LOOKING BACK: Armours wins first Minnesota amateur baseball state title

By Nick Gerhardt

ScoreMonster Contributor

news@mnbaseball.org

Photos of Lexington Park in 1925 via Minnesota Historical Society

The 100th amateur baseball state tournament will take place in August in Dassel, Delano and Litchfield, but it’s interesting to take a look back at the first tournament to understand the way the tournament has changed in a century.

An Aug. 12, 1924 Minneapolis Daily Star article mentions a plan to hold a semi-pro baseball tournament at Lexington Park from various baseball organizations across the state. Judge J.P. Carey, president of the Range League, was one of the sponsors and called a special meeting in September. 

The first amateur or semi-pro state baseball tournament in Minnesota took place in 1924 with eight teams advancing to the tournament at Lexington Park in St. Paul. A state tournament garnered discussion the previous year but never materialized. Teams from the Friendly Valley League, Iron Range League, Central Minnesota League, Iowa-Minnesota League, St. Paul League, Minnetoka League, Southern Minnesota League and the Eastern Minnesota League participated. Interestingly, no teams from Minneapolis took part in the tournament. Minneapolis teams played in the Municipal Amateur Baseball Association at the time and were invited to the state tournament if the league held playoffs. A playoff tournament didn’t materialize for the Municipal Amateur Baseball Association and no Minneapolis teams took part in the state tournament. American Association umpire Jim Murray and Tony Pleva served as umpires for the tournament.

The Association of Minnesota Baseball Leagues later formed in 1927, according to an April 16, 1927 edition of The Minneapolis Star. A total of 15 leagues were expected to join the association, which served as the forerunner to the Minnesota Baseball Association. 

South St. Paul’s Armour Packers team captured the first state title with a 6-5 victory over Stillwater. Armours won the St. Paul League to reach the tournament and defeated Stillwater, the Friendly Valley League representative, Oct. 5 at Lexington Park in St. Paul. Stillwater has not reached a state championship game since. 

Armours came into the tournament known as a strong hitting team. The team held a .295 team batting average and put on a hitting display in the championship.

The Minneapolis Daily Star described the game as “starting out like a slugfest” after South St. Paul scored six runs in the top of the first inning. Stillwater responded with five runs in the bottom of the second inning. Chuck Corbett hit a grand slam for Stillwater. 

George “Lefty” Boche struck out nine and allowed seven hits for Armours. Rees “Steamboat” Williams started for Stillwater. Williams pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1914 and 1916. In between the Cardinals loaned him to the St. Paul Saints in the American Association where he went 15-6 with a 2.18 ERA in 1915. 

Williams grew up in Montana and married Percy Augustus “Peg” Fulton in St. Paul at her home in 1915, and settled in Minnesota. In 1916, he returned to the Cardinals and led the National League in games finished with 21. 

Williams started playing with teams across Minnesota in 1921. He pitched for Millville, Young America and Eveleth before catching on with Stillwater. 

Boche earned tournament MVP honors after he won three games, throwing 27 innings and allowing two earned runs on 12 hits while striking out 29. He went on to win the award in 1926 with Armours and 1928 with Mankato.

COMPLETE 1924 STATE TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Ed’s note: Last names often appeared as abbreviations in newspaper box scores. Names may not be entirely accurate. Names were researched and spelled out completely when known. If you have additional information, email news@mnbaseball.org.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Armours 6, Stillwater 5 

Armours AB H P A

Peters C 5 0 10 1

Hablas 1B 5 2 2 0

Weidel SS 5 1 1 2

Bernier CF 4 2 0 0

Schur 2B 4 1 0 4

Radatz RF 4 0 1 0

Gangl 1B 3 0 12 1

O’Brien 3B 4 3 0 2

Boche P 4 1 0 2

— — — —

Totals 38 10 27 12

Stillwater AB H P A

Bemis CF 5 0 2 0

Peterson SS 2 1 0 2

Corbett RF 4 2 1 0

Corwin C 4 1 3 0

Lawir. 3B 3 1 1 4

Wellin 2B 4 0 1 3

Des Jardien 1B 4 1 14 1

Stemig LF 4 1 4 0

Williams P 3 1 1 5

a McPhrn 1 0 0 0

— — — —

Totals 34 7 27 15

a — Batted for Williams in ninth.

Armours …..   6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0—6

Stillwater ……0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0—5

Errors—Bernier 1, Bemis 1, Corwin 1, Des Jardien 1. Two-base hits—Bernier. Home run—Corbett. Stolen base—Hablas. Sacrifice hit—Gangl. Struck out—By Boche 9, by Williams 3. Bases on balls—Off Boche 3, off Williams 1. Left on bases—Stillwater 5, Armours 7. Umpires—Murray and Pleva. Time of game—1:45.

