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Baseball, OH (Part 13)

Writer's note: For newspaper coverage of Judge Earl Parker's much anticipated verdict on whether the merged "Twin Cities" of Baltimore and Basil would be named Baseball or Baltimore, the Lancaster Eagle Gazette provides the best coverage. (The Twin City News, for some unknown reason, did not provide much local coverage.) Also, I need to include the names of some Baltimore/Basil residents who publicly sided with the Baseball supporters. I listed names of the "Retain The Name Baltimore" Committee officers in Part 12 last week. The first of the pro Baseball groups called themselves the Original Citizens Committee; then they identified as the Baseball Booster Club; and during the court proceedings they morphed into the Petitioners. Among this group were Samuel S. Stubbs, Harold Hoskinson, Ed Sands, P.H. Snider, Dr.Stanley Sneeringer, Baltimore Mayor Grant Miller, Anna Cook, Rich Williamson, Louise and Boivin Gierhart.

November 12, 1947



Judge Voids Petition. Holding that petitions of adherents to change the name of Baltimore to "Baseball" were lacking in the required number of signatures, Judge Earl D. Parker of Pike County, sitting by assignment, today ruled that the Fairfield County community will retain the identification of Baltimore. Bringing to a conclusion, temporarily at least, a long controversy over the name of the two villages. Judge Parker's 11-page decision was delivered orally by the white-haired jurist from the common pleas bench to a half-filled courtroom including many residents of Baltimore and the former Basil.

Quoting statutes of Ohio, other states, and interpretations of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Parker said it was his opinion that the term 'inhabitant' was constructed to mean voter and that a 'voter' was any qualified elector. After summing background facts and reviewing the hearing on the matter, the Judge declared that the matter must be decided upon two points: (1) that the court is satisfied that the prayer of the petitioners is just and reasonable; (2) that not less than three-fourths of the inhabitants of Baltimore desire the change of the name to Baseball.


In conclusion Judge Parker ruled: 'By simple calculation 626 verifiable signatures for the petitioners and 429 in opposition makes a total of 1,055, and at a glance it may be seen that three-fourths of the latter is 791 plus.' 'It is therefore our conclusion on the whole record that the petitioners have failed to show by proof that three-fourths of the inhabitants of two municipal corporations desire the name requested in the petition.' 'Entertaining this view, a judgment will be entered against the petitioners.'...

'Judge Parker commenting upon the case...I have been approached by so many people,' the judge declared, 'not those interested in the matter, but others, asking me ,'What are you going to name that town?' ' I have no authority to call the town anything but Baseball or retain the name of Baltimore. Please bear in mind I have a duty to perform. And this may not be prejudiced by whim or caprice or by feelings. The decision must be strictly according to law. I have no interest in this case. I was sent here to do a job and I'm doing it the best I know how.' Urging that interested parties assume the court's viewpoint , the Judge commented that his was a 'duty placed on me by law and by circumstances.' He added that 'you cannot be a good citizen in holding anything against me or this court.'

Writer's note: Judge Parker may have convinced himself that a good citizen could not hold anything against himself or the court for his ruling but I would dare to say there were many people in the Basil end of town who vehemently disagreed with the jurist.

Also there has always been a question about Parker's protestation that he "may not be prejudiced by whim or caprice or feelings." There were a couple clues to what may have been a couple personal feelings during the court proceedings. In a September,10,1947, E-G report of the case, there was a vocal rooter who loudly supported the testimony of Richard Williamson, a pro Baseball witness. Judge Parker admonished the Baseball booster and the courtroom, "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 've ever seen or heard of." Later that day, "Retain the Name Baltimore" Attorney James Peterson declared, "This group of inhabitants which we represent is not going to have this name "Baseball" thrust down our throats." Parker replied, "That's only adding fuel to the flame. The court will render its decision on this petition and evidence submitted for and against. We don't want the people interested in the town's name to think anything is being "thrust down their throat." Read anything into these incidents?

And finally, let's revisit a statement in the November 12, E-G column "Baseball Ruled Out." " .... Bringing to a conclusion, temporarily at least, a long controversy over the name of the two villages..."

Stay tuned for the Rest of The Story!

Jim N. Reed


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