Allamakee co. IAGenWeb Project

Prominent People of the Pale Past
- When Baseball Was King of the Hill -
Editor Bert Tuttle &
Postville's Famous First Nine

Stan Schroeder's Radio Program


Of all the Editors I have ever known, I would have to rate Bert as King of the Hill. Bert was born at new Oregon, in Howard county, Iowa in 1869. His family moved to Hardin and came to Postville in 1881. He left at the end of his freshman year in High School to enter the office of the Posville Review as a devil and printer apprentice under Editor W.N. Burdick. Bert wrote in a happy, humourous vein and was a "Master Story-Teller". He also had a passion for the national game of baseball. He loved baseball, he lived people and the Postville people loved him. He became editor of the Review after the death of W.N. Burdick in 1901.

The merry month of May is almost here, and that means that Major League Baseball has begun ..... I would like to read from the foreward part of my book ........

When Baseball Was King of the Hill, Volume I
1900 - 1909

Old-time baseball teams may be a thing of the pale past, but they nevertheless provided fond memories to sagacious sport fans of years ago who remembered 'way back when' the bully-ball-boys with padded-knee trousers and swell sweaters, some with handle-bar moustaches who cavorted on the bumpy baseball diamonds -- for great glory and prized purses. The No. 1 pure pleasure of the proud Postville people was to Take Me Out To The Big Ball Game.

This old-time baseball club made history. The Postville baseball nine was called Postville's Famous First Nine by Bert Tuttle. The team was promoted by Bert and gained the remarkable reputation by recording a record of 182 wins and only 38 losses between 1900 and 1909. Those were the days -- when men, women, children and babies were all rabid and loyal to the team -- and were ready to root and kill a Bear, anytime or anywhere. "We Killed Another Bear" was the Famous First battle cry among the proud Postville fanatical fans.

Those were the days when all the small towns and hamlets in illustrious Iowa had their own baseball nines to root for. Much rivalry occurred, along with the sizable side purses put up by the boisterous baseball backers.

Those were the days when but 2 to 3 badly battered baseballs were used per game. The happy, hustling kids were paid one Indian-head penny each for all foul balls retrieved.

Those were the days when good old spit balls were commonly thrown, and of course good old tobacco juice was pretty prominently used.

Those were the days when the average nine-inning ball game took but one hour and twenty-five or thirty minutes to play. Baseball Was King of the Hill and it was truly America's great national game.

Those were the days when Postville's Famous First Nine was the talk-topic of our little tranquil town and was King of the Hill of Northeastern Iowa. During that imposing interium, winning ball games was the name of the game and our battling ball boys lost but very few games each year, playing all comers, "Semi-Pro" and "Profesh" road teams such as .....

Boston Bloomers - Ladies Champion Baseball Club of Boston, Mass. The only ladies ball club in America.
Nebraska Indians - the famous touring organization of Red Men.
Chicago Marquettes - a profesh nine from Chicago.
Algona, Iowa Brownies - also called the Coons, the famous all-colored baseball club, who were barred from the Major Leagues by their dusky color only.
Dubuque Three - I League club from Dubuque.
Dubuque White Sox - a semi-pro nine.
Upper Iowa University from Fayette, Iowa
Cedar Rapids Nine - from Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hopkins Bros. from Des Moines, Iowa
Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.
Elkader Browns - from Elkader, Iowa

There was one particular ball game which made the Famous title stick. It seems the club had been knocking off some pretty fair teams with side purses of $200 to $500, put up by the big baseball backers in the various towns. Waucoma, over in Fayette county had a canny, cracker-jack outfit that was playing pretty red-hot baseball at that time, and a merry match was arranged to be played for a $500 purse in the 1905 West Union Fair. The Famous and Waucoma game created such interest and drew such an immense crowd, that all other activities at the fair had to be called off while the big ball game was played.

'Hank the Hummer' Koevenig, Postville's peerless and powerful pitcher got tangled up in a tight pitching duel with "Rusty" Owen, manager of the Dubuque team and the prime pitcher in the Three-Eye League. He had been imported for the fabulous fracus. The grim game moved along, scoreless until the 13th inning. In the last of that fatal frame, things began to happen.

'Farmer' Frank Hangartner, Postville left fielder, then came up to bat. He missed badly at the first ball thrown and failed to connect. But the next ball thrown -- foxy Frank cut loose and with a crash like the crack of doom -- planted one out in left field, about 60 feet in back of third, and the bouncing ball mysteriously disappeared.

