A Decade Of Baseball
with the Columbus Merchants
by Julian Piercefield
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
please enjoy ..... COLUMBUS MERCHANTS, THRU THE YEARS !