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Hardball history

Redskins end 24-year drought of minor leagues in Warren

Bill Lobe

When the Warren Bingoes folded in August 1916, no one knew it would be nearly 25 years before minor league baseball would again be played in Warren.

But in 1940, the Warren Redskins joined the Pennsylvania State Association, still at the Class D rookie league level.

The team was an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians but wasn’t very good, finishing the season in 6th place with a 42-64 record.

As with some of the other teams, statscrew.com has the team’s individual statistics on record.

Donald Dudley led the team with eight wins, against 10 losses, with a 4.50 ERA and a team-high 134 innings.

Billy Rhiel

Other hurlers included Ralph Holland (7-5, 4.24), Robert Walter (6-9, 5.31) and Byron Cook (5-4, 3.15 in a team-high 22 games).

John Fitt led the team with 126 hits and a .296 average in 104 games. Raymond Scott and Alred Veverka each played in 106 games and hit .285 and .267, respectively, tying for the team lead in home runs with nine each.

John Naponic hit eight in 10 fewer games with a .257 batting average.

The team was managed by Billy Rhiel, who had accumulated 519 Major League at-bats over four seasons with the Brooklyn Robins in 1929, the Boston Braves in 1930 and the Detroit Tigers in 1932-33.

His best season came in 1932 when he hit .280 with 38 RBIs in 250 at-bats for a middling 1932 Tigers squad.

Tony Venzon - 1940

He went on to play in the minors in 1933 through 1936 in a AAA-equivalent league before hanging it up after the 1936 season.

His season managing the Redskins was his only managerial experience.

This team didn’t produce any Major League players.

But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t a couple of interesting major league connections – Bill Lobe who hit .170 in 33 games and Tony Venzon, who hit just .135 in 13 games.

Lobe, a catcher, would continue to play in the minors until Uncle Sam required his services during World War II.

According to baseball-reference.com, Lobe returned as a bullpen catcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1946-1956 “although some sources list him as a full-fledged coach during the later years of that period.”

His most noteworthy pitcher would have been Bob Feller and he would also have been a part of the last Indians team – 1948 – to win a World Series (as this long-suffering Indians fan is well aware).

Per baseball-reference, Venzon was an outfielder who also played with the Mayfield Clothiers, Johnstown Johnnies, Beaver Falls Browns and Greensburg Senators before his career ended after the 1940 season with the Redskins.

Uncle Sam called for Venzon as well and he returned to the game after World War II as an umpire.

“Venzon began his umpiring career in the Georgia State League in 1950,” according to baseball-reference.com. “He worked the Provincial League in 1951, Eastern League in 1952-1954, and the American Association in 1955-1956. Venzon was an umpire in the National League from 1957 to 1971. He had to retire early in the 1971 season because of health problems, then died that September after undergoing open heart surgery.”

His Wiki page notes that he umpired 2,226 games, including four no-hitters and games in the 1963, 1965 and 1970 World Series.

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