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Doug Wolter: I have received the sacred books

Scorebooks from 1980s amateur baseball have arrived in the mail. Memories flow when reading the lineups.

Magic Book
Stock image of a magic book.
Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Comedian Sam Kinison held history “sacred” in the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield film “Back to School.” His character, Professor Turguson, affirmed a peculiarly rabid point of view when it came to the Vietnam and Korean wars, and though he was a bit off his rocker, I feel a certain empathy for him.

After all, I minored in history myself in college. And perhaps I’m a bit off my rocker, too, because I’ve always held baseball scorebooks somewhat sacred. Each one is the official record of an entire game, and when you’re filling them out you’re not allowed to make a mistake if you call yourself a true baseball junkie.

Doug Wolter
Doug Wolter

The rules for filling in the little boxes have been handed down from generation to generation, like your great-great grandfather’s first baseball glove. To the untrained eye, the notations look like chicken scratchings, but to ballplayers they are as beautiful as a well-turned double-play.

Every position on defense has a number. In filling out scorebooks over the years, I’ve sometimes been asked why the shortstop is No. 6 and the third baseman is No. 5. Well, it’s because all the corner positions must be odd-numbered, of course. C’mon. Get with it.

I tend to save my old scorebooks. I have scorebooks from the time I was an eighth-grader playing on my father’s Allendorf slow-pitch softball team. I didn’t play much then. Dad made me sit for that first year.

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I’ve got scorebooks from my high school years, when I started my own fast-pitch softball team and we used my dad’s old Allendorf amateur baseball jerseys. I found ‘em in the attic. They smelled like moth balls but they still worked.

I’m talking about scorebooks today because last week I received a priority mail package from Rex Hein, who many years ago served as athletic director at Worthington High School. He also played on the Worthington Cubs amateur team, and in a short letter he informed me that he was cleaning out his basement when he spied some old 1980s Cubs scorebooks that were filled out by his wife, Elda (expertly, I must add).

Rex wanted me to have the books (and the season records they also came with) -- to keep, to give to someone else, or even burn them. “As you see fit,” he wrote.

First off, of course, I wanted to look at them, and remember.

You see, lineups are more than mere names on paper. They’re historical. They tell you who had the speed and savvy of a leadoff hitter, who could bring ‘em all home from the cleanup spot, etc., etc.

Here’s a Cubs lineup from 1983, from an era when the Cubs were a very talented bunch of hitters: T. Suby, 3B; S. Rogers, SS; T. Jensen, LF; J. Berger, 1B; T. Gerber, 2B; R. Hein, DH; P. Suby, CF; G. Travis, RF; J. Gerber, C; Heinrichs, P.

Not an easy out among ‘em. I remember the Suby brothers, Tom and Pete, as longtime Cubbies and all-around good guys. I could go on and on. Nice to see them all again, even if it’s only on paper.

The scorebooks also regurgitate the lineups from teams the Cubs played in those years. Such as:

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From Windom: Elness, Miller, M. Olson, J. Olson, Krahn, Haugen, Jackson, Moede, Einertson.

From Slayton: Konkol, J. Mansch, S. Mansch, Gerber, Monson, L. Prahm, Leimen, B. Prahm, Grieme.

From Lakefield: Welp, Apple, K. Rogers, G. Rogers, Froderman, Palmer, Krueger, Rossow, Wuerffel.

From Heron Lake: B. Mathias, B. Burns, Spenser, Bloom, DeWall, Pietz, K. Mathias, Wolff, Krueger.

And from Adrian: Bauer, M. Lutmer, Boomgarden, Henning, J. Lutmer, Eatherton, Scheidt, Heitkamp, Banck.

Well, there are more teams, of course. Just the names, alone, bring back memories for the old-timers. And each name can tell a beautiful story of their exploits, and about the games as they were played many decades ago.

These books will stay with me until someone steps up to claim them. I think it should go into the Cubs archives. So feel free to give me a call and I’ll pass them on.

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Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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