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GAYLORD — In the early 1900s sports played an important role in the recreational activities of Otsego County,much as they do today. One of the premier attractions in the county was the Otsegos, a baseball team managed and owned by Henry (Tom) Stephens, a prominent lumberman in Waters.
The team traveled throughout the state in 1914, playing teams from Richmond, Armada, Romeo, Hasting, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ann Arbor, Cheboygan, Alba, Grayling, Gladwin, Wyandotte, Royal Oak, Ionia, and Detroit.
Their home games were played on Stephen’s Field in Gaylord, an excellent facility which was considered the best baseball park in Northern Michigan. The field was located in the area of Gaylord High School.
Stephens also flew the pennant of the team from his large barn in Waters. The game with the Detroit Tigers was scheduled as a benefit for Eddie Siever, a former pitching star for the Tigers during their pennant winning days. He was now disabled due to injuries. The game was played on Navin Field in Detroit and a number of Otsego County fans made the trip to cheer the team on.
The lineup for the Otsegos was Fuller, shortstop; Goniat, center field; Gilten, first base; Loos, third base; O’bell, right field; Cocash, left field; Shocker, pitcher; Bowerman, catcher, and Bell at second base.
For the Tigers the lineup was High, left field; Bush, shortstop; Vilt, second base; Cobb, center field and pitcher; Crawford, right field; Kavanagh, first base; Moriarty, third base; McAllister, catcher; Yelle, center field; and Boehler, pitcher.
Manager Stephens had requested the Tigers play their top lineup, which they did and a brief description of the game is as follows:
“For the first four innings and part of the fifth, the game was anybody’s, but in the Tiger’s half of the fifth Shocker’s effectiveness deserted him. A collection of singles, two of the scratch order, resulted in a pair of runs for Detroit and put the affair beyond reach of Stephen’s men as it transpired.
This was duplicated in the sixth, which gave the Tiger’s a quartet of ruins and made the ultimate result more certain to favor the Jungaleers.
For the four innings preceding the fifth and the subsequent in the sixth, Shocker looked like a twirler of high caliber. He showed a nice spitball, blended with a curve and an occasional fast one, which troubled the leaguers to a marked extent.
Tyrus Cobb, who had just breezed in with the American League batting championship, went hitless and reached the initial sack but once in four trips to the plate. Except for Bell’s error at second base and Shocker’s own boot, the Otsego club supported the pitcher in faultless fashion.
In the ninth inning, when somber darkness began to cast its shadows over the playing field, Cobb relieved Bochler and retired the side, to the delight of the crowd. The Peach acted like a regular pitcher and did better than a lot who have appeared at Navin Field this summer. The final score was 4-0.”
Estimates placed the receipts at around $2,400 with a crowd of 1,500 viewing the game. Tom Stephens brought along a band to pep fire up the festivities.
It appears that in later years Ty Cobb played with the Otsegos on occasion and a picture of him with the team is on display at the Otsego County Historical Society Museum.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Step Back in Time: When the Otsegos took on Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers