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

Monday, May 14, 2012


We  learned Monday morning (May 14, 2012) of the passing of our great friend Joe LaGuardia. Our hearts go out to his wife Carol and their children. Joe's wisdom, dedication,  kindness & long friendship will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Joe served with the Syracuse Chiefs as a director, officer, special event advisor, and a member of the teams marketing & exective committees. - Ron

Sunday, May 13, 2012


On the evening of April 16, 1934, manager Andy High and his Chiefs ball players arrived at the New York Central Railroad Station. Syracuse Mayor Rolly Marvin, Jack Corbell, Frank Revior, William Lane and many fans came out to welcome the team. A light rain shortened the late afternoon ceremony and players were hustled to the Hotel Syracuse. Their they received new uniforms as they prepared for an exhibition game against Colgate University at Hamilton, NY the next day. Following a 5-3 victory, the first team photo was taken.

On Wednesday, April 18, 1934 the long dream of the return of International League baseball to Syracuse became a reality. Baseball fans galore would travel to the newly named "Municipal Stadium" built at LeMoyne Park. WSYR Radio would broadcast this inaugural event. Seating capacity was adequate although the grandstand was not completed. In addition to the regular steel bleachers and one section of the grandstand there were 700 circus seats in the outfield and in front of the stands to accommodate more than the completed stadium would hold. The infield was perfect and outfield dry, but the remainder of the stadium would not be completed until after the Chiefs first road trip began. The game itself was viewed by 10,000+ although only 4,324 were paid. Fans swarmed up the tree trunks supporting the fences and went in free before others filtered in behind the temporary backstop, coming in under the framework of the grandstand. To tell the real story, game security was a nightmare.

Our opposition for the April 18th, 3 PM contest was the Montreal Royals the farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pre-game ceremonies began with a parade and Mayor Marvin twirling the ceremonial first pitch. Manager Andy High, also the team's third baseman, picked Fred Fussell as the starting pitcher to go against Montreal's Chad Eismey.

The Chiefs opening day lineup looked as follows, John Watwood (cf), Andy High (3b), Bill Sweeney (1b), John Sherlock (lf), Max Rosenfield (rf), Clarence "Foots" Blair (2b), "Cy" Cihocki (ss), Ed "Zach" Taylor- catcher and Fred Fussell on the mound.

The Chiefs scored the stadiums first run in the bottom of the first when left fielder John Sherlock doubled home Bill Sweeney 1-0.  Play was called during the thirds innings when a smoke screen drifted over the field from the chimney of the nearby Greyhound Bus garage. Heavy clouds of black smoke rolled over the field into the faces of players, but the wind shifted after five minutes and play continued. A two out bases loaded walk to Bill Rhiel in the sixth tied the score 1-1. The Chiefs scored the games winning run in the seventh as Andy High singled, and was then sacrificed to second by Sweeney and scored on a Sherlock single 2-1. The game ended with a flourish as Rhiel led off with a ninth inning triple, but Freddy Fussell was able to retire the next three batters. The Chiefs won their first game 2-1. That evening a crowd of 150 would attend a "Welcome Back" dinner sponsored by the Elks Club.

Municipal Stadium was officially dedicated on May 19, 1934 following by a 3-1 victory over the Newark Bears. The stadium was now finished with the exception of lights. A few days after Jack Corbett received a nasty letter from Rochester Red Wings President Warren Giles. The letter requested that the series between Rochester and the Chiefs between May 26-28 be shifted to Rochester. Mr. Giles stated that the "Syracuse field was no more than a cow pasture and the seating no more than most semipro team have".

June 28, Chiefs player-manager Andy High refused to be traded to Baltimore and was given his outright release. Jack Corbett offered the managerial position to Ed Holly. Holly refused and the Chiefs were turned over to Bill Sweeney. Over 5,000 fans attended the first night game ever in Syracuse on July 21. That evening Chiefs pitcher John Merena (7-10) bested the Baltimore Orioles 4-2. A week later the Municipal Stadium held it's first major league exhibition as the Boston Red Sox downed the Chiefs 7-2. One night we would like to forget was September 1, 1934 when Cy Blanton of Albany tied a International League record by striking out 20 Chiefs in a 5-3 win.