The old hidden ball gags were commonly employed by all ball boys in those days, and our hard-headed hero Hangartner on second, saw the shortstop fumble around for the ball, and finally scooted for third, and finally took a chance -- and hurriedly hiked for home. He made it, and Postville's Famous First Nine won the hard fought ball game 1 - 0. Immediately after the game, participating players and their feisty fans combed the field looking for the elusive, lost ball. It was found that he had hammered the horsehide headlong into a gopher hole and had dropped out of sight.

The big, bold, banner headlines of the Postville paper proudly proclaimed:

In the same year a National Cigar Comany of St. Paul, Minn. hearing of the club's real record, named a 5 cent Cigar after them, bearing the name "Famous First". Bert Tuttle said: "It's the aristocrat of nickel cigars and this celebrated Postville cigar is made just a little bit better than seems necessary.

Ben Bear, Decorah, Iowa Clothier, was one of the better clothing advertisers in the Postville Review. He was one of Postville's biggest baseball boosters for years. One of his clothing clerks made the "I Killed the Big Bear" Banner used by our Famous Firsts.

Postville Review Articles

- 1900 -

-We are sorry to state that George Weihe who received a badly broken right arm playing in a baseball game on his father's farm early last fall, has a rather hard time of late. We hope George will turn out all right.

-Baseball players, if you want a good laxative, try the one and only Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Purgative Pellets. These pills are no larger than mustard seeds. They will do the job.

-Our popular Postville painters and paper plyers, Hi 'Moon' Taylor, Ray 'Swap' Schuler and our bully baseball boys Art 'Cassie' Harrington and Henry 'Hank' Koevenig, have signed an agreement not to spread any paint or hang any paper bought of mail order houses. Bully for the baseball boys!

-Geo. Weihe's Arm Examined.
A council of physicians, consisting of Dr. Clark of McGregor, Dr. Wilcox of Frankville, Dr. Berry of Clermont, and Dr. Flynn of Postville, examined the arm of Geo. Weihe on Tuesday, and came to the conclusion that nothing could be done on account of the cancerous condition prevailing. We are yet in hopes that the youngman will pull through, and he has the sincere sympathy of all. Poor Geo. was injured in a baseball game last fall, receiving a badly broken arm.

-Men's Baseball Seamless Socks, only 5 cents per pair at Luhman & Sanders.

-The Postville ball boys swiped the Henderson Prairie tenderfeet last Sunday at the Junction, by a score of 28-11.

-We are informed that Henry Weihe will take his son, George to Chicago today or tomorrow to see if something cannot be done. We sincerely hope with all the Postville people that it will turn out successfully. We hope that gallant Geo. can win the big ganerine game.

-We see it stated that the C.M. & St. Paul R.R. will soon start what is termed the "lunch system", on all trains not carrying dining cars. Lunches wrapped in wax paper and put up in tin foil will be for sale. This will be all right if the lunches are good and fresh and the price is not out of sight. This will be great stuff for the baseball boys and their fanatical fans "ridin the rails."

-John Weihe returned from Chicago on Wednesday morning and reports that his brother George, will have his arm taken off today with the chances about even whether he can be saved or not. Henry Weihe, his father left for Chicago on Wednesday night and will be there until the worst is over.

-Isn't it strange that prominent people will pay double price for good seats at the old baseball park, and for front seats at theaters and all public shows, and when they happen to go to church, will get just as far back from the preacher's pulpit as they can crowd in? In the one case they want to see and hear, and in the other -- what?

-Baseball players need clean healthy bowels just as much as pure, wholesome food, without either, you cannot keep well. Hollister's Rock Mountain Tea, eliminates all impurities. Tea or Tablets. Only 35 cents at R.N. Douglass.

-Lefty Geo. Weihe is getting along all right in the hospital in chicago. He has written several letters to friends with his left hand, and does very well for a new beginner. We are glad to know that he is getting along so well. Come back home soon, Geo.

-"No, I shall never marry him!" sighed the maiden. "When he saw one of the fellows bleeding at the base ball game, he turned pale. I couldn't be happy with such a man. He'd always want me to cut the chicken's heads off myself!"

-Geo. Weihe returned home from Chicago on the early train last Monday morning. The Postville baseball boys visited him for a little while on Monday night, and found him quite cheerful.

-J.M. Thoma gramaphoned Geo. Weihe on Wednesday evening. J.M. says Geo. appreciated it and hopefully it can be done again soon. Hurrah for "Spalding".

-Captious Mother: "What do you want to marry that young baseball player for? He doesn't know enough to set the world on fire."
Sensible Daughter: "Maybe not, but he says he knows enough to set the kindling wood in the kitchen range on fire."

