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League Organization History
League Organization History
The league began quietly in 1953 when seven teams from South Dakota (Mitchell, Watertown, Winner, Chamberlain, Yankton, Huron and Pierre) and one from Nebraska (Valentine) formed a league using former professional players with a mix of amateurs (as of 1956, teams were required to have at least six non-pros). The name "Basin" came from the geographical fact that a number of teams were situated in cities along the Missouri River Basin. During it's 21-year history, a dozen cities had franchises and it became the premier summer college league in the United States. The league schedules allowed for about 50 games in 60 days from mid-June to mid-August.
A good example of the type of team fielded in the early years was the 1956 Huron Elks. Of twenty rostered players, 11 had previous professional experience - one in the majors, three from class "AAA", three from "AA", one from "A", three from "C" and one from "D". Of the nine amateurs, five would eventually play as pros and four would not.
Attempting to combine teams consisting of pros and amateurs eventually proved too difficult.. As early as 1957, the AAU was questioning the league's status as being suitable for men wanting to retain their amateur status. Part of that organization's compliant was that major league teams, by the late 1950s, were giving rather directly funds to specific teams - The Dodgers to Rapid City, the Red Sox to Sturgis, the Indians to Pierre and the Orioles to Winner. In return, the MLB teams choose the players and managers for each league club.
League rules were changed by 1960 to only allow three pro players per team and, in1961, it was reduced to two. In 1962, none were allowed, however professionals could manage and, by 1964, they (with some exceptions) were also excluded. Amateur umpires were used until 1961.
After the 1963 season [please see Jim Palmer's memories of his '63 season in the league under "1963 Highlights"], the NCAA pressured the league to eliminate all remnants of professionalism as mentioned above. Also, at that time, work rules were finally policed and the clubs had to follow other rigid NCAA regulations. The advantage to the league's towing the line was a subsidy, from major league baseball, of between $30,000 and 40,000 each season [amount was cumulative total for all teams in the league]. Most of the funds went to purchase equipment, but some were used for administration costs. By that time, the league could not turn back and they used all non-professionals for it's final ten years. In 1963, the league also moved to implement a form of revenue sharing by taking 10% from each team's gross ticket receipts and rebating it back to each league team equally.
Beginning in 1962 and lasting through 1967, the league received national exposure from weekly news reports in "The
Sporting News" which treated the Basin as any lower minor professional league [please see excerpts below]. For that
reason, it could be said that those were it's "glory" years as it was the go-to league for hundreds of the best college players
in the country. Of course, the league's success breed copy-cat leagues which reduced the talent pool and, to make things
worse, the NCAA decided in 1966 that college seniors could no longer participate.
League's Logo from 1966
In 1969, attempting to stop reduced attendance, league officials initiated game "speed up" rules. Pitchers were put on a stop clock, only one minute was allowed between innings, throwing the ball around the infield after strike outs was outlawed, those involved in mound conferences could not number more then three, intentional base on balls were declared - not thrown - and even pinch running was not allowed for a player unless he was a pitcher or a catcher. By 1973, they allowed the use of the designated hitter and even aluminum bats.
However, the MLB contributions and the new league rules could not keep the league afloat as financial losses mounted due to low attendance. After the 1973 season - which included only Chamberlain, Pierre, Sturgis and Rapid City - the Basin League folded. After 21 years, the core group of supporters and volunteers needed to run the teams in each community, probably just got tired of the frustrations. [Certainly, the "ping" sound of metal bats did not help.]
Reviewing a sample size of 1,100 players who performed in the league, 58% played at least a partial season as a professional (about 640). Of that group, approximately 36% (about 230) reached class AAA or better. Those who reached the major leagues totaled at least 138 or 21.5% of the professionals and 12.5% of all league players. Like most minor and semi-pro leagues, a testament to the legacy of a league is not only how many great pro players, managers and coaches the circuit helped produce, but also the impact the league had on the development of youth baseball programs in the league cities and the priceless memories in the minds of the fans.
The following information was found from the files of "The Sporting News", the "Rapid City Journal", the "Mitchell Daily Republic", the "Pierre Capital Journal" and the "Aberdeen American News". It traces a league which attempted to allow young players a chance to spend their summers playing as amateurs, but at a professional level. In addition, the league officials hoped their competitive spirit would entertain fans for a low admission price.
"Most of the kids I had were college kids, young guys that either had just graduated or were going back to school for another year. They were very energetic," said Guy Wellman, who played for and managed at Mitchell in 1953 and 1954. "There were a lot of great ballplayers in that league and the quality of play was very good, more so the second year than the first year and some of the succeeding years." - The Mitchell Daily Republic
Rival summer college leagues included the Cape Cod League. Morris Hallock, a former Sturgis executive, said the Basin League was preferred over the Cape Cod League by major league scouts, who made numerous trips to South Dakota each summer to review talent. "The major league teams and the scouts loved the Basin League," said Hallock, who attended numerous major league meetings. "The majors loved South Dakota because their scouts could get off a plane, rent a car, go into the ball parks and watch the daily conduct of the guys. They couldn't do that in the heavily populated areas. The benefit of the Basin League to the pros was not finding the stars and heroes, but weeding out the liabilities." - The Rapid City Journal
For each team, a board of directors oversaw the business aspect of each club and lined up jobs for players. The jobs were
either real work or much too easy, depending upon whom you ask. A story in "The Mitchell Daily Republic", printed in
June 1957, noted that both the AAU and NCAA had begun to question the league officials and its reputation for paying
players who didn't actually have to work. The questions were first raised by officials at Duke University, who were
worried one of their athletes would lose his eligibility. - The Mitchell Daily Republic
As the league entered the 1970's, support for the circuit began to be reduced. Pro teams put more emphasis on the player
draft and resources were directed to development of players throughout the farm systems. Some still blame the NCAA for
placing strict restrictions on the league and players. "They were the ones that killed us," Lloyd Keszler [another Sturgis
club director] said of the NCAA. "They were the ones that closed it down. They'd come up here and say you can't pay as
much as the Cape Cod League because of the standard of living was different. "They wanted us to have a commissioner.
So we got a commissioner. They wanted more and more and finally we couldn't live up to what all they wanted and
demanded." Cost of equipment and travel also took its toll on teams.
"The cost to travel became much higher with gas prices taking a considerable leap," said a former Pierre fan Terry Mayes. "And the cost of bats was extremely high. A bat cost $20 which was extremely high back in those days and against a great breaking-ball pitcher, you could go through a few bats each game." - The Rapid City Journal
"Rapid City Journal" writer Darrell Shoemaker wrote recently: "In compiling recollections from former major league
athletes who played in the Basin League, I was struck by how easily these stars recalled their days in the summer circuit.
They were young, many away from home for the very first time. Without hesitation, they recalled the 'odd jobs' they
performed and the names of families they stayed with for the summer. They easily threw out names of former coaches,
teammates and opposing pitchers."
Chamberlain (approx. population 2,300 - located about 200 miles west of Sioux Falls) was a member of the league for 10 seasons from 1953-1956 and 1968-1973. The team was one of the founding cities when the Basin League first began play, but folded by 1957. The town fielded a team again in the league's waning years and pieced together one of the Basin's top teams. They won two pennants and one playoff crown. During their first tenure, they were known as the "Chiefs" and later as the "Mallards". The following list indicates their finishes: '53 - ?; '54 - ?; '55 - 7th of 8 teams; '56 - 7/8; '68 - 2/6 [playoff champs]; '69 - 4/6; '70 - 1/5; '71 - 1/5; '72 - 2/5; '73 - 4/4
Major leaguers who played with Chamberlain include Bob Apodaca, Bobby Cuellar, hall-of-famer Bob Gibson, Jim Lentine, John Littlefield and John Stearns.
Former Chamberlain player Bob Augspurger, who still lived in Chamberlain in 2005, stated that members of the team generally had odd jobs around town, often related to the baseball complex. But a simple, unwritten rule throughout the league was - "baseball came first". "Playing that many games in that short of time, you weren't around very much. You played baseball every day." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Bob Gibson pitched at Chamberlain in the 1956 and 1957 and, in the latter years, John Stearns (Mets), Bobby Cuellar (Rangers) and Bob Apodaca (Mets) all played there. Augspurger was a teammate of Stearns and Cuellar in ''71. The feeling was mutual between the town and the ballplayers, Augspurger has said, "I think most of the guys that came and played, the town accepted them very well. I think the majority of them really enjoyed their stay here." Harry Knust, a Chamberlain business owner, was relatively new to Chamberlain during the early Basin League days, but said he was a regular at Chiefs/Mallards games.
Knust remembered players like Stearns, Apodaca and Cuellar and, of course, Rapid City player Frank Howard, whose name almost always received the adjective "big" whenever he was mentioned by league fans and players. "Each team had a few of those guys (who would move on to the majors). There were some big names, good players. All you have to do is look at the Stearns boys." Crowds at Chamberlain were usually good, according to Knust and Augspurger. "I think Chamberlain probably had some of the best crowds of the whole league," said Augspurger.
The team dressed in the local armory, just up the hill from the baseball field, and traveled to games in cars -- not on a bus, a luxury some Basin League teams had. "I drove my folks' car," said Augspurger. "I think some of the places where the ballplayers stayed; those people would let them use their cars." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Dean Minder, a longtime sports writer who covered the Basin League for the "Mitchell Daily Republic" remembered how Basin Leaguers from Chamberlain would travel to Mitchell during the season to conduct baseball clinics for local youth players, spending three or four hours at Cadwell Park. "It's just so interesting to think about all of the outstanding players that came from the Basin League. It's just unreal." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Huron (population then 14,100 - located 125 miles northwest of Sioux Falls) was also a charter league member and lasted for ten years from 1953 through 1962 before joining the Class "A" Northern League. From 1953-1957 they were known as the "Elks" and from 1959-1962, their nickname became the "Jims" to signify the city's location on the James River.
Their clubs won at least two pennants. Their finishes: '53 - ?; '54 - 1st in 8 teams; '55 - 1/8; '56 - 8/8; '57 - 4/8; '58 - 4/7; '59 - ?; '60 - 4/6; '61 - 3/6; '62 - 4/6.
Club players who reached the major leagues include Jerry Adair, Jack Brittin (played in majors before he performed for
Huron), Fritz Fisher, Mike Joyce, Frank Kreutzer, Dave Thies and Gary Wagner.
Huron played at below ground-level Memorial Park which was built in 1950 and still exists. [To see a photo of Huron's
ball park, you may visit the website: http://www.digitalballparks.com/ ]
Mitchell (population 13,500 - located 70 miles west of Sioux Falls) was a charter member and continued in the league for eight years from 1953-1960. They apparently never won a league pennant. Their finishes: '53 - ?; '54 - 3rd of 8 teams; '55 - 8/8; '56 - 3/8; '57 - 2/8; '58 - 6/7; '59 - ?; '60 - 5/6. They were always known as the "Kernels" to continue the nicknames used for their pro baseball teams in the Dakota and South Dakota Leagues in the early 1920s.
Major league players who played for Mitchell include Frank Carpin, Doug Clemens, Doc Daugherty (played in the majors before he played for the Kernels), Eddie Fischer, Dave Giusti, Dick Green, Dean Look, Joe Lutz (was in the majors before his Basin League games), Jim O'Toole and Don Schwall.
The Basin League Kernels played at old Kernel Park, a quant field that stood next door to Joe Quintal Field, the city's football stadium. It was encircled by an old mesh fence that did not have the typical advertising of the era., and at times, cars were allowed to park around the outfield to watch the game. Kids were employed in selling refreshments to fans. The park did not have a locker room or shower facilities, so players dressed at the Elks Lodge. - Mitchell Daily Republic
Pete Jones, who still lived in Mitchell in 2005, was a bat boy for the Kernels for three seasons in the late 1950s. He said being associated with the Basin League was an adventure. "I remember it just like it was yesterday," said Jones [in 2005]. "We had a lot of (college) All-Americans. I remember big Frank Howard was going to play in Mitchell, but then he ended up getting more money to go to Rapid City, so he went." Along with hauling bats for players, Jones' duties included keeping the Kernels' locker room clean, helping with pre-game infield practice and retrieving the foul balls that rolled to the backstop. He was paid $4 per game, which, for a boy at that time, seemed like a small fortune. He also traveled with the team and earned $5 a day on the road. "It was absolutely fun," said Jones.
Jones said he remembers the team bus being involved in a serious accident on the way home from a Basin League game. - Mitchell Daily Republic
Guy Wellman was the team's first manager. "I didn't know what I was getting into, but the people of Mitchell treated us like we were big-leaguers. They had pictures of the team all over in the stores and treated us with the greatest kindness. They supported our team and really got behind the program. The town was just outstanding." He lived with then-Dakota Wesleyan University basketball coach Bob McCardle, and later rented a house at Lake Mitchell so his wife and daughter could live with him. "I remember my dog jumping off the pier into that lake," he said. He also remembered his teams facing Bob Gibson, who while in the Basin League, had a reputation for blazing fastballs and a hint of control trouble. "We played him and the lights were not too good. You can imagine how good Bob Gibson was under bad lights."
Wellman also recalled how the long trips by bus were difficult on hot summer nights before air conditioning. "The travel was tough, going from Mitchell to Valentine and those places. There weren't too many expressways in those days. We had to fight the combines that were out doing the field work and driving on the road." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Players truly had to work to make the team. In Mitchell in the 1950s, the Kernels opened the season with two-a-day practices in the mid-June heat, and then played more than 40 games over the next eight weeks. - Mitchell Daily Republic
Mobridge (population 3,700 - located 240 miles northeast of Rapid City) were members of the league for seven years from
1966-1972. They were known as the "Lakers" because of the city's location on the Missouri River. The won one pennant
and the following is their record of finishes: '66 - 4th of 6 teams; '67 - 6/6; '68 - 5/6; '69 - 5/6; '70 - 3/5; '71 - 3/5; '72 - 1/5.
Players for the team who eventually reached the majors include Derek Bryant, Ron Cash and Gene Hiser.
Pierre [pronounced "PEER"] (population then 10,100 - located in the middle of the state 190 miles east of Rapid City) is the capital of South Dakota and was the only league city to remain a member during all 21 years of the league's existence. They won two pennants and an amazing 7 playoff titles, including a championship run from 1958 through 1962. Their nickname throughout was "Cowboys" as western South Dakota is definitely ranch country.
Their record of finishes: '53 - ?; '54 - 6th of 8 teams; '55 - 5/8; '56 - 6/8; '57 - 7/8; '58 - 3/7 [won playoffs]; '59 - 2/7 [won playoffs]; '60 - 3/6 [won playoffs]; '61 - 4/6 [won playoffs]; '62 - 1/6 [won playoffs]; '63 - 3/5; '64 - 2/6; '65 - 2/6 [won playoffs]; '66 -1/6; '67 - 2/6 [won playoffs]; '68 - 4/6; '69 - 6/6; '70 - 4/5; '71 - 4/5; '72 - 5/5; '73 - 2/4.
Major league players who played in the capital city include Craig Anderson, Gary Beare, Steve Boros, Larry Burchart, Mike Caldwell, Mike Cubbage, Bill Davis, John DeMerit, Bill Dillman, John Edwards, Sammy Ellis, Carroll Hardy, Bill Haywood, John Herrnstein, Jim Howarth, Lamar Jacobs, Dave Lemonds, John Lowenstein, Rick Lysander, Mike Pazik, Greg Pryor, Bill Roman, Mac Scarce, Ted Sizemore, Ted Schreiber, Ken Szotkiewicz, Ken Tatum, Kent Tekulve, Del Unser, Milt Welch, Woody Woodward and Geoff Zahn.
Morris Hallock of Sturgis credited the work of Pierre 's Gordon Stout for keeping Pierre in the Basin League for all 21
seasons. "Gordon deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the Basin League and especially the Pierre team. He was in
it from the inception. He was not only a devout fan, he helped the team financially, with hard work and support in every
way." Vern McKee, Pat Morrison and Parker Knox of Pierre also helped promote the Cowboys and served on the Basin
League board of directors. R.M. 'Bus' Walseth of Pierre served as long-time commissioner of the league. - Rapid City Journal
Retired South Dakota highway patrol official Terry Mayes recalled, in 2003, the impact the Basin League had on the state's youth. "Growing up in Pierre , we lived about two blocks from the stadium. From the age of six or seven, I can recall going to see the Cowboys play. My dad loved baseball. It was a big event to go to Basin League games and, back in the 1950's, it was great to see players who were either actively playing professional ball or coaching as well as some great college players." - The Rapid City Journal
The Cowboys played at Hyde Stadium, which still exists, and is located across from the State Capitol, the Governor's
Mansion and Capitol Lake on a hillside adjacent to the Joe Foss Building and Capitol Lake less than a block from the
Capitol. It was built in 1935 with funding and assistance from the Charles L. Hyde family, Pierre American Legion Post 8,
the City of Pierre, and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration [a New Deal program that tried to help ease the nation
through the Great Depression]. The grandstand was added in 1940 by the City of Pierre and the National Youth
Administration, another New Deal program. It has a current seating capacity of 1,000.
Hyde Stadium has been the home field for generations of Pierre American Legion baseball teams, including state champions in 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1967, and 1968. Pierre's "Teener" teams won state titles in 1964, 1986, and 1994. In addition, Hyde Stadium was home to numerous men's amateur teams over the decades and Legion state tournaments were held in Hyde Stadium in 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001.
Hyde Stadium features a covered concrete grandstand behind home plate, as well as additional seating built into the hillside along the first base line, and a rock wall beyond the first base dugout facing the playing field. One section of the seating area allows fans to set on lawn chairs. Unlike many other ballparks, Hyde Stadium has a large area between the edge of the playing field and the outer fence around the stadium facility that allowed room for a press box, concession stand, batting cages and an equipment storage shed.
The field dimensions at Hyde are fairly spacious as amateur ballparks go, with the exception of a tempting 305 feet down the left field line. The right field line is 325 feet, and the left and right center field gaps are both 380 feet. The home team's bullpen is located off the field in the batting cage area. Lights are on tall steel towers and provide good illumination for night games. The playing surface and field conditions are among the best in the state. - City of Pierre's web site
Rapid City (population was about 42,400 - located near the Black Hills 350 miles west of Sioux Falls) was a league member for 17 years from 1957-1973. Their nickname was "Chiefs" which they inherited by obtaining the Chamberlain franchise. They won 5 pennants and one playoff. Their finishes over the years were: '57 - 1st of 8 clubs; '58 - 2/7; '59 - 4/7; '60 - 1/6; '61 - 2/6; '62 6/6; '63 - 5/5; '64 - 5/6; '65 - 1/6; '66 3/6; '67 - 1/6; '68 - 3/6; '69 - 1/6; '70 - 2/5; '71 - 5/5; '72 - 4/5; '73 - 3/4.
Former major leaguers who played for the Chiefs include: Stan Bahnsen, Dave Baldwin, Bill Bethea, Dick Billings, Lou Camilli, Sam Ewing, Jim Fairey, Rich Hacker, Gary Holman, Frank Howard, Ken R. Hunt, Rick Kester, Jim McAndrew, Joe Moock, Gary Moore, Dennis Musgraves, Gary Neibauer, Pat Osburn, Mike Proly, Steve Renko, Kal Segrist (played in Rapid City after his MLB playing days), Bart Shirley, Chuck Shoemaker, Danny Thompson, Gary Wheelock and Nick Willhite.
