John Hall - author
"Majoring in The Minors"
Majoring in The Minors traces
the history of Class D baseball in the small Southwest Missouri town of
Carthage, Mo. from its entry into the Arkansas-Missouri in 1938 to the
time it left the KOM League in 1951. During the 1941 season Carthage had
a Class C team and it hosted the likes of Stan Musial, Eddie Lopat who
performed for Springfield, Mo. and Salina, Kansas.
The majority of the book deals with the golden years of minor
league baseball, 1946-52. Each chapter of the book follows a specific
year. The book gives the historical backdrop to what was happening on
the world stage as the young men of Class D ball were working themselves to
what they hoped would be Major League careers. The book cites the
success stories as well as the tragic ones such as the deaths of those killed
in the Korean War.
The glimpses of Mickey Mantle, for example, were not
those of a young phenom who couldn't miss. Rather it points out how he
came close to be a one-month "failure" in the KOM League.
These stories are all written from the perspective of his roommates and
The book is a tribute to every young man who tried his hand at
minor league baseball. Many failed due to a lack of talent while others
missed out due to being in an era before free agency and not having the
opportunity to go to another organization.
The major strength of the book is in Appendix 1. It
traces the careers of every former KOM Leaguer in more detail than has ever
been published in any baseball book. There are many anecdotal stories in
the book. A few are added to give the reader a flavor for the book.
Only 300 of these books have been printed. A very
limited number of them are available to the general public. The book price is $60 plus
$5 shipping. John also offers subscriptions to "The KOM League
Remembered" , a monthly newsletter, for $50 per year. John's
contact information is:
1709 Rainwood Place
Columbia, MO 65203
Phone: (573) 445-8125
Nothing much of any consequences ever happened to me until I
found a St. Louis Cardinal game on the radio in 1948. From that moment
there was a magic attached to the voices of Harry Caray and Gabby Street.
It was an allurement that drew me to want to know more about the game they
were speaking about on the radio.
My dad had passed away in early April of 1947 and I was
probably seeking something with which to fill that void. The St. Louis
Cardinals had a farm club at Carthage, Mo in the KOM League from 1946-48.
One day my first cousin brought me a broken baseball bat that he had picked
up the night before as visiting team batboy. The first piece of
baseball equipment I ever owned.... was that broken bat.
While listening to Harry and Gabby on the radio I played
imaginary games in my back yard. I threw tennis balls against the side of
the house until my mother and sister's inside would threaten to whip me if I
didn't stop. I then took up hitting green walnuts with broom sticks or rocks
with anything I could find that would last for more than a dozen contacts
with a rock.
Then one night in 1949 the local undertaker called. He
had buried dad two years previously and knew I had developed an interest in
baseball. I will never forget walking into the Carthage stadium and
seeing the local team dressed in the glistening white uniforms of the
Chicago Cubs. That's right, the Cardinals had left town after the 1948
season. On the other side were those ugly gray uniforms with red
numbers on the back. They belonged to the "hated"
Independence , Kansas Yankees. I didn't know a single one of those
Yankee ballplayers but sure came to know them later. Nick Ananias was
at first base, Charlie Weber 2B, Lou Skizas 3B, Jim Bello-RF, John Cimino,
CF, Len Wiesner LF, Bob Newbill C, and Bob Wiesler, Steve Kraly, Bob
Mallon, Ken Bennett et. al. on the mound. Harry Craft, the former
Cincinnati Reds centerfielder was in his first year as a manager and when he
was absent Burleigh Grimes filled in. Oh yes, the kid shortstop was
By 1950 I was old enough to peddle myself to the ballpark and
if I got there early enough I was rewarded with being the visiting team
umpire. That year rookies like Bill Virdon showed up playing for
Independence. Then in 1951 my "real break" came. I was
offered the job as home team batboy and jumped at the chance even over the
protests of a concerned mother.
The KOM League went out of existence following the 1952
seasons but it never left my mind. So many things happened and so many
great guys were affiliated with those clubs. In 1994 I realized that
the young men of the KOM League were quickly approaching retirement age.
I went to the archives of the Missouri State Historical Society and started
reading old box scores and sports columns. Gradually, I began to write
down names. Many were redundant due to misspelling. I looked up
games that I recalled as a kid to see what the sportswriter at the time had
written about it.
Soon I had a list of names that numbered close to 2,000.
The names started to come alive. Thirty-two of those former KOM
Leaguers wound up in the Major Leagues. Others became actors, singers,
Broadway stars, business tycoons, elected officials ad infinitum. Of
course, at that point I didn't realize the names I was looking at such as
Convy, Garner etc. were the ones who had first names of Bert and Jack.
Armed with those names I started searching through telephone
directories to see if I could find the men I had once known as boys in the
KOM League. Amazingly, I found these fellows in fairly rapid
succession. They started sending their scrapbooks, old autographed
baseball, bats and memorabilia from an age when Harry Truman was sitting in
the White House. They were as excited to hear from me as I was to hear
With the vast amount of information being accumulated I was
urged to write a document about the league and place it a local library
somewhere. Before long the former editor of the Daily Oklahoman in
Oklahoma City advised me that the book would be published and he would be
the editor. I had set a goal of finding 200 former KOM Leaguers.
When the book was printed in 1996 I had interviewed over 600 former players
or their families.
The book sold out fairly quickly and due to the high cost of
self-publishing there were none available after 1998. The KOM League
Remembered Newsletter became the tool by which I kept in touch with the
former members of the KOM League. The list grew and by 1999 over 1100
former members of that league had been located or if deceased a member of
their family and been notified that the KOM League was remembered.
Since 1994 there have been 69 consecutive monthly issues of
the KOM League Remembered published. It has been the instrument that
has kindled the interest to hold yearly reunions where upwards of 400 former
players or their families have attended. The next event is scheduled
for June 15-18 at Chanute, Kansas.
In 1999 the players and city of Carthage expressed their
appreciated by having a bronze plaque of the 1951 Carthage Cub batboy placed
on the stadium entrance at the Carthage Baseball facility. Bill Virdon
said at the time he considered the reuniting of the former KOM Leaguers the
most amazing project he has seen undertaken in over 50 years in baseball.
Due to the interest in keeping the memory of the KOM
League alive it has become a family. No one dies, gets sick or even
mad at someone else without it being reported to the editor of the KOM
For fans of Mickey Mantle there is no other source with
photos, personal stories and events surrounding his minor league quite like
what the KOM League Remembered and its associated publications possess.
At present the editor of the KOM League Remembered is writing a book about
the 1950 Joplin Miners as seen through the eyes of every living member of
that club. Most of them had played for the 1949 Independence Yankees
and thus were familiar with the work that had been done regarding the KOM
League "revival." At the request of all those men we have
met personally, talked by phone and I have received enough old scrapbooks
and photos to fill a rather large book. At present negotiations are
underway with a New York literary agent. These negotiations will
either culminate in a book printed by a national publisher about Mickey
Mantle's 1950 season at Joplin, or else the editor of the KOM League
Remembered will self-publish the book