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Blasdell Red Sox, c. 1950

It’s the first week in April and America’s sports fans are thinking baseball.

It’s an exciting time of year as Major League Baseball teams break camp in their winter homes and prepare to open the 2013 season, hoping for a chance to play in this year’s World Series.

Western New York fans seem no less interested, as the International League’s Buffalo Bisons prepare to open the season at Coca Cola Field, as the AAA affiliate of a new parent club, the Toronto Blue Jays.

And, although they are a long way from the major leagues, local high school teams, some also returning from training workouts in the warmer climates down south, are gearing up for a run at sectional championships. It’s an annual “rite” of spring as they say, “Hope springs eternal,” and everyone’s a winner at this time of year. It should be interesting to see who survives to raise a pennant flag next fall.

With all this in mind, it seemed like a good time to feature a local semi-pro team from the past, the Blasdell Red Sox.

The 1950 season was outstanding for the team, as they finished as the runner-up in the old Lake Shore League of the Buffalo Evening News Suburban Baseball Association. They recorded a total overall record of 47 wins and only eight losses. The Red Sox team was managed by the late Wade Bowers, who was connected to baseball in the village for over 20 years, extending from 1940 to the early 1960s.

During the war years, the team was made up of younger players, mostly teenagers, some as young as 15. After the war, there were two teams in the village, one made up of older, returning war veterans and the other, the younger Red Sox. By the early 1950s, the two teams merged into one, managed by Bowers until he retired from the game in the early ‘60s.

Pictured in the photograph from left are, first row: Bob Couche, Wayne Frase, Bill Bowers, Dick Bowers, bat boy. Second row: Ben Mathes, Paul Hines, Jerry Hesketh, Ed Couche, Russ Gardner and John Barbati. Third row: Robley Evans, Roger Kennerdell, Wade Bowers, Joe Schmidt and Herb Gardner. Note: Jerry Hesketh, the team’s classy fielding first baseman, must have passed along some of his talent to his son, Joe, who at that time was a starting southpaw pitcher for the American League Boston Red Sox.

From the Archives:

Hamburg Sun and Erie County Independent:

Thursday, Aug. 3, 1950– Wayne Frase of Hamburg, left-handed pitcher for the Blasdell Red Sox, hurled hitless ball for his team on Monday evening against the Lancaster Showmen. The losers scored a run after two errors by the Blasdell catcher, in what should have been strike outs.

The final score was 3-1. Frase is a former Hamburg High School pitcher.

Photo– historian files (originally from Rose Stevanoff Danforth)

This column is written each week by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker.

Anyone wanting to submit photographs and/or materials can call the historian’s office in the Hamburg Town Hall on either Wednesday or Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at 649-6111 ext. 2400.

Readers can also provide feedback by writing to The Sun and mailing it to The Sun, 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075.

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