Nebraska Minor League Baseball
The split season was dropped in 1935. A Shaughnessy playoff was attempted for the first time.
Western League Standings 1935
President:Dale Gear
Standings Wins----- Losses--- GB
Davenport Blue Sox 70 46 --
St. Joseph Saints 58 48 7
Des Moines Demons 58 55 10 ½
Sioux City Cowboys 54 52 11
Cedar Rapids Raiders 53 57 14
Keokuk Indians 49 66 20 ½
Omaha Packers/Council Bluffs 55 46 NA
Rock Island Islanders 19 46 NA
BA: Harold Epps, Cedar Rapids, .346
Runs: Milton Bocek, Cedar Rapids, 93
Hits: James Webb, Cedar Rapids, 151
HRs: Hugh Willingham, Sioux City, 20
Wins: Claude Passeau, Des Moines, 20
SOs: Claude Passeau, Des Moines, 239
Pct Al Piechota, Davenport, 17-7, .739

The league playoffs had St. Joseph over Des Moines 3 games to 0 and Sioux City over Davenport 3 games to 0. The finals saw St. Joseph over Sioux City 4 games to 3.

In 1934 Omaha had the lowest attendance in the Western League. By May of 1935 owner Branconier could not meet payroll. In early June the team did not have the money necessary to go to Rock Island for an away game. On June 7th the franchise was forfeited back to the league. Mrs. E.C. Branconier had not paid the players since May 15th. The refusal to send her team to Rock Island was the last straw. Joe McDermott was put in charge of the club by the league.

Branconier had paid the yearly lease for the Vinton Street ball park in advance. Joe tried to work with John Ostronic and Branconier to acquire the lease but he was unsuccessful. Branconier refused to sell the lease back to the league. Omaha was not without a ballpark and an owner. On June 23rd only 911 fans were in the stands for an Omaha home game.

Joe went across the river to Council Bluffs. He worked with the Junior Chamber of Commerce to move the franchise to the Iowa City. Eric Pastore has a great photo set of Legion Park in Council Bluffs. On June 25th, the franchise officially became the Council Bluffs Rails. (the park would also be pressed into service right after the war for the Omaha Cardinals while the Omaha Municipal Stadium (now called Rosenblatt) was being completed.)

As part of the deal the league paid back salaries as a loan against the club. Ad Liska was put in charge as business manager and they kept Joe McDermott as manager. Council Bluffs had to put up $3,500 to acquire the franchise. The Chamber raised the money by selling tickets for the 40 remaining home games. Single game tickets sold for 40 cents but the Chamber made the bulk of their money by selling ticket books. The league agreed to paying the salaries and away game operating expenses for the rest of the year. These costs were added to the loan.

The Council Bluffs Nonpareil held a contest to name the team. They had 1,100 entries. The Beat-em-Alls, Mormons, Wild Roses and Rails were among the entries. J. Vincent Crowe at 3620 Broadway won the contest and the team moniker became the "Rails".

The first "Rails" game was on July 2nd. Even with all the turmoil, the team was only 1/2 game out of second. While the Council Bluffs paper predicted a turnout of 5,000 or more only 2,200 actually attended the game. The additional 40 cent toll to cross the river on the trolley kept a lot of Omaha fans away. In addition, the thought that the Omaha team was now across the river kept a lot of Omaha fans away. The Rails went 9-3 in their first 12 games. Ad Liska, a Dwight Nebraska native, who was put in charge as the business manager put on a uniform and pitched for the Rails. The former major league pitcher (Senators/Phillies) won 7 straight for the Rails. Ad acquired Frank Waddey from Chattanooga. He was a former major league player with the St. Louis Browns. Waddey hit .410 for the Rails.

Despite the teams success the financials continued to decline both for the Rails and for the league. In mid July the Rock Island franchise collapsed. Ad Liska put up $1,000 of his own money to keep the franchise alive in Council Bluffs. The Cardinals offered $1,500 for Benny Hasler. Benny was a popular player and one of the leaders of the team. The Cardinals had options on three other players, including Larry Barton. Ad was now in a bind, whether to sell his players and become solvent or keep his players and put a competitive team on the field.

