Redbird Roadtrip

Redbird Roadtrip

Working your way through the system in minor league baseball is tough.  While that’s true for players, it is even more accurate for managers.  Take WF Cards skipper Hal Contini.  Not only did he manage the team and help out in the front office, he spent a good portion of the season as the team’s second baseman.  Not impressed yet?  He also drove the team bus.

As a minor league team in the St. Louis Cardinals system, the West Frankfort Cardinals spent pre-season training camp with all other member organizations in Albany, Georgia.  After 16 days in the searing Georgia heat, the Cards began a tough 800 mile bus trip home with five exhibition games thrown in for good measure.

With manager Hal Contini at the wheel, the West Frankfort team bus rumbled its way into Alexander City, Alabama on April 17. 1948 for a two-day visit with the Class D Georgia-Alabama League team.  The tour continued with Class D Union City, Tennessee of the Kitty League the next day, followed by a quick intrastate jaunt to Dyersburg for a matchup with the Class B Terre Haute Stags, the highest level team the Cards would ever play, still training away from home in their preseason facility.  A final game against the Kitty League’s Cairo Egyptians concluded the trip before rolling back into West Frankfort.

Contini was well-liked and obviously versatile.  Unfortunately, I am afraid that the large dollars associated with professional sports today make men like Contini few and far between in modern times.  Can you imagine a modern-day manager who would be willing to do all the “little things” to help see his team succeed?

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