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Youth Baseball Founded in 1954

By: Chris Schwemlein
Prior to the formation of what we know today as Sandwich Boys Baseball (SBB), there was a town team called the Cardinals who traveled extensively in this area as part of what then was known as the Aurora Fox Valley League in the 40’s and 50’s. In many instances, depending on the skill level of the players, you could find a 3 or even 4 year age difference among teammates. It was in the Spring of 1954 that Carl Scent, Carl Naylon, Jim Price, Louis Cunz and Jim McInnes decided that a junior League baseball program was needed in Sandwich. Carl Scent remarked this was due in part to the fact that there were too many players on the Corn Belt Little League team and that more teams and a league were needed to handle the growing popularity of boys baseball. The junior League program would cover boys ages 9 to 17 and the playing schedule would be in the months of June, July and August, with an occasional exhibition appearance in September by a local team at the Sandwich Fairgrounds against another area team. Boys ages 9 to 12 would play on the four Little League teams to be formed that would play in town. In addition, a fifth Little League team would be formed as a traveling team in the Corn Belt Little League. Boys ages 13 and 14 would play in the newly named Fox Valley Pony League and ages 15 to 17 would compete in the (American) Legion League. Back in this inaugural season, all of the boys got to vote on what the team names would be. In Little League, the 4 town teams were named the Hawks, managed by Claude Griswold; the Mitie Mites, managed by James Anderson; the Orioles, managed by Si Hubert; the Tigers, managed by William Cole, and, the Corn Belt entry, the Braves, managed by Harold Prestagaard. (The Mitie Mites would change their name to the Cubs the following season). The Pony League entry chose the Eagles, to be managed by Ronnie Adrian and assisted by Wendell Smith and Dave Francis. Dave Francis and Ronnie Adrian also managed the junior Legion team entry. Many of these games were played at ball fields scattered throughout the town of Sandwich until land was acquired in the 1970’s to form Memorial Park, which would become the central location of youth summer baseball activity in Sandwich to this present day. Following their inaugural baseball season, team members of the Pony and Little League teams attended a Cubs versus Giants Major League game at Wrigley Field on August 25th, 1954, to cap off a successful start to what would eventually become the Sandwich Boys Baseball program that we know today.

All-Star Day and Hot Dog Day

The first known All Star Game involving an SBB team was in August of 1959, when Carl Scent and the Little League Moose teams fashioned an All Star Game versus a DeKalb All Star team, to be played in Sandwich. The following year, in August of 1960, the SBB organization opened the All Star Game format to more of the local players, when the Sandwich Corn Belt Braves took on an All Star squad from the City League. The Braves won by a score of 2-1. But it was in 1961 that the SBB Board decided to make the All Star Game format an all inclusive affair when on August 4th of that year the four City League teams; the Orioles, Hawks, Tigers and Cubs, would choose 6 players from each team to form the 2 All Star squads at that level. Then, on August 8th, the Minor League All Star Game would take place, featuring 4 players each from the Bears, Lions and Rams versus the squad formed from the Moose, Eagles and Colts teams of that league. As that annual Summer tradition began, so did another. Lewis B. Rex was the SBB Treasurer in 1961, and many know his name from the Rex Insurance Agency firm that was established in Sandwich at that time. Lewis, his wife Elsie, and their two daughters, Norma (Rex) Norling, and Nancy Rex, decided to treat all of the SBB players in uniform to a FREE Hot Dog and bottle of pop, whether they were selected to play in the All Star Game, or not. The Rex’s son, Lewis Rex, Junior, had been a part of the Sandwich baseball experience in his youth, so the Rex’s continued the tradition each All Star Game to purchase, prepare and hand out, for FREE, a hot dog and pop to all of the SBB players who attended the mid-Summer classic. After his untimely death, the SBB Board declared every All Star Game to also be Lewis B. Rex Hot Dog Day, to honor Lewis Rex and his family for their positive impact on Sandwich Boys Baseball. SBB honored the surviving Rex sisters (Norma and Nancy) on June 18, 2011, at Memorial Park on All Star Day, reading a proclamation celebrating 50 years of the Hot Dog Day custom. Sandwich Boys Baseball continues the tradition of Lewis B. Rex Hot Dog Day each and every season.
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