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Jimkotans end their season in 1922

Wilbur Smith, known as Smithy or Web, was 36 when he managed the Jimkotan squad that season and had a long career in professional baseball.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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A century ago, the Jamestown Jimkotans were wrapping up their first season the Dakota League.

NEWS
Pit Stop Sports in Jamestown is open from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday and serves food and beverages, including beer and wine.

The team’s last home game was Aug. 16 and played the last two weeks of the season on the road.

The Dakota League was an expansion of the South Dakota League and included teams in Fargo, Wahpeton, Valley City and Jamestown on the north side of the border.

At the end of the season, the players dispersed including the “scrappy manager and catcher,” according to the Aug. 17, 1922 Jamestown Weekly Alert.

Wilbur Smith, known as Smithy or Web, was 36 when he managed the Jimkotan squad that season and had a long career in professional baseball.

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His career started on the minor league squads of various Midwestern and western

American leagues in 1906.

Smith got a trip to the majors in 1909 when he caught 17 games for the St. Louis Browns. In case you are wondering, the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1953 and became the more colorful Orioles.

Baseball records show Smith threw out just eight of the 48 attempted steals while he was catcher for the Browns. That and a 190 batting average won’t keep you on a major league roster.

From 1910 to 1912, Smith played for the Minneapolis Millers in the American Association. His time there ended with a leg injury sliding into third base early in the season. When he couldn’t return to playing form, his playing career mostly ended.

With the dream of big league baseball behind him, Smith turned to a career selling automobiles in Minnesota.

Evidently selling Model Ts didn’t hold the excitement of the baseball diamond. Smith started taking manager jobs with low-level minor league teams like the Jamestown Jimkotans.

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The Alert reported Smith had brought his wife and three children with him to Jamestown. He planned to do a little duck hunting after the season wrapped up before returning to Minneapolis and selling cars.

Later in his life, he left the automobile business and became a district sales manager for the Allis-Chalmers farm equipment company.

Smith had spent about half of his 36 years playing professional baseball at some level when he managed the Jamestown squad in 1922. He’d played at every level from the majors on down to Class D Jamestown.

You have to wonder, did he ever think, “If I could have just thrown out a few runners.”

Author Keith Norman can be reached at www.KeithNormanBooks

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