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McAlester Rockets

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

McAlester Rockets
(1947–1956)
McAlester, Oklahoma
Minor league affiliations
Previous classesClass D (1947–1956)
Previous leagues
Sooner State League (1947–1956)
Missouri Valley League (1905)
South Central League (1906)
Oklahoma-Arkansas-Kansas League (1907)
Oklahoma-Kansas League (1908)
Oklahoma State League (1912, 1924)
Western Association (1914–1917, 1922–1923, 1926)
Major league affiliations
Previous teamsNew York Yankees (1947–1956)
Minor league titles
League titles 6 (1917, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953)
Team data
Previous names
McAlester Rockets (1947–1956)
McAlester Diggers (1923–1924)
South McAlester Miners (1906)
McAlester Miners (1907–1908, 1912, 1914–1917, 1922, 1926)
South McAlester Giants (1905)
Previous parks
Jeff Lee Stadium (1936–1956)
Fairgrounds Park (1922-1923, 1926)
Interurban Park (1915-1917)
League Park (1907-1908, 1912, 1914)
Krebs Park (1905-1906)

The McAlester Rockets was the final and primary name of the minor league baseball club based in McAlester, Oklahoma from 1947 to 1956 as an affiliate of the New York Yankees. McAlester won five Class D Sooner State League championships in 1947 and 1950 to 1953.

History

McAlester played in the Class D Sooner State League from 1947-1956. They were affiliates of the New York Yankees (1954–1957) and captured five league championships in a seven season span, winning titles in 1947 and four consecutive from 1950 to 1953.[1][2]

Previously, McAlester had teams at the beginning of the century with changing monikers. The McAlester Diggers (1923–1924), McAlester Miners (1907–1908, 1912, 1914–1917, 1922, 1926), South McAlester Miners (1906) and South McAlester Giants (1905) played as members of the Missouri Valley League (1905), South Central League (1906), Oklahoma-Arkansas-Kansas League (1907), Oklahoma-Kansas League (1908), Oklahoma State League (1912), Western Association (1914–1917, 1922–1923, 1926) and Oklahoma State League (1924). The McAlester Miners won the Western Association Championship in 1917.[3]

Hall of Fame player Deacon White managed the McAlester Miners in 1907 and Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog played for the McAlester Rockets in 1949 and 1950.[2]

The ballparks

The McAlester Rockets played at Jeff Lee Stadium. It is known today as Hook Eales Stadium, after the site was purchased by McAlester public schools from the city of McAlester. The site of a regional Works Project Administration office, a WPA project to build an armory and Jeff Lee Pool were completed in 1936, with Jeff Lee Stadium opening in 1937. The Rockets drew between 40,000 and 63,000 every season, except for the 23,000 in their final season of 1956.[2][4]

Today, Hook Eales stadium is utilized by McAlester Buffaloes high school sports teams. It is located at 1261 North 6th Street, McAlester, Oklahoma.[5][6]

Previous McAlester teams played at venues of several different names. When professional baseball first arrived in the area, although the team was identified as being from South McAlester, its games were played in the nearby town of Krebs.[7] This venue was called Krebs Park.[8] A 1905 city directory locates the league park along the interurban railway in Krebs, which followed a roadbed that is now Electric Avenue.[9] A fairground for early editions of the Pittsburg County Fair was also located there.[10]

After the town of South McAlester merged into McAlester in 1906,[11] the team name changed from "South McAlester" to "McAlester" and the playing field moved from Krebs to an area on the south side of McAlester that would eventually become the new county fairgrounds. The new field was called League Park.[12] The new League Park was located at the southern terminus of the Second Ward streetcar line. By 1910, the county fairgrounds had also been relocated to this site.[13] Prior to hosting the fairgrounds, the site, located on the southeast corner of South Avenue and South 11th Street (now Strong Boulevard), had been home to the McAlester Driving Association Park.[14] Fans accessing the ballpark by streetcar disembarked at the terminal station located at Seneca Avenue and South 11th, then walked approximately one block south to the fairgrounds along South Avenue.[15]

