The Kitty League was back in the news almost before the 1949 season ended. The Cleveland Indians terminated the agreement with Union City in late September. This move had been expected since the denial of Greenberg to send help back in July. The St. Louis Browns dropped the agreement with Mayfield. Fulton renewed their pact with Chattanooga. Madisonville remained with the White Sox and Owensboro was wholly owned by the Boston Braves. It was not certain if Brooklyn would continue to support Cairo.
The effect this had on the Union City players was significant. Joe Linn and Jim Jadwin advanced to class A Dayton. Shelby Kincaide, Corky Bellers, George Martak, Lee Aldridge, and Irv Rentz went to Burlington. Dick Dutton, Billy Joe Forrest, and Mel Froug were sold to Zanesville. Rudy York made no commitment for the 1950 season.
The major league teams were curtailing their minor league holdings and the class D teams were taking the worst of the beatings. The strong beginnings of television and its impact on the American way of life had started to show also. American Legion Commander Guy Jones named directors to the 1950 organization. He let the Moss brothers and Sam Nailling take a rest, and named Buck Hefley, Wehman Fitz, Andy Anderson, Tom Elam, Guy Weldon, Frank Luckey, and Harold Fuller to the group.
Jackson announced a group had accepted Hod Lisenbee's terms to transfer the Clarksville franchise to Jackson for the 1950 season. The citizens of Jackson had passed a referendum recently to allow the playing of Sunday baseball games within the city limits and cleared the way for five businessmen to buy Lisenbee's team. This started an uproar when Paducah said they had also been trying to buy the team. To make things more interesting a group from Clarksville said they were also negotiating to buy and keep the team in Clarksville. Lisenbee settled the arguments when he announced he had sold to the Jackson group and only needed approval by the league membership to complete the deal. At the winter meeting approval was given and Jackson was welcomed into the league again and Clarksville's organized base ball became a memory. At the same winter meeting the teams decided to drop the one per cent player pool that rewarded the playoff teams.
John Mueller was selected as the 1950 field manager for the Greyhounds. Mueller, originally from Chicago, had been in organized ball since 1941, when he broke in with Hopkinsville. He moved up to class C after one year and was ticketed for class A in the Detroit Tiger chain when he was called into the Army. His best years, like many other young men, were spent in service of his country. Following the war he played a couple of years in class C, but fell to injuries. He played outfield for Hopkinsville in 1948, then served as their manager in 1949. He lost the manager job when Hopkinsville signed an agreement with Nashville of the Southern League. He was a tremendous hitter and had averaged .368 over the past two seasons.
It was decided Union City would operate as an independent for 1950. They did not seek any agreement with higher class clubs. This would inevitably affect both the level of talent and the financial bottom line. Officers elected were President Andy Anderson, VP Guy Weldon, Tom Elam, secretary/treasurer, and J. T. "Southy" Witherspoon, business manager.
Spring training started April 4, 1950, and the Greyhounds were slow to sign players. Davenport, Iowa, of the Three I League held spring training in Union City, and jointly held a try out camp for local hopefuls. When the Davenport team showed up on March 30, they were greeted by a snow covered Turner Field.
Teams were filling out their rosters. All managers were in place for 1950. Ivan Kuester was back with Fulton; Hal Seawright, Cairo; Travis Jackson, a former third baseman with the New York Giants took over at Owensboro; Joe DiMasi moved from Madisonville to Hopkinsville; Jerry Gardner, Mayfield; and Gabby Stewart at Jackson.
Prices for the Greyhound games remained unchanged. The box seats were still $10 for the season and a season gate pass was $22.50. This was a savings of $7.50 over the cost of individual games and "you don't have to stand in line for a ticket". Booster tickets were again sold to local merchants. They paid $.50 each and gave them away as they saw fit. The previous year 800 fans came to opening night via these free tickets.
