Sports across the world seem to be at a halt out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus. That wasn’t the case in the spring of 1922 as Jamestown planned for a minor league baseball team for the upcoming year.
The Dakota League had been under discussion for a couple of months. The plan was to expand the South Dakota League of 1921. League organizers hoped to add four teams in North Dakota to create an eight-team regional league including squads in Jamestown, Valley City, Fargo and Wahpeton.
The business plan for the Jamestown squad was based on community ownership with local investors asked to subscribe to the team that would be administered by a board of directors.
There was a bit of controversy in the election of that board. Evidently community leader A.B. DeNault left the meeting early and found out the next day he’d been elected to the board. He announced he thought a minor league team would cost too much and promptly resigned.
A new board was organized with C.A. Klaus elected president. The board was charged with raising $5,000 in subscriptions as an initial investment for a team that would have an annual operating budget of about $15,000.
Adjusted for inflation, the initial investment would amount to about $78,000 with a budget of nearly a quarter of a million dollars today.
That kind of citizen investment generated a lot of discussion. The Feb. 28, 1922, Jamestown Alert carried an extensive article that began on the front page and continued to page 2 and finally page 3, a major piece of reporting given that The Jamestown Alert was commonly a four-page paper at the time.
Some of the community members felt a $3,500 subscription goal was more appropriate for a city the size of Jamestown. Others felt that asking a member to pay a subscription of $50, buy a season ticket for $25 and then, under the terms of the subscription, be under obligation to cover any financial losses of the team.
Despite the opposition, a meeting on the morning of March 11, 1922, voted to commit to the $5,000 investment and to enlarge the local baseball diamond grandstand to accommodate 1,000 spectators and make it available to the new team at no cost for the season.
The work on the grandstand, which I believe was located at the site of the present day Jack Brown Stadium, became a community project.
Volunteers with trucks brought in about 30 loads of dirt to build up the field and improve the drainage of the location to the James River.
Other local baseball fans took on the project of improving the grandstand. Volunteers purchased the lumber and then a “grandstand raising bee” was planned.
A month later, a popular vote was held to give the new team a nickname. The organizers listed about 100 names in The Jamestown Alert for people to vote on. Choices included the Asylum City Team, Snowbirds, High Flyers, The Stutsmen, Home Runners and Hard Knockers.
I won’t even comment on that last one.
Some of the names played on the town name with The Jimmies, The Jimtowners, The Jimdandies and the Jimkotans.
The popular vote named the team the Jimkotans with the Fort Sewards a runner-up.
The Jimkotans finished in the middle of the pack of the Dakota League in 1922. That league only lasted a year and the Jimkotans were part of a four-team North Dakota League in 1923 before disbanding.
The Jimkotans have a brief but interesting history that I’m trying to expand. Anyone with information can contact me by email.
Author Keith Norman can be reached at www.KeithNormanBooks.com