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History of Freeland, Pa.

What's on this page:

  • Photos and postcards of Freeland area baseball teams
  • Team mascots, ball boys, bat boys



Upper Lehigh team 1890s Reproduced in Bob Falatko’s History of Foster Township, p. 22, where Bob wrote: “Sports, particularly baseball, played a big part in the lives of those living in the coal regions. Almost every patch town had a team, that played in leagues set up by the various ball clubs. This particular team pictured here is from Upper Lehigh, and was taken somewhere around 1890-95. The composition of this team is comparable to most of the other teams in their composition. Miners, breaker and boiler house workers, clerks, and quasi-official Company personnel. For example, the gentleman standing on the right with the umbrella is John Powell, Company Paymaster probably acting as the manager of the team, or the sponsoring coal company’s representative. The fellow in the middle with the white tie is Jim Goulden, Company Store manager. The others are identified as left to right, standing: Howie or Jim Williams, miner; Tommy Edwards, miner; Jim Goulden; John Lesser; and James Brogan, Assistant Foreman. Kneeling, on the left and right are two Davis’; and the two in the middle are unidentified. These men worked all day, and played after work and on weekends, most walking to every game, wherever played in the area. To realize the impact of this sport on its times, just ask any oldtimer in the patch towns about baseball in his day, and he’ll give you verbatim almost any statistic on some legendary player of his day, and every town had several legends in the game. Including quite a few who went on to fame in the big leagues as pros.” The photo was also reproduced in the PennySaver 6(3), June 1968, p. 16.  Photo from John Zubach.


Upper Lehigh Reds 1902 Upper Lehigh Reds, 1902. From PennySaver 2(4), June 1964, p. 1: "Playing under the sponsorship of the Upper Lehigh YMCA. Still living are David Evans and Tommy Johnson of Freeland. Top row, left to right - Dave Evans, Mike Barret, Dick Dudley, Mgr., John Boczkowski, Tom McGuire, Tom Johnson, Tom Letcher and James Johnson. Bottom row, left to right - Joseph Johnson, Mascot, Cormac Brogan, Dennis Ferry, Bob Kishbaug, Maurice Johnson, John Barret and George Whiteman. Picture courtesy of David Evans, 80 years old at time of publication." Photo from John Zubach.

1903 Tigers baseball team This photo of the 1903 Tigers baseball team comes to us from Ed Bacon. He wrote: "I am the grandson of Edward J. Gallagher. He and his brother Peter were barbers, first at 354 Centre St. and then 713 Main St. We lived on Main St. with them until the mid-1960s. I have a number of photos that were on the Main St. shop walls. ... [This one] is the Freeland Tigers baseball team, my grandfather Edward is seated on the floor on the left."

Brigid McMenamin commented on this photo: "Hi Chuck, just noticed that in your 1903 photo of the Freeland Tigers the guy in the middle (jacket, tie, full head of dark hair) looks just like Hugh A. McMenamin (1878-1943) of Centre Street, who graduated from MMI, St. Michael's (Toronto) and Philadelphia Dental School 1907 and went on to practice in Scranton. I know he was associated with the team, which I believe was cofounded by his brother John J. (1872-1917), who also managed the Opera House, founded a men's shop on Centre, and co-founded the Ferry drugstore, and built a big house on Vine for his wife Margaret (Maggie Ferry, sister of Fanny & daughter of Freeland saloonkeepers/hoteliers Maurice & Mary (McGinley) Ferry) and their 11 children."

Tigers Baseball team photo caption Mary Rosenkrans later commented: “I saw the comments on the home page by Bridget McMenamin concerning the 1903 photo of the Freeland Tigers. She is correct that it is Hugh McMenamin in the middle of the photo. I’ve attached the byline that came with the newspaper article and has all the names listed. My grandfather is in the front, Edward Gallagher.” At the end of the byline, notice the reference to the Hot Stove League, a term that according to Wikipedia dates to 19th-century small town America and refers to baseball’s off-season and calls up images of baseball fans gathering around a hot stove during the cold winter months, discussing their favorite baseball teams and players. Photo courtesy of Mary Rosenkrans.

