Monday, August 16, 2021

Lockport's Field of Dreams

Lockport White Sox vs Jamestown Falcons
opening day at Outwater Stadium
It’s been a month or so since the Toronto Blue Jays were playing major league games in Buffalo, after making the Queen City their temporary home for good portions of the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Regular season major league baseball in Buffalo had not been seen since the 1915 Buffalo Blues of the short-lived Federal League played there. Of course, there had been a few exhibition games featuring major league teams, most notably the New York Yankees taking on the International League All-Stars in 1963 at War Memorial Stadium, and a preseason game between Toronto and Cleveland in 1987. However, did you know the Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game in Lockport smack in the middle of their 1942 season?

In 1942, William E Schumacher of Buffalo brought a PONY league franchise to Lockport, to play 60 home games at Outwater Park. Thomas O’Brien of Middleport was the business manager at the time, stating, “A Lockport entry in the PONY league is definitely assured...and the club franchise will be granted at a league meeting in Jamestown.”  “Smoky Joe” Martin, formerly of the Buffalo Bisons would be the manager of the new team. They held business from rooms at the Park Hotel, and a training camp was set up in Florida under the auspices of an affiliation with the Chicago White Sox. The team would be known as the Lockport White Sox for its first season.1

The Lockport Common Council at a meeting on March 30th, passed a resolution that would lease a portion of Outwater park to the Lockport Baseball and Amusement Corporation for use as a ballpark for $500 per year for five years.2 Forms for concrete were laid out for a new stadium during the first week of April. Locker room, lavatories, and concession stands were located along the third base line. Forty-two boxes, each seating 12, would run from first base around to third base, three rows deep. There were then ten rows of wooden seats behind the boxes, giving the initial capacity of the stadium 2,300. A bleacher section would push the capacity to 5000. The distance from home plate to the left and right field walls was 320 feet. At its completion, Ray Meyers, veteran scout in the Chicago system, called the Outwater field “the best he’s seen in any Class D League in the country.”3

Opening day in Lockport was scheduled for May 7th, with Mayor Edward Gailor declaring a civic holiday to mark the occasion. All stores and businesses were urged to close at 3:30 so that everyone could enjoy the game and festivities. A parade was to begin at 5pm at the post office at the corner of East Avenue and Elm Street. One hundred Boy Scouts would be carrying American flags to lead the parade along with service groups from the city. A 60-piece band from Barker and Wilson High Schools joined the Lockport High School Band and the Eagles’ Drum Corps.4 Unfortunately, Mother Nature forced the postponement of the festivities and game to May 8th.

Opening day saw Lockport defeat the defending league champions, Jamestown Falcons, 7-1 in front of 3,500 spectators. After the parade, Ralph Hubbell was the master of ceremonies. Mrs. Joseph Keefe, who sang at the Republican National Convention in 1940, sang the national anthem, and Mayor Gailor threw out the first pitch. Stars of the day for the White Sox were pitcher Fran Smith with seven strikeouts, and Charley Dykes, son of Jimmy Dykes. Charley was the first player in team history to score a run when he found home during the second inning. He also made some spectacular catches to keep Jamestown off the bases.5

Shortly after the home opener, it was announced that there would be a formal dedication of the new Outwater Stadium on June 1st. Headlining that ceremony would be a visit by the parent club Chicago White Sox for an exhibition game against the Lockport squad. While Lockport had hosted some Buffalo Bisons games before, this would be the first time that a major league team played in the city. It would also be a reunion of sorts, as Chicago manager, Jimmy Dykes, had two sons playing for the Lockport White Sox, Charley and Jimmy, Jr.6

Chicago was visiting Lockport on an eastward swing of games. After playing a game in Detroit on Sunday, the exhibition game on Monday would precede a game Tuesday against the Yankees. Mrs. Dykes arrived the day before the team and was able to spend Sunday with her sons. Chicago was expected to use starters against the Class D farm team. It was obviously an unfair advantage for the team, which showed on the scoreboard rather quickly.

The Chicago White Sox pummeled the Lockport White Sox 11-3, with those eleven runs coming off only twelve hits. Leading 11-1 after four innings, Dykes pulled his starters off the field and completed the games using reserves and coaches. Jimmy, Jr batted in Lockport’s first run in the second inning, the only run scored against the major league stars. Don Bryant got the start for Lockport and gave up all the Chicago runs. He was replaced in the fifth by Bill Suckey. Carroll “Babe” Hoffman dinged a homer for Lockport off Pete Appleton.7

Orval Grove, pitcher for Chicago, started the game, and gave up one run and four hits. In his single at bat, he drove a ball over the left-center wall for a two-run homer. In what would have been his next at bat, future Hall of Fame pitcher, Ted Lyons pinch hit for him. He did not make it to base.

