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Baseball showcases on tap

August 10, 2012

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Multi-generational baseball is coming to Kansas University’s Hoglund Ballpark on Saturday.

An old-timers game featuring former Maupintour Travellers players will start at 11 a.m., and a youth all-star game will begin at 4 p.m. with a skills clinic in between.

The entire day is dedicated to the late Ralph Houk, a former major-league player and manager who was born in Lawrence and grew up on a farm in nearby Stull.

Baker University baseball coach Phil Hannon organized the contests in conjunction with Walt Houk, a second cousin of Ralph Houk, who managed the Travellers semi-pro team during its decade of existence (1983-92).

“We have 30 former players coming back,” Walt Houk said, “and 20 more who said they wanted to come but had prior commitments.”

The Travellers, utilizing many KU players, won more than 300 games and qualified for six NBC World Series in Wichita, finishing as high as fourth place in 1991. The Travellers also finished third in the 1986 AABC World Series in Battle Creek, Mich.

Among the youths scheduled to participate are nine sons or nephews of Travellers’ players.

They are Drew Green (Ryan Green), Coleman Houk and Zach Bickling (Kent Houk), Joe Dineen (Ronnie Oelschlager), Jacob Serrate (Scott Serrate), Bryce Byrn (John Byrn), Tripp Wright (Curt Wright) and Cooper Karlin (Pat Karlin).

Four area players will also suit up. They are Daniel Munoz, Bailey Pattin and Drew Scrimsher, all of Perry-Lecompton; and Brock Randels of Baldwin City. The others are from the Kansas City and Topeka areas.

The youths will wear the uniforms of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, teams managed by Ralph Houk.

In addition to his long baseball career, Houk served in the European theater during World War II, earning numerous medals and a battlefield commission that led to his nickname of The Major. Houk died in 2010 at the age of 90.

Hannon, who works with an organization called Keepers of the Legends, staged a similar youth all-star game in cooperation with the Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

“We want to help keep the legends of baseball alive,” Hannon said, “and we’re hoping to have more games around the area in the future.”

One possibility, Hannon said, is a commemoration of the time the Kansas City Monarchs played the Lawrence Colts at Hobbs Park in east Lawrence.

Rollie Sheldon, who pitched for the Yankees when Houk was manager, will toss the ceremonial first pitch Saturday. Proceeds from the day-long affair will benefit Lawrence youth baseball.

Both the old-timers game and the ages 15-16 youth contest are scheduled for seven innings.

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