The Chiefs played at Sioux Park Stadium which was built specifically for the Chiefs and also served as home for perennial
state Legion Champion Post 22. [Rapid City hosted the national American Legion World Series in 1975, 1986 and 1997.]
The team received permission to build the park on city property at Sioux Park and a fund drive produced $35,000. Those
funds combined with generous donations of time, equipment and materials, from the business community, made
completion possible by the spring of 1957.
In Rapid City, Al Steinmetz served as president of Black Hills Sports, Inc., from 1956-60 and was followed by Cal
Ackerman in 1961, Bill Baumgartner in 1962, Milo Brekhus in 1963 and Neil Simpson in 1964. Floyd Fitzgerald then
took over the reigns of the organization in 1965 and continued until the league folded in 1973. "There were a lot of good
men involved," remembered attorney Tom Foye, in 2003, who spent several years on the team's board of directors. "Al
Steinmetz, Cal Ackerman, Floyd Fitzgerald, Neil Simpson and others, they were all successful business people dedicated to
the Chiefs, dedicated to the Basin League and dedicated to baseball. They were incredibly busy people but as the saying
goes, 'if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person'."
Sioux Park Stadium now bears Fitzgerald's name as a tribute to his Basin League work and work with sports in the Rapid City community. "Floyd was a good leader, able to keep things together and a good organizer," said Jan Laitos, who served on the board with Fitzgerald. "He was all for the young people. He went all out." Retired Rapid City attorney Homer Kandaras, another board member, agreed. "He was a paint salesman and he loved baseball. The Fitzgeralds were all athletic. Floyd was passionate about baseball, the Rapid City Chiefs and the Basin League."
Team support for the Chiefs was garnered within the community and fan bases were developed in the southern hills and Ellsworth Air Force Base. "People from Ellsworth used to play in the Basin League and they enjoyed coming to the games and supporting the Rapid City team," said Laitos. "Back in the 1950's especially, it was the 'thing' to do," said Foye. "If you weren't seen at the Ball Park , then you weren't in the right place. Back then, the Basin League was the only major thing going on in the summer. People came out to the Ball Park ."
"It was a wonderful league for a feeder system for the majors and, as fans, you got the chance to see some great players," said John Quinn, son of the late Jim Quinn, a long-time official with the Rapid City Chiefs and Basin League. "It was a league where, as a player, you could retain your amateur status and for scouts to come and take a good look at you."
"I remember watching all the Basin League teams when they came through Rapid City," said Dave Collins, a 16-year major league veteran, major league coach and minor league manager. "There were a lot of players that came through the League that ended up playing in the major leagues. It was a great brand of baseball and it had the great support from the different cities in South Dakota." - Rapid City Journal
Sioux Falls (population about 83,600 in 1950 and 98,950 in 1960) - located in southeast corner of state 350 miles east of Rapid City) has been the largest city in South Dakota and was part of the league for only two years finishing 3rd of 6 teams in 1964 and 6th of 6 in 1965. [Years that they were not members of the Northern League]. They did win the playoff championship in 1964 and their nickname was the "Packers".
Team players who reached the majors were: hall-of-famer Don Sutton, Al Schmetz, Jon Warden and Clyde Wright.
Sioux Falls Stadium was build in 1964, still exists but little of the original park is left as there were extensive renovations done in the late 1990's. These renovations included new luxury boxes, an expanded picnic area, and new grassy slops among other improvements.
[You can view the stadium in it's current form at: http://www.ballparkreviews.com/siouxfalls/siouxfalls.htm ]
Sturgis (population 4,600 - located about 30 miles north of Rapid City) was a league city for 13 years from 1961-1973. They won three pennants and a detail of their finishes is as follows: '61 - 5/6; '62 - 5/5; '63 - 4/5; '64 - 1/6; '65 - 4/6; '66 6/6; '67 - 5/6; '68 - 1/6; '69 - 2/6; '70 - 5/5; '71 - 2/5; '72 - 5/5; '73 - 1/4.
Players from the "Titans" [named after the nearby Titan Missile Base] ,who reached the major leagues, were: Gary Allenson, Bob Baird, Larry Bearnarth, Dave Campbell, Frank Baker, Shaun Fitzmaurice, Jim French, Rusty Gerhardt, Dick Joyce, Stu Locklin, Willie Norwood, Mike Proly, Dan Quisenberry, Glenn Redmon, Bob Reed, Dick Selma, John Sevcik, Luke Walker and Jimy Williams.
"We had big crowds," said Morris Hallock, who recalled that the club attracted Gov. Archie Gubbrud and over 4,000 people to the team's first game in 1961. He noted the work of Bernie Eveleth of Union Center for building support in rural areas, including fans who came from as far as 150 miles. "We had a ton of people from Union Center who would come in for the games and support was great in the rural areas," added longtime fan Lloyd Keszler.
It was said that the greatest benefactors of the league were the local youth. "One of the things the Basin League did was
develop our kids baseball program," said Sturgis hesitant Homer Kandaras. "There was no children's baseball leagues in the
1940's. We didn't have a field for kids to play on." That all changed as the league developed and received more support
from the communities. Young people were attracted to the players and businesses helped sponsor clinics.
Keszler recalled that the Basin League's impact on development of youth baseball programs was very positive but did produce one drawback: "Ultimately it hurt us. Parents and families would be over watching their kids play baseball until dark and they were unable to get to the Basin League games some nights. We were trying to build a kids baseball program and ended up hurting our own attendance." He also said that league players got approximately $500 for the summer and the pay was for "odd jobs" the players did in the communities. Many of them worked for the city recreation departments cleaning up parks, swimming pools and baseball fields.
As the league grew [the late 1950s], Basin League teams were assigned a "'parent" major league club with the Rapid City Chiefs assigned to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Sturgis Titans assigned to the Boston Red Sox. The Pierre Cowboys were assigned to the Cleveland Indians. "The Dodgers just loved Rapid City as Boston did us," said Morris Hallock of Sturgis. Hallock, along with Regan and the late Russ Molstad were instrumental in establishing the Titans franchise. "The Red Sox told us they wanted every player to have a steak dinner once a day and they'd pay for it," Hallock said. "They sent down uniforms, two sets for home and one for travel. We must have had four or five catchers' mitts." - The Rapid City Journal
Yankton (population then approx. 19,000 - located 80 miles southwest of Sioux Falls) was a charter member of the league and stayed in the Basin for seven years (1953-1959). They never won a pennant. Their finishes were: ''53 - ?; '54 - 4/8; '55 - 2/8; '56 - 4/8; '57 - 5/8; '58 - 5/7; '59 - 4/7.
Major league players who played on the "Terrys" were: Ed Hobaugh, Bob Klaus and Marv Olson (who played in the majors before he played in Yankton).
The "Terrys" were the highpoint for baseball fans of Yankton. Their nickname was short for the "Territorials" in honor of the city's days as the capital of the Dakota Territory and were formed, after a great deal of success of an amateur team in the old State League. Their baseball park, "Riverside Diamond", was situated on the banks of the Missouri River and often hosted crowds of up to 3,000 fans. After it's Basin League years, amateur baseball flourished bringing state championships to Yankton on several occasions.
Riverside Diamond was the location of a legendary Frank Howard home run into the Missouri River in the late 1950s, which may or may not have actually happened. - The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan
Valentine, Nebraska (population, at that time, of about 3,000 - located a few miles south of the South Dakota border south of Pierre) was the only non-South Dakota entry in the league. The "Hearts" were members for 13 seasons from 1953-1960 and 1963-1967. They won one pennant and one playoff championship. The team's finishes were: '53 - ?; '54 - 2/8; '55 - 3/8; '56 - 2/8; '57 - 8/8; '58 - 1/7; '59 - 4/7; '60 - 6/6; '63 - 2/5; '64 - 4/6; '65 - 5/6; '66 5/6; '67 - 3/6.
The club's major league alumni include: Al Closter, Chuck Dobson, Duffy Dyer, Joe Keough, Lou Marone, Al Montreuil,
Scott Reid, Dave Robinson, Tom Robson, Paul Splittorff, Ken Suarez and Bill Zepp.
Watertown (population then about 14,000 - located 100 miles north of Sioux Falls) was a charter member of the league and stayed associated with the circuit for 10 years (1953-1962). They won at least two pennants and the detail of their finishes are: '53 - ?; '54 - ?; '55 - 4/8; '56 - 1/8; '57 - 3/8; '58 - 7/7; '59 - 4/7; '60 - 2/6; '61 - 1/6; '62 - 3/6.
Their nickname was "Lake Sox" since the city limits include a lake and the area is known for it's water- themed recreation. Major league players who played with Watertown were: Howie Bedell, Cal Emery, Purnal Goldy, Dick Howser, Chuck Lindstrom, Ron Perranoski, Dick Radatz, Kermit Wahl (who played in the majors before his Watertown playing days), Don Wallace and Eddie Watt.
Watertown played at a depression-era concrete stadium which still exists and is also used for football. [To see a photo of
Watertown's ball park, you may visit the website: http://www.digitalballparks.com/ ]
Winner (population 3,700 - located about 150 miles west of Sioux Falls) were league members for 14 years during two time spans (1953-1957 and 1961-1969). They won at least two pennants and their record of finishes are: '53 - 1/8; ''54 - ?; '55 - 5/8; '56 - 5/8; '57 - 6/8; '61 - 6/6; '62 - 2/6; '63 - 1/5; '64 - 6/6; '65 - 3/6; '66 - 2/6; '67- 4/6; '68 - 6/6; '69 - 3/6.
The team's nickname was "Pheasants" because the town is located in prime pheasant-hunting territory. Major leaguer who played for the club included hall-of-famer Jim Palmer, Marv Rettenmund, Jim Lonborg, Dick Bertell, Steve Blateric, Jim Burton, Pete Craig, Mike Eden, Bill Faul, Bobby Floyd, Gary Gentry, Rocky Krsnich, Dick Lange, Tom Lundstedt, Carl Morton, Ed Spiezio and Ted Schreiber.
The club played at Leahy Bowl, named for Winner native and former Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy. Attendance generally totaled 200-300 per game.
Leahy Bowl (with Jim Palmer pitching)
LeRoy "Pee Wee" Foltz, a former president of the Winner Pheasants, said players had jobs, but actual work wasn't
necessarily part of the job description. Early on in some towns, players were simply paid to play; Foltz remembers it was
approximately $300 per month. But since most of the players were still in college, pay became a sticky issue. "I remember
the NCAA got on the league about paying players, so they had to get jobs," said Foltz, who still lived in Winner in 2005.
"We had two guys that were assigned to take care of the pool and one day, an NCAA rules guy came through looking for
these kids. He went to the swimming pool and asked where they were at. Another swimming pool guy said ''I don''t know.
They come here, swim and then go home.'' The outcome? "We got reprimanded for that," Foltz said with a chuckle.
Imagine swapping stories in a small-town barber shop with Marv Rettenmund, Jim Palmer and Jim Lonborg, a trio of players who each would play at least 13 seasons in the majors. It happened on a regular basis back in the '60s in Winner. "They would hang out at the barber shop. They'd come in during the noon hour, when they had nothing to do," LaVern Steiger [barber shop owner] said. "Rettenmund, Palmer, and Lonborg!"
Foltz remembered that it wasn't easy keeping the team in the black. "We would go around to all the businesses and knock on their door to see what they could donate. I can remember our budget was about $26,000 for one year. It got expensive." A committee in Winner raised most of the money to pay for a season's worth of expenses, but also received supplemental funds from major league teams. In Winner, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs helped out early on, with the Orioles adding financial stability in later years.
Jim Palmer was a senior in high school [he had graduated] when he left Scottsdale, Ariz..for Winner, S.D. According to a former official with the Pheasants, it wasn't long before the future Hall of Famer yearned for home. "He didn't like it here," said Foltz, "So I said 'Jim, let me call your dad and talk to him.' Foltz convinced Palmer's father to come to Winner and spend some time with the homesick Arizonan. Sure enough, the next thing you know, "he has scouts all over looking at him, ready to sign him." By coincidence, the Orioles had a Class A team in Aberdeen in the Northern League. In 1964, when Palmer was told by the Orioles to report to Aberdeen for the season, he passed through Winner and spent the night with the Foltzes.
"For this country, it was great," said barber Steiger, "All of the teams were good. Not just Winner, but Pierre, Rapid City.
And Rapid City had Frank Howard, you know." Day games didn't draw well - anyone who has spent a July afternoon in
Winner would understand why. Foltz remembers a time when a scout from Houston came to Winner to watch Palmer
pitch a night game, but was disappointed when the game was rained out. The scout asked team officials if it would be
possible to schedule the game for the following afternoon. On a typically hot, muggy South Dakota afternoon - probably
made more unbearable by the previous night's rain storm - Palmer, indeed, pitched. And how many fans braved the heat to
see the future Hall of Famer, a player who just three years later would become the youngest pitcher to toss a
complete-game victory in the World Series? Fewer than 25.
"We had two Ford station wagons. Those kids would drive the station wagons and all crawl in there in some way or another. They were big kids, too," Foltz said. "They got into those station wagons with all the equipment and a change of clothes, too. I don''t know how they did that." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Click to view:
In the early years, Mickey Owen, who caught for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was one of the first to jump to the Mexican League, managed Winner's Basin League team.
The league's first teams were Chamberlain, Huron, Mitchell, Pierre, Valentine (NE), Watertown, Yankton and Winner. They played from mid-June to mid-July using former pro players and amateurs including college players.
Winner won the league pennant.
The league opened on June 15. The president of the Pierre club was John Maher.
July 29 - Winner installed their third manager of the season. Mickey Livingstone started at the helm at the beginning of the
year and he was replaced by Wendall Hall who also pitched. Paul Distefano replaced Hall.
The Huron Elks captured the league title. Mitchell and Valentine were in the playoff finals.
March - Native South Dakotan Marv Olson was named manager at Yankton. In 1954, he had managed at Montgomery and played with the Boston Red Sox from 1931-33.
An add appeared in April 6 "The Sporting News": "Class A Players Wanted - For fast semipro Basin League. Capable of playing Class A ball. Write 712 Capital, Yankton, S.D."
July 15 - Huron catcher Ray Fletcher, was named player-manager at Grand Forks of the Northern League. The 30-year-old was formerly property of the White Sox who had drafted him from Milwaukee [AA} in 1947, but he never played for the Sox. He had previously quit pro baseball in 1952.
Huron won the pennant, two games ahead of Yankton.
For the fourth straight year, the eight charter member teams remained in the league. Jack Bailey was the league president.
March - An add appeared in the March 28 "TSN": "Umpires wanted - For Basin League. Season runs from June 10 to August 25, 1956. Professional experience desired. Write Tom H. Luby, Pres, Basin League, Box 118, Huron, S.D."
August - Paul Susce, who was the son to A's coach George Susce and the brother of Red Sox' pitcher, George Jr., was
pitching for Pierre.
June 12 - A Watertown-Mitchell game featured 48 runs, 37 hits and 10 errors. Watertown's Eddie Broeker hit four home runs and teammate Paul Donovan three more as the Lake Sox scored six in the 9th inning to beat the Mitchell Kernels 27-21. The game featured 12 homers, nine by the winners. Bob Burr, Joe Lutz and Jack Baer had homers for Mitchell. Carlee Hendrix and Bob Williams had the others for the Sox. Donovan drove in eight runs and Brocker had seven RBI. Ted Berner was the winning pitcher.
In Rapid City , a group of interested businessmen applied for the city's admission into the Western League in 1956. The application was turned down and the businessmen formed Black Hills Sports, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of amateur and semi-professional athletics in the Black Hills area.
The Yankton Terrys scored six runs in the 9th inning to defeat the Huron Elks 11-7. Even thought they were out-hit 14 to 7 by the Elks, Yankton drew 14 bases on balls from four Huron pitchers. Merlyn Jorgenson and Billy Branson each drove in two runs for the winners. Dean Scarbrough was the game's hitting star with two doubles and a home run as he drove in three runs. Bill Thurston picked up the win in relief of starter Bob Wiltse. Bob Gosling took the loss.
June 13 - Paul Dean Jr. registered his initial Basin League victory as Chamberlain beat Winner 10-9. Dean pitched into the 8th inning when he needed help from reliever Bun Hays. Matt Peoples, first of three Winner pitchers, took the loss.
Bob Gibson lived in the Winner area, pitching for the Chamberlain Chiefs for two summers. "He was a hard thrower," former player Gene Olson has said, "but pretty wild. They often had him in the outfield because he was such a good hitter." - Mitchell Daily Republic
June 16 - Watertown and Yankton held 3-0 records to hold the league lead over Valentine which was one game behind.
Playing-manager Nick Adzick drove in the winning run with a double in the bottom of the 9th inning to give Valentine
June 17 - A five-run 3rd inning, which included a steal of home, carried Winner to an 8-5 victory over Huron. It was the 4th straight loss for the Elks and the first win for the Pheasants. John Vossen had a three-run homer and Dick Bertell had a solo shot for Winner. Bertell sparked the Pheasants in the 3rd with a single and advanced to third on a sacrifice and Duane Zimmer's scratch hit. As Huron catcher Ed Tanner went to the mound to talk with pitcher Andy Swota, Bertell raced for home. Winner claimed the Elks had failed to ask for a time out, but their claim was rejected. Dick Jok hit a homer for Huron and Tanner had three hits, including a pair of doubles.
June 20 - The Watertown Lake Sox moved into a tie for first place in the Basin League with a 13-12 victory over Chamberlain. Bill Horning, a local player who was married a few days previous, singled in Paul Donovan with the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning after the Chiefs had taken the lead with a five-run outburst in the top of the 9th. Horning captained the Minnesota Gophers to the NCAA college baseball title this season.
Watertown won the league's pennant with a 29-12 record which was 2 ½ games in front on Valentine.
Black Hills Sports, Inc., filed for admission into the Basin League and organizers were informed Rapid City would receive consideration when one of the founding teams dropped out of the league. Within months, the Chamberlain Chiefs withdrew and in January 1957, Rapid City was admitted.
Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, who played for Chamberlain in 1956 and 1957 and wrote the autobiography "Stranger to the Game" hardly mentioned his time in the league in his book:
"My most serious baseball during those years [his college years] came during the summers, when I took to the small towns and played semipro for $350 a month. To keep things on the up-and-up, I was given a summer job along with a spot on the local ball team. At Estherville, Iowa, for instance, I batted .381 in the Sac County League and drove a trash truck for the Ford dealership, hauling boxes out to the edge of a cliff and dumping them into the landfill. Another year I split my time between Crofton, Nebraska, of the Tri-County League, and the Basin League outpost of Chamberlain, South Dakota. There was very little during those years to make me approach the game any differently than...[earlier]. As I entered my senior season [at college], however, I recognized the importance of taking it up a notch."
Rapid City came into the league after the Chamberlain club folded. R.C. organizers such as Floyd Fitzgerald were faced
with two big challenges. Within five months, a baseball team had to be compiled and a field developed. Former Basin
League all-star catcher Guy Wellman, who played and managed in the circuit in 1953-1955, was tabbed as manager.
Developing a ballpark was a bigger challenge. The team received permission to build a stadium on city property at Sioux Park . Al Steinmetz chaired the Sioux Park Stadium Association and a fund drive produced $35,000. Combined with generous donations of time, equipment and materials from the business community, Sioux Park Stadium was completed by the spring of 1957.
