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Columns

July 27, 2013

Rogers Hornsby, Baseball Hall of Famer, played in Oneonta in 1923

This weekend, 12 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be honored during ceremonies at the Clark Sports Center grounds in Cooperstown. The dozen inducted members were never previously honored in a public ceremony due to restrictions caused by World War II.

One of those members, Rogers Hornsby, was inducted in 1942, around the time nationwide gasoline rationing was being implemented. While the Hall of Fame thought highly of Hornsby, Hornsby and his team of St. Louis Cardinals also thought highly of our area, specifically Oneonta when they barnstormed here in August 1923.

“The St. Louis Cardinals, with Rogers Hornsby, the costliest player in the national game, offers of $300,000 having been refused for him, will oppose the Oneonta Giants at Neahwa park on Tuesday afternoon at 3 o’clock,” The Oneonta Star reported on Monday, Aug. 13, “and indications are that the crowd which will attend this game will be the largest which has ever assembled at the diamond.” The ballpark is where Damaschke Field is today.

“Tickets have been on sale for some time and are being taken up in increasing numbers but there is still a choice selection to be obtained,” the Star added. This might have been because these tickets were a bit on the pricy side, at $1.25 and $1.75 reserved. An inflation calculator shows the tickets would sell for $17 to $24 respectively in today’s dollars.

The Cardinals, managed by Branch Rickey, were expected to arrive in Oneonta from Herkimer at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday by bus, and a sizable crowd was expected to gather to “watch them alight.”

Game time was 3 p.m. “Just as the game started the flock of kids outside the gates with insufficient funds to pay the toll past the gate tender were chased into a position at the end of the third base bleachers. These future stars of the game were more anxious than their elders, if that was possible, to get a glimpse of the players whom they have previously known only by name.” The article did not say what the consequences were for the young gatecrashers.

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