Nine Baseball Scrapbooks

This article was written by Bill Swank

This article was published in The National Pastime (Volume 22, 2002)

My father used to say, “Son, you were talkin’ when you should have been listenin’ … “

When I looked inside the large, heavy cardboard suitcase from the 1930s and saw that it was crammed with undated newspaper clippings, my old man’s wis­dom slammed home like a fastball in the ribs.

In 1994, I was asked to write an article about the Lane Field Padres for The Journal of San Diego History to complement the Pacific Coast League exhi­bition, “Runs, Hits, and an Era” that would open at the San Diego Historical Society Museum in April 1995. Along with fellow SABR member James D. Smith III, we resolved to search and interview original Padres for our journal article.

Jack Graham was on a pace to hit 80 home runs for the Padres in 1948. By July 25th, he had already launched 46 roundtrippers. But Jack was beaned that day when he lost sight of a pitch thrown by Angels hurler Red Adams in the late afternoon shadows of Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Graham returned from the head injury late in the season, added two more homers to his total, and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League.

When I interviewed Jack in January 1995, he gave me a battered box from his garage that contained a stack of yellowed newspapers. He said, “You can have these. This stuff should help with your project.” Although Graham was a famous minor league slugger, he didn’t have a scrapbook. His filing system was sim­ple. Toss everything in a box.

I made copy negatives from photographs that he had nonchalantly piled in another neglected box. I cut out the newspaper articles and glued them into a scrap­ book. After making copies for my records, I gave the new scrapbook to Jack. He loved it. Henceforth, when people would ask about his baseball career, it was much easier for him to show them the scrapbook. Jack would just laugh because, admittedly, he was starting to forget some of the details of his storied past.

Pete Coscarart learned about Jack’s scrapbook and asked if I would be willing to make a scrapbook for him. “Of course” was the answer of the fool who is still haunted by the sight of Pete’s large cardboard suitcase from the 1930s. It took exactly one second to realize that I had made a huge mistake by volunteering to tackle this project.

Coscarart’s professional career started in 1934 with the PCL Portland Beavers and St. Joseph (Missouri) Saints of the Western League. His nine years in the big leagues began with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938. By this time he was married. His wife, June, was too busy caring for her young family to work on a scrapbook. Besides, Pete just wasn’t the kind of guy to gather sto­ries about himself. That the cardboard luggage and clippings survived after all these years is a miracle.

My Big Apple buddies, Bronx native Bob Dreher and Brooklyn-born Bill Dunne, offered to help “date” the clippings. Armed with copies of the Baseball Encyclopedia,it took us three full days just to separate them by year. We soon realized that if Zeke Bonura appeared in a New York Giants box score, the year was 1939. Vito Tamulis, Johnny Hudson, and Van Lingle Mungo soon became key indicators for dating the numerous Dodger articles. (One of our favorites had nothing to do with Pete. It was titled “The Ballplayer and the Ladies” and dealt with Van Lingle Mungo’s escapades during the Dodgers spring training trip to Havana in 1941. I would love to make his scrapbooks.) Eventually the piles of clippings were fine-tuned and placed in chronological order.

In the end, it took four months of cut and paste to complete the 277 double­-sided pages that became the Coscarart scrapbook. Among the highlights of Pete’s career was Johnny Vander Meer’s second consecutive no-hit game pitched on June 15, 1938. Early in the game, Coscarart almost spoiled the historic perfecta when he pressed Reds outfielder Wally Berger against the wall to catch a ball that seemed headed for the seats. The suitcase produced a ticket stub from that game, which also happened to be the first major-league night game at Ebbets Field.

An article by Tommy Holmes stated, “Coscarart, incidentally, is winning recognition as the outstanding second baseman in the league. Bill Terry called him that after his great all-around performance at the Polo Grounds last Sunday. In Cincinnati, Bill McKechnie seconded the motion.”

