Cool Things - Town Baseball Uniform
Evan Kvasnicka wore this uniform while covering third base for his hometown team in the late 1940s. A farmer who lived his whole life in this small north-central Kansas village, Kvasnicka loved baseball and played for many years.
"The baseball game . . . Sunday between Haddam and Narka started out in the first inning with a bang when Haddam loaded the bases with no one out. . . . From there on the Haddam players seemed to enter a contest to see who could make the most errors, throw the ball the highest or kick it the furtherest [sic]."
-- Haddam Clipper-Leader, June 20, 1946
Competitions between local baseball clubs were common weekly events for much of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Town teams provided entertainment and also gave locals a chance to socialize with their neighbors, plus a successful team could also boost the image of its town.
Baseball in Kansas
Baseball was played in Kansas as early as 1867 when the Frontier Baseball Club was organized in Leavenworth. The game had been a popular way for soldiers to relieve the boredom of camp life during the Civil War (1861-1865). Thousands of veterans moved to Kansas following the war and brought with them a love of the game. Soon teams sprang up across the young state, and a baseball tournament was held at the 1867 Kansas State Fair in Lawrence. A silver trophy in the shape of a baseball was awarded to the winning team. Baseball continued to grow in popularity and by the turn of the century many towns across the state fielded teams.
By the time Evan Kvasnicka picked up a ball and glove, baseball had become America's favorite pastime. He played for his high school team and then in a league for older boys after graduation in 1932. Evan and his friend Glenn Pelesky joined Narka's team following World War II. They had been neighbors as children and remained close after both had grown and married.
The woolen Narka uniform was modeled after those worn by the St. Louis Cardinals at the time. Cerny Brother's Hardware sponsored Narka's team and had its name added to the back of the uniform. This provided good advertising for the business since there were many baseball fans in the surrounding community.
Narka played games on Sunday but would generally practice on Wednesday nights because a free movie was shown in town that evening. The team challenged nearby towns like Haddam and Concordia. Narka also crossed the border to oppose a few Nebraska teams. The players would find their own way to games as far as 40 and 50 miles away. Evan, Glenn, and their wives often drove together to the opponent's field.
Games were always well attended by family and friends. Fans also supported the team in other ways by preparing the field or closing their businesses during a game. Pelesky remembered the games as being a "regular old party." In Narka, as in most other Kansas towns, the sport brought people together while the competition kept things lively.
Evan Kvasnicka's uniform is in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History.
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Entry: Cool Things - Town Baseball Uniform
Author: Rebecca Martin
Date Created: June 2007
Date Modified: November 2010
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.