Results tagged ‘ Central Association ’

This date in Kernels alumni history – September 29, 1920 – Fred Hofmann

On September 29, 1920, Fred Hofmann (Cedar Rapids Bunnies – 1915-16) went 3-5 at the plate and scored a run as the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 9-4 at Shibe Park.

Fred Hoffman and 1923 New York Yankees defeated Hall of Famer John McGraw (Cedar Rapids Canaries – 1891) and the New York Giants in six games to claim the first of the Yankees 27 World Series Championships. Hofmann made two plate appearances going 0-1 with a walk in two World Series games.

Fred Hofmann hit .247 with 7 HR and 93 RBI during his 9 year MLB career playing for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Fred Hofmann was a member of the 1915 and the 1916 Cedar Rapids Bunnies teams. In 1915, the Bunnies finished in 4th place with a 54-47 mark under manager Jack Herbert. In 1916, Cedar Rapids finished in 3rd place with a record of 62-54 in the Central Association under manager Frank Boyle’s guidance. Hofmann hit .165 in 82 games in 1915 and hit .189 in 52 games during the 1916 season splitting time between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

This Date in Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball – August 3, 1914 – C.M. Spencer No-Hits Keokuk. Bunnies win 10-0

On August 3, 1914, C.M. (Collis Mitchell) Spencer pitched a complete game no-hitter to lead the Cedar Rapids Bunnies to a 10-0 win over the Keokuk Indians.  Spencer struck out one and walked three batters. Charles Curtis hit a three-run homer in the fourth and the Bunnies never looked back adding three additional runs in the 8th and four runs in the top of 9th inning to put the game away. This was the second Cedar Rapids no-hitter Spencer played a part in. Charlie Jaeger (1909) pitched a no-hitter for the Cedar Rapids Bunnies on August 10, 1909 but lost the game to Spencer and the Davenport Pretzels 3-1.

This following article was published in the August 4, 1914 edition of the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette. It contained coverage of a Central Association contest against the Keokuk Indians held on August 3, 1914. The 1914 Cedar Rapids Bunnies featured three players who played in Major League baseball before or after their time in Cedar Rapids (Bill Harper, Roy Radebaugh and Bill Wambsganss). The 1914 Cedar Rapids Bunnies posted a 65-59 record under manager Beldin Hill’s guidance. Bill Wambsganss went to to become the only player in major league history to turn an unassisted triple play during the World Series.

MLB All-Star Ron Hunt (1960-61) returns to Perfect Game Field tomorrow night

Major League All-Star Ron Hunt (1960-61) is returning to Perfect Game Field tomorrow night along with his fellow Cedar Rapids Braves teammates Barry Morgan (1961) and Paul Snyder (1959, 1961).  They will be on hand as part of our Hall of Fame / Alumni night at the ballpark season here at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The 1961 Cedar Rapids Braves team finished 2nd with a 73-57 record under manager Jimmy Brown. Jack Cookman, a pitcher for the 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets and former MLB player and manager Bruce Kimm will be returning as well. Kimm managed the 1983 Cedar Rapids Reds squad to a 3rd place finish with a 76-64 record. The most recent Cedar Rapids professional baseball Hall of Fame class featuring John Campbell, Reggie Jefferson (1987-88) and Jack Roeder (CR G.M. 1991-2010) will be featured as part of the evening’s festivities. Kernels manager Jamie Burke (1994) and hitting coach Mike Eylward (2002) will be honored pregame as well. The Cedar Rapids professional baseball alumni will be involved in pregame festivities and will be signing autographs on the concourse during the game if they are not busy working (Burke/Eylward). Jefferson will not be in attendance. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for our game against the San Diego Padres Midwest league affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps. First pitch is set for 6:35.

Ron Hunt played here in Cedar Rapids in 1960 and 1961. Hunt hit .191 with 3 HR and 33 RBI in 1960 as the Braves finished 71-69 under manager Jimmy Brown. He returned in 1961 and had a great season batting .295 with 16 HR and 25 doubles in 121 games.

Ron Hunt went on to a 12 year MLB career playing for the Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Expos and Cardinals. He finished 2nd to Pete Rose in the National League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .272 with 10 HR 42 RBI for the Mets in 1963. He led the Mets in hits (145), Batting average, doubles (28), and runs scored (48) playing for Casey Stengal.

