Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 1, January, 1992 Page: 4
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
so fierce that, in one instance, it incited a gunfight. In 1914, Waddell enticed Roy "Chief"
Chouteau, an Indian friend of his from Oklahoma, to pitch for the Eagle Lake team. But,
after seeing him pitch, the team from Moulton offered Chouteau more money and he left
Eagle Lake. Shortly afterward, the big Indian decided to rejoin Waddell and his original
team, and so informed Moulton's manager, Jim Robins. That evening, the two got into
an argument, and Robins killed Chouteau.
With even small town teams now taking on the look of professionalism, the
next logical step, the organization of formal leagues, shortly followed.2 In late February
1940, acting on an idea put forth by the Hallettsville Junior Chamber of Commerce,
representatives from Hallettsville, Weimar, Gonzales, Flatonia, Luling, Shiner, La
Grange, and Schulenburg formed the South Central Texas League. By the time the league
opened play in April, Yoakum and Cuero had joined the loop. The teams played one game
a week, on Sunday afternoon.
Baseball was everywhere in the years just before and just after World War
II. There were only sixteen major league teams, but there were hundreds of minor league
teams across the nation. In 1951 for instance, there were 50 minor leagues and 373
minor league teams.3 The Negro National League, and, beginning in 1937, the Negro
American League, were also in existence. In addition to all the professional activity, there
was a thriving semiprofessional circuit.4 In the 1930s, Texas and many other states
began sponsoring semipro state championship tournaments. Other tournaments, many
with lucrative cash prizes for the top teams, also sprang up.
Naturally, every town looked to upgrade the quality of its team. Doing so
meant going beyond the city limits to recruit players. Hiring such players was an
expensive proposition, and Sunday afternoon teams, playing only one game a week,
generated too little revenue. The solution, of course, was to play more games. But fans
could not come to a baseball game on a weekday. That again left only one answer: play
1948: The Birth of the Truckers
The citizens of Weimar began seriously talking about a lighted baseball field
in the first few weeks of 1948.6 Originally, the talk centered around altering the high
school football stadium, but at a special joint meeting of the local chapters of the
American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars on March 5, after an engineer testified
that it would be less expensive to start from scratch and that doing so would yield a better
diamond, the two organizations decided to purchase a site on the north side of town and
build a new baseball park.
The construction was to be underwritten by private citizens, who were to
be repaid from the proceeds of the expected twenty or so night games a season that the
park would host. The veterans set up a five man commission, with one member to be
2 The first known semipro league in Texas was formed in 1884 and included teams from Houston,
Galveston, Waco, Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio. See Harold Seymour, Baseball The People's Game
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 260.
3 Derived by a simple count of the leagues and teams reported on in J. G. Taylor Spink's Baseball
Guide and Record Book 1952 (St. Louis: Charles C. Spink & Son, 1952).
4 Semiprofessionals are those who are paid to play but who make their living by other means.
5 Lighted ball parks were not entirely new - the first game known to have been played under artificial
light was played on September 2, 1880 - but they had only recently begun to proliferate. The first major league
night game was played on May 24, 1935 in Cincinnati. As recently as 1945, five major league teams did not
have lighted fields. Two added lights in 1946, one in 1947, and one in 1948. See Oscar Eddleton, "'Under
the Lights,'" Baseball Research Journal, 1980 (Cooperstown, N. Y.: Society For American Baseball Research,
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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/m1/4/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.