Choose best cheap Vic Willis Pittsburgh Pirates jersey online, womens youth youth Vic Willis gear sale, buy Vic Willis jersey including ash/black/camo/gray/green/grey/Gold/pink/white/ colour.The more you buy, the more gifts you give, the best quality, and the fastest logistics.
The baseball history of Fulton County is one that boasts of many Major League players once gracing our local diamonds.
Between the A., J. & G’s of the New York State League (turn of the 20th century) and the Gloversville-Johnstown Glovers of the Canadian-American League (1939-1951), several dozen future/former Major Leaguers have suited up to compete on our local diamonds and interacted with the fans of our communities. As an added bonus, barnstorming Major League teams visiting for one game exhibitions often allowed local fans to interact with entire teams of Major League players and sometimes a future hall of famer or two.
The July 1907 visit to A., J. & G Park (Parkhurst Field) by the Boston Americans (Red Sox) brought with it the appearance of future Hall of Famer Cy Young. Later that same month, the Pittsburgh Nationals (Pirates) also appeared for a game, bringing future Hall of Fame players Honus Wagner, Vic Willis, Fred Clark and owner Barney Dreyfuss.
In 1923, Gloversville resident George Burns was an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds and brought the team to Parkhurst Field, which included two more future Hall of Famers in the form of Edd Roush and Eppa Rixey. Gloversville would again be treated to two Major League teams coming to town for exhibition games in 1937 and 1948 at Berkshire Park (Glovers Park). While the 1948 visit by the St. Louis Browns did not include any future Hall of Famers, the 1937 visit by the Pittsburgh Pirates brought five.
Future Hall of Famers on the field that day included manager Pie Traynor and Honus Wagner (as a coach), along with players Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner and Arkie Vaughn. While few can still recall the 1937 and 1948 visits, and nobody is still around from the earlier exhibitions, what many local residents will remember was a caravan of baseball stars that came to Johnstown on May 2 and 3, 1979. The caravan was hosted by Fred Rulison, CEO of F. Rulison and Sons and included ten of the greatest players in the history of baseball, seven who were either already in the Baseball Hall of Fame or would eventually be inducted.
Whitey Ford talks with area baseball players at Knox Field in Johnstown in 1979. (Photos contributed by Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame)
The 1979 F. Rulison and Sons baseball caravan included;
Graig Nettles (current New York Yankee third baseman at the time);
Jim “Catfish” Hunter (current New York Yankee pitcher at the time & future HOF’er);
Yogi Berra (current New York Yankee coach at the time & HOF’er);
Phil Rizzuto (current New York Yankee announcer at the time & future HOF’er);
Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter signs autographs at Knox Field in Johnstown in 1979. (Photos contributed by Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame)
Whitey Ford (current New York Yankee spring training coach at the time & HOF’er);
Billy Martin (former New York Yankee Player and Ex/Future New York Yankee manager at the time);
Monte Irvin (one of baseball’s first black stars 1949-55 & HOF’er) ;
Bob Feller (former Cleveland Indian pitching legend & HOF’er);
Joe Garagiola (former player & NBC Sportscaster and host of TV’s “To Tell The Truth” Show at the time & future HOF’er);
Graig Nettles is pictured at Knox Field in Johnstown in 1979. (Photo contributed by Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame)
Francis Joseph “Spec” Shea (former Amsterdam Rugmaker & 1947 American League Rookie of the Year)
The historic caravan started arriving in Johnstown on Wednesday, May 2. The events kicked off that evening with an appearance by Bob Feller and Spec Shea at the Lions Club Zone A, District 20Y2 meeting and dinner at the Rainbow Restaurant on Main Street in Johnstown. The event was attended by area Lion’s members from Johnstown, Gloversville, Utica, Amsterdam, Speculator and Saratoga. Both players shared stories about their careers in baseball, followed by a question and answer session from those in attendance. The following morning, Feller and Shea were joined by Monte Irvin for a breakfast meeting of the Johnstown and Gloversville Jaycees at Sambo’s Restaurant (now Friendly’s) on Route 30A in Johnstown. All three served as guest speakers to the group. The trio then took tours of the Lexington Center and the Fulton County Infirmary where they greeted staff, clients and residents. They then attended the Johnstown Rotary Club luncheon at the Johnstown Hotel on Main Street (now the Johnstown Professional Office Complex), where they were once again guest speakers.
