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Centennial Celebration

Park celebration to include
vintage baseball

Madison baseball
'veterans' to play Indy
squad

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (July 2004) – John Paul Park is a place of fond memories for many Madison residents – especially those who have played baseball there. Throughout the park’s history both youth and adult teams have shared time on its single diamond. It has been the home field of the American Legion, an independent adult league, Little League and the Madison Cubs before the high school got its own field. It is now home to the Madison Parks Department adult softball league.

Armstrong, Lakeman

Photo by Ruth Wright

From left, Tim Armstrong and
Harold "Pee Wee" Lakeman.

In honor of the park’s baseball legacy and in celebration of its centennial, city personnel director Harold “Pee Wee” Lakeman and Madison police officer Tim Armstrong have organized a vintage baseball game.
Both Lakeman and Armstrong are among those who share in the park’s baseball legacy.
As Madison’s first full-time parks superintendent and first Little League president, Lakeman spent a lot of time there. “I know everybody that’s ever played there. If I don’t know them (personally), I’ve read about them,” Lakeman said.
Armstrong played at the park as a kid in Madison’s first Little League in 1969 when Lakeman was president. He later played there as a Shawe Memorial High School student. He is now coach of the Madison Cubs baseball team.
Lakeman and Armstrong will join a team of local baseball veterans who will play the Indianapolis Blues Vintage Base Ball Team during the John Paul Park Centennial Celebration.
The Indianapolis Blues Baseball Club was established in 2001. The team plays about 20 games each year against other vintage teams throughout the Midwest. The Madison game will be its first against a team not associated with the Vintage Base Ball Association, according to team manager Scott Anderson.

Indianapolis Blues

Photo provided

The Indianapolis Blues vintage "base ball"
team will play in Madison on July 31.

Because they are a vintage team, the Blues not only dress in period uniforms, they also play by rules that were established during the game’s infancy. The vintage game at John Paul Park will be played according to the rules of “Base Ball” adopted at the Dec. 10, 1867, meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players. In those days, when base ball was two words instead of one, the players pitched underhand and played without gloves.
Those who come out to watch the vintage game are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, sit back and enjoy what will be a nostalgic event reminiscent of games played there in the early 1900s.
“A lot of good players have played at John Paul Park,” said Lakeman.

John Paul Park Centennial Celebration
July 31, noon-5 p.m.

Events include:
• Ice Cream by Mundt’s
• Cake Walk
• Vintage Games Exhibit
• Historical Kiosk Display
• Narrative Oral History
• Music (Charlie Schnabel’s
• Dixie Land Band; Sweet Adolines)
• Antique Car Display
• Vintage Baseball Game at 1 p.m.
• Tree Planting by DAR

The list includes Madison native-turned pro Tommy Thevenow (1903-1957). Thevenow played professional baseball from 1924-1938 for several different teams including the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds, the Boston Bees and the St. Louis Cardinals. He played with the Cards in the 1926 World Series against Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees. The Cards won in seven games. Thevenow was ranked fourth MVP that year by the National Series League.
Other Madisonians who played first at John Paul Park before going on to major league baseball include George “Dutch” Distel (1896-1967), who played one year with the St. Louis Cardinals, and Larry Ray (1958), who played one season with the Houston Astros.
Also on the field at the park has been former Madison Cubs coach Gary O’Neal. An Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer, O’Neal led his team to 16 sectionals, five regionals, one semi-state and one state championship.
The vintage baseball game will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 31.

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