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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Your view: League returns

Friday, June 17, 2005

Dear Editor,

I was delighted to read your article in the Wednesday edition reporting on the Bombers and the resurgence of the Kitty League. I pitched with the Fulton Railroaders in 1948, the Union City Greyhounds in 1949 and a half season on a part-time basis with Fulton in 1953. These were exciting and fun times -- especially when we were winning. We played 126 games a year, we signed professional contracts and were paid. Our teams were affiliated with major league clubs, in my case the Washington Senators and the Cleveland Indians. I remember wearing Lou Boudreau's hand-me down uniforms.

Some of the above factors were good, some not as good as the new organizations. Our season opened early and most players were not from college. I missed the beginning of my 1949 season to stay in college to graduate. If the players were paid and did not make the grade, they were still considered pros and at that time were no longer eligible for college athletics.

I am confident that the players in the new league will preserve their amateur status by not being salaried. At the time that I played some players could participate by being paid and thereby having some income. The present arrangement could possibly make it unaffordable for some and eliminate some good talent. Our clubs had players from all over the country as does the new league. We all hoped that we were headed to the major leagues. We did have some outstanding talent. One player from Memphis in my second year had signed for a huge bonus of $18,000.

The league folded in the early '50s principally from the onset of the televising of major league games.

I hope that Sikeston and the surrounding area will wholeheartedly support this program and I believe the fans will find the games exciting and entertaining. I am looking forward to seeing some games and following your team's games in the paper.

Thanks to Larry Lewis for the fine article.

Jimmy Dambach Lilbourn