• Steve Potter

7/8/2020 : Phillies Minor League History - The Klamath Falls Gems


Time Period - 1948 to 1951


Venue : Gems Stadium


City : Klamath Falls, OR

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Franchise History :


The Klamath Falls Gems were a charter member team in in the Far West League. They were were the Class D affiliate of the Phillies for all four years that the league existed.


The Far West League was located mainly in California but had two teams playing in Oregon and one in Nevada. 


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The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :


Gem Stadium :


Location: 2701 Foothills Boulevard.

Capacity: 2,400 (1950)

Team office was 116 S. 8th Street.


Kiger Stadium, formerly known as Gem Stadium, is a baseball stadium in Klamath Falls, Oregon.


“Construction began in late 1947 at the Crest Street site with a goal of opening in Spring 1948 for the Class D Gems, a farm team of the Phillies. The opening, and the original Gems, were a huge success, as the team led the league in attendance in three of the four years they were in the League, and won the Far West League’s final Championship before the league folded after the 1951 season.” - Wikipedia


Since then the stadium has stood against weather and other obstacles to become one of the few remaining all-wood stadiums in North America. Prior to 2011 it played host to thousands of amateur baseball games as well as a semi-pro incarnation of the Gems. In 1968 the ballpark hosted the Babe Ruth World Series, and in 1970 the American Legion Championships. During the 1950’s it also served as an auto racing track.


In 2011 summer collegiate baseball used the venue as a new Gems club joined the West Coast League before moving to the Great West League a few years later.


The Great West League folded after the 2018 season but the Klamath Falls American Legion baseball team and Oregon Tech’s club continue to use the stadium as their home field.


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The Seasons :


1948


Far West League (D ) ... Manager : Joe Gantenbein ... 67-58 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 36,828. Defeated Oroville Red Sox 3 games to 1 in playoffs ... lost to the Santa Rosa Pirates 4 games to 3 in Championship Series


32 year old player/manager Joe Gantenbein led the club in hitting with a .368 batting average in 190 AB’s ... it was the second highest mark in the league ( without AB qualifications ) ... Gantenbein was a middle infielder who had played two seasons in the big leagues ( 1939 & 1940 ) with the Athletics ... he would serve as player/manager one more season ( with Salina -1949 ) before his pro baseball career ended


The Gems had five players who received regular playing time ( over 200 AB’s ) hit over .300 led by 19 year old Tom Mankey who hit .331 in 478 AB’s ... none of the five reached the major leagues


1949


Far West League (D ) ... Manager : Hub Kittle ... 78-46, 2nd place ... Attendance: 58,474. Lost to the Redding Browns 3 games to 2 in Playoffs


23 year old LHP Niles Jordan had an outstanding season going 19-7 in 31 games ( 213 IP) ... he would pitch in 8 big league games with the 1951 Phillies and 1952 Reds but played 11 seasons in the minor leagues accumulating a 108-66 record in 275 games including 128 games at the AAA level


1950


Far West League (D ) ... Manager : Hub Kittle ... 87-52 , 1st place ... Attendance: 62,078. Defeated Reno Silver Sox 3 games to 2 in playoffs ... lost to the Redding Browns 3 games to 1 in Championship Series


The club had strong veteran pitching including 33 year old player manager Hub Kittle ( RHP ) who went 10-0 in 24 games ( 55 IP ) as a reliever ... 34 year old LHP Andy Sierra was 22-9 in 34 games ( 239 IP with a 3.46 ERA ) ... Sierra played 15 minor league seasons and logged 2,268 innings in 419 games ... Kittle was also a career minor leaguer who pitched in 21 seasons and appeared in 457 games ( 2,149 IP ) ... neither hurler ever pitched in the big leagues


1951


Far West League (D ) ... Manager : William DeCarlo ... 74-54 , 2nd place ... Attendance: 41,115. League Champions Defeated the Redding Browns 3 games to 0 in Championship Series


23 year old second baseman Stanley Roseboro led the league in batting average with a .409 mark in 379 AB’s ... he also led in triples with 21 ... he would play in the minor leagues for 8 years without reaching the show and retired after the 1958 season


34 year old player/manager and Catcher William DeCarlo led the league in doubles ( 31 ) and hit .335 in 468 AB’s ... he played 12 seasons in the minor leagues without reaching the show


20 year old outfielder Bob Bowman hit .300 in 247 AB’s ... he would go on to play in 5 big league seasons with the Phillies ( 1955 to 1959 ) appearing in a total of 256 games


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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