Hunt hit the first extra base hit and score the first Mets run at Shea Stadium when it opened. He was the first Mets player to be selected to the All-Star game when he hit .303 with 6 HR and 42 RBI in 1964. The honor was even more special as the game was the only All-Star game to be played in front of the home town Mets fans at Shea Stadium. He was also selected to the 1966 National League All-Star squad.

Ron Hunt was well known for being hit by pitches. He held numerous records for the stat when he retired after the 1974 season. Hunt was also known for being very difficult to strike out. He only struck out 382 times in 6158 plate appearances. Hunt walked 555 times and was hit by a pitch 243 times for comparison. He led the league seven straight years in HBP from 1968-1974.

Paul Snyder (1959, 1961) spent 50 years working in the Braves system on and off the field. He hit .362 with 1 HR and 2 doubles in 15 games in 1959. He returned to hit .310 with 14 HR and 19 doubles in 126 games for the Cedar Rapids Braves in 1961. Snyder posted a .318 batting average, 60 HR and 102 doubles during his 7 year minor league career.

Snyder managed the Greenville Braves in 1963, the Sarasota Braves in 1964 and 1966, the Binghamton Triplets in 1965, the Magic Valley Cowboys in 1970 and the Greenwood Braves in 1972. In 1973, Snyder joined the Braves front office as the assistant minor league administrator prior to taking the reins of the Braves player development system in 1977.

Snyder’s efforts as the Braves’ scouting director (1981-90, 1999-2000), assistant to the General Manager (1991-95, 2001-06), and director of player development (1977-1980, 1996-98) played an integral role as the Braves dominated the National League in the early 1990′s and won the World Series in 1995. He retired following the 2007 season. Baseball America named him one of the top 25 people in baseball in the publications 25th Anniversary issue in 2006.

Barry Morgan (1961) hit .289 with 23 HR and 20 doubles in 130 games for the 1961 Cedar Rapids Braves. Morgan hit .267 with 165 HR during his 12 season minor league playing career reaching as high as AAA playing for the Toledo Mud Hens in 1969 and 1970.

Jack Cookman (1949) posted a 9-9 record with a 4.89 E.R.A. in 29 games for the 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets in the first year of professional baseball following a six year absence due to World War 2. The 1949 Rockets finished in fourth place in the Central Association with a record of 63-67 under manager Packy Rogers guidance. 1949 was Cookman’s final season in the minors due to an arm injury. He had played two season with the Fon du Lac Panthers, the New York Yankees affiliate in the Wisconsin State League in 1947 and 1948 before coming to Cedar Rapids.

Jack Cookman brought us this photo of a few of the 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets pitchers posing in front of their bus. Cookman is the one on the lower right corner.

Bruce Kimm, a Norway, Ia. native, played MLB baseball for the Tigers, Cubs and White Sox between 1976-80. Kimm then continued working in baseball as a minor league manager in the Tigers, Reds and Cubs organizations between 1982-2002. Kimm managed the 1983 Cedar Rapids Reds squad featuring future MLB players Chris Sabo and Kal Daniels among others to a 3rd place finish with a 76-64 record. Kimm managed the Chicago Cubs for 78 (33-45 record) games during the 2002 season.

Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Alumni Bios – Belden Hill

Belden Hill was the fourth player to make his Major League debut from our list of 384 Cedar Rapids professional baseball alumni who have played in Cedar Rapids either before or after their MLB debut. Hill made his big league debut on August 27, 1890 at the age of 25, playing for the Baltimore Orioles. He hit .167 in 30 at bats, stole 6 bases, scored three runs and had two RBI in 9 games. Hill suffered a broken leg in 1891 and never returned to Major League baseball.

Belden Hill played 19 (1887-1905) seasons of minor league baseball playing for 16 different organizations, many in the capacity of player manager (1896-1905). Hill managed the Cedar Rapids Bunnies following his playing days from 1906-08 and then again from 1913-14. Hill only had one losing season during his Cedar Rapids tenure as a full season manager, a 59-65 mark in 1913.  His team won two championships (1897 and 1906) and rarely finished lower than third place.  Hill has the most career wins by any manager in Cedar Rapids club history with a career mark of 831-660 (.557). Belden Hill, along with Mike Sexton of Rock Island, formed the first Three-I League in 1901 to bring baseball back to Cedar Rapids after a one year layoff.  He later organized the Mississippi Valley League in 1922 and served as its president in 1926 and from 1928 to 1931.