February - An add appeared in the Feb. 27 "TSN": "Players Wanted. For all positions in fast semipro Basin League. Playing season June 10 to August 25. Contact Cal Ackerman, Personnel Committee Chairman, Rapid City, S.D., Guy Wellman, Jr., Manager." [It was estimated by R.C. officials that this add drew 200 applications.]
June 11 - Winner had a tune-up match at Delmont. Four members of the 1956 team played including Jim Ransom - last year's manager/first baseman; Pat O'Keefe; and pitcher Wyman Cary. Al Ware, manager in 1955, would play second base Others on the current team were KenWaters, a California collegian, Tom Pruitt from Mississippi State and Phil Risinger a shortstop from Oklahoma. He is a cousin of Mitchell's Tony Risinger.
Rapid City home opener - Frank Howard made heads turn when he drove in five runs.
June 13 - Jim Ransom drove in six runs with a homer, double and two singles as Winner beat Delmont 20-2 in exhibition action at Delmont. Winner had 15 runs in the final two innings. Manager Al Ware, who had just 10 players available, rotated three pitchers in the outfield when they were not pitching. Jim Pruitt, PatGillick and Bill Thom combined on a four-hitter with 17 strikeouts. Pruit went the first three innings allowing just one hit and a run with lefty Gillick blanking Delmont for three innings on two hits and Thom finishing allowing one hit and one run. Pruitt and Gillick were also productive at the plate as Pruitt drove in four runs with two doubles and a single and Gillick hit a three-run homer. Ken Cochrane had three hits for the Pheasants while Phil Risinger, Dick Little and Ware each had two.
Duke University track star Dave Sime decided not to play in the league. He had earlier agreed to play for the Pierre Cowboys. Sime said he had been advised that playing in the league could jeopardize his amateur standing. He planned to leave Pierre immediately for Durham, North Carolina to prepare for the National AAU track meet next week.
June - The AAU investigated the league and said it appeared that it is not an amateur league and players may loss their amateur standing.
June 18 - Rudy Trbovich threw a three-hit shutout and drove in a pair of runs with a single to lead Pierre to a 4-0 win over Winner. He had ten strikeouts and survived five bases on balls. Lefthander Pat Gillick was the tough-luck loser allowing just one earned run.
June 25 - Huron shaded Valentine 4-3 in 13 innings. Catcher Tom Orton had two hits and drove in a pair for the winners. Dave Thies, who got the win, and third baseman Duke Bowman also had two hits. Playing-manager Nick Adzick had three hits for the Hearts. Jim Hammond went the route for Valentine.
Watertown Lake Sox had two big innings - a four-run 3rd and three in the 7th to top Rapid City 7-4. Cal Emery's three-run homer was the key hit. Bill Horning had two hits and scored a pair for the Sox. Frank Howard knocked in all four runs for the Chiefs with three hits, including a homer. Dick Radatz pitched into the 8th inning to register the win with relief help from Ron Perranoski. George Schmid got the loss.
July 1 - R.C. (7-3) led Mitchell (6-3) by ½ game for first place.
July 8 - Rapid City (11-4) still held the ½ game lead ahead of Mitchell (10-4).
July 17 - Phil Hunt drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 9th inning to give Yankton a 7-6 win over Huron. The Elks had gone ahead with two runs in the top of the 9th on Andy Swota's pinch-hit double and Connie Juelke's single. Huron had the bases loaded with none out but couldn't add to their run total as Bob Wiltse worked out of the jam. Ed Staab had a homer and double and drove in three runs. Jack Crouch had four hits including a home run. Jerry Adair had three hits for Huron.
July 27 - Ron Perranoski hurled an eight-hit shutout as Watertown edged Winner 1-0. Kermit Wahl drove in Dick Howser with the game's only run
Mitchell (19-8) took a ½ game lead over Rapid City (18-8).
August 6 - Harry Wise left the Yankton team and the team's players met to discuss rather they wanted to continue playing the season. [Wise apparently left due to a disagreement with club officials. The players did continue playing the season.]
August 7 - Frank Howard had five hits, including a three-run homer, and drove in seven runs as Rapid City clobbered Mitchell 15-1.
August 9 - Rapid City moved to within a game of the first place Mitchell Kernels with a 7-4 victory over Valentine
August 10 - Rapid City won praise for releasing pitcher Harry Wise so he could rejoin the Yankton Terrys. Wise had moved over to the Chiefs when it appeared the Yankton team would disband.
Mitchell (24-12) was in the league lead by one game over Rapid City (23-13)
During the season, Mitchell's Eddie Fisher had pitched the league's first no-hitter v. Pierre.
The pennant was shared between Rapid City and Mitchell both with 28-13 records. They finished 5 games ahead of Watertown.
R.C .led the league in attendance with a home average of 2,064.
Rapid City won the playoffs by defeating Mitchell 2 games to none.
Ted Schreiber, who played on the 1957 Winner team and for Pierre in 1958, remembered those years: "What a league! There was a tremendous amount of talent. One team [the 1957 Mitchell Kernels] had Eddie Fisher, Jim O'Toole, and Don Schwall on its staff. Dick Radatz was there. Frank Howard played for Rapid City. Johnny Edwards was my roommate in Pierre. As I recall, I hit .383.
"It was quite a change for me coming from New York City and seeing dirt roads in Winner. If you went to watch the game, the mosquitoes would carry you away, they were so big. It was too hot during the day, we played at night.
"There was a guy called 'Beep-Beep' Belak, a pitcher from Gregory, South Dakota. [Joe Belak was South Dakota's Player of the Year in 1951 and was named to the state's Amateur Hall of Fame in 1983.] He got his nickname because people would watch the games from their cars and beep for him instead of clapping.
"I've got a few stories about Frank Howard. Of course he was huge and had these great big hands. Most guys would swing one bat with a weight, that donut, in the on-deck circle. You'd see some with two bats. Well, Frank Howard would warm up with seven or eight bats. He hit a ball one time, we had a shift on, and I was moved over on the shortstop side of second base. It was a BB and it went past me. I heard this big guy grunting as I waited for the ball to come in from left field. I was thinking, should I do what my instinct tells me -- run! -- or do I wait for the ball? I saw that the ball arrived...and Frank turned around. We got him in a rundown.
"Another time, he hit this long drive, and the center fielder turned around and looked to where there was this dinosaur statue on top of a hill in Rapid City. He thought the ball was headed out there. But it was hit so high that it came down in the stadium and almost hit him in the head!" - March 2008 interview with SABR member Rory Costello
Organizers of the Basin League clubs had fond memories of the circuit in 2003. "It was a good league," said Sturgis' Bob Regan. "People still talk about it thirty years after it ended. For a long time, it was the best summer league in the country." - Rapid City Journal
Nick Leyva (Sturgis Titans player, former manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and a former coach with the World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays): "I enjoyed it there. It was the first time I was away from home. You learned a lot and you grew up a lot . It was a great experience. I remember I led the league in home runs that year (1957) and matched the number of Frank Howard. Anytime you're put in the same category as big Frank Howard, that's really something. I remember we couldn't get paid unless we worked. We worked for Parks and Recreation, picking up trash, mowing fields. We had to find a job and find a place to live. We met a lot of friendly people. I remember going to Deadwood and Mt. Rushmore . It was a beautiful place and a great experience." - Rapid City Journal
The lasting memories of Basin League action for Homer Kandaras, who served on Rapid City's board of directors, involved Frank Howard: "When I was in the Army in Japan in 1956, Frank Howard came out with an Ohio baseball team and he was the biggest guy I'd ever seen. The next year, he comes out and played here in Rapid City . He hit a ball so hard, he hit it over the high light poles. I mean it, he hit it over the lights. And he could hit grounders so fast that a fielder couldn't get there in time. He was a great hitter." - Rapid City Journal
Don Schwall, Eddie Fisher and Jim O''Toole all pitched for the 1957 Mitchell Kernels. "The competition was very, very good. It was excellent baseball," said Schwall in 2005, who now lives in Pennsylvania. "You had some ex-pros, some older guys who had experience and you played against them. My college coach said it would be good experience to play in the Basin League and, in fact, that pitching staff had Eddie Fisher, Jim O''Toole and myself and all three would make it to the big leagues." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Winner dropped out of the league, Huron changed their nickname to "Jims" and the schedule was played in a split-season format. Seven teams remained.
June 25 - Ken Hunt's 3rd inning homer proved to be the difference as Rapid City topped Yankton 6-4.
Rapid City (8-1) had a three game lead ahead of Valentine (4-3).
June 28 - Rapid City continued to lead the first half of the split season with a 9-1 record which was four games in front of Valentine, Watertown and Yankton (all at 4-4).
The first half of the schedule was won by Valentine with a 15-9 record which was ½ ahead of Rapid City (14-9).
R. C. pitcher Dick Wiegand had graduated from Kearney State Teachers College in Nebraska in the spring of 1958. He played for Pueblo of the Western League and was in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system (1951-1956) prior to playing with the Chiefs. He held the Chiefs' record for most wins in a season (9) until Dave Gourieux' 10-win total in 1968.
Don Quayle held the record for playing nine Basin League seasons. A former kicker and baseball standout at Michigan State, Quayle became a home town favorite and a Basin League regular. He taught at Rapid City High School and by the late 1960's had obtained his doctorate and was serving as athletic director at Riverton (WY) Community College. He set marks for most games played, most RBIs, most runs and home runs for the Chiefs. Quayle played for the Pierre Cowboys before joining the Chiefs. He also managed the Sturgis Titans. Quayle was one of five Chiefs who posted .300-plus batting averages in the 1957 season. - Rapid City Journal
July 25 - Pierre had won 7 straight.
August 12 - Carl Bush hit 3 homers for Huron.
Pierre (14-06) led the second half standings by 2 ½ games in front of Mitchell (11-8).
Pierre won the second half pennant by four games over Pierre. The standings breakdown:
1st Half 2nd Half Total
Valentine 15-9 Pierre 15- 6 Valentine 26-20
R City 14-9 R City 11-10 Pierre 23-21
Huron 13-10 Mitchell 11-11 R. City 25-19
Yankton 13-11 Valentine 11-11 Huron 23-22
Watertown 10-13 Huron 10-12 Mitchell 20-26
Mitchell 9-15 Yankton 9-12 Water. 19-27
Pierre 8-15 Watertown 9-14 Yankton 22-23
Pierre won the playoffs final over Valentine.
The league continued with the same seven teams from 1958.
June 20 - Larry Crayton (Pierre- E. Carolina St.) pitched the league's second no-hitter over Yankton in a 5-0 victory. He struck out 7 and walked 5.
Late June - Watertown manager Ken Staples was fined $40 and suspended for three games after kicking an umpire during an argument. Staples claimed he only kicked dirt.
July 1 - Valentine led the league with an 11-4 record which was 2 games in front of Pierre (6-3).
July 29 - Harry Wise, who was managing and pitching for Yankton in Rapid City, left the mound to berate the umpires for "bad calls". Yankton players came on to the field which made play impossible. For some reason, Rapid City officials also walked on to the field in order to help break up the argument. Eventually, the game continued, but, shortly after the game, the Yankton team directors issued a press release claiming umpires in Rapid City were favoring the home team during games played there. They further suggested that the "home town" umpires made it impossible for visiting teams to win. Rapid City officials replied by denying the agitations and said that Yankton management were simply "bad sports".
On July 19, Rapid City was in last place with a 9-17 record [7 games behind the first place team]. They then won 18 of the last 22 games to capture the pennant on the last day of the year with a 3-2, 14-inning win over Pierre. Chuck Shoemaker singled home former Olympic basketball player Jay Arnette with the winning run.
Three teams were tied for 4th place which was the final playoff spot. In a single elimination tournament, Watertown won but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Pierre Cowboys won the playoffs over Rapid City two games to none.
"I did all right," Dick Green recalled of his 1959 season with the Mitchell Kernels. His season was spent mainly at
shortstop. "I was really raw. I made a few errors and I didn't hit very well, as I recall." Green received a call from Kernels
manager Joe Lutz, who had managed the Chiefs in the 1958 season. "He called me and wanted me to try out for Mitchell.
So I tried out and provided a little home-town flavor." Green was a standout second baseman for the Oakland A's, but he
spent most of his career growing up, in the Basin League and the minor leagues playing shortstop and third base. "It wasn't
until my last year in the minors that I was moved to second base," said Green. Green said his Basin League experiences,
both as a fan and player, impacted his career. "I think it did. It was an eye-opener for me," said Green. "I always went to
the games growing up in Yankton. I'd go see the Yankton Terrys play."
"I went to high school in Mitchell and followed the Kernels. So when I played in 1959, I played in front of the home-town fans, which was kind of neat." Green recalled going to Rapid City and playing the Chiefs. "They had great teams but I also remember the guy behind the visitor's dugout, Dr. Spain . I'm not sure what kind of doctor he was, but he was a heckler. He'd heckle us all game long, especially Joe Lutz, our manager who had also managed the Chiefs. After the games, I remember Joe going over and talking with him and Floyd Fitzgerald." Green said he enjoyed his Basin League experiences. "I was very fortunate and lucky to have played in the Basin League. When I played, teams got to put up to three major leaguers on their teams. I remember getting to watch some great players growing up and playing against some great players. I remember Frank Howard and Dayton Todd and others. It was a great experience."
Green also recalled a late-night trip with teammates. "I remember Dave Clemons, myself and Dave Giusti, a right-handed pitcher, after a night game, going back to our place. I remember putting together some real stinky stuff that we would use for catfish bait. We went to the River that night, caught catfish, got home about day break and got ready to play another game." - Rapid City Journal
Yankton discontinued their association with the league and never returned. The league continued with six teams allowing three formerly pro players per team.
June - Hal Holland was named manager at Mitchell. He started the season at first base for Allentown and later was a
Rapid City with the pennant with a 35-11 record finishing in front of Watertown (25-20) by 9 ½ games.
Pierre won the playoffs over Watertown.
The league used professional umpires for the first time. Teams were then only allowed two pro players. Mitchell dropped out.
As the 1961 season approached, the league was in danger of folding. The circuit went from eight teams in 1957 to six
teams in the 1960 season. When Mitchell ended its eight-year association in late 1960, the Basin League faced an uncertain
future with only five teams. Rapid City co-owner Al Steinmetz approached Morris Hallock and other Sturgis officials
about the possibility of a northern hills team. Hallock said that Steinmetz was skeptical that Sturgis could field a team in
time for the 1961 season. "Al told me that Sturgis is a little town and thought that perhaps the northern hills could have a
team, perhaps playing five games in Spearfish, five in Lead, five in Sturgis and so forth. I said to heck with that, we're not a
northern hills team. He didn't think we could have a ball park ready in time and we showed him we could." Hallock
credited the work of Clarence Glover and Jim Dickson, two developers, and the Titan Missile crews from Ellsworth Air
Force Base for helping to get the Titan Field ready for the 1961 season.
Titan Field became known as Strong Field in 1967, dedicated to the memory and work of contractor Bob Strong. Strong's son Dean, now owner of Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange [as of 2003], came home on military furlough to help in the field's construction. "We didn't have the money to go and scout talent," recalls Lloyd Keszler of Sturgis. "I took over for Bob Regan in player procurement. Fitzgerald would go to Arizona for spring training and watch teams and talk to players. We'd get on the phone to college coaches at Michigan State , University of Georgia and several other colleges to see what we could get." Keszler says it took the Titans a season to realize they were asking college coaches the wrong questions. "That first year, we took coaches at their word on their own kids. We stopped doing that after one year. All I'd get was a rosy picture."
As the Sturgis Titans were getting established in the Basin League, fortunes took a turn when a car accident on a road trip to Pierre resulted in a handful of injuries to the players. The Titans called on the talents of local men to fill out the roster for a brief period of time. These local men included long-time grocery store owner Nick Hobernicht and Jim Cooley, among others. - Rapid City Journal
July 22 - Watertown had a 20-8 record for first place 5 ½ games over Rapid City (16-15).
August - Near the end of the season, the standings were:
Rapid City 24-24 8
Huron 22-26 10
Pierre 22-26 10
Sturgis 22-26 10
Winner 22-26 10
Watertown won the league's pennant by 9 games. In a second-place tie was Pierre and two other teams.
Pierre defeated Rapid City in the playoffs
"It was one of the best things to ever happen to Sturgis and Rapid City," said Ernie Conway of Sturgis in 2003. "The people really enjoyed it. The league had a good run in Rapid City and Sturgis. I remember seeing guys like Jim Palmer and Frank Howard. It was just great to see these young players develop, see some of them go to the major leagues and see some good baseball." - Rapid City Journal
Larry Bearnarth (Sturgis Titans, New York Mets player, former coach with Colorado Rockies): "Those were some of the
best years in my life. That was the time that I realized that baseball was what I wanted to be in. When I was there it was the
first year for Sturgis in the Basin League (1961). We were a bunch of kids away from home for a couple of months and the
people welcomed us with open arms. They were special people." - Rapid City Journal
Morris Hallock, a long-time Basin League supporter who helped get the Sturgis Titans franchise operating, recalled in 2003 the time they had problems finding a coach and then when they got one, couldn't wait to get rid of him.
"Sturgis needed a manager, so we ended up calling the Cape Cod League," recalled Hallock. "They told us there was a guy
in Maine . They said they didn't know him but he had good credentials. And the Red Sox endorsed him. The guy comes in
to Sturgis and he's insufferable. He goes to the Rotary Club and sounds off. He hates the community, he hates the Basin
League and the players. So we called a meeting and the board decided to terminate the contract. I brought the guy in and
told him he was fired. Of course, I had to go back to the same Rotary Club and ask the armchair admirals and ask them
'who wants to manage the Titans?'" - Rapid City Journal
National coverage of the league began in "The Sporting News".
February - Glenn Gostick, who was an assistant to Minnesota Gophers baseball coach, Dick Siebert, was named manager at Huron. He was a former catcher in the Northern League and had worked with the Minnesota Twins to stage clinics around the Upper Midwest. He had earlier turned down scouting and minor league jobs with the Twins.
Managers in the six-team league were: Al Kohorst (former Notre Dame player) - Rapid City [3rdyear]; Tom Hamilton (former A's player) - Watertown; Glenn Gostik - Huron; Jack Stallings (Wake Forest coach who had success in the Red Sox chain before polio cut that short) - Pierre; Stu Locklin (former Indians' player) - Sturgis and Harry Wise (Englewood, CO, coach and Orioles' scout) - Winner.
The manager could be the only professional on the team. The league aimed more for an all-collegian lineup. In 1961, two professionals were allowed on each team. That is a big change from six years ago when each club had to have a least six college players and the rest could be pros which the teams had as many as possible. But, the hustling collegians had since caught the fancy of the fans.
The 1962 schedule is for 50 games in 60 days. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams would meet for the playoff championship.
The park in Rapid City seated 4,166 and was valued at more then $150,000. A total of 616 box seats were included in the park all of which were sold out three months before the start of the season. The league's largest park was at Watertown with a capacity of 5,000, while the newest was at Sturgis, a year-old plant with 2,100 seats.
Quotes from the July 14 "TSN" [by Rapid City writer Don Lindner]: "Where the Indians once romped on the prairies of South Dakota, they're now playing baseball with an impact that reaches all the way to the major leagues. From all over the country, the nation's best college players come to play in the state's Basin League. It's a background of lonely plains, rich farmlands and scenic mountains all rolled into one. It's in this land of infinite variety that many a collegian has received his start toward a major league career.
