A meeting called by the Mayfield and Owensboro franchises was held at the Hall Hotel in Mayfield on January 10, 1937. The meeting was called to air a number of dissatisfactions the team directors had with president Frank Bassett. The main complaints centered around the umpire staff, league averages/statistics, and a need to adhere closer to the league rules. Umpires were not always assigned so that all games were covered. There were instances when no umpires showed up in one town, while a double team showed up in another. The Sporting News under the direction of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, published the official league and player statistics for all of organized baseball each year in a publication known as The Dope Book. For the past two years and evidently even in prior lives of the Kitty, Dr. Bassett had viewed this official league record keeping of such things as batting, fielding, and pitching averages, as superfluous. In the modern era of baseball, these numbers were important to the players and especially to teams looking for players to buy or move up in the classifications. Finally the individual teams were embarrassed over the playoff fiascoes of the past two years, and held Bassett accountable for not being more forceful in the application of the rules.
During the meeting, Hugh Wise of Owensboro nominated Freddie Russell, sports editor of the Nashville Banner for president. B. B. Hook of Paducah, nominated Bassett. Bassett was asked to leave the room so all could speak openly. Shortcomings mentioned included lack of response from the league office to written requests for action, and a general failure to act when necessary. Following the discussions Bassett was reelected 6-2, with Harry Gilliam of Jackson joining Wise. Bassett vowed to do better, and said he would hire a league secretary at a salary of $50 per month to take care of the paperwork that had been neglected. Ultimately the new secretary was Shelby Peace of Hopkinsville. The league’s 1937 schedule would begin on May 11 and end September 6. The umpires would be put on a schedule and fined if they did not show. An all star game was to be played again, with the host team being the winner of the first half or the team in first place on July 4, if a split season was not played. No decision was made at the January meeting regarding the playoff mechanism. The league directors also voted to notify Judge Bramham of the NAPBL that the Kitty League supported a continued expelling of the Paducah players not playing in the league playoffs in 1936. This meeting was held on a Sunday.
On the following Tuesday, Judge Bramham, head of the NAPBL, reinstated all the Paducah players, including manager Ben Tincup, who immediately signed a contract to manage the Peoria team. This decision stirred a great deal of dissatisfaction among team directors, fans, and sportswriters. It was variously taken as a slap in the face to the league management, a lack of follow-up by president Dr. Bassett, and general incompetence and lack of regard by Judge Bramham. At the least it was poor timing considering the leagues action and that NABPL had been studying the case for four months. Richard Cox did a great job of using this incident to get fans stirred up and interested in baseball in the month of January.
Meanwhile the teams were securing agreements with higher level clubs for the 1937 season. Fulton hooked up with the Nashville Vols, and Jackson signed with the Memphis Chicks. Hopkinsville had an agreement with Milwaukee, and Owensboro with the Cleveland Indians. The Cincinnati Reds did not renew their contract with Paducah, but they were able to catch on with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mayfield and Union City stayed with the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals respectively. Lexington was without a sponsor and was the most financially hard struck team in the league. Lexington, Hopkinsville, and Fulton still did not have lights for night games and had no plans to install them for 1937. Mayfield and Owensboro did not currently have lights, but had plans to install them.
The great flood of '37 left 250,000 people homeless in the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi River valleys. Sleet, cold, and snow added to their misery. It also left the Paducah ball park under six feet of water. It was widely predicted Mr. Hook would not be able to field a baseball team because there was simply other more important things to occupy time. Ultimately Mr. Hook did sell his interest in the Paducah club, but the Indians now called Chiefs were able to join the league for another year under new owners Bob Myre and Holland Byrne, and manager Hugh McMullen.
As spring approached the league met in Fulton and decided to go with the Shaughnessy playoffs to determine the 1937 champion. Union City was given the pennant for the 1936 league championship. It was a 12 foot streamer that would occupy the new flagpole being constructed in Turner Field's center field. Umpires signed for the season included holdovers, Ellis Beggs and Bill Green, along with newcomers Joe "Jo Jo" Fields, former league player, John Jolley, F. L. McEwen, Ray Underwood, Don Karcher, and J. L. Combs. Hugh Wise, manager, owner, and president sold the Owensboro team to a group of local businessmen, but remained as manager. The group had plans to build a new park at the corner of 18th and Triplett Streets in Owensboro. Fulton signed Ned Porter to manage the club. Jackson picked Dutch Welsh, Lexington returned Rip Fanning, Hopkinsville, Red Smith, and Mayfield, Clarence Mitchell. Union City was waiting for Branch Rickey to agree to a selection for the Greyhounds.
The city was busy sprucing the local ball park again. This year they added a new press box, located inside the grandstand over the north entrance. The grandstand had a new coat of green paint, and the flagpole was added in centerfield. The following quote appeared in The Sporting News: "Turner Field , home of the Greyhounds, is one of the best equipped baseball plants in the south with its spacious playing field, roomy and comfortable grandstand, bleacher sections, completely equipped club houses for players, concrete dugouts with drinking fountains, modern pressbox, public address system, electrically controlled scoreboard, and finest electrical system for night baseball possible to secure."
As the Cardinals baseball school began in late April, Johnnie Antonelli was named to manage the Greyhounds. Antonelli was only 22 years old, but had three years experience in professional baseball, one as the manager of the Lexington Giants. He was a native of Memphis and a member of a championship American Legion team there while still in high school. His appointment was a surprise because he was still a player of promise, trying to make his way up the ranks to the majors. In later years he would accomplish this feat, but in 1937 he was the "boy-manager" of the Kitty League.