1904 Freeland Slavonian baseball team This photo of the 1904 Freeland Slavonian baseball team comes to us from Pat Boren. It was published in one of the local newspapers on June 7, 1950 (so the notes on deceased players are as of June 7, 1950).
Back row, left to right: Andrew Greshko, captain; Mike Herkalo, assistant manager; Steve Makuta, coach; Joe Makuta and Mick Ondushko (d).
Front row, left to right: Joe Banik, John Rusinko (d); Joe Virusky (d), manager; Gus Cherescavich, George Rusinko, and Adam Cherascavich, mascot.
Pictured above is the Freeland Slavonian team, first all-Slavonian nine to play league baseball in Pennsylvania and one of the first All-Slovak nines in the state. This 1904 team had an excellent record. Regulars not present when the picture was taken were Joe Banjok, Andrew Sarosky, Mike Shalata (d), and Tom Beckaly of Hazleton. George Shigo and Johnny Novak, Freeland All-Home Five basketball ace, also played with the Slavonians after their college teams ended their seasons in June.

1905 Freeland Y.M.C.A. baseball team Freeland Y.M.C.A. baseball teamThis is the 1905 Freeland Y.M.C.A. baseball team, photo courtesy of Bob Vannauker. His father George Vannauker was on the team and is marked with an "X" on the photo. The enlarged image was repaired digitally by Jay Cawley; here's what the actual photo looks like.(Thank you, Jay.) The black and white copy came from John Zubach.

Baseball group photo 1906 The men are wearing shirts that look like they might be from several teams, and most of the players are in blackface. ??? The photo was taken in 1906, the year of the Pearl Jubilee. Mary thinks her grandfather Edward Gallagher is seated on the far right. Photo courtesy of Mary Rosenkrans.

Dorrance ball field ca. 1906 Dorrance ball field ca. 1906 Written on the back of this photo postcard: Dorrance Twp. Baseball field 1906 or 1908. Photo from John Zubach.

Tigers baseball team This photo of the 1907 Tigers team as published in the Freeland PennySaver in 1964 comes to us from Joan Buday. She wrote: "The original article was give to me by my cousin Chuck McHugh in Houston, formerly of Freeland. It was mailed to his father Charles "Chap" McHugh as you can see in the upper corner. Your history of Freeland site is incredible. It has provided much, much info for me in genealogy research. Thanks for all of your efforts." Thank you, Joan.

Tigers 1907 1907 Freeland Tigers, photo reproduced in PennySaver 2(2), April 1964, p. 1. "Front row: Joe Ferry (Pitcher and 1B), Jimmy Brogan (LF), Bill Brogan (Bat Boy), Effie Welsh (Catcher). 2nd row: Hugh McDevitt (3B), Billy Kringe (CF), John Barret (RF), Joseph Johnson (Outfield). 3rd row: Dewey McNelis, Jimmy Campbell (RF) (or 4F???), Tommy Brislin (Mgr.), John Brislin (2B), Alfie Boczkowski (Pitcher)." Photo in PennySaver 2(2), April 1964. Story on p. 16: "The Freeland Tigers in 1907 played in the Tri-County league of four teams, that included Drifton, Hazleton, and Audenried. Freeland won the pennant in 1910. This picture was taken on the back porch of the Washington Hotel, Walnut Street, Freeland. Vic DeiTos is now building his home on the former hotel site. Dewey McNelis and Bill Brogan, a Philadelphia physician, are the only ones still living. Mr. McNelis was the source of this article's information." Photo from John Zubach.

