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Omaha Buffaloes

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In 1921 the Omaha Rourkes became the Omaha Buffaloes after Pa Rourke sold the club. The club from Omaha, NE went 95-73, second in the Western League, in its first season. 35-year-old player-manager Jack Lelivelt tore up the circuit, leading the league in average (.416) and hits (274). He was second in total bases (404) and 5th in runs (149). Minor League Baseball Stars (Volume 2) and The Sporting News for December 22, 1921, lists him with a league-leading 70 doubles, but "The Western League" does not place him in the top 5 that year. Lelivelt was replaced as manager in May, though, by Barney Burch.

The next year the team went 91-77, 4th in the 8-team loop. Dan Tipple (23-6) led the Western in winning percentage, was second in victories (albeit 15 behind George Boehler) and third in strikeouts (194). The club had an impressive trio of hitters pass through town - Babe Herman hit .416 in 92 games, future Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush (.376, 245 hits) was second in the circuit in average and third in hits and George Grantham (.359, 22 HR, 33 SB, 157 runs) had a rare (for the era) 20-20 season; he was fourth in the WL in steals, tied for 4th in runs, 6th in homers and in the top 10 in average.

Omaha was basically the same in 1923 (92-74, 4th place). By Speece (26-14) tied for third in the WL in victories. Veteran Ed Konetchy launched 22 homers, tying for fifth in the league. The club was informally known as the Burch Rods under manager Burch.

The Buffaloes romped to the pennant in 1924 with a 103-61 record, 4 and a half games better than the Denver Bears. New manager Art Griggs's charges included 35-year-old Bill Bailey, who led the league with 191 strikeouts and won 23, one of 3 Buffalo pitchers to top 20 (Lou Koupal won 22 and someone named Lee won 25). 1B Nick Cullop launched 40 homers in his second season with the club, good for 3rd in the league, while 2B Fresco Thompson was third in runs (150) and fourth in triples (13).

Omaha slipped drastically in 1925 as their 74-89 record was second-worst. Bailey fell to 17-19 and tied for fourth in the league in losses; he was second with 149 strikeouts but led with 144 walks. Griggs helped his cause with 28 homers, 4th in the league, and a .337 average. Frank Osborn led the league in average (.372) and hits (245), was second with 158 runs, third with 55 doubles and hit 21 homers, but neither he nor Griggs made the All-Star team.

1926 saw the Buffaloes go 77-89 for 6th place. Outfielder Jimmy Blakesley (.384) was the sole All-Star, winning the batting title, placing second with 39 homers and tying for third with 394 total bases. 1B Snake Henry (.369) was second in average, third in homers (27), second in total bases (417), tied for third in runs (150) and doubles (57) and third in steals (35).

In the 1927 season the Omaha club fell back to 7th with a 66-88-1 season and again had no All-Stars. Mel Harder (4-7) was unimpressive, while Joe Rabbitt led the WL with 251 hits, 49 steals, 399 total bases and 172 runs. Rabbitt was fourth in homers (20), second in triples (26) and hit 7 homers in a 3-day span, setting a league record.

In 1928 the club was renamed the Omaha Crickets.

Main Source: "The Western League" by W.C. Madden and Patrick Stewart


[edit] Year-by-Year Record

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1921 95-73 2nd Jack Lelivelt / Barney Burch none
1922 91-77 4th Barney Burch none
1923 92-74 4th Ed Konetchy none
1924 103-61 1st Art Griggs none League Champs
1925 74-89 6th Art Griggs none
1926 77-89 6th Barney Burch none
1927 66-88 7th Kal Segrist / Barney Burch / Petey Brausen none
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