More About Yogi

I must say I am quite excited about a recent comment from Joan responding to my Blog about Yogi Berra’s playing days in Cranston, RI.
As you may recall, he played under the name of Cusano. Joan noted that her father, Jack O”Donnell, was the young coach of that team, The Cranston Chiefs, and that her brother, Jack, Jr. had the scrapbooks of those days.
Yogi used the name Cusano because that was his mother’s maiden name.
Nonetheless, Jack will arrange to have me see those scrapbooks when he gets them to his sister.
The arrangements are under way, and I will go with dear friend and baseball aficionado, Jack.
Needless to say, I am quite excited.
More later…

So, Do You Want to Know who Crash Davis Was?

I mentioned Crash in yesterday’s post because he, along with Yogi Berra, played in the New England Baseball League.

Lawrence Columbus “Crash” Davis’ name inspired that of the main character of the 1988 movie Bull Durham.
Davis earned the nickname “Crash” at age 14 when he collided with a teammate when chasing down a fly ball.
After graduating from Duke, Davis played three seasons for the Philadelphia Athletics, batting .230 in 148 games.
He was drafted into the United States Navy in 1942 amid World War II, and was assigned to Harvard University where he helped run the ROTC program.
Davis also coached Harvard’s baseball and squash teams.
When he was discharged from the Navy in 1946, Davis returned to Durham to begin graduate school at Duke and play for the Durham Bulls, then a part of the Carolina League.
Davis would play in the minor leagues, with teams including the Reidsville Luckies and the Raleigh Capitals, until 1952.
And what about the Cranston Chiefs??

Davis died on August 31, 2001.

 

Yogi Plays Rhode Island

Yogi, center,a Merchant Marine

Yogi Berra played in Rhode Island. It is an interesting story that intrigues me because just about any baseball fan of the previous era knows this Rhode Island baseball story.
I first heard it from my father when I was a kid.
“When Yogi was stationed at Groton, CT as a Merchant Marine, he played right here in Rhode island, in Cranston, at the Stadium.
He played under an assumed name because he was not supposed to play…in the service, ya know.”
The Providence Chiefs, sometimes known as the Cranston Chiefs,

Cranston Chiefs Program

were a Rhode Island based minor-league baseball club in the class-B New England League.
From 1946-47 the club was known as the Chiefs, and its team logo was a fire chief. In 1948 and 1949 the team was known as the Providence Grays.
My friend, Jack F, one of the great baseball fans of knowledge had a book (no surprise) and sent me a chapter.
In the book, “The New England league; A Baseball History, 1885-1949” written by Charles Bevis, there is further mention of Yogi and The Chiefs. Bevis writes,
“In 1945, there was rampant use of professional ball players who used assumed names to participate in New England League games.
The two most famous ball players to use alias were Crash Davis and Yogi Berra. Players on leave from nearby naval bases at New London and Quonset played under assumed names.
At Cranston Stadium, for example, a guy named Cusano kept hitting home runs for the Cranston Chiefs and few people knew that his real name was Yogi Berra, a top Yankee prospect.”
The city updated the field and raised the fence 30 ft because one day Berra… uhhh Cusano… hit a ball 500 feet off the roof of the Cranston Bible Chapel in centerfield.
The play was very good in those other professional leagues, sometimes matching or surpassing that of the major leagues because so many players were in the service.
Bevis recounts, “On July 30th, Pawtucket nearly defeated the NY Yankees in an exhibition game, narrowly losing 4-3, before a crowd of 14,000 at Pawtucket Stadium.”
What baseball history. Berra, one of the greatest Yankees of all played here in Cranston, RI, under the name of Cusano.
And a Pawtucket team that almost beat the Yankees.
What great stories.  I love them.