Modisett ball park


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Facts gathered on the potential restoration of the historic Modisett Ball Park in Rushville Nebraska, which held baseball tryout camps for the Milwaukee Braves during the 1950's and early 60's.

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  • Hi kpoppe,

    I am working with the folks in Rushville to draw up plans for the restoration of the ball park stadium. We would like to reconstruct the original crows nest. It was much smaller than the one in any of the photos that you have in this presentation. Have you come across any earlier photos?

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Modisett ball park

  1. 1. Modesett Ball Park <br />Rushville Nebraska<br />
  2. 2. The Milwaukee Braves held a tryout camp in Rushville Nebraska. Rushville is a town in northwest Nebraska and has a population of about 1,500. The camp drew high school and college age kids from a 600 mile radius.<br />The Rushville camp was one of those too good to be true stories. It starts with Albert and MayreModisett.<br />They came from Virginia and settled in Rushville. When they died (one in 35 the other in 1944) they left a significant endowment to the town of Rushville. The town build a city park, a community hall, a lodge, a home for old men and a ball diamond.<br />The baseball park had substantial stands, a sodded infield, good lights and an underground sprinkler system. It was hailed as a layout worthy of a minor league team.<br />
  3. 3. Then came Gene Leahy, brother of Frank Leahy (yes that Frank Leahy). Gene played football for Creighton University (yes, Creighton had football at one time). He was also a light heavyweight boxer. According to the Baseball Digest he played in the Nebraska State League as an outfielder but I can find no record of him playing in the class "D" NSL. <br />He was a pharmacist and insurance salesman in Rushville.<br />Gene knew Fred Miller, an executive with the Braves. Miller introduced Leahy to John Quinn, manager of the Braves. The result was that Rushville held the only major league tryout school in Nebraska for a number of years. The town opened their homes to house the boys who came to Rushville. Everyone bought a ticket to attend the tryouts for $5.00.<br />
  4. 4. The tryouts consisted of two days of drills and instructions. On the third day two teams of all stars were picked and they played against each other. Crowds of 3,000, twice the population of Rushville were common for the game. The Braves promised that at least one boy would be invited to a minor league camp the next year.<br />
  5. 5. TRYOUT CAMP AT RUSHVILLE<br />For some clubs, like the Braves, it's a big deal; <br />for others, it's a big nothing<br />by HAL MlDDLESWORTH<br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  6. 6. Indians…cattle... and boys.<br />Altogether, they spell baseball... a different, colorful phase of<br />Baseball. This is a midsummer tryout school of the Milwaukee Braves. It is held some 900 miles from County<br />Stadium, where the world championship was settled last October.<br />There's nothing quite like it anywhere.<br />The site is Rushville, which is represented on the map of Nebraska by a very tiny dot indeed. Lying in the shadow of the mysterious Black Hills, hardly more than an arrow's flight from the South Dakota and Wyoming border, it is a town of some 1,266 persons.<br />But they are people with imagination, energy and hearts as big as all outdoors-as you shall see.<br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  7. 7. Once in a year, in June, the invasion<br />takes place. A horde of 200 young ball players some of them<br />traveling as far as 800 mi1es, literally takes over the town.<br />It's not hard to imagine what that many lively youngsters can do to the normal routine of a town of 1,266.<br />But Rushville loves it.<br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  8. 8. When the Modisettsdied-one in 1935 and the other in 1944—their wills provided for a number of projects to make life easier andmoreentertaining around Rushville.<br />There was a city park, a community hall, a lodge building and<br />a home for old men.Butthe Modissetts, stanch diamond fans while living, remembered baseball best in their passing.<br />High on their list of good works was a fund for a baseball park.<br />With their money, Rushville built a paragon of a little park with<br />substansialstands, sodded infield, good lights and an underground sprinkling system. It is a layout worthy of a professional club.<br />The park was what led Gene Leahy to his Big Idea-which has<br />become baseball in Rushville.<br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  9. 9. It was Miller who introduced Gene Leahy to John Quinn, general manager<br />at Milwukee. Quinn brought in Eddie Dancisak, chief Midwestern scout and Russ Sehon, who was in charge of the Nebraska sector <br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  10. 10. Modisett Memorial 5/21/2010<br />
