Woodworking again: What became of Cap Evans?

By Dave Wood
Posted 8/23/22

BY DAVE WOOD What became of Cap Evans? Last Friday one of the fastest baseball games ever played here, the nationally known Gilkerson’s Union Giants and Whitehall played to a 10-inning scoreless …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Woodworking again: What became of Cap Evans?


Last Friday one of the fastest baseball games ever played here, the nationally known Gilkerson’s Union Giants and Whitehall played to a 10-inning scoreless tie. The game was called when the two captains and Umpire Torgerson agreed that it was too dark to continue. The start of the game was delayed by rain, which also held attendance to about 800.

The Whitehall Times, Aug. 10, 1922 I wish my father were on earth to read this blurb which just reappeared in my hometown paper last week. In his dotage the old man talked endlessly about the amusements in our little town when he was growing up. I’ll bet dollars to donuts Pop saw this game when he was a 12-year-old, despite the thunderstorm that altered the crowd. “Only 800.”

“Yep,” he recalled. “When the Union Giants came to town we flocked to see their an tics. You could compare them to the Harlem Globetrotters for all the Hijinx they pulled.” He recalled how the Union nine would take to the field with only three of their players. A pitcher, a catcher, a first baseman. "The other black fellows would sit in the dugout playing cards while the Whitehall batters took their turns at the plate. One up, one out, two up, two out, three up, three out and the Giants were up to bat. There was one fellow, a real character by the name of “Cap” who always wore his cap on backwards. With the field empty, “Cap” would step up to the plate, bat a very high flyball that was headed for the boulevard above Melby Field. He’d lay his bat down, pick up his fielder's glove and lope up the boulevard to snag the ball, very close to the cemetery.”

“What happened to Gilkerson’s Union Giants, Pa?”

"Don't quite know. After the Depression hit in ‘29, times were tough and they just stopped showing. I married your mother and I went to work as a buttermaker at the creamery, $30 a month and I got every other Sunday ou. On the other Sundays, we didn't make butter, but my job was to sit in the of- fice, cradling a shotgun to ward ou farmers bent on creating a milk strike. I don’t know what the hell I’d have done if any cranky farmers showed up!

“Yep, times were tough, but not as bad for your mother and me as for some. At least we had jobs. Not so, thousands of people who rode the rails on the nearby Green Bay & Western, which was adjacent to fairway number 7. It wasn’t uncommon for hoboes to hop ou the train cars, cross the fairway and show up at the creamery with a rusty tin can to ask if they could have some skim milk, which we just dumped into the river in those days.”

“We always obliged, and your mother went even further by packing me extra bologna sandwiches and cookies or cake to share with the hoboes to go with their tin cans of skim milk.

“One day, a lanky fellow showed up at the churning room with his rusty tin can. He was shabby, wore a slouch hat, and was black. I poured him some skim, gave him a sandwich and a cookie, which he thanked me for, then gobbled them down.”

And then he asked me a question: "You live here? You know a guy named Barney Hammerstad?”

Of course Pa knew Barney, who owned the town’s shoe store and promoted athletic events. But how did this fellow know Barney Hammerstad?

“I knew him,” he replied, “because I used to come here to town and play ball against your town team back in the twenties. My name is ‘Cap’ Evans.”

"And then he was gone, heading back to the railroad across Number 7. God knows what happened to him.”

Not only God, Pa. After you passed on to the Great Outfield in the Sky and were buried in the cemetery near where your hero “Cap” Evans snagged his fly ball, I received a book about the history of the Negro leagues. “Cap” evidently survived the Great Depression, joined a major league black team and gets a good deal of attention in the book I received. Look it up in the heavenly stacks of heaven.

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.

Cap Evans, baseball, Dave Wood, opinion, column