(1952–1962, 1947–1949, 1935, 1929–1933, 1904–1915)
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Midwest League (1958–1962)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||2 (1931, 1955)|
After baseball began in Keokuk, Iowa in 1875, the Keokuk Indians was the primary nickname of Keokuk minor league baseball teams. After the Indians (1904–1915, 1929–1933, 1935), Keokuk was home of the Keokuk Pirates (1947–1949), Keokuk Kernels (1952–1957), Keokuk Cardinals (1958–1961) and the Keokuk Dodgers (1962). Notable Keokuk alumni include Bud Fowler, Roger Maris and Tim McCarver.
Keokuk Baseball History
Baseball in Keokuk started in 1875 when the Keokuk Westerns played in the National Association, a league that directly evolved into today's major League Baseball. On May 4, 1875, the Keokuk Westerns hosted the Chicago White Stockings (present-day Chicago Cubs) and the teams played the first professional baseball game in Iowa.
Early Keokuk Indians teams played in the Iowa State League (1904–1907), Central Association (1908–1915), Mississippi Valley League (1929–1933) and the Western League (1935). They were affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1935.
In 1947, the Pittsburgh Pirates established an affiliate in Keokuk that played in the Central Association through 1949. In 1952, Keokuk joined the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League and used the "Kernels" nickname, which was related to The Hubinger Company, who made corn starch. The Kernels became a Cleveland Indians affiliate in 1954. In 1958 they became the Cardinals, after becoming a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate and joining the Midwest League. Keokuk became a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate in 1962, but the team was moved by the Midwest League to Dubuque, Iowa on August 2 and renamed the Midwest Dodgers for the duration of its final season.
Notable Keokuk franchise alumni included: Roger Maris, who hit 61 Home runs in 1961 and was 2-time AL Most Valuable Player; Bud Fowler, the earliest known African-American player in organized professional baseball; All-Star player and announcer Tim McCarver; World Series hero Jesse Barnes; Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ray Caldwell; All-Star Mudcat Grant; Five time MLB All-Star Gus Bell and future MLB Manager Russ Nixon. Announcer Brent Musburger was first an umpire and worked behind the plate for McCarver's first professional game.
The Keokuk teams played at Joyce Park from 1929–1962. The park dimensions were (LF-CF-RF): 320-381-265 (1961) 306-385-345 (1962) It had a capacity of 3500 (1962). On September 9, 1931 the Indians played an exhibition game at Joyce Park against the St. Louis Cardinals squad, nicknamed the Gashouse Gang.
Previously, early Keokuk Indians teams played at Hubinger Park, beginning in 1904 . It was located at North 15th Street & Grand Avenue. The 1875 Keokuk Westerns of the National Association had played at Perry Park. The 1885 Omaha/Keokuk team of the Western League played at Sportsman's Park located at 15th Street & Palean Street. Due to no Sunday baseball by law, the 1885 team would take a ferry across to Illinois to play at High Banks Park.
1955 Championship Team
Keokuk won league tiles in 1931 and 1955. The 1955 Championship Team was ranked the #30 in the All-Time Top 100 Minor league teams by milb.com and their baseball historians, Bill Weiss & Marshall Wright. A year after having Roger Maris on the roster, the Kernels finished the 1955 season with a record of 92-34 in the Three-I League. Their Manager was former Indiana University Manager Pinky May and the team had several players who made Major League teams, notably Mudcat Grant and Russ Nixon. Finishing 22 games ahead of runner up Waterloo, team's .730 winning % was the highest in the last 50 years. Despite their great record the Kernels drew on only 39,179 fans for the season, signaling difficulty in sustaining a franchise.
Home Plate Microphone
In 1958, the team placed a hidden live microphone under home plate in order to broadcast the players' talking over the PA system. It could reportedly pick up conversations within thirty feet. The first usage was on May 16, 1958. However, foul language led to discontinuing the practice after the season. Magazines Grit (June 1, 1958) and Popular Science (August 1958) had stories on the Microphone usage.
Notable Keokuk Alumni
- Gary Kolb (1960) MLB 7 Seasons; traded for Bob Uecker
- Tim McCarver (1959) 2 x MLB AS; .311 in 21 WS Games
- Jack Hamilton (1958)
- Dick Hughes (1958) Runner-up NL Rookie of the year 1967 (Tom Seaver)
- Fred Whitfield (1958)
- Gordy Coleman (1955)
- Mudcat Grant (1955) MLB AS
- Bobby Locke (1955)
- Russ Nixon (1955) 12 MLB Seasons; MGR: Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves
- Roger Maris (1954) GG; 4 x MLB AS; 61 Hr (1961); 2 x AL Runs Batted in Leader (1960–61); 2 x AL Most Valuable Player (1960, 1961)
- Dan Osinski (1954)
- Gus Bell (1947–48) 4 x MLB AS; 4 x 100 RBI Seasons; Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
- Bill McGee (1933)
- Roger Wolff (1931)
- Joe Becker (1930, 1933) MLB Pitching Caoach (1955–1970)
- Red Corriden (1908)
- Rip Williams (1907)
- Bud Fowler (1885) Earliest known African-American player in professional baseball
- History of Keokuk baseball: http://www.keokuk.net/baseball/
- Ray Caldwell minor league page
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