Pete’s three-run home run was all the offense Tex Carleton needed on April 30, 1940 to no-hit the National League champion Cincinnati Reds, 3-0. Later that summer, the “Bounding Basque” was named to the National League All-Star team. How many ballplayers can say they were struck out by Bob Feller in an All-Star game?

A picture of Pete sleeping in his bed, mouth agape (snoring, too?), was used in an advertisement head­ lined, “Early to Bed, Early to Rise and He Eats Wheaties … Pete Coscarart is Wise!” Other pictures in the ad show wife June selecting a box of Wheaties off the grocery shelf and Pete eating a spoonful of “the Breakfast of Champions” with baby daughter Carol at the family table in Flatbush.

Nineteen double-sided pages of the scrapbooks are devoted to articles from nine New York dailies about the 1941 Dodgers cinching their first pennant in 21 years. The jubilant Brooklyn celebration was front-page headlines for eight of the city’s major newspa­pers, but the staid New York Times carried only a brief story sans photos about “Gaffers and Urchins Set Up Din” in “Pennant Victory Paean.” (Now, how many feckless Dodgertown gaffers and urchins would know the difference between a paean and a paean?) ” … men and women stared vacantly at each other in sheer hap­piness. They walked into traffic stanchions and head­ on at trolley cars (as opposed to dodging them). Urchins raced in roadways, screeching the victory cry, and oldsters hoarsely echoed it…. Brooklyn, in short, went nuts.”

Game Four of the ’41 World Series would provide one of baseball’s indelible memories. Brooklyn took a 4-3 lead into the ninth inning and, with two outs, Hugh Casey slipped strike three past Tommy Henrich. The plate umpire raised his right arm and the Bums had seemingly tied the series. But the ball bounced off dependable Mickey Owen’s catcher’s mitt and started to roll. Coscarart went to back up Dolph Camilli at first base as Henrich raced down the line. The ball rolled…and rolled…and rolled. Henrich was safe at first. The Yankees rallied to win, 7-4. They claimed the next two games to capture an anticlimatic world championship from the shell-shocked Dodgers.

According to Pete and June, nothing was compara­ble to being part of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Not withstanding, Coscarart was traded during that off-season to Pittsburgh where he played until 1946. Following an abortive attempt by labor lawyer Bob Murphy to unionize the Pirates, Coscarart, an outspo­ken Baseball Guild supporter, was sold to the PCL Padres. He contemplated jumping to the Mexican League, but decided to report to San Diego, which is near his hometown of Escondido. Three years later, Coscarart was traded to Sacramento. He hung up his glove for the last time following the 1950 season with Yakima of the Western International League.

After reading his completed scrapbooks, in typical Coscarart understatement, Pete said, “I guess I was a pretty good player.” We joked about the day he first showed me his suitcase. At last count, I think I have made over twenty Xerox copies of the scrapbooks for his friends and family members.

Dolores Glynn made scrapbooks for her husband, Cleveland first baseman Bill Glynn, back in the late 1940s and early 1950s. With the passage of time, the books began to fall apart. Dolores wanted to rework the contents into a larger, modern scrapbook. This didn’t seem like a big job (always a stupid assessment).

As luck would have it, I found an Indians fan at a local commercial lamination plant who agreed to seal the oversized pages for a very reasonable fee.

The transfer and lamination of the 14″x 17″ pages proceeded with relative ease, but the difficulty was punching 34 uniform holes for proper alignment with the fancy 34 spine clamps. To make matters worse, not all of the clamps shut properly. My friend Rich Nelson spent several evenings forcing surgical “IV” tubing over each clamp so the pages would turn smoothly.

Glynn came up through the Philadelphia Phillies farm system that produced the 1950 “Whiz Kids.” In 1946, his first year in organized baseball, Bill hit .328 to lead Americus to a Georgia-Florida League pen­nant. This headline from an early clipping was a con­fidence boost, “Rookie is Compared to Gehrig in His Early Days.” There was a story of young Glynn sitting on first base eating his sandwich and drinking milk during lunch because he did not want to relinquish the sack to any challengers.

