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The Newark Bears

By Bill Newman

        The Bears were the local baseball team and a member of the International League.  In 1937 the Bears fielded a team so good they were called "The Wonder Bears".  As I remember it, all the players on that team went to the major leagues in 1938 or 1939.

        One player that was supposed to play for the N. Y. Yankees failed to show-up so that he could take a test to become a policeman in Buffalo, N.Y.  He passed the test and that ended a promising baseball career.

        Another player, a catcher reported to the major league team.  At the start of a game he failed to show-up on the field even though he had been in the locker room.  Another player went to the locker room and found the catcher dead.  He had slashed his wrists for reasons known only to himself.

        The Newark team sold what was called "A Knothole Ticket" for grade school children.  The ticket entitled one to see eight games and cost a big five cents.  It was for eight games designated by the team, not a "your choice" deal.

        After each game on "Knothole Day", there would be hundreds of boys waiting at the players exit.  I was part the crowd one day and when I saw my hero come out I rushed over to him.  My hero was a pitcher named Vito Tamulis.

        I stuck a scorecard and a pencil in Vito's face and asked for his autograph.  After signing my card Vito held on to it.  He looked down at me and said, "Hey kid, I bet I know something you don't know."

        "What". I asked.

        "You're standing on my foot", he answered.

        The Newark games were broadcast on station WNEW by Earl Harper.  Harper was an early Mel Allen.  Would anyone like to try for the gold ring and guess what WNEW stood for.  Time's up, We Newarkers Eat Wheaties.

        Wheaties are still around today but where are the Newark Bears?  At one time the Bears had seven of the eight regulars in the line-up hitting over .300 and three of those hitting over .400.  Newark had Bob Seeds, who hit seven consecutive homeruns.  Though it was minor league ball I wonder if those records still stand.

        There was an attraction called "Father & Son Night".  At these games everyone got in free that accompanied their father that had bought a ticket. This was better than "Knothole Day".  It was just a matter of standing around the entrance and saying "Hey Mr., will you take me in?"  Who could say no to a young boy wanting to see a baseball game.

        I wonder if there are father and son nights today.  Seems like a pretty good idea to me.


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