  11. 11. Gene Leahy took the ball from there and he has been running with it ever since.“It was the thrill of my lifetime,” he says fervently, "to realize that Rushville was to have the school<br />and that our boys so far out in the sticks, would get big league tutorage.<br />Any boy (16 to 21) who can get there is welcome. Trips of 200 to 400 miles are common. Some have traveled twice that far. Many as six states have been represented and one lad from Milwaukee planned to attend this year-an unusual twist in itself.Rushville may be llbut the boys don't have any trouble finding<br />it. Billboards at the edge of town proudly proclaim the site of the<br />school. Over Highway 20 floats a big banner. Every merchant in<br />town hangs out a "welcome" card. From the time the "scholars" arrive, everything is on the house. Rushville residents throw open their homes for lodging-and there is no charge. <br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  12. 12. "The all-star game," Dancisak pointed out, "has been played before as many as 3,000 fans-which is more than twice the population of Rushville. See how $successful we feel the school has become” Dancisak, a one-time minor league player who started scouting for the old St. Louis Browns but has been with the Braves ten years, naturally has become a strong believer<br />in summer tryout camps.<br />Although the school at Rushville has gone through only four sessions, the Braves feel it already has come up with something special in a southpaw by the name of Dale Hendrickson.<br />The young lefty from the little town of Gering, Neb., is almost a<br />carbon ropy of Warren Spahn, whom he imitates. Signed out of<br />the 1954 school, Hendrickson won 41 games in three minor league seasons and was good enough to train with the Braves this spring.<br />July 1958 Baseball Digest<br />
  13. 13. Dedication of the Modisett Ball Park was May 29th 1939. <br />Due to rains, the festivities were postponed.<br />The lights were briefly turned on for the large crowd. <br />
  14. 14. More pictures from the Museum <br />
  15. 15. Other baseball pictures from Museum <br />
  16. 16. Old sign at the Museum when the LA Angels held a tryout camp <br />
  17. 17. Grandstand today<br />
  18. 18. Grandstand from the back<br />
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  20. 20.
  21. 21. Eddie Dancisak<br />From BR Bullpen<br />Edward J. Dancisak<br />Bats Left <br />Height 5' 8", Weight 170 lb. <br />BornMay 30, 1912<br />DiedFebruary 5, 1966 in Lansing, MIUSA<br />Outfielder Eddie Dancisak played minor league baseball from 1937 to 1942, almost entirely at the C and D levels. <br />Dancisak entered the Army in February, 1944, being discharged in May, 1946. <br />Dancisak scouted for the St. Louis Browns (1946-1948), Boston Braves/Milwaukee Braves (1949-1959), Philadelphia Phillies (1960-1962), New York Yankees (1963), and New York Mets (1964-1966). <br />
  22. 22. By the 1920s, the Modisetts owned a large portion of Sheridan County that they had obtained through foreclosure on many homesteaders to whom they'd made personal loans. Albert married a West Virginian who later divorced him, Mayre never married, and Rosa married and divorced a Mr.Corder. Albert died in a car accident in 1936.<br />His will made bequests to several individuals, and the remainder of his estate was left in trust for Rushville as long as the town observed the terms of the will. He specified donations for an older men's Modisett Club, ModisettAirport, Modisett City Hall with Swimming Pool, Fairview Cemetery, the Masonic Hall, and <br />the Modisett City Park and Baseball Park. His will specified that no "kittenball" (softball) would be played on the baseball diamond, so a new softball park was built near the golf course. When Mayredied, a portion of his estate also went to the city. Rosa constructed a public women's restroom in downtown Rushville as a meeting place for women. The family left enough money to the community to maintain all the donated facilities. <br /><br />