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The Tacoma Amocats of 1901-1906

The first Amocat (Tacoma spelled backwards) team was formed in 1901, one year before the West Coast Grocery Company adopted the same name for its labels for its specially packaged goods. When originally organized the team included Walter Demorest, George Gates who played for the club during its entire existence, Frank K. Brown, Carl Jacobs, John Schlarb, Fred Burke, and Harry Burke. The team show in the photo above finished the season with a record of 21-3 including a 1-0 loss to Tacoma’s Northwestern League entry and losses to Seattle and Shelton.

In one of the games in August the club had Walter Johnson on the bench as they were not convinced that he pitched fast enough for them. Johnson, now enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame, proved them wrong.

Back row
(Left to Right): James R. “Spec” Gray, Clarence A. “Duke” Campbell, Frank Leslie, Andy Anderson, Pete Nicholson, and Roscoe Teats.

Front row
(Left to Right): Ralph Votaw, Glen W. Matthews Jr., Ralph “Gobs” Teats, George Gates, and Fremont “Goo” Campbell Jr.

1904-05 Tacoma Tigers – Pacific Coast League Champions

The Tigers won the first half of the season with a 66-46 record and followed that up with a 64-48 record to win the pennant outright. Bobby Keefe finished the season with a 34-15 record included the first no-hitter in Tacoma baseball history when he defeated the Oakland Oaks 3-0 in a nine-inning contest on November 18, 1905 in Oakland. Orval Overall was the other workhorse for the club as he won 32 games for the Tigers. Truck Eagan led the “Royal Bengals” with a .311 batting average including 25 round-trippers.

Back row
(Left to Right): Pearl Casey, Charles “Truck” Eagan, D. Evans, J. Morley, George Shreeder, Bobby Keefe, and George McLaughlin.

Middle row
(Left to Right): Bill Thomas, Orval Overall, Charley Graham, Mike Fisher, Lou Nordyke, Mike Lynch, and Charley Doyle.

Front row
(Left to Right): John Fitzgerald, Jimmy St. Vrain, Tommy Sheehan, and Happy Hogan.

Missing are Jimmy Hannivan, McDonald, Fred Raymer, and Earle.

Photo courtesy of Marc H. Blau collection.

1929 Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance Co. – 1928 Commercial League Champions

Back row
(Left to Right): Frank Jenkins-mgr., _________Riebar, _______Tadich, ________Clough, Frank Messo, and Bill “Vince” Snarski.

Front row
(Left to Right): Roger Erickson, John Burns, Art Elmer, Mike Pavolka, Heine Hartley, and Rube Nelson.

Missing are Paul Grantrud, Bob Witter, Virgil Wepfer, Earl Cornielson, and Vince Duckwitz.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Snarski.

1930 Shaffer Box Company – Industrial League Champions

The Shaffer Box Company, Industrial League Division A champs, defeated Northern Pacific Railway 3-2 at Athletic Park in the divisional series title contest to advance to the league series where they beat the Fire Fighters 2-1 for the Industrial League crown.

The team included Jim O’Ravez, George Phipps, Bud Bittner, “Cac” Cates, Andy Hurney, Ernie Ruffo, Johnny Chilla, Rick Johnson, Salatino, Elkins, Ebert, Olsen, Webster, Ehret, Dayton, Thaut, Weems, Hudson, Maruca, and Payne.

Photo courtesy of Dorothy & Jim O’Ravez.

1934 Tacoma Tigers pickup team from Tacoma City League that played in the Northwest League.

Back row
(Left to Right): Vern Votaw, Frank Ruffo, John Heinrick, Forrest Weingard, Joe Spadafore, and Vern Champagne.
Front row
(Left to Right): Wes Lees, Hal Lennox, Hoefert, Joe Mlachnik, Cecil Erb, and Rudy Tollefson. Mascot: unidentified. Photo courtesy of Marc Blau collection.

1937 Johnson Paint
First team from Tacoma to attend national championships in Wichita, KS.
The team placed fifth.

Back row
(Left to Right): Fred Hutchinson, Earl Johnson, Joe Dailey, Cy Greenlaw,
Joe Salatino, Loris Baker, and Dutch Scheffler.

