THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Tales from the old-timer
We Did It Ourselves
By the spring of 1946 most of Peshtigos World War II veterans were back home. For many years Badger Paper Mills had sponsored a crack softball team, the Badger Mills and their farm club, the Silver Streaks. The mill had built a fine diamond, complete with dugouts, banks of bleachers, a PA system and spiffy uniforms for the team. Men like Dauber Draftz, Jim McGovern, Sonny Fritz and many more played under the lights and took on teams from all over Wisconsin, Michigan UP and other areas, and hundreds of fans filled the bleachers to watch. These games furnished a night out for hundreds in the stands and in private cars parked off West Front Street. Music and the voice of Gene Guay gave a big time aura to the games.
When I and my friends got out of the Army, Navy and Marines, we didnt hope to break into those lineups. My friend Jack Dashner said, Lets start a baseball team. I thought it would be impossible, but he did it. He got all of us organized, got permission from Walter Adrian, president of Badger, to use an old field near the depot, borrowed snow fencing from the Marinette County Highway Department to ring the field, tore down an old barn out in the country for needed lumber, put up a good backstop and benches for the teams, and got us into the Marinette County Baseball League, which included Wausaukee, Porterfield, and other community teams.
Some of the boys visited local bars and hustled donations for brand new uniforms. This was all spontaneous, volunteer organizing, and had no need for a city-salaried recreation administrator.
I cant remember all the names of boys for our team. We had a meeting to pick out a name, and Robert Bub Greening held out for the name Indians, and that was chosen. Jack was our pitcher, Bub was our catcher. I played center field and other members were Bill Mellen, Larry Greening, Herb Schuster, and about 8 more, including Jim Carter. Doc Carter was our home-field umpire. One time an opposing player got nasty with Doc over one of his calls, and Jim ran in from the field and confronted the guy nose-to-nose.
In our first game against Wausaukee, I got lucky and singled the first time up, hit one over the fence my 2nd time, and another home run with two men on the 3rd time. We won that game and took the league title at the end of the season. Our center field fence was only about 200 feet out, on Jacks insistence, and that made my homers not too tough.
The Peshtigo Indians won the Conference Championship that first year.