Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Norfolk Yankees 1940

The Nebraska State League changed its name to the Western League as the former league folded. It was a class "D" league like the NSL while the former Western League was a class "A" league.

Norfolk looked forward to the 1940 season. While the team would have a lot of new players, manager "Doc" Bennett returned. He managed Norfolk to the championship in the last year of the Nebraska State League in 1938 and to the 1939 Western League Championship. Once again he put together a winning team.

Norfolk had a working agreement with the New York Yankees and Doc put together a team of prospects from the Yankees and some of the better players from the area. The league went to a four quarter schedule and the Yankees won the first, second and fourth quarters. They ran off an eight game winning streak to finish the season.


"Doc" Bennett was the manager for the Yankees and led them to their third straight championship. He was named to the All Star Team for 1940.

Fred Schenk held down first base for the Yankees in 1940. He led the league in fielding and was an all star selection in 1940. He was third in the league in home runs and fourth in triples and total bases. He played in 113 games and the port side swinger averaged .306.

William Baker was second in the league in fielding percentage as he played the keystone position. He was third in the league in stolen bases with 27, third in doubles with 23 and fourth in runs scored. His performance put him on the All Star Team in 1940. Another lefty with the bat he averaged a healthy .319 at the plate.

The third sack was guarded by Mike Portner . He was in the top five in stolen bases and walks for the season. He was also on the All Star Team in 1940. He averaged .316. A high school multi sports star in Illinois, was signed by Akron in 1941. He played with Joplin in 42 and Binghampton in 1943. He was signed by Kansas City for the 1944 season but spent most of the season with Newark. He spent 1945 in Jersey also.

Shortstop for Norfolk was Harold Loewe. Everyone in the infield played at least 100 games during the season making it a very stable team. He averaged .239 for the season.

Catcher for the Yankees was Harry Heslet. He was second in home runs and was named to the All Star Team. He averaged .287 for the season. Harry was a power hitter for most of his career. He led the Eastern League in home runs in 1947 and the Pioneer Leaguein 1946. In 1956 the "burley veteran" led the California league while playing for Visalia.

The outfield saw Russell Burns in left field. He led the league in home runs, was second in RBI's, first in doubles, first in triples, third in walks and first in total bases. He was a unanimous All Star Team selection. He was the leading batter on the team with a .330 average. The 20 year old from Independence Kansas started the season with Joplin but moved to Norfolk early in the season. He spend the 1941 season with Joplin. 1942-1945 he was in the military, returning to play for Kansas City and Beaumont Texas in 1946. He played in the minors through the 1956 season making stops in Des Moines, Tulsa, Syracuse, Oklahoma City, Little Rock and Plainview.

Center field for Norfolk was held down by Frank Bocek. He averaged .281 for the year.

The right field garden was held down by Robert Duby . He averaged .323 for the season.


William Davis had 15 wins, 198 innings pitched, 139 k's with Norfolk and was 5-11 with Snow Hill in 1940. He moved up to the Joplin, the Yankees class "C" affiliate in 1941 and 1942. He pitched through the 1947 season, ending with Miami in the Kansas Oklahoma Missouri League.

Kenneth Sterling had 14 wins, 176 innings pitched and 174 k's. The lefty had a 14-6 record in 28 appearances.

Ollie Martin managed a 9-3 record in 14 games.

Fred Whalen was 11-3 in 16 games. He had a 1.36 ERA.

Robert Hinton was 2-4 in 12 appearances.

Ralph Rosengarten appeared in 18 games and had a 7-6 record. The 19 year old pitched for Norfolk again in 1941 and Joplin in 1942. He returned in 1946 with Leavenworth in the Western Association.

Fred Schenk pitched in 2 games and had a 1-1 record.

Max Hittle wsa a 17 year old who pitched in 10 games and had a 4-3 record. In 1941 he pitched for Joplin and Idaho Falls, two class "C" Yankee affiliates. He returned from the service in 1946 and pitched in the minors through the 1947 season.

Don Kuecher was a port side slinger who had a 3-2 record in 7 games.

Jim Nation was a 20 year old who pitched in 15 games and had 5-2 record.

Western League 1940

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