Saturday, March 23, 2013
A Small Chapter in Baseball's History
Ahhhhh another post! Just about the second one in the past year. I felt it a necessity to post a piece of baseball's history for everyone to learn about. Baseball has changed so much over the years and I feel people should know more about the history of what they love. With baseball just around the corner, it seemed fitting to write about the history of baseball in the Town of Washington; in particular the Millbrook Millionaires, for an assigned-for-homework contest through the Dutchess County Historical Society for the 300th anniversary of the county.
As you may read, the team was most commonly known as the Millbrook Millionaires, but evolved into the Millbrook Legionnaires and also had a few other names over the years. Below is a team photo of the Millionaires in the mid-1920s, and if you keep scrolling you should find my essay as well as a team photo of the more recent Legionnaires in 1949/1950.
Dutchess County is, through generations, a place where monumental milestones have occurred. Even though there are numerous landmarks in the history and development of Dutchess County, one stands out from the rest; the organization and participation of baseball in the surrounding area. In particular, the Millbrook Millionaires, who were a semi-pro baseball team – based in Millbrook – that most notably played in the 1920s and 1930s, although they date back to the 1911, with the creation of the YMCA baseball field and later, the YMCA building; and dissipated in the late 1950s due to the destruction of their field with the creation of the new Elm Drive elementary school. They were the first baseball team Millbrook ever had, which is why the team was such an important part of the community. That was not the end of baseball in Millbrook however; there was a few teams throughout the middle part of the century, there is a Babe Ruth Team on and off through present day, there are the Millbrook High School and Millbrook Prep School baseball teams, as well as a Millbrook Little League that unfortunately just recently dissolved.
The Millbrook Millionaires, later evolved into the Millbrook Legionnaires, played a huge role in the community of Millbrook. Their afternoon games attracted large crowds of spectators to the YMCA field in Millbrook. Crowds usually hovered around a thousand onlookers at the “Y” field, but occasionally reached three thousand for the big games. These games brought many people into Millbrook; whether just for the day or for a lifetime. Some people came into the town to watch the game and then decided to stay and live in the area. Back in the early days, before T.V. and the abundance of cars on the streets, the Millionaires were what people looked forward to all week. They wanted to go and watch the game and root for the hometown team face off against the nearby rival towns. The whole town was into it, different businesses would sponsor the team and the costs for their equipment. Although the admission was free, there were free-will donations at every game that went around the crowd to also help with the teams expenses. The Millionaires would play teams in the surrounding towns and even go down to Long Island and up to Albany as well as everywhere in between, to play other semi-pro teams. The team had some up and down seasons throughout their existence, though they did win the Dutchess County Championship in 1931. Many of the players that once played for the Millionaires were elected into the Dutchess County Hall of Fame and some went
even further and played in the major leagues.
The Harlem Valley League’s Millbrook Millionaires brought the community together throughout the season. They were a milestone that should never be forgotten or misunderstood. Many of the players were not millionaires, yet the team gave Millbrook a sense of pride and accomplishment.