Sunday, April 1, 2018

Baseball has a long history in Kerr County

Tivy High School baseball team 1967-68, fifty years ago.
Click on any image below to enlarge.
There have been baseball teams representing Kerrville since the late 1800s, well before the first Tivy football team was organized here in 1911.
Kerrville Athletics, around 1910
The earliest local news accounts of Kerrville baseball are from 1891, when the team was simply called the Kerrville team or the Kerrville boys. My history-sleuth friend Deborah Gaudier found a mention of a Kerrville baseball team in the San Antonio Daily Light, on July 11, 1894.
The first mention of a team name comes in 1909, with the Kerrville Cardinals, a team name used again later.
Kerrville All-Stars, around 1949
Before the 1960s, baseball in Kerrville was segregated, unfortunately, and there were teams made up of African-American players, notably the Kerrville All-Stars, and a local Hispanic-American team, also called the Kerrville Cardinals, which played as early as the mid-1940s. Despite segregated teams, baseball helped create community as people gathered to watch their favorite team play, as people of all races could be found in the audience.
Kerrville Cardinals, 1947
Other local teams were the Kerrville Athletics, which played in the mid-1910s, the Kerrville Eagles, from the early 1960s, and the Kerrville Indians which began around 1960.
Jimmie Peschel, pitching
for the Kerrville Indians
In fact, in the early 1960s, the Kerrville Indians moved an entire baseball stadium from Comfort to Kerrville, piece by piece, after buying it from the owner of the defunct Comfort Broncos team. That baseball field stood on about four acres of county land, on Highway 27 next to what is now the Hill Country Youth Event Center.
The earliest mention of Little League Baseball in Kerrville is on October 6, 1953, when a front-page story reported on a talk to the Kerrville Rotary Club to be given by Marvin Bradford, the head of Little League Baseball in San Antonio. The Rotarians agreed to support Little League Baseball in Kerrville as a project for the upcoming year.
Kerrville Eagles, 1960s
Little League practice started in May, 1954, at the "Little League Baseball Field located on Fredericksburg Road north of Antler Stadium. All boys between the ages of 8 and 12 years are eligible for the Little League." Boys were asked to bring their own glove, and "wear any kind of shoes except those which have metal cleats."
More than 100 boys showed up.
Kerrville Little League, 1970s
Dr. F. M. Mares, Kerrville's first Little League director, met with the boys that first Saturday and explained "that Little League is being sponsored in the community by the Rotary Club for the youngsters and their pleasure. It is up to [the boys] to learn the game, to conduct themselves mannerly on the field of play, and to foster better sportsmanship."
Kerrville Little League, 1960s
As a child, I participated in Kerrville Little League in the early 1970s, and played at that ball field, though not very well. Thousands of young baseball players have played in the Kerrville Little League.
With the opening of the new soccer and baseball fields on Holdsworth Drive, a new chapter is starting in Kerrville baseball, one I know will follow the guidance Dr. Mares offered young players over 60 years ago.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who still enjoys watching a good baseball game. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 31, 2018

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