"Most of the teams travel by air conditioned, chartered bus. It's a long ride some days...The longest distance between two cities is 360 miles - between Watertown and Rapid City. But these players, most of them out of their teens by one year, are shooting for the airplanes and fast trains of the major leagues...Major league scouts make their way into Basin League parks several times during a season. They like what they see.
"Reliable sources say that the LA Dodgers alone have spent more than a quarter of a million dollars in bonuses for Rapid City players in the last four years. Some of the scouts on hand for games this season say many of the present players have the potential to be playing in the big leagues in a few seasons. In fact, some players signed to play with Basin League teams this season suddenly weren't around. The big leagues snared them with fat bonuses. Arizona's Dan Schneider and Illinois' Tom Fletcher were among those who turned pro right after the college season. 'Every college player coming into the Basin League is hoping he'll make the pro grade some day,' says Don Quayle, business manager of the R.C. baseball organization. 'And probably every scout believes the player is a possibility.' Lesser-populated South Dakota, understandably, contributes little in player manpower. Team rosters are filled with the best players from practically every major collegiate conference in the nation. One major league farm director best summed up the league when he said it is 'the showcase of college baseball players.'
'This league certainly has the largest collection of outstanding players in the country,' says Al Steinmetz, R.C., the 1961 president of the league. 'For it's intensive schedule...this has to be the best college league in the country.' Other areas of the country closely study the success of the Basin League. Stenmetz has received inquiries seeking additional information on the operation of the collegian-dominated league. Western Canada, for example, is interested in forming such a circuit.
"Steinmetz an executive with a wholesale liquor concern who has been instrumental in keeping the league on an even keel, believes the Basin League has an even more important role. He feels the Basin League will take the place of the minor leagues. 'The major leagues are looking more to the college-level player as a building source,' he says. His argument compares favorably with that of the scouts and the farm directors who have seen the dashing college player in action. But it doesn't take an expert to see what the hustling player can do. Basin League fans have seen both the collegian and the fading professional on the same team.
"In 1957, the first year R.C. joined the league, each team had to carry at least six college players. The rest of the roster could be jammed with ex-pros. That year, R.C. had ten former pros. In succeeding years, this number dropped to three and then to two ex-pros. This season for the first time the only professional may be the manager. This steady change toward an all-collegian lineup has not only been favored by the fans but by each team's board of directors. [They] naturally like it from the standpoint that an ex-pro is more expensive. The fans prefer the hustling player who has a good chance to reach the Big Time as compared to the slipping professional. The league is sanctioned by the NCAA. The players are engaged in coaching and instructing youngsters in recreation programs in the league cities. The major leagues offer financial assistance to league headquarters. The money is used to offset administrative expenses.
"A schedule of 50 games a summer in South Dakota has met with approval from all sides. Weather is one major reason for the short schedule. The state has blustery springs and cool falls. Another favorable argument for the short season is that it doesn't interfere with track and football seasons. Still another reason is that the NCAA College World Series, held in early June, interferes. Each season, as many as ten league players participate in the national tournament.
"Except in R.C., the league cities are relatively small in population. Rapid City's pop is 42,400. Other populations are Huron 14,180, Watertown 14,077, Pierre 10,088, Sturgis 4,639 and Winner 3,705. Winner plays is a park named after Frank Leahy, the former Notre Dame football coach who once lived in this central S.D. town. S.D. may be small in population, but it's far from small in spirit and ruggedness. Take, for example, Sturgis, the home of Boston Red Sox outfielder Carroll Hardy. In exactly one year, Sturgis built a park which seats more than 2,000. Observers figure the park is worth $75,000. But when you subtract community donations and sore backs, it comes to about $18,000 in an actual cash outlay.
"How Basin League baseball can inject life into kids' baseball is illustrated in R.C. The kids' program was virtually dormant until Basin League baseball became a reality in 1957. The only uniformed players in R.C. in 1956 were 18 American Legion boys. Today, R.C. has 17 kids' parks and more then 1,500 youngsters playing little league, Colt league, Pony league and American Legion ball. Observers estimate that the total program has resulted in and annual business turnover of $400,000. Interest has been extremely high in R.C. In it's five seasons in the league, R.C. has averaged 1,696 fans a game. A total of 6,125 saw R.C. play on August 3, 1959, the league record for one game. [The team led the league in attendance from 1957-1961 exceeding 40,000 each season except one - 1961 when they drew 39,863. They never played more then 30 home games in any of those seasons]
June 14 - The league started their 10th season with cool, wet weather. Rapid City led the league in attendance at home openers with 1,750. Other openers drew 805 at Sturgis, 500 at Winner and Watertown and 400 at Huron.
June - A few nights after the opener, 4,000 fans came to the Watertown ball park [a Merchants and Professional Night
promotion] to watch the Lake Sox beat Winner 4-3. Chuck Bagby went the distance and got the win after Watertown
rallied for all of its runs in the final two frames.
Huron and Pierre had a good share of the nation's top collegians for early 1962. Huron enjoyed it's best success against Rapid City, a team that had won three championships in it's five years in the league. Of Huron's first five victories, three came against R.C.
July 5 - Pierre led the league with a 12-3 mark which was 3 games ahead of Winner who pulled from last place to second in less than ten days. They had a 7-game winning streak which matched Pierre's streak of the same number. In four straight games, Winner pitchers allowed a total of only one run cumulatively. Ron Krohn, Pete Craig and Bob Jenkins were the pitchers of whom manager Harry Wise said: "We've got the hardest throwing staff in the league." [Winner had won only one league pennant - ten years ago - and Pierre had never won one]
July 6 - Sturgis pitcher, Dick Joyce, threw the league's first no-hitter of the season. The 6'4", 210 pound 18-year-old had turned down a $100k offer to continue his education at Holy Cross. He walked three in the first inning, but a double play got him out of trouble.
July 12 - Pierre continued in first place with a 17-4 record which was 5 games in front of Winner. R.C. ended an 11-game losing streak, Winner had their 7-game winning end and Pierre had won 12-in-a-row before finally losing.
Bill Davis (U. of MN) led the league in hitting at .429 followed by Woody Woodward (Flor. State) with a .424 average. They both played for Pierre.
The ERA leader was Ron Krohn (Wisc.) for Winner with a 0.76 mark and the best record was John Crain's, of Huron and Texas A&M, at 3-0.
July 19 - Pierre's lead was at 4 ½ games (22-4) with Watertown (17-12) in second place.
Pierre had won playoff championships from 1957-1961. They won 15 of their first 16 games in 1962. Manager Jack Stallings said: "Our pitchers threw three straight shutouts and in one game we gave up only one run."
Woody Woodward took over the batting lead with a .386 average and Larry Bohannon had the best record at 4-0.
July 26 - Pierre (25-7) had a 8-game lead over Winner (16-14).
Wayne Pietri (Watertown by way of Loyola of New Orleans) led in batting with an average of .391 Woody Woodward (Pierre) was second at .346.
Northern League President Brooks Baukol criticized major league officials for allegedly underwriting support for semi-pro and amateur circuits such as the Basin League and proposed more financial support to league such as the Northern.
August 2 - Pierre (28-9) continued to lead Winner (19-16) by 8 games.
Huron became the hottest team in the league after the addition, one month ago, of pitcher Fritz Fisher and infielder Joe Jones from the NCAA College World Series winners Michigan U. Another player on that team, Denny Spalla, had to bow out with appendicitis. The Jims have gone from 8-13 to 18-19 including a 8-for-11 stretch. Manager Glenn Gostick was said to never leave the dugout and he records all of his team's mistakes on a tape recorder. "I'm not smart enough to remember all the mistakes." said Gostick.
John Quinn, son of long-time R. C. Chiefs and Basin League director Jim Quinn, recalled in 2003 the day in 1962 when he
had a hand in the Chiefs' first no-hitter, fired by John Ozbun:
"I was working part-time at the Journal then and the Journal correspondent at the game was always the official scorer," Quinn recalls. "In the seventh inning, I realize that our pitcher was hurling a no-hit game. In the eighth, the batter hits a low line drive and our fielder lunges at it. Henry Baker the announcer looks over at me and says 'what's the call'. I said 'it's an error because it hit the glove'. The pitcher ended with our first no-hitter. Baker told me I may want to leave the park quickly in case the hitter came looking for me. - Rapid City Journal
August 3 - Pierre's Tom Brown (Maryland U.) stole 5 bases in a game against Sturgis. In the 8th, he swiped 2nd and 3rd and scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
August - The league's board of directors extended the season by two days [from August 14 to August 16] because of the numerous rain outs.
August 9 - Pierre's (32-11) lead increased to 8 ½ games over Winner (23-19). Fifth placed Rapid City (16-27) appeared headed for their first non-playoff year.
August 6 - Pierre drew 1,450 fans for a night of appreciation of manager Jack Stallings and the league leading Cowboys. During a ceremony, South Dakota Governor Archie Gubbrud said: "In view of the competition in the Basin League, the Cowboys should certainly be congratulated for sewing up the pennant...this early. This is quite an accomplishment." With rain moving into the area, the ceremonies took 30 minutes and, by the 4thinning, Pierre's 3-2 lead and the game had been rained out.
Rapid City had 4,169 fans [Kid's night] in the stands for a come-from-behind victory over Winner. Five nights earlier, the Chiefs only drew 419.
August 7 - The Pierre Cowboys won their first ever league title when second placed Winner lost to Rapid City 10-9 thus
eliminating the Pheasants.
The Cowboys (34-15) finished 4 ½ games ahead of Pierre (27-19). Rainouts caused problems for the league as Rapid City was the only club to complete the 50-game schedule.
The top four teams, in the standings, advanced to the playoffs which were decided by two best-of-three series. In the playoffs first round, Huron qualified for the finals by defeating Watertown 9-7 and 8-4. Pierre won their first game over Winner 12-2, then the Pheasants rebounded for a 6-2 win which set-up the final game. Joe Sims' 2-run single decided the finale with the Cowboys victorious at 2-1.
The Cowboys beat Huron in the finals' opener 7-4 with the pitching of Earl Griffin. The Jims won game two 10-2 by way Bill Hancock's 4-for-4 night. In the deciding game, Pierre's Larry Bohannon pitched a 5-hit 3-0 gem. Pierre had won their fifth straight league playoff championship. It was the first time in five years that a team had won both the regular season title and the playoffs.
The league managers selected the following All-Star team: C -Lloyd Flodin (Water); 1b - Bill Davis (Pierre); 2b - Joe Jones (Huron); 3b - Ed Spiezio (Winner); SS - Woody Woodward (Pierre); OF - Bill Scripture (Pierre), Tom Brown (Pierre) and Wayne Pietri (Water); P - Fritz Fisher (Huron), Larry Bohannon (Pierre), Ron Krohn (Winner), Dick Joyce (Sturgis) and John Ozhun (?) (RC).
Bobby Bragan Jr. (Sturgis) was named the league's Most Valuable Player. He played at Mississippi State and was a third baseman/outfielder
Bobby Floyd (Winner) won the batting crown. Tom Brown set a league stolen base record with 25.
In the December 29 edition of "TSN", the following editorial appeared:
"The proposal for summer baseball league for collegians...presents intriguing possibilities. Not only would it fill a void in the diamond training of many college athletes, but it could be developed into an integral part of the program to produce talent for the majors. There long has been a small group among the official families of both organized ball and college athletics that has felt it was possible to work out an arrangement that would be eminently satisfactory to each organization as well as the athletes themselves.
"The proposed summer circuits would be a start. They could be operated completely apart for the collegiate program. There are numerous areas throughout the country boasting four, six or more schools of higher learning where travel could be held to a minimum and summer jobs for the boys who are available. The Basin League, which has operated for some time, serves much the same purpose. Standout collegians from all over the country perform there during the summer months. They pick up extra spending money by working as playground instructors, etc. and at the same time gain almost a full season's baseball experience against better-than-average competition.
"A number of major league clubs have contributed financial support to the Basin League, picking up the tab for certain expenses such as equipment. Some even have sent former minor league pilots there to instruct the players and serve as team managers. The plan to be presented by Walter Shannon, Cleveland scout, and Bob Stewart, St. Louis U. athletic director, to the NCAA convention next month - and later possibly to the majors - embraces the same ideas but on a more advanced plane.
"With the minor leagues continuing to decline, it would be well for the majors to give serious consideration to summer leagues for collegians, if and when the play is approved by the NCAA."
Watertown and Huron dropped out of the league before the season's schedule was determined. Both teams had won two league pennants apiece, but had to quit because of financial difficulties. Valentine, Nebr., re-joined the league with the hold-overs from 1962: Pierre, Rapid City, Sturgis and Winner.
Six major league organizations supported the league with financial contributions and had direct connect with the teams - the Dodgers at Rapid City, the Red Sox at Sturgis, the Orioles at Winner, the Cardinals at Valentine and the Indians and Giants jointly at Pierre. In return, the MLB clubs named the managers and assigned rosters to the teams they backed.
The season's 48-game schedule would start June 13 and deal with the odd-number team lineup of five. League officials were quoted as suggesting that Huron and Mitchell would return in '64 and Sioux Falls could also join, at that time, which would open up a big market for the league.
Only two managers returned form 1962 - Jack Stallings at Pierre and Harry Wise with Winner. Rapid City choose Kal Segrist [former star at U. of Texas and Yankees' bonus baby circa 1950] and Sturgis hired Bill Wilhelm [Clemson]. Valentine would be managed by Floyd Temple.
May 23 - Organized baseball contributed $50,000 for the operation of the National Collegiate Baseball Foundation which would establish the "Central Illinois League". The league would play in six cities in Illinois with collegiate players. The NCAA "certified" the league in addition to the Basin circuit.
League President Gordon Stout, of Pierre, said that the league should be more competitive in '63 as talent was more evenly distributed then the last season. For the first time, gate receipts will be split between all of the league teams. "Better financial balance will be achieved by the ten per cent gross gate receipt collections," Stout said. "These will be paid to the league office this year and then pro-rated back equally among the member clubs."
Pierre had only one returning player from 1962. Dick Joyce, who turned down a $!00k offer from Boston, would return to Sturgis. Bobby Doerr's son, Don, was to be on the Sturgis squad.
June 13 - Rob Snow (Sturgis - Oregon U) pitched a 4-hitter and struck out 12 in Sturgis' opening day home 4-0 win over Rapid City. The Titans drew 1,513 fans. RC's opener drew 1,147, Winner's 1,100, 900 attended Valentine's and there were 853 at Pierre's [Temple U's Larry Sheckman pitched a shutout for the Cowboys].
July 1 - All teams had to meet the league's 16-player limit.
July 3 - First place Winner (7-6) had a .005 percentage lead over Pierre (8-7). Thus far in the season, Pierre, Winner R.C. and Sturgis had all been in first place at one time or another.
July 8 - Jim Lonborg (Winner - Stanford) pitched the first no-hitter of the league in '63, but his team failed to win the game against Pierre. The Cowboys scored the game's only run in the 2nd inning on two walks and a sac fly. The winning pitcher was Larry Sheckman who struck out 16 and allowed only 4 hits.
July - Gary Fischer (Winner - Bradley) pitched a complete 4-hour, 11-minute 12-inning marathon defeating R.C. 7-6 for his 4th straight victory.
Eight hours after Dick Lemlee (Valentine - Minot State) pitched a 7-1 victory, he signed a bonus contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
July 11 - Winner (12-8) had a one game lead over Valentine (12-10).
July - Winner manager Harry Wise admitted: "This has to be the youngest team ever to play in the Basin League. We have seven college freshmen of 18 and 19 years of age, plus 17-year old high school phenom in Jim Palmer." The league was in awe of Palmer claiming he was one of hardest throwers they have ever seen. Wise, himself, was 14-2 with a 0.98 ERA for Yankton in 1955 and added: "We had 16 home runs in the first 15 games and Bobby Floyd hit safely in 14 of our first 15 games." The Pheasants Tony Alesci was the leading the league in hitting with a .400 average in 14 games.
July 18 - Winner (16-11) retained the league lead over Pierre (15-12) by one game.
Valentine manager Floyd Temple wore number 13 on his uniform. He said he had the same digit during 15 years of college and professional managing. "No, I'm not superstitious about no. 13" said the Kansas U. baseball coach. "I've always felt I did pretty well with no. 13. I guess I just like the number and have grown attached to it."
July 25 - Winner (19-13) still held a one game lead ahead of Pierre (18-14).
August - With 18 games left in the season, Sturgis manager Bill Wilhelm resigned and the Titans named Don Quayle to the position. He had helped R.C. gain three league championships as a player [in 1959 he hit .357]. From 1961-1962, he was their business manager. During the school year, Quayle was a S.D. high school coach. It was announced that Wilhelm left the last place team for "personal reasons". Sturgis president Morris Hallock said: "We regret losing Wilhelm. He's had more than his share of problems, but there is no use in continuing an unfortunate situation. We appreciate his patience and cooperation with us and wish him well." Quayle added: "We aren't concerned about our record. I feel the kids are eager. We're going to relax and swing away. I think we can hit better. We're starting out fresh."
August - Sturgis pitcher Jerry Vazendi (Maryland) threw a one-hitter against Pierre. Cowboys' Dan Predovic had the games' only hit in the 2nd inning.
Jim Palmer pitched a one-hitter over Rapid City for a 7-0 victory. [Palmer finished the season with a 4-3 mark.]
Jim Lonborg struck out 17 and beat Rapid City 6-3.
Jerry Vazendi whiffed 15 R.C. batters in 7 innings in a 13-1 win.
August 1 - Winner (22-14) held a 2 games lead over Valentine (23-17).
Larry Sheckman of Pierre led pitchers with a 7-0 record and Al Closter (Valentine) had a 2.22 ERA.
Tony Alesci (Winner) led batters with a .353 average and teammate Carl Morton had the league lead with homers at 10.
Scouting the league were Paul Richards, GM of Houston, and Tom Greenwade of the Yankees.
August 10 - Winner regained first place by beating Valentine 4-1 behind the relief arm of manager Harry Wise.
August 12 - To cut expenses, it was decided that two rained-out games, involving first place Winner, would not be made up and were forfeited by Sturgis and Pierre to the Pheasants and, without any fanfare, the season ended. Not since 1959, had the pennant race been so close. Winner, Valentine and Pierre were all in the race through out the season and Sturgis just edged out R.C. for the final spot in the playoffs. The Titans made a late rush under new manager Don Quayle to finish fourth.
Winner (30-18) finished first by one game over Valentine (29-19).
Larry Sheckman was the season's best pitcher with a 9-1 record.
Valentine's Al Montreuil, a 5'5" shortstop from Loyola of New of New Orleans, was the take-charge guy in the final stretch for the Hearts. He won the league's batting title and was named the league's MVP. In the player's balloting, Bill Davis was second and Al Closter tied with Bobby Bragan for third.
In the first round of the playoffs, Valentine trimmed Pierre 13-5 and 13-12 which ended the Cowboys' playoff championship streak at five. Sturgis, who had clinched a playoff spot in the season's last game, beat Winner 4-0 and 6-1 to make the finals.
In the finals, the Hearts beat Sturgis 4-2 and 7-5. The finale was pitched by Al Closter who went the route. Valentine's Ken
Suarez (Florida State) and Jim Jarvis (Oregon State) homered during the game.
