Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 1, January, 1992 Page: 13
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Home Games Tuesday and Friday Nights: Five Years of the Herder Truckers
Plymouth Oilers. But somehow, the magic of the previous two seasons was gone. And
when the opener was rained out, it did nothing to rekindle the flame.
But on the field, the Truckers had a fine season. They whipped the Victoria
Rosebuds, 16-3, in the rescheduled opener, and went on to win ten of their first eleven
games. Then came a game that has been long remembered in Colorado County. The team
from neighboring Columbus, which had dropped the name "Cardinals" in favor of the
name "Redbirds," was in its first full season on the night time semipro circuit and had
signed several college players of its own. Most of the new players, like big first baseman
Yale Lary, pitchers Bobby Fretz, Bob Tankersley, and Sam Blanton, catcher Martin
Hamilton, second baseman Joe Savarino, shortstop Joe Ecrette, third baseman Yogi
Candelari, outfielder Charlie Russell, and utility man Les Lackey, were from Texas
A & M. The Redbirds also had Rice outfielder Rex Proctor, and veteran semipro pitchers
Ernie Bartlett and Hop Priest. The team's backup catcher and coach was another semipro
veteran, Bill Hartley.
On July 3 in Columbus, the two teams met for the first time - and the game
was a classic. Nearly 3000 people attended. Ehrler started for the Truckers and Bartlett
for the Redbirds. Bartlett, who walked eight batters and gave up eight hits in the game,
was in constant trouble, but the Truckers could manage only single runs in the first and
seventh. Still, Ehrler was shutting out the Redbirds, and had allowed only two hits
through the first seven innings. Then, he started the eighth by walking the bases full,
and Miksch brought Jiggs Kana in from the bullpen.
With the Redbird's cleanup hitter, the dangerous Lary, at the plate, a pitch
eluded Ogletree and Ecrette tried to score from third. He was tagged out at the plate,
but Candelari and Proctor took over second and third. Lary delivered both runners, to
tie the game, with a sharp single to left.
The game remained tied through nine innings and went into overtime. Kana,
and Bartlett, who was still pitching for Columbus, matched zeroes through six more
frames. But there were threats. In the tenth, with Candelari on first, Fretz poked a double
to center. Hartley, coaching third, frantically waved Candelari home. But Brock got-the
ball in quickly to Tompkins at short, and Tompkins threw a strike to Ogletree to nip the
runner at the plate. In the thirteenth, Weimar loaded the bases, but Bartlett squirmed
off the hook again. In the fourteenth, it was Columbus' turn to leave the bases loaded.
Finally, after fifteen innings of work and fourteen strikeouts, Bartlett left the game.
Priest, his reliever, had been warming up in the bullpen off and on since the
first inning. In the sixteenth, the Truckers got two walks and a base hit, but again failed
to score. They lost the game in the bottom of the sixteenth, whenfroctor singled, stole
second, moved to third on Ogletree's throwing error, and came in on yet another base
hit by Lary. Hand, who had relieved Kana in the fifteenth, took the loss. The game had
taken more than four hours to play and ended after midnight.
The loss broke a string of dominance by Weimar teams over Columbus teams
that extended back to the days of the Weimar Wildcats and the South Central Texas
League. The Colorado County Citizen, forgetting Columbus' 6-3 win in 1948, called it
the "first victory over a Weimar baseball team since World [War] II." The two teams met
five more times that season, and the Truckers won all five games, but none of the
victories could erase the memory of the bitter July 3 defeat.
The Truckers lost another heartbreaker on the next day, the fourth of July,
in front of their home fans. Sinton erupted for five runs in the top of the eighth to beat
Weimar and Womack, 12-11. But the Truckers then beat Sinton on consecutive days
in Sinton and beat Columbus, 11-4, before starting the state tournament on July 13.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 1, January, 1992, periodical, January 1992; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151384/m1/13/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.