1942

The euphoria of the successful 1941 season was shattered on December 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent declaration of war. By early January, 1942, the war news was not good. The Japanese were gaining in the Pacific. The United States was waking to the fact it was not ready for war. The Army and Navy had been sadly neglected for over 20 years. Young men were leaving schools and homes to join the fight. Supplies were short and rationing was inevitable. The costs to fight the war were going to be high in dollars and in natural resources. Every city was trying to cut costs to support the effort. There was an order banning dealers from selling any 1942 model automobile or truck, tires were already rationed, and there were rumors private autos might be commandeered.

Most fans doubted the Kitty League would play at all. The mood of the public was such in the early months of the war, all efforts were on winning the fight. It was the opinion of most that such a mood would not make for sizable crowds at baseball games in the coming summer. However as the winter months moved on there were sell out crowds for the newly sponsored Golden Gloves boxing tourney in the local armory building on West Main St. The local champs included Hurley Kemp a heavy weight; lightweight, Randy Neill; bantamweight Gene Wheeler, and flyweight Harry Vaught.

Bill Thweatt and Ben Howard represented Union City at the February winter meeting of the league. Union City had $1500 in the bank from the successful 1941 season, and was deemed ready to play if all others were, and the Legion committee agreed. President Roosevelt gave the green light to baseball and other forms of recreation that would appeal to citizens and especially those employed in the defense industry or army centers. All the league representatives voted the league should "try" to get going in 1942. The Legion put it to a public opinion poll in the local newspaper, and the response was a resounding "yes".

As February ended the only team not showing interest was Paducah. They were given until the first of March to get their act together. If the Chiefs were unable to answer the bell the franchise would be offered to Dyersburg or Clarksville, Tennessee, or to Corinth, Mississippi. As it turned out, Paducah was not able to field a team, and Henry Turner, club president, said they would not post the $500 guarantee money. Dyersburg, Clarksville, and Corinth were not able to gather the support necessary to field a team.

At a league meeting in March the league directors contemplated the following questions: (1) Do you have a bus in good condition? (2) Do you have tires that will last the season without recapping? School buses can only be used for school. (3) Can you get sufficient players through your working agreement to organize a team? (4) Can you operate if gas is rationed and cannot be used to transport players? (5) Can you get players if the connecting club doesn't furnish them? (6) Do you want to attempt a six team league? (7) What club will be dropped in case of a six club league? These were weighty questions. The last question was answered when Mayfield declined to post their guarantee money. The season was set for six teams: Union City, Jackson, Fulton, Owensboro, Hopkinsville, and Bowling Green.

Union City opened the season with Everitt Johnston, managing, pitching and acting as a utility player for all positions except catcher. Other team members were outfielders, Ray Walaczka, Joe Gehring, Chuck Podolack, and John Hamby. Pitchers were Carl Pinion, "Sleepy" Sarraille, Cal Howe, Ed Beane, and Bill Galetich. Howard McCormick was the catcher. Infielders included Emmerick Schmidt at first, Bill Smith returning, at second, Herschel Held at short stop, Boyd Vicknair and Theo Howe at third. Bill Smith had married a Union City girl, Dorothy Ann Powers in the previous fall and was glad to be returning to Union City. However he was not with the team long before being released. Former first baseman Homer Johnston was to start for the Hounds, but was traded to a class C team at the last minute. Cecil Moss returned as president, Bill Thweatt, as vice president, and Joe White, as business manager.

Union City had the home opener against Jackson rained out. It was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal May. The Greyhounds fell to last place with a terrible 8-27 record. Branch Rickey vowed to send the kind of support the team deserved. Among the talent coming to town was second baseman Bob Best and third sacker Melvin Welsh. Finally on June 12. a new second baseman named Albert "Red" Schoendiest joined the team in Bowling Green. He went 8 for 14 in three games at Bowling Green, including a doubleheader. When the team returned to Union City it was announced that the league would cease play on June 18. Schoendiest hit 3 for 13 in three games in Union City before the league folded and he was sent to Albany, Georgia for the remainder of the 1942 season. Schoendiest, of course went on to play as a star for the St. Louis Cardinals for a number of years, including a stint as manager, and was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Had all the Union City citizens who remember seeing Red play in Union City, actually saw him play, the team would not have been the first one to announce the desire to stop play in 1942. The team had depleted the reserve from 1941, and was going further in debt each game. All the other teams had similar experiences. Fulton, the league leader, was drawing only an average of 150 fans per game. The final standings were Fulton 32-13, Bowling Green 29-16, Jackson 29-18, Hopkinsville 23-24, Owensboro 16-33, and Union City 9-35. The Kitty League had given up yet another of itís "lives".