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees had played the last game of a West Coast road trip in Anaheim California the night before against Gene Autry’s California Angels. They lost the game 1-0 and then at 1:30am Eastern time that morning, Graig Nettles, Jim Hunter, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto climbed aboard a private jet to travel all night to Johnstown. Joining up with them along the trip were Whitey Ford, Billy Martin and Joe Garagiola. Early that afternoon these seven additional players arrived in Johnstown to join up with Feller, Shea and Irvin at the F. Rulison and Sons tannery on Charles Street. Waiting there to greet them were a few thousand baseball fans, each wanting to get a glimpse of their heroes and an autograph. The event started with a factory tour in which each fan got to see 10 stations showing the different stages of leather processing and a display by Wilson Sporting Goods about baseball manufacturing. The final leg of the tour involved being greeted by the ten baseball legends in attendance. The players were lined up along a long table and the fans moved through like an assembly line getting their autographs on complimentary baseballs in which the white horsehide coverings were tanned in the plant they had just toured, as well as Adirondack Bats manufactured just 25 miles to the East in Dolgeville.
Six of the players were in and out of the open house, taking turns participating in the youth baseball clinics being held a few miles away at Knox Field. It was a closed event and only Johnstown & Gloversville High School and Little League players were present. Ford and Hunter worked with the pitchers, while Garagiola and Irvin worked with the catchers and outfielders. Nettles, while sporting the three-piece suit that he had traveled in overnight, put on hitting and fielding clinics. The highlight of the sessions was Martin giving inspirational tips on the finer points of the game, much like he would while addressing one of his Major League clubs.
The final event of the caravan’s historic visit was a dinner held for the baseball celebrities back at the Rainbow Restaurant, with nearly 500 people in attendance. In addition to the ten players mentioned being lined up at the head table, former New York Giant pitching great Hal Schumacher and ex-Cleveland Indian scout Jim Walsh of Johnstown also joined them. Garagiola was the master of ceremonies, and along with all of the players, took turns addressing the crowd by telling jokes, reminiscing about their careers and making predictions for the 1979 season.
After dinner and the speeches, another autograph session ensued by those in attendance and then the players received a police escort to the home of the event sponsor/organizer Fred Rulison on Phelps Street in Gloversville for a private party. The players eventually spent the night at the Johnstown Hotel and then headed to New York City the following day to begin a three-game homestand against the visiting Oakland Athletics the following evening.
Such a historical caravan of players coming to our area seems too good to be true, but it really did happen thanks to F. Rulison and Sons CEO Fred Rulison. According to Norman Reno, a spokesman for Fred Rulison who helped organize the event, “Rulison spent nearly $150,000 to put the event together. The expenses included the players appearance fees ($100,000 alone), airfare, ground transportation, lodging, and giveaway items at the plant tour (baseballs and bats).”
But what would possess a local business man to spend $150,000 of his own funds (equivalent to $500,000 today) to bring these former players to his hometown? The main reason was to show the community the importance of the leather processing tanneries to the local area. It was also part of Rulison’s crusade to get the word out to the baseball world that horsehide coverings for baseball were superior and should be used in favor of cowhide coverings.
F. Rulison and Sons began operations in 1919 in Northville, but with the flooding of the Sacandaga Reservoir in 1930, were forced to relocate to Johnstown. They were a “raw to finish” leather processor that specialized in horsehides. In 1921, F. Rulison & Sons began supplying white horsehide leather to be used by baseball manufacturing companies to make coverings for baseballs and softballs. These balls included both youth and professional leagues, including Major League Baseball. Horsehide was the preferred material to be used to make baseball covers as it was tougher, harder to break, and harder to scuff or damage. This is especially important when being struck by a wooden bat by individuals with extreme power. F. Rulison & Son’s had their own special formula for turning any horsehide presented to them into a high-quality piece of finished white leather suitable for the likes of the baseball world. Their customers included baseball producers Spalding, Wilson, Rawlings, Lannom (Worth), and deBeer. At the height of their relationship in suppling Major League Baseball’s producers of balls with their horsehide leather for coverings in 1973, they had 72 employees. And 90 percent of F. Rulison and Sons production was for white horsehide leather to make baseball and softball covers.