Beldin Hill started the 1896 season as the Cedar Rapids Rabbits third baseman. The team had compiled a 19-32 record under manager Hiram Ebright, until Ebright resigned on the morning of June 28, 1896. Ebright recommended Hill as his successor and the Cedar Rapids club found its manager for 14 of its next 15 seasons.

Beldin Hill’s 1897 Rabbits club earned the Western Association title with an 84-41 record. Hill led the 1897 squad with a .327 batting average playing third base. Following that season, the Evening Gazette ran a sketch of the team and praised Hill for his baseball acumen:  “As a judge of players, Belden Hill has no superior; as a manager he is economical, careful and prudent; as a disciplinarian he cannot be excelled, ruling firmly yet with much kindness.  What “Beldy” says is law and gospel, and what a player tells him must be true or there is trouble ahead…It is needless to say that the players idolize him as their pet name, ‘Pa’ will signify.”

Beldin Hill led the Cedar Rapids Rabbits to a pair of runner-up finishes in 1898 and 1899 as the Western Association struggled mightily to complete its full season each year. Cedar Rapids was left without a baseball team in 1900 when the Western Association disbanded on June 16, 1899 and was reassembled as the Western League and Beldin Hill served as the player manager for the Des Moines Hawkeyes for the 1900 season.

Belden Hill was instrumental in forming the first Three-I League in 1901 and returned to lead the Cedar Rapids Rabbits squad to a second place finish with a 69-43 record. The 1902 squad finished third with a 63-56 mark and the 1903 squad finished 60-60 in their final season being known as the Rabbits. Hill and the renamed Cedar Rapids Bunnies rebounded for a runner-up finish in 1904 with a 70-52 record. The Bunnies posted a 63-61 mark in 1905 to place fifth in Hill’s final season playing in the field at age 40.

Belden Hill and the 1906 Bunnies earned Cedar Rapids its first Three-I league championship with a 79-43 record in Hill’s first season on the bench. The 1906 championship squad featured future big leaguers Neal Ball (turned MLB baseball’s first unassisted triple play), Russ Ford (inventor of the Emery/Scuff Ball), Rebel Oakes and Doc Crandall among others. Hill led the Bunnies to 72-61 record in 1907 and a 69-63 mark in 1908 before stepping down as the team’s manager.

Belden Hill returned to pilot the squad for their first two seasons in the Central Association in 1913 and 1914. The Bunnies finished 59-65 and 65-59 respectively in Hill’s final two seasons at the helm. Belden Hill once again stepped down at the age of 49 after the 1914 season.

Belden Hill would help organize the Mississippi Valley League and served as the league president in 1926 and between 1928-31.

Belden Hill was born August 24, 1864 in Kewanee, Illinois, and died October 22, 1934, at Cedar Rapids at age 70.  Old Hill Park, the predecessor of Veterans Memorial Stadium, was named in his honor. Belden Hill was a member of the inaugural class of the Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

This Date in Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball – June 25, 1949 – CR Rockets Sweep Rockford in Doubleheader

Jack Cookman (Cedar Rapids Rockets – 1949) and his family joined us at the ballpark yesterday afternoon as the Kernels defeated Beloit for our first win of the second half. We kept his group busy with another Kernels Timeline tour, numerous introductions, a first pitch and a radio booth visit for an interview with Morgan Hawk. The southpaw can still bring it to the plate. Jack also brought in some great old photos from the 1949 season to donate to our Hall of Fame. I have to get them scanned to share. We are glad to have you and your family back anytime Jack. Thanks to Kernels photographer Stevie Pedersen for the shots of Cookman’s first pitch. I decided to stick with the 1949 team with today’s look back at Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball history.

This following article was written by Pat Harmon and was published in the June 26, 1949 edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. It contained coverage of a Central Association doubleheader against the Rockford Rox held on June 25, 1949. The 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets featured one player who played in Major League baseball either before or after their time in Cedar Rapids (Packy Rogers). Pro Football Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell was also a member of the 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets squad.

Rockets Top Rockford Twice, 3-0, 5-1. Cassidy, Schroer Hurl Wins

The Cedar Rapids Rockets won their first double header of the season by beating Rockford, 3-0 and 5-1, Saturday night on the expert pitching of left-handed Gene Schroer and right-handed Dick Cassidy.

