Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nebraska State League
Grand Island Red Birds 1937

Grand Island returned to the Nebraska State League in 1937 after a four year absence. The team acquired a working agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals and took the name Red Birds as an indication of that agreement.

The town had about 18,000 people in it and was a commercial hub for the region.

The club was not very good and went through a lot of players during the season. Many positions saw five or more players tried at the position. Lack of hitting or lack of fielding (or both) caused a lot of players to come and then go. The lack of pitching and hitting put them in last place for the year 42 games out of first.


First base for the Red Birds saw a number of players during the season.
Chas Valci played the position for 53 games. He led the team in batting with a .372 average.
Russ Bullis put on the first base glove for 42 games and averaged .251 for the year.
John Petrick played the position for 11 games. He was a regular in the outfield.

Second base position was one of the firm positions for the year as Ed Lake held the position for 94 games. He played in 111 games total and averaged .297 for the year. He also led the team with 43 stolen bases. The 21 year old from California played for Decatur in the III league in 1938. He played for St. Louis (NL) for 2 games in 1939 and played in the majors through the 1950 sason.

Third was another revolving door for 1937 as five different players tried the position during the season. Paul Luther held the position for 29 games and averaged .245.
Robert "Joe" Schmidt played the position for 29 games and averaged .286. The 19 year old from Illinois started the 1938 season with Grand Island then moved to Duluth in the Northern League for most of the season. In 1940 he moved to Portsmouth in the Mid Atlantic league and 1941 he was in Mobile. The next three years were spent in the service. When he returned in 1946 he Anniston in the South Eastern League. After three years in Anniston he moved to Newnan in the Georgia Alabama league for two years. Fargo called in 1951, Keokuk in 1952, Mt. Vernon in 1953 and Paris in 1954 completed his minor league career. He led all minor league players with a .441 average in 1939.

Anthony Anselmo was tried for 12 games and averaged .206.
Escal "Mickey" Burnett averaged .352 in the 13 games he played in during 1937. He also had 13 errors in 13 games. Born in Arkansas, he grew up in California and played with Paducah in the Kitty League the next year. He also had experience in the Pacific Coast League with Sacramento and Oakland, Rochester in the International League, Pocatello in the Pioneer League and Mobile in the South Eastern League.
John Hodgson was tried at the position . He had 7 errors in 14 attempts. He averaged .195 and was not kept for the remainder of the season.

Short stop during 1937 saw Robert Anderson as a regular at the position. He held a light bat and averaged .216.

Catcher was another five player position during the year. William Wyss caught for 43 games and averaged .206.
Louis DuBois faced the wrong way for 21 games and played in 31 games total. He averaged .233.
Milo Smith averaged a scant .204 in the 15 games he caught.
Floyd Bond put on the mask for 16 games and averaged .245.
Richard Moran caught 12 games and averaged .245.

Outfield John Petrick tended the outfield garden for 71 games and played in 90 games total. He had a .328 average for the year.
Byrdene Baumgardner played in 81 games and averaged .280 for the year.
Jim Cookson was in the outfield for 61 games. He managed a .201 average.

Eighteen year old Len Rice from Lead South Dakota started his professional career with Grand Island in 1937. He played in 41 games and averaged .206. He played for Lincoln in 1938 and Ogden in 1939. He had a cup of coffee with the Reds in 1944 and 1945. He then went to San Diego in the Pacific Coast League in 1946 and stayed through the 1948 season. He finished his career with Dallas in 1949. Pete Krause played in 10 games and averaged .232.
Ray Kamanecky played in 16 games and averaged .208.

Henry Polly had the second most appearances on the team. He handled the rosin 33 times and had a 9-17 record.

Frank Perco pitched in 27 games and had a 7-12 record. He also helped his cause at the plate averaging .258 with the bat.

Murry Dickson (Dixon) pitched in 35 games, played in 43 and had a 14-15 record. He also batted .232 for the season and led the league with 209 strike outs. Murry was born in Tracy Missouri in 1916 but moved to Leavenworth Kansas when he was nine. He was signed by the Cardinals in 1936 by scout Jack Ryan and assigned to Grand Island for the 1937 season. He played in Decatur in 1938, was married in 1939 and played the 1939 season at Houston. He made his major league debut at the end of the 1939 season. The next two seasons were at Columbus and twice pitched both games of a double header. He spent the seasons of 42 and 43 with the Cardinals. Drafted into the army he landed with the 35th division on Omaha beach on D-Day. He earned four battle stars during his time in Europe. After the war he pitched in the majors through the 1959 season.

Arthur Robison appeared in 15 games and had a 2-7 record.

Eighteen year old Allen Turner had a 1-10 record in 16 games and a 5.61 ERA. The southpaw St. Louis farm hand moved to Decatur in 1938.

Leroy Youngblood took the mound for 11 games and had a 4-6 record with a 6.87 ERA.

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