A number of the 1936 Greyhounds attended the Cardinal school, then moved on to other farm teams. John Swank, Ollie Vanek, Bobby Richards, Ralph Goldsmith, John Pavlige, Herb Fash, and Huron Bishop were sent to Decatur in the Three-I league. Bill Shewey went to Ashville, while Tommy Thompson and Freddie Hofmann were placed in Columbus. All were advanced to class B. Walter Ward was invited back to St. Louis to work for the Cardinal front office again. Richard Cox, sports editor of the Union City Daily Messenger was given a job with the St. Louis Cardinal public relations department. Branch Rickey told the local group the Greyhounds might start slow, but when the higher classification teams began to get down to the allowable roster numbers help would be forthcoming.
The Messenger announced the start of the 1937 season with a double inside page devoted to the team. It included for the first time pictures of the players along with advertising sponsors. This motif would continue to be used for sports team until the present. The advertisers that year included Morgan-Verhine Department Store, Joyner's Billiard Parlor, Third National Bank, Old National Bank, C. V. Jones, and Sons Furniture, Home Ice Co., Metcalfe Florists, Jerry Malone Clothiers, Cherry-Moss Grain Co., Davy Crockett Hotel, Coca Cola Bottling Co., and Obion County Motor Co., where a '36 Ford Tudor could be had for $500. The players pictured were manager/ss, Johnnie Antonelli, outfielders, J. Cookson, George Godlewski, and Al Saceman. Infielders were A. Sheehan, Vic Males, George Valine, Eddie Murphy, and George Sewell. Catchers were Al Gray and J. Holbrook, and pitchers were Tom Graham, R. Makepeace, C. Reibling, Paul Price, H. Koopman, and Jim Ronsiek. Graham was only 17 years old as was Murphy. Graham pitched an early game where he struck out 16 batters against Mayfield, but was released when the team had to get down to 14 players.
The opening game with Fulton saw 2200 fans sit through 3:40 and 15 innings before the game was called because of darkness at 9-9. The lights were not allowed to be turned on to finish a game started as an afternoon affair.
True to his word, Rickey sent a number of players to Union City in June. The team added Athos Sada, Joe Barbiera, Dave Bartosch, and Frank Myers as outfielders before the season was completed. Catchers Joe Tekely, Stan Katkavel, and Woody Lalumondier played several positions after joining the team, along with first baseman Cy Redifer. The pitching staff was bolstered by George Sauer, Elbert Hodge. Pete Moleti, and the return of John Pavlige in August. Moleti also had a hidden talent as a singer and often sang over the public address sound system before games or during rain delays.
Jackson started the season with a bang, winning 13 straight before losing to Owensboro. They did not lose at home until June 10, when they were 27-4. In the home loss pitcher Orlin Collier struck out 21 Hopkinsville batters for a new minor league record, but still lost 2-0. The loss brought Jackson back to earth as they lost 5 of 6 games to Hopkinsville. By July 4 Jackson was leading the league with a record of 38-20 and Union City was in second place at 33-23. The others in order were Hopkinsville, 34-24; Fulton, 31-24; Owensboro, 25-28; Lexington, 25-29; Mayfield, 23-31; and Paducah, 12-42. On July 8, 1937, Greyhound Paul Price pitched all 17 innings in a game with Lexington. Union City and Price was the loser by a score of 8-6.
Jackson hosted the second annual All Star game. Union City had two players on the all star team, Johnnie Antonelli and George Valine. The all star group beat Jackson 5-2.
With Jackson starting a slide, the remainder of the season became a close race. John Pavlige returned to the Greyhounds hill corps, and quickly registered eight wins. Union City moved into first place on July 31, and followed with four straight wins against second place Jackson. Ray Zimmerman was added to the Union City outfield. Union City held first place for the remainder of the season compiling a record of 74-45. The rest of the league finished in the following order: Hopkinsville 71-50; Fulton, 64-57; Jackson 63-57; Mayfield, 63-57; Lexington, 60-61; Owensboro, 56-65; and Paducah, 31-89.
In normal Kitty fashion, Mayfield filed a protest stating Fulton had been using 15 men on the team since August 18. If upheld it would knock Fulton out of the playoffs. An investigation by Dr. Bassett showed seven of the eight teams had violated the player limits rule. The only one not in violation was Union City. If the rules were strictly enforced Union City would be the only team to enter the playoffs. Accordingly, Dr. Bassett ruled against no one.
It was necessary for Mayfield and Jackson to have a one game playoff to see which team would be allowed to play in the Shaughnessy playoff. Mayfield prevailed 12-4. Fourth place Mayfield proceeded to beat Union City three straight games to eliminate the Greyhounds. Fulton beat Hopkinsville three games to one, but Mayfield continued their hot streak to defeat Fulton four games to one. Mayfield, a team that had been in seventh place on August 19, won the first Shaughnessy playoff in Kitty League history and claimed the 1937 league championship.
The 1937 Greyhounds were an outstanding group. The players finishing the season and their batting/pitching records were Bartosch, .337; Zimmerman, .322; Antonelli, .300; Barbieri, .334; Murphy, .292; Lalumondier, .291; Redifer, .277; Valine, .254; Katkavel, .212; Pavlige, 9-2; Sauer, 19-7; Hodge, 16-6; Price, 10-9; and Ronsiek, 10-11. The averages posted by Bartosch and Barbieri placed them first and second in the league. Antonelli also had the distinction of being the first manager to make it through a complete season with the Greyhound directors.