Beeville Orange Growers: Another Photo Mystery.

1910 Beeville Orange Growers: Photo Courtesy of the Randy Foltin Collection.

Research colleague Randy Foltin sent me this photo yesterday of the 1910 Beeville Orange Growers because he knew I was born in that little South Texas town and that I hold special interests in the baseball history of the area. As often is the case, the photo came with its own historical mysteries. These all mainly spin around the presence of the most famous player in the shot, number 6 on the back row, Beeville native and future major league pitcher Bert Gallia.

First let’s cover a little background on the brief history of the Beeville Orange Growers. They didn’t last very long, but then again, neither did the agricultural course of raising oranges or any other citrus fruit crop in Beeville. Located fifty miles north of Corpus Christi, the Beeville winters were simply too cold and too filled with freezing temperature days ro make the industry practical for that too-far-north region of the state. Still, playing minor league baseball and raising oranges had a parallel run in the Beeville area until both got frosted away in the second decade of the twentieth century.

The Beeville baseball-playing Orange Growers were members of the two-season, six-team Southwest Texas League in 1910-11. Other league members included the Brownsville Brownies, the Corpus Christi Pelicans, the Laredo Bermudas, the Bay City Rice Eaters, and the Victoria Rosebuds. Second Place Brownsville won the first of the league’s only two pennants in 1910 by taking a 3-2 series playoff with First Place Victoria. Third Place Beeville was awarded the other pennant in 1911 when First Place Bay City refused to participate in their scheduled championship playoff series.

After 1911, the Southwest Texas League was no more and Beeville went back to raising cattle, harvesting broom corn, and playing their amateur town ball games of baseball. Make no mistake, the failure of the Southwest Texas League was no barometer on the levels of Beeville’s interest in and talent for baseball. By 1925, this small community of a few hundred people had sent their third native son to the big leagues in the form of Lefty Lloyd Brown. Pitcher Bert Gallia went first, joining the Washington Senators in 1912. Outfielder Curt Walker was second, coming up with the New York Yankees at the tail end of the 1919 season before going on to twelve successful years with the Giants, Phillies, and Reds. Walker’s lifetime .304 batting average helped earn him an induction into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame back in 2001.

Now to the mysteries.

Bert Gallia is shown in the photo with the 1910 Beeville Orange Growers, but his Baseball Reference minor league record indicates that he did not begin his playing career until 1911, and that he then started with Laredo before shifting over to Beeville before season’s end. The next year, 1912, found Melvin “Bert” Gallia ascending all the way up to the roster of the Washington Senators.

I’ve checked the photos against the team records maintained by Baseball Reference.Com. That’s definitely the 1910 club. Except for Gallia, all of the other players in the photo are represented in the Baseball Reference database as players for the 1910 Beeville club,

The other mystery concerns the ‘S’ letter that appears on Bert Gallia’s jersey. The letter has nothing to do with Beeville – nor with the Laredo Bermudas that apparently broke him in at the start of the 1911 season.

One more incidental comment on the 1911 Beeville club: Ted Schultz began the (63-54, .538) season as the team’s manager, but he was replaced during the year by Billy Disch, a young man who would go on from Beeville to become the baseball coaching icon at the University of Texas.

Any ideas you may have on the subject’s two mystery questions are most welcome as comments here in the section below this article.

Have a nice Wednesday, everybody, and keep the spring hope watered and green. The 2010 baseball season is almost here.

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8 Responses to “Beeville Orange Growers: Another Photo Mystery.”

  1. Bill Hickman Says:

    I’m under the impression that sometimes the minor league database in BaseballReference.com fails to pick up a player with a minor league team if he was with a team for a very short stint. I think the record lists which the BaseballReference.com researchers depend on truncate those players who weren’t on a team for a certain number of games during a year – something like 10 games, but I’m not sure. So it’s possible that Bert Gallia was on the 1910 Beeville team but just not for very many games.

    Also, the listings of teams within a year on BaseballReference.com are not necessarily in chronological order. If you scroll down farther on Gallia’s page to “Teams He Was On,” you’ll see that Beeville was listed before Laredo in 1911, unlike the listing at the top where Laredo was listed first.

    As for the “S” on his shirt, if my theory is right that he was just a short-term pickup in 1910 for Beeville, he may have still been wearing some amateur or semi-pro team uniform when the photo was taken.