Dave Campbell (Sturgis Titans, Tigers, Padres, Cardinals, Astros, now a baseball analyst): "I remember the old Basin League. There were a lot of good players in the league, Jim Palmer for one. When he pitched, the sun set behind the outfield fence. We didn't see the ball for the first three or four innings. Jimy Williams (former Red Sox and Astros manager) was our shortstop. I roomed with Bobby Braeger and we had twins on our team, John and Jim Sevcik (Minnesota Twins). They were a lot of fun. My parents came out that summer and we did the tourist thing. I remember Mount Rushmore and the Hills very well. It was a fun summer and I had a pretty good year. I had so few good years, so the good ones like my time in the Basin League do stand out." - Rapid City Journal
In the August 31 edition of "TSN", an article regarding collegiate summer baseball appeared. Some excerpts:
"...This year, 50 summer teams for college players were certified by the NCAA, including six in the CIC [Central Illinois Collegiate], five in the Basin League in South Dakota and Nebraska and four in the Cape Cod League in Massachusetts. As far as NCAA records show, only the CIC and the Basin League received financial assistance from professional baseball.
"The 20 major league clubs, cooperating through Commissioner Frick's office, joined in supporting the CIC, each contributing $2,500 to the non-profit Collegiate Baseball Foundation, which supervised expenditure of the money. The Basin League was financed by six major league clubs, acting individually. They provided $4,000 for each franchise, turning funds over to the U.S. Baseball Federation, which channeled the money to the Basin League's office.
"As the GM of a club interested in both summer leagues, Bing Devine of the Cardinals said: 'Financial support from professional baseball as a whole seems a more wholesome, logical approach to the situation. The CIC was set up as a pilot league and, whatever the cost, it has been both practical and justified for the first year of its operation. However, before the idea can be expanded, it will be necessary to study the whole player-development program and determine how it fits into the overall picture.'
"Commissioner Frick...decreed a 'hands-off' policy by pro baseball to emphasize 100% compliance with all NCAA regulations. As a result, Walter Shannon, Midwestern supervisor of scouts for the Indians, who was a co-founder with Stewart of the Collegiate Baseball Foundation, was required to disassociate himself from the program. However, as part of his scouting duties, Shannon looked over the talent in both the CIC and Basin leagues.
"The 11-year-old Basin League had a jump in recruiting players over the CIC, which delayed in getting underway, but Shannon said no more than six of Basin League's collegians shaped up as major league material. He felt an equal number played in the CIC.
"GM Paul Richards of the Colts, commenting on the summer development leagues in a letter to Shannon said: 'There may be come clubs which are opposed to these leagues because of the fact that they are not well stocked with prospects. This could be true and probably will always be true. However, any time you have a large group of boys playing baseball, some of them will have a chance to become major leaguers. An important factor in these leagues, one we certainly should not overlook, is the enthusiasm of the particular areas for baseball. We may not be developing as many prospects as we like, but we may be getting our money's worth through the interest in the game that fans and players alike generate.'
"...As for expansion, Stewart was of the opinion that the CIC League, the Basin League and two others would be sufficient to take care of professional baseball's requirements. 'It may be possible for the Basin League to affiliate with our program. We should have one league in the East, possibly the Cape Cod League and we should establish one in the West,' Stewart said. 'This will have to be worked out to protect the future fo baseball.'"
Jim Palmer, in his book"Palmer and Weaver - Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine", did not write about his being homesick, but did include other memories of the 1963 season, as follows:
"...Bobby Winkles [Arizona State baseball coach]...came to me and said, 'You're too good [in 1963] for the American Legion tams around here. You won't get any better playing with them. I've got five guys who go to ASU going up to the college league in South Dakota. I want you to go up there.' So, I go. Remember, I'm seventeen, and at seventeen you don't think you're being faced with making a rational career decision. You think, you're just playing another sport in another season and, hey, you'll see what happens. (Which, it turns out, is not a bad way to go through life, since rational career decisions rarely get decided rationally anyway, but that'll become pretty clear as my not-so-rational career goes on.) So, I drive my little red Corvair up to Winner, South Dakota.
"Everybody else up there is older than I am, nineteen or twenty. Very mature. There are 2,500 in Winner (which leads everybody who's ever been there and escaped to the obvious jokes about how many losers are in Winner). Now to satisfy the NCAA inspectors, we're supposed to work during the day and play ball at night. And we get $300 a month. But nobody really had a job. Five of us lived in this basement apartment with a game warden living above us. There are four girls in town, two restaurants, one movie, no TV, no air-conditioning, and the temperature is always about a hundred. We'd go to sleep at four A.M. and get up at noon and the game warden would take us out to shoot prairie dogs for sport. The prairie dogs always lost.
"One day the assistant manager of the team comes to our door sometime before noon and says, 'The NCAA inspector's coming so you guys have to go to our jobs.' In unison, me and my four more mature experienced roommates say, 'What jobs?' He says, 'Palmer, you're on the grounds crew . Tony Alessi, you work for the park. Tom Hamm, you're the lifeguard at the pool...' So we go to our 'jobs' which we're not particularly good at since we've never done them before. And the inspector comes around. He's sitting in his car up on the top of his bowl that rings the field below, just like the cars [that] sit up there every night to watch games and flash their lights and honk their horns. (This is a little town that lives for baseball.) And he's watching us trip over the rakes and pretend to study the rocks in the outfield and taste the lime to make sure it's not 'lemon'.
"Then he goes to the pool and asks if Tom Hamm is the lifeguard. The woman who runs it says, 'No, but he's a darn fine swimmer and a nice boy. I'm sure if someone was drowning, he'd help them.' So now the inspector goes to the little restaurant in town which the part-owner of the team also part-owns, and he sees about half the team in there having lunch, which on our schedule was breakfast. He gets the whole picture and the NCAA cracked down after that. We really had to do our jobs. Kind of.
"But the team was good. This is real baseball. Bobby Floyd, our shortstop, ended up playing for the Orioles. Merv Rettenmund, who is now [in 1996] a hitting instructor with San Diego, hit over .300 with the Orioles in '70 and '71, and he was my catcher and also played in the outfield. Carl Morton went to the big leagues. Jim Lonborg, from Sanford, won the Cy Young Award in 1967. We had five or six guys go on to major league careers. But, at the moment, we're in a best-of-three playoff. I'm supposed to pitch the third game, if there is one. We lose the first game 1-0. Okay, what's the incentive to win the championship? Even at the lowest level, you've got to have a carrot. A ring. A bonus. A trophy. An award. A ceremony. Or, in this case...mileage. Yes, mileage. A gas allowance. If we lose, we get nine cents a mile for the drive home. If we win, we get thirteen cents a mile. So, to get four cents a mile, we have to stay in four-girl, two-restaurant, no-air-conditioning, no-TV, hundred-degree, dead-prairie dog, Winner, South Dakota, for an extra week. Some incentives don't work as well as others.
"It's Game 2 in Sturgis, South Dakota (which may be Winner's illegitimate sister city). And, if we're lucky enough to win the second game, we get to stay and play the third one right there in lovely Sturgis (where we can meet their four girls). Harry Dalton, who's farm director for the Orioles, has driven all the way there (I wonder how much he got per mile) to see me pitch that third game. But it doesn't look like there's going to be a third game because in the second game (1) we're already behind, (2) the bases are loaded, and (3) the three best hitters in the league are coming up. We're facing the harsh reality of losing, of only getting nine cents a mile, and of being forced to leave lovely Sturgis and Winner and anyplace else that ends in "Dakota". We're distraught. Okay, maybe we're ecstatic.
"I pitch one inning of the game and strike out the first two batters. The third one grounds out to the shortstop, and Harry Dalton decides I'm one of the guys the Orioles want to sign. We lose and I win. Now we drive back from Sturgis to Winner in the three team station wagons and get there at about 5:30 in the morning. We go to the team-owner's restaurant for breakfast, get our $300 for our 'jobs' plus our nine cents a mile, and the five guys form Arizona State head out for the 1,300-mile drive to Scottsdale. Skip Hancock, who later got an $80,000 bonus from the Dodgers, has two other guys in his Ford Falcon, and I've got me and Louie Lagunis, an All-American second baseman, in my red Corvair.
"We drive and drive and drive some more. Sixteen, seventeen hours. Mostly Louie is sleeping and I'm driving. Finally, about three hundred miles from Phoenix, around Four Corners, Louie says, 'You sleep, I'll drive.' It must be about 7:30 in the morning, so we'd been up for almost two days counting our escape from Sturgis. But we're young and we can do anything. Plus we don't waste a lot of time on stuff like thinking. Louie is driving...and I'm half-awake...and it's open range...and we're on an elevated highway with on fences and cattle crossings...and I'm half-asleep...and Bobby Vinton is singing 'Blue Velvet' on the radio...And my eyes click open. We're going sideways at sixty miles an hour across the left lane, headed right over the side of the highway into I-don't-know-where. Louie, wakes up and grabs it. Too late. The car careens off the read, rolls and bounces and flips down into this gully. There were no seat belts, so my head hits the ceiling and we roll over three times and now we're upside down, in the backseat of the red Corvair along with our golf clubs and suitcases.
"I say, 'Louie, are you all right?' And he says, sort of groggy, 'Yeah, You?' I say, I'm fine,' but I don't really know since I hit my head three times. There's this little twelve-inch window in the back, and I try to crawl out. In the meantime, Skip and his buys have pulled up and jumped out to get us. I cut my knee and Louie cut his arm. And this Indian on a horse rides by and Skip asks him if he'll trade a demolished car with crushed doors, no windshield, and bent wheels for his horse. No deal. Finally, this other guy rides up and gets the car, or whatever Ralph Nader would call it at that point, towed to some burial ground, and we hop in Skip's car and drive to Phoenix. I call my mother, get stitched up, and finally go home."
[Many former ballplayers embellished their stories about the "old days" and Jim Palmer appears to be one. In any case, he signed with the Orioles within days of returning to Arizona and was back in South Dakota playing for Aberdeen the next year.]
January - "TSN" reported that the NCAA announced that Pierre and Rapid City had been "certified", but Winner, Sturgis and Valentine had not been because of failing to comply with NCAA regulations. The association left open the door for their possible certification at a later date.
"TSN" also printed information indicating that the NCAA hoped to set up summer leagues in New England and in the NY-PA area, but the plans were tentative.
February - A ominous signed for the league appeared in the Feb. 29 edition of "TSN": "The Basin League was back in the good graces of the NCAA, but conditions have been laid down that may make it difficult for the summer circuit to continue in operation." The article explained that the previous refusal of the association to certify all of the teams in the league (specifically Winner, Sturgis and Valentine) were based on violations of employment rules governing college players. The league then submitted a reorganization plan which was lenitively approved by the NCAA. It provided for an employment program which will give the amateur players 32 hours of work a week. In addition, a league commissioner post would be established to regulate and enforce all league rules.
The NCAA also prohibited any further direct contact between major league baseball and individual teams. They could no longer name the managers and choose the rosters. "With their tie-ups dissolved, it is questionable whether the six [or five] clubs will be willing to continue financing the league on an individual basis. Basin League officials are hopeful, however, that money can be obtained on an 'institutional' basis, similar to Organized Ball's support of the CIC League."
March - The Minnesota Twins promised to pay most of the expenses of a colligate summer baseball league in Minnesota to be run by Dick Siebert who was the baseball coach at the University of Minnesota. The Twins would give each club $2,500 for operating expenses plus uniforms, bats and balls. NCAA employment rules would have to be followed by the league players. Obviously, this league would reduce the number of players available to the Basin League.
As of the March 21 edition of "TSN", it was announced that NCAA had not yet certified the Basin League for operation. The league was still hoping to get the "OK" and expand to six or eight teams.
Besides the proposed Minnesota college league, other groups, including one from the Western Canadian League, were seeking funds from MLB for operations. The NCAA announced that any league must be certified by the association and it "... shall be denied to any team receiving financial assistance from a professional baseball club; however, it is permissible for a team or league to receive financial assistance form the fund administered by the National Collegiate Baseball Foundation or United States Baseball Federation." Of course, the intent of the rule was to prohibit direct financial assistance by a major league club.
The NCAA also further specifically required: "a) Only teams made up completely of amateur players will be certified. For purposed of these requirement, an amateur player is identified as one not under current professional contract or receiving compensation for playing. There shall be no assignment of players by professional baseball clubs; b) Only teams employing college, high school or recognized amateur coaches or managers will be certified; c) Participants in organized summer baseball leagues may hold jobs which are necessary in their nature and function; d) The student-athlete must have opportunity to be gainfully employed for at least 32 hours per week on a real and necessary job: compensation paid to said student-athlete for work performed shall be commensurate with the going rate for that locale for services of like character and shall be given only for services actually performed; e) The team may pay the student-athlete's actual round-trip transportation costs (by direct route) between...[his]...home locality and the home locale of the team; also, the team may provide transportation to out-of-town games and reasonable meals and lodging if necessary on such trips; f) In those instances of intra-league or inter-league playoffs, there shall be no cash allowance or bonus given to any student-athlete."
The associate further stated: "In order to provide a reasonable adjustment period and permit summer baseball competition for college student-athletes, the committee has been patient with operators of summer baseball leagues and teams during the introductory years of this program."
April - Subject to final certification by the NCAA, the league announced that Sioux Falls would join the league as its sixth member. Work was under way on a new ballpark there. All of last years teams would return.
The league had proposed that funds to help operate the league [from the Red Sox, Dodgers, Giants, Orioles and Cardinals] but be funneled threw the U.S. Baseball Foundation and be given directly to the league office.
The preliminary schedule indicated a 50-game schedule that would begin June 12.. Jack Stallings had signed to return as
manager of Pierre and Sioux Falls would be led by Joe Justice who was the baseball coach at Rollins University in Winter
Park, FL Eddie Lyons (Upsala College) was named manager at Rapid City.
April 28 - Finally, the NCAA gave the Basin League its approval to operate in 1964, but under the association's new rules. Another change required all major league financial subsidies to be channeled through the National Collegiate Baseball Foundation as was done for the Central Illinois Collegiate League in 1963.
The NCAA also decided that all managers must be coaches from their affiliated colleges. Apparently, high school coaches could no longer be hired [there were various interpretations of that rule because other collegiate leagues did have managers who were high school coaches]. Also, several commissioner candidates were being considered to ride herd on the clubs to follow all of the new stringent rules.
June 6 - Glenn "Bud" Daniel was named commissioner of the league. He was a coach at Wyoming U. and a past president
of the American Association of College Baseball Coaches. The appointment was announced by George Shiebler who was
the chairman of the NCAA's Summer Baseball Committee. Shiebler also said that there will be on-the-spot examination of
the league and it's teams to judge their operations.
The NCAA also certified six teams in the CIC, ten in the Cape Cod League, six in the St. Louis Baseball League and four in the Western Canada League. In addition, it approved eleven independent teams. The Minnesota League had not yet been certified.
June - The NCAA certified Dick Siebert's Midwest Collegiate League which would operate in four "resort" towns in Minnesota and North Dakota. The league would be partially funded by the Minnesota Twins who agreed to pay $3,000 to each team for equipment. The teams would be located in Little Falls, Wadena and Alexandra, MN, and Wahpeton, ND. Glenn Gostick, former manager in the Basin League, would led the Wadena team. In addition, the association certified three more teams in VA [Valley League].
June 14 - The league opened it's 12th season with Dixie Walker, Jr. [Auburn freshman coach] at the helm of the Winner Pheasants, Tom Petroff (Rider College) at Sturgis and Tim Wilson (Temple) leading Valentine. Harry Wise and Don Quayle could not return from 1963 because of NCAA's rules prohibiting high school coaches. The season would end on August 12 and the league would have it's headquarters in Rapid City. Many of the '64 players were late to arrive because the NCAA World Series in Omaha had many rain-delayed games.
Rapid City drew 1,636 at their opener as the Chiefs beat Sioux Falls 2-1 in 11 innings. Lance Tobert (Wisc.) pitched into the 11th for R.C. striking out 15.
In Sturgis, whose attendance was 1,107, S.F.'s Dennis Della Piana (Mass.) had 5 hits and 5 RBI to lead the Packers over the Titans 12-6.
Valentine, with 1,300 in attendance, beat Winner 6-0 with Chuck Dobson (Kansas) on the mound. He allowed only 5 hits and struck out 16.
Only 420 attended Winner's home opener, but the home team killed Valentine 19-6. Larry Tipton (Tenn.) hit a grand slam and Al Choate (Sam Houston) had a 7-hitter.
Pierre had only a crowd of 600 for their 5-4 victory opener over Sturgis. Bobby Bragan hit a 3-run homer for the Titans.
June 15 - A tornado hit Valentine snapping three light towers at the Hearts' park and forced postponement of games for almost ten days while repairs were made. Repairs cost $3,000.
June 24 - Rapid City held the early lead in the standings with a 5-2 record which was one game ahead of Sturgis.
Thus far in the season, the batting leader was Shaun Fitzmaurice (Sturgis - Notre Dame) who hit safely in the team's first nine games. His average was .471 and the fleet-footed center fielder [could run the "100" in 9.8 sec.] had 4 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs, 22 RBI and 3 stolen bases. [He had led all collegians in triples with 10 in NCAA action earlier in the year.]
July 1 - Sioux Falls (8-5) led the league by a .013 percentage over Pierre (9-6). Sturgis (7-5) was only one-half game behind them.
July - The Sioux Falls Packers set a league record when they scored 35 runs in a 35-5 win over Winner. The Packers scored 10 runs in the 2nd inning and had two seven-run frames. Only one-half the runs were earned as the Pheasants committed 9 errors.
The next night, George Dugan (Murray State) struck out 19 for S.F. during a 7-3 win over Winner.
Minnesota U. outfielder Dave Hoffman hit a grand slam for Pierre in the 8th inning to break a 8-8 tie and give the Cowboys a 7-game winning streak. In earlier games, Hoffman had hit a homer in the 12th inning to beat RC 7-6 and, in another game, he went 3-for-3, scored 4 runs, stole 2 bases and had one RBI.
July 8 - Sturgis (13-7) took a ½ game lead over Pierre (12-7).
Fitzmaurice still led the league in hitting at .491 with 27 RBI [he had hit .266 last year for Sturgis].
July 6 - Sturgis beat S.F. 4-3 in 14 innings.
July 7 - Shaun Fitzmaurice's 19-game hitting streak ended. He was stopped by Valentine's Ron Lea. Also, Pierre's winning streak ended at 8 games. During the streak, the Cowboys were led by the pitching of George Dugan who pitched a 7-hitter over Pierre and had the 19-strikeout game mentioned above.
July 8 - Tim Thompson pitched all 11 innings for a 6-5 win by Pierre over Rapid City. After the game, Thompson (4-2) returned to Alabama U.
July 9 - Pierre drew 2,559 for a 5-3 win over Sturgis. During the game, the Cowboys stole four bases including one of home by Del Unser (Miss. State).
July - Sioux Falls played their first game at their new park and 1,696 fans attended. The Packers had been playing their home games at nearby Renner. Pierre beat the home team 4-1.
July 15 - Sturgis and Pierre were tied for the league lead with 16-9 records. Sioux Falls (11-10) was 3 games back.
"TSN" asked many major league scouts for their August 1 edition if the CIC League had reached the performance quality of the Basin League. Some of the scouts said "yes" and others said "no". The paper promoted the idea of a season-ending All Star game between the two leagues and other games between teams from the other collegiate leagues.
