BASEBALL TIDBITS FROM THE 1940’S by “Hal” Swartley
Undated Image from the Perkasie Historical Society Collection
We had only one umpire for our games. We couldn’t afford to pay for more than one. He stood behind home plate except when any runner(s) were on base when he would stand behind the pitcher. He would call balls and strikes for the batters from thee until there were no runners on base. Then he would go behind home plate again. The ump wore a large inflated chest protector from under his chin to his waist …. Attached with two large straps. He also wore shin protectors to protect his legs from any foul balls.
There were only 5 or 6 baseballs to use for the entire game. It was the responsibility of the ball boy to retrieve baseballs inside the park & outside. He needed to be fast retrieving any ball that went outside the park because there were always kids in the grandstands who tried to get the balls and run off!!! At the end of the game a baseball used in the game was given to the ball boy as a reward for a job well done.
The water for the players was in a cooler or a large jug. There were only a few cups for all the players to use so there was a lot of sharing …… no coronavirus then !!!!
All baseballs were made and handstitched in South Perkasie by the Hubbert family (David & Ed). There are 108 single stitches in each ball (216 double stitches). They had the contract for making the baseballs. Local people were trained to help stitch balls in their homes.
A fly ball hit way out in left field would often roll into a little brook. Ball was considered playable here. A fly ball hit way into right field was considered a home run if it hit one of several large trees there. It was a double if it rolled in the trees. Center field was all open space in play.
Thanks to Harold “Hal” Swartley for his memories of playing Junior Legion baseball. The games were played at Second Street Playground in Perkasie.
Perkasie Junior Legion Baseball
Image from the Perkasie Historical Society Collection
Last year, a photograph of a Perkasie Junior Legion Baseball team was used in our museum sports display. Unfortunately, the back of the photo was not labeled with the year of the team. It was labeled with some of the players names, one of whom was Harold “Hal” Swartley.
Hal Swartley, who went on to become a Pennridge teacher and coach, identified the team as being from the 1945 era. Perkasie had very good Junior Legion teams during those times. In 1945 they played Coplay in the Southeastern Pennsylvania playoffs. Coplay had a dominant left-handed pitcher named Curt Simmons. The Perkasie team was eliminated from the playoffs after losing two games to Coplay. Later, Coplay would become the Pennsylvania Legion Champions and Curt Simmons would go on to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The games were played at the Second Street Playground field. Hal Swartley noted that the grandstands had been constructed during the depression as part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project They were painted green just as they are today.
Dave Mann, another member of the 1945 team narrowed the photo date to 1944. Many members of the 1944 team played again in 1945. Dave also remembers the first Coplay game when Curt Simmons held Perkasie to a single hit by Chuck Strouse. He also recalled that after the games, the Legion would treat the players to dinner at the Mayflower or American House Restaurants.
Perkasie would draw players from Sell-Perk and Hilltown High Schools for the team. Perkasie Junior Legion would play teams from Lansdale, Quakertown and Doylestown.
Thanks to Hal Swartley and Dave Mann for the information and for identifying the team photo.