Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Western League
Omaha Cardinals 1947
Minor league baseball came back to Nebraska in 1947 as the Western League was resurrected as a Class "A" league. After a lapse of 15 years, six teams formed the new league in a meeting in Omaha in November of 1946. Senator Ed C. Johnson of Colorado was elected president of the league and his son-in-law Robert Howsam was named executive secretary. Each of the six clubs had major league affiliation.

Western League 1947
President:
Standings Wins--- Losses- GB Attendance Manager
Sioux City Soos (NYG) 81 49 -- 113,036 Joe Becker
Des Moines (Cubs) 75 52 4 ½ 152,027 James Keesey
Pueblo (BRK) 70 58 10 80,163 Walter Alston
Omaha Cardinals (STL) 67 62 13 ½ 138,308 Ollie Vanek
Denver Bears (NYY) 54 75 26 ½ 124,923 Marty McManus
Lincoln Athletics (PHA) 38 89 41 ½ 43,464 Herman Schulte

BA: Edmund Lewinski, Omaha, .346
Runs: Preston Ward Pueblo, 120
Hits: Michael Conroy, Omaha, 190
RBI's: Preston Ward, Pueblo, 121
HRs: Tony Jaros, Sioux City, 24
Wins: Sam Webb, Sioux City, 19
SOs: Charles Bishop, Omaha, 133
ERA: Herb Chmiel Des Moines, 2.23

Omaha had lost their Western League team on August 13, 1936 when a fire destroyed League Park on 13th and Vinton. The team moved to Rock Island Illinois to complete the 1936 season. Minor league baseball did not return to Omaha until the 1947 season.

There was much debate over where to play games for the 1947 season. Fontenelle park was the best stadium in the city at the time, but the neighborhood around the park did not want the team to be located there.

Omaha was in the process of building Omaha Municipal Stadium (Rosenblatt) so its games were played in Council Bluffs at Legion Park 35th and Broadway.

Dizzy Dean was on hand for the home opener for the Omaha Cardinals and spoke to a crowd of 600 baseball fans the night before at the Livestock Exchange Building. Mayor Charles Leeman was another guest of honor as Gerald Collins was the MC for the night.
The Omaha team in 1947 had a midwest flavor as John Hanna, a member of the 1939 McDevitt legion National Championship team, was a Cardinal. Although the newspaper identified John as a member of the team, he wound up playing for the St. Louis franchise in Fresno in 1947. Jerry Kamler from Geneva Nebraska was a first baseman for coach Ollie Vanek's club and Omaha boy Jim Basso played in 34 games for Omaha in 1947.

The Omaha entertainment scene in the month of May for 1947 included ads for Omaha's first television station and the "Beast With Five Fingers" was the movie feature at the Omaha.
The first home game for the Cardinals was against the Sioux City Soos (NYG). A crowd of 3,400 filled Legion Park as the Soo's beat the Cards 7 to 2
Day two saw 1,800 fans in the stands and another loss to the Soos 5 to 2. The first home victory for the Cards was on Thursday May 8th with a victory over Des Moines 6 to 5.

The lights at Legion Field in Council Bluffs were not the best. In one game Ed Lewinski hit a shot to left field that appeared to go over the fence. As Ed ran towards second, leftfielder Joe King ran to the fence, picked up a ball and threw it into the infield. After some debate it was determined that Joe King had hidden a baseball in his uniform and used it to try to deny Ed a home run. Joe was fined $50.00 for his efforts.

Omaha was a good hitting team. They led the league with 89 triples and 229 doubles. The 89 triples is a Western League post war record.

Roster:
Omaha had six all star selections in 1947, with Eddie Kazak being named to the first team and five others named to the second.
Ed Lewinski held down the first base position for Omaha in 1947. He led the league in batting with a .346 average. He was third in RBI's, fifth in hits and fourth in total bases. He also led the Wester League with 37 doubles. He was named to the All Star second team and selected by the Omaha fans as one of two most popular players for the season. He also played a few games for Houston in the Texas league in 1947.


Major League All Star
Eddie Kazak was named to the Western League All Star team for 1947. The second baseman was second in the league with 20 home runs. The 26 year old from Steubenville Ohio made it to the major league Cardinals in 1948. He was named to the 1949 All Star team and played in the majors through 1952.

Ray Henningsen led the league with 103 walks in 131 games. He also led the league with 16 sacrifice bunts. Born and raised in Omaha, he was a sandlot and semi-pro star. He was named as "most popular" by the Omaha fans in 1947.

Infielder George Genovese set a Western League post war record with 561 assists in 1947. He was also the best fielding shortstop in 1947 in the Western League. The New Yorker had a cup of coffee with Washington in 1950.

Catcher for the Cardinals in 1947 was John Bucha . He was named to the All Star second team. The 22 year old was promoted to St. Louis in May of 1948. He appeared in two major league games in 1948, 36 in 1950 and 60 in 1953.

Outfield:
William Marks was a regular in left field for the Omaha team in 1947. He was named to the All Star second team.

Michael Conroy was also named to the All Star second team. The center fielder was second in the league in batting with a .342 average. He was also second in stolen bases with 24, second in runs with 117, and first in hits with 190. He was also first in fielding percentage in the Western League.

Jim Basso was a local Omaha player who played for four teams in 1947 and five in 1948. In 1947 he played for Omaha, Decator, Shreveport and Houston.

Lou Ortiz was an infielder who played for Allentown and Omaha in 1947. He averaged .296 in 32 games for Omaha and returned as a regular in 1948.

Fred Bell played in 86 games and averaged .251.

Jerry Kamler played in 101 games and averaged .246.

Roland LeBlanc played in 81 games and averaged .279. He played in the minor leagues from 1939 through the 1957 season. (with a four year absence for WWII)

Dick Cole played in 4 games and Bob Erps played in 12 games.

FranK Gravino played in 11 games for Omaha and 104 games for Winston Salem, Alvin Kluttz averaged .176 in 35 games.

Charlie Bishop was a twenty three year old right handed pitcher who led the league in strike outs for Omaha. He was also second in the league in wild pitches and fourth in walks. He made it to the majors in 1952 with the Philadelphia Athletics and played for four years. He was 10-22 lifetime.

Jack Crimian had 14 wins for Omaha in 1947 and was selected to the All Star second team. The 21 year old from Philadelphia made it to the majors in 1951 for 11 games, 1952 for 5 games. He was a regular with Kansas City in 1956 and was traded to Detroit where he appeared in 4 games in 1957.

Topps 1953 (reprint)

Don Bakkelund had a 6-7 record in 1947.

Twenty four year old Ken Johnson from Topeka managed a 6-2 record. He was called up the the parent club in September and had his first major league victory.

Johnny Klippstein was a 19 year old righty who started his professional career with Lima when he was 16 years old. In 1947 he had a 5-4 record for Omaha. He made it to the majors in 1950 and pitched through the 1967 season.

Roy Lee had a 3-4 record in 1947. He had a three game major league career with Washington in 1945.

Wilbur McCullogh was 7-9 with a 4.08 era.

Thomas Kelley was 13-7. Floyd Thierolf was 6-5, Robert Eisiminger was 0-1 and John Remke was 1-0 in 1947.

51 Bowman 51 Bowman 57 Topps

52 Topps 56 Topps

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