Blog: Recall of the Capahas of 1947 (02/08/22)
Last week’s blog told you the story of an alumni baseball game in 1972 featuring many former Capahas players. Some of those who played baseball started in the 1930s and 1940s.
Although the blog does not mention it, another article published in 1972 to generate interest in the homecoming game, a benefit for cerebral palsy, spoke at length about the Capahas’ impressive season in 1947.
Here it is, along with a photograph originally published during that banner year.
Posted August 1, 1947 in southeastern Missouri:
Posted June 28, 1972 in southeastern Missouri:
CAPAHAS THE FORMER STARS IN ’47
By Ray Owen
Money issues are a freelance baseball manager’s biggest concern, especially when state tournament time turns and the search for funds for weekend trips begins. And, if a team wins state honors, it’s at the nationals, where even longer trips are required.
It was one of the worries Lewis “Lou” Weiss faced 25 years ago when his Cape Girardeau Capa suddenly found himself in the final of the state tournament, which was being held in Sedalia.
But this problem was short-lived. After winning eight of nine games in the state competition, the Southeast Missourians were sentimental favorites in Sedalia, and the host city “adopted” them.
“If you can’t get the money to go to Cape Girardeau Nationals, we’ll send you,” Sedalia town officials and residents shouted.
“And, if that happens,” Weiss pointed out, “we will carry the Sedalia banner to Nationals.”
This does not happen.
First, Cape Girardeau businessmen answered the call, saying they would “participate” to foot the bill.
Second, the Capahas lost the championship game, a 6-3 decision to Kirksville.
But it was one of the great years for the Cape Girardeau Capahas, one in which they lost just three games, including two in national competition.
Weiss, a right-handed big pitcher who had toured the pro ranks in farm club circles, did some of the big chunk for the Caps, and another guy who rose to fame for the Triple-A farm club, Roy Smith , provided the Girardeans with a solid one-two corp mound.
Smith, acclaimed by many former Girardians as one of the best pitchers to ever come out of the SEMO region, left Sedalia with his own trophy, for his performance, which included five wins. Capaha Jack Behrens, an outfielder, won the hitting trophy, blasting opponents for a hefty .340 mark in the 10-game series.
Weiss, who was the loser of the championship match, didn’t fare too badly either. He threw three shutouts between the first and last game of the tournament.
game of old
Weiss and Smith will return to baseball this weekend as opponents in a three-inning alumni game to be held at Capaha Park in a cerebral palsy benefit game.
The match will precede a contest between the current Capahas and a strong team from Carbondale, Illinois, which includes several members of a strong team from Southern Illinois University.
Tickets for the event can be purchased at several commercial establishments in Cape Girardeau, including Howard’s Sports Shop and University Shop.
Playing time for seniors: 6:30 p.m.
The Capahas faced anyone who would face them in 1947 and did not lose a game after returning from the state tournament.
“Hot Box” Man
Leon Brinkopf, who coached the Cape Central Tigers to numerous SEMO championships and a state tournament title, managed the “hot-box” corner at third base. With him on the field were Marty Radmer at shortstop, Mel Schwab at first base and Bill Crabtree at second base, where he shared duties with Jack Hinton.
Weldon Hager was an infielder, as was Albert “Junior” Gross, who also handled the catch whenever Weiss was on the mound. When Smith was throwing, Weiss was often the catcher.
In the outfield were Morris Gains, Jack Behrens, Pete Schwab and/or Quinton Keller. Bill Upton was one of the best utility players, along with Garnett Williamson.
Defeat in the first match
The Capahas entered the state tournament with just one loss, but fell to the Kansas City Sugar Creeks, 4-1.
At home, the townspeople hoped the team would win a game or two, just to “look good”.
The Capahas won. They beat the Kansas City Tuxedo Bears, 6-0, then shut out Kansas City’s TWA team. Then the Lawson Hybrids fell, 5-1.
In a big game against the Capital, the Capahas emerged 2-1 winners, as Smith went no-hitter for seven innings.
Leon Brinkopf singled, Weiss tripled and Morris hit a sacrifice fly to give the Girardeans their two runs in the seventh inning.
Jeff City scored in the ninth, but only once.
Then followed wins over John Baker of Kansas City, 9-0, over the KC Burnetts, 2-1, and Sugar Creek again, 9-0.
Towards the final
“We only made four mistakes after that opener,” commented manager Weiss. “And, we were hitting the ball.” Pete Schwab was .376 after the first eight games, Weiss was .357 and Behrens was .333.
Capaha pitching had allowed just seven runs, including four in Game 1.
Now was the big one, against Kirksville, who had gone through five games to reach the double elimination final.
Smith was the starter. A party of about 250 Cape Girardeans had traveled the 310 miles to Sedalia. A total of 1,500 fans were present for the game.
The Capahas pounced on the offerings of Kirksville southpaw J. Buban for four runs in the first and sent him to the showers in the second with two more runs.
It was the first time this year that Buban was “chased” and his first loss.
In total, the Capahas had 11 hits, including three triples and a double. Roy Smith limited Kirksville to six hits and the final score was 9-2.
Marty Radmer had a triple and a single for the Caps, Schwab had two singles and Smith added a single and a double.
Now the Caps had to wait a week for the championship game against the same team.
The Capahas had little rest. They were to return the following evening against the same team.
Weiss was the pitcher. Kirksville scored it for three runs in the first, when a Kirksville batter battered a three-run homer. When it was all over, the hosts were down 6-3.
Smith and Weiss were each selected to the All-Tournament Team. Just like Schwab, Leon Brinkopf and Marty Radmer.
It was finished. Kirksville was the champion, having played only six games. The Capahas were the runners-up, having to fight from the losing ranks, to play 10 games, finishing at 8-2.
It was a great year for the Capahas, this 1947 season.