POTSDAM - The Potsdam Public Museum has recently received a very interesting gift – a baseball uniform of the Potsdam Indians of the old Northern New York Amateur League and the St. Lawrence Valley League.
The NNYAL consisted of teams from Potsdam, Gabriels, Tupper Lake, Gouverneur, Brasher Falls, Norwood, Massena and Cornwall, Ontario. The team operated from the late 1940s through the 1950s.
The uniform was donated by Dan Hurley of Potsdam, who played center field for the team from 1951 through 1954. In 1949, the team won the pennant, losing only two games that year to arch rival Gabriels. Later, the team played in the much larger St. Lawrence Valley Leagues Western Division, with teams in Russell, Cornwall, Norfolk, Raymondville, Norwood, Waddington, Winthrop-Brasher and Massena.
Another good year for Potsdam when Mr. Hurley was playing was 1952. That year, Potsdam played Russell for the Western Division Championship. Unfortunately, Russell shut out the Indians 2 -0. Russell was Potsdams nemesis that year, as the Indians could not win a single game against them all year. Another great season was 1955, when they won the Western Division pennant and playoff titles.
The team also played exhibition games against teams not in their league from as far away as Kansas City. To give an idea of how good the Indians were a July 10, 1958 pirce in the Potsdam Courier-Freeman noted that Potsdam was scheduled to play a game at Fiaccos Field (some may remember Fiaccos Restaurant) against the famed Kansas City Monarchs of the old Negro National League.
It was noted that the Indians had an all-time record of 7- 1 loss against this team, which once boasted Jackie Robinson in their lineup, the first black to play in the major leagues. An interesting coincidence is that Jackie Robinsons number with the Brooklyn Dodgers was 42, the same number as Mr. Hurleys Indians uniform.
The uniform harks back to an exciting era in baseball when there were teams and leagues just about everywhere – many, many more than there are today.