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Steve Krah
Steve Krah
Baseball has been sports reporter Steve Krah's passion since childhood. In Season Tickets, there will be plenty of stories from the diamond, but that's not all. Look for stories about athletic happenings and personalties of all kinds.



Other Stories by Steve Krah
Reporter Steve Krah covers sports for the Elkhart Truth.


Remembering Elkhart's 'Spic' Awater, Northern Indiana League baseball

Paul 'Spic' Atwater of Elkhart played baseball locally and in the minor and major leagues. He passed away in January.

Posted on Oct. 24, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 24, 2013 at 8:45 a.m.

Elkhart's Paul Atwater was quite a baseball player in his time.

A baseball captain at Elkhart High School when the school brought back the sport in the late 1930's, Atwater went on to play three pro seasons before World War II and one afterward and then resume his status as a diamond star on the local level.

Atwater, who picked up the childhood nickname of "Spic," was a slick-fielding middle infielder who was a part of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He played for the Williamston (W.Va.) Red Birds of the Mountain State League in 1940 and part of 1941 before landing with the Columbus (Ga.) Red Birds in the latter part of 1941 and all of 1942. At Williamston, he was a teammate of future 17-year big leaguer Del Rice and 7-year big leaguer Hal Rice. At Columbus, he played with future 8-year big leaguer Dick Sisler.

After serving with the U.S. Navy during WWII, 5-foot-10 1/2-inch, 174-pound Atwater played one more minor league season - 1946 - with the Lynchburg Cardinals of the Piedmont League. Wes Farell, who had already had a 15-year stint in the majors, was a part of the Lynchburg squad.

Atwater, who died Jan. 20, 2013, at 92, was a fan favorite in Elkhart while playing for C.G. Conn - a team that took on all comers from the House of David to the Chicago Firemen - and later the Elkhart Moose of the Northern Indiana League. Younger brother Vern Atwater also played in the NIL.

The NIL News, a publication edited by Jack Mathis of LaPorte, told Atwater's story in a June 22, 1951 issue:

"Spic started out his baseball career by playing on local Elkhart neighborhood aggregation.

"Baseball was at low tide in Elkhart during the years just after the depression, and boys around the neighborhood had to field a team of their own if they wanted to play. The boys sold magazines for money to buy some baseball equipment, and it was stored in the basement of the Atwater house when not in use.

"The team was named the South Side Eagles, and they won a great deal of the games that they played. The next year, 1938, found these same boys herded together in the YMCA league under the title of the Elkhart Indians. They won the league title with Atwater at shortstop, and played a few exhibitions around the vicinity, including a few teams that were older than the youngsters.

"The interest of those boys in high school prompted the return to baseball by Elkhart High in 1939, and Spic was elected captain of that group."

The article went on to say that Atwater began his professional career in 1940 by attending the Ray Doan baseball school in Jackson, Miss. Atwater had tried out in Battle Creek, Mich., and caught the attention of Cardinals scout Joe Mathis.

After spring training in Columbus, Ga., Atwater was sent to Williamston where he played third base and hit .347 for the season for the Mountain League champions and then .454 in a seven-game series loss to Virgina League-champion Lynchburg.

When Atwater was not playing baseball, he was working for the New York Central Railroad (he retired from the railroad in 1983) or rooting for the Chicago Cubs. He also loved to travel.

The Northern Indiana League was a big deal in the late 1940's and early 1950's and Elkhart's two teams - the Moose and Legion - were a part of the mix.

Fans of the NIL were invited to vote for all-stars, which played a game against the league leaders.

In 1951, the all-stars, which included Paul Atwater, Lewis Bigler, John Duckwall, Harold Fuller, Gene Lambdin of the Elkhart Moose as well as Dave Martin, Bob Primavera, Ambrice Rice, Sam Rodino, Ed Scherer, Bob Sweazy of the Elkhart Legion, beat the Moose at Elkhart's Studebaker Park.

In 1952, the all-stars topped the Niles (Mich.) Cubs at Thomas Stadium in Niles.

