Blast from the Past: “Re-Play: Lawrence Baseball”

This article, published sixty years ago, recounts the birth of one of Lawrence’s teams. It is strange to think that teams that seem so permanent today were at one point no more than an idea under debate. What team might be added next to Lawrence’s roster?

Published 4/20/1956
Author: Richard Bjornson

Ripon’s announcement this spring of baseball plans leaves only two Midwest conference schools out of the annual chase for conference championship in that sport. They are Grinnell and Lawrence.

Ripon’s inauguration of baseball this year and Beloit’s taking up the sport last year marks a resurgence, caused partly by the Milwaukee Braves, of Wisconsin interest in the national pastime.

Six objections have been advanced in regard to baseball at Lawrence. They are: lack of funds, lack of coaching personnel, weather complications, need of a playing surface, lack of nearby opponents and the possible lack of manpower.

Lack of funds, the first consideration, is possibly the most important and the one on which several of the others hinge. Baseball is not nearly as expensive to conduct as football, the costs approximating those of basketball or track.

I do not at present propose a method for obtaining additional funds, but I am sure that if there was enough interest in the sport, a satisfactory solution would be forthcoming.

Lack of coaching personnel is a subsidiary objection, revolving about the necessity for adequate funds. The addition of baseball to the Lawrence sports picture would require a fourth man on the coaching staff. As Coach Anderson will no longer coach the swim squad next year, a fourth man is already needed and could serve in both capacities.

Weather complications, a minor consideration, have been solved by St. Olaf, Carleton, Ripon, and many of Wisconsin’s northern high schools, and undoubtedly could be resolved by Lawrence.

As Whiting field does not present an adequate playing surface, a Vike baseball team would have to look elsewhere in town for a diamond. There are at least three fields in town, one of which could probably be rented.

Ripon, Oshkosh State, St. Olaf, Carleton, the Milwaukee schools and conference foes would provide adequate competition for any team Lawrence could field.

Lawrence should not have a manpower shortage in any sport, but unfortunately we do. This problem could be solved by student interest and backing.

Baseball would detract from other spring sports, its opponents will add, because men otherwise competing in golf, tennis, or track would go out for it instead. I do not think so. I firmly believe that a group of over 250 upperclassmen could furnish a complete diamond aggregation, plus adequate representation in the three other sports.

Baseball, as a sport, creates considerable interest in most parts of this country, Lawrence included. I am sure that the administrators of this school and the members of the athletic department would not block a Lawrence team if they felt that the student body was sufficiently interested.

Of the nine conference schools, seven compete in the national sport. If Lawrence students were interested the competition could be increased to eight.