That first year the Chiefs listed 41 roster players. The mainstays Joe Benes, Foots Blair, Cy Cihocki, Bill Cronin, Andy High, John Maruska, Henie Mueller, Max Rosenfield, Bill Sweeney, Zack Taylor and John Watwood.. Joe Benes being the only player left from the Syracuse Stars years. The pitchers seeing the most action- Ray "Bobby" Coombs, Clarence Fisher, Freddy Fussell, Adolph Liska, Jim McCloskey, "Timpy" McKeithan, John Merena and Clarence Pickel. Another player of note- pitcher "Spud" Chandler the ex- New York Yankees posted a 4-2 mark.

Bob Shawkey's Newark Bears won the 1934 International League championship for the third consecutive year, be four games over Rochester. The Chiefs would finish their first season in seventh place winning 60 of 154 games. Chiefs owner Jack Corbett asks the city for a lower rent on Municipal Stadium. Corbett seeks reduction or adjustment on the $15,000 rental fee. Before the year ended Corbett and Boston Red Sox general manager Eddie Collins (Hall of Famer), name Harry "Neno" Leibold to manage the club in 1935


Saturday, May 12, 2012


Part one of our History of Syracuse Baseball story is now complete, the years 1830's through 1933. Now our baseball history continues with Chapter 19,  The Birth of the Syracuse Chiefs and the building of Municipal Stadium (MacArthur Stadium) in 1934.

In our article- "MacArthur Stadium, The First 50 Years" it recalls - In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was leading the nation out of the great depression and in Syracuse Mayor Rolly Marvin began his new term by seating a new business relation's bureau under the director of Frank Revior. Its purpose was to attract new business to Syracuse and to retain present local business. One of the first activities to be started under the bureau was to bring International League baseball back to Syracuse (departed after the 1927 season).

Although Syracuse was without a suitable park, there was strong belief that the situation would be remedied in time to start the 1934 International League season. Jack Corbett, president of the Jersey City Skeeters has outwardly stated his plans to move the club elsewhere if a new park in Jersey City wasn't made available, and nothing was being done in that direction.  Nine days after the first step was taken, Corbett announced on February 15, 1934 his pleasure to visit Syracuse and inspect sites proposed by the Business Relations Council. Mr Corbett had already informed other interested parties that he would be willing to shift here if a new stadium could be built.

One proposed site was made by Monsignor H.C. McDowell suggesting Most Holy Rosary field on Glenwood Avenue near Bellevue Country Club. The LeMoyne Park site was again suggested as it had been the choice for a new semi-pro stadium the year before. Kirk Park and downtown Syracuse areas were eliminated as they both had no interest in housing baseball. All sites depended entirely upon the pleasure of Mr. Corbett or any others International League team president interested in moving to Syracuse and upon the wishes of league directors.

February 17, 1934- Corbett came to Syracuse spending the afternoon studying proposals to transfer his Jersey City franchise. In company with Frank Revior and William T. Lane, directors of the Business Bureau, Corbett studied several sites. After looking at all angles and a visit with Mayor Marvin, LeMoyne Park appeared to be the favored site as the North side land was investigated very thoroughly. This location would be accessible to the West and North sides of the city where the majority of baseball fans resided, and would be easily reached from other city areas. A bond to cover the initial cost of such a stadium was needed. However, the guarantees, concessions, rentals and other income would make the stadium self-supporting. In addition it gave the city organized professional baseball with all its benefits and provide a suitable park to be used by scholastic sports.

