Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nebraska State League

Beatrice Blues Baseball Program 1928

The Nebraska State League was resurrected in 1928. It was a class "D" league. Minor league structure during this time included "AA", "A", "B", "C" and "D" leagues. It lasted under the NSL banner through the 1938 season. In 1939 it latched on to the Western League moniker after the demise of that class "A" league. 1941 was the last year for this iteration of the league.

Nebraska State League
Standings 1928
President: James Beltzer
Standings Wins--- Losses- GB
McCook Generals 71 49 --
Lincoln Links 66 54 5
Beatrice Blues 64 56 7
North Platte Buffaloes 64 57 7 ½
York Dukes 58 62 13
Norfolk Elks 55 66 16 ½
Grand Island Champs 52 68 19
Fairbury Jeffersons 51 69 20

BA: John Stoneham, McCook, .396
Runs: Herbert Pember, McCook, 116
Hits: Herbert Pember, McCook, 172
HRs: Walt Cookson, North Platte, 19
SB: Harold "Spud" Owens, Beatrice, 57
SH: Anderson, McCook, 41
Wins: Ernest Krenk, Lincoln;
Harlan Pyle, McCook; 20
SOs: Joe Wilman, York, 164
ERA: Ernest Krenk, Lincoln, 2.57

The organization of the new Nebraska State League set it apart from other leagues in organized baseball. The league was set up as a "rookie" league. The manager was the only person allowed to have experience in a higher league. The league was filled with high school graduates, college players and semi pro stars. After this first year players were allowed to return to the league if their "tryout" with a higher level team did not work out.

The league was also unique in its financial organization. The teams all pooled thier revenue through the league president. Each club invested $2,000 to join the league and each city had to provide a free lease to use the town baseball stadium. The league provided a groundskeeper. President Beltzer then bought 18 automobiles to provide transportation for the teams. All revenues, from ticket sales, outfield fence advertising revenues, sales of player to higher leagues etc. were pooled and divided equally between the clubs. Beltzer had a nominal salary of $1,800.00 but would only be paid if the league turned a profit. According to the Sporting News Beltzer was not paid during the 1928 or 1929 season.

Clubs could have 20 players on the roster for opening day but had to cut down to 14 after 10 days. The league had a $1,400 per month salary limit.

On August 22nd, Beatrice and Lincoln played 15 scoreless innings. In the top of the 16th Beatrice scored one run but Lincoln replied with 2 in the bottom of the 16th to win the game.

McCook pretty much led the league from start to finish. The Generals started building their franchise with Elmer "Doc" Bennett as their manager. Doc built a team of strong hitters and quality pitchers. His McCook teams went on to win three straight league championships under his direction. After the first ten games they were 7-3 and in first place. Second place was contended by Lincoln, North Platte and Beatrice. Lincoln had a lock until a disasterous road trip late in the season. North Platte could have challenged but they lost both ends of a double header to McCook in early September.
McCook had four players who averaged over .340 and a team batting average of .309. Combined with Harlan Pyle's twenty win season the McCook Generals were the 1928 Nebraska State League Champions.

McCook also rated first at the box office in 1928 with an average attendance of 257 on weekdays and 663 on Sundays. Lincoln, whose population was 20,000 greater than all the other seven cities put together had a weekday average 141 fans and a Sunday average of 782.

Attendance by City 1928

Nebraska State League 1928 All Stars

Nebraska State League 1928 Batting Averages

The batting champion from McCook, John Stoneham was listed as Seaman for most of the year. The 19 year old from Wood River Illinois returned to McCook for 1929 then had stints in Columbia, Wichita and Tulsa. He had a cup of coffee with the White Sox in 1933. He returned to Tulsa for 1934 then played for Indianapolis, Mission, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and Dallas. He ended his professional career in 1941.

Clay Schoonover, the manager for Grand Island batted .403 in the 38 games in which he participated. Cy Sherman stated that "Clay was playing ball while most of the State League youngsters were hitting in the Bottle League". Clay started with Hutchison and Omaha in 1910. He played for Omaha in 1911 and Grand Island in 1912 and 1913. He played through the 1917 season. He returns in 1928 to be player manager for Grand Island.

Harlan (Firpo) Pyle was a first team all star selection. The twenty three year old from Burchard Nebraska was McCooks ace pitcher during their title run. He led the league with 20 wins. He had a short time with the Reds in September, joining Pid Purdy a Beatrice native. He pitched for four outs in two games. After his playing career Harlan settled in Beatrice where he was a farmer, grocer and butcher.

Ezra McCormick, 128 Blackburn, York won the contest to name the York team. He entered the name "Dukes" as their new nickname and won free tickets to the opening game. He won over the panthers, plezalls, wolverines, puritans and hilltoppers.

In August the Washington Post reported that three of the Nebraska State League stars were acquired by Cincinnati. Joe Smith pitcher with North Platte, Firpo Pyle and first baseman Victor Scheill of McCook all accepted contracts with the Reds.

McCook Generals 1928 Lincoln Links 1928
Beatrice Blues 1928 North Platte Buffaloes 1928
York Dukes 1928 Norfolk Elks 1928
Grand Island Champs 1928 Fairbury Jeffersons 1928

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