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Displaying items by tag: baseball

Thursday, 14 January 2021 18:51

Tommy LaSorda

Last week, we heard the sad news that Norristown’s own Tommy LaSorda has passed away at the age of 93. LaSorda was born in Norristown in 1927 to Sabbatino and Carmella LaSorda. Sabbatino was an Italian immigrant, who, at the time of the 1940 census, was a truck driver. The family lived on Walnut Street, and Tommy attended Norristown Public Schools.

According to his entry in the Norristown Area High School Hall of Fame, LaSorda graduated from NHS in 1945 (his Wikipedia page says 1944, but this appears to be incorrect). His picture doesn’t actually appear in the 1945 issue of Spice, Norristown High Schoo’s yearbook, but he is mentioned as a pitcher on the baseball team. He is not listed in the team picture.

The prior year, 1944, he is in the team picture. You can see him in the first row, the second from the right.

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Here’s a close-up.

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You can also spot him in the photo part of the junior class.

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According to his entry in the NHS Hall of Fame, baseball was his only school activity.

Right out of NHS, LaSorda was signed to the Phillies and began a minor league career. In one 15 inning game pitching for the Schenectedy Blue Jays (a farm team for the Phillies) he struck out 25 batters. He bounced around the minor leagues for several years. He played three seasons in the major leagues, two with the Brooklyn Dodgers and one with Kansas City. In 1960 he retired due to injury.

He soon began his career in management, first as a scout, then as a minor league manager in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was named Minor League Manager of the Year in 1970. After working as a coach for the LA Dodgers for several years, he became manager in 1976 and stayed in that position for twenty years. He managed for 3040 games, winning 1599. The Dodgers won two World Series under his leadership. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 19 November 2020 19:04

George Bausewine, Chief of Police

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In March of 1944, the District Attorney’s office announced that a “high Norristown Police official” was under suspicion. On March 30th the chief of police himself was placed under arrest and charged with malfeasance, misfeasance, and non-feasance in office, obstruction of justice, and bribery. The charges related to bribes Bausewine was said to have received from the owner of a Norristown social club called the “Orioles.” The owner, Vincent McCafferty, admitted to the DA, Frederick B. Smilie, that he paid Bausewine $50 on three different occasions to turn a blind eye to the club’s illegal slot machines.

George Bausewine was not a native of Norristown. He had been born in Philadelphia in 1869 (though his Times-Herald obituary said 1866). Like many young men of his time, it seems Bausewine played a lot of baseball. According to an article on the website of the Society for American Baseball Research, he started pitching for a semi-professional team called the Kensingtons, and soon after that, he signed with the professional Utica Pent Ups (baseball team names used to be much cooler). In the off-season he worked in a glass factory where an accident led to the amputation of one of his thumbs. He then worked as a clerk in the same factory. He was also a street car conductor.

George Bausewine 1887 Canton

Through the 1880’s, he played for teams in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio before signing on to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1889. His time in the major league was limited however, and he won only one game (ironically, it was against Baltimore Oriels). He was released by the A’s early the following spring. As his playing seemed to be in decline, Bausewine began umpiring games. Bausewine seems to have been a difficult personality. He was described as “conceited” and as an umpire once needed a police escort to leave a game in Omaha. But a later Times-Herald article about his arrival in Norristown described him as “one of the best officials in baseball.”

In 1895, he joined the Philadelphia Police Department reserves, a part-time position that allowed him to play on the police baseball team, but also allowed him to continue umpiring for several more years. Eventually, however, it seemed he had to choose between baseball or the police force. In 1908, he was placed in charge of the 4th District and left baseball. He stayed in Philadelphia until his retirement in 1924. He was briefly Chief of Police in the new town of Hollywood, Florida, but the job only lasted 10 weeks.

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In 1929, he accepted the job of Chief of Police of Norristown, beginning the job on December 1. While, his tenure seems uneventful, by the 1940’s the Times-Herald and the District Attorney seemed to want him out of the position. At first there were only vague criticism that he was too old for the job, but in the 1944, the district attorney struck. First he was put on leave without pay, and two days later he was arrested. He was convicted, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court later overturned the convictions on insufficient evidence.

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Bausewine had been ill with heart disease before his arrest, and though in the end he won in court, his reputation didn’t recover. He died in his sleep in 1947.

 

Source: Lamb, Bill, "George Bausewine," Society for American Baseball Research, accessed 11/19/2020.   https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/george-bausewine/

Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 20 June 2019 19:37

Atlantic Baseball School

Recently, we received a group of unidentified photos at our back door. They were left anonymously, so we don’t know much about them (again, please don’t anonymously leave things at our back door). But three of the photos interested me particularly because summer officially begins this Friday, and they show the classic summertime activity - baseball.

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The photos show boys participating in the Atlantic Baseball School, a kids’ program run by Atlantic Refining Company. The boys could be at Roosevelt Field (the other photos are clearly Norristown), but the time was hard for me to pin down. Atlantic Refining was founded after the break-up of Standard Oil in 1911 and headquartered in Philadelphia. It lasted until it merged with Richfield Oil to form ARCO in 1966. The make of truck in the photos suggests it was taken after 1930 or so.

Clothes are often a good way to date photographs, but it’s difficult with children. The boys are not in their Sunday best, and many are wearing the baggy knickers typical for professional players in the first half of the century. Their hair tends to be longer than what I would expect in the 1950’s. There aren’t many crew-cuts.

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I decided to look more closely at the truck. I had looked at the photograph several times before I noticed the straw hat sitting on the bumper. This, also dated the picture to before 1950, although the gentleman at the microphone is older, and might not have kept up with the latest fashion. The hat does place the photo in the summertime, but I had already guessed that. Finally, I looked more closely at the license plate, where you can see a small “40” in the upper, left hand corner. Turns out, license plates used to be issued annually and showed they year they were issued. So, the answer had been there all along.

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license plate

Does anyone remember the Atlantic Baseball School? Atlantic Refining had stations all up and down the East Coast, including this one advertised in the Norristown sesquicentennial book (1962). The company was a long-time sponsor of Major League Baseball in Philly. Perhaps their baseball school was an outgrowth of that involvement.

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Published in Found in Collection