Who were some of the Chicago players who made an appearance in Lockport? There were eleven World Series wins as players among them, and three more as manager/coach. Jimmy Dykes, Sr, Mule Haas, and Bing Miller all were part of the Philadelphia Athletics championships teams of 1929 and 1930. Myril Hoag had been with the New York Yankees when they won the World Series in 1932, 1937 and 1938. Skeeter Webb was part of the 1945 Detroit Tigers championship, and Bob Kennedy nabbed his only World Series with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. Wally Moses would be a part of three World Series as a coach, in 1961 and 1962 with the Yankees, and in 1968 with the Tigers. Only one player that day has been enshrined in Cooperstown -- Ted Lyons.

Others from that Chicago White Sox team who took the field at Outwater Park had noteworthy careers. Luke Appling was a seven-time All-Star, 1943 American League Batting Champion, and had his #4 retired by the White Sox. Taffy Wright, who was called up to the Army two months after this game, is considered one of the top 150 outfielders of all time. Catcher Mike Tresh was a 1945 All Star and is one of only three catchers in the 20th century to catch every one of the team’s games in a single season. Orval Grove was a 1944 All Star.8

After Chicago left Lockport to resume their major league duties, the inaugural season of the Lockport White Sox continued. They would finish the 1942 season 39-86, for seventh place in the league. During the season, they would get lights on the field, playing a night game at home for the first time on June 16th with a doubleheader against the Bradford Bees.9 Additionally, there were two players on that 1942 roster who played some games in the majors.10

Jimmy McCloskey appeared in four games for the Boston Bees in 1936. He had attended Lancaster High School in Erie County and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2013.11 Len Okrie began his career in Lockport, but would move on to the Buffalo, Louisville and Syracuse at the AAA level before playing for parts of four seasons in the majors for the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox. He played in 42 games, amassing 17 hits in 78 at bats.12

The Lockport PONY League team would undergo several changes in names and affiliations. They also were successful in about half their seasons. They finished in first place in 1943 and 1944 but lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1943, and lost the league finals in 1944. While they finished third in 1945, they made it to the league finals before losing to Batavia. In 1948 they were able to break through again, this time winning the league championship over the Bradford Blue Wings.13

As for Outwater Stadium, it did not last long beyond the demise of the PONY League team in 1951. By 1955, the stadium deteriorated so badly that it was torn down. A fire had destroyed a significant portion of the bleachers, and the fence was falling down. It was noted in the spring of 1956 that the only remaining structure of Outwater Stadium was the business office which would be renovated to showers and a dressing area for a new softball field. Also, the poles for the lights remained at that time, but the lights themselves were long gone.14 All told, the field that was once considered the best field in all of Class D baseball barely survived a decade of use.

Lockport has had a long history with baseball. We’ve all grown up with Lockport Little League, An-Jo, and various softball leagues sponsored by churches and businesses. We even had a Class D professional team playing here. And one time, we had a major league team stop here for an exhibition game. Maybe with the beautiful new fields on Beattie, we might be able to lure at least the Bisons to town for an exhibition game.

Craig Bacon is the Deputy Niagara County Historian and the City of Lockport Historian. Please do not reprint or repost this article without permission of the author.


1.       .“Lockport Entry in Pony League Assured,” Union Sun & Journal, February 21, 1942

2.       . Lockport Common Council, City of Lockport Common Minutes, March 30, Lockport, NY 1942

3.       .“Construction to Begin on North Stands of White Sox Stadium,” Union Sun & Journal, April 8, 1942

4.       . “Mammoth Parade Planned to Welcome White Sox Team in Initial Home Game,” Union Sun & Journal, May 6, 1942

5.       “White Sox Win Home Opener Before Crowd of 3500,” Union Sun & Journal, May 9, 1942

6.       “Chicago White Sox to Play Lockport at Park Dedication,” Union Sun & Journal, May 12, 1942

7.       “Chisox Get 11 Runs on 12 Hits to Beat Lockport Farm Club,” Union Sun & Journal, June 2, 1942

8.       “1942 Chicago White Sox Roster,” Baseball-Reference, Accessed August 13, 2021,

9.       “Doubleheader to Usher in Night Baseball,” Union Sun & Journal, June 15, 1942

10.   “1942 Lockport White Sox,” Baseball-Reference, Accessed August 13, 2021,

11.     “Jim McCloskey,” Baseball-Reference, Accessed August 13, 2021,

12.  “Len Okrie,” Baseball-Reference, Accessed August 13, 2021,

13.    “Lockport Locks,” Wikipedia, Accessed August 13, 2021,

14.   “Lights Next Proposal for Outwater Diamond,” Union Sun & Journal, February 13, 1956