Thursday, July 23, 2015

Morton Grove Little League All Stars, 1966

We posted this just short of half-century old nostalgic photo on my personal Facebook page back in 2011. We were reminded of it the last few days when a couple of my childhood friends somehow ferreted it out from among my hundreds of pictures posted, and clicked the Like button. It occurred to me that some among the broader audience of current and former Morton Grove residents who read my blog might find the photo of interest. Now the pictured individuals will have an opportunity to turn up in search engine results.

Morton Grove north side All Stars 1966. Starting top left: Tom Brown, John Tritschler, Kevin Dohm, Grady Foster, and Scott McKay. First Row: Richie Kengott, Michael Vincini, Rick Lauson, Bobby Brown and Ricky Klaser. Not pictured, Eugene Knepper and Bob Warren.

The names are as best as I can recollect, supplemented by several corrections and fill in the blanks supplied by Facebook friends. Additional corrections and amplifications are welcome (to email me go to the link on my profile page).

In the 1960s Morton Grove Little League (ages 8 through 12) was split into north and south divisions, with teams competing exclusively within division. Towards the end of each season separate all star teams were named for north and south to compete in the single elimination tournament against other towns that led eventually to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylavania. As I recall the dividing line between north and south was Dempster Street. There were AAA, minor (blue hats) and major (green hats) leagues. When in the majors I played on the Senators in the north. Our games were played at Harrer, Mansfield, Palma Lane and National Parks. My coach was a gentleman by the name of Bob Gore, an insurance agent who lived in a home abutting National Park, down the first base line. I bought my first life insurance policy from Mr. Gore when I was sixteen years old.

My father coached a different team in the same league -- the Indians if I recall correctly. My dad used our lawn mower to create a practice field in the Forest Preserve clearing down the street from our house on Austin Avenue. Dad had the best drilled team in the league. They were repeat champions. The Senators were a perennial patsy for the Indians.  
The Bugle, July 14, 1966

The only time we played at a field with an outfield fence was in All Star games. With our sparkling white all star uniforms, professional umpiring, freshly raked and lined and mowed fields, playing in an All Star game to us felt like appearing in the big leagues. 

After initially posting this photo we happened across this Bugle article to the right when we searched using several of the players names, announcing the north -- and south --- all stars, in 1966, not 1965 as we had first assumed. Based on the article, I have made what I think will be the final corrections of the names.

I was a center fielder and pitcher who played only center field as an All Star because we were one and done. I don't recall the score other than that the game was close and low scoring. I remember shaking like a leaf as the drive rose towards me, but still catching a hard hit fly ball near the center field fence. I struggled at the plate. Our game was at Austin Park, which had a home run snow fence installed across the outfield special for the occasion. I wore the MG hat that signified my All Star status until it frayed around the edges. The uniforms were returned for use by the next year's team. So it was, growing up in Morton Grove in the summer of 1966.

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