SHELBY PEACE ALL TIME ALL STAR TEAM-GETTING TO KNOW THEM
BY LARRY EDMUNDSON
Shelby Peace was involved to some extent in the Kitty League most of his life. In 1903 when Dr. Frank Bassett started the league, Peace put up the scores on the outfield scoreboard for the Hopkinsville team. He was ten years old at the time. He served as secretary and vice president in the late thirties and then in 1941 Peace was elected president of the league. He held the position until it folded after the 1955 season. In mid-season 1954 he named his all time Kitty League all-star team. With the exception of the first baseman, his selections appear to have been made more on the overall careers of the players than impact in the Kitty League. He also heavily loaded it with older players and former Hopkinsville Hoppers.
Peaceís choice for first base was Earl Browne, manager and first baseman for the Owensboro Oilers in 1946 and 47. Those two years Browne hit .429 and .424 with just under a combined total of 200 RBIs. Browne had a 21-year career that included Pittsburgh and Philadelphia of the National League. He was generally over the.300 mark and always close to it. Owensboro was his only experience with a class D league.
Second base honors were awarded Albert "Red" Schoendiest who played briefly for the Union City Greyhounds in 1942. Undoubtedly he would have made a bigger mark on the league had it not closed in June 1942 due to WWII. Credited by his roommate Stan Musial as having "the greatest pair of hands I've ever seen," Albert "Red" Schoendienst forged a 19-year career as a sleek second baseman with the Cardinals, Giants and Braves. He led the National League in fielding percentage six times and also hit .300 or better on five occasions. As a manager, he twice piloted the Redbirds to the World Series. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. Kevin McCann in an earlier Bullpen chronicled Redís story.
Hal Irelan played shortstop for the 1911 Hopkinsville team and three years later played with the Philadelphia Phillies in his only season in the majors. Nicknamed Grump, Irelan was born in Burnettsville, IN in 1890. At only five feet seven inches he was the starting second baseman for the Phillies in 1914, hitting .236 with an on base percentage of .326. He died in Carmel, IN in 1944.
The pick for third base was Vern Stephens of the 1939 Mayfield Browns. Born in McAlister, OK in 1920, Stephens signed with the St. Louis Browns for a $500 bonus when he was 17. His season in Mayfield was his second year of professional ball. He hit .361 with 31 homers and 123 RBIs that year. The following year he was in the class A Texas League and made his debut with the St. Louis Browns on September 3, 1941 where he quickly became the regular shortstop. In 1944, when the Browns won their only pennant, he led the AL in RBI and finished third in the MVP voting behind Tiger pitcher Hal Newhouser. In 1945 Stephens led the AL in homers with 24. The next year, he narrowly missed a suspension from organized baseball. He signed a five-year, $175,000 contract to play in the outlaw Mexican League of the Pasqual brothers. He had been in Mexico only a few days when his father, a minor league umpire, and Browns scout Jack Fournier drove down and brought him back. Fearing the Pasquals might try to stop him, he exchanged clothes with his father and walked across the International Bridge. Commissioner Happy Chandler suspended those players who stayed behind in Mexico and only a few were eventually able to pick up their careers at their pre-suspension level.
After the 1947 season, Stephens and pitcher Jack Kramer were traded to the Red Sox for six players and $310,000. His first three seasons in Boston were the best of his career. He smashed 29, 39, and 30 home runs and drove in 137, 159, and 144 runs, the last two marks leading the AL. Stephens was the best homer-hitting shortstop until the appearance of Ernie Banks. His glove was reliable, but his bat made him a seven-time all-star. Hitting behind Ted Williams for five years with the Red Sox, he formed half of the best one-two punch in the AL. He led AL shortstops in assists three times and double plays once. In 1948 he tied a major league record for double plays by a shortstop with five in one game. His second baseman with the Red Sox was Bobby Doerr-a Hall of Famer. Many wonder why Stephens is not so honored. Vern Stephens died in Long Beach, CA in 1968.
