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Columns

June 2, 2012

A short but influential baseball season for Oneonta in 1912

The Oneonta Outlaws will be opening another season soon with a home opener on Friday, June 8. Oneonta will be participating in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. It will be a pretty short season, as regular-season play ends on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Oneonta's baseball season in 1912 was much shorter than this, and even by mid-July there was still some uncertainty whether we'd have a team at all.

The Oneonta Star reported on Tuesday, July 16 that, "Negotiations for a summer ball team of college players now representing an Adirondack resort, where it is handicapped to secure teams with which to play, to come to Oneonta and represent this city on the diamond are now underway and it is expected that a definite decision will be reached today, with the indications quite encouraging for a favorable outcome of negotiations. The fans appear quite united in favor of engaging the team and there is believed to be no doubt that games can be secured with Stamford, Sidney, Norwich and the Typewriters at Ilion, combined with the Cuban and Royal Giants to assure the city three games weekly until Labor day."

The Ilion Typewriters team was from the Remington factory in that Mohawk Valley village.

Oneonta's hopeful team was coming from the resort town of Saranac Lake.

The hopeful team became assured for Oneonta, as reported the next day.

The baseball field of 1912 was very rustic in comparison to what we know today as Damaschke Field, and getting it into better shape was on the minds of many Oneontans before the season started, in less than a week.

"In order to secure the grounds and improve the same at Neahwah park (Elm park)," the Star reported, "an athletic association will be formed and a meeting will be held for that purpose this evening, at the Municipal building, at 8 o'clock."

That is today's 242 Main St.

"It is hoped that all willing to contribute to the fund for improving the grounds permanently and maintaining the team during the summer will be present and unite in the organization of the club," the report continued.

The Oneonta Athletic Association was formed, and Judge Abraham L. Kellogg served as its first president.

"The association hopes to be in a position next spring to erect a substantial new grandstand upon the grounds and have them in excellent condition for the opening of the regular summer season on July 1."

In the meantime, the 1912 season had to be dealt with and it was reported on Saturday, July 20, that work was progressing "favorably" on the grounds for the home opener on July 23.

The team arrived from Saranac Lake on July 20. The team was set to stay in rooms in the Myrtle Avenue area, and have meals at the home of Cassius and Mary Parshall, prior to the years that Mary opened the Parshall Hospital, which is today's Parshall Apartments.

Oneonta kept its three-games-per-week schedule until Labor Day, finishing the season with 18 wins, eight losses and one tie.

The season summary was reported on Saturday, Sept. 7, and told that the best overall competitive teams to be matched for the season were Oneonta and Stamford. There were no playoffs or a league championship.

Team manager Daniel Sullivan was given high praise in bringing the team to Oneonta and working with them.

Sullivan returned to his job in the autumn at Dean Academy in Franklin, Mass., where he was physical director and athletic coach. Several of the players were also reported to return to study that fall at Dean Academy.

On Monday: A new form of transportation is introduced during the tourist season in Cooperstown, 25 years ago.

City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.

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