THE FIGHTING 63RD: History of Night Baseball in Ottawa
History of Night Baseball in Ottawa
Night Baseball In Ottawa....Important Dates
MAY 29, 1929 – First Night Game in Putnam County took place at Beutler Field, on Ottawa’s west end. The barnstorming American Athletic Girls baseball team set up their $20,000 light plan of 50,000 candle power. This would illuminate Beutler Field as the Athletic Girls defeated the local Liberty Sluggers 6-2
MAY 24, 1935 – First Night Game in Major League Baseball played at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
SUMMER 1950 – Plans for a new park in Ottawa were announced at a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce. Eventually the new park would become the home Ottawa Legion Baseball, although the team would continue to play at Beutler Field until 1955, when the team played in Kalida.
The new park, named “Memorial Park” would be located on Pratt Street. Co-Chairmen of the Park Committee R.E. Laudick and W.C. Toner enlisted several local citizens to lead various portions of the construction. Norris Simpson was named the supervisor in charge of construction.
The park would include tennis courts, shelter houses, restrooms, playground equipment, and a baseball field with lighting and a covered grandstand. Construction of the park was truly a community effort. Volunteers, young and old, cleared grounds of branches and debris. The local Ohio National Guard joined forces with the Boy Scouts, and planted 200 seedlings on the west side of the park. Weatherseal pledged the material and labor to build the new covered grandstand.
SUMMER 1955 – In summer of 1955, there were still no lights on the new ballfield. A shortfall of funds had caused the lighting system to be put on hold. That’s when local citizen Donald Doepker formed a new group, the Ottawa Community Boosters Club, with the stated goal of raising funds to light the new ballfield. Officers of the new club included Pete Hamilton, Alva Lanwehr, Hubert Beckman, Forest Hopkins, and Paul Schomaeker. Other members included Joe Ruhe, Frank Kahle, Bernard Ruhe, Reese Maidlow, Donald Weis, Alvin Felkey, Vyland Newland, Vic Goedde, Ray Conine, Bob Imm, and Louis Ball. The community rallied behind the group, and together they got the job done.
JUNE 12, 1956 – First Night Game at the new Memorial Park. Ottawa Legion defeats Delphos Legion 3-1.
SUMMER 1965 – Village of Ottawa sells the site of Memorial Park to Sylvania Electric
AUGUST 1, 1965 – Last game played at the ballpark on Pratt St before the move. A special farewell game was organized by Bill Kruse, President of the OG Boosters and Shorty Kreinbrink. The Ottawa Legion played the OG ACME team on a Sunday night. The evening included food, music, and a special farewell to outgoing OG School Superintendent Lester Smith.
SUMMER 1966 – Memorial Park and ball field are moved to its’ current location.
Sources: "We Had a Lot of Fun" -- History of Ottawa Legion Baseball (2005)
Kerner-Slusser Post 63 75 Year Anniversary Book (1994)
Putnam County Sentinel Archives