  2. Bill Hickman Says:

    Here’s a verification on my theory. The Sporting News of October 6, 1910 contained the reserve lists for the minor league teams in an article titled “Players Retained By Minor Leagues For 1910.” Among the players listed for Beeville of the Southwest Texas League in the article was Melvin Gallia.

    “Bert” was Melvin Gallia’s nickname. So this shows that Bert Gallia was being carried over by Beesville from the end of the 1910 season into the next season.

  3. Bill McCurdy Says:

    To Bill Hickman:

    Thanks, Bill, for your input. I think you’ve put us well over the top on theory and proof in this case – and probably led us to a good place to start in others that come up like it. – Regards, Bill McCurdy.

  4. R.Tomas Foster Says:

    Lloyd”Gimpy” Brown is my mom’s uncle. My Grandma Brown (McDade later) began to have me catch fast balls when about 4 years old, putting me on the pitchers mound everyday that summer when I was 6 (they broke the rules to let me play that young). Thereafter I was a starting pitcher, each year until I was 15, even being helped by Mike Krukow, a former Giants pitcher (now announcer for the Giants) when I quit baseball, wanting to drive a fast car instead when I was 16 (dummest thing I ever did was to quite baseball). Now, still have some photos of Lloyd at the Pasadena golf club with the Babe, and Dizzy Dean, The Babe knew LLoyd well said Grandma. I think the Babe, even knew Grandma (my foggy recollection)Remember my grandmother, Margaret Brown, hitting the fast overhand (she was offended by underhanded pitches to her) pitches from 11 and 12 year olds at my little league picnic games, telling them to “burn it in!!” Burn it in!!” and every other pitch she would drill it out of the little league infield…at 65 years old!! On one other occasion she got hit in the arm, and shook it off and refused to take the free pass to first base. She loved to hit. Everyone there, young and old could not believe what they were seeing. It was almost Freakish. That was the Texas tuff, she brought to California for me to watch. I Look quite a bit like Lloyd now, and yep, same height and weight, at 5″9″ 170. Amazing thing about Lloyd: when he was managing/playing at 48-50, I believe he was the second best pitcher on the minor league team he managed, the Borger Grasers/Albuquerque Dukes and batted this line: 154 at bats 46hits 17doubles 4HR (at 48 yeas old, and again, only 5″9″).
    .299 batting average .487 Slugging percentage… not bad for an old “Gimp”
    The year prior, he pitched 235 innings at 47 years old, going 16-9. Cant find the strike outs, but I remember somewhere seeing them at around 165 in 235 innings. Think he had 80 walks to the approx. 165k’s. Well, I hope to get to Beeville one day. I want to find the field where Lloyd used to play sandlot ball, run around the bases at night, with no one there, and do a head first slide into home plate, take some earth. And if that sandlot is now a asphalt parking lot, I still want to slide headfirst into where home-plate was….as a measure of my apology to Lloyd and Grandma for spoiling my God given pitching talent I had had, but threw away for a fast car, that is now gnarled up in some steal-heap. I am here in Kyle Texas. I got to see Beeville before I leave Texas. I want to know what my Great Grandpa Brown did in Beeville. Was he a politician? God Bless all of you. Tom

  5. Thomas foster Says:

    Lloyd brown is my great uncle. My grandma Brown taught me to play baseball when I was 4. I was pitching at 6, to 7 & 8 year old’s, two years prior to the required pitching age of 8.
    Grandma brown grew up in beeville, playing baseball with her 7 older brothers, including Lloyd

  6. Bert Gallia Mysteries Clarified (Maybe, Not Really) « The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

    […] Beeville Orange Growers: Another Photo Mystery […]

  7. Davis O. Barker (Jacksonville, Tx) Says:

    may help … CHICOINE, STEPHEN. “The Great Gallia: Texas’ Melvin “Bert” Gallia and Ethnicity in Major League Baseball.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 105 (2002): 635-661..

  8. Jennifer Hovel Ligums Says:

    Hello I see this article and comments section is a bit dated but I am looking for a photograph of the “bay city rice eaters” the team was only around for 1910 and 1911 any suggestions or thoughts are much appreciated. The Museum in Bay City was no help.
    Thank youn

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