Moving up to the Class A Eastern League with Utica in 1947, Billy Glynn joined Richie Ashburn, Granny Hamner, and Stan Lopata as the Blue Sox claimed the league championship. Glynn continued to develop as a power hitter and advanced to the International League with Toronto and Baltimore.

In 1952, he was traded to the Sacramento Salons in the Pacific Coast League. Manager Joe Gordon insist­ed on two changes for his young slugger: “He was working out for two or three hours and then stopping off at a corner drive-in and drinking not only one milkshake but two.” Gordon also taught Glynn to hit through the pitcher’s mound and run like hell, “Anyone with Bill’s speed and his natural ability to bunt and drag the ball should never settle for a batting average under .290.”

Glynn was soon leading the PCL in hitting, and the Cleveland Indians purchased him to back up Luke Easter at first base. They liked his defense and speed. He stuck with the Tribe and was featured in their 1953 Home Schedule sliding past a diving Yogi Berra.

Lou “The Clocker ” Miller was one of the pioneers in the use of a stopwatch to time runners out of the bat­ters box to first base. In his February 4, 1953, Sporting News article, Mickey Mantle was proclaimed the fastest man in baseball. He covered the distance in 3.1 seconds. Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants led the National League at 3.3 seconds. Washington Senators outfielders Gil Coan and Jim Busby were tied for second in the AL at 3.4 seconds. In a seven-way tie for fourth at 3.6 seconds were Mantle’s New York teammates Phil Rizzuto, Gil McDougal, Irv Noren and Gene Woodling along with Philadelphia’s Dave Philley and Cleveland’s Larry Doby and Bill Glynn.

Bill mistakenly confided to a Cleveland sportswriter that he wished he was as good as Philadelphia Athletics first baseman Ferris Fain. The story came out as, “I’m another Ferris Fain, don’t you think?” A fan wrote Glynn a letter: “Ferris Fain, my ass! You couldn’t hit an elephant in the ass with an oar paddle!” Injured by the misunderstanding, Bill turned to Bob Feller. The future Hall of Famer, who was nearing the end of his career, shared one of his letters: ‘Tm a mechanic and if I fixed cars like you pitched, I’d be out of business.”

One of Bill’s favorite articles is from the August 30, 1986, Toronto Star: “(Joe) Carter, who also singled twice, drove in four runs. He became the first Cleveland player to hit three home runs in a game since George Hendrick on June 19, 1973 and first to accomplish the feat on the road since Bill Glynn on July 5, 1954.” He remembers his teammates greeted him after his first two home runs, but they acted like nothing had happened after the third. “Then, about 30 seconds later, they all jumped up and cheered. They we’re all in on it and, you know, ballplayers have a sense of humor.”

One favorite page in the Glynn scrapbook is a bright yellow flyer announcing the grand opening of a Cleveland Gulf Service station on May 22nd and 23rd, 1953. To entice customers, the station was offering premiums with the purchase of seven gallons of gaso­line, “Your choice of 6 glasses or a whisk broom autographed by Bill Glynn.” Bill can’t remember if the motorists preferred the personalized whisk broom to a set of glasses.

In 1948, a year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, Johnny Ritchey became the first African-American player in the Pacific Coast League. While Robinson was making history in Brooklyn, John Ritchey was leading the Negro American League with a .381 average for the Chicago American Giants in 1947. His reward was a contract with the San Diego Padres, where he was already a high school, American Legion, and college baseball legend.

When San Diego Post 6 won the American Legion Junior World Series in 1938, Johnny Ritchey was a 15-year-old substitute.Two years later, he was the star of the team that again made the finals from a field of over 1,300 teams. However, Post 6 would be facing an all­ white team from Albemarle, North Carolina—in Albemarle. John and Nelson Manuel were not allowed to participate in the games, and San Diego lost the series.

