Saturday, June 9, 2012


When looking back on Syracuse Baseball History, we find the Chicago White Sox did visit the city back on August 15, 1916. The game was played at Star Park located on North Salina Street near Onondaga Lake (where Carousel Center now stands). Four of the eight player banned by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis played in the contest- "Happy" Felsch, Fred Mc Mullen, Buck Weaver and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.

That day the White Sox roster also included third baseman Nemo Liebold, who later became manager of the Syracuse Chiefs in 1935-36 seasons.

The game itself was a laughter as the White Sox mauled the Stars by a score of 16-0. Joe Jackson combined for a triple and two singles in his three plate appearances before he withdrew from the contest. "Happy" Felsch followed with two more hits while Buck Weaver added luster when he lifted a home run over the right field wall. Reports called it the longest home run of the 1916 season. Fred McMullen also collected a pair of hits as the Sox totaled 22 base knock by games end.

Former American League hurler Dave Roth took the mount for Syracuse, but Stars hitters could only scratch out two singles in 29 trips to the plate. On the plus side the Syracuse Stars went on to win the 1916 New York State League championship with a record of 81-52

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Clarence Schindler's first full season (1940) would be one he'd like to forget. The team's finished as follows: Rochester's talented club captured the league championship (96-61), followed by Newark, Jersey City, Baltimore with the Chiefs finishing seventh in the eight team league. The Chiefs finished last in both team batting and in team fielding percentage. The bright sport Ed Longare's .284 average won him the "Most Popular Chiefs Award" voted on by the fans. Also the arrival of outfielder "Goody" Rosen who patrolled the outfield for many a season. He was honored with his own "Goody Rosen Night" June 27 before a contest with the Rochester Red Wings. Others interesting events, July 13 the Chiefs hit four home runs but still lost to Newark 7-6. Baseball comic Al Schadt's appearance August 6 drew 10,524 fans the largest of the season. Roy Johnson pols four straight home run in a September 2 doubleheader. Three in game one and the fourth in his first at bat in game two. Finally on November 16, Clarence Schindler fires Chiefs manager Dick Porter and coach Dan Taylor. Schindler then hires Benny Borgman to lead the tribe in 1941. Borgman interestedly would later coach the Syracuse Nationals in the National Basketball League.

Borgman's only year as the Chiefs helm was not a successful one. The tribe finished in sixth place as the powerful Newark Bears won the International League Championship winning 100 game while losing just 54. The Bears were followed by Montreal, Buffalo and Rochester.

Spring training opened at Ft. Lauderdale on March 16, 1941, with the I.L. opener set for April 17. Ted Kleinhans was on the mound opening day as Buffalo clobbered the Chiefs 11-1. The starting lineup looked as follows- "Flea" Clinton (2b), "Goody" Rosen (cf), Roy Johnson (lf), "Bobo" Hasson (1b), Fred Deal (rf), Woody Williams (ss), "Red" Juelich (3b), Chris Hartje (c) with the lefty Kleinhans on the mound.

Left fielder Frank Secory was batting over .300 when he broke his leg in a May 11 doubleheader against Newark.

To be continued...

Friday, May 25, 2012


Camden, South Carolina became the new spring training home of the Chiefs in 1939. Manager Dick Porter's team played fourteen games in the south including Jake Moody's/Pete Angel's 3-0 win over the House Of David. Johnny Gee won the April 20 International League opener vs Toronto. Gee was well on his way to a 20 win season that culminated with his contract being sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a reported $20,000 and four players. The bonus to the Chiefs was John didn't have to report to the Pirates till spring training 1940.

The strength of the 1939 ball club was in it's pitching staff. Led by Johnny Gee and nineteen game winner Ted Kleinhans (19-12) plus Jack Tising, Mike Meola and Jake Mooty combined for 75 of the team 81 victories.

