Here's the low down on George Stovall, the first
major league baseball player to call Long Beach
On July 4, 1904, Long Beach’s own George Thomas Stovall, played his first major league baseball game for the Cleveland Blues. It was a double header and George scored two hits in four times at bat in the morning game, and three hits in four times up in the afternoon contest. The first baseman was off to an auspicious start, definitely earning his $150 a month salary.
In 1899, 21-year-old George Stovall decided his future lay in California. He went to work on the Wilhoit ranch, on Perris Road near Anaheim Road, but baseball was his true love. Before coming to Long Beach in 1899, George ( born in Leeds, Missouri on November 23, 1877) played on the J.J. Foster’s, a semi-pro team in Kansas City. The Foster’s however, got bad press when one of their players, Jesse James Jr., was arrested for having participated in a train robbery. Though James was acquitted, George along with brothers Sam and Jesse formed a new baseball club, without James. However the club was christened the Leeds Train Robbers and played under that name for some time. Upon arriving in Long Beach George Stovall was a member of “town teams” which played on “the flats” in the vicinity of Third Street and Pico Avenue; on a diamond in the neighborhood of Fifth Street and Maine Avenue, and later in “Athletic Park,” which was just east of California Avenue between Seventh and Tenth Streets. George organized a Sunday ball club which played a series of games against San Pedro, Wilmington and other cities on diamonds in the west part of town. Their club was called the Long Beach Brownies.
The first local team, the Long Beach Nine, had begun playing back in 1893, and the team often recruited anyone willing to pick up a bat just so they would have a full contingent of players. Such was the case with the 1899 Long Beach High School baseball team. The high school had just opened the previous year graduating a mere 15 students in 1899, the year George joined the team. It was hard to get enough players together to form a team, since many of the students lived in outlying areas and had to travel a great distance to get to the new school. According to Long
|Long Beach High School|
In the spring of 1901, the 23-year-old got a break in professional baseball, joining the Seattle team of the Northwestern League as a pitcher, but George hurt his arm in spring training and was released to Pendleton, Oregon, in the Inland Empire League where he played first base. In 1902 he started with the Walla Walla, Washington team in the Inland Empire League, but a month later the league expired. In Salt Lake he and other Inland Empire players organized a team they called the “Mormons” and started east on a barnstorming tour. While in Lincoln, Nebraska, the team attracted the notice of a fan from Atlantic, Iowa, who wrote home that Atlantic, then in last place in the Iowa Southwestern League, would do well to release its own players and sign the “Mormons” for the rest of the season. His advice was taken; Stovall and his team won seven of the eight games they played for Atlantic. Then that league, too, collapsed but George found a home with Cleveland. He remained with the club for nine years, and in 1911 was made manager. From 1912 to 1922 he managed teams in Kansas, Ohio, Florida and California and became President of the Association of Professional Baseball Players of America.
He never forgot his friends and family in Long Beach. In 1909, while wintering at home before the professional baseball season started, he gladly agreed to give the local high school baseball
|1909 Poly High baseball team|