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Baseball, Ohio (Part 7)

Writer's note: At the close of Part 6, the last sentence of the Twin City News article from September 11, 1947, foretold that "the hearings have turned the national spotlight on our community as the wire services and radio prepare to circulate the decision offered by Judge Parker." More suspense and white knuckles. Unfortunately, for supporters of both the "Retain Baltimore" and the "Petitioners for Baseball" committees had to find even more patience. In Part 7, we revisit the courtroom at the conclusion of the testimonies of dozens of witnesses and closing arguments of the attorneys during the three-plus days before Judge Parker. We then learn of the time element for a decision in these articles from the Lancaster Eagle Gazette.)


Lancaster Eagle Gazette, September 12, 1947


"Testimony Concluded Yesterday...

"With all testimony concluded Thursday afternoon in the issue of whether the combined villages of Baltimore and Basil should change their name to Baseball, Judge Earl D. Parker adjourned the hearing until next Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., when attorneys will present their oral arguments in the case... Twelve witnesses took the stand yesterday for the opposition, giving their views on the proposed name Baseball for their community... James S. Peterson... was permitted to enter in to the record, a petition bearing 490 names of persons in the village opposing the name change (to Baltimore)... In an unusual deviation from Court hearings, Judge Parker yesterday afternoon stopped the hearing to compliment a witness on his presentation of testimony. Impressed by Calvin Daft's fine command of the English language and clearing thinking, the jurist asked him to tell him (Parker) just why he was opposed to the name, Baseball, for his town. 'I picked you to elaborate on this question because from your testimony I knew you could give me a specific reason for your objection to Baseball,' Judge Parker addressed Daft. The young Baltimore grain and coal dealer replied that he considered the proposed name change 'a cheap attempt at exhibitionism, putting us in a place in the mind of the public which we could not attain. It is undignified and would cheapen our community.' (Writer's note: Late in the life of the dignified and respected life of Mr. Calvin Daft, I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing him about his 90-plus years in Baltimore. I particularly asked him about his testimony in the contentious community split over the 1947 merger name. He recalled. I reminded him of his comment about "...putting us in a place in the mind of the public which we could not attain." I kidded him a bit about his support and encouragement as a fan and businessman for the Liberty Union State Baseball Champions in 1960, 1961, and 1964 and whether sports writers would not have had some journalistic fun with stories about the championship team from Baseball, Ohio!) Ernest Hansberger, Baltimore, president of the First National Bank, ...considered the name Baseball for a town 'ridiculous' and a 'burlesque on civilization.'"

Lancaster Eagle Gazette, September 16, 1947


"Judge Sets Time Limit for Verdict....

"Final score of Fairfield County's September 'baseball series,' which last week achieved nation-wide prominence... (Writer's note: The Baseball, Ohio, story had naturally attracted attention from various baseball organizations around the nation. These included letters of support from the Cincinnati Reds – free tickets for all residents; the American Association; and the Spalding Sporting Goods Co. –potential for a new production facility in Baseball.) ...As the two 'teams' battled their way through a three-day performance in the sweltering common pleas court room here, will be made known November 12... This was the time limit set this morning by Judge Earl. D. Parker of Waverly, for his decision as to whether the name of the twin communities of Basil and Baltimore should be changed to Baseball... Closing arguments of counsel and re-opening of the case briefly for the offering of additional evidence by the respondents occupied little more than 30 minutes this morning, before the judge adjourned the court to the disappointment of the large crowd of Basil and Baltimore who again filled the courtroom." (Writer's note: In Judge Parker's courtroom earlier, the jurist had issued a severe warning to the crowds jammed in the stifling hot room about their rowdy behavior. One pro-Baseball supporter jumped up and cheered. Warned Parker, "One more outburst like that and I'll have all of you put out of the court room. It's the most undignified thing I have ever seen or heard of.")


Writer's note: Above, I mentioned the 490 petition votes cast against changing the name Baltimore even though by written agreement during the merger the name Baltimore was excluded. Additionally, it was eventually proven that 32 of the 490 had died or moved! Another pro-Baseball petition claimed 643 names of qualified voters from both towns, and this would be more than the legally required 75% needed for passage. The opposition questioned the percentage. There were a variety of improprieties claimed with the provided numbers, statistics, and official results. As Judge Parker noted as he left town,"This matter has been presented in fine style... It has been a pleasure to hear this case—but not to work on it and make a decision. That will not be easy." More to come!

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