LeMoyne Park located on Hiawatha Boulevard at Second North Street was made official site the next morning.The stadium completion was another issue as the home opener was only two months away, April 18, 1934. Acting upon suggestions made by Corbett, City officials held several conferences at Mayor Marvin's office that weekend to arrange a new set of plans. One important angle discussed was the question of whether the new stadium should be built by the Engineering and Parks Departments, or partly by contract and the remainder by city forces. The sentiment appeared to be that City Parks Commissioner William A. Berry's workers were content to grade and lay out the diamond. The work on the grandstand and fences might be let out to private contract. Data to figure out the stadium cost was provided by acting city engineer William W. Cronin. Public Work Administrator Harold Ickes had no funds available under his Federal Public Works (PWA), but relief workers would be available for every phase of labor needed. Mayor Marvin, as the main mover behind the scenes wanted the new facility to be self-supporting and not a burden on city tax payers.

February 19, further details on the new stadium were announced. The grandstand would house 7,400 fans and bleachers along first and third bases would accommodate 4,000 more bringing a total capacity to 11,400. Final construction cost would run about $225.000. Rental guarantees would retire that investment in 10 to 12 years.

Meanwhile back in New Jersey, Skeeter stockholders voted to shift the franchise to Syracuse on February 24. The next day the shift became official. International League baseball had returned to Syracuse as the vote by I.L. Governors was unanimous. Only Rochester president Warren Giles (who six years earlier shifted the Syracuse Stars to Rochester) wanted Newark to stay put quoting the Newark Evening News- "That Syracuse did not warrant a International League team" Newark's George Weiss was the first to move that the proposal be adopted unanimously. Corbett would now prepare to move his team and headquarters to Syracuse.

The Syracuse Newspapers stated " I believe this will be a real help to the city in a business way, in addition to forming a major contribution to Syracuse sports. It looks as if the project can easily be made a self-liquidating proposition and at the same time provide a long-needed municipal stadium for other sports events. However, Syracuse's return to league baseball will provide advertising for the city which money could not buy."

Weather conditions halted work on the playing field which had been under way for weeks, but the  300 or so laborers returned once the ground cleared of snow. If necessary the men would work a 24 hours a day, in three shifts, to guarantee a first class major league filed for the yet unnamed team. Concrete for the piers and footings were poured, then set for three weeks. March 6, LeMoyne Park assumed the proportions of a baseball diamond as fences and everything in preparation for the start of actual construction of the field. LeMoyne Park was already more than a foot above water, but the entire plot was raised another 12 inches to insure safety from high waters and provide a natural drainage in addition to the artificial drains which were laid in both the infield and outfield.

The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously the day before for a temporary $100,000 loan in anticipation of the insurance of Syracuse Municipal Improvement Bonds. The axis pf the field would be northeast. The distance from home plate to the outfield fence would be 315 feet and 350 feet from the batters box to the left field wall. The centerfield "Blue Monster" would be 454 feet away. Land was available for at least another 200 feet in each field, but league officials requested the shorter field to make  more home runs.

March 18 the Syracuse Post Standard Newspaper sports headlines read " Chiefs Displace Stars" as nickname for Syracuse Ball Players. The name "Chiefs" was the choice of the largest number of entries in a contest conducted by the club and local newspaper. The home uniforms would be white with red, white and blue piping, with red stockings with two narrow white stripes and with "Chiefs" written across the jersey front. Road uniforms of gray would have "Syracuse" on the front with the emblem with am Indian head on the left arm. This emblem would be on the teams wind breakers as well.

Jack Corbett then signed a player working agreement with the Boston Red Sox. Gastonia, North Carolina was selected as the 1934 spring training site. For St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Andy High was chosen as the team manager. March 29 the Chiefs began their exhibition season with a 3-2 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Now it was on to Syracuse

Story in Process

Friday, May 11, 2012


We are happy to report that fans from 17 different countries have now visited our History of Syracuse Baseball site. They are Canada, Egypt, Germany, Hungry, Indonesia, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, So. Korea, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Venezuela and the United States.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My quest was to have statistics in every player that played in Syracuse from 1858 to the present day. Document the score of every professional game played staring back in 1876. Plus chart our Syracuse baseball history and save historical memorabilia along the way.  I'm happy to report this project is now close to completion.

