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Rippey Baseball Memories

When Mary Weaver organized a program about Rippey Baseball for the Greene County Historical Society, she decided to share an article for the Rippey News. This site encourages others to share their own memories of Baseball in Rippey!

 Baseball Memories from Lloyd DeMoss,  January 10, 2017 

 I have some very special memories of Ralph Borgeson, Larry Johnson and myself.  We did a lot together and were often invited for dinner. Hunting, fishing and sports were a strong part of our lives.      

 Baseball at Rippey. 

I moved to Rippey when I was 8, never exposed to sports.  I remember the evenings when we would walk to the park and Jake would hit me and my foster brother ball after ball to hone our skills.  One memory that stands out was going to Breda on the Fourth of July each year and winning the Pee Wee and midget tournaments.  I remember the times that Roger Crumley and I worked on our double plays. The time we were asked to quit playing in the outfield, so we could hit home-runs.  Our Baseball plaques speak for themselves, Rippey was always a baseball town.  I went on to play at Morningside College, where in 1960 we won the North Central Conference.  The team of 1960 is in the Morningside hall of fame.  We also played in the small college World Series tournament that year.  We played against Lou Brock and his Louisiana Southern teammates.

  

Rippey Baseball History

Presented to the Greene County Historical Society

October 6, 2016 by Mary Weaver

To the Rippey News, December 27, 2016......By Mary Weave

This information was presented at the beginning of the baseball program for the Greene County Historical Society held in Rippey on October 6, 2016. Much of the information was taken from the History of Rippey, contributions from the Iowa Boys Athletic Association, news articles from the Jefferson Bee, a telephone interview with Pat Daugherty, and e mails from former players Rippey players.   A video of the panel presentation is available at the Rippey Library. The panel consisted of Lester Zanotti, and Dan Peters, former players, along with Ron McNeill, East Greene coach. They shared some of their memories of playing and coaching baseball at the Rippey Ball Park.

 Rippey is a baseball town. A plaque located on a rock outside of the center field fence indicates the following:

MARTIN MEMORIAL PARK

 “Rippey always has been a baseball town. In the 1880’s the first diamond was at the corner of 1st and Lovejoy. About 1900 it was moved to 1st and Hatton where the E.C. Fry house now stands. The diamond was then moved to where the Rippey School stands.  Between 1920 and 1940 the diamond was a mile north of town (High pasture) and a then a mile east of town (Phalen pasture) and at Spring Lake.

In 1940 the ground for this park was purchased for about $2000 with funds donated by community members.  It was named Martin Memorial Park for George Martin “Grandpa” Martin and Mrs. Mabyl Martin in honor of their large donations and because Grandpa was the only surviving Civil War veteran in Greene County. Lights were added in 1949 at a cost of $5500 paid for by selling shares at $50 each.

Rippey baseball has been a source of fun, fellowship, and fond memories for many Greene County residents.

In 1988, a monument was dedicated in memory of E.C. “Jiggs” Fry. Jiggs was an avid supporter of Rippey baseball and it can be safely said that few enjoyed the game more.” 

The first baseball team was organized in 1880, and was called the “Hard Scrabble Team”. The first field was located on the east side of the street, where the current field is located. 1st Street (County Road P 46) and Lovejoy. There was no need for parking as people came by horseback or buggies, or walked.  There were no bleachers, they sat on the ground. There was no admission. The games were usually played on Saturday afternoons.

No one had a glove, they played barehanded, and though later some would wear a work glove, and pad it with rags or handkerchiefs.  The first bats were made of willow.

The second team was organized about 1900 by Bill Davis, President of the First National Bank.  The field was laid out on the north side of Rippey at 1st Street (County Road P57) and Hatton Street, near the drainage ditch that runs through the pasture.  The Bank purchased balls, bats, and gloves.  Later the ball diamond was moved to the site of the former Rippey School Building.

In 1920 the ball diamond was moved one mile north of Rippey. Harold, also known as Sparry McCain, became the manager. Mr. McCain deserves recognition as he was very instrumental in the building the baseball program and eventually Martin Field.  He was born in 1894 and died in 1990 at the age of 95. Sparry graduated from Rippey High School in 1914.  Following graduation he was employed as an assistant janitor, and later became the head of maintenance.  He later partnered with I.J. Burk and son, running a dairy farm at the northeast edge of Rippey.  Beginning in 1911 through 1961 Harold promoted and helped to manage the local ball clubs as they were formed each year. According to Artage Zanotti, he and Sparry helped to design and actually build the ball park. In 2016, prior to his death Keith Devilbiss, told the writer that Sparry brought soil into the infield with a horse drawn wagon. Mr. Patrick Daugherty, Rippey teacher and baseball coach, recalled to me that when he first came to Rippey in 1958, Sparry mowed the outfield with a horse drawn side sickle.  He never married, and when questioned in a phone interview, his niece did recall that he had a speech impediment and walked with a limp, but was not certain if this was a birth defect or the result of an accident.  A plaque honoring him is embedded in the sidewalk on the lot of the current Rippey Library and Community Building. It reads:

 “In memory of Harold T. “Sparry” McCain, a man who served his community and his neighbors, 1894-1990”. 

In 1920 the ball diamond was moved one mile east of Rippey to the Phalen pasture. Roger Crumley reports via e mail that his Uncle Raymond was the pitcher and his Dad, Dwight Crumley was the catcher. Another Uncle, Lester played outfield. Team member’s names the writer begins to recognize included Harold Radabaugh, Joe Fouch, Hugo Norgren, and Bum Peterson.