The team returned to a heroes welcome and this excerpt from Tom Akers’ column: “Let us honor John Ritchey and Nelson Manuel for the manly grit they have shown and help them, if we can, to forget their degradation, their humiliation and suffering. At least we can do that much toward these two members of a race which has been downtrodden, abused and dis­criminated against down through the years since a presidential proclamation freed them from bondage and declared them ‘free and equal’ of all men.”

Johnny’s scrapbook was a classic woodshop project with a folding plywood cover and leather thong hold­ing the pages inside. Like many old scrapbooks, the pages were breaking up and falling out. Fixing the pages required a double backing for the left edge and new holes. New hinges were added and the leather was replaced with album screws. This was the easiest of all the scrapbooks that I repaired. It was also one of the most historically significant.

Clippings about the Negro Leagues are few. John was busy playing baseball and not collecting articles. It is puzzling to see all the various averages posted in different newspapers after Ritchey won the batting crown. The range is .369 to ”better than .400.” Best known of the black sportswriters was Wendell Smith, sports editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, who credited Johnny with a .386 average. Nat Low, a surprisingly well-informed sportswriter for the American Communist Party’s Daily Worker, wrote glowingly of Ritchey’s .378 batting average. The Chicago papers listed his league best as .369 and .382. San Diego papers also used the .369 figure and Law’s .378. Interestingly, it appears .381 was the most likely bat­ ting average that Johnny achieved in 1947.

As an aside, Smith reported that after winning the batting title, Ritchey “worked out at Wrigley Field today before a group of Cub officials and scouts.” A rumor that the White Sox were interested in the young catcher prompted the Padres to quickly sign him to a contract. J. B. Martin, owner of the American Giants, immediately sent a protest to baseball commissioner A.B. “Happy” Chandler. Wendell Smith described Negro baseball business operations as “slip-shod.” “When Brooklyn signed Jackie Robinson and sent him to Montreal, J. L. Wilkinson of the Kansas City Monarchs hollered ‘robber; too. But like Martin, he was unable to produce a bonafide contract with Robinson’s name on it. That, too, we’ ll call a slight oversight. In fact, that’s all you can call it. But in each instance that ‘slight oversight’ cost there respective own­ers many a good dollar.”

Bucky Walter of the San Francisco Examiner wrote, “It doesn’t take many minutes to capsule Ritchey. He’s a shy, gentlemanly and intelligent youngster who only asks to be considered as ‘another ball player.” ‘That’s impossible right now, I realize; he rationalizes. I’m unique and for that reason, it’s only natural you fellows want to interview me. But the newness should wear off in time. I’ll be grateful for that, because honestly, I don’t want any publicity except that I’m able to earn on the ballfield.”

At the end of the ’48 season, Herman Hill was com­plementary, “Ritchey is the first athlete of his race to play in the Coast League. He has proven himself to be a brilliant prospect, a gentleman both on and off the field, popular with his teammates and a great com­petitor. He batted .323 in his first year in organized baseball and drove in a flock of runs. John was espe­cially formidable at the plate with men on base.”

It was always Johnny’s dream to make the big leagues, but that was not to be. In addition to San Diego, he played with Coast League teams in Sacramento, Portland, and San Francisco, where he finished his career in 1955.

Rudy Regalado asked if I could get his scrapbooks laminated. His mother and wife had done a fine job filling several scrapbooks with baseball and basketball articles going back to his days as a high school star in Glendale, California. As a youth, Regalado narrowly missed being selected as the first team All-California Interscholastic Federation shortstop for three consec­utive years from 1945 through 1947.

Rudy’s wife, Marilyn, employed a favorite scrapbook technique perfected by my mother. If there is a blank space on a page, glue a contemporary item alongside the old articles. For example, on the same page with a clipping from the late 1940s about the All-CIF team beating the Los Angeles All-City team, 2 -1, the results of a recent Saint Patrick’s Day Twilight golf tourna­ment, won by Rudy and Marilyn Regalado, was glued into place.