The opening day 1950 Greyhound roster was composed of John Mueller, manager; outfielders Dom Serafini, John Polsonski, and George Redding; Corky McMullin, 1b; Joe Urso, 2b; George Mara, ss; Curt Englebright, 3b; catcher Dick Loomis; and pitchers Carl Roe, Junior Cunningham, Art Chivers, Bob Holder, and Mal Erickson. Also listed on opening day, but released before playing a regular season game, was local Ken Guess a catcher.
This was a year when it would be hard to make money within organized baseball. The Legion sponsors tried everything they could conceive to bring in the cash. There was an attempt to get permission to sell beer at the games. This had never been allowed by the city and was not to be this year either. The city, owners of the park, turned down the Legion's request even though the plan was to sell the beer in a separate room where minors could not be present. The chief opponent was the local ministerial association led by J. David Kidwell of the First Christian Church.
Opening night saw 200 fans turnout for Junior Cunningham's 4-1 victory over Fulton. A few days later while the Greyhounds were on the road there was an exhibition game played in Union City by two teams on their way north. The Kenoshia and Grand Rapids entries in the All American Girls League played at Turner Field on April 9, 1950. The league began play in 1943 to fill a void the owners believed was developing as the war continued. The league was made famous many years later by the movie "A League of Their Own", but at this time the Union City fans knew little about the league. They were not even sure if the girls played baseball or softball. Two of the more interesting players featured were Dorothy Schroeder a shortstop who began playing when she was only 15 years old, and Ruth Lessing, a catcher, considered to be the best all around player in the league. Lessing was once fined $100 for slugging an umpire during a discussion of a close call at home. The next day her fans sent the lady over $1000 to cover the fine.
In another promotion on May 18, 3000 fans came out to see Union City defeat Madisonville. This is probably the largest crowd to attend a Greyhound regular season game. The tickets were provided free by five Union City businesses-Cherry-Moss Grain Co., Hi-Test Products, Rubenstein, Co., M & W Hardware, and Shatz Bros. Cool weather probably kept several hundred more away from the game. The same treat was provided for fans later in the month by five other businesses, Garrison Pontiac, Tayloe-Simmons, The Grill, Thornton's Market, and Red Star Drug Store.
Taking advantage of the June wedding season, league president Shelby Peace announced the league teams would like to cooperate with any couples who would like to be married at home plate. Dick Loomis, Union City catcher, and Dorothy Romph, Grand Rapids, Michigan, were married in a ceremony on June 27, 1950, in front of 900 paying guests. The wedding was reported on the society page of the local paper, the game, which Union City lost, on the sports page. Approximately 1000 attended a game where the pre-game show was selection of Miss Greyhound of 1950. The winner over 30 other young ladies, was UCHS student Maxine Hager. She went on to compete for the title of Miss Kitty League later in Jackson.
Rained plagued the league and fans were treated to many doubleheaders. While this was good for the fans, it represented lost revenue for the clubs.
At a dinner in Mayfield the league honored individuals for service and support to the Kitty League over the years. Among those paid tribute were Ben Howard of Union City, a former league president, Frank Ahlgren, editor, Walter Stewart, sports editor, and David Bloom, columnist, all of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
At the All Star break Jackson was barely leading the league by one half game over Hopkinsville, and one full game over Owensboro. Union City was in sixth place at 25-33 and nine games out of first. League statistics showed Jackson manager Gabby Stewart leading the league in hitting with .399. Ned Waldrop, Fulton's first baseman was second with .369 . However Waldrop led almost every other area. He had 79 hits, 22 doubles, 6 triples, 15 homers, and 61 RBI's. He hit grandslams in back to back games in late June. Union City's top hitters were Dom Serafini and Joe Urso with .348 and .327 respectively. Junior Cunningham led the local pitchers with a 6-2 mark.
