in the 1920s, there was a semi-professional baseball team
in Walkerville sponsored by a very successsful local businessman
named Thomas Chick. Called "The Walkerville Chicks," they
were quite a sensation. My father, Charlie Gatecliff, played infield.
He was a good player and my grandmother collected hundreds of newspaper
articles about him and the team. For over 50 years they were stored
many of these articles and studying the pictures of these earnest
looking young men, I came to realize that these articles are more
than just about a baseball team. They are stories about Walkerville
and its people. These young guys were having the time of their lives;
baseball was their great love and they were good at it.
knew the value of hard work, fair play, teamwork, giving it your
all, while playing in tough conditions. One article described the
Chicks playing in the snow when the season ran unusually long due
to playoff games; another mentioned how spectators turned on their
car lights to illuminate the field when a game continued after sunset.
were subject to the baseball politics of the day when games were
delayed or the opponents didnt show. They played with primitive
equipment and without a team doctor when they were injured
they kept right on playing.
often attracted huge crowds for the big game one report noted
that 5,000 people attended a play-off game and that the townspeople
from small towns enroute to the tournament, stood by the side of
the road and cheered them even after they had beaten their
home team! They were local heroes and pioneers of the game, the
team few could beat.
stayed on top by recruiting the best players from the area. Prospects
developed their skills by playing on a junior team called the "Chicklets."
fathers baseball career ended when he broke his leg trying
out for a spot on a professional baseball team. He never shared
this part of his life with me being a kid I never thought
to ask him about himself.
end in the fall of 1929. I am left with many questions: Whatever
became of the Chicks? How long did they continue to play as a team?
Did any of the guys ever make it to the major leagues? Were the
Chicks one of the many casualties of the Depression?
if the players were unable to make it to a big league ball team,
they were "big leaguers" to the people of Walkerville.
Sports Heritage: The "Major"