Those who follow the national pastime currently are familiar with minor league teams that bear classifications of Rookie, A, AA, and AAA leagues. But these have not always been the standard. In fact, before 1946, the minors’ highest level was labeled Double-A. After the soldiers began coming home following WWII and the baseball rosters began expanding again, there needed to be some changes made. So, in 1946, the Triple-A classification was created and the three Double-A leagues (Pacific Coast League, International League, American Association) were automatically reclassified as Triple-A. What had been known as the Class A1 level, two rungs below the Majors and comprised of the Texas League and the Southern Association, was then renamed Double-A.
In 1946, Class A consisted of the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic or “Sally” League, and it would soon include the Western League (1947–1958), the Central League (1948–1951), and the Western International League (1952–1954).
The lower levels of the minors were ranked Classes B through D in descending order. With the exception of the 1952–1957 Open Classification experiment for the Pacific Coast League, this structure would remain intact through 1962. This arrangement allowed for a couple of hundred minor league teams to scattered all around the country, and “professional baseball” was a major form of entertainment.
One of those Class D teams was the Dayton Indians of the Ohio State League. In 1946 local business owners Dr. Warren G. Bradford, and concession operator Hy Shumsky established the Dayton Indians. The team played in the Ohio State League as a class D team. On the field they struggled, finishing near the bottom of the standings both years.
Recently, we obtained a scorecard from the 1946 season of those Dayton Indians, and we are glad to share some pictures of it with you here. The team was the Class “D” League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Their opponent for the game on the scorecard was the Middleton Rockets (affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds). In other words, this scorecard was for a in-state rivals match-up in every way!
And it is a well-preserved piece of baseball history. There is the typical, light one-time suit pocket crease down the middle, a couple of very small markings on the front, and some fading or coloration. But other than that, it is a beauty. The lineups and rosters are pasted in according to the practice of that day. Folded, it is 7’ x 11”, and fully opened it is 11” x 28.” This is a great piece of baseball history, and not something you see every day.
And that is kind of odd, in some fashion. The league, according to the schedule provided in the scorecard, played April 30 through September 8. The teams played 180 games! You would think scorecards from these events would be more plentiful.
Regardless, the ads and artwork on the piece speak to a different time in our baseball past. One year before Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier in the big league game, hundreds of teams employing thousands of people, kept professional baseball alive and accessible all across the country.
If you are interested in obtaining this piece of memorabilia, click HERE to see if it is still available.