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The Redbud City: 'Play ball!'

Clyde Wooldridge
The 1930 edition of the Shawnee Robins got off to a great start and led the league early in the season, winning 10 of their first 13 games. Manager Ray Powell is shown standing, second from the right.

MORGANTHALER HANDCUFFS TWINS IN OPENER

Joe “Lefty” Morganthaler and Clarke Taliaferro collaborated to give the Shawnee Robins an 8-2 triumph over Fort Smith in the official inaugural of the Western Association 1930 season at Fort Smith on April 25. Approximately 1,000 fans braved a chilling breeze and overhanging clouds to witness the rout of the 1929 champions in the first fray.

Morganthaler limited the Twins to six widely scattered hits, while Taliaferro secured half of that number for the Robins. In only one frame, did the champions threaten. That was in the fifth, when a cluster of two hits and two infield outs provided two runs. The big lefthander enjoyed perfect control and struck out six and did not walk a single batter for the game.

Taliaferro hammered out a home run inside the park in the fourth frame to score Morganthaler and Ucal Clanton ahead of him. He started the seventh with a double and scored on Hill’s sacrifice. His single in the eighth sent the mound star across with another run.

George Anderson and Ed Williams shared hitting honors with the third baseman, each getting a trio of hits. Anderson’s triple in the seventh bounded off the centerfield wall, falling just short of a home run. Manager Ray Powell did not say who he would start on the mound for the second game, but it appeared to be Al Smith, the only other southpaw on the squad.

The Robins would capture three of the four games at Fort Smith and then traveled to Springfield for the next series, before coming home for their home opener on May 2. They would go on to win 10 of their first 13 games and rocket into first place.

 WRIGHT AND ANDERSON STAR IN OPENING DAY VICTORY

Without a hit for four innings, the Shawnee Robins came to life in the fifth frame of their opening home engagement with the Springfield Midgets at Athletic Park on May 2, 1930. They drove the opposing pitcher to cover under a barrage of five hits for as many runs, and from then on scored at will to win, 12-3.

After an uncertain beginning, in which he yielded four hits and three runs, big Al Smith, leading Western Association hurler in 1929, while with Joplin, pitched perfect baseball for the rest of the contest. He faced only 19 batters in the final six innings. Only three men reached base during that time, all from errors.

A little more than 1,000 fans came out for the game. It was a beautiful day and only the lack of execution early in the game spoiled the day. The game was full of errors, with the Midgets committing eight and the Robins four. However, there were just as many great plays made by the players throughout the game.

George Anderson, voted the league’s best shortstop in 1929, picked up where he left off the season before. He shared with Ab Wright in the limelight of the day. In addition to turning in several good plays in the field, Anderson led the Robins’ attack with a home run and a triple, driving in five runs. Leland Hill, young right-fielder, also smashed out a home run. With an additional single, he drove in two runs.

The victory moved the Robins’ early season record to (6-2) and vaulted them into first place for the first time, holding a one-game lead at the time over Joplin. They would go on to win five of their next six games and increase their lead for a time.

BASEBALL SEASON COMPLETED FOR HIGH SCHOOL

For the first time in several years, the Shawnee High School produced an excellent baseball team. The boys showed up at the baseball diamond regularly for practice. The Wolves, determined and powerful, had splendid cooperation throughout the baseball season. The team took a lead in most games and held it throughout the contest.

The majority of opposing teams were rather surprised to find themselves tamed into submission by the Wolves. The team’s first four games were played with Oklahoma City teams, each game being more thrilling than the previous one. With Buddy Wilcoxson as coach, the team fought for a victorious baseball season. Games were played with teams from Oklahoma City, Drumright, Norman and Stillwater.

COUNTY POPULATION SOARS IN 1930 CENSUS

Pottawatomie County turned in a population of 66,579 in the 1930 census canvas. More than half of the figures released were from the rural areas. The announcement was made by Charlie C. Hawk, 10th District supervisor for the count.

The county population was estimated somewhat higher than the figures publicized, but it was surprising to note that despite Shawnee’s growth during the past 10 years to 23,276, and the rapid growth of all cities and towns in the county, the bulk of the people lived in the country. Of the total but 32,858 were tabulated as residents of cities and towns, and the remaining 33,739 were listed as living on the 3,752 farms of the county.

Aside from the population of the city of Shawnee and that of the Saint Louis township in the oil community in the southeastern part of the county, Davis township, in which Shawnee was located, had the greatest number of persons with 3,751. St. Louis township had 5,918 people. A great many of the 3,751 persons listed in Davis township were, except for the boundary lines of the city of Shawnee citizens, supplied with water from Shawnee’s mains and enjoyed all the rights and privileges of city folk, except voting.

Rock Creek township had the largest number of farms with 501, and Earlsboro township the smallest number with 139. Losses were reflected in nearly all purely agricultural townships, but a gain was noted in all oil-affected townships and the township in which Shawnee was located of Davis.

The totals for the county in 1920 showed 51,716 living in the county. The 1930 figures bumped the numbers to 66,579.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in the six-volume history of Shawnee, entitled “REDBUD CITY.” They could normally be purchased at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. However, due to the current health crisis in the United States, they are closed. If you cannot obtain a copy, you may call me at (918) 470-3728, and I will mail you a copy. The first three volumes are currently available, and hopefully, the fourth is coming out this fall. The price is $30 per volume. Because of the current closing of research centers, I am stuck at 1981 in volume four, (1970-89).

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.