They held Rockford to three hits in 16 innings. Schroer pitched a 2-hit shutout in the opener, which went seven frames. In the second game, Cassidy allowed one hit and one unearned run. He missed a no-hitter on Bob Dill’s towering fly to the left field fence in the third inning. Paul Slaughter misjudged it and it landed for a double.

Jarring John Tanner helped Cassidy’s cause in the second game with a third-inning homer, his 14th of the season. Smacko Joe Macko of Burlington also hit his 14th Saturday night in another Central Association game, and they are tied for the league lead.

The twin pitching masterpieces were witnessed by 2,160 clients, including 772 special ladies’ night admissions. Tonight, the Rockets open a series against Burlington with Joe Meshelski, who pitched a one-hitter over Clinton on June 18, on the mound. Cedar Rapids and Burlington will play a doubleheader Monday at 6:30 p.m., with Jim Johnson and Jack Bremer or Lou Michels the probable local pitchers.

The fielding of the Rockets, particularly that of the 18-year old shortstop, Roger Scoles of Ute, Ia., touched new heights Saturday. Scoles handled 12 chances and figured in three double plays. His most spectacular  act was in the second game. After Dale Hess had slashed the ball off the pitcher’s glove, it was bounding for the open spaces by second base, but Scoles scooped it in and turned it into a double play.

Jay Sousley also pulled two dazzlers around first base, and Tanner ended the evening with a running catch over his shoulder of pinch hitter Jim Fister’s fly to right field. Tanner, incidently, did not play the first game because of a sore arm. His home run in the second was one of his longest. It cleared the fence just to the left of the scoreboard, high over the 350-foot marker.

Cassidy’s one-hitter in the second game should be explained for those who were there. When Joe Patanelli of Rockford was ruled safe at first by umpire Roxie Lawson in the first inning, the scoreboard flashed the “hit” sign from the official scorer. But Lawson, when questioned, said he had called the runner safe because the fielder failed to tag the bag, not because Patanelli had beaten the throw, which was from Sousley to Cassidy. Under the rules of the official scoring manual, this had to become an error.

Cassidy walked seven and hit Dill, the Rockford manager so that the Rox got a man on base every inning save the sixth. Schroer’s two-hitter shaded the picthing of Oje Henning, former University of Minnesota athlete, in the opener. Henning has now pitched three games for the Rox, and they haven’t scored a run for him. He lost his first two starts to Keokuk by identical scores of 2-0. Harry Pritts was his opponent in those games, so he has lost all three to left-handed rivals.

In the first game, Joe O’Brien scored for the Rockets in the third on a passed ball. An Error by Patanelli, sacrifice by Ray Waychoff, walks to Packy Rogers and Sousley and hits by Slaughter and Del Marquardt scored the remaining two runs in the sixth.

The Rockets used a progressive hitting system in the second game, starting with the second inning. Tanner singled, Sousley doubled, Marquardt tripled. That scored two runs. Then in the third Tanner hit for four bases, this time with Rogers on base.

Rogers’ single, Dill’s two-base error in left field, and Sousley’s fly to center brought Rogers in with the last run.

The Rox only run off Cassidy was unearned. Bob Johnson, after walking, went to third on Rogers’ high throw trying to nail Fred Lietz. Johnson scored on Dick Meyer’s fly to right.

Transcribed from the digital archives of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

Cedar Rapids All Star Games – 1949 Central Association All Star Game

The Cedar Rapids Kernels closed out the first half with a four game winning streak. Three Kernels were selected to attend the 2012 Midwest League All-Star game that will be held on Tuesday night at Kane County. Kaleb Cowart, Ty Kelley and Stephen Tromblee will represent the West squad and the Kernels at the event. As our other players get a few days off, I will be writing / transcribing a few All-Star stories from our past.

We start today with the 1949 Central Association All-Star game that was held on July 13, 1949. Cedar Rapids hosted the event during the inaugural season at Veterans Memorial Stadium during our first season of professional baseball following World War 2. Cedar Rapids did not field a team from 1943-1948. Packy Rogers was selected to manage the North squad in the game. Six Cedar Rapids Rockets were selected to attend the event. Del Marquardt, Roger Scoles, and Jack Tanner were selected as starters while Lou Michels, Lou Percy, and Gene Schroer made the squad as reserves.

