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Morgan County Baseball - The REd Devil of Devil's Slide

Article Date: 
3 June, 2011 (All day)

 

The following is Part Six in a series, The History of Baseball in Morgan County.  Most information included here has been taken from the book Baseball in Morgan County: The Early Years, by Paul Stewart.

Most Morgan County residents know the geographical landmark of Devil’s Slide.  However, what many residents do not realize is that in the Forties, Devil’s Slide was home to a very talented and powerful baseball team.  

This article has been taken verbatim from the book, Remember Devil’s Slide? by Maxine R. Wright, pages 95-98. 

The Red Devils of Devil’s Slide

In the words of Reed Richards, “Devil’s Slide was a baseball oriented town, and I don’t mean maybe!  We have reason to be proud of all the ball players who wore the Red Devil on his left breast and on his cap.”

Reed expressed so well the sentiments of every member of the community without exception.  The baseball team must have had its beginning in the early days of the town. The first ball diamond was located just across the road from the store.  The new ball park was Company owned and located about one mile east of town just across the road from the Cement Plant.

The property, part of that known as the Beesley Meadows, lay in a miniature valley of lush pasture grass at the base of the mountain and separated by the Lost Creek, with willows lining its banks and clumps of cottonwood trees growing in abundance to provide ample shady nooks.  The ball diamond was in the center of the opening, leaving plenty of space all around for spectators and parking of cars, as the years passed and people could acquire them.  A grandstand was built on the north side, and dugouts were made to house the players while the games were in action. 

In the beginning the Company organized, sponsored and financed the ball team.  Both R. R. Dorland and Vego Jensen, both early plant superintendents, employed men who were experienced ball players--some of them former processionals or semiprofessionals.  These men were hired strictly for their ability to play ball but were expected to earn their wages working somewhere in the Company.  They were given special privileges, such as leaving the job if a game was scheduled when they were on shift and for regular practices.

Other team members were plant employees who had a desire to play and had asked for a job for just that reason.  They practiced faithfully a couple of days a week, and some of them became very proficient.  The names of the first ball team as remembered are:  Grover Summers, Theodore Hennefer, Billy West, Bant Francis, Frank Ronk, Milt Pierce, Fred (Fritz) Lundberg, Chet Allen, Glen Thomas, Leland Robison, Berg Nelson and Ervin Hennefer.  Some may have been forgotten....

The ball uniforms and caps of cream-color flannel were trimmed with red piping, had red devils appliquéd on the shirt fronts and a large DS on the left sleeve.  They were furnished by the Company.  By 1917-1920 that was discontinued, and the club was organized on its own with Thomas L. Ball serving as Manager, then Bert Dickson took over the responsibility.

The Red Devils competed with ball teams up and down the Weber River.  As time passed, the older players retired from active play, and young men took their places.  The competition took on a larger scope.  The Red Devils joined leagues and competed with teams in the Ogden, Salt Lake and Davis County areas.  The towns-people followed the team wherever their games were scheduled to cheer them on to victory.

On those days the town was all but deserted.  The business houses were closed with the exception of the U.S. Post Office, the drug store, and perhaps the doctor’s office.  A few games were lost but more were won.  The very epitome of the baseball series was reached in 1940 when the Red Devils, though rated as underdogs, downed a powerful Denver and Rio Grande Team from Salt Lake and won the Utah State Semi-Pro Championship.  They received front page coverage on the sports pages of the newspapers, and the team received special praise in the 1941 National Semi-Pro Record Book.

Names of those Semi-Pro Champs were Blaine Fernelius, Harvey J. Porter, Ab Wright, Lew Wright, Wilard Nielson.  Non-playing members of the organization were J.L. Boatright, Manager; Verland Hennefer, Sponsor; Walter Ulrich scorekeeper;  Ted Ulrich and Pal Lord, mascots.  R.R. Dorland, Plant Superintendent of the Company, was on hand for the presentation of the beautiful trophy with Erroll Eddington, Chairman of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, officiation.  The Red Devils won many trophies through the years, and as each one was brought home, it was proudly displayed in the big window of the drug store.