Baseball Select Stories

Baseball History in Dayton Ohio


From: Baseball Days—Dayton’s North Side Field 1922-1934

Written by Roland L. Larke, Sponsored by the Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1992

In 1933 after the demise of the old Central League, the Dayton Ducks became a member of the eight-team, Mid-Atlantic League. Besides the Ducks, the teams were: the Johnstown Pennsylvania Johnies; four teams from West Virginia: the Beckley Black Knights, Charleston Senators, Huntington Boosters, and the Wheeling Stogies; and then three Ohio teams: Zanesville Greys, Springfield Chicks and Dayton Ducks.


Outstanding figures of the 1933 season were: Johnny Vander Meer of double-no-hit fame; Jake “Pants” Powell, who with his aggressive play with comic overtones would spend seven years with the New York Yankees and Washington Senators during pre-war and post-war years; and Walter Millies, catcher, who displayed a steadiness and reliability that resulted in a six-year major league career.


Karl Swanson, who had major league experience with the Chicago White Sox, was Ducky Holmes’ field leader at second base.


Dutch Ussat, veteran Dayton amateur, semi-pro, minor league infielder with major league experience with Cleveland, took time off of his job at Delco to substitute briefly at second base.


Buddy Hassett, with Wheeling, would become a star with Brooklyn. Clay Bryant of Zanesville became a frequent visitor to Crosley Field to pitch against the Reds. Jake Pitler, Springfield’s manager, was a Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman in 1917 and 1918.


Roger Wolfe, Dutch Dotterer, Eddie Lamier, and Sonny Hogg were other Dayton stars.


Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates – Ducks Exhibition

In 1933, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in Dayton for their experience at night baseball with the Ducks. Honus Wagner, the all-time great and coach with the Pirates, complained about the poor visibility in the pre-game twilight practice. Honus continued to grumble even though it was explained to him that the poor visibility after sunset was characteristic of night baseball and that visibility would improve as darkness deepened. No further proof was forthcoming since the gathering clouds opened and the game was rained out.


Incidentally, the lightning at North Side Field was considered among the best in the minor leagues at the time.