Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nebraska State League
Beatrice Nebraska Blues 1938

The 1938 season saw manager Lee Riley with a number of veteran players to complement the gaggle of rookies trying to make the team. Beatrice had a working relationship with Brooklyn and the parent club sent a number of players from Clinton and other "farm clubs" to Beatrice for tryouts with the Blues.

The club set ticket prices at 35 cents for men and 25 cents for women with a number of days set aside as free days for the ladies. Mayor John Ostrander pitched the ceremonial first pitch on the night of the home opener with Light Commissioner James Terhune catching. Ted McGrew, Brooklyn scout was present to observe the Blues in their first home outing.

The Blues had too many veteran players on their roster and had to trade or release a number of them to make room for the required number of rookies. Club president released home town boy Pid Purdy and outfielder Darrell Genzlinger in order to rein in their roster numbers. The team struggled through the season managing a winning record and a third place finish in the league.

A fixture in the stands for the Blues was Mrs. Carrie Starke of Fairbury. "Ma" Starke as she was called, attended most of the Blues home games and took special note of the deeds of Clayton Fries, Harwood McKain and Rex Zimmer who played for Fairbury in 1937. They moved to Beatrice when their franchise folded. The Blues played their Sunday home games in Fairbury as Beatrice still had a ban on Sunday baseball.

Lee Riley led the Nebraska State League for the second straight year in batting average. He also led the league in RBI's in 1938 and managed the Blues to a third place finish. The Princeton Nebraska native played in four games in 1944 with Philadelphia. He played pro ball for the better part of 22 seasons. Hs is the father of basketball player and coach Pat Riley.

Leonard Novak was an 18 year old according to the Beatrice Newspaper or 20 years old from Baseball Reference. He was from Chicago. He played third base for the Blues in 1938 and averaged .392 in 114 games.

Frank Graves from Louisville Kentucky was behind the mask in 1938. He had a .318 average and led the team with 15 home runs during the season.

In the outfield was Walter "Bud" Long . The young man from Hamburg Iowa had a .315 average and 12 home runs during the season. On June 6th he had a career day going 7 for 7 with 2 triples during a double header.

Ira McGlothin averaged .289 in 117 games.

Rex Zimmer played in 116 games and averaged .279.

Pid Purdy played in 4 games.

Wally Jones was a 20 year old who played in 109 games and averaged .222.

Bud Long played in 115 games and averaged .312.


Nebraska State League All Star
Clayton Fries was selected to the Nebraska State League All Star team as a left handed pitcher. The lefty from Council Bluffs Iowa was 16-9 and had 241 strike outs in 243 innings.

Glen Moulder started slow but won 8 of his last 10 games to finish 11-10 for the year. The twenty year old from Cleveland Oklahoma was promoted to Elmira NY of the Eastern League for the 1939 season. He made it to the major leagues after World War II with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played with Brooklyn, the Saint Louis Browns and the Chicago White Sox during his three years in the majors.

Lester Wirkkala was an experienced pitcher who hurled in the Northern League before coming to Beatrice.

Wesley Woehrle had a 6-6 record for Beatrice in 1938.

During the season, Walter Nelson was added to the pitching roster. He was 11-3 with Rogers Arkansas of the Arksansas Missouri League in 1937 and was given a start with the Blues in June of 1938. He was 7-3 with the Blues in 1938.

Harwood McKain averaged .332 for the Blues and had a 7-5 record as a pitcher.

Maurice Engles was 6-5.

Fisher managed a 3-3 record.

At the end of the season a number of Beatrice Blues were promoted to higher leagues. The Brooklyn Dodgers had first choice in any Beatrice talent. Brooklyn paid $2,000 to the Beatrice club for this association. During the prior three years fifteen players from Beatrice were promoted to higher teams in the Brooklyn organization.

Frank Graves , catcher; Clayton Fries, pitcher; Glen Moulder , pitcher; Leonard Novak , third base; Walter Long , outfield; were all promoted to class "A" Elmira N.Y. of the Eastern League.

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