Drain Black Sox national championship chronicled in new book
DRAIN — It’s been 58 years since the Drain Black Sox semi-pro baseball team won the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas.
Now, Eugene author Joe Blakely has published a book about the run to the national title. Blakely said a number of people had been telling him he should write a book about the Black Sox national championship in 1958. So he finally did, and Monday night, he gathered a few of the remaining players from that team, at the Drain Community Center, for a book signing.
The book is called “The Drain Black Sox of Oregon vs the Alpine Cowboys of Texas.”
About 50 people attended the event at the Drain Community Center, buying books and getting autographs, and hearing some stories about the glory days of semi-pro baseball in Drain.
Three of the members of the team were there, including Stan Dmochowsky, who was a pitcher on the team, and was a top pitcher for Oregon in the spring; Dan Luby, who was a senior at Oregon State University and played all nine positions; and Irv Roth, a catcher from Willamette University, and a former baseball coach and teacher at Lane Community College.
Dmochowsky, who is almost 86 years-old, was the head football and baseball coach at Drain High School in 1958-59 before moving to the Springfield district and getting into administration. He said at his age he forgets a lot, but he sure remembers that tournament.
“It was such a good experience, knowing that we were a small-town team that came together,” said Dmochowsky, who got more excited while talking about it. “When we landed we got the car rentals, and went to the ballpark to see what the competition was like. We watched what was going and and we said, wow, we better not unpack our bags. So we went from that feeling, to the championship game, and then winning it.
“I’ll take it to my grave with me,” he added with a grin.
The team was sponsored by Harold Woolley who owned the mill in Drain, and made up of players mostly from UO and OSU.
Luby, from Eugene, was a utility man on the team and once played all nine positions one night. Luby, who went on to own Luby’s Sporting Goods in Eugene, and coached baseball at Marist and Churchill high schools, said Harold and Donna Woolley were great to play for and they wanted to make sure their players got their college education.
“You could come down here and play, and make enough to pay for your tuition,” said Luby.
Roth was a catcher on the team. He played at Willamette and was the oldest player on the team at 28. The youngest player, he said, was Jerry Droscher, who graduated from Roseburg High School and played baseball at Oregon State. Droscher later became head baseball coach at RHS.
“He was a a big, strong kid, was an outfielder and did some pitching for us. He threw hard, but was a little wild. His main position was playing in the outfield,” said Roth.
Droscher, who died in 2005, was named to the National Baseball Congress All-American team after the championship run. He went on to coach junior college baseball and coached at Grants Pass High before returning to Roseburg to coach high school and American Legion baseball.
Dmochowsky, who was one of Oregon’s top pitchers, told the story of playing against the Kansas City Monarchs, an all-black team that Satchel Paige once played for. Every time he walked off the mound,the Monarchs’ third base coach would say, “Hey, you want to bet five bucks that we beat you.” Dmochowsky declined the offer and it’s a good thing he did.
“We were ahead about 8-3, and we got to the eighth inning, and boom, a guy hits a home run over the right field fence. Then boom, the next guy hits a home run over the center field fence. The next guy, boom, over the left field fence for a home run. Ray Stratton (the manager) came out to the mound and said, ‘maybe it’s time for a reliever,’ and I said yes, maybe it is,” said Dmochowsky.
“That summer, I had a record of 14-1. That was the only game I lost.”
Blakely said it was such a good story because of the contrasts between Drain, Oregon and Alpine, Texas. He said Alpine had the finest semi-pro baseball stadium in the nation, and Drain which had a ballfield carved out of a forest.
Drain was a lumber town and Alpine was a cattle town. Drain’s sponsor was a self-made lumber mill owner, while Alpine’s sponsor inherited a fortune and owned land stretching through three counties in southwest Texas.
“What really peaked my interest was what happened to them after they won the 1958 championship. Each of them really excelled in teaching, coaching and business enterprises,” said Blakely. “I think the book will be inspirational to people that love baseball.”
The Drain Black Sox finished the year 54-4 and beat the Alpine Cowboys 8-7 in Wichita, Kansas, to become the first team west of the Mississippi River to win the national title.
The championship trophy, pictures, and other memorabilia were on display at the event, thanks to the efforts of Joe Burres of Drain, who helped collect the mementos and is hoping to find a permanent home to display them.