Friday, July 28, 2023

Vietnam Vets Honored

Local military veterans who served between 1955 and 1975 attend a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event at the Shelby County Courthouse Annex last week. Front row, left to right: Rick Meyers, Mike Jaussaud, Tom McQueary, Jake Odell and Ronald Vinson. Back row: Robert Westerman, James W. Montgomery, Fred Kaiser, Richard Myers, Dave Sidebottom, Russell Pierce and Jim Kuwamoto. | photo by JACK BOYCE

City's 'Field of Dreams' on Meridian Street

The site of the former semi-pro Shelbyville Nationals diamond is still used for baseball. | photo by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS

from the archive of DAVID CRAIG

There was a period in the history of Shelby County when everything moved at a slower pace. This was a time when people stayed close to their community and found entertainment close to home.

On Sunday, this would mean a full-course meal followed by a lazy afternoon. There was always a relative to visit or, during the summer, a baseball game in the afternoon.

Going through old editions of local papers, one will come across references to semi-pro teams that played in Shelbyville. Many of the surrounding small communities also had semi-pro teams. They provided inexpensive weekend entertainment.

One of the earliest teams I found mentioned in the local papers was the Shelbyville Clippers. In 1883, the Clippers built a field near the intersection of Michigan and Amos roads. At the time, this land was the farm of Joseph Habig.

An advertisement appearing in the local papers during the last week of August 1883 announces the upcoming schedule for the Clippers. The Connersville team was to be in Shelbyville on Sept. 2. There was to be a matchup between the Taylorsville nine and the locals the next day. The games were to begin at 3 p.m.

Having Begg's Distillery bordering the diamond no doubt added to the enthusiasm of the fans.

Much has been said about the old Negro Leagues and the exceptional quality of baseball they played. The Shelbyville Tugs was a Negro League team formed in Shelbyville in 1911, with an office located at 115 E. Jackson St. Home games were played at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.

An article in the Shelbyville Democrat on March 29, 1921, tried to build support for the Tugs. Most of the team consisted of local talent, but the owner had under contract Virgil Berry from Terre Haute and Clifford Johnson from Indianapolis, with the out-of-towners signed to add depth to the Tugs lineup.

The Bruce Ramblers were contemporaries of the Tugs. In an article appearing in the Daily Democrat on Sept. 4, 1912, a major game is announced: The Ramblers were to do battle with the Mount Jackson Athletics.

The Athletics were the current state champions of Indiana. The Mount Jackson team defeated the ABCs of Indianapolis to garner the state title. Some of the Athletics were signed to the Indianapolis American Association team for the 1913 season.

The curtain-raiser was to be a wild battle between the Tugs and the Junior ABCs of Indianapolis. The games were played at Oldfield park in Shelbyville.

In 1921, the Shelby Nationals were formed. This club would leave the city a landmark that is still in use today. The "old" athletic field on South Meridian Street was built for the Nationals.

The ownership of the ballclub opened the park in 1921. The project manager was L. J. Hord. The club agreed to let the Shelbyville High School team use the facility for home games. The National owners also agreed to the construction of a track around the edge of the field for high school use.

Apparently, local support was weak for the Nationals during the 1921 season. In an editorial in the Democrat dated July 9, 1921, lack of fan support was questioned. The team was loaded with local talent and had a winning record.

The Nationals were around for the opening of the 1922 season, so the profits must have been sufficient to continue operation. Improvements were made to the diamond and grandstand.

A ditch was constructed from the field to the city ditch nearby. This solved the problem of water standing on the playing field.

If you travel south on Meridian Street, the site of the Nationals diamond can still be found today. Young players from the Boys Club use the field now, many dreaming of becoming pros.


  • Second Baptist Church, 34 W. Hendricks St., Shelbyville, is hosting a Community Cook-out tomorrow, July 29, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., featuring food, giveaways, school supplies, and games.
  • STATE NEWS: The West Baden Hotel atrium is open again to the public after three weeks of construction. The atrium’s glass was damaged due to severe weather last month. French Lick Resort officials said crews have worked to put up coverings on the windows while they wait for construction plans to be finalized. In the meantime, the atrium has been deemed safe enough to reopen the space to the public. Crews will also have to replace over 50 other roofs, some windows and a few street lamps along the property. The carpet in the atrium also suffered some damage and will have to be replaced. The carpet will most likely be replaced by Labor Day. (Indiana Public Media)

This Month in Shelby County History

2018: 4-H members Hannah Everhart, Daniel Kyle, Elexie New, Hannah Sullivan, Caleb Platt and Dani Bassett each won their individual showmanship competitions at the Shelby County Fair.

2013: Ethan Runnebohm, a 2013 Shelbyville High School graduate, was named to play on the South roster in the North-South All Star football classic, to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium. Runnebohm was a two-time All-State defensive lineman for the Golden Bears. Triton Central's Dakota Nelson was also selected to play for the South squad.

2008: Charles and Kathleen (Meal) Kuhn of Waldron celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Mr. Kuhn had retired from Rush County Stone Co. and Mrs. Kuhn had retired from Waldron Health Care Home. The Kuhns had owned the Health Care Home for many years. Also, Rev. John and Patricia (Shay) Stephenson celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Rev. Stephenson was the pastor of Apostolic Gospel Church in Franklin, and they were residents of Needham. Bob and Susie Tillison celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary as well. Mr. Tillison was a retired systems analyst. Mrs. Tillison had retired as a court reporter from Shelby County courts.