He played in a schoolboy series at the Polo Grounds billed as the U.S. Stars vs. N.Y. Stars. One of his U.S. teammates was a kid from Chicago named Bill Skowron. Rudy was a freshman when his USC team won the NCAA baseball championship in 1948. A teammate was Bill Sharman, who was also a pretty fair basketball player and coach. Regalado would go on to lead the Trojans in batting and sign with the Cleveland Indians in 1953.

Although unlisted on the Indians 1954 spring train­ing roster, he was an instant success. “Regalado, an infielder who was with Reading in the Eastern League and Indianapolis in the American Association last season, has smashed nine home runs in Cleveland’s 17 exhibition games to steal the thunder from such estab­lished home-hitters as Ed Matthews, Duke Snider, Al Rosen and Ted Kluszewski. In addition to his nine home runs, Regalado has hit three triples and ranks behind (Don) Lenhardt and (Jim) Findley with a .481 Grapefruit League batting average.”

L.A. sportswriter Braven Dyer opined, “If Cleveland doesn’t open the season with their rookie slugging sensation, ex-Trojan Rudy Regalado, in the lineup, it’ll prove what a lot of die-hard Indians fans have long suspected — that the club is run by numbskulls.”

When Rudy got his chance, it set off a bizarre chain of events. On April 24, 1954, Cleveland first baseman Bill Glynn was second among American League hit­ters with a .419 average. Despite this, manager Al Lopez benched Glynn, switched 1953 AL Most Valuable Player Al Rosen from third to first and had Regalado assume the hot corner. “Lopez said he was making the switch in an effort to shake the Indians from the doldrums. The Tribe is in last place.”

Although the experiment proved temporary, Cleveland emerged from the doldrums to register a record 111 victories to pry the pennant from the five­-time consecutive world champion New York Yankees. Regalado was percolating at .321 in June, but slumped to finish his rookie season with a .250 batting average.

Like his good friend Bill Glynn, Rudy’s scrapbook memories of the 1954 World Series are bittersweet. The Indians and New York Giants knew each other well. Both teams scrimmaged in Arizona and did, in effect, conclude their spring training brainstorming by rail as they zigzagged back into the Midwest. Willie Mays, Dusty Rhodes, and the Giants would stun Cleveland with a four-game sweep.

Whereas the unknown Regalado had been a sur­prise slugger in March, an unheralded Dusty Rhodes would become one of October’s most unlikely heroes. And 1954, of course, is remembered for Willie Mays’s signature catch of Vic Wertz’s drive into the depths of the Polo Grounds.

Rudy would primarily spend the next two years on the Cleveland bench. In 1957, he was farmed out to the Padres. He responded with a fine season that earned him an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show as the Outstanding Third Baseman in the minor leagues. Regalado longed to return to the majors, but it did not happen. He was outstanding for San Diego, but there are only two Padre articles in his scrapbook. The final pages are devoted to reunions, golf, and old friends.

Cedric Durst called himself “Babe Ruth’s caddy.” An original Lane Field Padre and later the most success­ful manager in Padre history, Durst’s major league career was spent in the shadow of two Hall of Famers, George Sisler in St. Louis and Babe Ruth in New York. Babe was known to imbibe and would sometimes “take ill.” At such time Durst would fill in. What are you suppose to do when subbing for the Sultan of Swat? On June 2, 1929, Durst hit a home run.

In the fourth and final game of the Yankees’ sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1928 World Series, Babe Ruth hit three home runs while Lou Gehrig and Cedric Durst each added one for a single-game team record five home runs. This records stands today.

Ced Durst was born in Austin, Texas, on August 23, 1896. Around that time his family started a scrapbook by pasting news articles over handwritten entries in an ancient business ledger. By the 1910s, most of the clippings were about young Cedric’s prowess on the baseball diamond. When Durst died in 1971, the book was full and falling apart. By the 1990s, his daughter, Autumn Keltner, was keeping it in a plastic bag. Whenever the book was removed for the grandkids to view, tiny bits of paper covered the kitchen table and floor like snowflakes. Autumn was concerned that the old scrapbook was beyond repair.