Following a May 28 doubleheader victory over the Newark Bears, the Chiefs Enterprises Inc. owned by Jack Corbett was sold to Syracusans Clarence Schindler and Alex Mengarelli for a reported $200,000. The first $50,000 was to be paid now and the balance over a period of years. It was later learned that the selling price was must less around $130,000 of which $25,00 went directly into the club's treasury. The rest to be paid to Mr. Corbett rated about $10,000 a year to pay off the balance. Mengarelli a 30 year old stock and bond broker in turn interested Clarence Schindler the manager of the Cobwell Garbage Reduction Company. They both ventured into professional baseball for the first time.

By late July the Chiefs climbed into third place and a week later into second. As the 1939 International League season wound down they found themselves dropping to fifth. Bit it was the seasons' last day September 10 with a split doubleheader against Jersey City that the Chiefs ended the year in a tie for the final playoff spot with the Newark Bears. A one game playoff was held the next day to break the deadlock. But 20 game winner Johnny Gee couldn't stop the mighty Newark Bears, who came away with a 9-6 win.

The Chiefs finished fifth with a respectable 81-74 mark in a year they had made such a great comeback. In November, Chiefs new officers, President Clarence Schindler and Secretary Harold Roettger signed a new working agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates. with the provision that the Chiefs get first pick of 1940 Prates rookie players.Former team secretary was in the news again as he sued his former boss Jack Corbett for $9,000 in loss commissions. Reilly was not only without a job but without any financial benefit from the sale, which he said was part of the sale agreement with Schindler and Mengarelli. Alex Mengarelli resigned on November 14 and Clarence Schindler assumed total control of the ball club.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Owner Jack Corbett named former Syracuse Star "Sunny" Jim Bottomley is the new Chiefs manager for 1938. After a dismal 6-15 start Bottomley resigns and is replaced by Dick Porter. Porter's first move was to hire former major-leaguer Jimmy Walsh ( a Syracuse resident) on as coach. The pitching staff was bolstered with the addition of Reggie Grabowski from Minneapolis, Johnny Gee, Ted Kleinhans, Jake Mooty, Earl Cook and "Red" Barrett . While Jimmy Outlaw (.339), Tony Bongiovanni (.321), Edgar Longacre, Joe Mack, Dee Moore and Dick Porter teamed to lead the Chiefs to a sewcond place finish.

The year was highlighted by Johnny Gee who hurled the longest game in Chiefs history a 18 inning 3-2 victory over the Newark Bears. A visit from the New York Yankees in an exhibition that included Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. The June 12th game ended in a 9-3 Yankees win. Other Yankees seeing cation were Tommy Henrich, George Selkirk, Joe Gordon, Joe Glenn, Babe Dahlgren and manager Joe McCarthy.

Six days later the first tragedy, Chiefs catcher Dee Moore was injured when struck by a bottle thrown from the stands. News reports stated that Syracuse Police arrested Carl A. LeClair.

Babe Ruth returned to Syracuse on July 6, this time as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers. "The Babe" played first base in a 9-0 Dodger victory. Over 11,000 fans viewed Ruth single in four trips to the plate. Ruth's photo was featured in a  Dodger uniform on the front of the game scorecard that memorable day. The last exhibition of the year was against the Cincinnati Reds August 8. The Chiefs and Reds played to a 2-2 rain shortened seven inning tie.

 The Chiefs clinched second place September 8 on a Johnny Gee two-hitter vs Jersey City. With "Red" Barrett having been recalled by Cincinnati the Chiefs still entered the Governors Cup Playoffs with high hopes. Municipal Stadium was the site of the first two contests against the Buffalo Bisons.

Governors Cup Playoff - Game 1 in Syracuse
The Bisons squeaked out a 3-2 win as the Chiefs left the bases loaded in the ninth. Ken Ash defeated Ted Kleinhans before 7,572 screaming Syracusans.

Governors Cup Playoffs- Game 2 in Syracuse
Bison Fabian Kowalik tossed a five-hitter and the Chiefs uncertain fielding cost them in this one. Nino Bongiovanni again received the "Goat of the Game Award" as his errors put the winning run on base and a poor throw cost another. With the Chiefs down two games to none the series shifted to Buffalo.