The South squad would defeat the North 13-4. Roger Scoles, the starting shortstop for the North, was selected as the fan’s choice as the most valuable player. Scoles handled five putouts and had five assists while going 1-4 at the plate. The voting done in the stands favored Cedar Rapids players with a Rockets player appearing on more than half of the ballots. Jack Tanner was 1-4 with a HR in the game. Del Marquardt started at catcher and went 1-2 with a double.

Here is the coverage from the July 14, 1949 edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette written by Pat Harmon.

Favored South Wins All-Star Tilt, 13-4

Jack Tanner and Wopinek Hit Homers

Them That has gits. This stunning phrase, applied by a Civil War general 85 years ago, was appropriate again Wednesday night, when North and South met in another internecine challenge at Memorial Stadium. The South all-stars had seven of the leading batters of the Central Association, five of the eight top pitchers, and all the first division teams. The North had what was left.

So the South won. Natch. The score was 13-4 and all the talent ran true to form. Even 2,298 spectators were performing in regular season style. They booed the umpires when the came onto the field. Even Packy Rogers of Cedar Rapids, the resident genius of the North strategy cabinet, was in customary tongue. He inquired dramatically of umpire Red Mackay’s final decision and then walked a few paces with the arbiter, arm in arm, laughing.

Walt Wenclewicz, the 6-foot 5-inch Kewanee tower who had shown Cedar Rapids fans so much in two games here last saturday and Sunday, was the winning pitcher. he worked three innings and had a 5-1 lead when he turned the game over to Wallie Rush, the 17 year old pitching prodigy from Burlington.

Gene Schroer of Cedar Rapids, who has won six and lost one to become of of the leading light of Northern pitchers, was tapped for a 4-1 portion of that deficit. Since the North never caught up, he fell heir to the role of losing pitcher.

Picking a towering star out of the field of all-stars would be difficult. Wenclewicz was just as he had looked here last week – almost untouchable. John Poliak of Rockford was the only man to get three hits, but there were eight others who got two. Some of them might have had more if the had not retired to let other performers take their turn.

George Wopinek of Keokuk hit a home run with none aboard for the South in the seventh inning. Jack Tanner of Cedar Rapids came to bat for the North in the eighth with one on base and hit perhaps his longest home run of the year. The Central Association homre run leader popped the ball clear over the outer fence in left center field.

Even among these top notchers, the best in the league , the fielding ace was a rookie shortstop from Cedar Rapids who celebrated his 18th birthday a week ago – Roger Scoles from Ute, IA. He handled five putouts and five assists and knocked down three other balls on which he couldn’t throw the man out at first but which kept from becoming more dangerous hits.

Transcribed from the Digital Archives of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

This Date in Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball – June 15, 1949 – Emlen Tunnell Breaks the Central Association’s Color Barrier

Emlen Tunnell was a member of the 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets squad. Tunnell joined the Rockets on this date in 1949 and went 2-5 in his pro debut while breaking the Central Association’s color barrier and becoming the first African American to play minor league baseball in Iowa after Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier. Tunnell played in five games over four days for Cedar Rapids gathering five hits in 18 plate appearances while playing in the outfield for the Rockets.

“After the game on June 18, 1949, Adam Pratt, the Rockets owner said “(Emlen) came to us after the game and said he was going home, his bag was already packed.  He said he hadn’t been doing as well as he should and since he would have to leave before the season was over anyway to join the (New York Giants) football club, he had decided to go.’ – from ‘EmlenTunnell, Minor League Less Than’ by Steve Smith

Tunnell played in nine pro bowls during his 14 seasons in the NFL playing safety for the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers. He played two seasons for the University of Iowa’s football team (1946-47) following his service in the Coast Guard during World War 2. Most NFL teams thought he would return for a third season at Iowa, but he reached out to the Giants searching for professional opportunities. Tunnell became the first African American to play for the New York Giants. He would become the first African American to be enshrined into the Pro Football hall of Fame.

Emlen Tunnell finished his Hall of Fame NFL career with 79 interceptions for 1282 yards and 4 TD. Tunnell had 2217 yards in punt returns including 4 TD and 1215 yards in kickoff returns including 1 TD. He also passed for 50 yards and rushed for 43 during his career. At the time of his retirement in 1961, he held the NFL record with 79 career interceptions

Emlen Tunnell continued to be a part of the New York Giants team following his playing career as he became a scout and then became the first African American assistant coach in the NFL

This following article was written by Pat Harmon and was published in the June 16, 1949 edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. It contained coverage of a Central Association game against the Kewanee Athletics held on June 15, 1949. The 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets featured one player who played in Major League baseball either before or after their time in Cedar Rapids (Packy Rogers).

