Mail’s Little League Special Section stirred up some old memories
The June 12 Winslow Mail special section on the Winslow Little League stirred old memories for a number of readers. One such person was Reyes Rodriguez who contacted this reporter. He was a member of the Winslow Little League’s first Arizona State Championship Team in 1952.
That team came within two outs of winning the regional title in Santa Monica, California and earning a trip to the Little League World Series. Rodriguez made two more trips to Santa Monica with championship Babe Ruth League teams from Winslow. He also played on some Winslow American Legion teams coached by the late Bus Mead.
J.F. Watson and Ira McGlothlin coached the team that went to Santa Monica. The players included Rodriguez, Delano Blank, Bobbie Christie, Tim Faucher, Eddie Archibeque, Bunky LeGate, David Weare, David Swann, Danny Chacon, Dennis Laur, Terry Lacey, Gary Phillips, Leon Lancaster and Burton Belton.
Rodriguez added to the list of Winslow citizens who played important roles in the early years of Little League Baseball in Winslow. Some of those were Doug Simpson, Bill Christie, Richard Carillo, Ira and Clyde McGlothlin, Danny Watson, Willard Cunningham and Tony Petranovich. He said that Petranovich had been his coach on the Cubs in 1952 when that team won the league championship.
Rodriguez was a four-year starter in baseball at Winslow High School under the legendary Carl Weatherton. He was an All State football player for Winslow’s Hall of Fame Coach Emil Nasser and wrestled under the tutelage of Doc Wright.
Memories of the games of his youth are important to Rodriguez. He proudly displayed a certificate he received for participating in a try-out camp held in Winslow by the St. Louis Cardinals. He and Bill Mead were the only participants from Winslow. He was a junior at Winslow High School at the time.
He also produced a program from the 1958 Arizona High School All Star Games that were played in Flagstaff. The late Jim Lovett of Winslow was among the Arizona Coaches Association members pictured in that program. The association was one of the main sponsors of the games.
Officials for the football game included Winslow’s Ed Ferguson who worked football and basketball games in this part of the state for decades. Fred Stockhaus from Flagstaff was also a frequent “zebra” at Winslow High School games. Gilbert Corona was another Flagstaff official who was the baseball coach at Flagstaff High School for many years.
Players included quarterback Eddie Wilson from Chandler who later starred at the University of Arizona and played in the National Football League, mostly with the Kansas City Chiefs. Rennie Crittenden from Phoenix North High School was the “big school” quarterback. He was an excellent all around athlete and one of the best baseball players in the state. He played at Phoenix College, Arizona State University, with the Kerr Sporting Goods American Legion team and the Phoenix Stewart Motors semi-pro team. This reporter remembers playing semi-pro games against that team, which was one of the best in the state.
Steve Burns of Winslow played in the All Star Basketball Game that year. One of his opponents was this reporter’s brother, Jerry Conner of Casa Grande. Two of the coaches were also my former high school coaches, Jack Spillsbury and Hugh Crawford of Casa Grande.
There were undoubtedly some very important people in the history of the Winslow Little League who were not mentioned in this article. This reporter came to Winslow after the league was well established and many of those who were here and contributed information have fading memories.
Hopefully, the articles (this one and the first one) will stimulate some good memories for older readers as they did for Rodriguez and others. Maybe they will even give the younger readers an appreciation for how much this league has meant to the community in which we live.
If any, like Rodriguez, wish to share their memories, feel free to do so. Who knows? This may not be the last article on this subject.