North Platte Baseball

Baseball was a popular leisure activity for boys and young men in Nebraska during the 1890s and early 1900s. Small towns often fielded teams, giving rise to strong rivalries between neighboring communities. “These warm sunshiny days are making the fans think of our great national game, base ball,” said the North Platte Telegraph on December 20, 1906, “and it seems probable that arrangements will soon be under way whereby North Platte will have one of the fastest teams ever organized in Western Nebraska.

“A state league has been organized embracing Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Fremont, Beatrice and either Minden or Columbus, a six club circuit, and if North Platte puts a team in the field able to hold its own, with the state league clubs, it is highly probable that games could be arranged with this club as they come to Kearney to fill their schedule[d] engagements. In order to do this, the matter should be taken up at once and a committee of our prominent fans sent to the schedule[d] meeting of the state league representatives . . . . Western league teams passing through between Denver and Pueblo and Lincoln and Omaha would avail themselves of a chance to pick up a few extra copecks by playing at North Platte on open dates in their schedules.

“Base ball, good, fast, clean ball will pay expenses in North Platte and responsible fans should take the matter up and now is the time to perfect arrangements and organize the club. Next spring will be too late as every available player will be engaged elsewhere and we will have to take on a lot of ‘has beens.’ We have a bunch of exceedingly good men here in town now, players of known ability, who will have signed contracts with some club before the snow all melts away and if we are to have a team they should be playing in a North Platte uniform next year.

“Wake up fans! Somebody start the good work, raise a few dollars and more will come and we will have something else to do when the hot days of summer come besides going to the court house park and watching to see that nobody walks away with the ‘keep off the grass’ signs.'” The Telegraph concluded with a glowing word picture: “Just think of the exquisit[e] pleasure of that fateful moment, the ninth inning, a tie score, two men out a runner on third and our heaviest hitter at bat”-and said that anyone “whose heart does not almost stand still at such a crisis is not a true American.”

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