by Frank Hyde
Part 2 of 2
Playing In National Semi-Pro Was A Highlight For Leo Squinn
Being a member of the Jamestown Boosters, who won the New York State Semi-Pro Championship, and making the trip to the National Non-Pro Tournament in Wichita, provided a 1944 highlight for Leo Squinn, the man of many local sports achievements over a 40-year span.
The club defeated Gowanda 6-5 in the state final and shortly thereafter entrained for Wichita, accompanied by its own writer, Waite Forsyth, sports editor of the Post-Journal.
Squinn was business manager and the team was managed by Joe Nagle, another veteran who dates far back in local baseball history.
Nagle's club in the state championship game consisted of Roque Rosean, Jimmy Rodgers, Ralph Mee, Harold "Corky" Corcoran, Irv Carlson, Roger DuBois, Duane Shaffer, Bob Brownell, Warren Mee, Harold "Lefty" Pratt, Les James, Kenneth "Murph" Johnson, Lou Brown, Nagle and Squinn.
One of Forsyth's first reports from Kansas centered around nearly-missed train connections (remember when people traveled by train?) and a grand climax - no hotel reservations. Taxis were not available at the depot so the men hiked to the Broadview Hotel, where the National Semi-Pro Congress was to have made reservations. No rooms had been set aside, however, but eventually three were made available and the 17-man party "shacked up" in this limited space.
The Boosters lost in the double-elimination tournament, dropping its two contests to Air Force teams. The first was a 3-2 setback at the hands of the Lincoln (Nebraska) AFB club and the second, 8-0, to the Kearns AFB entry from Utah. Bill Baker pitched for the locals in the first, all three runs coming home on an error. Rodgers got the only hit in the - a contest that did not end until 2:30 in the morning. Squinn had a day for himself in that one, four-for-five including two homers.
Leo also played for the Salamanca Chiefs in 1945 and one of their more imposing victories was an 11-4 rout of the Buffalo Colored Giants. The Giants had just won a three-game series from the Palmer House Giants on a swing through the Midwest, so when Squinn blasted a homer against the imposing Negro nine, he had authored quite a feat.
One of the more highly publicized games of an earlier era was a benefit for Billy Webb, whose famous Spiders made Celoron Park just as famous. The ill Webb had dropped managership of the team, so a benefit was arranged pairing All-Jamestown and The Oldtimers, consisting of ex-Spiders.
Hugh Bedient of Levant, who had pitched for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Giants in the 1912 World Series, worked four innings for the Oldtimers.
A turnout of 400 watched the game at Celoron Park in which Lefty Pratt and Stan Carlson shared pitching for the All-Jamestowners and Nate Dreyer, who pitched in pro ball, Rabbit Swanson, now living in Warren, Tony Spetz and Charlie Fornell are mentioned in the newspaper accounts as having worked on the hill. Spetz managed the Oldtimers and Dick Illig the All-Jamestowns.
Squinn hit one that produced some extra revenue for him - a homer for the Corry Aeros. Also on that team with Leo were Jamestowners George Goodell, Jim Kote, Mel Vandewark, Morrie Mistretta and Punxy Oliver. Anyway, Leo cracked an 11th-inning, game-winning homer in an important game and when he completed his jaunt around the bases he was greeted by $12 laying on home plate.
As a fighter, Leo batted 1.000 - and got batted a few times in the process. He had four amateur fights and won them all. "But they were all tough," he relates, " and one in particular proved this business was not for me." The fight he refers to was against Eddie Pinjuski, a Golden Gloves winner out of Pittsburgh. Leo won the decision after four slam-bang rounds and a pro handler out of Meadville offered him a contract, but his mother's objections to his being a fighter sold him on the idea of "retiring."
Squinn married the former Helen Graham, a Pennsylvania girl, 37 years ago. They have one daughter, Mrs. Donald Johnson. How does Mrs. Squinn feel about being married to a sports "nut" of Leo's capacity? "At no time have I ever regretted a minute of it," she tells the world frankly.