Charles Evard "Gabby" Street was Peaceís choice for his all time all-star catcher. He was born in Huntsville, AL in 1882 and played for the Hopkinsville team in 1903-the first year of the Kitty League. Street made the big leagues with Cincinnati Reds in 1904. Following that season he was traded to the Boston Braves where he lasted only one year before drifting back to the minors where he became a star with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association. Prior to the 1908 season he was picked up by the Washington Senators and he became known nation wide as the battery mate of Walter "Big Train" Johnson and the first man to catch a baseball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument, achieving this feat on August 21, 1908. In 1908 he caught 137 games including a stretch of 16 games in a period of 9 days. He stayed with the Senators for four years before being traded to the New York Highlanders (Yankees) where he played one year and ended his playing days in the majors. This was not the end of Gabby Street and professional baseball however. He continued as a player and eventually manager starting in 1920 in several towns including Nashville, Suffolk, Joplin, Muskogee, Augusta, Columbia, Knoxville, and St. Paul. In 1929 he signed as a coach for the St; Louis Cardinals and was named manager of the team at the end of the season. He is one of the few managers to win the pennant in his first year. The Cardinals finished first but lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Aís. The next year the Cardinals repeated and defeated the Aís to become world champs. In 1932 the Cards tied for 6th place and finished in 5th in 1933. Frankie Frisch who made history with the Gashouse Gang replaced Street. His last job was with the St. Louis Browns in 1938 when the team finished in 7th place. In the 1940ís he turned to broadcasting and was a member of the team bringing this area the Cardinals play-by-play. Gabby Street died in Joplin, MO in 1951.
The outfield selections were Harry Rice of the 1922 Paris Travelers team, Harold "Hal" Peck of the 1938 Hopkinsville team, and Frank Shaughnessy of the 1904 Cairo team. Born in 1901, Rice played the first of his 1029 major league games with the St. Louis Browns in April 1923. He enjoyed a 10-year career in the majors with the Browns, Detroit, New York, Washington, and Cincinnati. A versatile defensive player with an outstanding arm, Rice didn't settle in the outfield until his third major league season, when he hit .359 for the Browns. Four other seasons he hit .300 or better, ending with a career mark of .299. He continued to play and manage in the minors until 1941. In 1940 he hit .402 with Fond du Lac of the Wisconsin League and additionally had a 6-2 pitching record. He died in Portland, OR in 1971.
Hal Peck starred on the 1938 Hopkinsville team when he hit .331 and finished in first place at the end of the regular season. In 1939 he jumped to the Three-I league in Bloomington, then spent 1940-1942 with Milwaukee in the American Association before being called to Brooklyn for the 1943 season. After a brief trial with the Dodgers, Peck suffered a hunting accident that cost him part of his foot. The A's acquired him after a .346 season at Milwaukee in 1944. He played for the Aís for three years before being traded to the Cleveland Indians. His best year was 1947 when he hit .293 in 114 games. In 1948 he led the American League in pinch hits (8) with the pennant-winning Indians. His career major league average was .279 in 355 games. He died in Milwaukee in 1995.
Francis Joseph "Shag" Shaughnessy was born on April 8, 1884, in South Amboy, Illinois. He played football, baseball, and ran track at Notre Dame from 1901 to 1904 and captained the football team in his last year with the Fighting Irish. He graduated earning a degree in pharmacy. He also played outfield for the 1904 Cairo team in the Kitty. In 1905 he played one game for the Washington team in the American League going 0 for 3. He played 8 games for the Philadelphia Aís in 1908 and hit .310 before being shipped to Reading, PA in exchange for "Home Run" Baker. It was his post baseball career that is quite imposing. He earned a law degree in 1908. Not only did he coach the Clemson, Washington and Lee and McGill University football teams after his playing career ended, he also managed Ottawa of the Canadian (baseball) League which he later purchased. Shag was the spirit that kept Canadian minor baseball alive. Shag eventually became president of the International League from 1936 through 1950 and during his tenure created the "Shaughnessy Playoffs". The Shaughnessy Plan was developed before baseball leagues got into creating multiple "champions" with divisions and split seasons. A schedule was played and the team in first place won the pennant. All too often, there was a runaway winner during the regular season, which meant teams had no pennant races to create interest during the last month or so of the season--and sometimes even earlier than that. It was during the depth of the Great Depression--1932--that Shag came up with his idea. Keep more teams in the race and sustain fan interest. There was no pennant race in the IL that year as the powerful Newark Bears won the title by 15-1/2 games. Frank thought that a new playoff system that involved the top four teams would maintain interest, perhaps even giving teams with a losing record a chance to sneak up to fourth place and qualify. It usually involved the first place team taking on the fourth place team, while second and third matched up in the other semifinal. Winners advanced to the title round.
