Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 1, January, 1992 Page: 3
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Home Games Tuesday and Friday Nights:
Five Years of the Herder Truckers
by Bill Stein
Since 1952, when the semi-professional baseball team known as the Herder
Truckers played their last game, the team and its accomplishments have taken on the
quality of myth. Aging men still talk about the Truckers in reverential tones and seek
to identify themselves with the team. Specific games and events are readily recalled,
though often with the facts skewed by their distance in time. In the memory, it is always
the bottom of the ninth, there are two outs, and the bases are loaded.
The history of baseball in Colorado County can be traced to February 1872,
when a group of men met and organized the Colorado Base Ball Club in Columbus.
Though the club is known to have played only one game - they beat the Brenham Base
Ball Club, 64-35, at the Third Annual Volks Fest in Columbus in May 1874 - it seems
logical to assume that they had played formal games at the first two Volks Fests as well,
and indeed, that the members had played informally among themselves even before the
organization of the club. Whatever experience or athletic advantage the club possessed
manifested itself again at the second known game involving Colorado County men. On
April 26, 1 877, a team from Columbus, which included at least four members of the old
club, soundly beat a team from Schulenburg, 51-2. The game had been arranged on a
wager between the editors of The Colorado Citizen and the Schu/enburg Argus, Ben
Baker and Pocahontas E. Edmundson. Edmundson, however, refused to pay, citing as
one of his reasons that the extreme bias exhibited by the Columbus rooters in favor of
their team had been a contributing factor to his team's defeat.
Two decades later, in 1895, baseball fever broke out all over the county and
fan support was an accepted and expected obstacle to victory for visiting teams. By
1 897, Columbus, Weimar, Eagle Lake, Glidden, and Borden each had one or more teams,
all with evidently fanatical followings. That same year, there were two important steps
toward professionalism, the first known instances of admission charges and of hired
players. In July, S. P. Smith enclosed the baseball grounds on the east side of Weimar,
erected a grandstand, and began charging to see games. It cost 15 cents to get inside
the fence and an extra dime to sit in the stands. But it was not Smith who went to the
expense of hiring players. That innovation was left to the teams in Eagle Lake and
Columbus. By mid summer, the Eagle Lake team had secured the services of a shortstop
from San Antonio named Antonio Garcia and the Columbus team was using two players
who were originally from Galveston, a pitcher named Murray and a catcher called Luitich.
Thereafter, paid players were a fixture on all the best county teams. In 1909,
Julius Sandmeyer hired several players for his Columbus team. Over the next decade,
Eagle Lake built a succession of strong teams around the talents of local players Tom
Waddell, Howard Fitzgerald, and Verner Matthews.' The competition for players was
1 Fitzgerald, a left handed hitting outfielder, went on to become the second Colorado CoutLy player
to play in the major leagues, making his debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1922. Weimar born Ira Dance "Pats"
Townsend had pitched in four games for the Boston Braves 0n each of the two previous seasons. Left handed
pitcher Douglas James Rau of Columbus became the third county man to make the major leagues. His nine
year career, beginning in 1972 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. was far more successful than either Fitzgerald's
or Townsend's had been.
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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/m1/3/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.