QUARTERFINALS

Rochester 4, Marble 1 

The Rochester Aces defeated Marble 4-1 in the first round but Rochester pitcher Carl Eng and catcher Fred Conkey were declared ineligible, which gave Marble the win. 

Eng pitched with the Minneapolis Millers and Conkey played with Lincoln in the Western League. Teams with players who played in a league higher than Class D were deemed ineligible. 

Initially Rochester threatened it wouldn’t participate in the state tournament unless Swede Risberg was allowed to play. A meeting launching the state tournament banned former members of the Chicago “Black Sox”. Risberg played shortstop with the 1919 “Black Sox” team and allegedly received $15,000 for his role in the fixed series where he went 2-for-25 and made a record eight errors. Risberg played with Rochester up until the state tournament in October.

Risberg signed with a Rochester club in 1923 and hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season against Red Wing. He also started on the mound and struck out 12, according to an article in the Rochester Post Bulletin. He went 20-5 in 1923 with more than 200 strikeouts while hitting .382.

Risberg married Mary Frances Purcell, a Rochester dental office worker the following year and bought a farm in Rochester Township where they sold eggs and produce to the Mayo Clinic.

Risberg won 22 games in 1924 and hit .361 but in 1925 the Aces had to recognize organized baseball’s ban on Risberg. 

Claude “Boney” McQuillan, who later became mayor of Rochester, managed the Rochester Aces. 

Rochester came out of the Iowa-Minnesota League to enter the state tournament. 

Marble advanced to the state tournament from the Range League after defeating Virginia in a three-game series with a 2-1 win and a 6-3 win.

Rochester 4, Marble 1 

Rochester AB H P A

Meixell CF 4 0 1 0

Mulane LF 5 2 1 0

Peterson RF 3 0 2 1

Norvold 1B 2 2 5 2

Conkey C 4 0 8 0

Davis SS 4 2 4 3

Mickelson 2B 4 1 1 3

Myers 3B 4 0 4 0

Eng P 3 0 1 1

— — — —

Totals 33 7 27 10

Marble AB H P A

Bandu 2B 3 0 0 1

Cullis SS 4 2 2 2

Del Paddock CF 2 0 4 0

Russ 1B 2 2 10 0

Lundeen 3B 4 0 1 4

McAlpine RF 4 1 4 1

Brndon LF 3 1 1 0

Van Horn C 2 0 5 1

Repola P 2 0 0 0

a Dawson 1 0 0 0

Hanson P 0 0 0 1

— — — —

Totals 27 6 27 10

a—Batted for Repola in eighth.

Rochester ….0 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 0—4

Marble ……..0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1—1

Two-base hits—Cullis, Norvold. Sacrifices—Meixell. Double plays—Eng to Davis to Norvold to Mickelson, McAlpine to Lundeen. Left on bases—Rochester 8, Marble 5. Bases on balls—Off Eng 5, off Repola 4. Struck out—By Eng 7, by Repola 3, by Hanson 1. Hits—Off Repola 7 in 8 innings, off Hanson 0 in 1 inning. Hit by pitcher—By Eng (Paddock). Wild pitches—Repola 5. Passed balls—Van Horn. Losing pitcher—Repola. Umpires—Murray and Pleva. Time of game—1:35.

Stillwater 4, Madison 0

Stillwater defeated Madison 4-0 to open the tournament and followed that with a 4-1 win over Marble. Rees Williams started for Stillwater and allowed just one hit. He struck out seven and walked five but didn’t allow a hitter to reach second base after Stillwater turned three double plays.

Stillwater defeated Hugo 19-6 to enter the tournament as Friendly Valley champions.

Madison won the Minnetoka League to advance to the state tournament. Leonard Weiberg pitched Madison to 19 wins in 23 games. Weiberg, just 21 at the time, won 12 games in 15 starts with nine shutouts. He allowed 31 runs in 23 games, walked 21 and struck out 233 batters. Arthur D. Lee played third base for Madison and played at the University of North Dakota. Madison’s Orris Lee played shortstop and previously played with Omaha of the Western League. 

