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Chicago - Early Amateur & Semi-Pro Ballclubs

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  • Chicago - Early Amateur & Semi-Pro Ballclubs

    Three of Chicago's famous amateur/semi-pro ballclubs of the late 19th & early 20th century were Billy Niesen's Gunthers, the all-black Leland Giants, and the Logan Squares. According to SABR's Brian McKenna, over 150 ballclubs were members of the Chicago based Amateur Managers’ Baseball League in 1902 and over 550 ballclubs were members of the Chicago Intercity Association in 1909. This thread is devoted to pics and information regarding any (or all) of the clubs that made Chicago their home...

    I'll start off with an image:

    The home of the Chicago Mills semi-pro club, Mills Stadium, c. 1934, courtesy of docmoreau:

    Mills Stadium, Chicago.jpg

    Project Ballpark notes that Mills Stadium was used "from 1913 to 1941 for semi-pro baseball and boxing." The 1930 Chicago Bears and the 1931 Chicago Cardinals also used this park for their training camp.
    Last edited by Capital City Goofball; 12-30-2012, 03:14 PM.

  • #2
    Another awesome find, courtesy of Scott Simkus... The digitized Spalding Baseball Guides. Chicago's semi-pro baseball leagues of 1905 are talked about in-depth...

    6a00d8341ccce053ef0120a5d05ab9970b-800wi.jpg

    Simkus also wrote about the Gunthers/Pyotts baseball team, posting this image (given to him by Tom Niesen, William C. (Bill) Niesen's Great-Great Grandson) of their home stadium, Gunther Park...

    100_63453.jpg

    Gunther Park was located on Leland Avenue between Ashland and Clark (the current site of Chase Park), just north of Wrigley Field. It was the home of Niesen's Gunthers as well as the United States Baseball League's Chicago Green Sox... Speaking of Billy Niesen, there's a fountain (William Niesen Memorial Fountain) dedicated to him next to the Lincoln Park south fieldhouse...
    Last edited by Capital City Goofball; 12-30-2012, 03:28 PM.

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    • #3
      The Logan Squares, courtesy of the Baseball Historian:

      s053881.jpg
      Logan Square semiprofessional baseball players Ed Hughes, Heitel, Evans, Donovan, sitting on a bench in front of grandstands.

      s056178.jpg
      Logan Square baseball player F. Evanston standing on a field, 1910.

      s054727.jpg
      Baseball player Wallbruck, Logan Square, following through after throwing a baseball 1908. Baseball History.

      s052884.jpg
      Baseball player, Ed Hughes, Logan Square baseball team 1907.

      s052891.jpg
      Baseball player, Ed Mallay, Logan Square baseball team 1907.
      Last edited by Capital City Goofball; 09-13-2012, 04:44 PM. Reason: Asked to merge the old thread with the one above.

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      • #4
        One more image, courtesy of the Baseball Historian:

        s051727.jpg
        James J. Callahan, baseball player, Logan Square, following through after throwing a baseball 1907.

        The only pic I can find of the Logan Square Ballpark (courtesy of memory.loc.gov):

        n008591.jpg
        View of men pushing a theater on wheels in the Logan Square baseball park in the Logan Square community area of Chicago, Illinois.

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        • #5
          More images of the Logan Squares (courtesy of memory.loc.gov):

          s054728.jpg
          Baseball player Bob Meinke, Logan Square, holding a baseball bat, standing in front of bleachers.

          s054729.jpg
          Baseball player Bob Meinke, Logan Square, swinging a baseball bat.

          s054730.jpg
          Baseball player Hage, Logan Square, jumping and reaching up in the air with his gloved hand.

          s055031.jpg
          Baseball player Hertel, Logan Square, holding a baseball bat, standing in front of bleachers.

          s054731.jpg
          Baseball player Hertel, Logan Square, holding his hands in front of him to catch a baseball.

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          • #6
            More images of the Logan Squares (courtesy of memory.loc.gov):

            s054732.jpg
            Baseball player Torrey, Logan Square, following through after throwing a baseball.

            s055030.jpg
            Baseball player Torrey, Logan Square, following through after throwing a baseball, standing behind a row of benches.

            s008138.jpg
            Baseball player, Nichols, Logan Square baseball team, holding baseball.

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            • #7
              More images of the Logan Squares (courtesy of memory.loc.gov):

              s004757.jpg
              Baseball team, Logan Square, posing on a baseball field.

              s053807.jpg
              Baseball player Leo Mahoney of the Logan Square semiprofessional baseball team, following through after swinging a baseball bat.
              Last edited by Capital City Goofball; 12-23-2012, 02:37 PM.

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              • #8
                An article about Nixey Callahan by James Elfers.

                Another image courtesy of memory.loc.gov:

                s055467.jpg
                Baseball player Frank Donovan, Logan Square, leaning forward with his hands on his knees on a baseball field.
                Last edited by Capital City Goofball; 12-23-2012, 03:03 PM.

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                • #9
                  Images of the Gunthers baseball team (courtesy of memory.loc.gov & the Chicago Daily News negatives collection at the Chicago History Museum.):

                  s050121.jpg
                  Captain of the Gunther baseball team, Nick Pedroes.

                  s009530.jpg
                  Baseball player, Stillman, Gunther's baseball team.

                  s002971.jpg
                  Baseball team, Gunthers, Chicago City League, leaning on each other on ballpark playing field.

                  s004592.jpg
                  Baseball player, Stellman, Gunthers, swinging a bat near the stands on a baseball.

