Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Take me out to the ball game

By Richard I. Gibson

Minor league baseball in Butte began about 1892, when Butte was part of the Montana State League. In 1900, the team was called the Butte Smoke Eaters, but (perhaps because the smelters were moving away to Anaconda, and the atmosphere in Butte was improving) by 1902 the Butte Miners were playing, as part of the Pacific Northwest League.

The league the Butte Miners played in was variously the Pacific Northwest, Pacific National, Northwestern, or Inter-Mountain, and from 1911-1914 they were part of the Union Association.

In April 1914 the team that took the field was managed by James William “Ducky” Holmes, a 45-year-old pro with 21 years in the minors including eight years as a manager. Most of his career was in Nebraska and Iowa (where he was born, January 28, 1869), with some years as far away as Detroit. 1914 was his only year in Butte. He was 5’6” tall, 170 pounds, and batted left and threw right. His career lasted until 1922, and he died in Iowa in 1932.

The 1914 Butte Miners finished second in the League, after the Boise Irrigators and ahead of the Helena Senators, Murray (Utah) Infants, Ogden Canners, and Salt Lake City Skyscrapers. Butte led the league in 1913. Butte's 1914 players who had some time with the majors included John Halla (Cleveland, 1905), Ed McCreery (three games for Detroit in late 1914), and Steve Melter (St. Louis in 1909).

After the 1917 season, Butte had no minor league team until 1978 when the Butte Copper Kings franchise began.

Photo from Anaconda Standard, April 19, 1914
Reference: http://www.baseball-reference.com

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