May 1925: Kiwanis, Rotary clubs stage baseball game to benefit Ki-Ro Field


Whoever Bonehead Bill was, he had a heck of a time covering a baseball game between members of Jasper's Rotary and Kiwanis clubs for The Mountain Eagle on May 21, 1925.

"The entire membership of both the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs are expected to be utilized during the game...The Walker County Hospital will keep open house for the occasion and A.B. Legg, Jasper's mortuary artist, will donate his ambulance to transport ill and ailing former ball players whose anatomy come in contact with ball or ground too roughly or whose hearts stop beating from the exertion. The hopsital doctors and nurses have promised to keep enough fresh players supplied to finish the hour of play," reported Bill, who earned the only byline in the May 20, 1925, issue.

Superintendent of education Alex Moore umpired for the Rotarians and Dr. V.H. Williams served in the same capacity for the Kiwanians. According to Bill, Moore "will stand for no slang or breaches of grammar. Players in addressing the umpire shall be required to use the best of English and will be put out of the game for using the double negative or otherwise show up Alabama's educational system."

Williams, Bill warned, "will have his surgical kit along to operate on any luckless player who questions his decisions."

The clubs also made an interesting selection of waterboys. Rotarian A.B. Salmon of the Alabama Water Company "will be required to leave his meter at home" and Rev. Luther Stansell, "dryest of Walker County drys" would be slinging drinks for the Kiwanians.

The game, which was being held as a benefit for the high school athletic association, was preceded by a parade through town. 

Admission to the game was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Mayor J.H. Cranford threw out the first pitch.

Bill, perhaps prone to slight exaggeration, chastised the 4,380 Jasperites who failed to attend (no word on how many were present) for missing "the most exciting and hectic exhibitions of baseball, etc. ever played in the county or in this country for that matter."

Bill referred to the team as "two panting, perspiring, aching groups of has-beens, never-wases and wish-they-weres."

One exception was Lucian Jones, city school superintendent, who "was here, there and everywhere around second base and loked like a comer instead of a has-been." Jones wielded the bat well, racking up a triple and two singles and scoring three of the Rotary Club's 13 runs.

"Some of his jealous rivals said this knack has been developed by swinging a ruler on some of his rebellious pupils, but we don't believe it," Bill reported.

Dr. Williams delighted the crowd by using a megaphone to call out his decisions and to scoop up balls. 

"Powerful" Pat Terrell, meanwhile, managed to be the best and worst player on the field, according to Bill: "One minute Pat would scoop up a hard hit ball to his left with one hand just like a big leaguer — the next instand he would spoil this by making a lurid heave into the bleachers. Pat achieved the distinction of making two errors while Bituminous Cole was at the bat one time."

The game ended in a 13-13 tie.

Also in May 1925, there was speculation that L.B. Musgrove may enter a race for the U.S. Senate.

Musgrove had unsuccessfully run against Sen. Oscar Underwood in 1920 and had challenged Underwood in the Alabama Democratic presidential primary in 1924. William Jennings Bryan made several speeches in Alabama on Musgrove's behalf.

Underwood had been a presidential hopeful in 1912 and 1924. He opposed prohibition, women's suffrage and the Ku Klux Klan. The latter stance, which was very unpopular at the time, is believed to be the reason that he chose not to run for reelection in 1926. He was succeeded by Hugo Black, who was a member of the KKK but had resigned before running for Underwood's Senate seat.

Though Musgrove's supporters insisted that a run at the Senate was in his future, the twice-failed candidate demurred when asked about it when he returned to Jasper from Chicago on May 16, 1925. 

"I have no statement to make at present," he told an Eagle reporter.

Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor.