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Baseball in Lansing

Before the Lugnuts

The constant in this story is John A. Morrissey, who shined for his local Lansing team when he was 19 in 1895. After a brief stint in the majors (at Cincy), Jack owned, managed, and starred for Lansing's most successful teams.

Probably Lansing thought of itself as a baseball town from the late 1890s through the early 1920s. It's thinking of itself that way again, these days.



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MWL Fan's Guide

Seasonal Summaries

Year Lg  Cl Nickname W  L   Pct Pl(Tm) Manager
1889 MSL    none     42 56 .429  4(6)  W. H. Mumby
1890 MSL    none      4 17 .190  6(6)  Al Manassau
              league disbanded June 10
              (another source says 5W/16L)
1895 MSL    Senators 56 36 .609  2(6)  ? Robinson
1897 MSL    none?     ?  ?  ???  2(?)  John Peck
              league disbanded late July
1902 MSL  D Senators 35 62 .361  5(6)  Harry Bowie
              league disbanded late August
1907 SML  D Senators 46 57 .447 5T(8)  Jack Morrissey
1908 SML  D Senators 60 65 .480  6(8)  Jack Morrissey
1909 SML  D Senators 55 69 .441  6(8)  Jack Morrissey
1910 SML  D Senators 87 52 .626 1T(8)  Jack Morrissey
              lost playoff to Kalamazoo Celery Eaters
1911 SML  C Senators 79 55 .590  2(8)  Jack Morrissey
1912 SML  D Senators 63 62 .504  4(8)  Jack Morrissey
1913 SMA  D Senators 54 68 .439  7(8)  Jack Morrissey
1914 SMA  C Senators 33 35 .485  ---   Jack Morrissey
              finished season as Mt. Clemens Bathers (63-80)
              league disbanded after season
1921 CL   B Senators 65 63 .508  3(6)  Fred Hunter
1922 CL   B Senators 60 67 .472  5(6)  Fred Hunter
1940 MSL  C Lancers  44 62 .415  6(6)  Jess Altenburg
              affiliated with St. Louis Cardinals
1941 MSL  C Senators 35 78 .310  6(6)  Danny Taylor/Russ Wein
              league disbanded after season
              but Lansing disbanded first....

MSL = Michigan State League
SML = Southern Michigan League
SMA = Southern Michigan Association
CL = Central League


Miscellaneous Information

Overall Won/Lost record: 818/904 (.475) (this total lacks the 1897 season)

Best big league career:

  • Probably Lansing native Vic Saier (1910).
  • Les Bell (1922) & Dick Sisler (1940) had similar careers.
  • Danny Taylor (1941) had a similar career before playing for Lansing.
  • Bud Fowler (1895) may have been better than these four, but the color barrier kept him from proving it.

Ballparks

  • 1889-90 Capital City Park
  • 1895 Parshall Park ("Old State Lot")
    • Sunday games were played at Waverly Park (an amusement park, west of town on the Grand River)
  • 1897 Fairgrounds Driving Park
  • 1902 Fairgrounds Driving Park
  • 1907-14 League Park ("Old State Lot")
  • 1921-22 Community Field ("Central League Park")
  • 1940-41 Municipal Park

Notable seasons

  • 1895
    • Jack Daley (.397, 124 R, 143 H, 25 HR)
    • Jack Morrissey (.362)
  • 1908
    • Jack Morrissey (141 hits)
    • George Pearce (Pierce?) (298 strikeouts)
  • 1910
    • Vic Saier (175 hits)
    • Homer "Slab" Warner (23 wins)
  • 1911
    • Homer "Slab" Warner (231 strikeouts, 26 wins [SML record])
  • 1912
    • Jack Onslow (.385)
    • Al "Bull" Durham (25 HR [partly w/Bay City; SML record])
  • 1913
    • T.H. Nellis (146 hits)
  • 1921
    • Lawrence Reno (133 strikeouts, 18 wins)
    • Charles Miller (.348)
  • 1922
    • Les Bell (.329)
  • 1940
    • team BA was .294
    • Gerald Burmeister (.360, 15 HR, 86 RBI)
    • Norm Peterson (.329)
    • Dick Sisler (.322)
  • 1941
    • Everett Robinson (.345, 93 RBI)

Notable games

  • September 25, 1910
    • Lansing defeated Flint three times to clinch 1st place tie
  • June 8, 1913
    • Lansing lost to Battle Creek 6-0 despite 11 hits
      • 2nd inning: double, triple, single; two outs at home plate

Sources

  • Peter Filichia, Professional Baseball Franchises (NY: Facts on File, 1993)
  • Joanne Gerstner, "Losing Took its Toll," Lansing State Journal, March 28, 1996, p. 1C
  • Marc Okkonen, Minor League Baseball Towns of Michigan (??: Thunder Bay Press, 1997)
  • Leonard Peterson, "Before the Lugnuts," Metropolitan Lansing, Fall-Winter 1995, pp. 32-35
    • I also have some delightful background material which was prepared by Peterson.
  • Miles Wolff & Lloyd Johnson, Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (Durham: Baseball America, 1997)

Predictably, there are a few inconsistencies from source to source.

The Okkonen book is a terrific source for Michigan teams, and the Wolff & Johnson Encyclopedia is an essential element of any minor league baseball library.


A loosely-related note: Jack Morrissey's big league career featured a rather famous run-in with Honus Wagner on May 7, 1903. When Morrissey took offense at Wagner's attempt to kick the ball loose on a failed attempt to steal second, the resulting brawl resulted in a suspension for Wagner.


This is easily the team I know best; that's partly proximity, and partly circumstance. You might not believe how much I know about the 1941 team....

This summary originated as the May 22, 1999, Midwest League Tidbit on the Midwest League Mailing List. It was a response to a question posted by Dan Rivkin of the Chicago Tribune.



Lansing, Michigan
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The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

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