Madison AB H P A

A. Heihjelle CF 4 0 1 0

A Lee 2B 3 1 1 4

Kelty 1B 2 0 11 0

O Lee SS 2 0 5 5

Ryan C 3 0 3 1

J Weiberg LF 2 0 1 0

x Foss 1B 0 0 1 1

L Anderson 3B 3 0 1 1

L Weiberg P 2 0 0 1

B Anderson RF 2 0 0 0

— — — —

Totals 24 1 24 13

Stillwater AB H P A

Bemis CF 4 1 2 0

Peterson SS 4 2 2 2

Corbett RF 4 0 1 0

Corwin C 4 1 7 1

Lawler 3B 4 2 0 2

Wellman 2B 2 0 3 5

Des Jardien 1B 4 1 11 0

Goheen LF 4 1 0 0

Williams P 4 1 1 6

— — — —

Totals 34 9 27 16

x—Batted for J. Weiberg in eighth.

Madison …..0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0—0

Stillwater ….0 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 x—4

Two-base hits—Lawler 2, Des Jardien, Peterson. Stolen bases—Wellman 2, Bemis 2, Corbett. Double plays—Wellman to Peterson to Des Jardien, Williams to Wellman to Des Jardien, Lawler to Wellman to Des Jardien, O. Lee to Kelty. Struck out—By Williams 7, by Weiberg 3. Bases on balls—Off Williams 5, off Weiberg 2. Left on bases—Stillwater 8, Madison 2. Wild pitch—Weiberg. Balk—Weiberg. Passed ball—Ryan. Umpires—Murray, Pleva. Time of game—1:35.

Cold Spring 1, St. James 0 

Cold Spring scored the lone run of the game in the eighth inning after collecting three hits. Cold Spring only had four hits in the game. St. James had three hits in the game but struck out eight times.

Cold Spring entered the tournament as the Central Minnesota League champion and defeated St. Cloud in a three-game series to advance to state. Cold Spring featured Jake Thielman, who played in the big leagues a dozen years back. Bill Gutzke caught for Cold Spring and Chief Gunder pitched.

St. James won the Southern Minnesota League to advance to the state tournament after defeating Faribault in three straight games. Alfred Peterson managed St. James. Brothers Ernest and Carl “Butch” Peterson played second and left field. Ernest hit leadoff. “Beans” Gelhaye of Shakopee pitched. Gelhaye later pitched for Jordan, too. St. James beat Faribault 7-6, 10-7 and 6-4 to advance. Harry Wellman hit .458 for St. James and Bob Schmidt hit .418.

Cold Spring AB H P A E

M. Mbr SS 4 0 1 3 0

Gafferty RF 3 0 2 0 0

Eiffert 1B 4 1 1 7 0

Thlmn LF 2 0 1 0 0

Herung 2B 3 0 1 1 0

aSchauer RF 1 0 1 0 0

O Gutzke RF 4 0 1 0 0

W. Gutzke C 4 1 7 2 1

J. Bell CF 3 1 4 0 0

Gunder P 3 1 2 0 0

— — — —

Totals 41 4 27 6

St. James AB H P A E

Ernest Peterson 2B 4 0 1 5 0

Evanson RF 3 0 0 0 0

bLarson 1 0 0 0 0

Carl Peterson LF 4 1 2 0 0

Bob Schmidt C 4 0 4 0 0

Wellman SS 4 1 3 2 0

Shields CF 2 0 2 0 0

Schmillen 1B 3 1 12 0 0

Bruzek P 1 0 0 4 1

— — — —

Totals 29 3 27 12

a—Schauer batted for Herung in eighth.

b—Larson batted for Evenson in ninth

Cold Spring 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0—1

St. James ..0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0—0

Errors—W. Dutzke 1, Shields 1, Bruzek 1. Three-base hit—C. Peterson. Stolen bases—Eiffert 2. Double plays—Wellman to Davis to Schmellern. Bases on balls—Off Gunder 3, off Bruzek 4. Struck out—By Gunder 8, by Bruzek 3. Left on bases—Cold Spring 7, St. James 5. Umpire—Pleva. Time of game—1:25.

Armours 3, Braham 0

Braham, champions of the Eastern Minnesota League, managed just two hits off Bernier and struck out 12 times. Braham collected two hits in the first inning.

Braham’s Rube Chell allowed three hits, a walk in the first inning while two errors allowed Armours to score three runs. Chell allowed just two hits after the first inning. Chell later won MVP honors in 1927 with Mora when it defeated St. James 1-0 for the state title. 

The game got called in the sixth inning due to darkness.

