West Frankfort Cardinals

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West Frankfort Cardinals
19471950
West Frankfort, Illinois
Minor league affiliations
Class Class D (1947–1950)
LeagueIllinois State League (1947–1948)
Mississippi–Ohio Valley League (1949–1950)
Major league affiliations
TeamSt. Louis Cardinals (1947–1950)
Minor league titles
League titles (1)1948
Wild card berths (2)
  • 1949
  • 1950
Team data
NameWest Frankfort Cardinals (1947–1950)
BallparkMemorial Stadium (1947–1950)

The West Frankfort Cardinals were an American minor league baseball team based in West Frankfort, Illinois from 1947 to 1950. Playing at Memorial Stadium, the West Frankfort Cardinals were charter members of the Illinois State League in 1947 to 1948 and the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League in 1949 and 1950. The two leagues were the direct predecessors to the Midwest League.

West Frankfort was an minor affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals for their duration, adopting the "Cardinals" moniker.

Baseball Hall of Fame member Earl Weaver played for the 1948 West Frankfort Cardinals.

History[edit]

The formation of the West Frankfort Cardinals was led by local businessmen Pete Mondino, Charlie Jacobs and Tony Finazzo. Through their efforts, the West Frankfort Baseball and Amusement Corporation was formed. In short order, a stadium was built, an affiliate secured and team was formed for West Frankfort in 1947. Mondino had been a minor league player and the manager of the Paducah Indians before returning to his hometown. The 1947 West Frankfort Cardinals became charter members of the Class D level Illinois State League while Mondino served as the team's general manager.[1][2][3][4][5]

The Belleville Stags, Centralia Cubs, Marion Indians, Mattoon Indians and Mt. Vernon Braves joined West Frankfort as charter members of the six–team 1947 Illinois State League.[6][7]

West Frankfort played their first home game at Memorial Stadium on May 24, 1947 with 2,896 fans in attendance.[8]

West Frankfort placed 4th in their first season of play and led the Illinois State League in home attendance. As an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, the West Frankfort Cardinals finished the 1947 with a record of 42–60 under manager Everett Johnston. West Frankfort finished 23.0 games behind the champion Belleville Stags. Home attendance at Memorial Stadium was 43,004.[6][9][10][11]

West Frankfort finished with an 85–35 record en route to winning the 1948 Illinois State League Championship. In the 1948 regular season, the Cardinals' 85–35 record placed 1st in the regular season under manager Harold Contini, with the Cardinals finishing 9.5 games ahead of the 2nd place Mattoon Indians. In the 1948 playoffs, West Frankfort defeated the Marion Indians 3 games to 1 to advance. In the Finals, the Cardinals swept the Mattoon Indians in 3 games to capture the championship. The Cardinals again led the league in home attendance with 36,656.[5][9][6][12][13][14]

At age 17, Baseball Hall of Fame member Earl Weaver played for the champion West Frankfort Cardinals in 1948 in his first professional season. Weaver, who had received a $1,500 signing bonus, hit .268 playing in 120 games.[14][15][16]

In 1949, the Cardinals became charter members of the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League. The Illinois State League changed names after the Belleville franchise was replaced in the six–team league by the Paducah Chiefs, based in Kentucky. The Cardinals remained an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and finished the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League regular season with a 71–49 record and qualified for the playoffs. The Cardinals placed 2nd in the regular season standings under manager Robert Stanton, finishing 4.0 games behind the 1st place Centralia Cubs. In the first round of the playoffs, West Frankfort was defeated by eventual champion Paducah 3 games to 0. Season attendance in 1949 was 24,140.[9][17][18][19][20]

In their final season of play, the West Frankfort Cardinals again placed 2nd and qualified for the playoffs. As the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League expanded to an eight–team league, West Frankfort had a 72–47 record under manager Robert Stanton, finishing 9.0 games behind the 1st place Centralia Sterlings. West Frankfort played their final games in losing in the first round 3 games to 0 to the Paducah Chiefs. After season attendance of 20,910, 7th in the league, the franchise folded after the 1950 season. West Frankford was not replaced in 1951 as the league reduced to six teams.[9][17][21][22][23]

On August 30, 2008, the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League, based in nearby Marion, Illinois, honored the West Frankfort Cardinals.[24]

The ballpark[edit]

