Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Norfolk Elks 1939

In 1939 the Nebraska State League changed its name to the Western League as the class "A" Western League folded. Lincoln and Norfolk were the only Nebraska teams in the league. Norfolk was the defending champion of the league. The team won the first half of the 1938 season and the playoffs against Sioux City.

For 1939 Norfolk started the season with only two players with two or more years of professional experience and a bunch of rookies. This was the third year that the Elks had a working agreement with the New York Yankees and a number of young prospects from that organization were assigned to the Elks.

Opening day saw the Mayor of Norfolk A. S. Mitchell and the Norfolk high school band under the direction of Lambert Jirovek leading the parade from 4th Street and Norfolk Ave. to the Athletic Park. The opening day had almost 1,000 people in attendance with 778 paid admissions and 200 knothole gang members crowding the grandstand and the bleachers.

Norfolk started with their second year pitcher Leo Bobeck. A lot of runs were scored as the Elks defeated Worthington 25-16 in a wild contest. The Elks had 18 players on their roster but had to cut to 15 by the end of May.

Norfolk once again won the pennant with Elmer "Doc" Bennett as their manager. They were 8 ½ games ahead of the Sioux Falls club. However, they did not do well in the playoffs. Sioux City defeated them four games to two.

All Stars:

Wendell Finders led the league in hits and was the league's all star at second base. He batted .330 for the year and had 51 stolen bases.

William Morgan led the league with 17 home runs and was an all star selection in the outfield. He was first on the team in batting with a .342 average.

Karl Hower, catcher for the Elks was named as the all star catcher for 1939. The rookie from Mifflintown Pennsylvania had a strong arm and was quite good at swinging the wagon tongue averaging .341 for the season.

Leonard Bobeck was one of the two all star pitchers for 1939. He had 12 wins for Norfolk in 1938 and improved to 19-3 for 1939 as the Elks leading port side flinger. The young pitcher from Gary Indiana was one of the leading prospects on the team.

Manager Elmer (Doc) Bennett led the Elks to the pennant in 1939. This was his third season with the Elks and he also led them to the pennant in 1938. In all he had four championship teams in his six years as manager for various Nebraska State League clubs.


Fred Whalen was a young pitcher from Stanton Nebraska. He was 9-3 for the season and had 80 strike outs with only 51 walks.

Joe Spak won the first base job from Jim Paul. Jim , from San Jose California was sent to Neosho Missouri to play in the Arkansas Missouri League while Joe held down the first base position for the Elks. He was from Chicago Illinois. Joe hit .259 in 1939.

Ed Smith started 1939 with the Joplin Missouri team in the Western Association. In late May he joined the Elks and and was 13-9 for the year. He also had 139 strikeouts in 1939.

Ira McGlothin who played with Beatrice in 1938 also joined the team in late May and was one of the regulars for the team. He managed a .262 average for the season while holding down the shortstop position.

Milford Wildenauer was one of the few veterans on the team. He held down third base for the Elks for the 1939 season. He managed a .255 average for the year.

Junior Bowman was a regular in the outfield for Norfolk and hit .285 for the year.

Roy Drasitis (or Drasites) was 13-10 for the year. He had 162 K's and 101 walks for the year.

Tom Tisdale was 4-3 in 10 games as a pitcher and batted .257. He appeared in 35 games total.

Ed Wagner had a 0-3 record as a pitcher and batted .170 in 100 at bats.

George Glenn played in 32 games for the Elks and averaged .289.

Leo Bohanen was in 32 games and averaged .271.

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