July - Sturgis and Steve Clark had their 5-game winning streaks ended when Valentine's Jim Folsom won a 5-hitter over the Titans.
July 22 - In 99-degree heat and with a home crowd in Sioux Falls of under 100, S.F. beat Pierre 3-2 in a league record 19-inning game. Art Marcell (Western Mich.) singled to drive in John Sluka to end the 5-hour and 10-minute marathon. Packers' pitcher Don Sutton came into the game in the 7th inning and pitched through the 19th holding the Cowboys to zero runs. He gave up a few scratch hits, walked 2 and struck out 15.
Valentine's Tim Suarez (Flor. State) hit a home run in the Hearts' park that cleared both the inner and outer fences. It was only the second time a Basin Leaguer had accomplished that. The other was Frank Howard in 1957.
July 29 - Sturgis (25-11) held a nice 4 ½ game lead over Pierre (21-16).
August - The "Rapid City Journal" published a poll of league managers to determine an All Star team for the league. Those chosen were:
C - Ron Wojciak (Pierre - Minn.); 1b - George Kalafatis (Winner - Long Island); 2b - Stirling Coward (RC - Kansas); 3b - Jim Barfield (RC - Auburn); SS - Jim Williams (Sturgis - Fresno St.); OF - Shaun Fitzmaurice, Dale Mitchell (Valentine), Carl Morton (Winner);P - Ernie Abels (Sturgis - St. John's of NY), Steve Clark (Sturgis - Oregon St.), Chuck Dobson (Valentine) and George Dugan (SF).
August - Valentine was making a run at the pennant by winning four of six including a 13-9 victory over Sturgis. During the game, Dale Mitchell and Dick Fernandez (Manatee Jr. College) each had four hits in the Hearts' 20-hit attack.
Sturgis drew 3,613 for Merchants Night which was a club record [besting their 1961 opening day crowd of 2,600]. The Titans beat Winner 9-1 on a 5-hitter by Steve Clark.
August 5 - Sturgis (27-16) led Pierre (25-18) by 2 games and Valentine (23-20) by 4.
Shaun Fitzmaurice was still leading the league in batting with a .404 average. He was on schedule to beat the league record of .390 by Frank Howard in 1957. Fitzmaurice was also tied for the home run lead with Merv Rettenmund (Winner - Ball St.) at 11.
August 12 - Sturgis (31-19) won the pennant by four games over Pierre (27-23). The Titans had never won a pennant nor had they had a winning season since their entry into the league.
Shaun Fitzmaurice set a league record with 54 RBI by hitting a 3-run home run on August 10. Hal Holland held the old record of 53 when he played for Mitchell in 1960. Fitzmaurice also set records for most hits - 77 [old record was 74 by Len Van De Hey of Huron in 1960], total bases [old record by Holland of 132] and 10 triples [old record of Fred Woessner of Sturgis in 1961]. He also won the batting title with an average of .361 and led the league in runs scored (52).
In the first round of the playoffs, Valentine beat Sturgis two games to none and Sioux Falls swept Pierre in games 2-0.
The final playoff series was won by Sioux Falls in three games over Valentine.
February 2 - Major league baseball announced that they would increase the amount available for collegiate summer baseball to $75,000. The funds would continue to be administered by the National Collegiate Baseball Foundation, but there was no word on which leagues would be sharing the money. The contribution would be used only for bats, baseballs, uniforms, other equipment, umpire's salaries and other league expenses. This year, major league organizations would recommend the outstanding college players to the foundation and they would be passed on to the leagues and teams in the program.
The co-organizer of the collegiate foundation, Walt Shannon, commented on the proposed expansion of collegiate summer leagues: "It's fine to talk about expansion, but I would like to see the summer program confined to three well-organized, well-financed quality leagues...It is intended to bring hand-picked players together to compete in schedules of 50 to 60 games under almost professional conditions. With the challenge of top flight competition, they can improve their skills as college players and also determine for themselves if they are good enough to enter the pro field...The Basin League and the Central Illinois League have set the standards and they should be continued with another league added to them. If we have learned anything about summer baseball in the last few years, we ought to apply the lessons to improving the program, but this is not the time to add a lot of new leagues. These league require organizational and financial help. It would be great if they were self-supporting. We'd all be for that. But they are not and baseball would have to step in and help by providing subsidies, just as we do in the minor leagues...If any league is near self-supporting, it is the Basin League. It has a history of good attendance and dedicated local leadership. Everything should be done to enable it to continue."
March - Basin League officials were quoted in "TSN" as stating that the league would operate in 1965 and all six teams
would return. They were even hoping to add two more from a list of Huron, Mitchell, Watertown or Aberdeen. Attendance
was said to be remarkably good in all cities, but travel expenses ran high. [The longest road trip was 400 miles from Rapid
City to Sioux Falls.] Sturgis averaged 1,000 fans in '64 and Rapid City, nine times larger, had 1,400. Jack Stallings had
already decided to return as manager to Pierre and Floyd Temple (K. State) was signed at Rapid City.
March 3 - The board of directors of the National Collegiate Baseball Foundation met, but legal questions prevented final allocation of the $75,000 from major league baseball to the collegiate leagues. However, it was reported that the Basin League would receive $30,000, the CIC $25,000 and $10,000 would go to the Midwest Collegiate League (MN-ND). [The funds would be distributed in three installments - June, July and August.] The remaining $10,000 would probably be held in a reserve fund for administrative or further equipment expenses. [These allocations were finalized during an April 4 meeting.]
April 4 - The National Collegiate Baseball Foundation issued rule changes for the upcoming season: Only two players from one school will be allowed on each team receiving aid from the foundation. [The rule in '64 was that a manager could only have three players from his own college team on his summer club. There was no limitation regarding the number of players from one college on any one summer team.]. In addition, a letter of intent would have to be signed by a player promising that he would play for one specific summer team. This would eliminate any disputes over distribution of players. Finally, any player who played in a league in 1964 and wished to change leagues, would have to get written permission from the league he was last associated with.
June - In league openers, R.C. drew 1,416 for their largest opening crowd. In 15 innings, the Chiefs beat Valentine 3-2 on a single by Fred Moulder (Okla. St.). In other games, Pierre had an attendance of 957, Sturgis 710, SF 706, Valentine 550 and Winner 400. Rain curtailed the crowds.
All teams from 1964 returned and Bud Daniel continued as league commissioner and the league president was Morris Hallock.. Harry Wise returned as manager of Winner and Don Quayle at Sturgis. Joe Justice managed S.F. and Jim Railey (Utah St.) led Valentine.
Rapid City lost Sal Bando as he signed with the A's instead of playing on the Chiefs.
Sioux Falls' roster included eight players with past Basin League experience incl. Ed Maris (S.D. St.), Dick Fernandez, Art Marcell and Don Sessions.
Rapid City's new manager, Floyd Temple [K. State coach], recruited six Big Eight players for his team incl. pitchers Fred Chana and Steve Renko.
June 23 - R.C. (5-1) took an early one game lead over Sturgis (6-4).
June - Rapid City's Steve Renko (Kansas) pitched the league's first no-hitter for the season. The Chiefs won the game 4-2 with their opponents' (Winner) getting their runs on an error and sac fly. Sturgis' John Olagues had a one-hitter on the same night beating SF 8-0.
In his first three games, Bob Reed (Sturgis - Mich. State) struck out 43 and won all of the games.
The Orioles signed Sturgis pitcher John Rawls, the Yankees R.C. chucker Stan Bahnsen and the Tigers Tom Hamm of Winner.
June 30 - Sturgis (10-6) held a 1 ½ games lead over Rapid City (7-6).
July - Rapid City had lost 5 in-a-row and then reversed fortunes by winning 5 straight.
Sioux Falls' new park was dedicated although games where played there in '64. A fan total of 1,805 saw the hometown Packers loss to Pierre 7-2.
Sturgis' shortstop missed two games because a fall from a horse.
July 7 - Sturgis (12-7) maintained a 2 games lead ahead of R.C. and Pierre (both at 10-9).
Steve Renko signed with the Mets which made 5 players lost by the league to that point in 1965. Of those players who played in 1964, 28 had signed pro contracts.
July 9 - Tom Shannon (Sturgis - Flor. St.) led the league in hitting at .361 in 12 games. Barnes (also at Sturgis) had the best ERA at 0.87 in 21 innings.
July 14 - Sturgis (14-10) hung on to the league's lead only ½ game ahead of R.C. (14-11).
July - In a two-game series in Pierre, R.C.'s first baseman, Ted Bashore (UCLA) drove in 7 runs and took over the league's batting lead (.355) at the halfway point of the season. He has had two 9-game hitting streaks.
Fred Moulder (RC - Okla. St.) and Matt Galante (Pierre - St. Johns [NY]) had 14-game hitting streaks. Del Unser (Pierre - Miss. St.) reached base 8 straight times.
July 13 - Bill Dillman (Pierre) led the loop's pitchers with a 4-0 record.
July 21 - Rapid City (19-12) took over the top spot in the league's standings 2 games over Pierre (16-13). Sturgis (16-14) fell to 4th.
Bashore led league batters with a .366 average. Rusty Adkins was second at .342. Don Cook had a 0.66 ERA to lead pitchers.
July - A season high of 3,100 attended a RC game as it was "bat night". Winner had a crowd of 3,000 for "Merchants Night."
Pierre ace pitcher Bill Dillman signed with the Orioles.
July 28 - Winner (20-13) led Pierre and Rapid City (both at 20-16) by 1 ½ games.
Ted Bashore continued to lead the league in hitting with a .376 average.
August - Winner had an 8-game winning streak. Sturgis drew the year's biggest crowd - 4,104 for a Merchants Night.
Paul Coleman (Valentine - Cal Poly) struck out 17 Winner batters during a 11-2 win.
Sioux Falls lost 9 in-a-row.
Ted Bashore set a new R.C. club mark with his 26th extra base hit. Frank Howard held the old record of 24.
August 3 - During 16 1/3 innings of relief, Pierre's Scott Morton (IA St.) struck out 25 batters to set a league record. The Cowboys beat S.F. 5-3 in 24 innings. He entered the game in the 8th inning, was removed in the 24th and got credit for the win. Morton allowed 8 hits and did not walk anyone and, at one point, struck out 10-straight. The old strikeout mark was by Al Closter (Valentine) who struck out 24 in 18 innings in 1964.
August - Pony Night in Rapid City drew 4,650 fans as they lost to Pierre 13-1.
August 4 - Winner (23-15) had only a ½ game lead over Rapid City (25-18).
August - Sioux Falls interrupted a 13-game losing streak when they beat the touring Alaska Goldpanners in an exhibition game. Then, in their next league game, put the official end to their slide with a 2-0 win over Winner.
August 11 - Rapid City (27-18) held a 1 game lead over Winner (25-18).
Ted Bashore broke a league record with his 19th double of the season. It broke Gene Gianinni's (Mitchell) record from 1960.
Mitchell hosted a league game between Sioux Falls and Pierre and drew 1,300 fans. Sioux Falls was rumored to return to the Northern League and Mitchell had expressed interest in returning to the Basin.
Ted Bashore led league's batters with a .373 average and Bob Speer was second at .326. Don Cook led pitchers with a 1.33 ERA while Hilts had an 8-1 record.
Rapid City (30-19) won the pennant for the first time since 1960. In second place was Pierre (29-21) 1 ½ games behind.
Only five batters hit better then .300 including Rusty Adkins at .323, Matt Galante at .317 and Jim Armstrong who hit .311.
Ted Bashore won the hitting title at .361 [he then signed with the Braves] and the runner up was Bob Speer (.350). Carl
Shreiner (Val) won the homer crown with 12.
Don Cook finished with the best ERA of 1.29 and Bob Reed led the league in strikeouts with 136. John Hilts and Reed had the most victories with 8.
In the first round of the playoffs, Sturgis beat R.C. two games to one and Pierre beat Winner by the same games count.
In the final series, Pierre also beat Sturgis two games to one to win playoffs for the 6th time.
September - A September 25 editorial in "TSN" stated: "We have been reviewing reports on the recent college summer baseball season and have found some disquieting indications that the program may be in trouble due to growing pains...Two principal problems confront the foundation [National Collegiate Baseball Foundation] - and the major leagues - in their planning for 1966
"The first is the proliferation of college leagues to the point that at least ten were in operation the past season with several others being proposed for next summer. Obviously, all hope to dip into the major league gravy. A responsible official os the..foundation recently said, 'I feel that a change is needed in the original philosophy of the NCBF so as to take in and assist all the college summer baseball leagues in the country.' The adoption of such a proposal would kill the goose that laid the golden egg. The major leagues could not possibly finance the entire summer baseball program...There are scarcely enough outstanding college prospects to man three leagues, much less ten or more...The NCAA is aware of the situation...and we hope its views will prevail when the [foundation] directors hold their next meeting on October 3.
"The geographical concentration of the three principal leagues in the Midwest is the other problem, but this easily can be solved, once the foundation's board affirms that the objective of the program is to develop prospects for major league baseball. To cut down on the costs of transporting players from their homes to their clubs and back again, one league should be established in the East and one in the West. The Basin League, by far the oldest and most successful of all the summer circuits, should definitely be continued in the Midwest. The CIC League may merit further existence - if the majors decide they can afford the luxury of four summer loops.
"We believe that the summer program has shown its value as an integral part of baseball's player development activities, but we urge everyone involved to concentrate for success, rather than expand for failure."
October 3 - The National Collegiate Baseball Foundation elected to drop support of the Upper Midwest League [started by Dick Siebert] and move the financial subsidy to the California Collegiate League which had been operating for three years in Long Beach, San Fernando, Downey, Gardenia, Ontario and Anaheim. Support to The Basin League and CIC League would continue. Tentative plans were for a total increased budget of $125,000. [The final figure allocated was $30,000 to the Basin League, $25,000 to the CIC and $2,500 to CCL.]
Based on the idea of additional support, talk began regarding expanding the Basin. However, it was written in "TSN" that
the league's budget was $172,000 in 1965, of which the $30,000 from the NCBF was only a small amount.
June - League secretary Jim Quinn said: "This may be our strongest year ever." However, they would operate with only six teams again as Sioux Falls joined the Northern League and Mobridge replaced them. The season would open on June 12.
Possible financial problems would surface because the major league's support did not increase from $30,000 and more was needed to offset continuing high operating expenses particularly in the cost of transportation.
Managers for '66 would be: Mobridge - Buzzy Keller (Texas Lutheran coach); Pierre - Jack Stallings; Valentine - Jim Railey; RC - Floyd Temple; Winner - Harry Wise and Sturgis - Don Quayle.
Returning players included Rusty Adkins and Matt Galante at Pierre and Jim Armstrong to Valentine. Pitchers returning included Bob Reed, Don Cook and John Hilts.
Another new rule from the NCAA made it impossible for college seniors to play in the league which meant Bob Speer could not return. However, the NCAA agreed to allow league cities to play exhibition games with clubs from the Northern League.
June - In early games, Rich Shibley (Pierre - LA State) was 4-for-5 in two straight nights and Cowboys' pitcher Geoff Zahn (Mich.) struck out 15 batters.
Pitcher John Olagues left the league after signing with the Indians. Dick Schryer inked a contract with the Dodgers. Matt Galante was a big loss as he signed with the Yankees as was Don Cook who agreed to a deal with the Red Sox.
June 21 - Pierre (5-2) held an early ½ game lead over Winner (4-2).
Special promotions drew huge crowds in Rapid City and Sturgis. The Chiefs drew 3,156 for Kids Night, but lost to Valentine 7-6 on a double in the ninth inning. And 3,145 attended Sturgis' Merchants Night to watch the home team beat Valentine 12-5.
Winner's Ron Davini (Ariz. St.) was waiting to be intentionally passed, but a ball came too close to the plate and he swung lifting the ball over the left field fence, but foul.
June 28 - Winner (7-2) had a ½ game lead over Pierre (8-4).
Rusty Adkins had an 18-game hitting streak which was one off the 1964 record of Shaun Fitzmaurice.
After nine games, Len Tanona led the league's hitters with a .406 average. In 14 games, Shipley was second at .385. Bob McAulay had the leadership in ERA with a 0.71 and 4-0 record.
Scott Reid was 5-for-5 in a game for Valentine.
In the series of exhibition games with the Northern League, the Basin had won 4-of-5.
July 5 - Winner (11-3) widened their lead to one game over Pierre (12-4).
July - Jim Blight left Sturgis after signing a pro contract with Detroit.
Jim Armstrong had a 14-game hitting streak.
July 12 - Winner (15-5) was .023 percentage points ahead of Pierre (16-6).
July 19 - Winner (19-7) still had a percentage points (.017) lead over Pierre (20-8). The 3rdplace team was 7 games back.
July 20 - Gary Moore (RC - Texas) threw a no-hitter over Valentine. A left hander, he showed sharp breaking curves in the Chiefs' 7-0 win. He walked four and struck out 10.
July 26 - Winner (21-10) opened up a ½ game lead over Pierre (21-11).
July - Winner's John Hilts pitched the league's second no-hitter of the season over Valentine 11-0. He allowed only two base runners, both on walks. Hilts struck out 14.
The Mobridge Lakers drew 2,430 for a 3-hit shutout home victory from Rice's Bill Palmer.
August 2 - Pierre (25-12) took over the league lead by 1 ½ games over Winner (23-13).
Lee Tonana (Winner - Mich.) led league hitters with a .412 average. Although he had been forced to set out every third or fourth game due to pulled leg muscles which also caused few infield hits.
August 9 - Pierre (30-13) took a 2 games lead over Winner (27-14).
League managers choose the following All Star team: C- Ron Davini (Win); 1b - Tom Binkowski (Stur); 2b - Lou Camilli (RC); 3b - Keith Spicer (Stur); SS - Jim Armstrong (Val); OF - Les Tonona (Win); Gary Moore (RC) and Jerry Stitt (Pier); P- Bob McAulay (Win), Mike Otolski (Mobr), Scott Morton (Pier) and Jim Allen (Mobr).
Les Tonana won the batting race with a .362 average and Shibley was second with a .350 mark. Jerry Hurt (R.C.) had the best ERA at 1.65 [Bobby Bryant was 2nd at 1.82] and Mike Otolski the most wins with 8.
Pierre (31-13) won the league pennant finishing three games in front of Winner (28-16).
The league cancelled the playoffs due to the "threat of bad weather". It was the first time in the league's 14-year history that no playoff were held. It also signaled a loss of interest in post-season play.
He had thrown a one-hitter for the University of North Dakota and went to the league with hopes of becoming a professional pitcher. But after getting hit around and being relegated to late-game mop-up duty, he said in his book, "More Than a Game," that he decided to leave baseball and devote all of his time to basketball.
The failed player''s name is Phil Jackson, who not only played in the NBA, but had coached the Bulls and Lakers to many NBA championships. - Mitchell Daily Republic
September - An article appeared in the September 17 "TSN" regarding disagreements between the league and major league baseball:
"The Basin League and professional baseball, which helps support the summer circuit...are approaching a possible crossroad in their relationship. Some club officials, managers and fans are calling for action to prevent Organized Ball from pulling players out of the league during the season. Gordon Stout, league director from Pierre, said recently, 'As liaison rep from the Basin League with pro baseball people, I made it quite plain to one and all that our league could not survive if this raid on our top talent continued. I was given assurance by at least three major league officials that an attempt will be made to solve the problem. Leaving drafted players here until our season ends is one of the possibilities.'