Braham AB H P A

Aurel CF 3 0 0 0

Baker SS 3 1 0 0

Blidn 2-1 2 1 3 0

Fisher C 2 0 7 0

Johnson LF 2 0 2 1

Rentz RF 2 0 1 0

Chell P 2 0 1 2

Neil Mandlah 1B 1 0 1 1

xAndr 2B 1 0 0 0

S. Mon 3B 2 0 0 2

— — — —

Totals 20 2 15j 6

Armours AB H P A

Peters C 3 0 12 0

Habias CF 1 1 0 0

Weiddle SS 3 0 0 0

Bernier P 3 1 0 1

Radatz RF 3 2 1 0

Schars 2B 1 0 1 0

Leaf LF 2 1 0 0

Gangl 1B 2 0 3 0

O’Brien 3B 2 0 1 2

— — — —

Totals 20 5 18 3

x—Batted for N. Mandlah in fifth.

j—Game called in sixth, darkness

Braham …………..0 0 0 0 0 0—0

Armours ………….3 0 0 0 0 x—3

Errors—N. Mondloh 2. Two-base hits—Bernier. Stolen bases—Weiddle 2. Sacrifice hits—Habias. Left on bases—Braham 2, Armours 5. Bases on balls—Off Chell 2. Struck out—By Chell 7, by Bernier 12. Wild pitches 2. Umpires—Murray and Pleva. Time of game—1:00.

SEMIFINALS

Armours 3, Cold Spring 1

Cold Spring pitcher Chief Gunder was described as using “his same busy windup which preceded a darkening fast ball, whizzed them past the Armour batters, all heavy stickers.” Gunder allowed three hits but lost the game “on a ridiculous muff of a fly ball,” according to the Oct. 5, 1924 edition of The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune.

Cold Spring AB R H PO A E

Webber SS 4 0 0 0 3 0

Dougherty RF 4 0 1 0 0 0

Eiffert 1B 1 0 0 12 1 0

Thielman LF 3 1 1 0 1 1

Heruing 2B 3 0 0 1 2 0

O. Gutzke 3B 4 0 0 2 1 0

W. Gutzke C 3 0 0 8 1 0

J. Bell CF 3 0 0 0 0 0

Gunder P 3 0 0 1 4 0

— — — — — —

Totals 28 1 2 24 12 1

Armours AB R H PO A E

Peters C 4 1 1 6 1 0

Habias LF 2 0 0 3 1 0

Wiedell SS 3 0 0 1 3 0

Bernier CF 3 1 2 2 0 0

Schauers 2B 2 0 0 1 3 1

Raddatz RF 3 0 0 0 0 0

Gangl. 1B 2 0 0 11 1 0

O’Brien 3B 3 0 0 3 1 0

Boche P 3 0 0 0 1 0

— — — — — —

Totals 25 2 3 27 11 1

Three-base hits—Thielman. Sacrifice hits—Schauers, Herring, Gangl., Habias. Double play—Habias, Weidell, Gangl; Gunder, Eiffert, O. Gutzke. Base on balls—Boche, 4. Struck out—Boch, 4; Gunder 9. Passed ball—W. Gutzke. Umpires—Murray and Pleva. Time of game—1:25.

Stillwater 4, Marble 1

Stillwater AB R H PO A E

Bemis CF 4 2 1 2 0 0

Peterson SS 1 0 1 3 2 1

Corbett RF 3 0 0 0 0 0

Corwin C 4 0 1 9 0 0

Maller 3B 4 0 0 1 2 0

Wellman 2B 3 0 0 2 4 0

Des Jardien 1B 3 1 0 9 0 0

Steming LF 2 1 1 1 1 0

Williams P 4 0 0 0 1 0

— — — — — —

Totals 28 4 4 27 10 1

Marble AB R H PO A E

Moore 3B 4 0 0 1 5 0

Cullis SS 5 1 3 1 1 0

Paddock CF 3 0 2 7 0 0

Russ 1B 4 0 0 13 0 0

Boudreau 2B 4 0 2 2 5 1

McAlpine RF 3 0 0 2 0 0

Ralsom LF 4 0 0 0 0 0

Van Horn C 4 0 0 0 0 0

Hanson P 1 0 0 1 2 0

xReighe 1 0 0 0 0 0

xxLundeen 1 0 0 0 0 0

— — — — — —

Totals 34 1 7 27 17 1

x—Batted for Hanson in 9th.

xx—Batted for Moore in 9th

Stillwater ……………… 130 000 000—4

Marbler …………………100 000 000—1

Summary—Stolen bases: Cullis, Bemis, Des Jardien, Steming. Sacrifice hits: Steming, 2; Peterson, Corbett. Bases on balls—Off Hanson, 4; off Williams 4. Struck out—By Williams, 7. Hit by pitcher—Des Jardien by Hanson. Umpires—Murray, Pleva. Time of game—1:35.

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