Weekly Highlights

Sunday, Apr 22 2012 08:53 AM

60 years ago: softball memories

Related Photos

1951, 1952 and 1953 Monolith Cementers Softball Team Bottom row, left to right: Pete Errecart, Ronnie Meyers, Reno Mazzanti, Del Brite, Bill Woods, Jack Hisaw; back row, left to right, Jess Peters, Don Holt, Joe Burke, Karl Backes (Manager), George Koutroulis, Luke Lusk, L.E. Sanders. Photo from collection of Ken Peters

Ken Peters in 1952

Ken Peters of Tehachapi in 2012. Photo by Shirley Givens

It was Saturday, May 31, 1952. The warm weather Tehachapi had experienced for several days refused to hold for just one more day. It was a cold and blustery day and the locals were somewhat doubtful about going to a softball game in such inclement weather. But go, they did, to watch the Los Angeles Rams and the Monolith Cementers battle it out in the cold and wind. The game was played as a cancer charity game, put on by the Tehachapi-Monolith Cancer Fund Drive Committee.

Not to be confused with the professional football team of the same name, the L.A. Rams softball team was very popular and played in games throughout Southern California.

A meal prepared prior to the game was served to both teams and some of the guests, at the guest cottage in Monolith. The meal was prepared by Mrs. Isabel Cervantes and Mrs. Gladys Johnson and the hot food was well received by the players, as fuel for the game.

Those who braved the cold saw one of the best games ever played in Tehachapi. You've heard of dueling banjos, well dueling pitchers was the name of the game on that blustery afternoon.

Jess Peters of the Cementers and Jim Foley of the Rams were the dueling pitchers. Foley was superb in striking out Monolith batters. Throughout the nine inning game he struck out 18 batters. Peters was almost as effective as he struck-out 11 Rams.

The Cementers were able to pickup only two hits off the slants of Foley. Jack Hisaw, Cementer second baseman, garnered a hit in the first inning and Ken Peters collected a hit in the second inning. Rams first baseman, Ed Roginson and business manager, collected two hits in three trips to the plate. Don Klosterman, Loyola University passing artist, picked up two hits. Verle Lillywhite of the San Francisco 49-ers and Dean Schneider of USC collected two hits off Peters.

Three autographed softballs, signed by both teams were won by lucky spectators, who were now very happy they had braved the wind.

A dance was held at George Lake Chevrolet (located where Tehachapi Automotive and The Fez Cafe are now), with all proceeds going to the cancer fund. A band from Edwards Air Force Base, the "Down Beat Five" provided music for the dance and the crowd agreed it was the best band to have ever played in Tehachapi. The game and the evening gala netted $500 for the cancer fund and was the most money raised for the cause in several years.

The L.A. Rams expressed a desire to return for second game. Team members said they had never been treated so well, when visiting another town, as they had been treated in Tehachapi.

Ken Peters, catcher for the Monolith Cementers, still lives in Tehachapi with his wife, Shirley. (You can see them depicted during their dating years in the mural on the side of the Beekay Theatre). Ken's brother Jess, now deceased, was the pitcher for the Monolith Cementers.

Ken Peters shared this bit of Tehachapi history with Tehachapi News readers-- thank you, Ken!

Just two months after the baseball game, on July 21, 1952, at 4:52 a.m., the most powerful earthquake in the United States, since the earthquake in San Francisco in 1906, took its toll in Tehachapi. The epicenter measured 7.7 on the Richter scale, centered on the White Wolf Fault. Everyone who lived in Tehachapi during the quake remembers that date very well.

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