Fred Noffsinger managed the Elkhart Moose in 1951 and 1952 while Al Gaume was the Elkhart Legion skipper.

Some of the non-league foes in those years for the Legion and Moose included the Philadephia Stars, House of David, East Chicago Giants, Grand Rapids Black Sox and Kokomo Clowns.

 

Northern Indiana League Rosters

(Opening Day as printed in The N.I.L. News)

1951

Elkhart Legion

Paul Atwater

Donald Beckwith

Leonard Beehler

Robert Bertch

Lewis Bigler

Richard Crosbie

John Duckwall

Devin Eby

Robert Ervin

Robert Foy

Harold Fuller

Jerry Hayes

Samuel Hoover

Eugene Lambdin

Delvin Landis

James Landis

Leland Lindley

Ervin Losee

James Mellinger

Thomas Miller

Jay Nihart

Earl Oaks

James O'Brien

Robert Sweazy

Merle Timmons

Glenn White

 

Elkhart Legion

Vernon Atwater

Glenn Banks

Ben Gaume

David Martin

Keith Martin

Joseph Patanelli

Paul Phillips

Robert Primavera

Ambrice Rice

Samuel Rodino

Frank Roller

Raymond Shattuck

Edward Shearer

Gene Simper

Julius Smith

Robert Sweazy

Robert Troyer

George Weaver

 

Gary Sportsmen

Richard Boer

John Damian

Charles Dethloff

Raymond Dian

Joe Emery

John Feuerstein

Thomas Gobbie

Vern Koester

Wallace Leshk

Robert Medved

William Nichols

Jim Ottoson

Richard Peters

Peter Reigert

James Robinson

Rip Sewell

Edward Stefan

Frank Wilk

 

Great Lakes Ducks

John Clark

John Foss

Roger Gielow

Ashley Glossinger

Gene Gloy

William Goodwin

George Granburry

Anthony Heak

Verne Harris

Wilber Johnson

Phillip Kreuger

Robert Kruger

Robert LeRoy

Chester Mankowski

Danney Nespo

Rodger Nickell

Bud Parker

Daniel Ritter

Sherman Schoff

Clarence Teets

Paul Werner

 

Hammond Club Vail

Thomas Angelos

Joseph Beres

Robert Clark

Robert Cofer

Richard Davis

Samuel DeHaven

Harry Dorton

James Feges

Jack Haney

John Hughes

Richard Hughes

Harry Krieger

Pete Kokinda

Ronald Norton

Robert Rathburn

Don Scherer

Jack Spoerner

Harold Vail

Herbert Verboon

Garnet Ward

 

LaPorte Cubs

Rolland Akers

Raymond Arndt

Eugene Bealor

Carl Bolka

Willard Bunton

Harlan Clark

George Fowler

Richard Leeker

Eugene Marks

John Marshall

Samuel McClaughry

Charles Mitchell

Bernie Neveroski

Robert Pierce

John Rauschenbach

Richard Reed

William Replogle

Walter Smith

 

LaPorte Sportsmen

Donald Allison

Harvey Barden

Allen Bickel

Walter Boose

Edward Broeker

Willard Bunton

John Clements

John Collins

DeLoyce Cripe

Carl Janisch

Frank Janisch

David Jones

Richard Kowalczyk

Harold Lute

Robert Lute

Paul Marshall

Arthur McCauley

Waldo Sauter

 

Miller & Anderson

James Allin

William Balok

Fred Cherrone

John Farrell

Henry Frantz

Jack Hocker

Dick Jensen

Joseph Kolo

Fred Lindahl

William Magley

William Mathis

John Moore

Bruce Mullins

John Oppelt

Robert Schildknecht

Phillip Smeltzer

Raymond Spoon

Homer Stethem

Ralph Wogoman

 

1952

Elkhart Legion

Vernon Atwater

Glenn Banks

Peter Cooper

Steward Davis

Ben Gaume

Millard Havens

David Martin

Keith Martin

Robert Personette

Paul Phillips

Harold Lute

Ambrice Rice

Sam Rodino

Frank Roller

Edward Shearer

Gene Simper

Julius Smith

Walter Sweazy

Robert Sweazy

Thomas Young

 

