Remember When -- 1949
CASEY AT THE BAT MURAL ON VIEW OCTOBER
From Edmonds Field To Center For Sacramento
by Editor Rick
Spring 1949 was
a rebuilding year for the Sacramento Solons.
In July the previous
summer, most of the old ballpark named Edmonds Field had burned to the ground. A smoldering
cigarette is presumed to have ignited hot dog wrappers or peanut shells below the home
grandstands, thus starting the fire (and if you ever heard former Sacramento Bee columnist
Stan Gilliam tell it, he was the unwitting perpetrator, not wishing to waste
more than a few ounces of beer on the glowing embers below his shoes).
The Solons owners rebuilt
their ballpark on a concrete foundation, forever eliminating the wooden bleachers of days gone
by. They decided to add a bit of color to spruce up the drab gray concrete ballyard by
commissioning a mural that depicted the final stanza from the poem, “Casey At the
George Mugartegui painting the mural
"Casey At the Bat" March, 1949
Courtesy of Frank Mugartegui Collection
hired George Bowman to design the attraction and George
Mugartegui to paint it. While we know little about
Bowman’s background, Mugartegui was a Spaniard who studied art in Barcelona and apprenticed for
nine years before immigrating to the U.S. around 1920. Eventually he landed in Sacramento in
the mid-1920s, according to his son, Frank.
Depression, Mugartegui had no trouble finding work, where his specialty of gold gilding was
employed on the cross atop the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and parts of the Alhambra
Theatre, among other projects. He also painted murals at the old State
The mural of Casey
at the Bat was painted on three vertical pieces of plywood measuring 118 inches tall by 136 inches
wide (nearly 10’ x 11’4”) when assembled. The mural was mounted on the interior wall of Edmonds
Field to the right of the main entrance (as you were leaving the building).
The Solons left Sacramento
after the 1960 season, but the ballpark remained until 1964, when the owners sold the property
to Lucky Stores, which razed it for a GEMCO superstore. Owner Fred David
dissembled the mural and stored it in the basement of his business, David Candy.
David bequeathed the Casey
mural to local historian and collector Alan O’Connor, who in turn donated it to
Center for Sacramento History.
The mural, along with many
other historical artifacts, photographs, documents, and other ephemera will be on display
Saturday October 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the 4th Annual Sacramento Archive
Crawl. On that day, four of Sacramento’s historical museums will open its doors to visitors
for the free event.
The four locations include:
Archives, California State
Library, Center for Sacramento History and Sacramento Room, Central Library
(Tsakopoulos Library Galleria).
Ernest Thayer wrote the poem and released it in 1888, around the time he covered baseball for
the San Francisco
Examiner. This included a stint
covering the California League team in Stockton, which had earned the appellation “Mudville” in
the mid-19th Century.
A portion of Thayer's poem was printed on the mural of Casey At the Bat
In the 1933-34 Winter League National Division, Kendall-Upson repeated as
champions, earning the privilege of having the team's name forever etched in the trophy shown
The trophy is now owned by Dan Rehm, a Sacramento native, who
inherited the collector's item from his father Bob Rehm, who served as the
team's batboy that season. His uncle "Murph" Rehm--the team's manager--presented the
trophy mounted on the wooden stand with a nameplate inscribed: Bobbie Rehm "My Bat Boy,"
(from) Uncle Mike "Murph."
The trophy was passed along to the winning team of the National Division
each year, and obviously was "retired" in 1934, the property of Kendall-Upson, which is how Murph
Rehm acquired it. The previous winners denoted on the trophy followed by the year they won the
championship were: Zemansky's 1926 and 1927; Eastern Outfitting 1928; Dante Club 1929; Great
Western Power 1930; Capitol Stores, Ltd. 1931; Julius Haberdashery 1932; Kendall-Upson 1933 and
Below is a newspaper photo of the 1934 champions, which included a future
major leaguer Bill Salkeld, then a 17-year-0ld high school catching prospect. Just a few
weeks after this photo was taken in March he would sign a contract to play with the
hometown Sacramento Solons.
For more on Salkeld's career, read his SABR Bio: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/5bc00ea9
Hoag (Davis, Calif.) and another player from the New
York Yankees were accused of one of the most heinous infractions ever lodged in baseball:
“indifferent base running.”
The incident occurred on August 5, 1935 at
Boston’s Fenway Park in a game pitting the Yankees and Red Sox. In the fifth inning, New York
led 8-2 with rain threatening. Showers had already interrupted play in the fourth inning, and
with another rainstorm potentially on the way, the two clubs took opposite actions. The
Yankees wanted to play five full innings to make it an official contest, while the Red Sox,
sensing six runs too much to overcome, wished to stall and cancel the game. Thus, the
In the top of the fifth, New York’s Ben Chapman
doubled with one out. Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, who was ailing that day with a bad cold,
knew that Lou Gehrig was suffering another lumbago attack, “which had him crippled and
playing under difficulties” reported the New York Times.
McCarthy called on Hoag, his only available
bench player, to pinch-hit for Gehrig. But before Hoag could swing the bat, Boston manager
Joe Cronin signaled for a new relief pitcher, Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes. When play resumed,
Chapman immediately took off for third base with less than stealthy intentions, hoping to be
tagged out. Instead, when Red Sox third baseman Bill Werber received the throw from the
catcher, he purposefully did not apply the tag, allowing Chapman to take third standing
Hoag then singled off Rhodes, driving in Chapman
to extend the Yankees’ lead to 9-2.
Cronin changed pitchers once again, in what
appeared an obvious stall tactic. With Tony Lazzeri at the plate, and the skies threatening
rain, Hoag broke for second in an attempt to be tagged out. But Boston just watched as
reached base safely. On Lazzeri’s tapper to the mound, Hoag advanced to third. He then
promptly broke for home in a final attempt at being tagged out, but Boston allowed him to
score standing up.
Mercifully, the rains came with New York batting
in the sixth inning. The game was called and the Yankees were awarded the 10-2 victory. The
result gave Charley “Red” Ruffing—a former Red Sox pitcher—his ninth victory on the year, and
extended Gehrig’s consecutive games streak at 1,597.
But the display of poor sportsmanship did not go
One week later, American League President
William Harridge blasted both managers and several players and for employing “stalling”
tactics and other questionable actions. Harridge fined McCarthy and Cronin $100 each and
chastised Chapman and Hoag for “indifferent base running” and Werber for intentionally
avoiding to apply the tag on Chapman at third.
“The actions of both teams is highly
reprehensible and a gross imposition to the fans who had paid their money with the
expectation of witnessing a major league ballgame,” AL President Harridge was
Hoag, who played 13 seasons in the big
won four world series championships during his
seven years on the Yankees. In the 1938 World Series against Chicago, Hoag
played against three Cubs players from the greater Sacramento area: Joe Marty, Frank
Demaree and Stan Hack, who was voted #1 on our
All-Time Top 50 Players