Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 3, 2006, pg. 13
With 2006 being the 50th anniversary year of T-Ball, begun here in Albion in June, 1956 under the name of Pee Wee baseball, we’d like to feature another aspect about this fascinating game. It was on Thursday, July 28, 1960, that Albion’s “All Star” Pee Wee Baseball players traveled to the campus of Michigan State University, where they played an hour-long exhibition game to educate the public about this new sporting phenomenon. The game was played at the MSU intramural field in East Lansing.
This game featured the Red All Stars verses the Blue All Stars. The game was filmed with 16 mm. black and white film, including sound commentary. It was aired on WMSB-TV Channel 10 on Monday, August 1, 1960. Back in those days MSU shared the Channel 10 TV station with the commercial Channel 10, until MSU got their Channel 23 spot several years later. Sports commentator for the program was East Lansing coach Gus Ganakas, who produced a TV series that summer featuring area teams. Our Albion game was unlike any other he had seen before in his career. It was hard for him to fathom a baseball game with no pitcher or no catcher.
Viewing this film, at the beginning of the program, T-Ball “Albion style” originator and coach Jerry Sacharski explains the fundamentals of the game to Gus and the viewers. Pee Wee veteran Chuck Quebbeman gives a demonstration by running to the various positions as Sacharski explains them.
A touching portion of the program is just before the game begins, when the boys line up with their hands/hats over their hearts, and the national anthem is being played. The boy holding the American flag is Scott Rabakon. Game officials are coach Jerry Sacharski; home umpire is Michael Sacharski; 1st base umpire is Fred Herriff; 2nd base umpire is Jesse Bommarito; Tee boy is Chuck Quebbeman; and the official scorer is Jim Anderson. The game play-by-play is handled by Gus Ganakas, who is assisted by Albion Recreation Director Arnold Spaan.
Red Team players consist of: David Currie, John Eddy, Reggie Google, Dale Hildreth, Russell Klein, Melvin Mills, Kraig Phipps, Dan Rabakon, Lanny Ross, John Sims, Lonnie Spencer, Gar Stone, Ken Suprenaut, and Dan Taylor. The Blue Team players are: Dan Anglin, Mark Ashdown, Paul Basha, Jim Brown, Ricky Driver, Steve Estelle, Richard Everett, Bob Harris, Rick Harris, Mike Hurley, George Johnson, Craig Radee, Mike Reynolds, Terry Rockey, and Waverly Short.
This game is a classic, not only for being the first televised T-ball game, but also for its historical significance to those who grew up here in Albion during this period. Oh, for the record, the final score was: Red Team-9, Blue Team-5.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a special photo, taken at the beginning of the broadcast. Gus Ganakas interviewed the youngest player in organized baseball at the time, 5-year-old Melvin Mills of the Red team. Here we see Gus (right) speaking with Melvin, while Jerry Sacharski looks on. In the background is the WMSB-TV broadcast trailer. This photo is included on page 125 of my new book “Growing Up in Albion,” which is still available from yours truly or at the Albion Chamber of Commerce while supplies last.
This film will be aired again on our local Albion cable channel 10 on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10 at 12 Noon, a mere 46 years from when it was originally broadcast. We hope you’ll watch this historic film. Whether you played T-ball in 1960 (such as yours truly) or other years, or enjoy seeing Albion people on television, this show is for you. By the way, over the past several months, yours truly teamed up with Jerry Sacharski and had this precious 16 mm. film transferred and enhanced over to DVD format at our expense. The sound especially is fantastic.
Gus Ganakas interviews 5-year-old Melvin Mills, while Jerry Sacharski looks on.
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic