|Image courtesy of Lou Profumo|
Lexington was one of the smaller towns selected to host a team in the Nebraska State League in 1956. The town, with a population of about 5,000 was one fourth the size of the larger towns. The town rallied behind the Red Sox and by early June had already sold 540 season books, leading the league in season ticket sales. They continued to support the team as they managed paid attendance of over 28,000 for the year. (30 home games).
Opening day saw 1,900 fans in the stands as Lexington defeated Holdrege 10-7.
The team responded to the great support by the fans by winning the pennant. With a group of young players in the Boston Red Sox organization manager Howard "Danny" Doyle put together a winning combination for 1956. This was the first year of the revived Nebraska State League, the third iteration folded before World War II.
The team was tied for first place going into the last month of the season. They put together a season ending winning streak to pull ahead of Grand Island, Kearney and McCook to win the league championship.
Lexington was fourth in batting, second in fielding and a strong first in pitching during 1956.
Howard "Danny" Doyle was the manager for the Lexington Red Sox in 1956. The 39 year old from McLoud Oklahoma played catcher for Boston in 1943. He played in a total of 13 major league games.
First base for the Red Sox was held down by lefty Edward Vallery . He averaged .276 for the year. On opening day he made an auspicious debut for the Sox as he had a 2 run homer in the seventh and a three run homer in the 8th inning against Holdrege. He finished the night 4 for 5 with six RBI's.
Richard "Yogi" Hergenader averaged .278 while playing 37 games at second for Lexington. He had just graduated from Lincoln High School (Lincoln Nebraska) and averaged .468 during the spring season. In 1955 he was awarded the American Legion "Louisville Slugger" batting champion award while playing for Lincoln NE post No. 3. He was offered contracts from eight different major league clubs and signed with the Red Sox. He received a $4,000 bonus and was assigned to Lexington for the 1956 season.
Guy Runge averaged .309 in 27 games.
William Seay played in 13 games and averaged .229.
John McDowell played in 3 games and Harry McKinney played in 1 game, neither had a hit.
Jerry Snider averaged .248 in
the 28 games he played at second.
Third base was occupied by Joseph DeCandido where he averaged .283. Robert Beaver played 25 games for Lexington. The 18 year old Whitter California native averaged .206.
Short saw James Knerr from Pasadena CA. He averaged .282 for the year.
Catcher for thr Red Sox was John Sweazy . The 20 year old from Norman Oklahoma averaged .246 in 40 games.
The outfield had Lee Howell , who led the Red Sox with a .322 average. The 19 year old from Detroit knocked around the minor leagues until 1963. Walter Napier from Fresno CA averaged .290. John Brey from Redondo Beach CA played 34 games in the outfield for Lexington and averaged .257, while Frederic (the Lexington newspaper called him Walter) Scane averaged .243 in 37 games.
Theodore Ellis was the leading pitcher in the league. He had an 11-1 record. He also led the league with a 1.76 ERA. He had 92 k's in 97 innings of work.
Robert O'Day was 7-3 for Lexington. He also averaged .280 at the plate.
Harold Fenn was 7-3.
Tom Amershek was 9-1.
Kenneth Bailey was 3-6 and Louis Profumo was 1-2 for Lexington. Eighteen year old Thomas Trochim was 2-4 in 6 games and Donald Virga was 1-2 in 7 appearances.
Nebraska State League Standings 1956
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