Friday, January 27, 2012


In 1925, new faces appeared, "Henie" Meine won 17 games. Binghamton, NY' native  "Wild Bill" Hallahan was sold to St Louis after just eight appearances. Tommy Thevenow a sparkling young defensive shortstop arrived, Franklyn Wetzel hit .319, and the first professional appearances of local Syracuse pitching phenom Al Grabowski.  Grabowski the former semi-pro pitcher with the Sacred Hearts won 6 and lost but 2 games. At seasons end, Tommy Thevenow would be selected as  the International League's All-Star shortstop. Second team selections included- George Krahn and "Henie" Meine. Note Thevenow would later be inducted into the Syracuse Baseball Hall of Fame.

A quick note- my father Frank W. Gersbacher as a youth witnessed Thevenows play at Star Park that season and considered him the top defensive shortstop he had ever seen. Now that's a big statement for dad to make as he also witnessed the great skills of shortstops  Ray Oyler (Detroit years) and Tony Fernandez (Blue Jay years) in later life

Another new International League record was set by Star's second sacker Garde "Whitey" Gialasen in the first half of a double header against Rochester on September 3. The day Gialasen made 11 putouts in a regulation nine inning contest, behind winning pitcher Fred Frankhouse. The old mark was set by John "Cub" Stricker of Providence in a extra inning contest vs (10) vs Binghamton May 18, 1894..

After a years absence, two more exhibition contests dotted the Stars schedule. June 19, the Stars took revenge by hammering the St. Louis Cardinals 12-2. Rogers Hornsby and company could gather only five hits off Star hurler Bill Ward. The second, a date to remember, the appearance of one George Herman "Babe" Ruth with the New York Yankees. On that day August 19, 1924, the "Mighty Bambino" singled twice in four tries and the Stars downed the New Yorkers 12-8. That game was held in Archbold Stadium before 10,000 screaming fans. The highlight may have happened before the contest even started. As the :Mighty Babe" hit a batting practice pitch out of Archbold Stadium over the top of the press box. roof in right field. Some fans there that day called it "The longest ball ever hit out of Archbold".

Henry "Hi" Myers took charge of the Stars on Decoration Day 1925, replacing Frank Shaughnessy under who's leadership the Stars had won just 10 of 39 games. When the season ended the Stars were in sixth place (74-87). Under "Hi" Myers they played .525 ball and that was better than all other teams except Baltimore and Toronto.

Roy Fairman article on "Famous Syracuse Games" states "One of the features of the "Hi" Myers reign was the transformation (temporary) of Fred Frankhouse from pitcher to outfielder". :Frankhouse became a permanent outfielder around July 20 and in 64 games had 17 assists and started five double plays". "In Baltimore one afternoon he threw men out at second, third and at the plate". " Frankhouse was signed by Charley Kelchner for the Cardinals". "He then came to the Stars while Ernest Landraf was team president, in a deal that let St. Louis obtain Jewel Ens". Frankhouse's five year stint with the Stars led to the major leagues with St' Louis and the Boston Braves.

Tommy Thevenow was again rock steady at short, Chick Hafey (later to be a Hall of Famer) patrolled center field for 21 games batting .285, Dan Clark broke the Star record for :hitting percentage at .364, followed by Bert Griffith at .337, Fred Frankhouse .332, ":Wattie" Holm .326, "Hi" Myers .316 and George Krahe .301.

 The major event of the 1925 season was Al Grabowski's 1-0 no-hitter vs Providence on August 22. The no-hitter was in the first of a scheduled doubleheader that saw the winning run score with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Grabowski would pitch our home opened April 30 and win 15 games, his most successful as a Star hurler.

One player not mentioned in any record book as played in Syracuse  is Rick Farrell. Farrell another "Hall of Famer" played in a pre-season contest under the name of Rick Richards

After being rained out on July 21, the St. Louis Cardinals returned to the enjoyment of the Syracuse baseball loyalist for an exhibition September 1. This time the Cardinal's lineup was loaded with young talent. Jim Bottomley, Chuck Hafey, "Henie" Mueller, Lester Bell, Tommy Thevenow, Specs Toporcer and the veteran Rogers Hornsby who led the Cardinals to a victory that day 5-4.

Warren Giles replaced Phial Bartleme as club president in 1926. Mr. Giles had bet Branch Rickey back in 1920, went he had been working with Minneapolis optioning players from St. Louis and officiating football games to supplement his income. In later years, Mr. Giles would become President of the Cincinnati Reds, then President of the National League. Bert Shotten was signed as Stars manager and had more changes than wins. A seventh place finish didn't tell the whole story of the 1926 season.

John "Pepper" Martin dubbed in St. Louis the "Wild Horse of the Osage" graced a Stars uniform for a mere $325 a month. He alternated between third base and shortstop under Bert Shotton. Rumors were that "Pepper" arrived for Stars spring training camp at Greenwood, So. Carolina by jumping off a railroad freight car. Martin saved some of his monthly salary and was able to buy a second hand Model T Ford automobile for his return home to Oklahoma. Before his departure he was presented with a new shotgun, by grateful Syracuse fans.