Governors Cup Playoff- Game 3 at Buffalo
Three Buffalo home runs over the short right field wall nilified a pair of Chiefs tallies. Trailing by two in the ninth, the Chiefs filled the bases with only one out. Then with two out Manager Dick Porter gambled and sent up rookie Charlie Harig. Hairg's hard smash to center field was caught ending the contest. The tribe dropped their third straight 6-5.

Governors Cup Playoff- Game 4 at Buffalo
In the series final mechanical and metal errors lost this one. During the first six innings the tribe had many chances to score. But three times a man was run down between third and home and yet another was put out at the plate. Trailing 5-1 only Joe Mack's homer closed the margin to 5-3. The Bisons sweep the series four games to none. To All-Time Chiefs records were set that year. First- Tony Bongiovanni set the record for the "Most Doubles" in a season with 46. Jimmy Outlaw then set the mark for highest batting percentage at .339. That stayed a team record until the 1990's The current record was set in 1991 by Derek Bell at .346.

Even after a great season team owner Jack Corbett never reached the financial success he had planned upon the teams transfer from Jersey City back in 1934. November 10, Syracuse Newspapers reported that "The Cincinnati Reds will buy the Chiefs". The sale to the Reds never happened.


March 22, 1937- a new working agreement was signed between the Chiefs and the Cincinnati Reds of the National League. Jersey City had replaced Albany and Bernard "Mike" Kelly was named as new pilot of the tribe in 1937.

The Chiefs opened the International League season on April 23 dropping a 6-1 verdict to the Buffalo Bisons. Thie lineup comprised many new faces, Al Grosscup (2b), Eddie Jost (3b), Lee Gamble (cf), Dick Porter (rf), Wally Cazen (lf) Bill Campbell (c), John Reder (1b) , Ed Miller (ss) and Ralph Kolp on the mound.

The most important addition to the club was that of hard hitting first baseman Frank McCormick. McCormick had been promoted from Durham (5/16) solidified the infield while leading the club with a .322 average. With McCormick's addition the Chiefs won six of their next eight contests. In another player transaction catcher "Doc" Legett was traded to Nashville, and Dee Moore arrived from Cincinnati.
The Boston Red Sox arrived on June 14 for their yearly exhibition. Little fan excitement was generated as only 2.000 attended a 3-2 Chiefs victory. This would be the last time Syracuse would see the Red Sox and the likes of  future "Hall of Famers " Jimmy Foxx, Joe Cronin & Bobby Doerr.

A week later the Chiefs had climbed into third place. Johnny Vander Veer arrived from Cincinnati when Jake Moody was recalled and the Reds arrived in town for their first ever exhibition game. July 12th the Syracuse Newspapers report rumors that Cincinnati team officials want Ki Ki Cuyler as new Chiefs manager. The Reds roster sported former Syracuse player's, Chick Hafey, "Wild Bill" Halahan & Joe Cascarella along with Ernie Lombardi and Cuyler. Former Central High School pitching ace Johnny Gee was on the mound that day and downs Cincinnati 4-2.

With the Chiefs setting in third place, Earl Harrist pitches a 1-0 no-hit game vs Jersey City on July 25. Five days later the tribe slipped into fifth place with a 50-50 mark, but rebounded on Lloyd Moore's one-hitter July 30 against Buffalo and Johhny Gee's two-hitter vs Toronto. Before the season ended the St Louis Brown's visited Municipal Stadium topping the home team 8-2. The brave 3,500 fans viewed a Brown's lineup of Jim Bottomley, Joe Vosmik, Billy Knickerbocker and Sam West.

The Newark Bears (109-43) captured the league title with the Chiefs placing third at 78-74. Dick Porter was voted "Most Popular Chief" and Whitey Moore was honored as the International League Strikeout King. Moore had set a new All-Time Chiefs record with 16 strikeouts in a single nine inning game. That record still stands today.