2003: Beaty Construction won the Shelby County Babe Ruth Senior League Tourney Championship. Members of the team were Seth Hirschauer, A.J. Poe, Kyle Knapp, Nick Flynn, Cody Phelps, Taylor Gaddie, Nick Everhart, Matt Mullen, Seth Berger, Michael Massey and Eric Howard. Coaches were Ken Berger, Darin Pilk and Bob Mullen.

1998: Columnist Kris Meltzer, who had recently headed the View From My Schwinn Precision Drill Team in the Waldron Fourth of July Parade, had either been in or been a spectator in every Waldron parade since 1960.

1993: The Knights of Columbus team won the Blue River Soccer Association's 12-and-under team championship. Members of the team were Ryan McPherson, Jonathan Everhart, Weston Carmony, Scott Richards, Brad Phillips, Matt Schiewer, Nissa Ericson, Jon Zeyak, Danny Carmony, Justin Tracy, Michelle Myers and Jeremi Thompson. Coaches were Dan and Doris Carmony.

1988: The trial of an Edinburgh man charged in the gruesome death of a Columbus man at a used car dealership was underway in Shelby County. The trial was expected to last three or four weeks.

1983: The Shelbyville Central Schools Board voted to sell the Charles Major school building to the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Center. The Lighthouse Center had bid $51,000 for the 61-year-old building at the northeast corner of Franklin and Pike Streets.  The school board stipulated a down payment to be received within two days. The only other bidder was Shelby Industries Inc., a group of businessmen organized to promote Shelby County industrial growth, which wanted to hold the property for a site for a proposed apartment complex for low-income senior citizens. In other action, the board accepted the resignation of high school Principal Ray Craft, who had become assistant commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

1978: The Shelbyville News published two recent examples of outstanding customer service. John Pennycuff and Mike Winzapfel had delivered a riding lawnmower in March to a family who wanted it "pronto" despite heavy snow on the ground. Also, Ray and John Wetnight Jr. worked well past normal closing time to mix "just the right color" of exterior paint for Maxine Hall. She was so pleased and happy that she spread the word around town, and the Wetnights named the paint "the blue Max."

1973: The Major Jester show horse barn was purchased by the Shelby County Historical Society and moved by truck onto the fairgrounds. The 30-by-40-foot barn would be used as a museum for displaying antique farm equipment and other early housewares and tools.

1968: Shelbyville High School cheerleaders won a first place ribbon at a Michigan competition. SHS cheerleaders included Betsy Warrick, Patty Owens, Jerrel DeWitt, and Deidre and Louise Brandenburger.

1963: Mayor Elmer McNay accepted an "Award of Honor" from the Indiana Traffic Safety Foundation since there had been no pedestrian deaths in the city in 1962. Attending a ceremony on behalf of the city were McNay, Russell Ballard, Ruth Talley, Roy Anderson, Lt. Charles Minor and Ernst Rehm.

1958: New York Central Railroad officials announced plans to discontinue operation of the old "Knickerbocker" train that arrived in Shelbyville daily. If approved, it would leave three passenger trains serving Shelbyville daily.

1953: Sgt. Roy Anderson was promoted to Shelbyville Police Lieutenant.

Pfc. James Titus, 23, died in Korea from wounds received in action. He died on his first day on the fighting lines. His brother, Medlin Titus, was a local World War II veteran.

1948: Former Shelbyville mayor and county auditor Thomas Hawkins, 89, died at his home in Florida. Hawkins had been Shelby County Democratic chair and then mayor in the years preceding World War I.

1943: Despite a nationwide labor shortage, most Shelby County companies were attracting sufficient labor, officials announced. A recent call to fill 117 farming and canning positions had attracted 93 candidates. However, hundreds more positions would be announced soon, they said, in order to fill massive military orders for corn and tomatoes.

1938: Several citizens and businesses contributed toward illuminating the swimming area in Little Blue River at Kennedy Park. John Degelow had volunteered to lifeguard at night and fireman Harley Heck said he would install the lights. Contributors included Todd-Bennett, J.G. DePrez Co., Ed Shook, Dalton Spurlin, Daily Democrat, The Republican, Fred Jones, Lowell Ash, Hicks Curry, Lee Ayers and Harold Dungan.

1933: Eight boys between the ages of 12 and 18 were selected to police Kennedy Park. The boys were authorized to keep order and were given badges. They would monitor the playground and maintain order in the parking area.

1928: Frances Sever, Waldron High School, and Grace Pitman, Boggstown High School, received full-ride scholarships to attend Indiana University. The girls had the highest two GPAs in the county. Sever had the highest marks in the county, earning a 95.31 percent average for all of her work. Other top students were Ivan Winfield Scott, Rosamand Vandergrift; Mary Marjorie Mull, Lois Faye Nicely and Wilma Pauline Jones, all from Shelbyville High School.

1923: Representatives of the local Better Business Bureau voiced opposition to City Council regarding proposed parking regulations downtown. One member said the proposed additional regulations were unnecessary and that "there is no need to assume city airs in Shelbyville." The council also discussed outdoor event activities to draw people downtown during the summer.