The Miami Eagles had a short history but made a big impact on baseball in northeast Oklahoma.
Pro baseball was first played in Miami in 1921 with the Indians in the Southwestern League. The next minor league team to call Miami home were the Blues in 1946 when the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League, affectionately known as the KOM, was founded. That first year the KOM featured teams from Chanute, Iola, Pittsburg (all in KS), Carthage, MO, and Bartlesville.
Two Miami Blues players, 1946. Photo courtesy John Hall
John Hall is the premiere expert on the KOM League. He’s literally written a book about it which you can get here. He tells me the Miami Blues were an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers but that relationship soured and the Dodgers moved the club to Ponca City after only one year.
So that left an open spot for a team in Miami beginning in 1947. According to John Hall, Ray “Fido” Murphy owned the Topeka Owls, a Class C team playing in the Western Association, and had an affiliate in Chanute, KS. When the franchise opened in Miami, Murphy moved his affiliate from Chanute and named the team the Miami Owls.
Two Miami Owls players, 1947. Photo courtesy John Hall
1946 was banner year for the Owls as they finished with a record of 76-49. Miami beat Bartlesville in the first round of the playoffs and then beat Iola 4 games to 1 claiming the 1947 KOM League championship.
Miami Owls player, 1947. Photo courtesy John Hall
Miami’s ball club would stay as the Owls through 1949. The affiliation with the Topeka team ended before the 1950 season and a contest was held to find a new nickname with Eagles coming away the winner.
Miami played for the league title again in 1951 but lost to Carthage three games to none. The Eagles made it back to the championship series in 1952. The club was up two games to none against Ponca City when the series abruptly ended because some of the younger players had to return to college. Hall says the league had planned to continue in 1953 but a couple of teams backed out at the last minute ending the seven year run of the KOM League.
Jim McHugh (top) and Jim Allicotti (bottom) of the Miami Eagles. Photos courtesy John Hall
Much of our research comes courtesy of John Hall. We want to thank him for allowing us to share these pictures and we highly recommend his Flickr page for some amazing photos of the KOM League and stories of the men who played the game.
Miami Eagles players. Photo courtesy John Hall
Hall has this to say about some of those former Miami players, “The Miami Eagles of 1952 had some interesting guys. Two played big league baseball, one became the head of a country music band, and another was a notorious bank robber and drug smuggler. Two members of the 1950 and 1951 team committed suicide and one of them served time in prison. Both of those guys were managers. Both committed suicide in Tulsa. A member of the 1950 Miami Eagles claimed he was in an anti-aircraft battery along the English coast at the time the airplane Glenn Miller was in was lost and never found.”
And let’s not forget about Ken Gladhill. He pitched for the 1947 Miami Owls and later went on to be a professional wrestler in the 50s and 60. He wrestled under the name Ken Hill and according to wrestlingdata.com he posted a career record of 12-41!
Below are two team pictures, thanks again to John Hall for the help.
Miami Eagles, 1951. Photo courtesy John Hall
1951 Miami Eagles
Standing (Left to Right):
Charles Tuttle, Francis Arthur “Pug” Griffin, unidentified, George Veleeza, unidentified, unidentified, Richard McKinley, unidentified, unidentified, Joe Mallot, Kenneth Fentem, Phillip Ragland, Larry McComb, Nicholas Chumbris, Tom Guinn (?), Kenneth “Lefty” Campbell, Thomas Gentry Warren, and Robert Dewdney
Kneeling (Left to Right):
George Garrison, Robert Lee Peel, unidentified, Truman “Rip” Sewell, Norris Dorsey, Fred Gomez, Jim McHugh, unidentified, Pedro Serpa (?)
Miami Eagles, 1952. Photo courtesy John Hall
1952 Miami Eagles
Billy Ray Long, Eddie Sack
Seth Morehead, Gene Melito, Jim McHugh, Denny Hamilton, Bob Bandelier, Dick McKinley, and Jackie Horner
Don Ervin, John Vossen, Raymond Von Hagle, Jerry Dodds, Jim Owens, Ed Rommel, Johnny Davenport, Ray Vanderburg
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