Greencastle Athletic Club, Part I
By SHARON BAUMBAUGH
Athletics play a large part in most of our lives. Our children and grandchildren play the games of local sports' programs or through school and we stay involved in the sports we love to play to stay in shape so we can keep playing. Whether it is baseball or softball, basketball, football, soccer, track, running, golf, bowling or whatever, the challenge is with the other team or from challenging ourselves. Sports have long been a special part of our Greencastle-Antrim history, written about in this space over the past 10-plus years. This piece however, is about that organized group of supporters and players of a young adult team that played the game of baseball.
On a Sunday morning in August 1926, there was a grandstand overlooking the Jerome R. King playground. On Sunday evening all that remained of it were a few charred boards and a pile of smoking ashes. Wednesday evening another grandstand looked out across the field and except for a few black spots, it was almost impossible to tell that a fire had occurred. Such was the exciting chain of events which began on the opening day of Old Home Week, and which temporarily cast a gloom over the whole proceedings. But, finish they did, a grandstand was in place for games planned for the special week.
During this same time there were warnings from State Attorney Ellsworth R. Roulette not to play Sunday baseball in Maryland. The Hagerstown and Frederick teams of the Blue Ridge League however, staged a thrilling 9-inning contest on a Sunday afternoon at Willow Lane Park in Hagerstown. There was a crowd of approximately 4,000 spectators.
There were problems, but the men and boys who played the game at the time were anxious and ready to 'Play ball!'
Directors, players and members of the Greencastle Athletic Club met in the Gem Theater to discuss plans for the coming baseball season. T.D. Zullinger, secretary-treasurer, reported that quite a number of games had been scheduled for 1927.
Dr. W.E. Seibert, president of the Board of Directors for the Athletic Club, tossed out the first ball of the next season. The local team met the Bayonne Athletic Club of Hagerstown, ending the Saturday afternoon match as victors. Sam Brewbaker pitched a great game holding the opposition to six scattered hits and setting down eight men with strikeouts. This same season would see Jimmy Carpenter knocking three home runs in the course of a single game in four trips to the batter's box in a defeat of another Hagerstown team; the Orioles lost 9 to 3.
Heavy hitting from Bill Conrad, who made a triple and a homer, aided the Athletics in their defeat of Hagerstown Shoe and Legging Company in a game played on King Field. The final score was 10-2. The season would include extra games, the locals meeting the Buchanan Athletic Club of Chambersburg and a game with the Fire Hose Co. No. 5 team of Martinsburg, to settle a tie that existed. By season's end the directors and players of the club would be guests at the home of Samuel Diehl on North Carlisle Street, manager of the team. The Athletics made a splendid record for the year and were looking forward to the evening of celebration.
The next year, at a meeting of the directors and players in the Gem, James H. Craig, East Baltimore Street merchant, was elected captain of the team for the coming season. Elmer Gonso was at the same time elected manager. The Club expected to purchase new uniforms and planned for a very active season.
Those uniforms were received from Spalding in April through J.W. Davison, North Carlisle Street merchant. The uniforms were cream colored material with a black G on the breast. And, Gonso resigned as manager and Glen Ogle was elected to take his place.
Following a winning season, the group would meet to plan for the next, gathering in Craig's store. Directors were Dr. Seibert, Dr. Henry Chritzman, Tom Zullinger, B.H. Daley, J.T. Conrad, McLean Martin, Robert Johnson, Elmer Gonso, C.F. Beckner, John Cooper, Lewis Kemp, C.K. White, Dr. G.S. Edwards and Fletcher Nowell; Ogle, manager; Craig, captain.
The end of another successful season would be celebrated with a dinner in the Modern Home Dining Room.
In 1930, the season would end with the local team meeting the champions of the Industrial League of Shippensburg in September. The game would decide the champion amateur baseball team in the valley. At the close of the season, the team could boast their 32 wins with 10 losses and two ties.
The next May, the Athletics would meet the New York Bloomer Girls, undefeated female baseball champions on the King Playground field. They would be undefeated no more. The crowd of 1,500 cheered the locals in their 10 to 4 victory. The 1933 season would open when the local team hosted the Keystone Athletic Club of Waynesboro at King Playground. It was to be another winning season for the team, with the names of Conrad, Stine, Mellinger, Craig and Beckner highlighting the play.
The Athletics would open the next season with a decisive victory over the Middleburg Fliers from State Line. The season would end with a team of 'old timers' managed by Bugs Snyder and Glen Ogle, playing the Athletics in an exhibition to benefit the Jerome R. King Playground. The old timers would win the game; those famous players of yesteryear displayed their talent and some splendid plays. The score was 8-6. William Lear umpired and Harry Pittinger, who retired from play in 1880, was the oldest player.
The July 4, 1935 game would be against the Waynesboro Eagles. Tickets were on sale and a good crowd and a large collection was expected. Funds were running low and fan support was needed to keep games at home, otherwise, games would be transferred to the opposition's fields.
At a meeting in C. Preston Barnhart's Store, the club would name Tom Zullinger as manager for the 1937 season. The first game was to be played May 1.
In April 1938, three former Athletics' players would report for spring tryouts with professional teams. I.J. Stine, West Baltimore Street, catcher, and Ralph Zeigler, Addison Avenue, infielder, would report in Pocomoke City in Maryland, for the Eastern Shore League. George Luckett, West Franklin Street, was to have a trial with the Crawfords, a professional Negro League team in Pittsburgh.
The 1939 season would open on the playground field when the Athletics hosted the Funkstown nine. Zullinger would continue as manager and William P. 'Bill' Conrad was named captain.