Shaughnessy was not yet the IL president, but general manager of the Montreal team, when the IL decided to give it a try in 1933. It worked immediately. Newark ran away with the title again, but fourth place Buffalo, which had a losing record, won the playoffs as Newark officials screamed. The controversy and the increased fan interest bolstered Frankís playoff system, which quickly spread throughout minor league baseball in one form or another. By the time Frank retired as IL president in 1960, only nine regular season champs had won the playoffs while 18 "also-rans" came out on top, including three fourth place teams.
The IL kept the playoff system until 1988 when it went to divisional play. Conventional wisdom holds that the introduction of the Shaughnessy playoff system saved the Minor Leagues during the Great Depression. For a number of years the Kitty League employed this system of naming a champion with much the same results. He died in 1969.
Peace choose five pitchers for his team-Jim Turner (Paris 1923), Johnny Schmidt (Hopkinsville 1938), Ellis Kinder (Mayfield 1936, Jackson 1938-42), Dave Koslo (Hopkinsville 1939, Paducah 1940), and Bob Schultz (Fulton 1946). They were excellent choices and a review of their records makes the larger number understandable.
Jim Turner was born August 6, 1903, and began his baseball career as a right-handed pitcher with Paris in 1923. He stayed in the minors until 1937 when at age 34 he got his major league shot on April 30, 1937 with the Boston Bees. The 34 year-old played for 9 seasons on 3 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1945. As a 34-year-old rookie Jim Turner and 30-year-old rookie Lou Fette each won 20 games for the fifth-place Boston Bees (Braves). Turner's 2.38 ERA and 24 complete games led the National League. At one point he threw 31 consecutive scoreless innings; he and Fette tied for the league lead with five shutouts. He remained in Boston's rotation through 1939, then went 14-7 for the 1940 World Champion Reds. He relieved for the Yankees until he was forty-two, saving a league-high ten games in his final season, 1945. "He knows all there is to know about pitching," said Yankee manager Joe McCarthy. After managing in the minors for three years, he served as a pitching coach for the Yankees (1949-59, 1966-73) and Reds (1961-65). He was credited with developing Vic Raschi into a winner and convincing Ed Lopat that his inability to win in the spring was 100% mental. In all, he spent over a half-century in a pro baseball uniform. He was nicknamed Milkman Jim because he worked for his family's dairy in the winters. He died in Nashville in 1998.
Johnny Schmitz was born on November 27, 1920. He was a member of the 1938 Hopkinsville Hoppers posting 11-2 record. In 1939 the left-hander jumped to Milwaukee in the AA American Association before being returned to Bloomington of the Three-I League where he was 14-12. In 1940 he was 15-14 in Madison of the Three I League. In 1941 and 42 he was with the Chicago Cubs. The war took three years from 43-45 before he returned to Chicago and hit his stride. He pitched for 13 seasons on 7 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1956. In addition to the Cubs he was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Oís. According to Dead Baseball Era Johnny Schmitz is still living.
Ellis Kinder was born in 1914 in Arkansas. Oddly he was 24 years old when he played his first professional baseball in Mayfield of the Kitty league in 1936. He had a record of 0-0. There is no record of him playing in 1937, but he was on the Jackson roster in 1938 again with a record of 0-0 but a 6.00 ERA. With Jackson in 'Ď9 he went 17-12, followed by 21-9 in 1940. He was with Jackson and Binghamton in 1941-42 before moving to Memphis and the Southern Association. In the Southern League, in 1944, he won 20 games and lost only 6 games. The sportswriters voted him their only unanimous choice for the all-star team. He played in Memphis and served in the military until 1946 when he went to the St. Louis Browns at age 32. In two seasons Kinder had a combined record of 11-18. November 18, 1947 the Red Sox acquire all-star SS Vern Stephens and pitchers Jack Kramer and Kinder from the Browns in exchange for 10 players and $375,000.
During his 12-year major league career, Kinder played for the St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox of the American League and St. Louis Cardinals of the National League. His Major League record was 102 wins and 71 losses. He pitched 10 shutouts. He led the American League in 1949 with 23 wins and 6 losses. He distinguished himself as one of the outstanding relief pitchers of his day, retiring with 102 career saves. He was also known as a strong partying player who loved to take a drink and stay out late. One night when the men's club of Providence College (his alma mater) met at the Andover Inn, Birdie Tebbetts, during a question-and-answer session, was asked about the current whereabouts of Ellis Kinder years after his retirement from the game. Without missing a beat, Tebbetts looked at his watch and cracked, "Right now I'd say he's at Jimmy O'Keefe's (a Boston watering hole).''