"The signing of key players was regarded in a different light, however, by Morris Hallock of Sturgis, the league president: 'We think it is a kind of compliment that our players are signed. If we didn't have talent good enough to sign, we wouldn't attract the prestige that our league has across the country. Personally, I see no reason why the major leagues shouldn't sign a boy. This is the ultimate goal of the players: To play in the major leagues some day. We cannot quarrel with this. It hurts mainly when the pros take the best boys. When clubs are operating on gate receipts, they are bound to get hurt financially. Our clubs pay expenses to bring the players to the league, but then we lose them to the pros during the season. The expenses should be shared with the majors instead of being borne by the community.'
"The league lost about 20 players during the 1966 season to the pros...Hallock confirmed that more players were signed out of the circuit in 1966 than in any previous season. 'Sturgis was hit the worst,' he said, 'As a result, we experienced a drop in fan participation from 21,000 in 1965 to 11,000 this year. Despite this, by curbing our expenses and a lot of other economy moves - like driving automobiles instead of a bus - we only suffered a $5,400 loss. And I don't think any team was hurt worse than we were this year. When you put it in perspective, we feel we are going to need pro baseball help of $8,000 to $10,000 a club to keep the league on an even keel and allow it to continue to operate. Sturgis' total losses after six years of baseball are about $11,000. We have run the string from cellar dweller to champion in those six years and our community has made the maximum effort.'
"It is generally agreed that the free-agent draft comes at a bad time, just with the Basin League teams are getting set for a new season. Jack Stallings...was asked for his views...: 'It is a question of what the pros want. Do they want the Basin League? If they do, they will have to recognize that signing of players just might ruin the league. But I'm not optimistic enough to think the pros will realize something will have to be done. I'm sure the pros don't expect the Basin League to lose 20 or more boys during a season with no provisions made to protect or replace them. No league could operate this way.'
"Hallock pointed out that the signings 'are not by any means' the major problem. 'I think the consensus of the league is that we can live with this. The two things that are most pressing are some genuine assistance with pro umpiring and an increase in our subsidy.' He also said the pros too often draw all the blame, 'but some of the responsibility must be laid on the individual boy. If he knows in good faith that he is going to sign, he should have the decency not to come to the Basin League. The life expectancy of a baseball player, on the average, in the majors isn't great, so they want to sign prospects as early as possible. We still will have a good-caliber league with the younger boys. The more players signed out of our league, the more prestige for the league.'
"Jim Gallagher, assistant to Commissioner Eckart, concluded a three-day visit to the Basin League, August 21 and disclosed: 'There is a very minimum possibility of the program being expanded. Those who are in favor are flighting to hold the line rather than any expansion.' This year, a $30,000 grant was made by the majors to the Basin League. Even with this, all six teams lost money during the season."
November - It was announced that Rapid City had withdrawn from the league. The team's organizers wanted to land a professional team. The Chiefs had won four pennants in their ten seasons. Reason given by the club's directors were insufficient financial support from the majors and a disagreement on division of gate receipts.
December - At the major league meetings, $80,000 was budgeted for college summer leagues. The Basin League would
receive $35,000, the CIC $30,000 and $5,000 each to the Cape Cod, Calf. Collegiate and Shenandoah Valley leagues.
"TSN" began their last year of coverage of the league and Rapid City writer Don Lindner lost his weekly by-line.
Rapid City officials changed their minds and returned for another season with Joe Lutz, Southern Ill coach, as manager. He had previously been at the helm of Mitchell and Watertown.
Other managers named were: Terry Schiessler [coach at Hinkley High School in Aurora, CO] - Valentine; Jim Railey - Sturgis; Jack Stallings - Pierre; Harry Wise - Winner and Buzz Keller - Mobridge.
Also, a new commissioner was announced as R.M. "Bus" Walseth of Pierre, who was the executive secretary of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, took the helm.
The league would open their 50-game season on June 11. All six teams were fully sanctioned by the NCAA. The league's vice president, Pat Morrison, Jr., of Mobridge said: 'I feel we are on the verge of putting the Basin League on its soundest footing ever. The revision of the college draft, increased interest, aid from the major leagues and formation of a high echelon major league committee to tour the league this season all are good indications of better things to come.'
Early indications were that the following players would return from '66: Marv Brosset, Rich Narron and Bob McAulay. From 1962 through 1965, a total of 122 league players had signed pro contracts.
June - The league games were played in unseasonable cold which dropped the temps into the 40s.
June 20 - Winner (3-1) held a percentage points lead over Rapid City (4-2).
June 21 - Winner's Bob McAulay pitched a one-hitter in a 7-1 victory over Mobridge. The only hit allowed was in the first inning.
June 27 - Winner (7-3) held a ½ game lead ahead of Rapid City (6-3).
July 1 - Francis Tennyson died while umpiring a game between Rapid City and Sturgis in Sturgis. After the first inning, he complained of illness and went into the dugout. An ambulance was called, but he died before it arrived. Tennyson was 50 years old and had umpired in the league for several years along with many softball games. He was a district softball commissioner in S.D.
July 4 - Winner (10-5) had a 1 ½ games lead over Rapid City (8-6).
July - Danny Thompson (RC - Okla. St.) had two 4-for-4 nights in-a-row.
July 11 - Rapid City (13-9) took over the league lead one game over Winner (11-9).
Danny Thompson led the league in hitting with a .440 average and in second was Dave Robinson of Valentine at .360.
Geoff Zahn held the best ERA of 1.13.
July 18 - Pierre (16-12) became the first place team ½ game ahead of Valentine (13-10) and Rapid City (15-12). Winner (13-12) had fallen 1 ½ games off the pace.
Danny Thompson still led batters with a .432 mark with Jim Ziegler second at .356. George Stillen held the best ERA of 1.24 and Pat Knutzen was 5-0.
July 25 - Rapid City (19-13) was back in first one game over Valentine (17-13).
August - Sturgis shortstop Roger Reid became only the third Basin leaguer to have 5 hits in one game. He had 3 singles and 2 triples.
A Ladies Night crowd of 2,091 showed up in Rapid City for a 7-0 win over Mobridge.
Danny Thompson had a .444 to lead the league with Pat Locanto (Win) in second at .344. Rick Kester had the best ERA at 1.21 and a 7-1 record.
August 1 - Valentine (22-15) had a .005 percentage points lead over Rapid City (23-16).
Danny Thompson's average had dropped to .392, but he was still well in front of Dave Robinson at .329. George Stilen held the ERA lead with a 0.99 mark. Kester was second at 1.32 and had an 8-1 record.
August 8 - Rapid City (28-17) had a commanding 4 games lead ahead of Pierre (25-22).
The Chiefs' clinched their 5th league pennant by beating Valentine 5-1 before 2,989 Pony Night fans.
In Mobridge's last game of the season, Terry Muck (Bethel) stole his 24th, 25th and 26th bases to break the league mark of 25
set in 1962 by Tom Brown.
Rapid City (31-19) won the pennant finishing four games ahead of Pierre (27-23).
Danny Thompson won the batting crown with a .369 average with Dave Robinson second at .318.
Rick Kester had the best ERA of 1.28 and tied for the best record with Dave Lemonds at 9-2. George Stilen had the second best ERA of 1.54.
In the playoffs semi-finals, Valentine beat Rapid City 12-7 and Pierre won over Winner 2-0.
Pierre beat Valentine 8-1 in the playoffs' championship game.
The league's 50-game schedule was to begin on June 16 and end on August 16 which was one week later then past years due to College World Series. Chamberlain returned to the league replacing Valentine.
The league received $40,000 from the major leagues for operating expenses.
June 20 - A game in Winner between Rapid City and the Pheasants was halted in the ninth inning due to high winds which had blown the visitor's dugout roof off.
July 1 - Chamberlain and Pierre were tied at the top of the standings with 7-4 records.
July 8 - Pierre officials moved their starting time of games to 8:00 from 8:30.
July 15 - Chamberlain (15-7) moved ahead of Sturgis (12-10) by 3 games.
July - Hobie Holland (Sturgis) had 14-game hitting streak during the month.
July 28 - Wayne Sinclair pitched 13 innings for the Mallards in a game against Mobridge.
July 29 - Chamberlain continued in first place with a 19-13 record which was 2 ½ games ahead of Sturgis and Rapid City (17-16).
Aug. 6 - Sturgis (25-17) had a one game lead over Chamberlain (23-17).
August - It was determined, at the end of the season, that none of the postponed rain outs would be made up.
Sturgis (29-20) won the pennant ahead of Chamberlain (26-22) by 2 ½ games.
In the first round of the playoffs, Chamberlain beat Pierre 4-3 and Rapid City defeated Sturgis 4-0 in 7 innings.
In the playoff finals, Chamberlain scored a 3-0 win over Rapid City. [It would be the league's last playoffs ever].
"I didn't play all that much and I didn't play all that well," recalled Clyde Millslagle in 2003, who performed with the 1968
Chiefs team and played a dozen games with the Sturgis Titans in 1967. "I came away feeling that I had played in a league
where they brought in the best kids from places like Florida, Arizona and California and realized that 'hey, I can play with
these guys.'" Millslagle said that he only played a dozen games for the Titans in 1967 and that many Basin Leaguers
returned home early to play in amateur leagues. "If you stayed with the team, then you couldn't play in the amateur
baseball tournaments," said Millslagle, a long-time teacher and coach in the Rapid City School District who also taught at Oelrichs.
"That's the way it was with a lot of the kids. They went back to their home state early. It was a very positive experience in the Basin League. The town of Rapid City , it's such a great baseball town. I remember going to Chiefs games and the stadium would be packed with 5-6,000 people." Millslagle said there was a reason most Basin Leaguers had positive experiences. "It's a tribute to South Dakota . We're a friendly state and we truly love baseball. South Dakota is a baseball state. They loved the Basin League. It's sad that we don't have it anymore." - Rapid City Journal
During the off-season, the league directors passed a number of rules to speed up games: 1) Pitchers would have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch, 2) No pitches would be thrown for an intentional base on balls, 3) No tossing the ball around the infield after strike outs, 4) The next batter must always be in the on-deck circle.
The leagues' rules regarding players retaining their amateur standing were further outlined. A player could receive a subsidy from his family in lieu of having a job.
The season would run from June 15 to August 14, but, for the first time, the league would not play post-season playoff games. An All-Star Game on July 28 would be substituted.
The league "Commish" was Bus Walseth and Jim Quinn was the league's secretary and publicist. Pierre's club president was E.H. Hirrschoff.
Ticket prices for Pierre Cowboys' games were $1.25 for adults and from 25 to 50 cent for students. A season pass cost $20 for 24 home games.
July 1 - Rapid City led the league with a 7-4 record. Mobridge was one-half game behind at 6-4.
July 15 - Mobridge (14-8) was one-half game ahead of Rapid City (14-9).
July 28 - Before 1,136 fans in Rapid City, the league's first All Star was played. The East squad defeated the West 9-5 with Tom Allen getting the win and Mike Camp the loss.
Aug. 1 - Rapid City (18-15) was percentage points in front of Chamberlain (19-16). Mobridge (20-18) was in 3rd only one half game behind.
Aug. 11 - Pierre won a game against Rapid City 27-15. The Cowboys had 24 hits with John Shaw going 6-for-6 and Tom Michel was 6-for-7.
The season ended with the closest pennant race in history. Only three games separated all six league teams. Rapid City (27-23) won by one game over Sturgis (26-24).
Bill Bright was the batting champ hitting .384.
Bob Apodaca and Gary Morgan fondly remember their 'summer jobs' while playing in the Basin League. "I really had a
horseshoe over my head," said Apodaca, who played with the Chamberlain Mallards in the 1969 and 1970 seasons and who
spent 30 of 33 professional seasons in the New York Mets organization. He is now [in 2005] the pitching coach for the
Colorado Rockies. "I was recreation director in Chamberlain for two years. I played tennis in the morning, took a coffee
break, then played softball. It was the best job I ever had."
Morgan, who played with the Chiefs and Mobridge Lakers in the early 1970's, agreed. "Our job was cleaning up the ball park after the game," said Morgan, who now  manages the Eden Prairie (Minn. ) American Legion baseball program. "We'd sleep in, go to the park and work, or get up, head up into the Hills or go up the river and float down. What a life!" - Mitchell Daily Republic
Warren Young played for Rapid City in 1969. A native of North Dakota , Young played for Rapid City American Legion Post 22 in the 1968 summer. He was a catcher and outfielder for the Chiefs in the 1969 campaign.
The Winner franchise dropped out of the league for the final time. The Basin continued with five teams.
July 2 - Sturgis (6-4) led the league one game ahead of Mobridge (7-5).
July 15 - Rapid City and Sturgis were tied for the league lead with 12-9 records.
July 17 - The All Star game in Rapid City pitted the league's stars against the Colorado Collegians. The Basin All Stars won 4-3.
July 20 - Mike Pazik of Pierre struck out 18 Sturgis batters during a 3-2 victory for the Cowboys.
Aug. 1 - A league game was played in Phillip, SD, between Pierre and Sturgis. The Cowboys won 21-0 before about 500 fans.
Aug. 3 - Rapid City (22-12) had a 4 games lead over Mobridge (19-17).
Mid-August - Chamberlain and Rapid City finished the season tied for the league pennant with 27-21 records which was four games ahead of Mobridge and Pierre. No tie-breaking game was played.
Tom Cason was a standout Basin League player for the Sturgis Titans and was one of the few players to play for three
seasons, 1968-70. "I was a small player," recalls Cason, now  a golf pro in Georgia . "I was 5-feet-9 and 160 pounds
so I had to prove myself that I was a good enough player. "The Basin League was the league to play in during the summer time."
Cason was a student at South Georgia Junior College when he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals. He talked with his
coach who recommended the Basin League. "I grew up in Brunswick , Ga. And I'd never been to South Dakota , but I was
glad I did," said Cason. "It was a fun experience." Cason said the Basin League competition was top-notch. "Everyone out
there was considered a professional prospect," said Cason. "The caliber of baseball was very good and I learned how to
travel and play a lot of games "We'd go to Winner and to Pierre and we'd play five, six even seven games a week."
In the little off time he did have, Cason and other Basin League players were expected to work in the community. Many players worked with the recreation departments in their host cities. "We'd work on the ball field, work in the parks program," recalls Cason. "It certainly was not hard." Cason also found time to play golf, enjoying time on the Boulder Canyon golf course. The hobby would turn into a career choice after injuries sidelined his baseball career. "I spent four years in the Red Sox minor league system," said Cason. "At one time, I was in the same outfield as Jim Rice and Fred Lynn. That experience helped me become a golf pro." It was a knee injury with the Winston-Salem Red Sox that would shorten his baseball career. Cason said the Titans were a close-knit group and players forged friendships with host families.
"With the club, we got to know each other real well," said Cason. "And the host families, they were great to be with and they were fans of yours. It was like you were a member of their family." He remembers staying with Madge Jorgenson, who operated a beauty shop on Lazelle Street . He also remembers staying with Gene Hammond and that many players stayed at an old convent. Cason remembers playing against the likes of Bill and John Stearns and Bob Apodaca at Chamberlain and Jim Burton at Winner, all future major league stars. He says Sam Ewing of the Rapid City Chiefs, "was the best hitter I ever saw."
And Cason remembered the young fans. "I'll never forget the kids at those Basin League games. I'd go out early and
socialize with them," said Cason. "I'd play catch with them. I have a lot of fond memories of the fans and the Basin League."
Cason also remembers the generosity of Sturgis supporters. He recalls Virgil Britton allowing him to use golf clubs to play at Boulder Canyon Country Club and when Cason was named most valuable player, his trophy was lost in transport back home. LaVerne Mitchell, local bank president, made sure the MVP trophy was replaced. Cason is now a golf pro at Jekyll Island , Ga.
Cason played three also remembered what happened to a car they bought. "I remember when Ron Ellis, who played with Rapid City and Sturgis for a couple of years, Jim Timmons and myself, we bought a car, a used 1956 Buick. We ended up with two flats at the same time. We went to get some help and when we got back, someone had pushed the car down a ravine. We ended up giving the keys to a state patrolman and I told him, 'If you want it, you can have it.'" - Rapid City Journal
The league continued with the same cast of five teams from '70.
The league's rules to speed up games were further amended to include: 1) No pinch runners for players other then pitchers or catchers, 2) There could only be three or less men in conferences held on the pitching mound, 3) There was to be only one minute time between innings.
Pat Morrison of Mobridge was the league president.
Clubs could have a player on a disabled list for seven days.
July 1 - Chamberlain, with an 8-4 record, held a 1 ½ games lead over Rapid City (1 ½).
July - Pierre lost 13 games in-a-row.
July 15 - Chamberlain (15-8) held a one game lead ahead of Sturgis (14-9).
Aug. 1 - Chamberlain (24-13) held on to the league lead ½ game in front of Mobridge (22-14).
In the All-Star game, the Colorado Collegians from Boulder defeated the league's stars 10-2.
Chamberlain became the league champs finishing at 31-16 which was 3 ½ games ahead of second place Sturgis (28-20).
Bob Augspurger grew up in Chamberlain watching the semipro Basin League's Chamberlain Mallards, and turned into a pretty good baseball player at the University of South Dakota. He got a chance to play for the Mallards in 1971, and said that summer was "quite an experience." Augspurger spent the summer as a teammate to two future major league baseball players, but also felt added pressure as a hometown product playing in the league. "The year I played, there were quite a few that went to the major leagues. It was nice to know that you were playing with a lot of future major-leaguers. It was good baseball."
With all that talent in the league, Augspurger said it was equal parts difficult and exciting to be a Basin Leaguer. How did he hit? "Terrible. I was more of a spot player, playing first and pitching. Basically in college, I was a pitcher and didn't bat that much. The caliber of pitching (in the Basin League) was very good." - Mitchell Daily Republic
Bobby Cuellar was an interesting case. He was one of the Basin League''s most dominant pitchers, yet played in only four major-league games. He played in Chamberlain for two seasons, tying a Basin League mark by striking out 19 in a game to help the team to the league championship. In 1971, he set a league ERA mark at 1.27, and also tied the league record for wins, at 11.
Just two years later, he was in the majors, pitching in four games for the Rangers and compiling a 1.35 ERA. He never played in the bigs again - spending all or parts of the next five seasons in Triple-A - but he has made his mark on the majors nonetheless, spending 31 seasons in professional baseball as a player, manager, pitching coach or roving instructor. He has seven years of experience [as of 2005] as a coach at the major league level and, as a Triple-A pitching coach in the Minnesota Twins system, has worked closely with most of the Twins'' young pitchers.
"I''ve been fired, hired, fired and hired -- all that good stuff," said Cuellar, a Texas native who now is the pitching coach for
the Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings . Despite his long affiliation with upper-level professional baseball, he still fondly
remembers his two seasons in Chamberlain. "There were a lot of people from big programs there. John Stearns ended up
being a good player. There were quite a few people from that league that I ended up playing pro ball against. It was just a
good atmosphere and a good place to play." Cuellar stressed how his time in Chamberlain impacted his career. He said he
felt it is important to "mention how nice Chamberlain was and how important it was to me growing up." - Mitchell Daily
Darrell Shoemaker of the "Rapid City Journal": "Paging through old programs, conducting interviews and doing research for the three-part series on the Basin League...was truly a 'Field of Dreams' experience. As organizers, players and fans recalled favorite memories of the summer circuit that operated for 21 seasons...I found myself fondly recalling my own special childhood memories of the Basin League. Growing up in Sturgis, I was a big fan of the League and especially the Titans. Like many kids, I waited along the third base line to get an autograph and prayed I could get my hands on a foul ball. I remember my dad playing in an old-timers exhibition with the Titans between games of a doubleheader.
