Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Berkner Brothers Baseball Team

Baseball was a very popular sport in Sleepy Eye.   There were two baseball teams in town during the summer of 1909.  The "Town Team" was managed by Jack Grimes, while Ed and Alfred Berkner sponsored the "Berkner Brothers," team under the management of Owen Sullivan and Clarence Herbert.
Sleepy Eye had quite a reputation for baseball in those days; as many as seven to eight players on the "Town Team" were salaried men.  They were picked up from Springfield, St. Peter, Waseca, the Cities, and other places.  The Hughes brothers, Mike and Tome, of St. Peter, made up the battery.
The Berkner team, was made up of practically all home town players and in the picture above are left to right, front row are George Helget, right field and Pete Fischer, third base.  Second row; Al "Cossy" Kent, first base; Barley Thorson, catcher; Roy Bzoskie, pitcher; Richard Blake, centerfield and Nick Eischen, shortstop.  Third row: Ed Berkner, one of the owners; Ted Fisher, left-field, Clarence Herbert, manager, Ed Berkner, one of the owners, Alfred Berkner, co-owner, Owen Sullivan, manager, Luke Schmidt, as utility.
Before signing up on the Berkner Brothers team Peter Fisher was the star third basemen on the "Town Team" and was considered one of the best players for that position in this part of the state.  Managers of nearby teams used to call on him occasionally to bolster up their team.
The baseball diamond for the Berkner Brothers ball team was located at the east edge of the city on land owned by the Peter Christensen family.  A small grandstand for the convenience of patrons was erected by the Berkner Brother at the beginning of the baseball season.
Luke Schmidt got his baseball start while still in high school at which time he served as catcher on the team.  He spent 10 or more years in the game and most always played the backstop position.  Other catchers of that time were John Hertz and Ex-sheriff John Reitter.  Mike Fohl (Al's brother), Roy Bzoski were the pitchers.
Springfield seemed to be the hardest team to beat every year.  There were generally pitted against Sleepy Eye on the Fourth of July in the "Game of the Year", however they would usually walk off with the bacon quite regularly.

1 comment:

  1. Kurt Penberg began his professional career in the Red Sox farm system as a second-round pick in what would be the final January draft in MLB. He began his professional career with the Elmira Pioneers, then a Red Sox affiliate.