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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Park and Ball Club Profitable for Millionaire Smith

One-time Rock Springs Park owner, C.A. Smith, (pictured center) had one of only two O & P Baseball League teams which earned a profit in 1908.

According to the Butler Times, August 4, 1908, “Two clubs of the Ohio and Pennsylvania league are making money. One has a winning record and the other a losing team." C.A. Smith was on the right side of both counts as his East Liverpool Potters were just as competitive as they were profitable. An Erie franchise also “came on the right side of the ledger" according to their owner, a fellow by the name of Baumeister, who pondered the odd notion that "businessmen who have made money in other directions will scatter their coins ruthlessly when they get into base ball [sic].” He explained that bad business decisions are made in the sport due to "town pride." The article continued, “C.A. Smith, the millionaire owner of the Potters, is having a good summer. His team plays at Rock Springs Park, a noted and well patronized picnic place. Picnics have helped the ball team and the ball team helps the park, the two combining to get the money either way."

Smith built his baseball park in Rock Springs in 1907 for $6000 and the following year promised "to give the people of East Liverpool the best base ball [sic] team it is possible to assemble."

It is interesting to note that the Ohio and Pennsylvania Baseball League's most popular venue was in West Virginia and that it had something of a spending cap in 1908. Smith proposed in an article which appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator on March 10, 1908, "I will keep within the salary limit and I will desire a fast club." He further promised to continue improvements on his baseball park and to "keep the game clean and up to the highest standard possible to attain."

In its first year of operation, Rock Springs Park and Smith's Potters requested to play Washington PA, as it would be "a good drawing card" for the O&P circuit. According to The Washington Reporter, the game was scheduled to be held on August 13, 1907, "the greatest picnic day of the year at Rock Springs with 150 coaches of people who will visit the park."

I have not been able to find the score of the August 13th game in the archives, but did find a score from June of that same year which led with the headline, “Smothered Sharon.” It tells of a 9 – 0 Potters victory in which 8 of the 9 runs were scored off of 5 hits against a poor chap named Muldowney in the first inning. So, it is also possible the Potters defeated Washington. I'll keep looking!

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