While the Rails were current on their payroll a number of players who played for Omaha were still owed back salary. The league had promised to pay back salaries but failed to do so for a number of players. Judge Branham ruled the the Rails had to pay the delinquent back salaries. That put the Rails another $5,000 in debt.

In late July/early August the team was in serious financial trouble. Nashville offered cash for Frank Waddey, the Cardinals exercised their option on Larry Barton. They assigned him to Columbus.

The team tried to issue stock in the club to raise some cash. At $100 per share they raised $2,100 but needed $3,500 to keep going. On August 7th, the Rails only had 300 fans in the stands in their game against Keokuk. On August 12th the Rails dropped the stock plan. Ad then tried to do a merger with Keokuk in order to complete the seaon. The merger woud require about $4,000 to make the two teams into one. The league did not approve the merger. By August 20th the team needed to have about $3,500 to complete the season. The team was broke.

On August 27th the team refused to go to Des Moines for an away game until they were paid. The league released all the players and made them free agents for the rest of the year. Charlie Clements and Wayne McCue then signed with the House of David team. The team struggled to put a team on the field for the rest of the season.

At the end of the year it looked like the end for Omaha baseball. Although the Vinton Street park was now available for 1936 there was no owner and many of the better players were no longer under contract with the franchise. In September 1935 the league was held responsible for the liens against the club and each of the other franchises was forced to pay $450.00 to help eliminate the Omaha debt.

Larry Harlan, an Lincoln Nebraska insurance man owned the Keokuk franchise. In September of 1935 Omaha was awarded the Keokuk franchise with Larry Harlan as the owner. Rock Island and St. Joseph were defunct and the league contracted to six teams for the 1936 season. The Fontenelle Brewing Company became a significant backer of the team. They would hold lunch/beer/game combinations which boosted attendance. The team was renamed the Robin Hood's after Robin Hood beer.

Larry Barton was a 22 year old from Pueblo Colorado. He played for three teams in 1935. While playing first base in Omaha he averaged .313 in 68 games. He also played for Rochester and Columbus during the year. He played through the 1956 season in the minor leagues. Three seasons in triple A ball, twelve seasons in "AA" ball, five in "A", 5 in "C", four in "B" and one in "A1".

Ben Hassler played second and averaged .309 in 94 games.

Tutaj Stanley played third in 1935 and averaged .303.

Joseph Cannon averaged .256 in 89 games at short.

Charles Clements tended the garden for 96 games. The 25 year old from Dexter Missouri averaged .330.

Lou Vezilich was a 23 year old from Oakland California. He averaged .318 in 98 games.

Bob Loane was another Californian. He averaged .316 in 52 games.

Ernie Parker had a five year career with Denver and stints with Houston and Greensboro before coming to Omaha for the 1935 season. He played in 20 games and averaged .268.

Frank Waddey was a Tennessee lad who averaged .301 in 48 games. He also played in Chattanooga and Birmingham in 1935.

Floyd (Mike?) Underwood pitched both ends of a double header on August 22nd against Keokuk. He won both contests 12-1 and 11-2. He played for Lincoln in the Nebraska State League from 1932-1934. He had a 6-3 record in 1935.

Ad Liska was from Dwight Nebraska. He started his career in 1926 with Lincoln in the Western League. He had an 11-6 record in 1935. He played in the majors from 1929-1933. He was a regular in the Pacific Coast League from 1936-1949 and is in the Pacific Coast League hall of fame.

Luke Bucklin played for Norfolk from 1931-1933 in the Nebraska State League. He had a 11-8 record in 1935.

Ray Ehlers started with Lincoln in the Nebraska State League in 1929. He played for York Nebraska in 1930 and had a 5-2 record for Omaha in 1935.

Ernest Evans was a 28 year old who managed a 12-8 record.

Louis Delatine had a 1-4 record. The East Saint Louis native played for Lincoln in the Nebraska State League in 1936.

Currie had a 1-3 record and Clark had a 0-2 record in 1935.

William Parker had a 4-5 record.

Lou Cecil had a 1-1 record in 5 games.

Pete Engleman was 3-3.

Edward Schwarz had a 1-2 record in the western League in 1935.

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