"I recall sitting at the bank where my mother worked as players picked up checks for their summer odd-jobs. An autographed deposit slip of Jim Liukkonen resides along a page of autographed signatures in a Basin League yearbook. I remember when Rick Ingalls and Jim Beal of the Titans came over to our house for dinner. I still can't believe I asked them to play catch after dinner, and they obliged! Most of all, I remember going to Titans games with my dad. Together with my uncle, we'd spend some fun times watching the games. My dad and uncle spent more time talking with co-workers and family friends. My uncle captivated me with stories of sneaking in to old Comiskey Park in Chicago to watch his beloved White Sox.
"I remember playing catch with my dad in the street and trying out my best Dan Quisenberry-like submariner, only to send the offering into Bob Parson's car window. Like 'Field of Dreams', what I wouldn't give to play catch with my dad again.
This past week , I've talked with a number of people who had their own recollections of the League. I'm surprised at how universally positive and fresh those memories remain in the minds of players, organizers and fans, some of them who served as host families to players. 'We had four stay with us over a couple seasons. They were just real good kids,' said Ralph Iverson of Sturgis. 'They were just like the family. And we'd go out and watch them play. A whole bunch of them would come over to our place. They'd hang out with the family and they were just a real nice bunch of kids.'"
For the third straight year, the league operated with the same five teams.
During pre-season practice, some "rookie" college players in Pierre commented on the "heavy air" in South Dakota. More seasoned players told them that they would get used to it.
Before the season, the president of the league had reportedly tried hard to secure a female umpire to work league games, but he was not successful.
The season opened on June 15. In Pierre, club officials lowered the outfield fences and moved the scoreboard closer to the stands in order to avoid the refection of the setting sun. Unfortunately, that caused the electrical part of the board not to work early in the season and some of the line score numbers had been lost. [Players, for their work assignments, painted new larger numbers].
The "Pierre Capital Journal" printed the names of long time fans: Anna Sonnenschein, Pearl Telfords, John Kirley, Gordon and Mame Stout.
Players were expected to work 250 hours during the season in order to receive their wages and retain their amateur standing.
The Pierre club entered the season in financial difficulties as they did not raise the $4,500 needed from ticket sales. [They received $7,500 from the major leagues for operating expenses].
The catastrophic flood in Rapid City caused the Chiefs to play their first few games on the road. The flood knocked down the outfield fences, but did not damage the field to any great extent. They were able to hold home games within a week into the season.
July 4 - Sturgis (9-6) held a one game lead over Rapid City and Pierre (both with 8-7 records).
July 18 - Sturgis (16-11) had a 1 ½ games lead ahead of Pierre (14-12).
Aug. 1 - Sturgis (20-15) continued to hold first place 2 games in front of Chamberlain (18-17).
Aug. - During the last 3 weeks of the season, Mobridge came back from a 4 ½ games deficit and won 11-of-13 games to capture the league title by one game. The Cowboys final record was 26-22 and the second place Chamberlain and Pierre clubs had 25-23 records.
During the season, John Stearns of Chamberlain had a 21-game hitting streak which was a league record at the time.
Gary Grove played two seasons for the Sturgis Titans. The native of Lead played college baseball at Northern State in
Aberdeen and worked at Homestake Gold Mine [to pay for college] while pitching for the Titans in the 1972 and 1973
seasons. Grove couldn't pack much more into his days as a member of the Titans: "I worked in the mine every summer to
earn money for college. I worked an eight-hour shift in the mine, five days a week. I'd come up from the depths of the
mine, hit the top, shower and head home and grab a sandwich. I'd then zoom down to Sturgis to play ball."
Grove says the Homestake Mining Company was very supportive of his playing ball. "They were good to me to give me time off to play road games in Pierre, Mobridge and Chamberlain. It was their role in helping with the community support for the league." Grove said in 2003 that playing in the Basin League proved challenging. "My first summer playing was really tough. I found myself having to bear down every time. The hitting was good, the pitching was good and there was a high caliber of players in the league. The second year, I had to do the same thing. The pitchers were there to pitch, the batters were there to bat. The schedule was a challenge and there were times we'd go for a doubleheader in Chamberlain on a Friday night and then play a third game on Saturday. But I didn't mind it at all."
Grove grew up watching the Titans and remembers scrounging for foul balls. He also remembers the youngsters as a player.
"One neat memory at Sturgis were the several little kids who would want my autograph," he said. "Today, you see players
who do not take the time but I always thought that was a big part of it and they looked upon us as big players and role
models, so I didn't hesitate and gave them an autograph." After college, Grove embarked on a teaching career. He looked
back on his Basin League experience fondly and recaleds two opportunities that came knocking that almost landed him into
the major leagues. The first opportunity came at the suggestion of Titans coach Ben Hines.
"I was playing during my sophomore and junior years in college. I was asked to go to California to coach Ben's club. He offered to give me a scholarship to play out there. It was overwhelming. But I was satisfied where I was and had friends established at Northern State . I just didn't really know what could happen."
Ben Hines was a successful college and Basin League coach and would spend several years coaching in the Los Angeles
Dodgers organization. Grove wondered what might have been had he accepted Hines' invitation. Grove would get a second
opportunity to climb the ladder to stardom, years after his experiences with the Basin League. His old Lead high school
coach, Jim Phillips, had kept tabs on Grove, who was playing amateur baseball in East River and had just signed a teaching
contract with the Salem School District "I went up to a tryout camp in Mitchell, I walked in and they asked me if I was
Gary Grove. I said 'yes' and they told me I didn't have to try out. They told me 'we've been watching you throughout your
career'. They called me on a Friday evening and told me I had 36 hours to report, that there was a plane ticket waiting for
me in Sioux Falls and they'd ship me right to the Big Show."
Grove said the Reds were looking for a middle reliever and liked Grove's confidence with the curve ball and his ability to get strikeouts. Like he did years earlier, Grove played it safe and passed on the offer. "I had already signed a teaching contract and they told me that if I got down there and the Reds find somebody younger with my pitch, they'd go with them. I was overwhelmed.. I was coming from a small town and after going to a small college and competing in the SDIC, you didn't find many athletes playing pro ball with the exception of Dave Collins at that time. I was on my own. I didn't have anybody to guide me. There were no agents back then." So Grove turned the Reds down. "I never did it. I turned it down and I still regret it," he says. However, Grove doesn't regret his Basin League days. "I always appreciated the Basin League. It was a big part of my life for two years. To have the Basin League on your credentials was an asset." Grove has been officiating basketball games for 27 years [as of 2003] and was a regular around the Black Hills during boys and girls basketball season. He taught for a dozen years, including 10 in South Dakota . Since 1984 he has worked for Pope and Talbot, Inc - Rapid City Journal
Bob Apodaca (Chamberlain Mallards, New York Mets player, MLB coach): "I came from Los Angeles and I was
experiencing small towns for the first time in my life. It was fun. People were friendly, had wholesome values, it was a
great experience. It was the best competition I had experienced. It really prepared me for my senior year in school and for
professional baseball. Those were great years I spent in Chamberlain. I was on the same team as the Stearns brothers,
John and Bill. I faced college all-Americans and it got me used to playing a professional schedule of games. I stayed with a
wonderful family. They fed you, gave you the keys to their car. There were a lot of wholesome values. I'm not saying that
as teenagers we didn't get into our share of mischief, but life in the small town and the friendliness and the terrific people
really had an impact on me. We all traveled by car. So we were close and kind of a tight group. It was really a fun time and
contributed to me making it and having the success I did in college and then in minor league baseball and eventually in my
professional years. It taught me so much. Like how to live on your own, how to manage a budget and how to play so many
games in a season. Those were great years." - Rapid City Journal
Editorial in the August 12 "TSN": "...Coach Dick Siebert of Minnesota...believes the progress of college players would be accelerated if the big leagues would expand the summer college baseball program. 'I don't know if the colleges are ready to take over as the main supplier of talent for the major leagues, but I think we could produce a good share of players if they subsidized about eight good summer collegiate leagues. If we had our outstanding players getting good competition during the summer, college baseball would improve throughout the country. The difference between Ariz. State, Texas and Southern Cal and the rest of the country is the number of games played.'
"The major leagues at present provide financial backing for five summer circuits - the Atlantic Collegiate, Basin, Cape Cod, CIC and Valley leagues. The players on the team at R.C... incidentally deserve commendation for pitching in to restore the field there after the disastrous flood that struck that city. Their efforts showed the importance they attached to summer baseball...Summer ball should be stressed for collegiate players to help expedite their progress from the campus right to AA, AAA or even directly to the majors..."
Mobridge ended their league affiliation and Rapid City , Sturgis, Pierre and Chamberlain played the final season which was scheduled for 48 games.
The league approved the use of aluminum bats and the designated hitter. A roster of 17 players could be maintained, but a cut to 15 had to be completed by July 7.
As the league entered its final season in 1973, Pierre officials turned duties of general manager of the Cowboys to a young, impressionable radio broadcaster, Jim Thompson. "Someone called me and indicated they needed somebody to run the team," recalled Thompson in 2003, who followed the Basin League as a fan in Sturgis then went to Pierre to begin his broadcasting career after a stint in the Army.
Lee Shepherd said he was contacted by Floyd Fitzgerald, long-time president of the Rapid City ownership group. "Floyd contacted me and he and my dad were good friends. My dad had kept him up to date on how well I was doing in college." Shepherd was playing baseball for Yankton College at the time and looked forward to the opportunity to play in the Basin League. "It was an experience just to meet other college kids," said Shepherd. "Little Yankton had 350 kids in it. It was fun to play with other college athletes and they came in here with great skills." - Rapid City Journal
July 18 - Sturgis (18-12) held a 2 games lead over Pierre (16-14).
There were times during the season, when the Pierre club did not have a back-up public address announcer. When the regular P.A. announcer was out-of-town on business, no announcer was used during games.
Aug. 1 - Sturgis (25-16) continued to be in first place 2 ½ games ahead of Pierre (23-19).
Aug 3 - During a game, Pierre's first base coach and player, Greg Trammell, ran to second base to argue a call by the base umpire. He was soon joined by Cowboys' manager Del Youngblood and things got out-of-hand. During the melee, the umpire was said to have been "assaulted" [term used by league president Vern McKee]. The season and league play ended quietly in Pierre that evening.
Aug. - League president McKee suspended Youngblood and Trammell "permanently". Cowboys' players Randy Fierbaugh and Tom Carpenter were also suspended for the remainder of the season. Pierre named Brad Brian manager.
Out of the title picture and short of players, the Pierre club forfeited, at least, it's final game [exact number of games forfeited unknown].
Sturgis won the pennant with a 29-19 record which was 3 games in front of Pierre (26-22 - including forfeitures).
Gary Auglin of Rapid City won the batting title with a .393.
Keven Bridges (RC) had a record-setting 22-game hitting streak during the season.
After a final assessment of the season, Pierre officials stated that their financial loss for the season was their biggest immediate concern.
Lee Shepherd, who remembered having a good season with the Chiefs in 1973, said he recalls the thrills of attending clinics and getting autographs from Chiefs players growing up and then giving autographs to young fans when he wore the Chiefs uniform. "I remember as a kid going to the clinics. It was a big thing to meet the players. They were like all-stars to us. I remember trying to get my hands on a foul ball. Everyone wanted to get a foul ball and keep it. And I remember as a player signing autographs for kids. It was awesome. It was a chance to give something back to what (the Chiefs) had gave me."
Steve Mousel grew up watching the Basin League in Rapid City . He was having a standout year on the mound for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits when Chiefs' manager Jim Jones contacted him about his interest to play in the Basin League. "I think the league was starting to fade and I think they were wanting to add some home-town flavor," said Mousel. "I had grown up with the Basin League in the 1960's, going to games with my dad who was a big fan.
Mousel said he suffered from an arm injury midway through the 1973 Basin League season. "I was lucky if I was .500 in my pitching. The competition was very good. I got to rub elbows with some great players. They had a class about them. You knew some of them would make it to the next step." Mousel said in 2003 that his Basin League experience helped him extract some revenge from a former coach. "The year before I played in the Basin League, I was in the Illinois League and I didn't do so well. My coach wanted to know what kind of baseball we played in South Dakota . After my year with the Chiefs, in 1974, SDSU wins the NCC and fate can be kind. We ended up going to Missouri and playing in the regional championship against that coach. We beat his team 17-4 and I got to show him what South Dakota baseball is all about."
Bill Ewing was another player contacted by Chiefs' manager Jim Jones. As a college freshman, he was a little younger than his teammates. "I had a real poor start the first half. I wasn't used to that caliber of pitching. But about half-way through, I picked it up and had a lot more fun." Bill Ewing , who like Mousel and Shepherd grew up supporting the Chiefs and watching big Frank Howard, said the Basin League experience helped his individual career. "Playing at the University of Wyoming , I think it helped a lot. I came back after that season in the Basin League and hit .396. It was an honor to be on the Chiefs team. It taught me a lot and prepared me for Division One schools and to see good pitching. After playing in the Basin League, I don't think I saw a good pitcher after that in college." Ewing played three years of minor league baseball in the California Angels organization, reaching the Triple-A level before an injury ended his dreams. He did continue to run into Basin League teammates and opponents during his travels. - Rapid City Journal
Gary Morgan (Rapid City Chiefs, Mobridge Lakers, minor league player): "My best memories as a player was in Rapid City.. I'm not just blowing smoke. I loved playing in Rapid City . It's a great baseball town. At that time, the Basin League was considered the second best league in the country to play in. Anchorage had the best league and the Cape Cod League was third. Cape Cod is now the best league to play in during the summer. There was a lot of community support from all over the towns in the league, but especially so in Rapid City . It was a very, very competitive league. There were a lot of professional ball players and Major Leaguers to come out of the Basin League. We had John Stearns, Mike Cubbage, Mike Caldwell and others when I played. I either played with them or against them. It was a rewarding experience. I'm 54 years old and a smile comes to my face just thinking about that summer in Rapid City . I wouldn't trade that time for anything." - Rapid City Journal
Steve Mousel recalled, in 2003, a trip to Pierre on Highway 14 as players became concerned about a tornado that could be seen in the distance: "We see this tornado on the north side of the road. We had guys from California and Texas with us. They wondered what they were supposed to do if the tornado got closer. I told them, 'I only hope these rental cars have a tornado spade in the trunk.' I told them that everyone in South Dakota has a tornado spade in their trunk. They asked what you do with a tornado spade. I told them we'd have to pull over, get the spade out of the trunk, dig and then lie down in the ditch. I told them they were specially-made shovels that dig deep and fast. To this day, I think there are guys in California and Texas who believe in tornado spades!" - Rapid City Journal
Lee Shepherd recalled a near-serious accident on a team trip to Chamberlain: "We had a rental and on our way to Chamberlain we had a flat tire. We all jumped out and fixed it, then 10 miles out of Chamberlain we rolled the car. Luckily nobody got hurt although the coach (manager Jim Jones) did need stitches. I remember I caught that game against Chamberlain and got a double and the coach was in the hospital." Steve Mousel recalled: "Everybody was rolling around at 70 miles per hour. All I remember is I looked up and saw Shepherd's big rear end in my face. I told somebody to open the door in a hurry because I didn't want to be staring at Shepherd's big rear end." - Rapid City Journal
Long-time radio broadcaster Jim Thompson, in 2003, admitted he was young and impressionable when he took over general manager duties of the Pierre Cowboys in 1973. Near the end of the season, the Cowboys second baseman Frank Judge needed one hit to tie John Stearns record for consecutive games with a hit. "We're playing Rapid City and the last time up, our guy hits it to second base and the ball went by the fielder. I called it an error and the streak was over.
"After the game, the second baseman for Rapid City tells me, 'I think he deserves a hit.' He told me that the ball hit some grass and took an odd bounce away. The fielder came up to me and he had nothing to gain, so I changed it to a hit." Thompson said the Pierre hitter didn't get the chance to break the record because the team refused to play without pay the final game at Chamberlain. The Chiefs' Keith Bridges broke Stearns' mark in the Basin League's final game."
Thompson also recalled the final season when that a Pierre lady had a box of old uniforms worn by the Cowboys. Thompson said he went through the uniforms, which he hoped to resell to obtain funds to keep the team operating in Pierre. "The last uniform in the box had the name 'Indians' across the front. Apparently these were Cleveland Indians jerseys that the club had sent down years before for the Cowboys to wear. On the back of this uniform was the name 'Hegan.' It was the uniform worn by Jim Hegan who caught every one of Bob Feller's no-hitters." Thompson sold the other uniforms and kept the biggest collectible in the box. - Rapid City Journal
Lloyd Keszler, a former Titans official, recalled when manager Tom Petroff counseled pitcher Robin Flake, who was
having problems adjusting between college and Basin League action. "He was something like 14-0 or 14-1 in college. He
comes out here and gets pounded. He's then scared to pitch and comes up with a sore arm. Petrof said he could fix that.
He told him to start rubbing his fingers, then go up the arm and go to work on the shoulders and over the neck. He then
had him go down his legs and the foot. Petrof told his pitcher that the problem was now out of his foot and not in his
head." - Rapid City Journal
From the August 4 edition of "TSN":
"...The California Collegiate League, which did not operate in 1972, returned this year with eight teams to join the Atlantic Collegians with six teams, the Basin League with four, the Cape Cod League with seven, the CIC with six and the Valley League with seven. The majors provided about $125,000 in financial support for the 38 teams involved...Even with $116,000 in support from the majors last year, the five leagues and 30 teams in 1972 had a combined deficit fo $27,855. Under NCAA rules, no players received any compensation, but the operating expenses of the summer leagues amounted to $407,239 and their total income was $379,383, including money from ticket sales, concessions, advertising, individual contributions and cash grants from cities and townships where the clubs played.
"It's a tribute to the club officials in the communities involved that they're willing to incur these deficits to keep the summer leagues going. The losses are proportionately so small, however, that we believe it would be in the major leagues' interest to increase their financial assistance."
December - At the major league meetings, a maximum of $149,000 was made available to college summer leagues which was a $16,000 increase from 1973. The Basin League was still listed as a league that would receive a subsidy.
The league never claimed the money as the financial problems of the last few seasons ended it's 21-year history.
The Basin League logo was created by Vern Anthony who was a sports cartoonist for the "Rapid City Journal"
"The Sporting News" [1962-1967 seasons]
"The Western Canada League"; available at : http://www.attheplate.com/wcbl/basin_league.htm
"The Basin League" by Darrell Shoemaker - from Summer 2003 editions of of the "Rapid City Journal"
"My Most Memorable Game" by Rick Hanson; published in "A Century of Minnehaha County Baseball" [Rex Sucker Chapter - SABR]
"Lost League" - published in the June 17-19, 2005, editions of the "Mitchell Daily Republic"
"The Pierre Capital Journal" [1968-1973 seasons]
"The Aberdeen American News" [1953, 1954, 1957, 1959 and 1961 seasons]
"Palmer and Weaver -Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine" by Jim Palmer and Jim Dale;pub: Andrews and McMeel