-Died -- Geo. Weihe.
Aged 23 years, six months and nine days. This is one of the saddest cases we have had in this neighborhood for a long time. George Weihe was one of the most rugged men in this section, until less than a year ago, when his right arm was fractured in playing a game of baseball on his father's farm. He stood the amputation well but before the wound healed, a cancerous affliction set in and it ate into his vitals and finally proved fatal. He has suffered a great deal, but stood it manfully -- all the time knowing that it would end in death. But his sufferings are now over and he is at rest. To the family we extend sympathy too deep for words. Words are empty at such a time. Alas! there will be a vacant chair!

-The funeral of Geo. Weihe last Friday was one of the largest ever held in Postville. the commodious German Lutheran Church was filled to overflowing and many were unable to gain admission. All nationalities turned out, all having the greatest respect for the deceased and the family. The services were held in both German and English, at the request of the family. This, is as it should be. We are all Americans and all citizens and neighbors and friends, all working for the same end and all subject to sickness and death. Let us all join together when affliction comes, and mingle our tears with those who mourn. If all f us shall leave this earth with as many friends and without an enemy, as did George Weihe, we shall have reason to rejoice, even in the hour of death. The flowers at the funeral were beautiful and in great profusion and the services in both languages were eloquent and impressive. The Turner Society of which he was a member, was out in force, paying their last tribute of respect. So he was laid to rest, the son and borther, to sleep peacefully, until the resurrection morn.

-The funeral was very largely attended. There were 65 teams in the procession, which added to the large number already in town, gave the appearance of a great day.

-The Postville baseball boys attended the funeral in a body and mourned with others the passing away of poor George.

Editor Bert Tuttle's good friend -- Henry 'Hank' Koevening -- was the peerless and powerful pitcher of Postville's Famous First Nine. During his 9 years of pitching (roughly 1900-1909) he went under the alias of 'Hurrying Hank', 'Hank the Hummer', 'Uncle Heinie', 'Happy Heinie', 'Old Poddy' and 'Canned Man'.

Postville Review - early 1900's:

-Hank Koevenig and George Schultz, our bully battery ball boys brought home the skins of four large coon from a hunting trip yesterday.

-One of Postville's First Nine, whose first name is Hank, chewed twenty cents worth of tobacco a week. He concluded he could use a tobacco cure. In two weeks he ate $1.50 worth of the cure and for the next two weeks he used ten cents worth of Yucatan, 5 cents worth of candy, ten cents worth of peanuts, and 5 cents worth of cough drops per day. During these two weeks he also consumed two large rubber erasers, ate the tips from fourteen lead pencils, chewed up a dozen penholders and browsed off his moustache as high as he could reach. He is now chewing tobacco in the interest of economy.

-Postville played good ball for being so early in the season. Final score was Postville 3 and Chicago Marquettes 4. Time of game: 1 hour and 30 minutes. 'Hurrying Hank' Koevenig pitched a fine game.

-We open this week 50 Dozen of Boys "Iron Clad" Knee Pants. Price only 50 cents per pant. These pants are so tough that your boy can play baseball in them. Postville Clothing House, Carl Holter, Proprietor.

-Postville's Hi 'Moon' Taylor is a great groundskeeper for our Postville baseball team. He is also Postville's No. 1 outstanding Outhouse builder. He just put up two of his famous half-moon structures for W.J. Hanks and Chris. Salzgeber.

-A small boy was discovered playing ball one day, and on being asked what he was doing, replied: "I'm playin' ball with Dod. I frow the ball up -- and Dod frows it back."

-Bert Tuttle writes about the Bully Baseball Boys of Summer ........
Postville public school closed Monday for the long summer vacation and the kids can now play ball on the diamonds for nigh on to three months. It is the ambition of many a small boy playing on their Field of Dreams, who dreams of developing into a league pitcher before the school bell rings and calls him back in the fall. Postville people, see the FREE baseball games played by the kids from 1 o'clock to 6 o'clock every afternoon but Sunday.

-Our popular Postville pitcher, 'Hurrying Hank' Koevenig tells this story:
One of the most eventful epochs in a boy's history is when he first addresses his father as "old man". If the boy is rightly treated afterward by the family physician, he lives a great many years to enjoy it.

-We Killed the Bear. Final score ..... Postville 2 Elgin 1. 'Hank the Hummer' won another game. An old geeser who came down the crooked creek to take in the Elkader Fair last week watched the game with great interest and when the score of 2 to 1 was announced he hee-heed and haw-hawed and took a shot at the judges stand with a mouthful of home-made tobacco juice and remarked: "Gol swang it, back in '56 we uster make 40 to 50 tallies every game, but nowadays, the fellers is durn lucky to git one. By hickory, we shure knowed how ter play ball."