Elkhart Moose

Paul Atwater

Leonard Beehler

Robert Bertch

Lewis Bigler

Richard Crosbie

John Duckwall

Harold Fuller

Jack Hoshizu

Dick Garner

Ray Holbrook

James Landis

Gerald Miller

Thomas Miller

Jim Mellinger

Jay Nihart

James O'Brien

Earl Oakes

Franklin Osborn

John Oswald

Wallace Phares

Bruce Smith

Eugene Smith

May Reynolds

James Wallace

Leon Whisler

Glen White

Robert Whitback

 

Great Lakes Ducks

Frances Berge

Clark Bolka

Euless England

Ashley Glossinger

Gene Gloy

William Goodwin

Tony Haak

Verne Harris

Phillip Krueger

Robert Krueger

James Kunnen

Bob LeRoy

Edward Lewinski

Daniel Nespo

Donald Neveroski

Rodger Nickell

Ova Nickell

Gene Peters

Daniel Ritter

Kenneth Schreiber

Darrell Smith

Elliott Sorge

Ronald Stakoviak

Clarence Teets

Pete Vankowski

Marion Waldo

Paul Werner

Glen Rosenbaum

William Zebell

 

Hammond Club Vail

John Bathwell

Joe Berges

Richard Burgard

William Carpenter

Robert Clark

Robert Cofer

Wayne Grenzer

Robert Grimler

Jack Haney

Jim Holycross

John Hughes

Robert Jacobs

Pete Kokinda

Edward Kolisz

Mann Roye

Ronald Norton

Bill Scott

James Scott

Randy Shepard

Harold Thread

Harold Vail

Roy Vail

Herbert Verboon

Thomas Zimmerman

 

LaPorte Cubs

Raymond Arndt

David Bealor

Eugene Bealor

Ted Bean

Jack Bunce

Harlan Clark

George Fowler

David Jones

Robert LeRoy

George Masterson

John Marshall

Charles Mitchell

Tom Morris

John Rauschenbach

John Reed

Richard Reed

William Replogle

Walter Smith

Allan Spicer

 

LaPorte Sportsmen

Donald Allison

Clark Barden

Eldon Barker

Walter Boose

Edward Broeker

George Carey

John Clements

John Collins

DeLoyce Cripe

Jesse Galloway

Jim Hall

Wesley Harness

Delbert Hough

Carl Janisch

Frank Janisch

Richard Jones

Dick Kowalczyk

Robert Pagel

Charles Neary Sr.

Charles Neary Jr.

Arthur McCauley

William Pitmon

Joseph Plis

Roman Saliwanchik

Thomas Sawyer

Waldo Sauter

Wayne Starzyk

Roger Wendt

 

Miller & Anderson

William Balok

Jim Dalton

John Farrell

Lyall Frank

Jack Hocker

Richard Jensen

Robert Klapp

Joseph Kolo

William Mathias

John Oppelt

Dick Peterson

Ray Spoon

Max Stethem

Larry Van Braene

Walter Witeman

John Wood

 

New Buffalo

Francis Buckingham

Frank Casteluccio

Charles Cramer

Leon Glossinger

Robert Hood

David Hoxie

Mevin Klute

Jack Kroening

Harry Krueger

Robert Krueger

Albert Laureys

Chester Mankowski

James Miller

Glenn Nelson

Henry Schroeder

Donald Siegmund

Dick Slater

Verne Sutherland

William Zebell

 

South Bend Indians

Robert Banaszak

Thomas Barrett

Randy Combs

Albert Costello

John Creevy

Leo Eufemi

Donald Evans

William Evans

Gene Flowers

John Gunn

Lenny Kapalczynski

Harry Lintner

John McCauslin

Vic Mettler

Robert Pajakowski

John Pinter

James Ramble

Roy Root

Donald Roytek

Robert Stankiewicz

Raymond Scott

Donald Yohe

 

Note: The rosters were to be "paired to 18 men plus the manager and only those will be eligible to participate in games that are scheduled for July 1 and on into the season."




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