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A Decade Of Baseball

with the Columbus Merchants

by Julian Piercefield

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[Page 5]     [Page 7]

 

As a result of these pleas, Mr. Dickey, together with Brownie Diewert, Bob Gordon, Noel Genth and George Schaub soon completed arrangements and financing for "Junior Baseball" to begin in Columbus. Interested prospective players gathered at Donner Park to literally carve a baseball diamond just east of the existing Donner Center building. There were no lights, no permanent stands or bleachers and the existing back­stop would barely contain a wild pitch. The west curb-line of Sycamore Street was only 300 feet from home plate. A small group (6-8) of Popular trees in deep center field could make an exciting adventure for any center fielder who let a ball get by or over his head. Blankets and lawn chairs were items of choice for those who chose to attend. At the All-Star team games, a free will offering was collected to help defer expense that Mr. Dickey and his group had not covered by silent donations from the community. Enough interest was displayed so that four teams were formed as feeders to the Ail-Star group. Each team played at least one game per week with games beginning at 5pm. And so, Junior Baseball was born in Columbus.

And the beginning was a resounding success, for in the following year, a second Four team League was formed for a younger age group. Logistics for diamond use, scorers and umpires were seriously stressed. Any required rain-delays or rain-outs caused a serious scheduling dilemma. Mr. and Mrs. Dickey, always in attendance, supervised with an even hand. The program flourished and the Junior Ail-Star team became the group, in the main, who would carry forward as the Columbus Merchants.

Mr. Dickey, and George Schaub closely followed the All Star team. Mr. Dickey was the Coach for the first two years, 1945 and 1946. Mr. Schaub served the AII-Star team as an assistant coach, scorer, equipment manager and or more properly, a General Manager. George very capably carried on with this labor of love through 1954. As Mr. Dickey's resources and available time were stretched to the limit, it was in early 1948 that he decided the AII-Star team should be disbanded from the Jr. Baseball umbrella. It was here that George Schaub provided leadership to secure local sponsors and formed the Merchants fore-runner, the Columbus Red Sox

Thus, Baseball began in Columbus. With the 1948 team, they shared facilities at the Eighth Street ball park with the softball groups. In the next couple of years, as softball declined in interest the subsequent Merchant teams scheduled play for each Thursday and Sunday nights, Sunday afternoons were used for return games with home and home opponents. All Indianapolis teams played for a fee or percentage of the gate. In 1949, with a loan financed from two of the players, the team added to the lights at the field. Existing lights were adequate for softball, but barely sufficient for baseball. (Advantage locals ! I) Six additional lights were added, along with four taller (90') poles.

So, let us now review each year of competition. Following, you will find for each team/year; (1) Schedule and Record, (2) Individual Stats for team members that year, and a short synopsis of each year. Following the yearly recaps you will find accrued life-time Stats for each team member over the ten year ('45 -54) term. Also, to be found in the next several pages will be team photos and re-creation of 3 advertisers, (no longer in business), who supported the original publication. (Copies sold for 15 cents each. The first printing was sold out, but the author's share barely paid for his commutes from Kentucky to Columbus and his part time participation with the team on Sunday nights. Columbus was "home", and it was. .. baseball!

Now, please enjoy ..... COLUMBUS MERCHANTS, THRU THE YEARS !