-In one of the best games of the season it was Postville's Famous First Nine - 4, the Dubuque 3-1 League Club - 2. Our crafty cathcer, 'Cap'n Gawg' Schultz, hammered a home run. 'Hank the Hummer' Koevenig struck out 10. Time of game 1 hour and 30 minutes. Yes sir, we killed a Big Bad Bear from Dubuque.

-Remember Famous Female Fans -- you are admitted absolutely FREE to all home games. Be a big baseball booster. Forget all your troubles -- come and join the fun.

-Postville 12, Elkader 10 .....
Yea, verily we killed another Bear, a big brown one, last Saturday. It was rather a bummy job, but we got there just the same. Both sides were pretty groggy, and put up a rather sloppy article of ball, but a fairly good crowd turned out to the big show and seemed to enjoy it. Just as well as if it had been a huge humdinger. Both teams had been at Waukon for a couple of days, where our boys played two consecutive days and were pretty much all in as a result -- while most of the Elkader boys had a day of rest and should have been in condition to have slaughtered our boys down, but they failed to do it and for no other reason than that they haven't got the goods in stock to do it with and never have had when Postville decides to play ball. Added to all this misery, the players of both teams had to change drinks for a night and a day, owing to circumstances over which they had no control, and had it not been for the Colic, Cholera and Diarrhoea Remedy Mr. Chamberlain has made so famous, it is doubtful if the game would have been played here at all.

Here are the Bear Facts:
Reciepts - about $167
Farmer Frank Hangartner banged out a hugeous home run over the fence and into the tall cornfield
"Trust in God and keep your bowels open."
Bear meat enough in our cellar to keep the Wolfe away from the door till summer comes again.
Little Clarence Schuler collected a total of 9 Indian-head pennies by retrieving 9 foul balls at the game.

The Elkader boys are a gentlemanly and pleasant lot to know and take defeat and "Rocky Mountain Tea" as gracefully as it is possible to.

- 1904 -

A Blow to the Ball Team
by Bert Tuttle

Postville baseball team has received a big, bad blow from which it will take some time to recover, as Henry Koevenig, their peerless and powerful pitcher for a number of seasons past, has been hired by the Grand Forks, N.D. team to hurl the horsehide for them the coming season. Hank will start in at a salary of $75 per month and if he proves a winner in professional circles will be raise to $100 per month. They will find him a real ball player clear through, a gentleman always and neither, a booze fighter nor a cigarette fiend. We firmly believe he will make his mark and here's all kinds of success to 'Hank the Hummer.'

-Otto 'Porky' Beucher has graduated to Hank Koevenig's seat of the Ice and Beer Wagon of P.J. 'Juice' Beucher of the Long Branch Saloon.

-Best Beefsteak - only 10 cents per pound at the Postville Meat Market. These steaks are the Bear Meat that our Postville Famous First Bear Killers eat.

-Welcome Home, 'Hank'
Henry Koevenig, our only greatest pitcher on earth, returned last night from Grand Forks to stay and there is great rejoicing in the Famous First Nine camp. 'Uncle Heinie' made good at the Forks, but was stricken down with that vererable disease -- home sickness.

-There aren't many better ways to spend a warm summer Sunday afternoon than at the old baseball park. come out and root our bully ball boys to victory.

- Every time Hank Koevenig, our peerless and powerful pitcher pitches a shut out, he gets a gallon crock of "home-made" sauer kraut absolutely FREE from chris Salzgeber, of the Postville Meat Market.

-Our Famous Firsts went down to Clermont and licked the Brick City ball boys by the score of 13 to 0. A Fayette County Bear was killed. 'Happie Heinie' the winner.

-The Grank Forks team of the Northern League, where our real Postville pitcher 'Happie Heinie' Koevenig used to play with, let out all of its high-salaried men last week and had reorganized on a cheaper scale. The old team are not drawing sufficient patronage to pay out, being mostly cigarette-fiends, booze-fighters and makers of goo-goo-eyes at the girls, it says.

-Famous 5, Lansing 0! Yes, sir! We Killed a Bear! 'Old Poddy' Koevenig the Winner! Another free gallon of "home-made" sauer kraut for our Hank.