The Drouth is Broken: Rockets Smite Kewanee, 16-2

Schroer Gives 6 Hits; Tunnell Makes Debut

A man can take only so much. he can be pushed around only so far. After he has been kicked once too often, he will kick back, but good. The Cedar Rapids Rockets kicked back, but good, Wednesday night in Memorial stadium. The cuffed the Kewanee Athletics like a tribe of men suddenly let out of a cage. The score was 16-2, as the Rockets choked their 11-game losing streak.

Gene Schroer,  a 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander from Topeka, Kansas, pitched his first Rocket game, and Cedar Rapids would like to see more like this. He  had a way of bending his long left arm in the direction of first base and sweeping the plate with a crossfire that kept Kewanee on tenderhooks all night. It was the motion of a sort of a left handed, and minor-league Ewell Blackwell.

Schroer walked eight, but he struck out the same, and he gave six hits, all in the last four innings. While Schroer was stopping the Athletics, the Rockets were unwinding their pent up batting hopes. They collected 17 hits, including four by Lou Percy and three each by Jay Sousley and Roger Scoles. Everyone except John Tanner got a hit.

The game was also distinguished by the debut of the Central Association’s first negro player, Emlen Tunnell. The former University of Iowa half back, now property of the New York football Giants, was at bat five official times and hit two Texas Leaguers. he also whiffed twice. Playing left field for Cedar Rapids, he had no fielding chances.

Tunnell, who flew here Wednesday from his home in Garrett Hill, Pa. will be available to the Rockets until August, when he departs for the pro football training camp.

The Rockets got enough free runs in the first inning to clinch the victory. parker Swam, who had a record of three victories and two defeats prior to this game, started for the Athletics and he had everything Santa Claus ever offered except a set of whicskers. he faced seven men and walked six. By the time Bob Tweedie had succeeded him, the Rockets had accumulated three runs gratis.

Tweedie pitched the last 8 2/3 innings without rest, though rapped for 17 hits, because the Athletics only have five pitchers on this trip. The same teams were to meet again here Thursday, with Dick sawyer pitching for Kewanee and Jim Johnson for Cedar Rapids.

Foerstner Delivers

Emlen Tunnell didn’t want to come to Cedar Rapids, because of what people might think of him for leaving the University of Iowa football team. For three weeks the Rockets had been trying to get him, and he finally surrendered Wednesday. He stepped off a plane at 6 p.m. and was playing left field two hours later.

“I didn’t know if I’d be welcome if I came back to Iowa,” he explained. “Some folks out here gave me a hard time because I quit the university before my elgibility was used up. I got some letters from them last year when I was with the Giants, but they didn’t sign any names.

Tunnell had quit the football squad during the 1947 football season, rejoined it for the last two games, and then left school for good. That Tunnell was in Cedar Rapids uniform Wednesday, the first negro to play in the Central Association, was due to George Foersterner of Amana. It was Foerstner who first suggested to the Rockets through this writer, that they contact Tunnell. He had used Tunnell on the famous Amana Freezers, managed by Hal Trosky in 1947. He felt that Tunnell could help the Rockets.

The Rockets wrote Tunnell but received no answer. They asked Foersterner to phone him. Tunnell promised to come but did not show up. That was two weeks ago. Foerstner called again and this time the former Iowa halfback took the plane from Philadelphia near his home of Garrett Hill, Pa and came in.

Tunnell played left field Wednesday and said it was the first time he had played outfield this season. “I’ve been pitching and playing shortstop and third base three or four games a week back home. I’ve also been playing in a summer basketball league one night a week.”

He obtained an agreement with the Rockets that he may leave in August, whhen the pro football training starts. It was recently announced that Tunnell had signed for his second season with the New York football Giants and that he would be used on offense this season. “I hope it’s true,” he said Wednesday. “That offense is a lot easier. I played defense last year, and I’ve been hearin’ I might be the safety this year.

