Through the decades, there have been many minor leagues in the state of Texas. The Lone Star League was one of them. The first one saw the light in 1927 and would last two seasons before disbanding during the 1929 season.
The Lone Star League that started in 1927 was rated as a class D league. The league would finish the 1929 season before folding. The term lone star refers to the state of Texas as that state has one star in its state flag. All of the teams were located in Texas.
Corsicana, TX: Corsicana Oilers 1927-1928, moved from Texas Association 1923-1926
Longview, TX: Longview Cannibals 1927, moved from East Texas League 1923-1926
Marshall, TX: Marshall Indians 1927
Mexia, TX: Mexia Gushers 1927-1928, moved from Texas Association 1923-1926
Palestine, TX: Palestine Pals 1927-1929, moved from Texas Association 1925-1926
Paris, TX: Paris Snappers 1927; Paris Colts/Rustlers 1928
Sherman, TX: Sherman Snappers 1929
Texarkana, TX: Texarkana Twins 1927-1929, moved from East Texas League 1924-1926
Tyler, TX: Tyler Trojans 1927-1929, moved from East Texas League 1924-1926
The Lone Star League was a result of the merger of two class D loops: The East Texas League and the Texas Association. The Lone Star League was home to several former and future Major League players.
With the foundation of the Lone Star League, T. H. Fisher of Paris, president of the East Texas League, was elected president. Fisher faced serious problems; last-place Longview had to disband after a month of play, and the league voted to drop the Marshall Indians who were in seventh place, to keep the schedule balanced. Tyler won the first half of the season, while Mexia prevailed in the second half, but the Tyler Trojans triumphed in the playoff to beat the Mexia Gushers four games to two, to claim the league’s first pennant. The league’s best player was Carl Reynolds, an East Texan from LaRue, who was the hitting titlist (.376) and stolen-base champ (32) while playing for Palestine. Reynolds finished the season with the Chicago White Sox and hit a .302 lifetime average with five major league clubs during a thirteen-year career. Tyler pitcher Willie Underhill (13-6) finished the year with the Cleveland Indians, but he did not remain in the major leagues.
The 1927 home run champion of the Lone Star League was Tom Pyle, a lifelong minor league journeyman. Pyle played his entire 18-year career in the minor leagues. He played his final game in 1938 with the Pensacola Pilots of the Southeastern League, an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers in this class B circuit. In this sole game for the Pilots, he went 0 for 1 after which he was released at the age of 44.
The six teams that finished the season in 1927 carried on in 1928. First-half winner Palestine defeated Texarkana, victor in the second half to claim the pennant. Tyler outfielder Charlie Dorman was the best hitter, hitting .408 with thirty-nine homers and thirty-nine doubles to lead the league in each category. His contract was sold after 114 games to Cleveland, where he hit .364 in twenty-five games but he somehow never would return in the major leagues again.
Only Palestine, Sherman, Texarkana, and Tyler joined the Lone Star League in 1929. But since a four-team league did not interest fans, the play lasted only a few weeks before the circuit disbanded on May 16, with the Tyler Trojans and the Palestine Pals leading the standings. When clubs folded. the players went on the market. In those days, the sale of the contracts of promising players to teams in higher classifications was a primary source of income for independent minor-league owners.
One of the players of the Lone Star League that played in the Major Leagues was George Jackson. Jackson’s first steps in pro ball were in 1906 as he joined the Jackson Senators of the Cotton States League.
In 1911 Jackson was signed by the Boston Braves, then named Hustlers. Only in 1912, the team would adopt the Braves moniker for the first time. Jackson would last three seasons with the club of which his first season was the most remarkable as he hit .347. In the following two seasons, his numbers would decline. After his Major League years, he had an extensive minor league career. In previous years he had played for the Tyler Trojans but turned his back to the team in 1926. He would re-join the team when it joined the Lone Star League in 1927. In that season, he batted a modest .294. The next year, Jackson would return as the team’s player/ manager, guiding the team to a third place with a 67-53 record, trailing first-place Texarkana by seven games.
A second edition of the Lone Star League would emerge in 1947 but more about that in the next edition of “Minor League history”.