Minor League history: Eastern Kansas League

A very short one this time. There is hardly anything to find about this defunct league. After a lot of digging, this was the best that I could offer. Because of the lack of information and photos it is rather unadorned.

The Eastern Kansas League was a Class D league that was founded in 1910, a period in which the state of Kansas had two leagues already (the Central Kansas League , founded in 1908 and the Kansas State League, founded in 1909) and started to play on June 18 of that year. Not counting shifts to other cities, the state of Kansas had 24 cities and towns where professional baseball was played at that time. Despite plans to continue with the league in 1911, the league only lasted the 1910 season.
The Eastern Kansas League contained six teams of which Holton moved to Blue Rapids on August 25 and two others (Horton and Marysville disbanded on September 1.
The location of the Eastern Kansas League teams had justified another name: Northeastern Kansas League, as all teams were located in the Northeastern part of the state.

Cities represented:

Sabetha, KS: Sabetha
Seneca, KS: Seneca
Hiawatha, KS: Hiawatha Indians
Marysville, KS: Marysville
Horton, KS: Hortonf
Holton, KS: Holton
Blue Rapids, KS: Blue Rapids

Eventually the Sabetha baseball club won the sole championship of the league with a nine-game lead over Seneca. Perhaps it wasn’t strange that Sabetha won the pennant as the team had two players on its roster with the best batting average (Robert Kahl, .322 ) and with the most hits (Bill Barackman, 74). According to one source, Sabetha played a series vs the winner of the  M.I.N.K. League (Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas League), the Falls City Colts, for an overall Kansas – Nebraska championship. The result of this series is not known.

The Holton/Blue Rapids franchise was managed by Ted McGrew. He was a lifetime player manager in his younger years. In later years (starting in 1919) he focused on umpiring which resulted in calling games in the Major Leagues in 1930, 1931, 1933 and 1934. Later in his life, McGrew scouted for several MLB teams . He discovered Pee Wee Reese (of the Brooklyn Dodgers) and Alvin Dark, who was a journey man and played for several teams: Boston Braves, New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Braves.

Newspaper article about McGrew as an umpire

During the off season there was a lot of speculation in the local newspapers about teams that would be added to the league. On February 10, 1911 the owners of the Eastern Kansas League teams met in Hiawatha to discuss the next season. During the meeting the possibility of two new towns to be added to the league: Atchinson and Leavenworth. But eventually the league never made it to the start of the 1911 season. Early May the league folded due to problems with the lease of the ballparks in Sabetha and Horton.


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