My first step was to remove all of the pages and rein­force the left edges with carefully measured strips made from blank ledger pages. The lamination company was understandably reluctant to accept the job and required a statement that they would not be held liable for any resulting damage from handling the brittle pages. They did a beautiful job of sealing all the old memories for posterity.

There are Christmas cards from Ruth and Gehrig. A cover from the 1927 World Series program featuring oval portraits of rival managers Miller Huggins and Owen J. Bush was pasted onto one page. “When my mother was putting these items in the scrapbook, there was no thought given to their value. She was just chronicling Dad’s baseball career,” says Autumn, who is grateful the scrapbook had been saved.

The Durst scrapbook covers San Diego baseball in depth from 1936 through 1943 and include clippings from 1933-35 when the Hollywood Stars were struggling to cover rent at Wrigley Field. The following year, an exasperated Bill “Hardrock” Lane pulled up stakes and moved his beleaguered franchise to San Diego. Many predicted he would go broke in this sleepy border town. The doubters were wrong. The Padres were a solid hit, and Durst would play a promi­nent role during the team’s formative years. Although he turned 40 during the first year in San Diego, Ced Durst would play and later manage for six seasons with the Padres and accumulate a .297 composite bat­ting average.

An article from the Los Angeles Examiner is highly complementary of the former Hollywood MVP. “It’s a pity that every baseball fan in San Diego doesn’t know Cedric Durst, Padre center fielder, personally. One thing which specially recommends Durst to me is his attitude toward the youngsters, the ‘rookies.’ He does everything he can to help them, to show them their faults and how to remedy them. I honestly believe that he would help a young player better his game even if he knew the kid was in line for his job. A great guy.”

The Padres won the league playoff championship in 1937. Ted Williams batted .291 and hit 23 home runs. Four San Diego pitchers (Manuel Salvo, Wally Hebert, Dick Ward, and Tiny Chaplin) each hurled a pair of complete games as the Padres swept Sacramento and Portland in the Shaughnessey playoffs.

Venerable Bay Area sportswriter Jack McDonald writing in the San Francisco News Call Bulletin on March 4, 1965, about Giants pitching coach and orig­inal San Diego Padres skipper Frank Shellenback stat­ed, ”As manager of the Padres, he started Ted Williams on his career. ‘Ted came to us out of a San Diego high school as a pitcher,” he was saying. “His arm wasn’t strong, but he looked like a natural hitter to me, if a pitcher can judge such things. I turned him over to Cedric Durst, to convert Ted into an outfielder.”

After San Diego failed to qualify for the playoffs in 1938, Durst replaced Shellenback as manager of the Padres. During his 4½ year tenure, San Diego would record a .506 winning percentage. Alex Shults, writing for the Seattle Times in 1942, noted, “Durst has had amazing success with recent Padre teams, battling for the lead with aggregations the experts tabbed for the cellar.” After Durst was forced to resign in 1943, respected PCL scribe Morton Moss wrote, “The fact is that Durst, who by some strange magical miracle landed out of the first division once during his tenure, ranked in many minds as the most able skipper in the Coast League. Time after time, he refuted the axiom which asserts that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Cedric did it with the Padres. He was a magician.”

Nobody wore the Padre flannels longer than Al Olsen, a San Diego native who in 1939 joined the Padres upon graduation from San Diego High School and was immediately hailed as “another Freddie Hutchinson.”

Although Olsen did not make it to the majors, his uniform did. For years the Baseball Encyclopedia credited him with a walk and stolen base for the Boston Red Sox during the 1943 season. Subsequent research revealed that an unknown base thief was wearing the same uniform assigned to Olsen during spring training that year.

