15 April 2017

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part Four: Olinda Baseball Team, ca. 1910

Because the major league baseball season has just gotten underway in the last couple of weeks, this seems like a good time to post another great photo, provided by Joyce Harrington, of a couple of her family members.

Earl and Alvis Brown were members of the Olinda baseball team, as pictured here in the oil field community's "ballpark", about 1910.  Identities of most of those in the photo were provided:

Back row (left to right):  Powell, Art Cripps, Bob Isbell, Manager John Martin, Charles (Shagg) Lloyd, and Alvis (Dutch) Brown.

Front row (L-R): Claude (Buzzy) Buzzard, Johnnie Craig, Ray Perry, Billie McLean, Earl Brown.

Nora Brown McMillan wrote some reminiscences of her years living in Olinda and noted:
I would not forget the Olinda baseball team!  It was another source of much pleasure to the settlement.  The local boys first played on a diamond in the "flat" just east off Santa Fe Avenue.  Walter Johnson, the well remembered Big League ball pitcher was one of the local boys who played there, but Walt had moved on up to the Big Leagues before Olinda's best known ball team was formed.  This team was managed by John Martin, and the ball team was back of Martin's Drugstore on the Hall's Lease.  The games were played on Sunday afternoons, and we filled the small grandstand to watch them . . . (Later the ball diamond was again on the Santa Fe Lease, on the west side.)
The photo was also described in Mrs. McMillan's account and the location was, of course, what she said was "back of Martin's Drugstore" on the lease of Charles Victor Hall and his Fullerton Consolidated Oil Company.  The Santa Fe Lease was to the east on the hillside north of Carbon Canyon Road where the Olinda Ranch subdivision is now.

As for Walter Johnson, the native of Kansas came with his family to Olinda in 1902 (five years after the first oil well was brought in by Edward Doheny in the area) when he was fifteen.  By 1907, he signed a contract with the Washington Senators and played for 20 years.  "The Big Train" won 417 games, struck out over 3,500 batters, had 110 shutouts, and sported a lifetime ERA of 2.17.

Johnson threw a no-hitter in 1920 and won his only World Series four years later.  He also managed the Senators and the Cleveland Indians between 1929 and 1935 and won 55% of his games.  A member of the all-century and all-time teams, Johnson was also one of the "Five Immortals" originally inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, securing just under 84% of the vote in 1936.  The others were Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson.  Johnson died of a brain tumor in 1946 at age 59.

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