Received a most cool digital iMage from my cousin a few days ago. This one shot straight up towards the top of my iMage collection hit list in regard to the highest levels of awesomeness. The 1941 Caddo County Baseball Champs. Wow!
Brian shares that his cousin Steve Baker sent him a copy of this iMage. Steve's access came about in a somewhat unusual way. While enjoying a spring training game out in Arizona, Steve just happened to be sitting by a man wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder cap. Out of curiosity, he inquired as to if the gentleman was from Oklahoma. The gentleman shared "no, but my dad grew up in a tiny little town named Lookeba." The gentleman's dad being Lookeba's 1941 Caddo County Championship catcher (Jim Warren) in the team photo above.
The young gun in this magnificent iMage looking like my cousin Brian turns out to be his father Don (Baker) who actually coached our OK Kids little league team in Lookeba some thirty years following this 1941 County Championship. I can remember coach Baker teaching us the fundamentals of the game all-the-while inspiring a passion to win as we competed against other Caddo County little league teams.
Best I recall, we were taught to enjoy the game with a smile and kind heart, but, coach Baker never seemed to be a commander that just hands out "participation" trophies. That was not a part of the historical landscape of old school Caddo County baseball. Not a part of the process of drawing the best out of a player when the chips are down and a hard ball championship is on the line. Work hard and earn what you get was and is a good lesson for anyone at any age to learn.
Like many if not all young ball players, I never thought about or cared about, at the time, where the interest and motivation of my coach came from. Who would ever take the time to think about all that stuff when you're in training to become a big leaguer like Johnny Bench? "Just put me in coach, I'm ready to play today, look at me, I can be…centerfield." I know, Bench was a catcher but Fogerty's lyrics seem to most accurately describe what's actually stirring within a young player's mind.
What makes this iMage so valuable and interesting to me is discovery of where the motivation and desire to pass the game on actually came from. Being able to see that coach Baker and his teammates of Lookeba High School (LHS) had been there and done what he wanted us to do is quite gratifying. Makes me wish I could have been old enough to know about and truly understand his championship ways at the time of our base paths crossing. I believe, even without knowing, our little league team was able to absorb some of his championship caliber traits at such a young age.
The research begins with a first thought of it won't be long till World War II breaks out in full force. Knowing this team came from such a small town within our big world, I'm guessing not much will be found on the internet. After utilizing some well rehearsed net surfing skills, my guessing was found to be correct.
But, a few small and interesting pieces of noteworthy information was discovered floating around in cyberspace. On Thursday, May 1, 1941, The Daily Oklahoman reported Lawrence "Jap" Haskell, Oklahoma Intersholastic Meet Baseball Director, had announced "pairings" for the baseball tournament to be held in Norman. Haskell announced at 3 p.m. Lookeba (LHS) would be taking on Oklahoma City Capitol Hill. Small town vs. big town sounds quite interesting to me.
Feeling lucky to have found any info at all floating around in cyberspace, I knew where some real answers could possibly be found. Maybe not all but, at the least, some. If you've won a Caddo County Championship trophy, there's a trail out there somewhere. Doesn't matter how old or how cold it is, any self trained researchist worth a lukewarm cup of coffee has a chance to find it.
Thought for sure I'd find the who, what, when and where of a Caddo County Baseball tournament in the Anadarko Daily News, Tribune and/or Democrat. Although traces of 1941 competition between Lookeba and Anadarko were discovered, no results of a county tournament were found within the crinkled up pages of these old newspapers. Can only guess a reason being Anadarko didn't win the trophy.
Before moving on to the next possibility of discovery, I scanned the game summary and box score of a regular season non tournament meeting between Lookeba High School and Anadarko. The headline in the April 10, 1941, edition of the Anadarko Tribune read 'Lookeba Goes To Town On Locals' Necks.'
The game summarized in depth by an unidentified reporter of witness included:
"The Anadarko high school baseball boys didn't taste the sweet fruits of victory they had been anticipating when the Lookeba squad stifled their hopes of an undefeated season with a relentless 19-5 win Wednesday afternoon.
Played at the Randlett park baseball diamond, the home squad seemed unable to get started as they held the scoring fairly even until the beginning of the sixth inning when the visitors went wild with tallies to bring their score to 12. In the following inning, six more runs placed them to within one point of their final score."
A continued search for Caddo County Tournament results led me to an additional summary of a second Lookeba vs. Anadarko contest in 1941. It was discovered in the Wednesday, April 23, 1941, edition of the Anadarko Daily News. Headlined 'Lookeba Tilt Rained Out At Randlett Park,' the partial game was summarized as follows:
"The Anadarko and Lookeba high school baseball teams called it quits yesterday afternoon at Randlett park when the rain caused postponement of the match in the middle of the fourth inning.
Coach John Hays of the Anadarko squad announced that the return match with Lookeba would be played here next Monday afternoon at 1:30.
The game should be a good one, pointed out Hays, as the Lookeba squad is the only victorious and first opponent of the local boys this year.
'We're out to tan their hides as they tanned ours when we were inexperienced at the first of the season,' he said.
Indications that the 'Darkos' were off to an auspicious start yesterday could be noted from the close score, much unlike the one sided score earlier in the year. Anadarko led at the end of the third, 4 to 3, and Lookeba in the first half of the fourth, 5 to 4."
Feeling good about the ole hometown LHS getting the best of Anadarko in 1941, the journey for information on that championship trophy continued. Luckily before leaving Anadarko behind, it was the "out to tan our hides" Warrior coach Hays who led me down the path of satisfying discovery. Circling back to the Anadarko Tribune, their May 8, 1941, edition reported 'Warriors Go To Tourney.' According to coach Hays, they would be leaving for Carnegie that particular morning to compete in the "annual Caddo county diamond tournament."
Nothing left to do now but find a copy of the correct and vintage issue of The Carnegie Herald and I believe the story behind the story of the 1941 Caddo County Baseball Champions will be found.
On Wednesday, May 14, 1941, The Carnegie Herald reported Lookeba as the 'Baseball Champs Of County Tournament!' The Herald noted that the tournament had been moved to Carnegie because of wet grounds at Gracemont. Even with the move, the tournament almost became a wash due to heavy rains in the Carnegie area.
The Herald reported Lookeba had beat Broxton 12-7 in the first meeting of Class-B teams. Alden, last year's winners of Class-B, then put Bridgeport out of the tournament by a score of 6-5.
With Lookeba advancing to the next round, the Herald noted Washita and Lookeba both came to play ball regardless of the rain. Following a rain shower delay, the diamond was moved out on the grass and the tournament resumed. This was a free hitting, walking and scoring game, ending 17 to 9 for Lookeba.
In Saturday's finals Lookeba played the 1940 Alden Champs for the 1941 Class-B flag. Alden reportedly silenced most of the Lookeba big guns. It was anybody's game until the last out. Lookeba had just enough big guns to come out with a scoring edge of 4 to 3 and that 1941 Caddo County Baseball Championship trophy proudly displayed by Alton Gleaves.