Members of the Norwood Press Club Team of 1914.
Many of the members in this lineup represented Norwood in the Old Timers’ game against Walpole at Athletic Field last Sunday afternoon.
Front row, left to right: Tom McCready, Leo McTernan, Timothy “Doc” Curtin, Tim Coughlin, “Hank” Coughlin (now Judge Frank Coughlin), and Pete Shuster.
Back row, left to right: Jack Owens, manager; Dave Maiers, Tom Pinn, Jim Mitchell, Maudic Ahearn, “Smokey” Conlan, “Yubba” Clarke. “Ike” Ellis, and Bill Burke, manager.
See today’s Personality Portrait for an account of the old Norwood-Walpole baseball series, and the parts the above players played in them.
Old Timers In Baseball
They Were Grand Old Days
“Baseball certainly was popular in those days. There were times when crowds averaged 10,000, and everyone of ’em out for blood.” This comes from “Bing” Callahan, and he should know for he played and coached the famous Press Club baseball teams that represented Norwood in the annual Norwood-Walpole series when the rivalry between these towns reigned its hottest. The rivalry started about 1910 and continued for the next fifteen or sixteen years. Prices on the “horseless carriages” began to taper down to where they better suited the pocketbook of the, average citizen, then the great “migration” began. Everyone thought that the grass and trees were greener in another town, and they went there on sunny Sunday afternoons. This naturally resulted in the dwindling interest of local events, but it was grand while it lasted.
The Press Club was one of the first athletic organizations to be formed in Norwood. Walter Berwick, “the grand old man of sport” and founder of the “Norwood Press,” was at the helm as organizer and supervisor of the club. They made their quarters at Berwick Park, which is now known as Elks Park, and the Elks clubhouse was built by Mr. Berwick. Many a local Norwoodite graduated from his athletic infancy to achieve fame under the banner of the “Press Club.” Old timers find it hard to recall who dominated the annual Norwood-Walpole series but many think that Norwood had the edge in wins.
Calling All Stars
Judge Frank Coughlin, known in those days as “Hank,” cavorted around second base, while contributing many a timely bingle. Timothy “Doc” Curtin, now a Norwood dentist, who did the greatest part of his playing in the Civic Association, is credited with being one of the smartest catchers in Norwood, and Jimmy Fitzgerald, popular local realtor, was known for his catlike tactics in covering bunts in his role as catcher. Pete Shuster, was one of the .most colorful ball players since the advent of Lester Lee. Pete was versatile, and could certainly sock the apple. Shuster is employed as a manager of a large printing plant in Laporte, Indiana, at the present time.
Dave Maiers could pole them a mile, and many still thing that he would have fitted nicely with a big league club. Tim Cbughliri, third baseman and outfielder, always came through in the pinches. Tom McCready, who died about two years ago, was well known for his speed and hitting ability. Leo McTernan, known for his versatility, played the greatest part of his career with the old Hyde Park A. A. Maudie Ahearn, a resident of Walpole, was a great pitcher. He had no peer as a semi-pro hurler. and oldtimers aver that Maudie had it all over local modern day pitchers like Ed Leary, Charlie Bowles and Jimmy Costello. There were many others, such as Tom Pinn, Jimmy Mitchell, Ted Conlon, “Yubba” Clarke, “Ike” Ellis.
Big Time Possibilities
The popular concensus of opinion seems to be that “Hick” Curtin, brother of “Doc,” Dave O’Malley, and Dave Maiers should have gone into the “big time,” but there weren’t as many lush opportunities to become big leaguers in those days as there are now. Baseball schools, well-organized scouting systems and expensive training. trips were just coming into their own. One can’t too easily forget the superb out fielding ability of Miah Coughlin. Miah never was a great hitter, but his fielding was a thing of beauty. Little “Toad” Richardson would have cinched an infield berth for any big league team if his hitting had been mere robust. Mike Gonzales, popular and picturesque coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, would have said of Toad if he were around at that time, “Toad, he good field but no hit.” Tap Geary of Walpole played a number of games for Norwood and Mutt Eppich, Jimmie Mutch and “Puck” Crowley played prominent parts in old time Norwood baseball history.
With 10,000. cold-blooded and fierce baseball enthusiasts gathered on one field, you can imagine the ticklish task the umpire had, and to make it all the more complicated the arbiter on base and balls was also required to call the decisions on the bases. Umpires had to be a hardy and two-fisted lot. When someone said “kill the umpire,” they usually did just that or came very near it, and yet to see. “Obie” Keddy and “Babe” Connolly around town these days, you’d never think for a minute that they toyed .with the vanity and righteous spirits of ten thousand people. They appear to be whole, hale and hearty.
Marty Callahan was just beginning to come into .his own as a baseball star. He had just concluded a fruitful, high school career as a scholar and athlete. Marty was a pitcher in those days, and a good one too. His favorite “cousins” were the Dedham A. A. Club. It wasn’t exactly cricket to have a slugger of Marty’s ability sitting on a bench, which is one of the reasons for his becoming a star big league outfielder for the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds. Old timers avow that the combination of Callahan to “Toad” Richardson was one of the finest base defending combinations in New England. These two picked off dozens of players on second base. Pitchers were usually imported, and if a member of the Red Sox pitching staff slipped in the lineup somewhere, why that was all right too.
Johnnie Rogers was a reliable pitching standby. He could throw a curve equally well with either arm, and it was disconcerting to a batter who expected a curve from Johnnie’s right arm, only to get a fast blazer tossed with his left fin. They say that the ball wasn’t too lively in those days, and the home run wasn’t common.
The Civic Association took up the rivalry after the Press Club ceased to exisf, and the majority of the old Press gang lifted over to the new outfit. It’s over 25 years now since the Norwood-Walpole series were at their best. My, but they were the grand old days!