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Ballplayers cashed in on zany deals from local businesses in 1932 Pioneer ad

On May 7, 1932, the Bemidji Daily Pioneer dedicated Page 2 of the newspaper for an advertisement of an upcoming Land O’ Lakes League game between Bemidji and Blackduck. Local downtown businesses got behind the excitement of Opening Day, offering a dozen goods and services to whoever seized their enticing prizes.

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An advertisement in the May 7, 1932, edition of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer offered goods and services from local businesses for certain plays in an upcoming baseball game.
Pioneer archives
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BEMIDJI — Any ballplayer is happy to score a run, hit a double or steal a base. But for at least one amateur baseball game in 1932, athletes had the chance to cash in on their success.

On May 7, 1932, the Bemidji Daily Pioneer dedicated Page 2 of the newspaper for an advertisement of an upcoming Land O’ Lakes League game between Bemidji and Blackduck. Local downtown businesses got behind the excitement of Opening Day, offering a dozen goods and services to whoever seized their enticing prizes.

In the ad, Abell’s Cafe on Minnesota Avenue proudly gifted a dinner for two to whoever hit the game’s first home run. For the first batter to smack a triple, the Leader Oil Co. promised two free quarts of Quaker State Oil because -- as the advertisement declared -- “a player making a three-base hit is entitled to the best.”

Whoever scored Bemidji’s first run received a whopping 500 pounds of ice, “delivered when wanted” by the Tom Smart Ice Co., while the first player to make an assist earned himself a complete car wash from Peoples Oil Co. on Beltrami Avenue.

The winning pitcher snagged a $1 credit on a pair of golf shoes from Larson’s Brownbilt Shoe Store on Third Street. And as solace for the losing pitcher, Bender Bros. Shell Station offered a complete grease job -- a value of $1 -- and “our sincere condolences” from the corner of Second and Beltrami.

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Not to be outdone, the rival Denison-Harding Chevrolet Co. provided their own complete grease job to whichever fielder made the most assists.

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An advertisement in the May 7, 1932, edition of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer offered goods and services from local businesses for certain plays in an upcoming baseball game.
Pioneer archives

But the spoils didn’t end there.

The game’s first double warranted a sweatshirt from Hub Clothing Co. thanks to an ad taken out by Abe Patterson -- also the founder of Patterson’s Clothing.

Whoever first reached base with a “Texas Leaguer” -- or a bloop single -- was awarded two bags of Karmel Korn from The Karmelkorn Shop on Beltrami Avenue. Their advertisement also boasted the product’s “irresistible crunchy flavor that has tickled the sweet tooth of Bemidji.”

The first runner to successfully steal a base earned a free dry cleaning of his suit at Model Dry Cleaners on Third Street. And despite the disappointment of striking out, whoever did it first was entitled to a 39-cent broom from Given Hardware on Minnesota Avenue.

To top it off, whoever recorded the first putout (other than a strikeout) was sent a free three-month subscription to the Daily Pioneer, which the advertisement heralded “always gives complete and accurate details of local and national sports events.”

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An advertisement in the May 7, 1932, edition of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer offered goods and services from local businesses for certain plays in an upcoming baseball game.
Pioneer archives

The game itself was scheduled for May 8, 1932, at the Bemidji Fairgrounds -- the site which now houses the Boys and Girls Club of the Bemidji Area -- and was to include a ceremonial first pitch from mayor Tom Smart and live music from The Boys Band. Admission cost 25 cents.

The Pioneer’s advertisement also declared that “Boy; you’ll see a real brand of baseball. Both Blackduck and Bemidji have GOOD BALL CLUBS and both will be out there battling for a win in the opening game. It will be a game worth seeing. DON’T MISS IT!”

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Ironically, the game got rained out. But it was rescheduled for the following week and even featured an extra offer: a 14-inch tackle box from Tepeetonka Lodge in Blackduck for the pitcher with the most strikeouts.

Bemidji ultimately won 8-3 in “a hard battle with both teams playing alert baseball from the first pitch to the last putout,” so reported the Pioneer.

Yet with so many rewards up for grabs in the high-stakes affair, the final score was likely a secondary concern to everybody involved. Especially for anyone who sorely needed that grease job.

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Kelliher plays against the Red Lake baseball team in 1916.
Courtesy / Beltrami County Historical Society

'Winners of prizes in Sunday game announced'

Editor’s note: The following story ran in the May 18, 1932, edition of the Pioneer to acknowledge the winning recipients from the May 15 game.

The winners of the various prizes offered by Bemidji business men in the baseball game Sunday between Bemidji and Blackduck on the local diamond have been announced and are as follows:

Five hundred pounds of ice given by Tom Smart for the first run for Bemidji, won by Les Bailey.

A $1 credit on a pair of golf shoes given by Larson’s Brownbilt Shoe store to the winning pitcher, won by Oscar Baney.

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A broom offered by Given Hardware to the first player to strike out, won by John Olson of Blackduck.

Tackle box offered by Tepeetonka Lodge, Blackduck, to the pitcher getting the most strikeouts, won by Oscar Baney.

A three months subscription to The Pioneer given for the first putout other than a strikeout, won by Tom Wright.

A complete grease job given by Denison-Harding Co. to the player making the most assists, won by Allan Fields.

A sweat shirt given by the Hub Clothing Co. for the first two-base hit, won by Allan Fields.

Dry cleaning of one suit offered by the Model Dry Cleaners for the first stolen base, won by Dick Simons.

A complete grease job offered by Bender Bros. Shell Station to the losing pitcher, won by R. Wille of Pinewood, Blackduck’s pitcher.

A car wash job offered by the People’s Oil Co. to the player credited with the first assist, won by A. Olson, Blackduck.

Two bags of Karmelkorn given by Harold Naylor for the first Texas leaguer, won by Cliff Montague.

The prizes offered for the first home run and the first three-base hit were not won as there were no such long hits in Sunday’s opener.

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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