When they were GIANTS ('Baby Giants,' that is)

Teammates, now near 80, reminisce over youth team

By Ken Esten Cooke— The joking starts immediately and roughly 70 years melt away. 

Six members of Fredericksburg’s Baby Giants youth baseball team, now at or nearing age 80, got together to reminisce recently with their baseball teammates from 1946.

Laughter ensued.

“Damn, I was ugly,” said George Gold looking at a team photo dating from the mid-1940s.

“You still are,” joked Randall McBride.

The idea for a reunion came from Fredericksburg resident Edgar Schneider, who found a photo of the Baby Giants and contacted those still around about a reunion.

“We played different teams in Fredericksburg and were undefeated,” Schneider said. “We played on the Market Square baseball field. Eventually, we traveled to area towns to play other teams.”

“I think we got those T-shirts from Seipp’s Hall,” remembered Henry Frantzen.

“Yeah, we played the women’s softball team, and the winning streak ended,” Gold said. “Our daddies had told us we’d get barbecue if we won. But we lost, so we ate chili at a cafe.”

The six shared memories and jokes, not all of which were publishable, yet all were funny. After the boys played a year of softball, from when the photo was taken, they switched to baseball. The team fielded 11- and 12-year-olds.

In those days, the Fredericksburg Giants, a Hill Country League team, played baseball at the Gillespie County Fair Grounds, so the kids took their name from Fredericksburg’s top team, finding a seat at Jimmy Pyka Field inside the race track to watch their heroes.

Several went on to play for the Giants, and even nearing age 80, most could remember the top players and their positions.

Kenneth Kordzik remembered when the boys’ “district” teams included Lampasas and Cuero. “It was a big deal when we had to travel to play,” he said, remembering decidedly non-posh traveling arrangements. “They hauled us in a horse trailer to go play Blanco. No kidding.”

The gents remembered Sunnyside Tavern, where beer cost 25 cents and the teen boys were known to sneak one, as well as Paul’s Chicken and Chips, where a hamburger, curly fries and a Coke cost one quarter.

Even the photo stirred memories. The baseball field was located where the Adelsverein Halle now stands. Visible in the background, across Austin Street, is the Loitz Mill and Feed store that stood before Bethany Lutheran Church was built. Where City Hall and the fire station stand was a service station.

They remembered Becker Blacksmith Shop and lamented the tear-down of Peter’s Dance Hall.

Vernon Brodbeck recalled the top talent they faced.

“The best game I remember was when we played a colored team out of Kerrville,” he said. “They had some good players.”

All said those days of no air conditioning and constant outdoor activity were simpler.

“It was a slower time,” Frantzen said. “You knew everybody in town, so you never could get in too much trouble.”

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