North Muskegon Norsemen: 1. History: Preface & Field

Preface

Preface to History of NM Baseball 

 

The history section of the North Muskegon Baseball website was created by current head baseball coach Warren Kent III with much of the historical research done by local sportscaster and sports historian Jim Moyes. What began as a seemingly simple little task of “let’s post all of the school’s baseball scores” has turned into a monster researching project that has taken many hours to research and transcribe.

 

It is our fervent desire that other schools will see our site and become excited about doing the same for their schools in a number of different sports. With this era’s modern technology, Internet use, and the multitude of libraries that have local newspapers on microfilm, this project and others could become a reality.

 

With that said, there are still gobs of information missing that we would love to post on our website. It is virtually impossible, with the information that has been made available to us, to come up with career statistics for those who played before 1993. We have in our possession all the scorebooks for games played from 1993 through the current season. Prior to about 1970 it was rare to see even a mention of one’s batting average posted in the Muskegon Chronicle. Unfortunately, there was nothing like The Sporting News available where we could post each game’s box score into our data base.

 

How we would love to know what former legends, such as Bill Duplissis, batted in the early years of North Muskegon baseball. What we have been able to track down are tidbits of information as reported in local newspaper accounts from each game. These we have passed along to our readers as listed under “Interesting Facts.”

 

The neat thing about a website is that corrections and additions can be easily and quickly made. If you have any documented information that you would like to add, please contact either Jim Moyes at jimmoyes@aol.com or Warren Kent III at kentw@monashores.net. -- Jim Moyes, NM Baseball Historian



Baseball Field History

Although the baseball field at the end of Eimer Street was constructed in 1920, baseball at North Muskegon High School began at that spot in 1935 when Lyle McNitt led the team. 

Prior to the high school fielding a team, the field was used by the NM independent team that featured players such as Hunk Adams, Ray Casenholz (who is in the Muskegon Area Hall of Fame), Whitey Mavis and Rube Marquard.  

NM high school baseball historian Jim Moyes said he remembers reading one story of how NM independent players were upset because Whitehall brought in a ringer to play NM in October in the 1920s: “NM was the County baseball champions in 1921. Whitehall split with the Norsemen and wanted to play a two out of three series to determine the area champ. Ira Flagstead played for Whitehall, much to the consternation of the Northsiders. He caught a doubleheader. Can you imagine Bobby Cox giving the OK to Nate McLouth to catch a doubleheader in Whitehall after the season ended?” 

The first game ever played by the Norse in 1935 saw NM score 19 runs vs. Montague – yet lose 23 -19. The combined 42 runs scored between the two teams has only been equaled, but never broken, in school history. 

According to a 1947 short video of a game played at NM, a road used to go west about 50 feet north of the first base line all the way to Fowler Street. Additionally, a permanent grandstand was located directly behind home plate until it was torn down sometime in the mid-1950s. 

In 1986, one had to truly love baseball to play for the Norsemen. The Norse, led by Denny Emmons, played the entire 20-game season on the road as major renovations were being implemented on North Muskegon’s baseball field. Underground sprinkling and a complete reseeding of the outfield were among the improvements made on the diamond. Practice sessions for the Norse were held on the rocky grounds at Pioneer Park. 

In 1988, the field was named after North Muskegon Superintendent of Schools, James B. Johnson, who passed away from cancer in December of 1987. Johnson, who prepped at Muskegon High, became an All-American performer at Western Michigan University and made it to the major leagues as a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants in 1971. Appropriately, one of the main performers for the Norsemen in 1988 was James C. Johnson, son of the late superintendent. 

While the field was intended for baseball use only, it served as a football practice field until the 1990s when the practice football field was built with money generated by selling trees with monuments placed beneath the trees down the leftfield line and at the south end of the football field. These same trees surround the tennis courts. 

The scoreboard, which was donated by Mary Johnson Moyes in the 1990s, was replaced in 2016. Bob Walters built the press box. 

According to Jim Moyes, the longest home run at Johnson Field was hit by David Miller of Whitehall in the 2000 season. The ball landed in the trees across the street in right field.

In 2001, the infield, at a cost of $18,000, was donated by members of the North Muskegon Drewry’s team from the early 1960s.