Postville's Famous First Nine Fearfully Fades the Fame of the Fayette University Team
Postville 11, U.I.U. 8

Holy cow! Holy Ghost! We killed another Bear! We went after the great Fayette College bunch and made the manly Methodist men look like 30 cents. It was Commencement week at the U.I.U. and the famed University ball teamm, with the scalps of Cornell and Wesleyan colleges dangling on their belt, wanted to dazzle the eyes of their dads and mamas and hsow them, how easy Intelligence could triumph over Ignorance -- even in a baseball game. They searched the country far and wide for foemen worthy of their steel, but as a last resort called on Postville. Manager 'Billy Buck' Durno, like the bulk of the Postville people, thought it would simply be marching the Famous through the slaughter house into an open grave, and passed the matter up. The bully boys thought differently, and with their regular line-up, went over yesterday morning. "Didn't you load up?" "Common teams don't get enough practice to play a good college club." "We were in hopes to have had a good game," -- were the cheery greetings on arriving at Fayette. At the appointed hour the teams met on the college campus, and after a ten-inning battle in which hard hitting played a prominent part, the Fayette faculty saw their mighty team fade before a mighty audience of folks, and Postville's Famous First were victors. Three ignorant Irish, five daffy Dutch and a yap of a Yankee did the job. Time of game 1:55. Hank Koevenig, Postville's peerless pitcher strained his shoulder in the first inning, which accounts for the big lead of 5 Fayette got in the 2nd.

These are the Bear Facts.
-Andres 'Circus Solly' Schuler, Fred 'Anson' O'Boy, Frank 'Copper Cable' McCuniff, Geo. 'Cap'n Gawg' Schultz and Frank 'Little Fritzie' Thoma -- all had 2 hits apiece for Postville's Famous. Farmer Frank Hangartner hammered a huge home run for the Famous with one aboard in the seventh inning.

-Our happy hurler Hank has received 2 gallons of Chris. Salzgeber's famous home-made sauer kraut. So far our 'Happie Heinie' has pitched 2 shut-outs during the month of July and he plans on working hard for more FREE kraut.

-The two best baseball twirlers in the whole of the United States is Christy Mathewson of the New York Nationals and our Famous First Hank Koevenig -- Postville's peerless and powerful pitcher.

- 1905 -

A Great Ball Game.

One of the prettiest and fastest games played on any diamond in northeastern Iowa this season was pulled off at Lansing last Sunday, and those who had the pure pleasure of seeing it may count themselves fortunate. The excellent game the Famous put up is a big feather in their hat and shows the splendid condition for playing their frequent persistent practice keeps them in.

Ruthless Russia rested on her past greatness to bluff and scare outside foes from attacking her. It worked for years, while her army and navy were decaying, retrograding. And at last when the plucky little Jap, with every man in her army and navy a thoroughly drilled and skilled soldier and seaman, attacked her -- how easy prey Russia was to her -- all peoples know today, and red Russia humiliated as no other nation ever was before her peace makers are now enroute to this country to meet those of Japan and to accept such terms as the merry Mikado's men may demand. History may repeat itself -- in baseball as well as war.

The Famous got both runs in the second inning. Lansing was blanked, with nothing but knotholes. It was a well fought battle. Famous 2, Lansing 0. Time of game 1:20.

Here are the Bear Facts:
-Heinie Koevenig allowed only 2 hits. Our 'Hank the Hummer' kills another big black bear.
-Farmer Frank Hangartner hammered a long home run over the fence. It was a whale of a whopper for Farmer Frank.

- 1906 -

Holy Cow! What a Pitcher!
by Editor Bert Tuttle

Hank Koevenig, Postville's peerless and powerful pitcher, has gone into the "spit-ball" business and now throws three kinds of 'em -- Spear Head, fine cut and plug. They're all good, but some of them are better than others. When Hank let's fly and spits it in the seams with a big blob of fresh tobacco juice with a "p-tooey," he's ready to deliver. His latest is a mixup of all three, called the "Saliva Salute," which is guaranteed non-hittable and carries so much wet goods with it, that our crafty catcher, Geo. 'Cap'n Gawg' Schultz has to wear rubber boots and a slicker while a foul tip will shed showers way up in the grand stand. The basemen and fielders all carry umbrellas to shoot up in case somebody should accidently land on one. On a sunshiny day, a radiant rainbow extends from the pitchers box to the catcher, every time 'Happie Heinie' hurls one of his wet wonders. They're perfectly awful -- so Lansing, Decorah, Guttenberg, Elkader and Dubuque -- we have warned you now -- BEWARE!

- published on the Allamakee co. IAGenWeb with the generous permission of Stan Schroeder
- original transcripts provided by Stan Schroeder & transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall

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