Jeddo Stars
                baseball team This is the 1908 Jeddo Stars baseball team. The Jeddo Stars apparently began in 1901. Bruce Bartko sent this photo, with a note saying that it's possible that this could the 1908 team, based on the roster for that team given in an article that I had sent to his sister, Katherine Bartko Leighton - the article that I have is missing the photo that was apparently published with it. I found the article and its 3 photos, and sure enough, this photo from Bruce is the 1908 team! Here's the roster as found in the article: Front, mascot John Yalch; First row (from left), Mike Serock, Steve Batcha, manager Mike Bogansky, Mike Becker and Mike Bartko; Second row, Kelly Condrick Sr., Andy Sarosky, John Pavlinko, Gus Cherescavitch and Joe Makuta.

Their grandfather, Mike Bartko, shown in the front row, far right, lived a long life and died in 1974 at approximately age 85, according to Katharine.  Bruce added: "My father took me to the Jeddo Stars bar once when I was a child. It was nickle beer night!!!! He just had to go." The image has been digitally repaired by Jay Cawley.

1908 Weatherly baseball club I found this photo of the 1908 Weatherly Baseball Club on eBay, and I think that I bid on it but was outbid. I saved a copy, though, and am sharing it here.


Freeland Tigers baseball team Thanks to John "Zeke" Zurko for this undated early photo of the Freeland Tigers baseball team. I don't know when the photo was taken. If you know, please email me, or if you recognize any of these players, please let me know.

Some time after I wrote that note, I heard from John Pollack. He wrote: Some intel on the photo from John Zurko in the 1920s section. The player 2nd from the right sitting on the board is my grandfather, Joseph A Ferry. The player behind him (3rd from right) looks to me like Jimmy Brogan identified in the 1907 Tigers picture on the front page of the Penny Saver (see above, from Joan Buday). I can’t help with the date. Thank you for your work on the site.

Joe Ferry, umpire Then he wrote back: I ended up in after I saw the picture. After he played he was an umpire. The papers in the ‘20s identify him as an umpire so it’s pre-1920. Not sure when players in the day hung up their gloves, he would have turned 40 in 1922. Average age to quit today would be around 30. I’d put the picture in the teens.

Thanks to John Pollack for this! We're always grateful to have people in photos identified, and it's great to learn that Joe Ferry was later an umpire. We could use more information about local umpires!

Freeland Athletics 1910 Freeland Athletics 1910 Freeland Athletics baseball team at Crescents Field, 1910. Photo from John Zubach.

Freeland Tri-County champs 1915 Freeland Athletics baseball team - Tri-County Champions in 1915. Photo courtesy of Tom Landers, Joe Flanagan, and the Freeland Historical Society.


Baseball team and supporters ca1920s Baseball team and supporters ca1920s I don't know if this is a Freeland area team or not - can't make out what the shirts say. It looks like it might be from around the 1920s. Photo from John Zubach.

Hazlebrook Slovonians Ryan Strawn wrote about this great baseball photo: Hello, I very much enjoyed your website on the History of Freeland, PA. A distant cousin of mine, David Racosky, sent me a photo of a team called the "Hazle Brook Slavonians". I know where Hazlebrook was located, but I do not know who exactly is in the photo, and am not certain which year it was. As far as I know, one of the men in the photo is a Racosky, but according to team stats, there were two Racoskys on the team at one time in the 1920s. I believe it was one of my great-great-grand-uncles, Joseph, John, or George Racosky.Their sister Mary (Racosky) Nemchick was my great-great-grandmother. … I would estimate the year anywhere from 1910-1920s …

Hazlebrook Slavonians vs. Beaver Meadow Crescents, 1921 Hazlebrook Slavonians vs. Drifton Braves, 1922 This article at left [playing against Crescents] was from 18 July 1921 -- there were two Racoskys (my g-g uncles) on the team in that year.

Another one at right [playing against Drifton Braves] was from 26 June, 1922: only one Racosky was on the team.

Hazlebrook Slovonians Ryan later wrote more: David Racosky told me the identities of the baseball players. This was according to Papa Tom Racosky (Michael’s son). The blue mark is Michael Racosky (1896-1986). He is holding the catcher’s helmet, although I am not sure how much he actually played catcher. He actually looks just like my grandfather did when he was in his 20s (he is grandfather’s great-uncle). Michael escaped from the coal mines and came to Bethlehem and worked in the steel plant I believe. He also had all his fingers chopped off. Whether an amputation or an accident at the steel, I’m not sure.