The All Star lineup included Waldrop, 1b; Urso, 2b; Ray Imler, Hopkinsville, 3b; Wilbur Higdon, Cairo, ss; Joe Krawczak, Madisonville, Joe Andrews, Owensboro, Dave Kravitz, Mayfield, and Pete Peterson, Fulton, outfielders. The catcher was Dick Loomis, Union City, and pitchers included Ray Selcif, Hopkinsville, Ray Szyononski, Mayfield, Ed Wilson, Madisonville, and Gordon Roach, Cairo. The manager was Travis Jackson of Owensboro. There was wide dissatisfaction with the makeup of the team because of the league ruling that each team was limited to two representatives. The All Stars won 5-3.
A mass meeting of interested parties was called for July 10, at the city hall to discuss the future of the Greyhounds. The club was in dire financial straits and the Legion was calling on the public to lend support. It was noted the costs had more than doubles pre-war figures. The only years there had not been a financial strain were in '46-'47. Costs had gone up while paid admissions remained the same. The Legion was responsible for deficits and the possibility of a deficit for 1950 was fast becoming a reality. The average crowd was about 400 and it needed to be 800 to break even at current fees and expenditures. The Legion did not intend to run a deficit and if necessary would give up the franchise. There was a concern if it was given up it would be hard to ever get back.
Over a hundred loyal fans showed up for the meeting and voted overwhelmingly to "do whatever it takes to keep baseball in Union City. Baseball in Union City belongs to every person in this area who is interested in sports, and on top of that is an industry that annually brings in thousands of dollars to this area." A number of actions were taken by these fans. The first goal was to have 1000 fans show up at the next home game. The newly formed high school band (also largely supported and unwritten by the Legion) would parade through town and perform before the game. A promotional committee was formed including John Corey, Richard Cox, Dave Capps, Fletcher Rainey, Cloyce Jones, Ed Kallenberg, and Lou Wrather. A number of businessmen and fans signed "insurance papers" to underwrite any loss the Legion had at the end of the year.
The goal of 1000 fans was met at the next game, but Jackson won the game. There was a promotion called "Bring a Boy Night", where families were encouraged to bring a boy out to the game. And in the event there are no boys in the family, it was emphasized "bring a girl". Autographed baseballs and bats were given away to the lucky youngsters and the adult bringing the most kids got a cash prize. This brought out 1189 fans including 330 kids.
The Miles girls softball team challenged the Miles boys softball team to a game to be played preceding a Greyhound game. "Colored people will be admitted to the game at regular prices for them"-twenty five cents, and they sat in their regular seats down the left field foul line. They were not admitted to the grandstand. There was a promotion featuring contests between players-best time circling the bases, egg pitching between 5 Union City players and 5 Mayfield players, a wheelbarrow contest with 2 teams trying to reach home plate while blindfolded, and throwing and hitting contests. Unfortunately while all this effort and support was being made the Greyhounds lost 14 consecutive games.
Union City acquired a new shortstop in George Choma, a new outfielder in Billy "Rat" Harrison a successful local athlete signed near the end of the season, and lost Dom Serafini to the draft. The United States was heavily involved in Korea. The Greyhounds continued to lose and finished the season in seventh place.
The ending standings for the league in 1950 were Mayfield 73-45; Fulton 69-50; Jackson 68-52; Owensboro 64-51; Madisonville 63-51; Hopkinsville 60-60; Union City 43-72; and Cairo 26-85. The leading hitter was Joe Andrews, Owensboro, with .373. Andrews was a "bonus baby" signed by the Boston Braves for $35000. John Mueller hit .343 along with other Union City batters, Joe Urso, .321, Dom Serafini, .302, and Curt Englebright, .300. Ned Waldrop hit .328 for Fulton and led the league in hits, 150; RBIs, 130; and homers, 28. Union City pitchers were led by Junior Cunningham at 10-11 and Art Chivers, 9-15.
Artie Chivers came to Union City in 1950 from his home in Washington, Pennsylvania at the age of 20. He met the right girl, married , and continued to work, raise a family, and live in the city until his death in 1982. He was a popular player and a good citizen.