On August 2, 1935, the St. Louis Cardinals scheduled an exhibition game against the UnionCity Greyhounds of the class D Kitty League. It was common in those days that a major league team do this on a day off for the exposure, the practice and the gate. The tickets and all sales were under control of the Cardinals. It was not a matter of how many tickets could be sold, but how many could be crammed into Turner Field. Ultimately 7500 fans crowded into the park to see the Cardinals defeat the hometown team by a score of 4-2. At that time it was the largest West Tennessee crowd to witness a sporting event outside Memphis.
The game was played in a carnival atmosphere. Dizzy Dean and Pepper Martin took over the public address announcing and gave a play by play of the game. Other team members were Frankie Frisch, Joe Medwick, Paul Dean, Leo Durocher, starting pitcher Al Eckert, reliefer, Phil Collins, Ripper CollinsErnie Orsatti, Jack Rathrock,and Terry Moore. As a pinch hitter for catcher O'Farrell, Diz was struck out by Union Citian Newt Daniel to end the Cards ninth after St. Louis had taken the lead for the first time since the third inning..
For this Cardinal game there were 3000 words sent throughout the United States by telegraph. Many of these words described the city, the hospitality of the people, and the beauty of the playing facility. The gate was five times larger than the Cardinals previous game with the Cincinnati Reds.
This did not go unnoticed by other big league teams and the Pittsburg Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds scheduled a game in Turner Field for September 27, 1935. The 2000 fans who braved the cold fall night had a chance to see Sunny Jim Bottomley, brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner, league hitting leader Arky Vaughn, Babe Herman and all time great third baseman, Pie Traynor. The Pirate pitcher was Big Jim Weaver a native of Obion county. Weaver was born around South Fulton in 1903. He was 6 ' 6" tall and weighed 230. He played in the majors from 1928-39 for the Washington Senators, New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburg Pirates, and the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared in 189 games and pitched 893 innings. His lifetime record was 57-36. His best years were back to back 14-8 records with the Pirates in '35 and '36. He died in Lakeland FL in 1983. Also in that game was Pirate first baseman Earl Browne. He would become the manager for the Owensboro Kitty League team in the 1950's.
The Cardinals returned to Union City for a game in 1939. They arrived by private coach on the Nashville,Chattanooga, and St. Louis RR and left just as soon as the game was completed by private coach on the Mobile and Ohio RR. The crossing (union) of these two railways at the site of the current Chamber of Commerce building was the reason we are called Union City. On April 14, 1939 the Cardinals whipped the Greyhounds 17-3. Pepper Martin, Lon Warneke, Joe Medwick, Paul Dean, and second year man, Enos Slaughter starred in the game before several thousand fans.
Paul "Daffy" Dean 1935
laughing at Diz who struckout to end the game
Diz strikes out to end the Cards ninth. Newt Daniel was the pitcher.
Pepper Martin discusses baseball with Miss Cora Lee Poindexter and Miss Mary Elizabeth Mathes.
Dizzy and brother Paul give autographs to fans E. K. Beck and Miss Laura Moss
Dizzy Dean started broadcasting Cardinal games in July 1941. This picture is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch August 1941. Diz added new words to game description.
part of the sellout crowd looking down the first base line
The following is the report of "the game" as it appeared in the Union City Daily Messenger on August 3, 1935. The article is by sportswriter Turk Massey
There is no doubt in the minds of the fans in this section that Unioin City is a sporting town and baseball is its first love. The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, twenty-two strong, came to town early yesterday, and it was their town for a day. The largest crowd ever to witness an athletic event in West Tennessee out side of Memphis gathered to see the Cards and Hounds play.
Thje colorful crowd witnessed the Cards at close range in a baseball setting at Turner Memorial Field that reminded the World Series Hatitues of a World Series setting.
The Cardinals started early to bring in the scores. Orsatti tripled to start the game and Rothrock was hit by a pitched ball. Frisch flied to center and Orsatti scored on the catch. Medwick then doubled to score Rothrock off second by a brilliant piece of strategy by Hayes.
The Hounds scored one in the first inning when Billie Greek doubled after Williams singled to drive in the Hound run. Three Hounds stamped the plate in the third to give the Hounds a 4-2 lead.
aAfter scoring two runs in the eigth inning to tie the score, the Cardinals banged out four hits off Deutsch and Daniels in the ninth to push two more runs across and win by a 6-4 score.
The great Dizzy Dean struck out to retire the Cards in the ninth.
The infielders of both teams speared drives that ordinarily would have gone for base singles. But the Cards and Hounds went out to give the fans a great exhibition of the National Pasttime and they did it in grand style.
Pepper Martin and Dizzy Dean, the two most brilliant stars of the Cardinal team that boasts the greatest galaxy of stars in the game gathered under one banner, turned broadcasters during the game. Photographer Ash of the Commercial Appeal introduced these two players to assist Early Maxwell and this writer in handling public address system. At the mike these two fellows kept the crowd in an uproar. Dizzy told Pepper it was his first opportunity to tell the umpire just what was what and just as loud as he wanted and not be fined. These two stalwarts of the Cardinal team kept busy at all times autographing everything from cigarette packs to twenty dollar bills. But they seemed to enjoy autographing articles for the fans and I d not believe that a single Cardinal refused an autograph all day.
The Cardinal-Greyhound game went out to the press over the nation. Lloyd Smith, postal telegraph operator for the Commercial Appeal office, was sent here to handle the game at the local office. He was kept busy until a late hour last night sending out press reports on the game. Over three thousand words went out through the Postal Telegraph office here while Smith handled the key. Many long-distance calls were made relative to the game and several press men rushed back to their home desks with the story.
The Cardinals drew a check five times as large here as they did for Thursday's game at Cincinnati which means that exhibition games do pay and pay well in a financial way as well as to make many new friends and supporters as they did here in Union City yesterday.
Early Maxwell of the Commercial Appeal sports staff stated yesterday that the Mid-South is proud of Union City and that even Memphis could not do better than Union City did yesterday in the turnout and welcome given the Cardinals.
The American Legion baseball committee and Mr. B. F. Howard chairman of the Cardinal day game are to be commended for their handling of the game and the crowds and the order which dispatched every phase of the game and entertainment on Cardinal Day.
Hall of Famers playing in "The Game". l to r Frankie Frisch, Joe Medlock and Leo Durocher. Frisch was manager of the Cardinals at the time, Medwick was the National League batting champion, and Durocher was the club's regular shortstop.