Sunday, June 9, 2013

Triple home plate wedding for 1949 Cats

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

Four members of the Ft. Worth Cats were married at home plate at La Grave Field on Aug.21, 1950, in what was believed to have been an unprecedented baseball nuptials extravaganza.

 With three different ministers – Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran – and a district judge performing separate ceremonies, the ballplaying bridegrooms and their betrothed were: pitcher John Rutherford and Martha Jo Day of Dayton, Tenn., second baseman Joe Torpey and Marilee Cook of Pueblo, Colo., shortstop Russ Rose and Patricia Ann Thayer of Van Nuys, Calif., and third baseman Don Hoak and Phyllis Warner of Coudersport, Pa.

Probably with financial aid provided by the several national magazines, including Life, and newsreels that covered the event, the four brides-to-be were flown to Ft. Worth for the quadruple ceremony.

A Cats fans’ committee that was organized to make the arrangements and provide for gifts suitably decorated the recently constructed La Grave Field with a reported $980 worth of flowers, an altar, a carpeted aisle from the pitcher’s mound to home plate and other suitable touches.

The benedicts’ teammates served as ushers while the team president, manager, assistant manager and a local sports writer served as best men.

More than 60 of the couples’ friends and relatives traveled to Ft. Worth from six states to witness the ceremonies. They were joined by 9,817 fans. Music was provided by the La Grave Field organist, male and female soloists and the nationally famous 21-voice Denton Civic Boys Choir.

Gifts from more than 100 donors included cash, Savings Bonds, household utensils and groceries.

Following the vows, the grooms changed from their tuxedos into their uniforms and defeated Oklahoma City 6-4. Pitcher John Rutherford did not appear in the game. Second baseman Torpey got a hit and an RBI in four trips, handling four chances in the field perfectly. Rose, at shortstop, made three sparkling plays, though failing to hit in two official plate appearances. Hoak played errorless ball at third base and was 2-for-4 at the plate.
Don Hoak's 1950 home plate wedding didn't "take."
In 1961 he married former teenage pop star Jill Corey.

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