Baseball Significant Figures

Baseball History in Dayton Ohio


From: Baseball Days—Dayton’s North Side Field 1922-1934

Written by Roland L. Larke, Sponsored by the Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1992

Heini Groh

Heine Groh was owner, manager and player with the Canton Bulldogs in the 1930 season. As a major leaguer with the New York Giants, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Pittsburgh Pirates he was to become a legendary figure in baseball history with his bottle-bat and his unique batting style. Although a small man, only 5’8” and 158 pounds, he, along with Babe Ruth, used the heaviest bats in the major league — 42 ounces.


Local fans were to marvel at his batting skills. Facing the pitcher, and sometimes choking the bat as much as 10 inches, he maneuvered with the pitch to bunt or to slap the ball through or over the infielders. Obviously not a long-ball hitter, he nevertheless was an outstanding high-average batter in the majors with a lifetime .292 batting average.


Ducky Holmes

Howard Emmit Holmes, an East-end grocer, was nicknamed “Ducky” and “the Schnoz” because of waddling walk and his Jimmy Durante-like nose. His dedication to baseball may be attributed to the years of viewing the game from the advantageous point-of-view of a catcher and umpire. He served as a catcher in the minors in the early 1900s, and spent a year with St. Louis in the National League in 1907. Later, as an umpire, he graduated from the minors to the Western and National Leagues. On the business end he had an unsuccessful attempt at managing the minor league Saginaw, Michigan team.


Ideally, Holmes was the man to revive the sport in his hometown. As an independent owner, Ducky’s association with professional baseball figures was favorable for his procurement of players for his teams. In those days, teams of higher classification frequently provided independent minor league teams with promising rookies for additional seasoning. His selection of team members from the local amateur and semi-pro teams was also valuable in providing color.


With his flair for showmanship, and his own bustling activity as manager and umpire baiter, the Dayton Ducks were always crowd pleasers.


Alvin “Jake” “Pants” Powell

Alvin “Jake” “Pants” Powell was a colorful addition to the Ducks’ team during the 1932 season. Powell got the nickname “Pants” because he broke from tradition and wore his baggy pants down to his ankles, an idiosyncrasy in those days but the style currently in vogue among baseball players.


Fans enjoyed the sight of Powell doing his hip-swinging strut after one of his customary sparkling plays in the outfield. Powell was to discard his frivolous, oddball antics in the serious business of playing in the majors with Washington and the Yankees.


Jake Powell became a regular in the majors with the Washington Senators in 1934.  He was traded to the New York Yankees in 1936. In that year’s World Series against the New York Giants, he made 10 hits and batted .455. In this he tied Babe Ruth’s record of scoring 8 runs, and a hit. […]


During a springtime exhibition game in Ashland, Kentucky, […] he was seriously injured when he ran into a steel pole in the outfield. From then on his baseball days were numbered.


In all these years in the majors he was an itinerant Dayton resident where he had made many friends.


His flamboyant career ended with his death by self-inflicted gun shot wounds to his chest. At age 40, he committed suicide in a Washington D.C. police station where he was being held on a bad-check charge.


Si Burick had this to say: “A great and quant figure was Alvin Jake Powell. But whatever he did he worked hard at it.”


Julie Tangeman & Harvey Reese

It could be said that Harvey Reese and Julie Tangeman, two old North Dayton residents, were the embodiment of the spirit of the game of baseball. Both played at North Side Field as amateurs, semi-pros, and professionals, and both became honored veterans as they extended their baseball careers into their late 30s.


The Playground of the Youth of Old North Dayton was the natural environment in the northern extension of the confluence of the Miami, Mad and Stillwater Rivers. Camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and wintertime sledding and ice skating were conducive to the development of sturdy constitutions. Athletic skills involved on the playing fields and gym at the Barney Community Center, the adjacent ball diamonds at Bim’s Field and at Patterson Park, and also in the impromptu play on the neighborhood vacant lots. This was home to Julie Tangeman and especially Harvey Reese. Handsome, swarthy, and fun-loving, Harvey was a figure easily noticed at the picnics and parties in Old North Dayton where he strummed his guitar as accompanist to mandolin playing Irvin Naas and twelve-string guitarist Rudy Bach.


Harvey’s pitching skill become recognized in baseball circles in the 1920s. He played in the minors and moved up to a position with Rochester in the International Class AA League. For reasons that are apparent, this is as far as he went in organized baseball classification. He came back to Dayton and settled into the role of an admired, perennial curveballer, for amateur and semi-pro Dayton ball teams and for Canton and Richmond in the Central League where he came home to pitch and win against the Dayton Aviators at North Side Field in several memorable games.


Julie Tangeman achieved some success as a Class B minor league outfield in the Three I League and as a member of the 1933 Dayton Ducks. In later years, he served as a pitcher for Dayton amateur teams and also as manager. Sam Tangeman, Julie’s brother, was an outstanding first baseman for Dayton amateur teams.