In 1915 a new Western Association ballpark was built on the McAlester end of the streetcar line, which was referred to as Interurban Park.[16][17][18] When professional baseball returned in 1922, another new grandstand was built on the same fairgrounds site, which could be accessed either by streetcar or by automobile along a newly-paved stretch of Seneca Avenue from South 6th to the terminal station at South 11th.[19]

Notable alumni

Whitey Herzog 1949-1950

Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Whitey Herzog played his first professional season for the McAlester Rockets in 1949. Herzog hit .279 with 0 home runs and 111 hits in 96 games. He played for the Rockets again in 1950, hitting .351, with 161 hits and 4 home runs. It is said that Dorrell Herzog received his nickname "Whitey" while playing for McAlester.[20][21][2]

Baseball Hall of Fame alumni

Notable alumni

Season-by-season

(from McAlester Rockets - BR Bullpen)

Year Record Win-Loss % Manager Regular Season Finish Playoffs/Notes
1947 73-67 .000 William Nebroak 3rd League Champions
1948 91-47 .000 Vern Hoscheit 1st Lost in league finals
1949 58-82 .000 Vern Hoscheit 6th none
1950 92-48 .657 Vern Hoscheit 2nd League Champions
1951 91-48 .655 Vern Hoscheit 3rd League Champions
1952 87-53 .621 William Cope 1st League Champions
1953 83-56 .597 William Cope 4th League Champions
1954 76-64 .543 Bunny Mick 3rd lost in 1st round
1955 65-75 .464 Marvin Crater 6th none
1956 60-79 .432 Marvin Crater 7th none

References

  1. ^ Beaty, James. "Remember the Rockets". McAlester News-Capital.
  2. ^ a b c d "1950 McAlester Rockets Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  3. ^ "McAlester, OK - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  4. ^ Writer, Matt GoismanSports. "Hook Eales tied to Civil War, Great Depression". McAlester News-Capital.
  5. ^ "Eventful: Hook Eales Stadium Mcalester ,OK". Eventful.
  6. ^ "McAlester Public Schools - Senior Schedule 2019". www.mcalester.k12.ok.us.
  7. ^ "Muskogee Wins, Hartshorne Sun, May 18, 1905, p.1". gateway.okhistory.org.
  8. ^ "Muskogee Wins, Krebs Banner, Apr. 6, 1906, p.8". gateway.okhistory.org.
  9. ^ "R.L. Polk & Co.'s Krebs City Directory, 1905, p.200". sites.rootsweb.com.
  10. ^ "Pittsburg County Fair and Racing Association Organized, Krebs Banner, Feb. 22, 1907, p.4". gateway.okhistory.org.
  11. ^ "McAlester, Oklahoma Historical Society Encyclopedia". www.okhistory.org.
  12. ^ "Last Games of Ball at League Park Yesterday, McAlester Daily Capital, June 3, 1907, p.6" (PDF). sepl.ent.sirsi.net.
  13. ^ "Farmers Institute of County Start Their First Annual Fair Today at McAlester, Hartshorne Sun, Oct. 6, 1910, p.1". gateway.okhistory.org.
  14. ^ "R.L. Polk & Co.'s McAlester City Directory, 1907-1908, p.20" (PDF). sepl.ent.sirsi.net.
  15. ^ "Choctaw Railway and Lighting Company, Second Ward Extension , McAlester, Oklahoma, 1917". nara.getarchive.net.
  16. ^ "Hartshorne Sun, Mar. 25, 1915, p.1". gateway.okhistory.org.
  17. ^ "Cy Versus Cy at McAlester, Muskogee Times-Democrat, July 17, 1915, p.9". www.newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "Miners vs. Muskogee Saturday, Sunday, and Double-Header Monday Interurban Park - Last Games, Oklahoma Miner, Aug. 31, 1916, p.1". gateway.okhistory.org.
  19. ^ "Start Next Week on New Baseball Grandstand, Pittsburg County Guardian, Mar. 9, 1922, p.1". gateway.okhistory.org.
  20. ^ "1949 McAlester Rockets Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  21. ^ "Oklahoma Baseball". www.jcs-group.com.
This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 19:14
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