Battle of the bats

Published 7:01 am Sunday, July 19, 2015

“Albert Lea Council vs. Austin Prides Will Cross Bats Saturday”

That was the headline of an article in the Austin Daily Herald dated Aug. 13, 1908. The Hormel Historic Home recently hosted a History Happy Hour presentation entitled Snapshots of Austin’s Baseball History, Part 2. Paul Spyhalski gave the crowd a thorough look at the rise of baseball’s popularity in our area from the early 1900s to the late 1930s. Several players came through town that went on leave their mark in baseball history.

Two of George Hormel’s brothers, John and Ben Hormel, were notable players on a 1908 team as stated in the article.

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“The local U.C.T. members are working hard now nights to get in condition for their match ball game with the Albert Lea team. The game will be held Saturday afternoon at 3:30 at Lafayette Park, and anyone wishing an afternoon’s recreation will receive one by attending this game. You will have an opportunity to see some of the city’s crack traveling squad get a workout.

The line-up will be as follows: Joe Clemens, 2b; B.F. Hormel, 3 b.; W. Oberg, r.f.; Geo. Valentine, 1 b.; Branham, c.f.; Doane, s.s.; Perrin, c.; Clefton, p.; John Hormel, l.f.

All the above players have at past times been connected with some fast teams and if they can round into shape by Saturday they expect to do some grand stand playing.

Branham at one time belonged to the Kentucky Night Riders.

Valentine was once considered the fastest base runner in the Amateur league.  That was before he took on so much weight.

Charles Perrin is an old time university and bush league player.

Clefton, who used to throw a corkscrew curve is now putting the finishing touches on the spit ball.

With John Hormel in the field the players are confident that nothing will get over the left field fence.

If you want to see the great event of the year don’t miss the U.C.T. ball game.”

With Paul’s help I have learned that the U.C.T. teams were sponsored by the United Commercial Travelers of America Organization. The U.C.T. offered benefits for traveling salesmen and their families. Ben and John Hormel certainly fit in that category.

The next History Happy Hour on Aug. 10 will be a presentation on the History of the Mower County Fair given by Ken Trom.

Free Garden Concert

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 21,

Join us for an evening of classic Bob Dylan tunes and other ‘60s tracks, performed by Ray, Mary, and Tony Bissen and Pete Jacobsen. Enjoy going back a few decades in music to relive your favorites.

Rain site is inside the banquet hall. Refreshments will be available for purchase.