In his Nevada State Journal column, “Inside Stuff,” Ty Cobb wrote, “Al ‘Lefty’ Olsen, who used to pitch for Smith Valley in the Sierra Nevada League, thence to San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, is still mowing them down. He’s on the mound staff of Red Ruffing’s Sixth Ferrying Group and Friday stuck out 12 U.S.C. batters … ” This was during World War II, when Airman Olsen pitched his Army Air Forces team to the Far West Championship. His teammates included Nanny Fernandez, Max West, Harry Danning, and Chuck Stevens.

On June 15, 1946, in response to “irate subscriber” requests for appreciation of out-of-town players, San Francisco Examiner sportswriter Will Connolly wrote, ” … they waited a decent interval of two or three days after Al Olsen, San Diego pitcher, lost a 16-inning heartbreaker to the Seals last Friday night and still nothing in the paper about Hero Olsen.” Connolly penned a tongue-in-cheek biography that included Al’s favorite movie stars from a team questionnaire and described the lanky six foot one, 175-pound south­paw as “slatty.” He concluded his masterpiece with, “He is a competent, consistent and conscientious workman, as scions of Scandinavian blood almost invari­ably are.”

Following baseball, Olsen went into coaching and eventually became athletic director at San Diego State College. He is remembered for hiring an unknown football coach named Don Coryell who led the Aztecs to national gridiron prominence. Al died in 1994. His wife and high school sweetheart, Mary, asked me to fix and laminate their scrapbooks. One of the best was made by 11-year-old Al Olsen Jr., while his father was wrapping up his pitching career for Oklahoma City in 1953 after eleven seasons with the Padres.

My last baseball project involved the repair, update, and lamination of scrapbooks for the family of Wally “Preacher” Hebert, who died in December 1999 at age 92. As one might expect from a collection which starts during the 1920s, many of these books were falling apart. The earliest scrapbooks were made by Bobbie Hebert, Preacher’s wife of 67 years, who as a young teenager began pasting clippings about her beau over her schoolwork in sturdy composition folders.

It was important to the family that the originals be laminated, but I had lost my source for doing large page lamination. I suggested completely redoing the scrapbooks by removing the old articles and gluing them onto 8 x 11 pages. I had to steam several articles glued on back pages to preserve them. My friend Chris Schuehle lended his lamination machine to seal 127 double-sided pages. This project took over two months to complete.

In 1932, the “19-year-old southpaw rookie from Lake Charles, La.” made his first major league start against the powerful Philadelphia Athletics. The reigning American League champs “got near worst beating at the hands of ‘Preacher’ Hebert.” Although the rookie was actually 24 years old, he limited the heart of the A’s batting order (Jimmy Dykes, Mule Haas, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx) to a feeble single by Jimmie Foxx as the lowly St. Louis Browns triumphed, 8-2.

Hebert followed this with a 4-2 victory over Red Ruffing, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the New York Yankees. It was Preacher’s “trenchant if not especially powerful bat” that drove in two runs which would prove to be the margin of victory. The game was attended by “various inmates of the Passaic Orphanage in New Jersey,” who were rewarded by an audience with Babe Ruth after they had heroically “flagged an express train with 500 passengers aboard just before it neared a probably tragic disaster in the form of a washout.”

The heart of the Hebert scrapbooks highlight his seven wonderful years with the Padres from 1936 through 1942. During that period he was a 20-game winner three times and posted a 126-95 record. According to a 1937 article, “The second game saw Wally Hebert, brilliant Padre southpaw hurler, and Ted Williams combine their talents to embarrass the (Portland) Beavers no little. Hebert held them to six scattered hits and no earned runs while Williams drove in four runs, three of them with another homer over the right field wall, making it five for the series.

“Wally Hebert Day” was celebrated at Lane Field on September 19, 1941. Teammates took up a col­lection and gave the lanky Cajun a dollar ($104) to represent every victory he had hurled since the old Hollywood Stars moved to San Diego in 1936. Fans presented Hebert with a live chicken and a Louisiana catfish, since Mrs. Hebert’s Southern cooking and hospitality were widely known and appreciated.

