Syracuse Baseball History: Part IV

In 1941 as part of the International League, the Syracuse Chiefs finished in sixth place with a record of 70 wins and 83 losses which put them 29 ½ games behind the first place Newark Bears. The manager of the team was Benny Borgman who was also a utility infielder with the team for that season. The long list of players to have major league experience for the 1941 Chiefs team included, Nate Andrews, Nino Bongiovanni, John Bottarini, Ken Burkhart, Lindsay Deal, Chris Hatje, Gene Hasson, Roy Johnson, Red Juelich, Ted Klenhans, Joe Krakauskas and Gene Lambert. There was also Chip Marshall, Bill Nagel, Lynn Nelson, Pretzel Pezzullo, Goody Rosen, Mike Schultz, Frank Secory, Vince Sherlock, Lin Storti, Tom Sunkel and Woody Williams along with pitchers Tommy de la Cruz, Jack Tising and John Whitehead.

Jewel Ens managed the Syracuse team in 1942 to a third place finish in the standings, 13 ½ games behind the first place Newark Bears. Syracuse had a record of 78 wins and 74 losses that year. Ens, like Borgman before, had a large list of players who at one time or another played major league baseball. On that list were Bobby Adams, Nate Andrews, Red Barrett, Ewell Blackwell, Nino Bongiovanni, John Bottarini, Tommy de la Cruz, Lindsay Deal, Earl Harrist, Chris Hartje, Red Juelick, Al Lakeman, Clayton Lambert, Eddie Lukon, Dutch Mele, Bill Nagel, Lynn Nelson, Goody Rosen, Hank Sauer, Eddie Shokes, Clyde Vollmer, Ben Wade,Woody Williams and pitchers Jim Konstanty, Mike Schultz and Ben Wade. Syracuse would beat Montreal  4 games to 1 in round one of the playoffs after defeating Jersey City in a one game playoff for third place. Then in the finals they would defeat Jersey City 4 games to 1 for the title. Charles “Red” Barrett of Syracuse was the MVP and he also led the International League in wins with 20.

Charles “Red” Barrett

In 1943 Jim Blackburn, Arnold Carter, Tommy de la Cruz, Garton Del Salvo, Lon Goldstein, Dick Hahn, Dixie Howell, Frankie Kelleher, Jim Konstanty, Dutch Mele, Lynn Nelson, Dee Phillips, Len Rice, Goody Rosen, Hank Sauer, Mike Schultz, Dick West, and pitcher Reggie Grabowski would at some time play in the major leagues. Jewel Ens again managed the team, this year to another third place finish. In 1942 the Chiefs had a record of 82 wins 71 losses and that put them 13 ½ games behind the first place Toronto Maple Leafs. Syracuse beat Newark in the first round of the playoffs 4 games to 2 and then in the finals they beat Toronto 4 games to 2 to win the IL title

The 1944 season did not go well for the Chiefs in the International League.  They finished in eighth place with a record of 68 wins and 84 losses. The Chiefs were 16 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles. The list of the payers for Syracuse who at one time or another played major league baseball included Dick Coffman, Ben Geraghty, Lon Goldstein, Reggie Grabowski, Bob Katz, Jim Konstanty, Al Lakeman, Hod Lisenbee, Bob Malloy, Dutch Mele, Chucho Ramos, Len Rice, Goody Roosen, Johnnie Tyler, George Woodend and Reggie Grabowski. On August 8th Syracuse pitcher Horace “Hod” Lisenbee threw a no-hitter against Montreal winning by the score of 8-0 in 7 innings

Syracuse moved up one spot in the standings in 1945 as they finished in seventh place.  The Chiefs finished with a record of 64 wins and 89 losses. They would end up 31 games behind the first place Montreal Royals. The Chiefs roster included Jodie Beeler, Mel Bosser, Jake Daniel, Reggie Grabowski, Joe Just, Bob Katz, Russ kerns, Dutch Mele, Marv Olsoen, Chucho Ramos, Johnnie Tyler, Herm Wehmeier and 16 year old Joe Nuxhall. Nuxhall had signed with the Reds as a 15 year old becoming the youngest player in the history of the major leagues. Nuxhall went on to a 16 year major league career finishing with a record of 135 wins and 117 losses and a 3.90 ERA and he made the All Star team two times (1955 and 1956) Again it was Jewel Ens who managed the team. Walter Cazen of the Chiefs tied for the league lead in hits with Roland Gladu of Montreal, both with 204 safeties

Ens again sat in the captain’s chair as the manager for the 1946 Syracuse Chiefs as they pursued the International League title. Ens and the Chiefs finished in second place in the league standings, finishing with a record of 81-72, placing them 18 ½ games behind Montreal. They defeated the Baltimore Orioles four games to two and then in the finals they were defeated by the Montreal Royals four games to one for the league title. The future or past players on Syracuse with major league baseball experience were, Jodie Beeler, Arnold Carter, Jack Cassini, Garton Del Savio, Floyd Giebell, Earl Harrist, Dixie Howell, Joe Just, Bob Katz, Chuck Kress, Dutch Mele, Ken Polivka, Jim Pendergast, Al Rubeling, Hank Sauer, Mike Schultz, Dick Sipek, Kermit Wahl, Dick West, Johnnie Wittig, George Burpo and Howie Fox. Jim Prendergast of Syracuse tied for the league lead in wins with Steve Nagy of Montreal, both with 17 victories. Earl Harrist of Syracuse on April 30 pitched a no-hitter against Buffalo and won by the score of 5-0. Harrist pulled a Johnny Van der Meer and on July 29 threw his second no hitter of the season, this time beating Toronto 5-0.

