AM

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This week's Flashback Friday is courtesy of a 1941 scrapbook that was dropped off from Jim Riedl.

The Appleton Papermakers opened the 1941 Wisconsin State League season on Thursday, May 15 against the Sheboygan Indians.

A big crowd turned and they saw the start of the Legend of Pat Seerey.  The inimitable Gordon McIntyre has the game story from the May 16, 1941 edition of The Post-Crescent.

Seerey Busts Home Papermakers Win
Blast Climaxes Four Run Assault in Last Half of the Ninth

There's a new hero in this here man's town, one Pat Seerey from away down Arkansas way and the pudgy, good-natured right fielder for the Appleton baseball club.

For last evening, Pat came to bat in the last of the ninth inning with a mate on base and one run needed to save the Appleton Papermakers from defeat and two runs needed to pull the old ball game out of the fire.  So Pat took a toe hold and when the first pitch came down the alley, instead of letting it go by as the Papermakers often do, Pat took a gentle cut and sent the ball sailing high, high into the air and over the centerfield fence.

The 3,000 fans who were watching the game went wild and members of the Papermakers squad galloped to the third base line to take picks on various parts of Pat's anatomy as he rambled the last 90 feet to the plate.  And after they got through there were the kids and all the folks Pat had to pass on the way to the dressing room.

Pat's homer gave the Papermakers a 7 to 6 victory in their opening struggle of the 1941 season with Sheboygan the loser.

Up to the ninth inning the Papermakers were best described by the words from a famous baseball telegram:  "Good field, no hit."  Of course the fielding was erratic on a couple occasions but generally speaking it sparkled with enough class to thrill.  

Dick Williams the Loser  

Or perhaps you could have blamed that veteran campaigner, Dick Williams, for part of Appleton's troubles.  Dick was on the mound for Sheboygan and he wasn't so wild any more.  As a matter of fact he had good control and he used his head to good advantage and counted ten strikeouts.  Until the fatal ninth he had allowed only four hits and not more than one an inning.  He gave up seven for the game, the same number as allowed by Tommy White and Harold Keith of the Papermakers.

Appleton was the first to score when Williams wobbled a bit in the second in the matter of control.  He walked Seerey and Rolf in succession and Harry Heller, who arrived only yesterday, laid down a bunt moving both along.  Then Williams got off a wild pitch and Seerey legged it home.  With Rolf on third base, Tommy White came up and punched a single into right for the second run.  A couple errors and a long fly to center enabled Heller to score in the fourth as Appleton led 3 to 0.

But Tommy White, Appleton hurler who had allowed no hits through the first three heats, allowed one in the fourth and walked two batters and was having trouble.  Came the fifth and the trouble arrived.  

Sheboygan Leads  

Rocek opened the frame with a double to left and Williams drew a walk.  Richel was next and being a little fellow, no one expected him to hit hard.  But he blasted a homer over the left field fence and there were three runs.  White walked the next two batters and that was enough for him with Harold Klein, a southpaw coming in.  Sheboygan got another run before the side was retired with the Indians in front 4 to 3.

Appleton got men on bases a couple times but nothing happened and when Sheboygan took a 6 to 3 lead in the eighth, the Appleton cause almost seemed lost.  With one away, Ballinger singled to right.  Beyer rolled to Klein who turned to throw to second and start a double killing.  But he was under too much pressure and tossed badly to Shortstop Gregory and all hands were safe.  Then Rocek singled and Ballinger tallied from second.  Williams rolled to Klein and Beyer was out at the plate.  A passed ball moved Rocek to second and he took third on the Williams' roller.  Rocek tallied when McDonald threw the ball past Lapham while trying to nip him off third.

The fans were still hanging around when Appleton came up in the last of the ninth although they really figured Williams and Sheboygan had a win tucked away.  Vernon Erickson was sent in the pinch hit for Pitcher Klein and he sailed a single to left as the crowd came alive to the possibilities.

Then Hugh Lapham worked Williams for a walk putting two men on base.  Meier was called out on strikes but Gregory sent hopes roaring when he uncorked a double to left scoring two runs.

Herb Conyers was next and everyone was pulling for the big first sacker to smash one a mile and win the ball game.  But Herb rolled to second as Gregory took third.

MAY 15, 1941 - BOXSCORE

Atta Boy Pat! ! ! !

Sheboygan (6)        AB     R      H      PO     A
Richel, lf           5      1      2      2      1
Yednock, ss          3      1      2      1      0
Nadler, 3b           4      0      0      2      0
McGuire, cf          3      0      0      2      0
Ruch, 1b             3      0      0      5      2
Ballinger, rf        3      1      1      1      1
Beyer, 2b            4      0      0      1      2
Rocek, c             4      2      2      11     1
Williams, p          3      1      0      1      0

Appleton (7)         AB     R      H      PO     A
Lapham, 3b           4      1      0      0      2
Meier, cf            5      0      1      3      0
Gregory, ss          5      1      1      1      0
Conyers, 1b          5      0      1      7      1
Seerey, rf           4      2      2      1      0
Rolf, lf             3      1      0      1      0
Heller, 2b           3      1      0      3      4
McDonnell, c         4      0      0      10     1
White, p             1      0      1      0      0
Klein, p             1      0      0      1      2
+Erickson            1      1      1      0      0

+Singled for Klein in ninth.
#Two out when winning run scored.

Sheboygan     000    040    020    -      6
Appleton      020    100    004    -      7

Errors - Lapham, McDonnell, Klein, Yednock 2, Ruch, Beyer, Williams. Runs Batted In - Lapham, Gregory 2, Seerey 2, White, Richel 3, Rocek.  Two-base hits - Conyers, Gregory, Richel, Yednock.  Home Runs - Seerey, Richel.  Stolen Bases - Seerey.  Sacrifices - White, Heller, McGuire.  Double Plays - Lapham to Heller to Conyers.  Left on Base - Appleton 8, Sheboygan 7.  Bases on Balls, off White 7, Williams 3.  Struck out, by White 5, Williams 10, Klein 4.  Hits off White 3 in four innings, 0 out in 5th; off Klein 4. Wild Pitches - Williams 1.  Passed balls  - McDonnell. Winning Pitcher - Klein.

Pat Seerey would hit 31 home runs for the Appleton Papermakers in 1941.  That is still an Appleton Professional Baseball record for homers in a single season.

Seerey hit four homers in a game on July 18, 1948.  One for each exclamation point after Atta Boy Pat

The Vernon Erickson who got the pinch-hit single to start the Papermakers rally in the bottom of the ninth is the grandfather of current Rattlers manager Matt Erickson.

The photo that goes with the article is from a Milwaukee Journal "photographic microscope" that ran on June 15, 1941.  Frank J. Scherschel was the photographer.  The shots are great.  I'll share them over on Rattler Radio on a day before the season starts.

I am looking at a Post-Crescent photo of fans sitting in the aisles while the 1941 opener is being played.  The men are wearing suits, ties, and fedoras.  The ladies are wearing skirts and blouses.  It is astounding that there is only one cigarette visible in the photo.

By the way, I have been looking through this scrapbook from 1941.  It is AMAZING!  There are clippings in here of the University of Wisconsin Basketball Team (Big 10 and NCAA Champions in 1941), the UW Boxing team, the Packers (Cecil Isbell, Clarke Hinkle, and Tony Canadeo) and other great time capsule pieces.  Plus, there is a terrific series of Post-Crescent photos from an August game between the Papermakers and Green Bay in which the Appleton faithful make fun of Red Smith, the Green Bay manager.

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

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