On August 16, 1998, the New Orleans Times­-Picayune carried a feature story, “The Babe in The Big Easy.” The article commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Ruth’s death and recalled his visit to New Orleans on March 10, 1922. “When the motorman of a Tulane belt streetcar passed Heinemann Park yesterday around high noon, and saw a baseball come floating over the center field fence, he remarked, ‘Gee, nobody but Babe could have sloughed that ball.’”

Ninety-one-year-old Preacher Hebert was contacted by the reporter and asked to recall his memories of pitching to the Babe. ” … he was swinging with everything he had. I threw him a slow curve, and he hit a little squibber to second base. Grounded into a double play. As he was running back to the dugout, he looked at me and yelled, ‘You can stick that slow curve right up your ass’.”

Whitey Wietelmann celebrated his 83rd birthday on March 15, 2002. He died on March 26, 2002. Whitey played for the Pacific Coast League Lane Field Padres from 1949 until 1953 and coached for the PCL Westgate Padres from 1960 to 1966. When San Diego became a National League expansion team in 1969, Wietelmann returned as a member of manager Preston Gomez’s coaching staff and remained in that capacity through a series of managerial changes until the 1980 season. Over the next fourteen years he served the team in a variety of functions and is remembered for his chili, his acerbic humor, and his cherubic grin. Whitey was known by the fans as “Mr. San Diego Baseball.” The Padres simply called him “Mr. Indispensable.”

Not many people outside baseball realize that Whitey created a series of scrapbooks which contained every Padres box score for twenty-five years, from 1969 through the 1993 season. I doubt that any major league team has every box score of every game they ever played. Although the scrapbooks were Whitey’s prize possession, he stopped making them after his retirement from the Padres. They were boxed up in his garage and would fall apart when opened. Years ago, I had offered to laminate the pages, but Whitey only growled, “Nobody cares. They just collect dust.”

Following his death, the family offered the collection to the San Diego Padres, but they declined to accept it. The San Diego Hall of Champions did not have space for a large box of unmatched binders and loose papers. Though I had previously vowed to never make another baseball scrapbook, I volunteered to preserve this legacy. As of August 2002, I have survived the mold, laminated over 1,000 pages and made twenty-eight matching binders with covers.

All of the baseball groups and organizations in San Diego were invited to participate in the completion of this project, which became focused on locating the missing Padres box scores from 1994 through 2001.

The San Diego Ted Williams SABR chapter has been the most responsive. Thanks are extended to Bob Dreher, Tom Larwin, Bob Diaz, Andy Aguinaldo, Art Kaliel, Tim Scheidt, Tom Maggard, Chris Schuehle, Phil White, Jon Wietelmann (Whitey’s nephew), and Doc Mattei. Special recognition is given to Bob Boynton, who made photocopies of all the box scores for the 1994, 1996, and 1997 seasons.

It has primarily been through the generous contributions of individuals and former Padres players like John Curtis and Randy Jones that the restoration process began in earnest. Both of these pitchers remember watching Whitey in the clubhouse cutting and taping box scores onto the pages of his scrapbooks.

I am making the 2002 box score scrapbook and hope to find an organization that will continue to maintain the “Wietelmann Scrapbooks” in the future as a part of the Padres living history. When completed, the collection will be donated to the San Diego SABR Baseball Research Center at the downtown San Diego Library.

Interestingly, the only reference that I found about Whitey himself is a handwritten caption beneath a newspaper photograph of beloved Padres owner Ray Kroc throwing the first pitch at the 1978 All-Star game in San Diego. Whitey wrote, “I caught it.”

BILL SWANK is the author of Echoes from Lane Field, A History of the San Diego Padres, 1936-1957. His scale model of Lane Field is on display at the San Diego Hall of Champions. Swank also makes baseball scrapbooks in his spare time.