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                  • #10
                    I'm really enjoying these posts...especially like the player F. Evanston because that's a near suburb of Chicago (my father was born there and Northwestern U is in that town).
                    There was a small stadium not too far from where I grew up that always fascinated me, my memory is that it was in Skokie but might have been Lincolnwood or Chicago. I never actually stepped foot in the place, but used to dream about playing there some time when I was a little boy. I can't think of the name and that's bugging me, but I will try panning around in Google Earth in hopes that it's still there and I can find it.

                    I think there are still a lot of teams out there for adults that are not part of the minors, the difference being that nobody comes to watch them except family. I think there are just too many other entertainment options these days. I've played adult baseball on and off for 20 years and the only spectators I can think of who were not related to players were people walking dogs who would stop and watch for a few minutes. I'm curious to hear about players with different experiences, maybe there's a baseball world out there I'm not aware of.

                    EDIT - I found it, Thillens Stadium...one site claims it's in Lincolnwood but it's east of the canal so I think it must be Chicago. Two fields, they look very small in the satellite shot. The wiki claims that Little League and men's 16" softball games were broadcast from there through the '60s on WGN and the place was built in '38. It closed briefly due to a lack of funds about 10 years ago, but the Cubs and other kicked in some money and it's open again. Looks too small to have been practical for men's baseball, even if it originally had only one field.
                    Last edited by Dude Paskert; 09-14-2012, 05:43 AM.
                    "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                      I'm really enjoying these posts...especially like the player F. Evanston because that's a near suburb of Chicago (my father was born there and Northwestern U is in that town).
                      There was a small stadium not too far from where I grew up that always fascinated me, my memory is that it was in Skokie but might have been Lincolnwood or Chicago. I never actually stepped foot in the place, but used to dream about playing there some time when I was a little boy. I can't think of the name and that's bugging me, but I will try panning around in Google Earth in hopes that it's still there and I can find it.

                      I think there are still a lot of teams out there for adults that are not part of the minors, the difference being that nobody comes to watch them except family. I think there are just too many other entertainment options these days. I've played adult baseball on and off for 20 years and the only spectators I can think of who were not related to players were people walking dogs who would stop and watch for a few minutes. I'm curious to hear about players with different experiences, maybe there's a baseball world out there I'm not aware of.

                      EDIT - I found it, Thillens Stadium...one site claims it's in Lincolnwood but it's east of the canal so I think it must be Chicago. Two fields, they look very small in the satellite shot. The wiki claims that Little League and men's 16" softball games were broadcast from there through the '60s on WGN and the place was built in '38. It closed briefly due to a lack of funds about 10 years ago, but the Cubs and other kicked in some money and it's open again. Looks too small to have been practical for men's baseball, even if it originally had only one field.
                      Thank you for your post! Yes, Thillens Stadium was a site to behold... In the '50s, WGN broadcasted little league games from Thillens Stadium with play-by-play by Jack Brickhouse... Moose Skowron starred for the great Kool Vent Awnings teams that played at Thillens Stadium in the late 40s... For more information about this little ballpark, check out this article from 1991:

                      Thillens Stadium: A Field Of Memories Is Still Going Strong
                      Last edited by Capital City Goofball; 12-23-2012, 02:31 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Images of the Leland Giants courtesy of memory.loc.gov and the Chicago Daily News negatives collection from the Chicago History Museum.

                        s055385.jpg
                        African American baseball player Gatewood, Leland Giants, throwing a baseball, standing on a baseball field (1909).

                        s055497.jpg
                        African American baseball player J. Preston "Pete" Hill, Leland Giants, holding a baseball bat, on a baseball field (1909).

                        s055384.jpg
                        African American baseball player Payne, Leland Giants, standing in a batting stance on a baseball field (1909).

                        s055417.jpg
                        African American baseball player Wright, Leland Giants, cocking his arm to throw a baseball on a field (1909).

                        s055356.jpg
                        African American baseball player Gatewood, Leland Giants, throwing a baseball, standing on a baseball field (1909).

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                        • #13
                          A great article written by Brian McKenna about Jim Callahan's famous ballclub...

                          The Logan Squares

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                          • #14
                            Gary Bedingfield's Baseball in Wartime newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 25, from October 2009, talks about Darrell Heath (Page 2), a semi-pro ballplayer from Chicago. Heath played for the Chicago Mills in the late 30s and early 40s (the link is a PDF file):

                            Semi Pro Ballplayers in Service

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Capital City Goofball View Post
                              Thank you for your post! Yes, Thillens Stadium was a site to behold... In the '50s, WGN broadcasted little league games from Thillens Stadium with play-by-play by Jack Brickhouse... Imagine being a little leaguer back in those days! Moose Skowron starred for the great Kool Vent Awnings teams of the late 40s, and they played at Thillens Stadium... I've watched many a game there but after they shut the park down, a renovation took place that got rid of most of it's charm... Although the grandstand looks different and the park doesn't get a lot of use nowadays, it's still a fun place to watch a game... For more information about this little ballpark, check out this article from 1991:

                              Thillens Stadium: A Field Of Memories Is Still Going Strong
                              Nice link, I enjoyed reading the Trib article.
                              I was playing with a team in Schaumburg in the early '90s and thought briefly about trying to line up a game there somehow, but figured that I'd have a hard time getting enough guys to schlep all the way to Thillens. That place looked like a palace when I was a boy.
                              "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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