Ellis Kinder died at age 54. He lived in Jackson, TN and was in a hospital in Memphis where he had undergone open-heart surgery. He appeared to be recovering and watched the last two games of the 1968 St. Louis-Detroit World Series.
Dave Koslo was born George Bernard Koslowski in Menasha, WS in 1920. He started his career with the Hopkinsville team in 1939 winning 11 and losing 14. The following year he played for Paducah, going 17-9. After a 13-13 record with Milwaukee in 1941, he was called up by the Giants for the remainder of the season, and except for duty during WWII from 43-45 would be in the majors for 12 years. Koslo returned to the Giants in '46 to lead the NL with 19 losses, 35 starts, and 251 hits allowed. In 1949, he became the only pitcher to lead the league in ERA (2.50) without recording a shutout.
Koslo beat the Yankees, 5-1, in the 1951 World Series opener. Yankee manager Casey Stengel said, "That Koslo surprised me. I didnít think he could pitch such a game. Besides bothering us with his control, he was ahead of the hitters all afternoon." No big thing Koslo said. "Ever since I was a kid, I thought of pitching in a World Series. Now that I have I found it to be just another ball game. Iíve pitched tougher games during the regular season." The euphoria did not last long. The Yankees won the Series four games to two. In the sixth game when Hank Bauer hit a 3-2 pitch in the ninth inning for a game-winning triple, the pitcher was Koslo.
When he was 34 years old and losing his effectiveness he was sold to the Baltimore Orioles. He lost his only start in the American League and was released at the seasonís end. He played briefly for the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and 1955 before retiring. He pitched in 348 games and had a won/loss record of 92-107. Dave Koslo died in his hometown of Menasha, WI in 1975.
Bob Schultz was born in Louisville on November 27, 1923, and began his baseball career in Fulton in 1946. The big lefty (6í3" and 200 lbs.) went 19-10. Subsequent teams included Greenville in the class C cotton States League, three seasons with the Memphis Chicks and one with Nashville in the AA Southern Association, and part of a year with AAA Springfield in the International League. During these five years he had a combined record of 81-45. In Nashville he was 25-6 with a 2.68 ERA. He played his first Major League game on April 20, 1951, with the Chicago Cubs. The 27 year-old played for 4 seasons on 3 different teams (Cubs, Pirates, and Tigers). Plagued by wildness (125 walks in 183 innings), Schultz's only effective ML season came with the 1952 Cubs, when he was 6-3, with 4 wins in relief. In June 1953 Pittsburgh traded outfielder Ralph Kiner along with C Joe Garagiola, P Howie Pollet, and OF Catfish Metkovich to the Chicago Cubs for C Toby Atwell, P Bob Schultz, 1B Preston Ward, 3B George Freese, OF Bob Addis, OF Gene Hermanski, and $150,000. He ended his big league playing career in 1955. After the majors he played two more years in Buffalo, New Orleans, and Chattanooga before retiring. Bob Schultz died in 1975 when he was gunned down in a Nashville bar.
History says manager Dick P. "Red" Smith sent more players to the major leagues than any manager in Kitty League history. When he named him manager of his all time all-star team, Shelby Peace said the number was 10. It is certain there were at least eight-Hal Peck, Johnny Schmitz, Joe Just, Stan Galle, and Jack Hallett, all from Smithís 37 or 38 Hopkinsville team, Ken Keltner from his 1936 Fieldale team in the Bi-State League, and George Binks and Andy Pafko from his 1941 Green Bay team in the Wisconsin League. Binks was on the Owensboro 1937 team. Interestingly as the rosters of his teams as he moved from Fieldale to Hopkinsville to Milwaukee in the American Association and finally to Green Bay, many of his players moved with him. Vic Delmore, discussed below, played for him on four occasions. His two Hopkinsville teams finished second to the Union City Greyhounds in 1937, taking first place honors in 1938. His won loss record in the league was 144-103.
Peace chose two umpires -Angelo Guglielmo and Vic "Deacon" Delmore. Both made it to the majors.