Middle row
(Left to Right): Hal Lee, Rick Lewis, coach John Heinrick, Andy Padovan, Morry Abbott, and Erling Tollefson.

Front row
(Left to Right): Frank Ruffo, Jimmy Ennis, Sam Baker (batboy),
Rudy Tollefson, Doug Hendry, Joe Mlachnik, and unidentified.

Photo courtesy of Marc H. Blau collection.

1938 Tacoma Elks Club Softball Team


It would be difficult to trace softball sponsorship in Tacoma and Pierce County beyond 65 years ago but the Tacoma Elks clearly rank high on the list of sponsors who have supported sports and teams in our community for more than six decades.

The Elks began sponsoring softball teams in 1938, a year just about halfway between the Great Depression and World War II. It was a time when many young men could not afford to attend college, so they took jobs to build-up their finances before starting families.

Good physical, active recreational opportunities were not readily available but the Park Board came to the rescue by forming softball leagues. There were four: the City League, Commercial League, the Pro-Service-Vets League, and the Church-Fraternal League.

One of the first Elks-sponsored teams competed in the Pro-Service-Vets League against the Bank of California, the Young Men’s Business Club, the Red Men, the Knights of Columbus, and the Active Club.

John Rappin was the Manager of the team and his batteries consisted of pitcher Ted Goranson and catcher Ed Cartozian, and pitcher Harry Mounsey and catcher Bill Wieking.

Resplendent in uniforms of purple pants and shirts with Elks emblems on the front of their jerseys, the team sported the names of local businesses on the back of each shirt.

That individual business recognition helped defray the cost of the uniforms.

Now 88 years of age, Rappin recalls that our team was pretty enthusiastic but we weren’t as good athletes as some of the other teams and we ended-up near the bottom in the league standings.

Recruiting some of the better players in Tacoma changed that and by the time the 1940 and 41 seasons rolled around, those changes were evident. The Elks not only fielded a better team, they began to wear more conventional baseball-style uniforms.

The leagues changed, too. There were a few minor leagues but the National and American Leagues were recognized as the most competitive and attracted the most talented teams. The Elks were members of the National League with Weyerhaeuser, United Commercial Travelers, the Eagles, South 56th Street, Bank of California, the Red Men and Knights of Columbus.

Charles Green, owner of Green Optical, became the Manager and he also pitched along with Bob McKinnell. Bill Wieking remained as catcher, and the Elks enjoyed new-found success.

In both ’40 and ’41 the Elks captured National League championships and then defeated Johnson Paint, the American League champs, for the City Championship.

History tells us that softball truly came into its own during the 40s and that a new wave of enthusiasm for the sport was spawned. Top pitchers blossomed, including Trevor McLain, Leonard Thomas, Bus Anderson, and John Rockway. They would be standouts for years to come and Rockway eventually became the Amateur Softball Association Commissioner for this region.

A rookie umpire named Lornie Merkle also is remembered by Elks team members from those very first teams. His umpiring career spanned more than 40 years and last year he was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Hall of Fame in recognition.

Yes, the sponsorship history of the Tacoma Elks is nearly as rich in tall stories and sweet success as the organization’s history itself. The Tacoma lodge eventually would grow into the nation’s largest Elks lodge, and its involvement in the community has never wavered.

Much of that started with those purple pants and shirts in 1938!

Back row
(Left to Right): John Rappin, mrg. (fourth from left).

Front row
(Left to Right): Ed Cartozian (fourth from left).,

Photo courtesy of Ed Cartozian and daughter Shirley Wilson.

1939 Stadium High City League Champions

Back row
(Left to Right): Coach John Heinrick, John Horst, Matt Kapovich, Bob Schnecker, unknown, unknown, Ray Hagen, Bob Angeline, Lyman Anderson, unknown.

Middle row
(Left to Right): Harold Schweinler, Rod Giske, Bill Turnbyll, Jim Philby, Jay Dahl, Gene Walters, Jim Diederich, Bill Demorest, Kergie Omori, and Roy Bronzovich.