The Governors Cup Playoffs opened at Newark, as Earl Cook lost a Game #1 heartbreaker to Joe Beggs 2-1. A game the Chiefs lead 1-0 in the fifth on Harry Craft's long homer to left field. With the Chiefs still leading 1-0 and two out in the bottom of the ninth Newarks' Joe Gordon homered to left to deadlock the score 1-1. The next batter Jim Gleeason followed with another long homer to left and the Bears came away with a 2-1 victory.

Game 2, Newark hammered Johnny Vandere Veer 7-2 to take a two games to none lead in the best of seven series.

Game 3,  the series returned to Syracuse as Newark continued their assault on Whitey Moore to the tune of 8-0 before 6,500 tribe fans.

Game 4,  Newark closed the door on the Chiefs on a cold damp evening before only 1.500 brave souls. Earl Cook had another good outing the the Chiefs nemesic, Joe Gordon hit another homer, this time an inside the park variety when the ball rolled to the deep right field scoreboard. The Chiefs scored in the seventh on Frank McCormick's double and two sac flies. It was the first runs the Chiefs had scored in 22 innings. Newark scored an insurance run in the nith, but the game was over a 3-1 Newark Bears win. The tribe managed just five hits off Newark rookier starter Marius Russo.

The season ended for the Chiefs losting four straight games. But Newark continued on defeating Baltimore to win the Governors Cup and then down Columbus to win the Little World Series.

Monday, May 21, 2012


January 1936, pitcher Bobby Coombs was sold to Birmingham of the Southern League. The Boston Red Sox send Ellsworth "Babe" Dahlgren to the Chiefs after obtaining future "Hall of Famer" -Jimmy Foxx. While Mineral, Texas was selected as the teams new spring training site.

The good new was that "Babe" Dahlgren led the Chiefs' hitting a blazing .318 that summer. He still hold the Chiefs All-Time Record's for Most Game Played in one season 155, and Triples with 21 in one of his best years in professional baseball. The Chiefs classy first baseman's name would later become a trivia contest question on May 2, 1939. On that date "Babe" a reserve first baseman for the New York Yankees replaced the ill Lou Gehrig ending his consecutive game streak at 2,130. Gehrig's life ending illness diagnosed an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or as we known it today "Lou Gehrig's Disease". Many years later Dahlgren was quoted as saying "I rarely speak of that moment. I'm sick of that, I never wanted to be a Yankee. There was no way to replace Lou Gehrig." The Yankees did go on to win their fourth consecutive World Series in 1939. Dahlgren's career would see stops with the Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Boston Braves and St. Louis Browns before his retirement in 1946.

The 1936 season could be called the year of disappointments and poor decisions. First the club lost the home opener to Montreal 3-0. A week later they were defeated in a 17-inning contest at Buffalo 10-9. Ray Starr provided the first bright spot May 19 as he shutout Toronto in both ends of a doubleheader 9-0 and 3-0. In the years first important trade the tribe receives Wally Cazen & Keith Molesworth from Buffalo in exchange for the very  popular Henry "Price" Oana. The speedy Cazen would provide some must needed spark in a lackluster year. Cazen would later be inducted into the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame.

Boston arrived on June 15, for their yearly exhibition. A Crowd of over 7,000 greeted Jimmy Foxx, Joe Cronin, Herb Pennock (all Hall of Famer's) and ex-chief John Kroner, The fans cheered with delight as the hometown team down the Red Sox 7-5. Three days later 24 year International League record for scoring was shattered as Baltimore destroyed the Chiefs 31-9.

July 10, Nemo Leibold resigns as team manager, owner Jack Corbett names coach Mike Kelly as his replacement after attempts to sign George "Specs" Toporcer failed. Reports surface that Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey is irked with Leibold departure and may withdraw his Boston players from Syracuse. After a dismal years the Chiefs climb out of the I.L. basement August 22 (replaced by Albany) after splitting a doubleheader against Newark. The first old-timers game was played on September 3 showcasing former N.Y. Giant pitcher  George "Hooks" Wiltse. As the season wound down Boston purchased the contract of Dom Dallessandro for spring delivery. The Buffalo Bisons had overtaken Rochester to capture the I.L. Championship (94-60). and continued by also winning the Governors Cup. The Chiefs finished in seventh place at 59-95.