However, changes in the industry were coming that would negatively affect the use of horsehide to make baseball coverings. These changes centered around the shortage of quality horsehides. In 1960, while speaking at the Annual Tanners Council of America Convention in Chicago, Rulison predicted a shortage of suitable horsehides for making baseball coverings coming within the next ten years.
His reasoning was the effects of the mechanization of the farming industry. Traditionally, farmers used several work horses to tend to their fields. The byproduct of such horses when their farming services were through, was to turn their hides into usable leather for industry. As farms were becoming more modernized, there were less and less operations still utilizing horses. As this happened, domestically available quality hides were becoming scarce, and Rulison began to obtain hides from European markets. This led to horsehide becoming more expensive than other materials such as cowhide, but Rulison was a traditionalist and chose to stand by quality over increased profits.
It was around this time that suppliers of hides to baseball companies realized that they could make more money supplying cowhides rather than horsehides to baseball manufacturers.
Using scare tactics of scarcity and showing that cowhide balls were prettier (you get a more vibrant white ball when tanning cowhide) they started a push to encourage Major League Baseball to consider allowing both materials to be used. As a test in 1973, Major League Baseball made an amendment to Rule No. 1.09 (Rule No. 3.01) that allowed for a ball to be made to the following specifications for use in the American League and National League; “The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with two strips of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 5 ¼ ounces avoirdupois and measure not less than nine or more than 9 ¼ inches in circumference.”
Cowhide covered balls were first utilized in 1973 spring training games and some minor league games. In 1974, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn allowed the use of cowhide balls in regular season games, hence ending the reign of the horsehide covered ball in professional baseball. This created a sharp drop off in demand for white horsehide leather and was a big hit to the Rulison operation. But Fred was a traditionalist who firmly believed it was a mistake for baseballs to be made out of cowhide, as it was an inferior quality product. Even though his plant already had cowhide tanning capabilities and could produce enough white horsehide leather to make covers for balls needed for an entire season by Major League Baseball in just a few days in his factory, Rulison refused to give in to temptation to start supplying a product that he did not believe in. Instead, he found new products to manufacture horsehide for, such as industrial work gloves and shoes.
Over the next five years, the Rulison operation continued manufacturing horsehide, but were coming under the watchful eyes of environmentalists who were against the use of Chromium and tanning processes that produced harsh odors. While his operation used some Chromium, the bulk of his tanning process was done using Alum, which is considered to be a food grade chemical used in the treatment of water, in medicine, for cosmetics and in food preparation. However, there were not technologies in existence to combat the nasty odors the process emitted, and this drew community scrutiny.
While the historic event was put together by Rulison to show the community how important the tannery was to the community, and to try to convince Major League Baseball as to the superiority and importance of using baseballs made of horsehide covers, some believe that it was simply Rulison’s way of giving back to the community.
According to former F. Rulison and Sons corporate president (1976-85) Jeanne So, “I don’t think the event made an impact on sales, but it made Fred happy and let the community and environmentalists see how important the tannery and the products it produced were to the area. He was most proud to let the world know that a little tannery on Charles Street (in Johnstown) was instrumental in producing white horsehide leather covers for Major League Baseball for years and years.”
Reno concurred with So’s sentiments and added, “Fred was very generous and had an extremely big heart. I felt Fred’s favorite part of the event was the player clinics. He just beamed from ear to ear with pride watching the kids on the fields with the players learning from some of the greats of the game.” Due to failing health, Rulison ended operations of F. Rulison and Sons in 1985.
Loyal to his beliefs and those held by his Grandfather (Fred Sr.) who founded the company in 1919, Fred Rulison Jr. held true to the family craft of focusing on the tanning of horsehide, while doing it the same way that his family had for several decades.
For the Rulison Family’s role in supplying white horsehide leather for baseball coverings to the Major Leagues for several decades, F. Rulison and Sons has been nominated for induction into the Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is set for June 22nd as part of the annual Vintage Baseball Game to be played at Parkhurst Field in Gloversville. Along with F. Rulison and Sons, Johnstown’s Brian Mee and Fred Webb will be inducted between innings of the game. The event will be open to the public. For more information about the inductions and event, visit www.parkhurstfield.org .
A special ‘thank you’ to Jeanne So and Norman Reno for their help with this story. And also to Ed Ausfeld for donating a ball & bat signed by all the players at the historic May 1979 Rulison baseball event. Both items are on permanent display at the Fulton County Museum located at 237 Kingsboro Avenue in Gloversville.