Front row
(Left to Right): George Gunovich, Al Browne, Vince Gennam, Ray Montbroussous, John Batt, Bob Roley, Dave Molitor, Jim Darling, Jim Martin, and Floyd Marcusson (Photo courtesy of Dr. Marv Tommervik Jr., Family)

1943 Tacoma Eagles Fastpitch Club

Standing row
(Left to Right): Huston, Mgr. and Bishop.

Middle row
(Left to Right): Lamon, Foreman, Berthiaume, McMahon, Challupa, and McDonald

Front row
(Left to Right): Selby, Hamblin, H, McMahon, Woodrow Red, Reese, McArthur, and Baldassin.

Photo courtesy of Woodrow Red.

1944 Tacoma Coast Guard Fastpitch Club

Back row
(Left to Right): Manager Chief Don Rippetoe, Al Cooke, Hubert Smith, Woodrow Red, Bill Sullivan, Arnold Baker, Paul Simpson, and Art Lewis.

Front row
(Left to Right): Robert Dowd, Walter Augland, Forest Lacy, Nat Moya, Elmer Litterell, Al Switzer, and L.M., Archambeau (Commanding Officer).

1947 Ft. Lewis Employees Association (F.L.E.A.) Baseball Club

The F.L.E.A. Club had much to offer civilian employees at Fort Lewis in 1947. It opened on base then with such attractive amenities as a dance floor, a bar, a rec room, even one-armed bandits.

The initials stood for the Fort Lewis Employees Association, and the club became a gathering spot for many of them. One day, after work, several of the younger men met at the club to talk baseball and thought it would be fun to put a team together.

In a six-year stretch from 1947 to 1952, that team participated in the Valley League, then Pierce County’s only amateur or semi-pro baseball opportunity. They convinced the F.L.E.A. Club to sponsor them and Bill Gibson Jr. volunteered his Dad to coach. Bill Sr. not only coached the first year but every year of the team’s existence.

The Valley League covered Pierce County with teams in three divisions, north, south and east. The makeup of the divisions changed from year to year but the majority of the teams remained the same, and the rivalries were fierce.

Those teams who remained pretty much constant during that period were Graham, Morton, Mineral, Eatonville, Fort Lewis, 36th Engineers, Roy, Rainier, South Prairie, Buckley, Wilkeson, Orting, Sumner, Spanaway, Puyallup (Oilers), Madigan, Yelm, Midland, Fern Hill, Fife, Navy Seahawks, Tacoma Eagles and Busch’s Drive-In.

The FLEA Club always competed well for the league championship and 1950 was their most successful season when they won the first-half title of the Northern Division with a 4-3 win over Yelm.

It was era when players moved around from team to team a lot but the FLEAs were unusual. Only 23 different players donned FLEA uniforms during those six years of competition and the team concept was exceptionally strong.

If any one player led to the success of the FLEAs it was pitcher Frank McCabe. He was a real workhorse and the team’s winningest moundsman. His heroic 14-inning, 24-strikeout victory over Fort Lewis was legendary in Valley League history.

The Harkness brothers from Roy also contributed heavily to the team’s success. Dave, Val, Gene and Ray all were key FLEAs. Val drove home the winning run in the 11th inning against Mineral’s first-half champions in an important 4-3 decision in 1948 and Gene hit a two-run homer earlier in the game while Dave was 2-for-4 at the plate behind McCabe’s three-hit pitching.

The F.L.E.A. Club typified baseball as it was meant to be, and the players on that team never will forget the experience of togetherness and teamwork and friendship and fun which has lasted through the years and has culminated in the recognition of that spirit and that unity here today.

Old Timers everywhere salute the Fort Lewis based FLEAs. They may not have been America’s team but they personified Americana at its very best.

Back row
(Left to Right): Bob Herron, Bill Gibson Jr., Alex Larson, Dave Harkness, Bill Gibson Sr., Ray Harkness, Val Harkness, and Gene Harkness.

Front row
(Left to Right): Don Empens, Steve Tyo, Ray Hicks, Frank McCabe, Jim Cory, Dee “Butch” Hahn, Del Jenkins, and Mike Stepton.

