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Historical Sports: Auke Bay versus Fairbanks

Posted: October 22, 2012 - 12:03am
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Roger Grummett, age 16, bats in the 1958 All-Alaska Departmental 3-out-of-5 American League baseball championship at Juneau's Fireman's Field, the site of the current Federal Building. The Auke Bay American Legion Post 25 lost the series to Fairbanks. Photo taken by Joseph W Alexander, courtesy of Roger Grummett.
Roger Grummett, age 16, bats in the 1958 All-Alaska Departmental 3-out-of-5 American League baseball championship at Juneau's Fireman's Field, the site of the current Federal Building. The Auke Bay American Legion Post 25 lost the series to Fairbanks. Photo taken by Joseph W Alexander, courtesy of Roger Grummett.

The 1958 Auke Bay American Legion Post 25 baseball team had a rivalry with Fairbanks’ FairLadd American Legion squad.

In the first All-Alaska departmental series held at Juneau’s Fireman’s Field, the site of the current Federal Building, Fairbanks won three out of five games. Although they were disqualified 10 years after the series for having an illegal player, the FairLadd boys represented the territory in the Western Regional playoffs in Billings, Montana.

The 1958 Auke Bay American League Post 25 baseball team were coached by Bill Palmer and included right fielder Dennis Sperl, center fielder Dale Shuman, third baseman Andy Peckovich, left fielder Tom Blanton, first baseman Dennis Shuman, first baseman Roger Grummett, left fielder Dale Schmitz, center fielder Stan Hamlin, and manager Bud Cantillon. Front left-to-right: Pitcher Dave Gray, shortstop Dale Henkins, center fielder Winston Tolliver, pitcher David Pearson, catcher Dennis Cunningham, pitcher Chip Featherstone, pitcher Jim Trivette, and second baseman Alan Gray.

Fairbanks was coached by Tony McCormick’s older brother Dick. The 1958 series between Fairbanks and Auke Bay went five games. Auke Bay won game four 5-2 behind the complete game pitching of David Gray who struck out 13 batters. The following day Fairbanks won the fifth and deciding game 7-3.

In 1959 the two squads would meet again, this time at the home of the FairLadd boys. This Fairbanks team had only been in existence for two years and was in their second Alaska championship.

This time Fairbanks won in three straight games and would represent Alaska in regional play at Roseburg, Oregon. Both teams featured almost the entire same roster from the previous year, with Southeast Alaska Champions Auke Bay returning Winston Toliver, Allen Gray, Roger Grummett, Dale Shuman, Charlie Featherstone and Jim Trivette. They were joined by teammates Walter swap, Mike Millard, Dave Nelson, Joe Harmon, Jim Brown, Haydon Davis, Ken Shuman and Dale Henkins. Axel Nielson was the manager this season.

Fairbanks was coached by Mel Miller, Mac McDougald and Ted Roloff and players included first baseman Dick Farris, second baseman Bill Bailey, shortstop Dareall Heitt, third baseman Bill Taylor, left fielder Reed Gould, center fielder Ken Miller, catcher ken Robinson and pitcher Ken Gallagher.

Fairbanks won game one 6-4 as Auke Bay went through pitchers Nelson and Featherstone. Fairbanks trailed 2-1 in game two heading into the seventh inning when they pushed three runs across and went on to win 6-3. Nelson pitched for Auke Bay and the Fairbanks team had a hard time solving his unorthodox delivery. Auke Bay tied the game 1-1 in the fourth when Grummett reached first on an error, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out by Toliver. In the fifth the Bayites took the lead for the only time in the series when Nelson went to second on a bad throw, moved to third on a single by Gray and scored on another single by Dennis Shuman.

The FairLadds won the final game the next day 9-3. Jim Trivette started for Auke Bay and went five innings before being replaced by Featherstone who would face just 12 batters in the last four innings of relief.

This was the third straight Southeast crown for Auke Bay. They defeated Ketchikan this season in three straight games. Auke Bay won game one 11-5 as Featherstone struck out 13, walked 8 and gave up 5 hits. Palmer Erickson of Ketchikan struck out 5, walked 3 and allowed 14 hits.

Auke Bay won game two 2-1. The battle was a first class pitcher’s duel with Ketchikan’s Seierup striking out 10, and scattering eight hits. Nelson pitched for Auke Bay and stuck out 13, walked 6 and allowed 4 hits. Tolliver broke up the ball game in the last of the ninth with two out. Tolliver got on base with a single, stole second and third and when the pitcher delivered to Nelson at the plate, Tolliver was heading for home with the winning run of the game.

Auke Bay won the third game, and the series, 11-4. Ketchikan led early 2-0 but that only lasted until Auke Bay’s first at bat. Henkins lined a shot that rolled all the way to the fence for a home run. In the fifth inning the Auke Bay boys batted around the order. Grummett started on the mound and struck out 2 and walked 2; Brown relieved in the third and struck out 2 and walked 4. Seierup went the route for Ketchikan and struck out 10 and walked 2.

Aside form Auke Bay, the Capitol Baseball League consisted of the Juneau Tigers with hurler Jim Parkhurst, Scott Wingfield, Joe Swanson, and Garrett Sheldon; the A.C.S. Coast Guard with Terry Allen, Jim Barbarow, Fred Barton, Don Dull, Bob Jones, Alvie Sexton, Don Ingram, Mike Ransdell, Don Wilbur and Cotton Wheeler; and the USCG bouy tender Sweetbrier with Joe Ciravlo, Rick Brown, Al Henderson and Jim Moranville.

The Capitol Baseball League season was kicked off by a formal opening with acting-governor Hugh J. Wade pitching to Mayor Mollie MacSpadden.

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