In one of the strangest happenings, Bert Shotton let "Pepper" Martin pitch part of the eighth inning against Newark on September 1, When "Pepper" entered the clubhouse following the game he took with him this record: Batters pitched to 6, runs 4, hits 1, walks 2, hit batsmen 1, men retired 1 with a earned run average of 36.00. Joe Brown the Newark player hit by Martin was carted off to a local hospital and remained there for five days being unconscious for two.

"Pepper" Martin single-handled stole the 1931 World Series from the heavily favored Philadeplhia Athletics. In the first five games, he went 12 for 13, with five RBI's, five stolen bases and scored five runs. Martin was part of what was known as the "Gas House Gang" teaming with Dizzy & Paul Dean, Leo Durocher. "Ducky" Medwick, "Wild Bill" Hallahan and Central New Yorker (Mexico) "Rip" Collins. "Pepper" Martin is also a member of the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame.

The International League All-Star team of 1926, showed Star- Walter Roettger, Dan Clark and Ed Dyer all first team selections. This squad also included two native Syracuan's Bill Kelly (1b) and Jimmy Walsh (of) both played for the Buffalo Bisons. Both Kelly & Walsh would also be inducted into the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame.

Dan Clark (age 32) hit an amazing .364, while setting another International League record on July 17, 1926. Clarks' record is for most RBI's (9) in a nine inning contest. Clark a left-handed batter, hit a grand slam home run and then hit another with two men on. He then doubled in one more, so did an infield out in a 15-12 victory over Jersey City. Note- Dan Clark's 31 home runs that season was another Star record that would not be broken until Hank Sauer hit 50 in 1947 at MacArthur Stadium.

Key Star team members of note: Frank Hurst (.331). John Jones (.329), Fred Frankhouse (.314) Walter Roettger (.304), Bart Morrow (.303). "Pepper" Martin (.300), Al Kapl (.296) with pitchers Ed Dyer (12-6), Fred Frankhouse (9-11), Al Grabowski (6-11) and Russ Miller 12-15).

Managed again by Bert Shotton, the Stars won 102 games in 1927, but still finished second to Bill Clymer's Buffalo Bisons. At Buffalo's Offerman Stadium on July 31, Star pitcher Sylvester "Sly" Johnson no-hit the Bisons 2-0. Johnson at age 26, won 18 and lost 13 that year and Stars home attendance totalled 174,059

William Anthony "Wild Bill' Hallahan held the International League record for striking out six successive batters and fanned a total of 15 men in a seven inning game. The game was played on September 4, 1927, as the Star defeated the Reading Keys 14-0. Hallahan was bought in 1924 by the Cardinals for $2,500. Called "Wild Bill' for his wildness, he led the I.L. with 190 strikeouts in 1927.

Other baseball firsts. May 26, 1927, WSYR Radio broadcasts the first baseball game to Syracuse listeners The announcer was Lawrence Skiddy sports editor of the Herald Newspaper. The score of that first broadcast, Star 5, Buffalo Bison 3, with the victory going to Sly Johnson. The second broadcast happened  June 4, with  Francis Woolever another Syracuse newspaper sports columnist called the action between  Rochester and Syracuse that ended in a 8-8 tie.

The Stars held one more special day (August 28, 1927) honoring long time club secretary, Michael J. Kelly. Mr. Kelly became secretary of the Stars back in 1901. In 1920, he became secretary of the Syracuse International League club and remained in their employ, some 22 years. He is referred to as the stepfather of modern baseball in Syracuse.

 Finally the World Champion St Louis Cardinals paid a final visit to this city on July 6. It was a rain shortened four inning game won by St. Louis 8-5. In this contest Central New Yorkers got an opportunity to see the great "Hall of Famer" Frankie Frisch.  Frisch came to the Cardinals in a trade with the New York Giants for Rogers Hornsby. Another Cardinal worth mentioning is right fielder Billy Southworth. Southworth is the uncle of longtime Corcoran High School baseball coach Bob Southworth.

The team best hitters were Gus Mancuso (.372). Del Gainor (.329), Zipper Peel (.328), Al Kapl (.326) Howard Williamson (.326) Frank Hurst (.323) Harry Layne (.323, Red Urbam (.316) and Decon Selph (.309) On the mound "Wild Bill' Hallahan (19-11)., Hal Haid (15-11), and Russ Miller (15-11), Harry Lane led the International League in stolen bases with 48. Finally Joe Brown was named the Stars "Most valuable Player". Brown played brilliantly all season and was a great man when it came to team-play.

During the 1927 season President Warren Giles had ask the City of Syracuse to build a much larger home stadium. Giles is quoted saying " I again putting temporary bleachers to handle the hordes of bugs that don't seem to know Syracuse still has a ball club".

Marty Nave in his article "MacArthur Stadium, The First 50 Years" described what happened next. The fans had high hopes for a 1928 league pennant until January 16th when Stars President Warren Giles completed a deal selling the Syracuse franchise to Jersey City for $50,000. The existing club in Jersey City had been moved to Montreal by the Donnelly  Brothers for $250,000. The Stars working agreement with the parent St. Louis Cardinals was then shifted to Rochester, thus forming the Rochester Red Wings (Red Wings of the Cardinals).

This left Syracuse with a very large problem...No professional baseball.

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