Borrowed from Butch

Butch Hindenach -

    During the absence of current events, Robert ‘Butch’ Hindenach, a regular sports writer for The Courier-Leader, shares some of his Paw Paw High School athletics history.

    From the opening day of the 1900-01 Paw Paw High School baseball season it was obvious the local baseball team was a powerhouse. They breezed through most of their games, outscoring their opposition 310 to 108.
    Coach John O’Leary often used position players as the pitcher to keep the game more competitive. The County title game at South Haven was played before an estimated crowd of 500.  Paw Paw returned home with the trophy.  
    In a 15-7 win over Decatur,  Paw Paw had a dozen hits but needed few of them as the generous Decatur team committed 15 errors.  
    Bloomingdale was held hitless by Fred Sanger who recorded a dozen strikeouts. The regular season ended with a 27-2 record, the only losses inflicted by Allegan, 4-1 and Otsego, 5-3.  
    Although no official high school tournaments were held at that time, a title game was arranged between Ludington and Paw Paw, who were generally regarded as the two best teams in the State of Michigan.  Hurler Sanger held the team from the north to six  hits, and Fred Sowle, Wade Killefer, and Guy Warner provided most of the offense needed to claim a mythical state title. Sanger ended the season with a 22-0 win-loss record on the mound, one that still stands today. Wade Killefer went on to much more success as a major league player and later manager in the Pacific Coast League where he attained membership in the PCL Hall of Fame.
    George “Pat” Paige preceded Killefer by one year at Paw Paw, and later pitched for the Cleveland  Indians in the Major Leagues. Five years after Wade’s special season, his younger brother, Bill, also experienced a state title of sorts in 1905 when his team defeated Flint in another arranged state title game. Bill Killefer also reached the top level of baseball as a catcher with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Browns. He later managed both the Cubs and  Browns, and one year, at the end of the season, he brought the Cubs’ uniforms home and gave them to the school. For the next few years, Paw Paw baseball was known as the Cublets.
    Bill Killefer later managed a team in Elmira, New York, where one of his players was Walt Paynich, a fellow graduate of Paw Paw High School.  Bill’s last  job was as a baseball scout, and his first signing was Art Rooney.  Rooney did not make a team but went on to found the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL franchise.
    Minnie Minoso, of the Chicago White Sox, was another one of Killefer’s  prominent signings, and  he also discovered and signed Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, and the second overall after Jackie Robinson at the top level of baseball. Other players on the team included L. Warner, Harry Folsom, C. Davis, and B. Davis.


The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy. • P.O. Box 129
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-5080

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