By RENE TORRES
Special to the Parade
Baseball is a serious preposition. It is one of the best advertising mediums a town may have – if, it is represented by a clean bunch of hustling players. The Rio Grande Valley Loop of 1942 had those players along with the fans that displayed the same kind of interest in the game.
The Valley league included three military teams – Moore Field Fliers from Mission, Harlingen Air Force Gunnery School (Gunners) and the Brownsville Fort Brown Yankees. The loop also included the civilian teams of Mission 30-30, Harlingen Magnolias and San Benito Merchants
The difference of that season than in previous ones is that we were at war. On Dec. 7, 1941, life in the United States was interrupted by Japan and the attack on Pearl Harbor. After this point, rationing was a way of life and Americans had to live with less of everything that made up their daily lives. Baseball also faced unexpected shortages.
Although America’s game took a backseat during the conflict – Valley baseball organizers and military special services officers made sure that the passion for the game was not lost during the war. And that the national pastime was in the forefront of entertainment during these difficult times.
The league started with a lot of promise as San Benito and the Moore Field Fliers were fighting for first place. But things changed as the country’s rationing system took a bite out of baseball. Both the Mission 30-30 and the Magnolias announced they would not make anymore road trips to fill league schedules, but indicated they would play home games.
Although the Valley Baseball League seemed doomed, Moore Field and Harlingen Gunnery School carried on with their scheduled games – at least for the time being.
George Strohmeyer of the Mission Rifles and the rest of the civilian teams said they could not play any more away games due to financial troubles and “lack of tires.” Not having the extra set of tires proved to be a struggle when it came to traveling up and down the Valley.
Perhaps the main culprit that caused the league to fold was the lack of “rubber.” Shortages in rubber, gasoline and shallow gate revenues – were generally to blame for the collapse of the circuit.
The boys in army boots were also caught in the middle of furloughs and heavy military duties – which also contributed to the downfall of the league.
When the curtain came down on the league – San Benito Merchants were in first place, half a game ahead of the Moore Field Fliers.
Although the cheers of the fans and the crack of the bat came to a premature end – in baseball then and now, there is always another tomorrow.
Shown in the photo is the Mission 30-30 semi-pro team, circa late 1930s.