St. Cloud Rox

From BR Bullpen

The St.Cloud Rox (Minnesota) was a Class C team in the Northern League for several years. In the late 1940s and early-to-mid 1950s the club was a farm team of the New York Giants.

Charlie Fox was the manager for several years during this time. I was a pitcher on this team in 1954, and won 12 games. Willie Kirkland was an outfielder on this team and went on to a major league career, and also played baseball in Japan. Willie was a fine hitter and hit well over .300 in 1954 and had many extra-base hits. He was a lefthanded hitter with great power at the plate. He used to hit high towering homeruns in St. Cloud. He also was a fast runner and was a good defensive outfielder with a strong arm. Willie was an African-American athlete. There was an African-American pitcher on our team that year named Reggie Lee. He was a rather skinny athlete, but threw with fine velocity and good movement on his fastball. I believe he was a military veteran, also. He was a lefthanded pitcher as I recollect, but I could be wrong about this. Another pitcher on this team was John Fitzgerald, a hard throwing lefthander, who also later pitched briefly in the major leagues for the San Francisco Giants. John was a tall blond pitcher from Brooklyn, New York, about 20 years old. Other players on the team were Kenny Harris, Dick Barnhart, Jack Wigley, Robert Meyer, John Spreen, Al Lange, Jesse Rogers, Gene Soderstein, Dick Messner, George Smith, Paul Messich (sp?), Ronnie Mahrt, Andy Mascia, Jack Cohen, Art Lettieri, Doug McDermid. George Reid was an outfielder on this team. He was a tall, strong, wiry athlete from Alabama, who had a strong throwing arm. He may have tried pitching at one time. He was a free-swinger as a hitter, and could hit with good power, although I'm not sure he hit for a good average.

My guess is that the average salary was about $250 to $275 per month, and we received about $3 per day meal money when on a road trip. We players roomed in private homes around St. Cloud, renting a sleeping room for about $8 to $10 per week, if I remember correctly. We ate many of our meals at a local restaurant and bar called "Fritzi Frank's." For entertainment after games or rain-outs, we often went to a beer bar on the outskirts of town nicknamed "the Bloody Bucket." It was also a favorite hangout of the local college students from St. Cloud State University. Other teams in the league that 1954 season were Superior (Wis), Duluth (Minn), Grand Forks, Fargo, and Aberdeen from the Dakotas, Winnepeg (Canada), and possibly Eau Claire, Wis. A future major leaguer, Mudcat Grant, pitched for Fargo, I believe. Frank Gravino also played for Fargo and led the league in homeruns, hitting more than 50.

The 1955 St. Cloud Rox continued as a farm team of the New York Giants, and I believe won the league play-offs and ultimate championship. Future major leaguers on this team were Leon Wagner, Andre Rodgers (position players) and pitcher Frank Funk.

Another pitcher was John Zarcone. He may have pitched a no-hitter for the Rox. Frank Szekola was an infielder (I think). These two players probably continued their pro careers in the Giants farm system.

Submitted by Bill O'Donnell, pitcher, St. Cloud Rox, 1954

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1946 73-31 1st Walter Kopp League Champs
1947 48-71 7th Dave Bancroft
1948 78-40 2nd Charlie Fox Lost in 1st round
1949 65-59 3rd Charlie Fox Lost in 1st round
1950 72-51 1st Charlie Fox Lost in 1st round
1951 64-55 2nd Harold Kollar Lost in 1st round
1952 60-64 6th Charlie Fox
1953 66-59 3rd Charlie Fox Lost in 1st round
1954 76-54 2nd Charlie Fox Lost in 1st round
1955 78-47 2nd Charlie Fox League Champs
1956 61-64 6th Charlie Fox
1957 59-63 5th Pete Pavlick
1958 72-50 1st Richard Klaus Lost League Finals
1959 43-80 8th Richard Klaus
1960 49-74 8th Fred Martin
1961 73-54 3rd Joe Macko Lost League Finals
1962 61-63 5th George Freese
1963 51-69 6th Walt Dixon 4th 16-14*
1964 54-68 5th Walt Dixon 4th 15-18*
1965 73-23 1st Jim Rantz none League Champs
1966 49-18 1st Ken Staples none League Champs
1967 44-26 1st Ken Staples none League Champs
1968 43-27 1st Carroll Hardy none League Champs
1969 33-37 3rd Jim Merrick none
1970 31-39 5th Jim Merrick none
1971 42-28 1st Ken Staples none League Champs

* Baukol Playoffs based on last 30 days of the season