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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The O&P Baseball League

According to The History of Columbiana County, Ohio by Harold B. Barth (1926), East Liverpool became a member of the Ohio and Pennsylvania or “O. & P.” League in 1908. Manager Tom Fleming was given the city’s franchise by then President Richard Guy. After a period of negotiations, he transferred his holdings to Rock Springs Park owner C. A. Smith, of Chester W.V. “Accordingly, a fine ball park with modern two-story grandstand, bleacher seats along the first base line and back of left field were placed in the northeast section of Rock Springs park then the Mecca for thousands of tourist during the summer months.”

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."
Mr. Bill Phillips, of Charleroi, PA, a onetime pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds and later an assistant director of the New Orleans club of the Southern league, was procured as manager. He finished second, next to Akron, in the race that year with an outstanding group of ball players. His pitchers were himself, his half-brother, Barney Wolfe, formerly of the New York Americans; Johnny Fisher, of Noblesville, Ind.; John Nolly, of Alabama; Catcher Rapp, of Washington, D. C. worked behind the bat. Bob Tarleton, of New Orleans on first, “Scrapiron” Beecher sustained a fractured leg while sliding into second base that season with Woodruff, Gaston and Manning in the outfield. Kunkle, Mackey, McNeil and Cooper were other men that filled in during a part of the season. Phillips led the league in the pitching that year with 22 games won and four lost. One of the outstanding performances of the season was the 16-inning battle which he won from Pitcher Clyde of the Sharon team on the Rock Springs field.

Pitcher Arch Osborne, also of Charleroi, was the team’s manager in 1909, Bill Phillips having “taken over the direction of the Wheeling, WV, club of the Central league.” Again East Liverpool finished in second place with Akron, under Lee Fohl, winning the honors. The league president was Sam Wright, a newspaperman of Youngstown.

The season of 1910 began on May 5 and ended Sept 5. The Potters were directed by Guy Sample, of Jackson, Miss. Early in the season President Sam Wright passed away. J. H. Maxwell, vice president, headed the league the remainder of the season. On the final day of the season Akron and Canton had two games to play with each a possible winner. “The latter won the morning contest giving both a tie standing with each having won 72 and lost 53 contests.” Pitcher “Red” Nelson won the second contest for Akron by knocking a home run in the second inning after first baseman Tate had done the same for Canton in the first. The final score was 4 to 1. So closely contested was the race that year that Erie, finishing in last place, had led the league for two months of the season. East Liverpool won 63 and lost 61 contests that year and made a tie with McKeesport for third place.

In 1911 C. A. Smith gave up the franchise and East Liverpool had its final professional baseball the following year “when the O. & P. League failed by a few days to finish the season following the loss of club after club on it.”

Fact: East Liverpool had seven years of experience in professional baseball, two of which, 1906 and 1907 in the “class D” Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland league and four, 1908, 1909, 1910 and 1911 in the “class C” Ohio and Pennsylvania league. Twice, in 1908 and 1909 the Potter outfit representing the city finished in second place. In all other seasons the club concluded in fourth place. Except perhaps in 1911-12 the team was always a pennant contender until the final contests were played. The Potters team disbanded on August 20, 1911 and moved to Pittsburgh on August 14, 1912. The league rescinded its membership to the National Association when it placed the franchise in Pittsburgh.



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