Professsional Baseball In Saginaw By Richard Curry
Saginaw had Minor League Baseball from 1883 to 1951. During that time the city participated in 10 different professional leagues, most recently in 1940 as the Saginaw Athletics, a Philadelphia farm team in the Michigan State League.
The team played ball at the Fairgrounds and switched affiliation in 1941 when they became the Saginaw White Sox. The team made money but the attack on Pearl Harbor ended baseball in town until after the war. It returned in 1948 and from that time until 1951 Saginaw played in the Central League, the first 3 years as the Saginaw Bears and the last season under new ownership as the Saginaw Jack Rabbits, playing ball at Saginaw Stadium (Veterans Park).
John 'Red' Klienow played for the Saginaw Lumberman in 1900. John was in the Majors from 1904 to 1911 and averaged .213 with three lifetime homers.
Ed Kusel was 22-7 for Saginaw in 1909. That same season saw Ed move up to St. Louis where he was 0-3 in the American League.
Frank Gilhooley played in Saginaw in 1910. He went on to play in the Majors for 9 years averaging .271.
Joe Kutina was with the Saginaw Kittens in 1911. He later played for the St. Louis Browns in that same season and again in 1912.
Ducky Holmes, a former St. Louis Brown, caught for and managed the Saginaw Ducks in 1913. He led the Ducks to 2 pennants.
Jesse Haines was 17-14 for that 'Ducks' team. He went on to pitch 19 Major League seasons, 210 wins, and a spot in the Baseball H.O.F. Jesse won 44 games for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Earle 'Greasy' Neale hit .332 for Saginaw in 1915. He went on to hit .259 for 8 Major League seasons with the Reds and the Phillies. Earle hit .357 in the 1919 World Series for Cincinnati. He is the only man in sports to ever play professional baseball while coaching at the college level in football. He also played for the pre NFL Canton Bulldogs from 1915-1917. Earle later gained greater fame as a football coach in the NFL, coaching 10 seasons and winning two NFL championships with the Eagles in 1948 and 1949. Earle was elected into the Pro Football H.O.F. in 1969.
1941 saw Saginaw become Chicago's farm team and they changed their name to the White Sox. Stan Platek was the team's star, hitting .320 and 17 homers.
WWII halted baseball in Saginaw until 1948. The 1948 Saginaw Bear's Lou Farotto hit .325, Ralph Rhames .319 and manager Finley .311. Saginaw's own 19 year old Bob Buhl won 11 games and went on to a 15-year Major League career with 166 wins, 1268 strike-outs and a 3.55 ERA. In 1956 Buhl beat the World Champion Brookyn Dodgers 8 out of 9 games. This became an area tradition as Midland's Larry Jaster shut out the .A. Dodgers five times in 1966.
1949 sluggers were Timber Dahlberg and Ron Bowen for the Bears. In 1950 Hank Camelli returned to manage in Saginaw. Jimmy Wallace was the team's best pitcher.
On June 28, 1950, Saginaw hosted its first Negro-American League game. Only 493 fans bought tickets. The Chicago American Giants beat the Houston Eagles 12 to 11. Satchel Paige pitched one inning.
The Saginaw News reported, "Both teams played bang up baseball. There were numerous sparkling fielding plays, and two almost forgotten baseball arts - the drag bunt and daring base running - were given a thorough demonstration by speedy runners on both nines." The Negro-American League ceased operations after the 1960 seasons.
In 1951 Saginaw became the Saginaw Jack Rabbits. Ed Albosta returned from the Major Leagues and won 19 games. In 1941 Ed was 0-2 for Brooklyn and in 1946 was 0-6 for Pittsburgh. Oscar Khederian hit .326 for the Rabbits. This was Saginaw's last professional baseball team.
The Lansing Lugnuts drew 380,820 fans last season, the West Michigan White Caps of Grand Rapids drew 400,196 people, and Battle Creek has the Battle Creek Yankees.
Saginaw should bring back baseball.