I want to see Dr. Eddie Anderson. i know I owe my pro football career to him. They told me at the Giants they wouldn’t have signed me unless Dr. Eddie had put on his okay. If I see him, I want to ask him about that safety position, too. I might have to learn something about it.

“I hope they use me on offense, and at right halfback in the T formation. We’ll have a better team this year. Bill, Kay, Joe Grothus and Ralph Doran from Iowa will be with us. I’ve never see Doran, but they tell me he’s good. Tunnell got two hits and struck out twice Wednesday. he looked weak a couple times reaching for wide pitches, but he may have been too tired. He traveled all day.

Transcribed from the digital archives of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

Welcome back to Cedar Rapids Jack Cookman (Cedar Rapids Rockets – 1949)

Every so often I get the honor of meeting a former Cedar Rapids alumni who happens to drop by the area to check in on the stadium and remember ballgames of the past. I was lucky enough to meet Jack Cookman (1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets) this morning. Jack was in town for personal business and dropped by to see the facility. He ran into Jim Curran, once again fixing stuff at the stadium, who tracked me down while we were prepping for tonight’s game.

I gave Jack a tour of our Cedar Rapids Baseball Timeline located on our suite level and shared our 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets display along the way. K.C. Waycoff, one of our ushers, had brought in several items of interest from his father’s playing days. Ray Waycoff was also a Cedar Rapids Rocket in 1949 and had saved letterhead with team logos, numerous correspondences and even a special opening day ticket to the first game at the original Veterans Memorial Stadium. We also have a team signed ball on display from the ’49 team with manager Packy Rogers autograph on the sweet spot.

Jack shared a lot of stories along the way as we toured the Timeline area and checked out our Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Hall of Fame area in our souvenir store. He said he and a couple other players were actually fined 10% of their pay for not participating in what basically amounted to a full fledged brawl during one of the games. Jack and a couple players from each team watched the battle from the pitchers mound staying out of the fray. Player manager Packy Rogers came out of the battle worse for wear and had noticed their inactivity and fined the group.

Jack also told a story of pitching and winning both ends of a doubleheader. It reminded me of another great feat by a Cedar Rapids professional baseball alum, Dutch Levsen (Cedar Rapids Bunnies – 1923). Levsen is still in the baseball record books and likely will hold his spot in history forever as the last pitcher to tally complete game victories in both ends of a doubleheader. Levsen, born in Wyoming, IA and an Iowa State University alum, shutdown the Boston Red Sox in game one (6-1) and game two (5-1) as the Cleveland Indians swept a double header on August 26, 1928.

Jack Cookman couldn’t remember the date of the games, but through some digging using the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s Digital Archives of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, I was able to find the event, which occurred on July 17, 1949. Cookman remembered the date fondly stating he had annoyed his manager during the first game pitching a lot of inside pitches which gave Packy Rogers a lot of work at third base. Rogers urged Cookman to work the outside corner more as he didn’t need anymore ‘practice’. When Cookman continued to work the inside corner, his punishment was being sent back out for game 2 after picking up the win with a seven inning complete game shutout  in game 1 (6-0). Cookman worked 7 more shutout innings in game 2 before the Rockford Rox picked up one run in each of the eighth and ninth innings. Jack earned his second win of the day with his second complete game of the day as the Rockets defeated Rockord 11-2 in nine innings. In another rare feat, Jack Tanner hit three HR in game 2 to lead the way offensively for the Rockets. Tanner’s 37 HR in 1949 has only been bested once in Cedar Rapids baseball history (Jeff Jones hit 42 HR for the 1982 Cedar Rapids Reds).

Jack Cookman posted a 9-9 record with a 4.89 E.R.A. in 29 games for the 1949 Cedar Rapids Rockets in the first year of professional baseball following a six year absence due to World War 2. The 1949 Rockets finished in fourth place in the Central Association with a record of 63-67 under manager Packy Rogers guidance. 1949 was Cookman’s final season in the minors due to an arm injury. He had played two season with the Fon du Lac Panthers, the New York Yankees affiliate in the Wisconsin State League in 1947 and 1948 before coming to Cedar Rapids. We hope Jack and his family may catch a few baseball games this season and he has an open offer to throw out a first pitch at his convenience.

Thanks again for visiting us and sharing your stories Jack. Hope to see you again soon.

Cookman Pitches, Wins Doubleheader, 6-0, 11-2 – Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 18, 1949 edition