OLD-TiME NORWOOD BALL PLAYERS GET TOGETHER. Left to right: Tom Dunn, John Curtin, John “Bing” Callahan and Joe Eppich who dug up old time photos and scorecard. {McLean Photo)

(Ed, Note — Joe Eppich of Norwood, winner of Bird’s champion regulation and softball teams of the middle 30’s, uncovered a scorebook more than fifty-five years old kept by the late Gene Winslow who faithfully recorded many of the early Norwood “horse ‘n buggy” day ball games played at the turn of the century. A number of those whose names appeared in the scorebook are still very much alive Upon interview by Sportswriter Frank Karshis they easily recalled their heyday. The athletic accomplishments of these and other men played an important part in the development of the town Without a doubt, many others contributed worthily to the Norwood sports scene over the span of early years. To give proper credit to all would be a physical impossibility )

Norwood can boast of the fact that baseball stars of this town’s “horse n’ buggy” era are still very much alive. Far from being museum pieces, these Old Masters easily recall the ‘ole days when they traveled by both bike and trolley to play in Walpole, Mansfield, Dedham, and a host of other towns around Boston that greeted baseball players as a noisy bunch of kids.

Some of Norwood’s best publicity came by way of sports, baseballers Johnny “Big Bing” Callahan, Johnny “Hick” Curtin, Michael “Mickey” Nugent, “Odie” Coughlin, Obed Keddy, the late Johnny Kiley Sr., Marty Conley are a few of those alive today who prompted baseball at the turn of the century.

The “real Old Timers” just before them around the 1890s, George Morrill, Herb Bailey, Tom Donahue, Fred Merrifield, and others, were the original pros. It was Johnny Kiley, Sr., who became the first big leaguer by flaying for the then Washington Nationals.

And to dig back into the pages of time the Official Commemoration And Chronicle of Norwood used in honor of the 75th anniversary of the town published in 1947 lists baseball in Norwood at least three years ahead of the town itself then known as South Dedham. One of those first teams had chaps who called themselves the Tiots. They were Frank Bateman, William Cotter, Willard Everett, Monroe Boyden, and Isaac Boyden among others.

But to get back into “modern times” around 1901 to 1910 “Big Bing” Callahan, 74 years old now but a handsome ball player 20 years old in those days, recalls the real Old Timers playing here. Norwood was known as the Norwood A.C They had Hick Curtin in the infield, and Obie Keddy in the outfield. Odio Coughlin also patrolled the outfield catching without the aid of a glove. Callahan was the slugger often hitting the long ball. Thus his nickname “Big Bing”.

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Curtin used to third man up. He could get on those bases. Any time they wanted another infielder they called on Keddy As a matter of fact, they alt were quite versatile. When It came to umpiring, they all pitched in but Keddy was the “man-in-Blue” for he really knew the rules.

“Little Bing” Played For Chicago

Bing was a right-hander. He played semi-pro a long time, cavorting around first base. The Cushing A A. and the Norwood A.C. were the teams in his times. His brother Little Bing, eight years younger, became a big leaguer playing for the then Chicago White Sox. The younger Callahan played for Los Angeles in the Pacific Coast League.

Now at the Elks Club

Callahan recalls the days when the Berwick Park was a mecca for all sports, particularly baseball. All of the most interesting games in those years were played at the Elks. Many a pleasant afternoon was spent there by townspeople.

Another ballpark was the one then situated at the corner of Prospect and Vernon streets where band concerts were held after games. A flaming gas pipe illuminated the area. Peanuts and candy were the délectables sold at games in those days. Ice cream was only homemade then.

The older Callahan had a respected reputation for stealing bases. Noted for getting the run that counted, Bing would steal third more often than not once he got on

Nugent Also Basketball Star

John Curtin, a 126-lb. quarterback, clutch hitter with his singles, informed your agent about Prospect Park, Dean Field, the Old Everett Field, the Village Hall where highschooler. Mickey Nugent stole the basketball show playing for Norwood High’s first basketball team.

Curtin recalls ball games with the Downey Chocolate Club of Mansfield where they had a beautiful field and diamond Trolley rides to Mansfield, Walpole, Dedham, Readville, Hyde Park, Cambridge, Concord, and B and M Railroad commuting to New Dorchester, and Stoughton were popular pastimes in the good old days.

Obie Keddy umped many a game. These fellows went by trolley and the league aptly dubbed the “Trolley League” It was the chief means of transportation Bikes also came in very handy but tired the players before they got to their rival’s field.

Baseball scorers and publicity came by way of the then Norwood Dart, the Norwood Advertiser, and then the Norwood Messenger Mickey Nugent, one time all-round athlete who could play both baseball and basketball with a remarkable proficiency,] was the star of many a story.

Nugent was one of the first Norwood High players on the original basketball team, he has a well-kept photograph showing that team Norwood played games at the then-popular Village Hall on Broadway.

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The highschoolers m those days played baseball with Malden, Walpole, South Boston High, Boston Latin, Norwood Alumni, Everett High, Boston College High, Roxbury, Newton, Watertown, Foxboro, Boston Latin, Salem High, Brockton, Mechanics Art, Middlesex, and Jamaica Plain.

Some Have Passed On

High school baseball came around 1901 according to the old timers Mickey Nugent remembers that a Pat Nugent and John “Babe” Nugent were outstanding ball players who are now 88 and 89 years old respectively, who can remember those long-age baseball times in Norwood.

Curtin, Callahan, Nugent, and Keddy remember Walpole players Mike Hawkins, Bill Ahearn, and his brother Tom Ahearn who are still living. Only this year Tap Geary, a real ball player in his day passed away, and last year Walpole’s Red Soxer Bill Sline died. Sline was one of the greatest in his era when both Norwood and Walpole put out the best brand of semi-pro baseball ever to be witnessed.

A Sportswriter in those days was Porky Smith for the Norwood papers. Scorers were Bill Hale and Gene Winslow among others. Winslow kept the book uncovered by Joe Eppich Eppich had been searching for some sporting equipment for his young son interested in the Norwood Little League when he came upon the old book found originally by his late mother when she was a domestic for then prominent Winslow of this town living on Walpole Street.

The book, like a butcher’s hook, is now m circulation currently held by Mickey Nugent who promised to pass it along to the Old Timers interested in baseball days gone by.

Callahan. Curtin. Nugent, Rourke, Coughlin, Keddy, and other we trust, who made baseball Norwood’s game both in a semi-pro and high school sense, rate much credit They all agreed baseball today is a lively game and far better conditions exist One thing is the same, according to Johnny Curtin, and that is that umpires haven’t changed a bit In a final request Norwood Old Timers want to see more kids from this town make the big leagues.

Those of whom remember watching these turn-of-the-century baseball players is Tom Donovan, recently retired businessman, who feels these fellows helped popularize the town of Norwood, and added much to make our Town one of the most colorful in the Commonwealth.


(All articles were originally published in the Norwood Messenger unless otherwise noted)

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