Photo courtesy of Bill Gibson Jr.,

1952 Irwin-Jones Dodgers Fastpitch Team
2nd place, Bridgeport, CT ASA Fastpitch National Championships

Back row
(Left to Right) Unknown, Lloyd Blanusa, Doug Stromberg, Alex Watt, Bob Frankowsky, Joey Johns, and Jack Hermsen.

Front row
(Left to Right) Dick Milford, Vern Martineau (?), Bob Gunderson, Ples Irwin, Wally Brebner, Bill Bridges, and Doug Adam.

1956 Stanley’s Shoemen plus Team

Tacoma’s Stanley’s Shoemen became the first West Coast team to win a national baseball championship in 1956, beating East Chicago, Indiana, 10-0, in the title game of the American Amateur Baseball Congress World Series in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The Tacomans won 13 consecutive games enroute to state, regional and national championships to complete a 50-11 season. Pitcher Dale Bloom was the winner in all three deciding games. The majority of the team graduated from Tacoma high schools and played collegiately at Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound.

Doug McArthur coached the team sponsored by Stan Naccarato and Morley Brotman.

Back row
(Left to Right): Gordy Grubert, Jack Johnson, Dick Schlosstein, Monte Geiger, Dale Bloom, Jim Gallwas, Mike Dillon, Max Braman, Tom Montgomery.

Front row
(Left to Right): Ron Storaasli, Pat Dillon, George Grant, Manly Mitchell, Doug McArthur, Earl Hyder, Jim Harney, Bob Maguinez, Dick Montgomery.

Photo courtesy of Doug McArthur.

1956 Woodworth Contractors – Tacoma City League Champions

(Left to Right): Gary Miller, unidentified, Mike Miller, Rod Keogh, unidentified, Bob Jamison, Don May, Jim Rediske, Al Featherstone,
Chuck Loete, Jim Cozad, and Dick Lack.

(Left to Right): Bill Funk, J. Alden Woodworth, Ben Verlo, and Howard Davis.

Photo courtesy of Marc H. Blau collection.

1957 Woodworth Contractors Second in 1958 Nationals

Tacoma�s Woodworth Contractors built quite a success story in 1958, but came up one run shy of the national American Amateur Baseball Congress championship. The Contractors�after a month of state, sectional and national tournament action�fell, 1-0, to a tough Cincinnati team in the national championship game at Battle Creek, MI.

In state and sectional playoffs the Woodworth nine lost second-round games, coming out of the losers� bracket to take title trophies. Again, at the nationals, they lost in the second round, but fought their way back to the championships contest. While disappointed with the loss, the club was heartened by the fact that out of over 4000 teams that started in the AABC that summer, they were one of the remaining two at the end.

Many of the players in this 1957 photo of the Woodworth Contractors were also on the 1958 squad that finished second in the nation.

Back row
(Left to Right): Al Maul, Dick Lack, Dick Bullat, Ben Verlo, Fran Raymond,
Bill Funk, and Rod Keogh.

Front row
(Left to Right): Unidentified, Kim Strand, coach Marv Scott, sponsor Alden Woodworth (seated), Frank Barnes, Mike Dillon,
Al Featherstone, Dale Krueger, Arley Kangas, George Grant, and unidentified.

Missing from the photo but on the 1958 team were: Dale Bloom, Don Carlson, Jim Cozad, Maury Galbraith, Jim Gallwas, Earl Hyder, Bob Maguinez, Mel Manley, and Larry McCauley.

Photo courtesy of Shanaman Sports Museum collection.

Wood Realty

Back row
(Left to Right): Jack Hermsen, LaVerne Martineau, Frank Davies, Phil Yant, Don Maitland, Larry Slovek, Lloyd Blanusa, Lee Adams, and Jack Fabulich.

Front row
(Left to Right): Terry Reily (batboy), Dick Webster, Lou Rickenbacker, Al Herzog, Dick Yohn, and Fran Luhtala.

Photo courtesy of Dick Yohn.

1914 Olympic Club
Champions City League

Tacoma-Pierce County Old-timers Baseball/Softball Association