There was a time -- 12 years ago, say -- when I could have named each man in this photo by sight. Even, at the far right in the middle row, PR man Jerry Doggett, ex of WRR and, after his stint in Dallas, the longtime voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (with, natch, Vin Scully). But, see, back in the spring of '98 I wrote this cover story for the paper version of Unfair Park about the Dallas Eagles, which was, briefly in the mid-1950s, the farm team for the New York Giants.
This particular Eagles lineup topped the Texas League in 1953. It was full of the semi-famous and mostly forgotten, including former St. Louis Brown Willie Brown, whose claim to fame is that he and Hank Thompson were the first black teammates in the history of the major leagues; Eddie Knoblauch, uncle of Chuck and a hitting machine who refused to play in the majors; and others sadly relegated to the footnotes. Skipper L.D. "Dutch" Meyer, fourth from right in the middle row, told me back then he didn't remember much, but he sure as hell could recall this: "That 1953 team was the best."
Back when I wrote that original piece, tracking down a team photo wasn't easy. I don't think I found one, matter of fact. Not till today. By good fortune or dumb luck I just found it on eBay, where, moments ago, the auction ended without a single taker at $49.99. For years it sat in the Sporting News file cabinets, which were recently acquired by the Little Rock-based John Rogers Photo Archive -- which happens to be parting with several Dallas Eagles pictures, like this one of Don Taussig of the '57 squad.
Incidentally, that bald gentleman in the middle is Burnett Field namesake and Eagles owner Dick Burnett, who, in 1948, bought the Dallas Rebels from George Schepps for $550,000 -- at the time, the largest sum ever paid for a minor-league team. On the other side is the Sporting News caption ID'ng everyone in this picture, a significant slice of Dallas history no one wanted to buy today. Which won't stop me from trying to get it tomorrow.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.