Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nebraska State League

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.
In 1931 the league contracted to a six team league. Norton and Fairbury folded. The success of night baseball was very apparent. Lincoln and McCook had lights installed during the 1930 season. Grand Island installed lights in June of 1931. Norfolk and North Platte planned on having lights installed during the 1931 season. The league looked to place a franchise in Hastings. Hastings had electical service to the ballpark but did not have the necessary transformers to install lights.

Grand Island displaced McCook as league champion.

Nebraska State League
Standings 1931
President: Robert Russell
Standings Wins--- Losses- GB
Grand Island Islanders 66 41 --
McCook Generals 59 50 8
Lincoln Links 55 51 10 ½
North Platte Buffaloes 53 55 13 ½
Norfolk Elks 47 58 18
York Dukes 42 67 25

Playoff:Grand Island 4, North Platte 1

BA: Ignatius Walters, McCook, .400
Runs: Roy Kippert, Grand Island, 117
Hits: Ignatius Walters, McCook, 193
HRs: Sebastian Wagner, Norfolk, 22
Wins: Henry Matuya, McCook, 18
SOs: Harley Hagan, Lincoln, 189
ERA: Robert Pickering, Grand Island, 2.56

The league changed its financial arrangements for the 1931 season with the home team being able to keep more of its own gate. This made it imperative that each city do its best to maximize attendance.

Life in America in 1931 was difficult. Farmers were going bankrupt, banks were folding, unemployment was estimated at 25%. The depression affected everything. Those who were working made an average salary of $100.00 per month. Milk was 14 cents a quart and bread was 9 cents a loaf. The NSL set a limit of 14 players per squad and a salary limit of $1,225 per month. Players received $75.00 per month and the managers received $250.00. More than 750 players showed up for open tryouts in Lincoln, Grand Island, Norfork and York. Even though the league payed no travel costs for players who were trying out the league had plenty of talent to choose from. Sandlot stars from the midwest to the coasts made it to Nebraska for a chance at position with a professional team.

Doc Bennett at McCook and Les Nunamaker in Lincoln were the only two returning managers for the 1931 season. Joe McDermott succeeded Hal Brokow at Norfolk, Bart Green, long time Southern League player/manager went to North Platte replacing Baldy Fowlkes, Pop Gleason, who spent 1930 at second base for Norfolk, replaced Art Rasmussen at York and Dick Brookhaus replaced Kenzie Kirkham at Grand Island.

One of the rules of the league when the league was established was that the players had to be first or second year players in professional ball. With the 1931 season the league had a number of experienced players who were fan favorites but had not moved up to higher levels of play. Many of them did not want to move up for family or employment reasons. The league took all the players with more than two years experience and drew their names out of a hat to distribute them to the various teams in the league.

(1930 team in parenthesis) Lincoln was assigned W. Cookson (N.P.) and Elmer Lindahl (Lincoln).
McCook acquired Frank Freesmeir (Norfolk) and Clark (York)
York was assigned Washington Seelman (N.P.) and Beckwith (York)
Ernest Krenk (Lincoln) and John Gabler (Lincoln) went to North Platte.
Norfolk acquired Cameron (McCook) and Oehclein (Norton).
Grand Island picked up Bob Pickering (Lincoln) and Strabaug (Norfolk)

Grand Island returned five regulars from their 1930 team which finished in third place. New manager Dick Brookhaus had Roy Kippert making runs and Robert Pickering leading the pitchers.

This was the last year for the York franchise. At the end of the year the franchise moved to Beatrice.

Hugh Luby was an 18 year old second baseman for the Norfolk Elks. He played for Norfolk for three years before moving to the Western League and eventually made it to the majors.

Harry Matuzak was a twenty one year old pitcher for McCook. He was 16-5 with 171 strike outs for McCook in 1931. He was born in Omer Michigan and at the end of the season his contract was purchased by Jack Holland of the Oklahoma City Western League. In 1932, pitching for Oklahoma City he was 17-14, pitched 247 innings and was third in strike outs with 155 for the season. In 1934 he made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Athletics. He also had a cup of coffee in the majors in 1936. In all he pitched in 17 games and was 0-4 lifetime in the majors.

Harley Hagen led the league in strikeouts while acquiring an 11-9 record for Lincoln in 1931. At the end of the season his contract was acquired by Detroit in the American League.

Ignatius Walters led the league in batting average and hits. His contract was also acquired by Detroit at the end of the season.

Frank Gannon Lincoln outfielder, Tom Railsback York pitcher and Jimmy Summers McCook outfielder were all acquired by Jack Holland's Oklahoma City club at the end of the season. Holland's success with his many acquisitions from the league in 1930 encouraged him to acquire more NSL players. He also acquired Bob Pickering who led the league in ERA from Grand Island and his team mate outfielder Vern Johnson. Some papers also reported that Herbert Hansen , Grand Island shortstop and Glenn Rickey, York pitcher were also sold to Oklahoma City in August of 1931.

Grand Island Islanders 1931

McCook Generals 1931

Lincoln Links 1931

North Platte Buffaloes 1931

Norfolk Elks 1931

York Dukes 1931

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