In 1939, $2,000 was given in memory for the then recently deceased (1933) Doctor Worley Martin by his wife, Mabyl. This was also given to honor George Martin, the only surviving Civil War veteran in Greene County, and additional donations came from individuals living in and around the Rippey community.

This article from the Jefferson Bee of June 18, 1940 reads:

“The grand opening of the Martin Memorial Park in Rippey will occur next Sunday afternoon, June 23, with a double-header baseball game and a band concert. The program is scheduled to begin at 1:30.

The baseball games will be between the Rippey Junior Legion and Coon Rapids Junior Legion teams and between Rippey Independents and the Bagley Independents. The Junior Legion teams will play first and then the Independents will play immediately following. Proceeds of the function will be put into the park for further development of the park.

 The Martin Park, which is located on the western edge of Rippey, is a project which has been sponsored by the Rippey Commercial Club and the American Legion. It has been paid for with private contributions and when done will be of great civic value as well as having considerable scenic beauty”.

Mr. Jake Peters who came to Rippey in 1934 was the Rippey High School Principal and math teacher, and was a strong advocate of Rippey Baseball for 40 years. He was instrumental in leading the effort to obtain the lights for the ball field. The lights were first used on May 23, 1949.  109 shares were sold at a cost of $50.00 each, to cover the $5,000 cost of the lights.  An amphitheater was also erected. Local boys who played baseball post high school were Lester Zanotti who played at the University of Iowa, and Dan Peters who played for a farm team of the Milwaukee Brewers. Lester reported, we didn’t have a batting machine, but we had Jake who patiently threw ball after ball to help us improve our batting skills.

Ten years later, in 1959 a scoreboard and announcers booth were added to the Rippey Ball Park. The electric scoreboard indicated strikes, balls, and outs by electric lights, replacing the old scoreboard which showed only the score and the numbers of outs, and had to be changed manually.   The new equipment was used for the first time on Sunday July 19 when the Rippey team defeated Churdan 8-6 in a Central States League game.

That summer the Rippey Ball Park was chosen as the site for the final game of the summer high school baseball state tournament.  The game was played between Thomas Jefferson of Council Bluffs and Iowa City. Council Bluffs won the game.

Information obtained from the Iowa Boys Athletic Association indicates numerous sub state games, and 4 state baseball championship games were played on the Rippey ballfield. The first was in 1953 was the summer championship between Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson, and Dysart. Council Bluffs was the winner.

In 1960 Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson returned to play St. Mary’s of Clinton. Council Bluffs won that game.

Finally in 1962 the Fall Baseball Championship game was played between South Hamilton Jewell versus Waukee. South Hamilton was that winner.

Rippey baseball became re-ignited in 1958 in the form teacher and coach Mr. Patrick Daugherty. He came to Rippey for his first year teaching position having graduated from Simpson College.  In a phone interview he told me he was paid $2,900 per year, and received $300 for conducting the summer baseball program. He developed four teams, the Pee Wees, Babe Ruth, High School, and the Rippey Demons. His coaching, managing, and playing with the semi-pro town team was instrumental in several individuals going on to play baseball in college. Those men included: Donnie Drake, Roger Crumley, and Larry Gilroy.

Former player of Mr. Daugherty’s, Roger Crumley, reported that Coach Daugherty drug the infield with his Volkswagen Beatle and laid out the first and third base lines using twine and lime.

During the phone interview Mr. Daugherty gave the story of the Rippey Demons.  Walter Anderson was President of the Rippey Lion’s club, and invited the General Manager of the then Des Moines Demons to speak at one of their meetings. During his presentation it was revealed they were changing the name of the team to the Iowa Oaks, later to become the Cubs. At Mr. Daugherty’s suggestion Walt Anderson, called the general manager and the Lion’s club purchased 25 white uniforms. The local baseball club changed its name from the Rippey Merchants to the Demons as “Demons” was written across the uniforms.  The uniforms were purchased for either a dollar each, or three dollars each according to Mr. Daugherty.

In the early 1960’s under Coach Daugherty the Rippey Demons had a “Cracker Jack” team that was largely populated with local, but college players.  All from Simpson College where Mr. Daugherty had attended. Dennis White played second base, and David Lansing was first basemen, but they were not locals.  Willis Munson was a painter in Rippey and he arranged summer jobs for the two non-local Simpson players. They had a small apartment on Main Street. They painted during the day and played ball at night.   Other local players from Rippey that also played for Simpson College were Don Drake, catcher, Roger Underwood from Grand Junction, who played 3rd base for Simpson and for the Demons, and Ron Ridnour who was at the time a high schooler, but played outfield.  He later attended Simpson. Roger Crumley who supplied the information via e mail played second base. The Rippey Demons played in the 1965 Iowa state semi-pro tournament in Des Moines. They played Slater in the championship game but were defeated. 

 In 2003 the Martin Field was re-named Walt Anderson Field in memory of Walter who was an avid fan and supporter of Rippey baseball.

Following merger of Rippey and Grand Junction Schools in 1962, the field became the home to the East Greene Hawks. The high school team were state qualifiers in 2009 under the direction of Coach Ron McNeill.

Following the merger of East Greene with Jefferson, forming Greene County School in 2012, the field is currently used for middle school games during the summer.

 Submitted

To the Rippey News, December 27, 2016......By Mary Weaver