Crawfordsville baseball has long, storied history
Sunday, August 17, 2014 10:00 PM
Since Crawfordsville regularly played baseball against the county schools in the summer, I have decided to add Crawfordsville to our Fields of Dreams series. Crawfordsville always played baseball in the spring since they played football in the fall. It was not until 1967 that the county schools began to play in the spring. That was the year that the IHSAA began a sectional baseball format that was modeled on the basketball state series.
Bill Boone is a 1956 graduate of Ladoga High School and played baseball and basketball at Wabash College. He is an historian of Montgomery County sports and will contribute a column each Monday focused on looking back at what sports in the county once were.
Baseball is one of the "Big Four" sports that stretches back into the 1890s. The first annual, The Utopian, reported that the baseball team of 1901 was well managed by its two captains, Harter Walter and Rome Williams.
The early teams suffered from a lack of finances and general lack support from the administration. They were generally managed and coached by their captains, so the captaincy was an extremely responsible position. The early heroes of CHS baseball were players like Harter "Deac" Walter, Rome Williams, Justin "Dud" Molony, Robert E. "Pete" Vaughan, the Lambert brothers, Ward and Kent, Will Sprow and Will Symmes. Many of the early players were excellent three-sport athletes and led the Athenians to glory in all the areas.
The earliest coaches were the legendary basketball coach Ralph Jones, Dave Glascock and L.J.C. Freeman. The early Athenians played at several sites over the city beginning with the Philistine Field, which was the Wabash College field before it became Ingalls Field at the turn of the century. They also played at McFarland Field which was where the disposal plant is now, Dean's Field which later became Manson Park, which is where the new jail is now (1994), and finally Milligan Park renamed Baldwin Field in the middle 70s.
Early annuals and newspaper articles describe practices for both sports in the high school yard and Tuttle schoolyard. Practices and games were also common at Dean's Field. Sometime between 1925 and 1926, John Dean sold his property to Lewis Manson and Dean's Field became Manson Park. (There was also a trap-shooting facility at Manson Park). The Wabash College baseball and football facilities were regularly used by the high school for games. The college facility was called Philistine Field until 1899 when it was renamed Ingalls Field.