Friday, February 11, 2011

Uncommon commons: Kansas towns named for ballplayers

In 2006 I purchased a complete set of The Sporting News and The Sporting Life newspaper microfilms from 1886 through the early 1970s. I figured they would be a great source of entertainment when I eventually retired.

Over the years I had used the films to research feature articles and columns that appeared in SCD and Baseball Cards magazine. In that process I discovered that each issue of those venerable sports weeklies had many tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figured that if I found those items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors, so from time to time I compiled my notes into columns that I called "Uncommon Commons."

I've decided to continue that tradition in this forum because a blog is tailor-made to host these short pieces and because it is easy to share images of some great old cards that may not be worth a lot of money, but that have an appeal to veteran collectors.

In the heyday of the St. Louis Browns' years (1885-1888) as champions of the American Association, the Missouri Pacific Railroad was building its line just south of the old Santa Fe Trail between Kansas City and Denver.

In setting up its station stops along the route, some executive of the MPRR, evidently a baseball fan, named two of them after members of the Browns dynasty.

The town of Comiskey was established in the northwest corner of Lyons County in eastern Kansas, about 25 miles northwest of Emporia. In 1910, Comiskey consisted of telegraph and express offices, a few "mercantile interests" and a population of 28. The town is no longer in existence.

Comiskey was, of course, named for the Browns first baseman and future White Sox owner and Hall of Famer Charlie Comiskey.

About seven miles east of Comiskey, the town of Weeks, named for its founder Joseph Weeks, was renamed Bushong. Albert "Doc" Bushong was the Browns catcher in their glory years.

Bushong is still around today, its population recorded as 55 in the 2000 census.

In a 1953 issue, The Sporting News incorrectly stated that other Kansas towns along the railroad had been also been named for ballplayers, citing Admire, Miller, Allen and Rapp in Lyons Co., and Helmick, Wilsey and Delevan in Morris Co.

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