BLAST FROM THE PAST: 50 years ago today, Trojans baseball team wins ‘59 conference championshipWORTHINGTON — Fifty years ago, as school was finishing in the last week of May in 1959, a couple of governors with similar names were making front-page news — and one area school was acting independently on the subject of time.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Fifty years ago, as school was finishing in the last week of May in 1959, a couple of governors with similar names were making front-page news — and one area school was acting independently on the subject of time.
Defeating Pipestone by a score of 4-3, the Worthington Trojans claimed the conference baseball championship and were gearing up for the District 8 tournament.
Coming up with a trio of first-place individual performances, along with a victory in the mile relay, the Windom Eagles repeated as Region 2 track and field champions.
Earlier in the month — on May 7, 1959 — St. Louis Cardinal slugger Stan Musial became the sixth player in Major League history to hit 400 career home runs.
Those are some of the stories at the local, state and national level at a time when classic songs like “Dream Lover” by Bobby Darin and “Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts were climbing Billboard’s Top 40.
Keep reading for a bit more detail.
First, the governors.
Minnesota’s governor was Orville L. Freeman and his state was debating the time frame for implementing daylight saving time.
Down in Arkansas, the governor was Orval E. Faubus, who made national headlines in September of 1957 when nine black students, including Ernest Green, were enrolling at Little Rock Central.
Faubus opposed segregation and became a hero in much of the state, despite the fact that President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. military troops into the school to safeguard the students, and Ernie Green became Central High’s first black graduate in May of 1958.
But a year later, the segregation issue was still in the news, and Faubus was losing some of his support.
While a front-page news story on the Tuesday, May 26, 1959, issue of the Daily Globe told the story of the segregation argument in Arkansas, a smaller, boxed-in story below had the following headline:
“Slayton HS Stays on CST”
The small four-paragraph story read as follows:
“SLAYTON — (Special) — With the whole state at sea over daylight saving, the Slayton public school has remained an island of standard time.
Surrounded by clocks which tick steadily on an hour ahead, the clocks at the school are following the sun.
‘It didn’t seem to present a problem,’ explained Supt. R.W. Fisher, adding that the decision to remain on standard time was made last Wednesday, ‘when we didn’t know what the legislature was going to do.’
‘We had just had our master clock re-adjusted,’ Fisher continued. It would have meant considerable work to change them all again, so we felt it would be best to leave them as they were.’”
So, while Gov. Freeman and the state legislature were discussing the daylight saving time issue — which nearly went to the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling, before being put into effect on May 24 in Minnesota — Slayton High School stayed on standard time.
Musial goes deep at Busch, hits No. 400
On the evening after the rain-soaked 7th annual Trojan Relays were held in Worthington (only the college events were run; the high school meet was canceled), Stan Musial — known as “Stan the Man” — blasted a 400-foot shot over the fence, giving him his 400th regular-season career home run at the major league level.
Musial’s historic hit was a walk-off homer, leading off the bottom of the ninth, as the Cardinals defeated the rival Chicago Cubs, 4-3.
The 37-year-old Musial, who had smacked No. 399 the night before, joined Babe Ruth (714), Jimmy Foxx (534), Mel Ott (511), Lou Gehrig (493) and Ted Williams (482) as the only major-leaguers to have hit 400 or more home runs.
The Daily Globe (Friday, May 8, 1959 issue) had this Associated Press account of the homer.
“The milestone missile into the right-center field pavilion at Busch Stadium, coupled Musial with Williams at the only 400 home-run sluggers now in business.”
Williams, who is the last major-leaguer to bat .400 in a season (.406 in 1941), retired after the 1960 season with 521 career homers and an amazing career batting average of .344, having played his entire 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox.
Musial, who played all 22 of his major league seasons with the Cardinals, retired after the 1963 season — one year before St. Louis won the World Series — with a career batting average of .331 and 475 home runs.
WHS wins league title
The Monday, May 25, 1959 issue of the Globe had the following headline on the sports page:
“Trojans Outscore Arrows for Loop Crown”
The first three paragraphs of that story read as follows:
“Worthington’s high school Trojans won the baseball championship of the Southwestern Conference Saturday night with a 4-3 win over the visiting Pipestone Arrows.
The Trojans broke a two-year jinx in the contest that is being called the best prep game of the season on the local diamond.
Del Buntjer, Trojan Leftie, came out on top in his dual with Bob Roesler, Pipestone ace, although he was literally knocked off the mound.”
Note first of all, that the league was called the Southwestern Conference rather than the Southwest.
An earlier game account — in the May 1 issue — referred to the league as the Big Six Conference?
In that game, played on April 30, the Trojans defeated Jasper, 12-1.
The lead paragraph of that story read as follows:
“The Worthington Trojans evened the score with the Jasper Quartz-Siters on the local diamond Thursday afternoon with a blistering attack that won the Trojans a 12-1 victory in the Big Six Conference contest.”
Jasper had defeated Worthington earlier in the season, 8-2.
So did the conference change names during the season, or was the May 1 game story in error?
In any event, the Trojans captured the conference baseball championship — exactly 50 years this evening — and opened District 8 play on May 26, tangling with the Chandler Eagles.
Members of the 1959 Trojan squad, coached by Danny Regnier, were: Wayne Krull, Ken Peterson, Joel Beck, Buntjer, Bob Hanson, Paul Poppen, Jim Wibbens, Dennis Young, Dave Kuhl, Gene Puhl, Sheldon Keith and Clayton Marsh.
In that 4-3 conference-clinching win over Pipestone, Marsh drove in Young with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Wibbens and Buntjer each had two hits in the game, and Buntjer — despite being struck by a batted ball, which knocked him down and off the mound, in the fifth inning — pitched a complete-game victory, recording 10 strikeouts.
Look for more on those ’59 Trojans in the next “Blast-from-the-Past.”
Several area athletes advance to state meet
A second large headline in that May 25, 1959 issue rang out:
“Windom Thinclads Win Region Title”
Competing at Mankato, the Eagles scored 30½ to points to win the meet by eight points over runner-up St. James.
Delano Jones (pole vault, 11-2), Bob Dwight (440-yard dash, 53.2) and Jerry Flaming (880, 2:07.2) each won regional titles, while the mile relay team of Johnson, Flaming, Otto and Dwight clocked a meet-record time of 3:37.4 to give the Eagles another first-place (five points) finish.
Among the other area athletes that earned advancement to the 1959 state track and field meet were:
Lloyd Voss, Magnolia, first, discus, 148-5; Hadler, Beaver Creek, second, discus; Lyle Gerdes, Worthington, second, shot put, 47-3¼ (Trojan school record); Jon Kaheler, Beaver Creek, first, mile run, 4:39.2; Dallas Bauman, Ellsworth, tie for first (with Dwight), 440, 53.2; and Mark Aamot, Jackson, second, broad jump.
Jackson’s 880-yard relay team of Watland, Natterstad, Craven and Aamot won the event (1:35.2) and advanced to the state meet.
Jasper’s Larry Jaacks qualified in both hurdle races, winning the 180-yard lows (21.2) and finishing second in the 120-yard highs.
Long shines at junior college league meet
Another noteworthy item from that May 25, 1959 issue was the outstanding day that Worthington Junior College’s Ronnie Long had at the Southern Junior College conference meet held in Worthington the previous Friday.
Long won five events — high hurdles (15.1), low hurdles (21.3), shot put (38-9), high jump (5-8) and 100 (10.7) — and also anchored the winning Bluejay 440-yard relay (47.5).
That was a decathlon-type of performance by Long, as he accounted for 26¼ of Worthington’s 58 points in the five-team meet.