Red mark is David Racosky’s grandfather Joseph Racosky (1889-1972). David Racosky said he doesn’t know why he is holding a glove because he usually just played outfield and stood out there without a glove.

I’d be very happy if you would share the photo to the website, since it is a piece of the era’s rich history. Put courtesy of Ryan Strawn and my email: in case anyone ever wants to contact me about it.

Another anecdote about the Hazlebrook Slavonians from Ryan Strawn, who wrote: I was told a story by Tom Racosky who lives in Virginia. He is the son of Michael Racosky (1896-1986), who played on the Hazlebrook Slavonians baseball team near Hazleton, PA with his brother Joseph S. Rocosky (1889-1972). They spelled their last names differently.

I had contributed info and a photo about the team to your Freeland history site some time ago. I may have skewed the story of Joseph S. Rocosky a bit, but this is the history his nephew Tom told me: Joseph S. Rocosky was referred to as “Steam Shovel Joe”. He played outfield. His hands were so strong calloused from working in the coal mines, that he had no need for a glove during the baseball games. He would catch the ball barehanded, and the callouses would keep him from feeling the sting of the ball on his palms.
(Thanks to Ryan for sharing info, images and stories.)

Hazlebrook Slavonians and other challengers, 1922 Ed Merrick did some searching for information about the Slavonians and found that all of these various teams back then were issuing challenges to other teams IN THE NEWSPAPER. Like this:
“The Hazle Brook Slavonians challenge the Drifton Federals for a game any time, any place. Answer through this paper.”

Thanks to Ryan Strawn for sharing images and information, and also to Ed Merrick.


Hazle Brook Pirates Hazle Brook PiratesThis photo of the Hazle Brook Pirates 1937 baseball team comes from Barbara Bartol Rentenbach. Barbara's father played on this semi-pro team at age 17. Team members' names are written on the bottom of the photo [please let me know if I've mistyped any names]: Dikie Litchko, Frank Midlick, Snuffy Bartol, Joe Dufallo, Horse Witchko, John Hynick, Gusard Sessack, Mushy Kovack, John Midlick, Billy Kovalick, Louis Paulshock.

Upper Lehigh A. C. wins game, 6-23-1934 Upper Lehigh Ramblers, 1933 game reports In 1934 the Upper Lehigh A. C.  played the White Haven Blue Mountain Leaguers and the Rock Glen All-Stars. In 1933 the Upper Lehigh Ramblers baseball team played teams including the Weatherly Independents, The Oakdale team, and the Freeland Pirates. Clippings from Charlie Stumpf.


Upper Lehigh Eagles, 1940sHere we have a few of the Upper Lehigh Eagles, from sometime in the 1940s. This and the next several photos came to me from Eleanor Sheaman Laganosky, Wilmington, Delaware. She was kind enough to send them to me some time after my dad died in 1991. She wrote on the back of this photo: Left to right: Johnny Tancin, Stevie Tancin, Harold Blose (I think?), Billy Kears, Yabby Tiglio. A lot of those guys had nicknames, I remember from my dad. Harold Blose was Blosie; my dad called Billy Kears "Willy Mays"; my dad was a lefty and had red hair back in those days and I think they called him Pinky. That's his glove at top left of this page.

Upper Lehigh Eagles, 1940sSome of the Upper Lehigh Eagles, from sometime in the 1940s. Eleanor wrote on the back of this photo: Left to right: Charlie Sheaman, Billy Kears, Stevie Tancin, Paul Fisher. Front: Bat boy, Bobby (George) Sheaman. Billy Kears also had red hair and was the first person I remember having a tattoo on his arm. I thought his name really was Willy Mays (see paragraph above), and so when I was a little kid, when I would see him walking on the street I'd shout "Hey, Willy Mays!" Probably embarrassed the hell out of him. Tsk.