The West Frankfort Cardinals were noted to have played minor league home games at Memorial Stadium. In 1947, owners of the new franchise purchased an 8.8-acre site, once used to store coal and dynamite from nearby mines, and construction began on the field and stadium. Memorial Stadium opened on May 24, 1957. It is believed the stadium name came to honor those killed in mine working.[25]

Memorial Stadium hosted the 1947 Illinois State League All-Star Game and the 1950 Mississippi–Ohio Valley League All-Star Game. The Illinois State League All-Star Game was played on August 11, 1947. The game pitted the Belleville Stags against an All-Star selected roster as Belleville had the best first-half record. The All-Stars defeated Belleville 5–1 in front of 2,134 fans. On July 13, 1950, West Frankfort hosted the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League All-Star Game at Memorial Stadium.[5][26][27]

In 1951, after the departure of the Cardinals, the stadium hosted an exhibition game featuring local semi-pro team, the Orient Miners of the Southern Illinois Semi-Pro League played a barnstorming professional team at the park. Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Satchel Paige pitched for the barnstormers, who won 3–1. Ned Garver and future Hall of Famer Earl Weaver were also on the professional team.[28]

Memorial Stadium went largely unused after the Cardinals left following the 1950 season. In 1956, the ballpark and land was sold to the US Government and the National Guard Armory was built at the site. The Armory is located at 802 West Main Street, West Frankfort, Illinois.[29][25]

Franklin County, Illinois. Incorporated and Unincorporated areas West Frankfort, Illinois.

Media[edit]

The team is the subject of the book: Season of Change: Baseball, Coal Mining, and a Small Town's Struggle to Beat the Odds (2011) by author Toby J. Brooks. ISBN 978-0984736201[30]

Timeline[edit]

Year(s) # Yrs. Team Level League Affiliate
1947–1948 2 West Frankfort Cardinals Class D Illinois State League St. Louis Cardinals
1949–1950 2 Mississippi–Ohio Valley League

Year–by–year records[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs/Notes
1947 42–60 4th Everett Johnston None held
1948 85–35 1st Harold Contini League Champions
1949 71–49 2nd Robert Stanton Lost in 1st Round
1950 72–47 2nd Robert Stanton Lost in 1st Round
Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, 2011

Notable alumni[edit]

Baseball Hall of Fame alumni[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

West Frankfort Cardinals players

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Team Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "Baseball in West Frankfort". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  3. ^ "West Frankfort, Illinois Encyclopedia". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  4. ^ "1950 West Frankfort Cardinals". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Baseball in West Frankfort, Illinois". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Illinois State League - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  7. ^ Nov 29 2003, RICHARD GOLDSTEIN THE SOUTHERN [Sat. "GLORY DAYS: SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WAS ONCE HOME TO SEVERAL THRIVING MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAMS". The Southern.
  8. ^ "1947 Cardinals". City of West Frankfort.
  9. ^ a b c d "West Frankfort Cardinals - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  10. ^ "1947 West Frankfort Cardinals Roster on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  11. ^ "1947 Illinois State League (ISL) on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  12. ^ "1948 West Frankfort Cardinals Roster on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  13. ^ "1948 Illinois State League (ISL) on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  14. ^ a b "1948 West Frankfort Cardinals Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  15. ^ "Earl Weaver Minor Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com.
  16. ^ "Earl Weaver – Society for American Baseball Research".
  17. ^ a b "Mississippi-Ohio Valley League - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  18. ^ "1949 West Frankfort Cardinals Roster on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  19. ^ "1949 Mississippi-Ohio Valley League (MOVL) on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  20. ^ "1949 West Frankfort Cardinals Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  21. ^ "1950 West Frankfort Cardinals Roster on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  22. ^ "1950 Mississippi-Ohio Valley League (MOVL) Standings on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  23. ^ "1950 West Frankfort Cardinals Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  24. ^ "Miners to honor W.F. Cardinals August 30". West Frankfort Daily American. August 8, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "In Loving Memory of Memorial". Official website. 5 October 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  26. ^ "Illinois State League 1947". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  27. ^ "Game One". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  28. ^ Jim Muir; Dave Broy (October 16, 2012). "The Original Southern Illinois 'Miners'". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  29. ^ "IL NG Organizations". www.il.ngb.army.mil.
  30. ^ Toby Brooks (December 2011). Season of Change: Baseball, Coal Mining, and a Small Town's Struggle to Beat the Odds. Chaplain Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9847362-0-1.

External links[edit]

Team history and photos of Memorial Stadium: West Frankfort Cardinals -
Baseball Reference Bullpen