The recent election of Montoursville’s Mike Mussina to the National Baseball Hall of Fame has lifted him to the stratosphere of baseball immortality. The Williamsport area is no stranger to playing host to baseball immortals, over the past 140 years Williamsport has hosted 92 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame as either active players
The recent election of Montoursville’s Mike Mussina to the National Baseball Hall of Fame has lifted him to the stratosphere of baseball immortality. The Williamsport area is no stranger to playing host to baseball immortals, over the past 140 years Williamsport has hosted 92 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame as either active players on their way up through the minor leagues, as active major leaguers participating in exhibition or barnstorming games here, or as visitors to events such as baseball banquets, the Grand Slam Parade or Williamsport Welcomes the World.
John Montgomery Ward, a 1964 inductee, played his professional baseball here in the late 1870s.
Rube Waddell, flamboyant Philadelphia A’s pitcher of the early 1900s, played in exhibition games here in the period 1904 to 1906.
Negro League founder and pitching standout “Rube” Foster, Pete Hill and, great infielder and also early black baseball historian, Sol White, all played here with the Philadelphia Giants in games between 1903 and 1907.
Stan Covaleski, from nearby Shamokin, played against Williamsport as a member of the Lancaster team of the Tri-State League in 1909 and 1910.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates played the Williamsport Grays in exhibition games against the Williamsport Grays in 1923 and 1924, Pie Traynor, Paul, and Lloyd Waner played for the Buccos. Hall of Fame Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss was in attendance as well.
Several Cooperstown bound Philadelphia A’s players for Connie Mack’s dynasty of 1929-1931 saw action at Bowman Field in exhibition games at Bowman Field, such as Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, and Eddie Collins, and the team was managed of course by baseball’s “grand old man” himself, Connie Mack.
Earl Averill of the Cleveland Indians saw action here in an exhibition game in 1932, and Chick Hafey played in an exhibition game with the Cincinnati Reds in 1934.
Players playing against the Williamsport Grays during the 1930s and 1940s include Johnny Mize, Billy Southworth, Enos Slaughter and Rabbit Maranville for Elmira, Lefty Gomez for Binghamton, Ralph Kiner, who played for Albany in 1941. Also in 1941 was Bob Lemon of the Wilkes-Barre Barons and Early Wynn of Springfield. Warren Spahn saw action with Hartford in 1942, Richie Ashburn for Utica in 1945 and 1947, Whitey Ford for Binghamton in 1949.
In later years, Juan Marichal saw action here with the Springfield Giants in 1959, Andre Dawson with the Three Rivers team in 1976, John Smoltz, the London Tigers in 1987, Ken Griffey, Jr. with Vermont in 1988, Jeff Bagwell with the New Britain Red Sox and Jim Thome with the Canton-Akron Indians in 1991.
Two Hall of Fame umpires called balls and strikes at Bowman Field during the late 30s and early 40s, Al Barlick and Jocko Conlan.
Some fine Negro League Hall of Famers saw action at the uptown ballpark including, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard, Leon Day, Mule Suttles, Monte Irvin, Ray Dandridge, Jud Wilson, Larry Doby, and Oscar Charleston.
George Kell appeared with the Detroit Tigers in an exhibition game at Bowman Field in 1946.
Several Williamsport players went on to the Hall of Fame including pitcher Jim Bunning, who pitched for the Williamsport Tigers in 1952, Bill Mazeroski, who played for the Grays in 1954 and 1955, Nolan Ryan pitched for two weeks for the 1966 Williamsport Mets and Jim Rice for the Williamsport Red Sox in 1971. Ferguson Jenkins was on the opening day roster for the 1962 Williamsport Grays and was slated to pitch here, but at the last minute, he was shifted to Miami. He would eventually come to Williamsport in 2001 to participate in the Little League Golf Tournament, also participating in that year’s tournament was Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer, Harmon Killebrew.
Robin Roberts pitched in 1967 for the Reading Phillies against the Williamsport Mets at Bowman Field and lost a tough 1-0 decision. He was attempting a comeback.
Bob Feller made a public relations appearance at Bowman Field for the Cleveland Indians in 1976 when the Williamsport Tomahawks were an Indian farm club.
During the early 1980s, Brooks Robinson and Willie Stargell made public relations appearances at some area sporting goods stores.
Several Hall of Famers spoke at winter baseball banquets here in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. They were Baseball Commissioner Albert “Happy” Chandler, A’s great pitcher, “Chief” Bender, the legendary Branch Rickey, the colorful Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Warren Spahn, Mets General Manager, George Weiss and when the Phillies Caravan came here, Mike Schmidt made an appearance, along with the controversial Pete Rose.
Pat Gillick, former General Manager of the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Phillies, made appearances at the Crosscutters Hot Stove League Banquet in 2007 and 2016.
A number of baseball immortals have appeared in conjunction with the Little League World Series, including Cy Young, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Bowie Kuhn, Gary Carter, Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Joe Torre, Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver and two of the newest inductees, Mariano Rivera and of course, Mike Mussina.
The Grand Slam Parade and Williamsport Welcomes the World has brought Lou Brock, Carlton Fisk, Steve Carlton, Ivan Rodriguez, Gaylord Perry, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Reggie Jackson, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Thomas, Rollie Fingers, Johnny Bench, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith, Goose Gossage and Wade Boggs.
This, to the best of my knowledge, is the list of the Hall of Famers who have been here over the years; it is possible that I might have missed one or two.
- August 14, 2019
- August 14, 2019