Guglielmo was born in 1913 and from Waterbury, CT. He umpired in the Kitty League in 1947. Guglielmo came to the Kitty League with a minimum of experience gained on the sandlots. President Shelby Peace sold the contract of umpire Angelo Guglielmo to the AA Southern Association at the start of the 1948 season. This was the first time in the modern history of the league a contract on an umpire was sold to bring a cash price. "Augie" got to skip AAA ball, which is rare for an umpire, and went straight to the majors after a surprise meeting with National League executive A. B. "Happy" Chandler who had heard of Augie's hustle as a member of the two-man crews used in all minor league games. But he served only one season in the majors and then went to the International League, one step below the majors, from 1953 to 1966.
His friends called him "Augie" or "Gugie" and throughout his career his scrappy and dramatic style as an umpire brought him face to face with some of the greats of the game. He was the first umpire to send Jackie Robinson to the showers, and he once ejected a boisterous spectator in Philadelphia for berating Robinson. Mr. Guglielmo is mentioned in five baseball autobiographies, including Ron Luciano's "The Umpire Strikes Back" that lauds "Gugie" as "perhaps the greatest minor league umpire I've ever known." Mr. Guglielmo was only about 5-foot, 3-inches, but what he lacked in height he more than made up for in authority. He set ejection records wherever he umpired.
What he described as his most memorable moment came at Ebbets Field when Jackie Robinson stole home for the 16th time. Augie, who was behind the plate, remembered Robinson inching down the line with each pitch. On a 3-1 count with the bases loaded, Robinson bolted for home, swerved by the catcher in an acrobatic move to avoid his lunge with the ball, and scored. The picture of Robinson's slide and Mr. Guglielmo's dramatic "safe" call is a famous one often available for sale on the internet and in sports photo shops. He died in Waterbury in 1996.
Vic "Deacon" Delmore was born in 1917. He began playing professional baseball in1935 with Bassett in the Bi-State League. He was a pitcher who enjoyed enough success to stay with it seven years. He played primarily in the class D leagues, leaving for class B briefly twice. He was on the 1937 Hopkinsville team managed by Red Smith. He also played for Smith in 1936 at Fieldale and in 1941 with Green Bay. Delmore had an overall record of 80 wins and 69 losses from 1935-1942. His last three years were in Green Bay where he won 45 and lost 28. Following military service in WWII he became an umpire and labored in the minors for 11 years before the National League purchased his contract from the American Association in 1956. He was an umpire in the Kitty League in 1948. He umpired in the National League from 1956-59, but President Warren Giles did not renew his contract for 1960. This caused many friends and fans in the Scranton, PA area to write letters of protest to Giles urging his reinstatement. However the league president stuck to his decision. Delmore said Mr. Giles had told him he was being let out because "you got into a couple of jams." His friends insisted he was let go because at the end of the 1959 season he had married a lady who worked in Mr. Giles office and was in-charge of umpiring assignments.
Perhaps one of the "jams" Giles referred to was an incident that occurred June 30, 1959. At Wrigley Field, a bizarre play occurred in the 4th inning when two balls were put into play. On a 3Ė1 count, Bob Anderson's pitch to Stan Musial was wild and bounced back to the screen. Catcher Sammy Taylor ignored the ball, assuming it ticked off Musial's bat and started to argue the point with Delmore. Cubsí third baseman Alvin Dark rushed in to retrieve the wild pitch/foul tip. Meanwhile the batboy tossed the ball to field announcer Pat Piper, and Dark finally retrieved it from him. During the argument at home Vic Delmore reached in his pocket and tossed another ball to Anderson. Musial reached first with what he thought was ball four, and noticing no one going after the passed ball streaked for second. Simultaneously, Dark and Anderson fire to the bag. Anderson's throw went into centerfield, but Dark's to Ernie Banks caught the sliding Musial. Stan ignored the tag and rambled to third base as play was stopped. Delmore then ruled Musial out at second, while Al Barlick the first base umpire rules Stan safe at first. Both managers played the game under protest, but the Cards dropped theirs after dropping the Cubs, 4Ė1.
Regardless of the reasons for Deacon not being rehired for 1960 it is likely that the failure to keep the job hastened his death from heart disease on June 11, 1960.
There were a lot of great ball players to pass through the Kitty League. No doubt every fan would name different players to their all time all-stars. I have second-guessed Mr. Peaceís selections many times since 1954. I had never "known" most of the old-timers until now. I think if I could see him now I would just say, "Good job, Prez!"