The Chiefs record for manager Jewel Ensi in the 1947 season was 88 wins and 65 losses. Their record put them in third place, 5 ½ games behind the first place Jersey City Giants. Jodie Beeler Claude Corbitt, Frank Drews, Hal Erickson, Howie Fox, Dixie Howell, Joe Just, Bob Katz, Dutch Mele, Alex Mustaikis, Jim Penergast, Al Rubeling, Hank Saur, Mike Schultz, Eddie Shokes, Herm Wehmeier and Dick West at some point in their career played major league baseball. In the first round of the playoffs Syracuse defeated Montreal 4 games to 0 and advanced to the International League finals where they defeated the Buffalo Bisons 4 games to 3 to win the title. Outfielders Hank Sauer and Dutch Mele made the All Star team with Sauer winning the MVP award. Sauer led the International League that year in runs (130), hits (182), RBIs (141) while teammate Jim Prendergast led the league in wins with 20.

In the International League in 1948 the Chiefs, under the leadership of Jewel Ens finished the year in third place in the International League standings with a record of 77 wins and 73 losses. They would finish 15 games behind the first place Montreal Royals. Ens’ lineup consisted of the following players who had or would spend time in the major leagues of baseball. Jodie Beeler, Frank Drews, Eddie Erautt, Hal Erickson, Frank Fanovich, Johnny Hetki, Dixie Howell, Tommy Hughes Austin Knickerbocker, Alex Mustaikis, Al Rubeling, Mike Schultz, Frank Seward, Eddie Shokes, Bob Usher, Clyde Vollmer, Kermit Wahl, Lefty Wallace and Dick West. Syracuse beat Newark 4 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs but lost in the finals to Montreal 4 games to 1. Outfielder Clyde Vollmer and pitcher Frank Fanovich were All Stars. On June 14th Syracuse was no-hit by Oscar Judd of Toronto, losing the game in 7 innings.

The 73 win 80 loss record that Syracuse had for the 1949 International League season put them in sixth place 16 ½ games behind the first place Buffalo Bisons. It was the final season as Syracuse manager for Jewel Ens and he picked from the following list of past or future major league baseball players. Ed Blake, Ken Burkhart, Bud Byerly, Claude Corbitt, Frank Drews, Carden Gillenwater, Johnny Hetki, Dixie Howell, Joe Just, Ray Lamanno, Dick Lane, Sammy Meeks, Dutch Mele, Harry Perkowski, Johnny Pramesa, Jim Prendergast, Al Rubeling, Mike Schultz, Frank Seward, Eddie Shokes, Tommy Tatum, Bob Usher, Bob Wellman, Dick West and Benny Zientara

For the 1950 International League season the Syracuse Chiefs finished in sixth place with a record of 74 wins and 79 losses for their manager, Bruno Betzel. Betzel’s lineup of former or future major league baseball players included the following people. There was Jay Avrea, Ed Blake, Ken Burkhart, Bud Byerly, Claude Corbitt, Frank Drews, Red Durrett, Steve Filipowicz, Carden Gillenwater, Red Hayworth, Dave Jolly, Dutch Mele, Hugh Mulcahy, Kent Peterson, Jim Pendergast, Al Rubeling, Eddie Shokes and Benny Zientara. On August 6th Syracuse was no-hit by Jake Wade of Buffalo losing 2-0 in 7 innings.

Bruno Betzel was back for his second year as Chiefs manager and in the 1951 season Betzel led Syracuse to a third place finish in the International League standings with a record of 82 wins and 71 losses. That record put the Chiefs 12 ½ games behind the Montreal Royals who finished the year in first place. Syracuse beat Rochester 4 games to one in the first round of the playoffs and ended up losing in the finals to Montreal 4 games to 1. First baseman Ed Stokes made the All Star team and his teammate Bill Miller led the league in strikeouts with 131. Loren Babe, Bill Baker, Augie Bergamo, Claude Corbitt, Frank Drews, Nino Escalera, Hak Foiles, Carden Gillenwater, Red Hayworth, Bob Keegan, Gene Markland, Bill Miller, Whitey Platt, Vic Power, Jack Robinson, Eddie ShokesHank Workan, Benny Zientara were the Syracuse players who at some point would have experience playing in the major leagues.