Upper Lehigh Eagles, 1940sSome of the Upper Lehigh Eagles, from sometime in the 1940s. Eleanor wrote on the back of this photo: Front: Bobby (George) Sheaman. Left to right: Billy Kears, Johnny Tancin, Paul Fisher. George Sheaman, Manager.

Upper Lehigh Eagles, 1940s Upper Lehigh Eagles, 1940sSome of the Upper Lehigh Eagles, from sometime in the 1940s. Eleanor wrote on the back of this photo to identify a few of the guys, but it's a little uncertain as to who's who. I'm typing what I think are the identities here, but am also showing the back of the photo so that you can see what I'm working from. Corrections are always welcome. So I'm guessing that standing second from left is Pecker Pshar, next to him at right is Charlie Sheaman. Then I think she's saying that seated in front left in white shirt and hat is Bo Buchman, and the guy thumbing his nose is Ralph or Yabby Tiglio.

George Sheaman, manager, Upper Lehigh Eagles, 1940sAnd this is George Sheaman, manager of the Upper Lehigh Eagles, from sometime in the 1940s. Eleanor also sent me a team roster from 1946: Manager, George Sheaman; Pitcher, Bobby May; Short stop, Joey Tancin; First base/Outfield, John Tancin; Catcher, Albert "Bo" Buchman; Left field, Billy Kears; Right field/Outfield, George Tancin; First base, Donny Kromis; Second base, Sonny Shemo; Third base, Steve Tancin; Right field/Center, Paul Fisher; Third base, Charlie Sheaman; Bat boy, Bobby Sheaman. Also, Tom Polcha, "Pecker" Pshar, Tony "Yabby" Tiglio, Harold Blose.

Jeddo Stars 1945 Jeddo Stars 1945, at Sampson, NY. Johnny Ballots, Joe Marchetti, Chuck Sarosky, John Stradnik, Tom Malchitsky, George Opert, Wes Matchick, Manager Hal Heidenrich, Danny Sarosky, Taylor Matteo, John Malchitsky, George Moskovich, Lefty Smith, Porky Hudock, Rex Antinozzi. Photo courtesy of Tom Landers, Joe Flanagan, and the Freeland Historical Society.

Four schools' young baseball teams ca. 1949 Bob Zimmerman has written on this photo: ca. 1949. Four Freeland schools (St. Ann, Foster, Freeland + MMI) + White Haven. Photo courtesy of the Freeland Historical Society.


Joe Zoshak wrote: Thought you might want this for the Sports section of your Freeland website. The three Zoshaks are my uncles. I didn't make the team since I was only about 6 months old. John Zoshak taught science and shop in addition to coaching baseball and basketball. Carl Dargay eventually taught and coached at Foster Township High and in later years became an assistant superintendent at Hazleton Area School District. - Joe Zoshak, FHS ‘69

Foster Falcons, 1951-1952 Caption: FOSTER FALCONS – This week’s “nostalgia corner” features the Foster Township High School Falcons baseball team of 1951-52. The team, from left, kneeling, batboys Bobby Zoshak and Dave Antolick. First row, Don Sauers, George Pshar, Francis “Butch” Zoshak, Carl Dargay, George “Ginger” Matisak, Pete Komishock. Back row, Coach John “Ginner” Zoshak, Jake Shelly, Eden Moyer, Gene Zynel, Emil Antolick, George Blanyar and Ronnie Antolick.
(Thanks, Joe.)


1905 Freeland Y.M.C.A. baseball team mascot This is the bat boy for the 1905 Freeland Y.M.C.A. baseball team, courtesy of Bob Vannauker.

Jeddo AllStars baseball team mascot Here is John Yalch, the bat boy for the 1908 Jeddo Stars baseball team. The photo comes to us courtesy of Bruce Bartko.

Upper Lehigh Eagles bat boy, 1940s Here is the bat boy for the Upper Lehigh Eagles baseball team in the 1940s, Bobby (George) Sheaman. The photo comes to us courtesy of Eleanor Sheaman Laganosky.

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