In what started to be a project for my own interest ended in a forty year battle to obtain all the information I could on Syracuse's great baseball history. It all started with the unlimited time and help offered by the Community Baseball Club of Syracuse better known as the Syracuse Chiefs. Then came the support of Tex & John Simone who have given so much to help keep professional baseball in Syracuse. Their dedication to our rich baseball history has no bounds. I cannot express enough thanks for their friendship and what these two individuals have done for our national pastime and for the City of Syracuse.

Then there is Jody Pucello, who not only provided his valuable time and memories but he helped us preserve the many artifacts we currently have in our collection of Syracuse Baseball History.

The hundreds of hours behind a microfilm viewer at the Onondaga County Public Library, special thanks to Jean Palmer. Browsing through the Onondaga Historical Association files and photo first with Denyse Clifford, then Judy Haven & Ed Lyon. Special thanks to Dennis Connors and Tom Hunter. The many trips to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Library in Cooperstown with thanks first and foremost to my friend Pat Kelly, President Jeff Idelson, also to research experts Daniel Bennett, Bill Deane, Gabriel Schector and Jon Blomquist. The visits with W. Lloyd Johnson, one of America's great baseball historians.
Very special thanks to Bob Scalione and his family- Emma, Jennifer, Bob, Stacey and Julie who are great Chiefs baseball fans and very special friends throughout the years.

The inside and colorful information provided by the"Voices of Syracuse" Professional baseball who brought the game to our homes each day. Thanks to- Red Parton, Jack Morse, John Harmon, Sean McDonough, Steve Grilli, Dan Hoard, Doug Sherman, Matt Vasgersian, Joel Mareiniss, Joe Castelano, Steve Hyder, Ted DeLuca, Matt Park, Mark Johnson, Mark Lukasiewicz, Bob McElligott, Jason Benetti and Kevin Brown.

Then there is International League President Randy Mobley and his assistant Chris Sprague. It is my great honor to serve on the International League's Hall of Fame voting committee. The Toronto Blue Jays (Pat Gillick, Gord Ash, Bob Nelson & Charlie Wilson) and the  Washington Nationals (Mike Rizzo, Stan Kaston, Bob Boone, Doug Harris, Mark Scialabba, Brian Minniti & Ryan Thomas) who provided memories, information and historical artifacts to help keep my project going. It is my honor to know each any every one of you listed above.

The help past & present of Syracuse managers who brought a different perspective to our history- Frank Verdi, Vern Benson, Bob Bailor, Nick Leyva, Bob Didier, Richie Hebner, Garth Iorg, Terry Bevington, Pat Kelly, Mel Queen, Omar Malave, Marty Pevey, Mike Basso, Doug Davis, Tim Foli, Trent Jewett, Randy Knorr and current manager Tony Beasley.

Also there are those special Syracuse baseball people- Don Waful, Joanne Simone, Wendy Shoen, Mike Voustinas, Dick Ryan, Al Halstead, Pete Shedd,  John & Michael Carapella, Red Coughlin,  Adam, Andrew & Ariel Shoen, Chris Laurenzo, Tom Van Schaack, Bill Dutch, Sue Mackay, Dan McCarthy, Joe Glisson, Tim Fox, Schad & Shepp families and longtime  trainer- Jon Woodworth.

To Syracuse Sports Journalist- Bob Snyder, Bud VanderVeer, Tom Leo, Bud Poliquin, Matt Michael, Mike Waters and Sean Kirst for sharing with me your memories covering Syracuse baseball and you unique style of writing that made us feel like we were at the game. Special thanks to ultimate professional... Doug Logan.

Most of all to my wife Nancy and our children (Jason, Jeff & Jenna (TJ)) who without their love and understanding I could have never completed this 40 year project. Finally to my dad Frank Gersbacher who played in the St. Louis Cardinal minor-league system and instilled in me at an early age the love of Chiefs baseball and to appreciate Syracuse's great sports history. Little did I know when I started this project that my great-great grandfather played for the Union Baseball Club of Syracuse following the Civil War, while my great-great uncle Peter Gersbacher Sr. served as its President in 1870 something I would do 136 years later. 