In a special I.L. meeting in New York City former Syracuse Stars manager Frank "Shag" Shaughnessy was named the new International League President. Shaughnessy who introduced the playoff system to baseball, succeeded Warren Giles. Mr. Giles had resigned to become general manager and vice president of the Cincinnati Reds. Back at home the Chiefs were in financial trouble. The teams operator the Jersey City Baseball Club Inc. headed by Jack Corbett filed for bankruptcy on December 7, 1936.

A bankruptcy auction was held on January 21, 1937. Jack Corbell bought back the Chiefs franchise for $5,000. Meanwhile, International League officials vote to return professional baseball to Syracuse for 1937.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Chiefs owner Jack Corbett and Boston Red Sox GM Eddie Collins then looked for new talent to upgrade their seventh place finish. First former Syracuse Star and St. Louis Cardinals infielder, George "Specs" Toporcer was signed and named team captain. In March, the right field bleachers were added bring the seating capacity to 12,000. Dick Porter was then traded to Newark for "Doc" Farrell, who was sent on to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Al Niemiec. But the most important addition was that of pitcher Reggie Grabowski. Grabowski (brother of Al) the Syracuse native was obtained from the Philadelphia Phillies just a week before the season opened. Reggie would win 16 games and join Joe Cascarella, Hal Vanderburg, Joe Milligan, Bobby Coombs and Flint Rehm as the key members of the tribe pitching staff that year.

Many new faces dotted the April 18 opening day lineup- Dom Dallessandro (rf), Specs Toporcer (2b), Art Graham (lf), Julian Wera (3b), John Watwood (cf), Jim Sellin (1b) Al Niemiec (ss), George Salvino (c), and Bobby Coombs on the mound. Three days later another key eliminate was added that of third baseman John Kroner. Following his trade from Baltimore, Kroner would become an International League All-Star while a member of the Chiefs hitting a blazing .323.

The Boston Red Sox made their yearly visit on May 16 downing the Chiefs 10-6. The Red Sox featured Joe Cronin, Babe Dahlgren, Moe Berg, Bing Miller and George Pipgras. Pitcher Hy Vandenburg was sent to Boston for three pitchers, one being Jor Cascarella on option from the Philadelphia Athletics. Cascarella managed to win 11 games and was promoted to the Red Sox. The early part of June the Chiefs purchased Oscar Roettger and moved into fifth place. With many players going back and fourth between Syracuse and Boston, soon rumors quickly spread of the club being sold. Syracuse newspaper headliners of June 28 read, "Chiefs Sold to Tom Yawkey", the rumor was untrue.

Al; Niemiec recorded the first triple play in Chiefs history on July2 in a 5-4 victory over Albany. July 21, Robert John, a Native American from the Onondaga Nation was named the Chiefs first official mascot. July 29- the team had won nine straight games moving into second place. During that stretch Reggie Grabowski pitched a sparkling two-hitter vs Baltimore.

August 12, the Chiefs moved into first place, two days later back to second and three days after slipped into third. Reggie Grabowski pitched another two-hitter (8/23), this time against Albany. With doubleheader victories against Albany (8/25) the Chiefs tied for second, a spot they held at seasons end. Montreal Royals captured the top spot at 92-62, the tribe close behind posting a 87-67 mark.It was now on for the first time to the Governors Cup Playoffs vs the powerful Newark Bears.

