by Frank Hyde
October 22, 1969
Becker Brothers Baseball Team Of 60 Years Ago Never Lost Game
His was the quick stride of a one-time athlete who has retained his strength and reflexes to a surprising degree.
Lewis Becker, you see, is 91 years old and he is one of the four remaining members of the Becker Brothers baseball team, believed to be the only all-brothers team to ever perform on the diamond in this area.
"We didn't play a lot of games, but we never lost when we were all together," Lewis says proudly.
The Becker Brothers from Clark's Corners played together shortly after the turn of the century-between 1905 and 1910-as Lewis recalls it, but he added, "I was 70 years old when I played in my last game. It was against the sons of the Becker boys and we beat them. I was so stiff I could hardly move for several days."
The Becker Brothers team was composed of Lewis, Pete, Jess, Alton, George, Fred, Frank, Joe, Tom and Marvin, the batboy.
Front row: Marvin (batboy) and Elton. Middle row: Pete (manager), Jess, Lewis and Tom. Back row: George, Fred, Austin (father), Jenny (mother), Frank and Joe.
Four Still Living
Four are still living. In addition to Lewis, there's George of Allen Street Extension, Alton of Ivory and Marvin of Clark's Corners, all in the 70-80 age bracket.
One hallmark of success for the Becker Brothers on the baseball field was apparently the ability of all to play any position.
"At least five of us could pitch," Lewis remembers, "as far as the outfield or the infield was concerned, it made no difference to any of us."
Lewis cannot recall any specific games or the scores. "We played at Clark's Corners, Frewsburg, Gerry, Ellington, Falconer, Jamestown and most area communities where baseball fields were available."
One time a Buffalo promoter came to visit the boys and offered to put their team on the road as a barnstorming outfit. "We thought it over but one of my brothers was running a store and the rest of us were pretty busy, so we decided to pass up his offer," Lewis explains.
The Indian wars were still being fought in the West, automobiles were unknown and the horse and the train were kings of the transportation world when Austin and Jennie Becker were rearing their family of 14 at Clark's Corners.
Simple Healthy Way of Life
The Becker Boys did what most boys did in those days in the absence of radio, television, public playgrounds and campus protests. They ran races, they wrestled and they were hunters and horseback riders. But mostly they were farm workers-long hours and no pay but with a lust for living that marked America's pioneer era.
"I guess it was natural we should start playing baseball," Lewis recalled. "We got some equipment together and played among ourselves for a time. As we grew older, we outfitted ourselves with uniforms of sorts and played other teams. That went on for quite a few years."
During those years, Lewis met a pretty young lady named Ella Walrod, also of Clark's Corners.
Today they are looking back on their 68th wedding anniversary. "We reared four boys of our own," Ella, now 85 years old, says proudly.
Any recipe for longevity?
Ella, speaking for both Lewis and herself, said, "Well, we have never drunk or smoked and we have both worked hard all our lives."
It's a simple formula that seems to have paid big dividends in a day when life itself was simpler.