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Download Gateway to the Majors: Williamsport and Minor League by James P. Quigel PDF

By James P. Quigel

Drawing upon neighborhood Williamsport newspapers, vast oral histories from former avid gamers, baseball directors, boosters and enthusiasts and infrequent photo collections, this paintings reconstructs the totality of the pro baseball adventure.

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Burrows Bubb, representing the Association stockholders, presented pitcher Rube Bressler and groundskeeper William Myers with gold watches; manager Lindheimer received a diamond ring. As a finale, Farnsworth formally presented the league cup to Bubb, and as the Repasz band played ‘‘There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,’’ the crowd erupted in a frenzied cheer. Needless to say, the final game was anticlimactic, as the locals lost to Harrisburg 2-1 before a spent crowd. Despite fielding an even stronger team in 1906, the ‘‘Millionaires’’—so-renamed by the Harrisburg and Altoona sporting press because of the salaries it could pay its players—failed to repeat as champions, as the Yorkies captured the pennant.

Nothing short of another championship would have placated the local kranks who could not fathom second place after the euphoric finish of 1905. Sebring shared player-manager responsibilities with Harry Wolverton. Additions to the 1906 roster were catcher Charles ‘‘Gabby’’ Street, pitchers Frank ‘‘Fiddler’’ Corridon and Frank Dessau, former Milwaukee first-baseman Bob Unglaub, ‘‘Kid’’ Charles at second, Harry ‘‘Rabbit’’ Gleason at short, Wolverton at third, and Joe Delahanty in left field. One of the highlights of the 1906 season was Rube Bressler’s ironman performance in a sixteen-inning game against Johnstown in which he pitched eleven scoreless innings before losing a 2-1 decision.

The exhibition game quickly degenerated into a comic spectacle when fielders careened into poles and lost fly balls that went beyond the range of the lights. One reporter summed up the evening, ‘‘Though the game was not a howling success . . ’’ Thirty years passed before a perfected lighting system ushered in the first night game at Bowman Field. In 1932, night baseball became a permanent fixture in Williamsport. The Williamsport Athletic Club entered the 1903 season with the strongest financial and administrative support ever bestowed upon a Williamsport sporting endeavor up to that time.

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