The playoff batting order looked as follows: Dom Dallessandro (lf), "Specs" Toporcer (2b), John Kroner (3b), Ollie Tucker (rf), Doc Leggett (c), Harry Taylor (1b), Prince Oana (cf) and Al Niemiec (ss). The Chiefs a colorful club had the big guns, Kroner, Leggett, Oana and Dallessandro all season 300 hitters followed by Tucker and Savino all over .290. The club's team batting average that season was recorded at .268, but of those seeing playoff action it jumped to .279

Governors Cup Playoffs- Series 1-Game #1
Joe Cascarella defeated Steve Sundra 3-2. Both pitchers looked magnificent. But Sundra's control failed in the fourth, when two Chiefs walked and eventually scored. Chiefs started Cascarella had pin point control and was the difference in that contest.

Governors Cup Playoffs- Series  1- Game #2
Hal Vanderburg bested Ted Kleinhans 6-3 before 7,000 delighted home town fans. After 6 1/2 innings the score was tied 2-2. In the bottom of the seventh Newark manager Bob Shawkey sent Kleinhans to the showers, replacing him with Frank Makoskey to face John Kroner. Kroner wasted no time as he blasted one over the left-field wall for a grand slam.

Governors Cup Playoffs- Series 1- Game 3
The series now shifted to  Newark's Ruppert Stadium. Reggie Grabowski scattered only four hits over nine innings. This was the third exciting pitchers dual as Reggie downed Jack Larocca 3-1. The Chiefs led the best of  seven series three games to none.

Governors Cup Playoffs- Series 1 - Game 4
Also played in Newark. The Chiefs made it a clean sweep of the Bears as Dom Dallessandro was a perfect 5 for 5 including two home runs, a double and three RBI.  Joe Milligan was on the mound for that 5-2 win. The Chiefs had won the first round of the playoff and now must face the Montreal Royals for the $5,000 prize offered to the victors.

Govenors Cup Championship- Game 1
At Montreal. The pitching combination of Joe Cascarella, George Hickette & Flint Rhem held on for a first game victory 7-6. The Chiefs  exploded in the fifth with 4 runs starting with Price Oana's triple, ending with John Kroner's two run homer to right center. The tribe scored two more in the eighth to seal the victory

Governors Cup Championship - Game 2
At Montreal. A 2-2 tie quickly ended in the eighth as the Chiefs erupted for 7 runs. Meanwhile Hal Vanderburg hurled a masterful game and only three Royals runs in the bottom of the ninth made the 10-5 contest close.

Governors Cup Championship - Game 3-5
The next three games returned to Syracuse seeing the tribe lose three straight games before crowds of 9,000, 7,000 and 8,000. Montreal now led the series three games to two.

Governors Cup Championship- Game 6
 The Montreal fans were ready. Game 6 a crowd estimated at 21,000 looked on Chiefs shortstop Al Niemiec became the game hero. Niemiec knocked in the winning run in the top of the tenth innings in a 3-2 Chiefs series tying win. Joe Cascarella went the route despite an injured leg and hurled a brilliant game...

Governors Cup Playoff - Championship Game -7
The Governors Cup final in Montreal saw George Hockette pitch a five hitter to capture the Chiefs first Governors Cup Championship 2-1. The Chiefs scoring came as Harry Taylor homered in the fifth to tie the score at 1-1. Then Toporcer doubled off the scoreboard scoring another, but it was his great catch in back of second to double-off Bob Seeds in the bottom of the ninth that sealed our first Cup. An interesting note: no team won a contest at home during the final seven game series.

The Governors Cup is a perpetual trophy originally sponsored by the Governors of the States of New York, New Jersey and Maryland along with the Lieutenant Governors of the Providences of Quebec and Ontario, Canada. The trophy is awarded to the International League play-off champion, to be held by the winning team for a period of one year.

Leibold's team was red hot in the playoffs and probably would have won the Little World Series if one had been held  in 1935. The Chiefs divided the $5,000 cash prize by cutting it into 27 slices. Manager Leibold, Mike Kelly (coach), Jim Corcoran (trainer) and groundskeeper Ed Goettel and 23 players will share the prize money. In arriving at the division played weighed the funds in two phases. The first $2,500 for qualifying for the playoffs, and the second $2,500 for emerging in the finals.

1935-Year two in Chiefs history was one to remember