Professional Baseball in Beeville, Texas

Beeville Orange Growers, 1910.

Like their original team name of the 1910-11 Beeville Orange Growers of the Southwest Texas League, professional baseball in the little ranch and farm community about fifty miles north of Corpus Christi where I was born was short-lived. “Orange Growers” fell as an appropriate mascot for Beeville once it was quickly discovered that the winters in these parts froze too often for a really good citrus crop to survive. Serious growers had to head much further south to the Rio Grande Valley to find the milder temperatures that mad commercial citrus farming practical.

Beeville loved the game of baseball, but its community worked the fields and ranges of the mesquite-land hard during the daylight hours of the long work week in the days prior to electricity and night baseball. There was no time to take off and go pay to watch a baseball game during the work week and Saturday was market day, when people shopped for their weekly home and work supply needs. The Saturday games face a stiff level of competition from practicality. And Beeville people always were – very practical – if nothing else.

That left Sunday. The Lord’s Day. Sorry, Baseball. You lose again on the professional level. “No Game Today” was the silent sign of those times.

Nonetheless, the games went on.

Beeville winters proved to be too cold for commercial orange growing.

The 1910 Beeville Orange Growers were managed by Harry “Trapper” Longley, followed by J.C. Woessner. They finished the Southwest Texas League season with a 52-64 record, good enough for 5th place in the six-team group and some 19.5 game behind 1st place Victoria Rose Buds.

The 1911 Beeville Orange Growers took on the patina of a future Texas Longhorn legend when Billy Disch came to town to manage the club and to also kick in a little extra help on production as a 38-year old outfielder. The ’11 club also included the first of Beeville’s four native major league stars in the presence of 19-year old Melvin “Bert” Gallia. The 1911 Orange Growers posted a 63-54 record, good enough for 3rd place and a 3.5 games behind finish back of the 1st place Bay City Rice Eaters. Beeville was awarded the pennant when Bay City inexplicably refused to play them  in a post-season championship series.

Victory wasn’t enough. Beeville’s longest successful run in professional team baseball was done. Beeville returned as the Bees in 1926 as a member of the Class D Gulf Coast League, but, after a 4-9 start, they moved to Laredo and were renamed the Oilers, going on from there to finish first and win the pennant, but not for the homeland which hatched them.

Joe Hunter Field, Home of the Beeville Bees, 1976-77.

Beeville’s last reprise in professional baseball came a half century later as a member of the independent  Gulf States (1976) and Gulf Coast League (1977). The club was known as the Bees in 1976 and I’m fairly certain they  used that same moniker in 1977. They didn’t win anything or produce any future stars, but they seemed to be holding their own when both leagues fell apart serially due to payroll shortages in some of the other cities. Beeville may have had their own problems too since both of these efforts were pretty much operating on a shoe string.  The club used Joe Hunter Field on the campus of Coastal Bend College (then known as Bee County College) for their home games. It’s nice playing field, but the stands probably don’t have room for more than a thousand fans.

The City of Beeville, Texas today has a population of about 14,000 people. Coastal Bend College resumed its baseball program in 2012 after several years of austerity cutbacks and I understand the school plans to continue both their baseball and basketball programs next season, The city also promotes and supports an active organized youth baseball program that feeds talent into the high school program as well.

As mentioned earlier, Beeville, Texas has also produced four native sons who went on to successful careers as major leaguers:

(1) Melvin “Bert” Gallia, pitcher (66-69, 3.14), 1912-1920;

(2) William Curtis “Curt” Walker, outfielder (.304, 1,475 hits), 1919-1930);

(3) Lloyd “Lefty” Brown, pitcher (91-105, 4.20), 1925, 1928-1937, 1940;

(4) Eddie Taubensee, catcher (.273, 784 hits), 1991-2001.

Beeville also produced a 5th native son and outfielder-1st baseman Rudy Jaramillo for the Texas Longhorns and later service as a batting coach for both the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Rudy never got any big league AB’s on his own, but he grew into a teacher who knew how to get a point of view across on hitting that helped many others to reach the heights he missed himself as a player.

Next spring I’m planning to trek down to Beeville and my original home town to watcher the Coastal Bend Cougars bring old Joe Hunter back to life again. It actually hasn’t been dormant. Beeville’s A.C. Jones High School has been using it for years and it is also a pretty popular venue for all of the high school playoff games that take place each spring.

Joe Hunter Field, Beeville, Texas.
What is the seating capacity?

That’s about it, for now. If you know, or if you have a logical guess about the seating capacity at Joe Hunter Field, please feel invited to either drop me a line by e-mail or else, just post a comment at the end of this column where everyone can read what you have to say. I’d like to hear from you.

Have a nice Tuesday, everybody!

 

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One Response to “Professional Baseball in Beeville, Texas”

  1. Steve Chicoine Says:

    Nice blog post. Have you have read my article on Bert Gallia http://www.freedomhistory.com? I have a great deal of detail on Gallia’s career, including games played in the majors and also in town ball play on the Texas Coast.

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