Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 6 - Page 23, Submitted by Shirley Plumb, June 18, 2012

Future Major League Stars Seen in Action Here
as City Supported Organized Baseball Team in 1900ís.

Though there is no organized baseball in Muscatine at present, and small prospect for any in the near future save for school ball teams, the city has a heritage in the game of which it might well be proud. Muscatine has known organized baseball. Its fans have thrilled to the crack of the bat against horsehide at League field in South Muscatine; and it was there many fans saw future major league stars in the making.

They saw Cy Slapnicka, present Cleveland Indians big-wig, perform there in his pitching heyday. They saw Burley Grimes, Ab Gould and many others who later made their marks in the major wheel. These stars and many others dug their spikes into the turf at League field when Muscatine was blossoming as a garden for major league stars-to-be. Some played with the Muskies in the old Central association and the Northern association, and others were included in the opposition ranks.

Muscatineís first salaried ball team was known as the Original Big Muskies. It was organized in 1900 by Roy Bebb, local jeweler, ad Ben Bates, then serving as an undertakerís assistant. With this team, which played all its games at the old fairground park on north Mulberry, were Benny Dietz, catcher; Obie Detweiler, infielder; Harry McGee, pitcher who later reached the big leagues and others.

Not until 1910 did Muscatine actually step out into organized baseball. In that year a Muscatine team was entered in the old Northern association, along with teams from Clinton, Elgin, Jacksonville, Joliet, Decatur, Kankakee, and Freeport. John Sterneman served as chairman of the board of directors in charge of this team, and Albert S. Barry as secretary.

A year later the Northern association was disbanded, but the Central Association soon sprung up in its place with Muscatine, Hannibal, Keokuk, Burlington, Ottumwa, Monmouth, Galesburg and Kewanee as members. It was while the Central association was in operation that Muscatine fans watched the parade of such outstanding performers as Ab Gould, Wanbaganss, Bob Hasebrook, Bert Ellison, George Byrnes, Burley Grimes, Cliff Lee, Cy Slapnicka, Fred Newmeyer, Jack Hruska and many others who later made their marks in major leagues and higher ranking minor leagues.

The game was pioneered in Muscatine by such sports-loving gentlemen as the Mull brothers, Charles and Andrew, who constructed League field and watched it grow into a thriving baseball plant; w. L. Roach, Sr., Frank Gottbrecht, ben Bates, Roy Bebb and others who did much to further the game in its infancy here.

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Local Residents Saw Service in Diplomatic Corps

Although Alexander Clark was perhaps the only Muscatine Negro to be appointed as a consul in the diplomatic service, he was by no means the only Muscatine man to serve in that field.

The Hon. Samuel McNutt, whose appointment was announced in The Journal issue of Aug. 9, 1890, as consul to Maracaybo, Venezuela, served but briefly, returning to Muscatine, Oct. 21, 1890, having resigned.

In 1869 G. w. Van Horne was appointed consul at Marselles, France.

Frank Mahin, another former Muscatine man, was appointed in the diplomatic service abroad at Reichenberg, Austria in 1893 and subsequently served as consul at Amsterdam, being at the latter city during the early days of the World War.

Irvin B. Richman served five years, from 1893 to 1896 as U. S. consul general at St. Gall, Switzerland.

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Came In 1848

Photo of Enoch Washburn ~ On July 18, 1848 Enoch Washburn and his family came to Iowa from Morristown, N. Y. The family included his wife, Perlina and children, Charles, Yates, Gilbert, Laura, Adelaine and Liealtha. All of the children, except Yates who was killed in an accident on the Oregon Street crossing, married and settled in Muscatine.

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