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Mark Simonson

May 12, 2012

Damaschke essential to ensuring Oneonta baseball in 1927

Oftentimes, in the distant past, the place you worked for became a social nucleus in the village or town. Employees at large companies such as Endicott-Johnson Shoe Co. or IBM in the Binghamton area took part in activities after work such as sports, music and theater, both in and out of town, to represent their company.

For Oneonta, the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Co. employees had such a social nucleus, both here, and sometimes they played hosts for D&H employees from other company communities across the company territory.

With hopes for a 1927 baseball season in Oneonta, consisting of a team of D&H employees, help came from out-of-town D&H workers to make that team a reality, through a fundraiser. A cast of employees from the D&H offices in Albany came here to put on a show at The Oneonta Theatre on Tuesday, May 10.

"This evening at 8:15 o'clock the capable cast from the employees at the general offices at Albany, which produced 'The Show Off' so successfully in that city recently and scored such a signal success an evening or two at Carbondale, where the comedy was presented for the benefit of the Athletic association of the Pennsylvania division brings the play to this city for one presentation, the proceeds being devoted to the maintenance of the base ball team that will represent the Susquehanna division," The Oneonta Star reported.

"Last year the proceeds, which went over $500, were generously donated to the Fox Memorial hospital, and this year, when it will be used to aid the local ball team, the city should respond with equal interest and give the performers a crowded house."

Oneonta's committee of the D&H Athletic Association was not disappointed, as the Star reported the next day, "The house was packed when the curtain rose on the first scene, and from then on, the action was so tense, so sad at times, and again so gay that no one noticed the hours slip by."

No figures were reported as to how much money was raised to make the baseball team possible, but it was apparently enough.

"Oneonta is to be represented on the base ball diamond this season by the Oneonta D. & H. nine. Master Mechanic George Brown was again elected president of the association and he is making every effort to produce a crack ball team," it was reported on Tuesday, May 17.

"'Dutch' Damaschke has been named manager of the team, and he has secured the services of several excellent ball players." That's Ernest C. Damaschke, the name behind the ballpark we know today in Neahwa Park.

"Saturday at 3:30 the team will play its first game against the Endicott team. The season will not open official, however, until Decoration day, when the local outfit is scheduled to play a double header against the Kingston Colonials. New uniforms have been ordered, but will not be used until Decoration day."

Oneonta had a team for 1927, but things were uncertain whether they'd be part of the D&H League, which was under consideration that month.

If that failed, Oneonta was ready to make a bid for entrance into what was called the Tri-County League.

And if that fell through, plans were confirmed for games with Cooperstown, Ewing's All-Star Colored team, Kingston and Schenectady.

According to Bob Whittemore's book, "Baseball Town," published in 1995, this was the general uncertainty of Oneonta baseball during the mid-1920s, but "Dutch" Damaschke always helped to ensure a team for many years.

On Monday: A truly lighter side of news in Oneonta in May 1952.

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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