There are so many others who shared this wonderful experience with me with their special memories, photos and memorabilia in my Syracuse baseball  quest. I didn't want to forget any of you so your names are all listed below. Some may think this story has an ending, but I assure you with the building of Alliance Bank Stadium (formally P& C Stadium when built in 1997) Syracuse  baseball will live on so that like my children my grand children will have the opportunity to love and enjoy Syracuse baseball as I  have.


Players & Executives- Russ Adams, Butch Alberts, Andy Anderson, Joe Antonio, Bob Bailor, Mike Barlow, Dale Holman, Dave Bergman, Ewell Blackwell, Rick Bladt, Len Boehmer, Bob Boone, Jerry Brooks, Rich Butler, Seth Bynum, Scott Cassidy, Alan Closter, Darnell Coles, Bobby Cox, Tim Crabtree, Carlos Delgado, Frank DiPino, Jamie Dismuke, Henry "Dutch" Dotterer, "Dutch" Dotterer, Tom Dotterter, Greg Erardi. Tom Evans, Lou Fault, Tony Fernandez, Tim Foli, Bob Fruciano, Ron Gardner, Johnny Gee, Ray Gianelli, Pat Gillick, Dave Giusti, Frank Giusti, Shawn Green, John Ford Griffin. Jason Grilli, Steve Grilli, Gabe Gross, Ron Guidry, Joe Grzenda, Doug Harris, Pat Hentgen, Fred Hopke, Willie Horton, John Johnstone, Mack Jones, Stan Kaston, Bill Kelly, Mickey Klutts, Randy Knorr, Chase Lambin. Dave Lemanczyk, Bob Lipski, Gene Locklear, Mark Lukasiewicz, Ed Mahar, Mal Mallette, Fred McGriff, Denny McLain, Chad Mottola, Bob Nandin, Jim Northrup, Pete Orr, Jimmy Outlaw, Steve Owens, Stu Pederson, Bob Polinsky, Jon Ratliff, Frank Riccelli, Bobby Richardson, Jim Riggleman, Mike Rizzo, Dick Rockwell, Andy Russo, Hank Sauer, Mark Scialabba, Mike Schultz, Eddie Shokes, John Simone, Tex Simone, Justin Singleton, Bill Sinton, Don Stanford, Frank Tepedino, Mike Timlin, Otto Velez, Greg "Boomer" Wells, Vernon Wells, Terry Whitfield, Ernie Whitt, Bobby Williams, Todd Williams, Frank Wills, Charlie Wilson, Dick Woodridge, Dickie Woodridge, Jon Woodworth, George Zeber and Eddie Zosky..
The Many-Many Others- Ryan Abbott, Clayton Andrews, Nancy Amidon, Ashley Anderson, Chet Andrews, Joel Banowit, Kerry Bennett, Lou Benz, Harold Berman, Tom Blanchard, Michael Bragman, Bill Brown, Bob & Thelma Brown, Bob Caferelli, Marie Cahill, Guy Capone, John & Patty Carapella,  Michael Carapella, Judy Carapella, Herm Card,  Mike Cassidy, Rick Cerrone, Dr Richard Cohen, Bobby Comstock Jr, Bob Costas, Jack Cottrell, Steve Davis,  NY State Senator- John DeFransco, John Daino, Dinneen family, Nancy Dockry (daughter of Wally Cazen), Bob Dorgan, Tom Dresh, Gary Dunes, Jim Durkin, Tracy Durkin, Bill Dutch, Bill Eberhardt, Ed & Debbie Elderbroom, Jen Elderbroom, Brain Elwell, Jim Emm, Leonard Engler, Paul Fairbanks, Don Familo, Mike Ferrante, Fifield Family, Bruce Fine, Larry Fitz, Tim Fox, Gary Frenay, Victor Gallucci, Hal Galvin, Tom Ganey, Rick Gary, John Gee II, Joe Glisson, Ed Gonser, Jorge Gonzalez, Mike Greenstein, Murray Hall, Al Halstead, Earl Harrist Family, B.J. Hayes, Bobby Hayes, John Hessmiller, Harold Higham, Dick Holbert, Bill & Steve Hofmann, Dan Hoard, Steve Hyder, Bruce Johnson, Josh Jones, Neil Katz, Patricia Kelly, TJ & Jenna Kenyon, Paul Kiriry, George Kirkpatrick, Sean Kirst, Don Klug, Joseph Kren Jr, Tony Kreuzer, Joe LaGuardia, Bill Lansley, Luke LaPorta, Don Lehtonen, Ronnie Leigh, Tom Leo, Doug Logan, Peter Madden, Armand Magnarelli, Kevin Mahar, Fred Matt & the Matt Family, Dan McCarthy, Dutch Mele family, Crandall Melvin III, Hy Miller, Tony Modafferi, Randy Mobley, Jeff Morey, Jack Morse, Dave Murray, Marty Nave, Dave Novak, Okie, Claude "Red" Parton, Dave Perkins, Bill Pfohl, Leo Pickney, Jim Prendergast family, Jody Pucello, John Reynolds, David Rezak, Charles Rich, Alan "Mr Mint" Rosen. Dan Russo, Tony Russo, Dick Ryan, Jamie Sah, Bob Scalione, Don Schad, April Schad, Jack Schad, Schepp family, Steve Shoen,  Kim Schweitzer, Fred Sears, Paul Shedd, Pete Shedd, Amanda Shevchuk, Alex Simone, Aron Simone, Paul Smith,  Jeff Stier, George Sterzer, Babe Testone, Bud Thevenow, John Vanderwege, Mike Voutsinas, Don Waful, Peter Waful,  Chuck Wainwright, former US Congressman Jim Walsh. Kevin Walsh, Jay Wason Jr. Chris Watson, Tom Weil, Peter White, Joe Whiting, Roger Worboys, Roger Zellweger,

Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Club, International Baseball League, Auburn Doubledays Baseball Club, Onondaga County Park Department, Onondaga Historical Association,  Syracuse Press Club, Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame, New York State Encyclopedia.

USA Olympians-  Natasha Watley, Tariara Mims-Flowers, Tracey Nuveman, Dr. Dot Richardson and UCLA Coach- Sue Enquist

Thanks also to the Syracuse Media- WSYR AM Radio, WSYR TV-9,  WCNY TV, WFBL Radio WHEN Radio, WSEN Radio, WSKO AM, WSYT TV-3, WTVH TV-5, WYYY FM, SUNNY 102 FM, YNN, Post Standard Newspaper, Syracuse New Times, Time Warner Cable Sports

As the former historian of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame (1988-2007) it was my great honor to represent for induction many of Syracuse's greatest players posthumously- Henry McCormick, Mike Dorgan, Bill Dinneen, George "Hooks" Wiltse, Joseph Kren Sr. and Bob Shawkey. What a thrill.

Through the years John Simone and I have spoken many times of forming a Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame to honor not only great Chiefs, SkyChiefs & Stars players, but great Syracuse native professional ball players. In 1998 with Tex Simone's help the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame became a reality. Now we have a vehicle to honor such greats as Grover Cleveland Alexander, Mike Dorgan, Vic Willis, Howard Ehmke, Jim Bottomley, Pepper Martin, Hank Sauer, Jimmy Outlaw, Dutch Mele, Mack Jones, Willie Horton, Jim Northrup, Dave Bergman, Ron Guidry, Thurman Munson,  Fred McGriff, Tony Fernandez, Bobby Cox and two of my favorites Carlos Delgado & Shawn Green.

We are thrilled the fans cherish this Wall of Fame, its a lasting tribute to Syracuse Baseball playera and fans everywhere....