Durocher bats nearly a thousand with local memories


I have to say the Dec. 29 column on Leo Durocher’s March 23, 1956, visit to Walla Walla was great fun to research and write.

The best part? The number of responses it generated from readers who helped identify several of the local people who posed in photos with the major league baseball infielder turned manager.

We may never know why Durocher came to town or by whom he was invited, but the photos show a lot of people happy to rub shoulders with the lively fellow during his stopover in the city.

So here are the photos again, with some IDs, several corroborated by more than a couple of emails and phone calls.

Among those who checked in with information for subjects in the photos are Ruth DeLuca, Steve Singleton, Daniel N. Clark, Jock Edwards and Kelly Kimball. Bob Freeman and Jack Jackson ID’d people via Joe Drazan, who discovered the negatives in Whitman College’s archives and forwarded them to me. Several readers maintaining anonymity or with illegible signatures also weighed in.

Lawrence W. “Scotty” Cummins, pictured in a photo where he and his Naval portrait flank Durocher, had his finger on the pulse of all things sports-related in the area. He could have been instrumental in bringing Leo to town.

A Touchet High School alum, Scotty played football and baseball at Whitman College, coached by Nig Borleske. At the time, the New York Giants football team couldn’t draw Scotty away from his college studies with a contract.

After graduation, he played semi-pro baseball, then taught history and coached. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then with business partner and wife Peggy McClure Cummins, opened Scotty Cummins Athletic Supply in Walla Walla.

Felix Fletcher, pictured with Durocher in a group shot, was once Steve Singleton’s P.E. instructor. Felix was also the athletic director and football coach at Walla Walla High School from 1947-’70, garnering a record of 162 wins, 45 losses and 10 ties.

Under his tenure, Felix’s Blue Devils teams had seven seasons with only one loss and were undefeated in 1952, 1956 and 1963.

Daniel N. Clark said Reeves “Tubby” Malcolm, who died in 1987, was a friend of his father’s and is pictured in the group shot. Another person also ID’d Reeves.

“We absolutely did hear Leo speak (when he was in Walla Walla) — and his language was pretty clean,” recalled Jock Edwards, then a student at Pioneer Junior High School where Leo made an appearance.

Biographies about Leo indicate he had a salty turn of phrase.

“Scotty Cummins told me the story of Leo coming to Walla Walla and staying at his home (with wife Peggy Cummins). I just don’t remember why. Since Scotty was obviously involved, it may have had something to do with the 158 Club (see last paragraphs of item). But, that is a guess,” Jock said.

Scotty’s granddaughter Kelly Kimball helped cinch his ID. All four of Scotty’s grandchildren live in Walla Walla, the offspring of Scotty’s son John Cummins. “We will miss (Scotty) terribly, but what a wonderful life he lived,” Kelly said.

Communities are built and sustained by the generosity of those who volunteer through service groups, corporately and individually to improve them for all to enjoy.

In this way, Scotty was a driving force behind Borleske Stadium, according to our Dec. 30 news obituary about him.

He made an impact while on its board of directors and helped develop sports programs from grade school through college levels.

He served with the Walla Walla Booster Club, was on the Southeastern Washington Fair and YMCA boards and was active in Rotary Club and the Downtown Development Association.

He continued his affiliation with Whitman while on its board of overseers and was a Whitman College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. For service to the community, the Chamber of Commerce gave him a 1985 Award of Merit.

Born Aug. 25, 1915, in Touchet, Scotty died at home Dec. 28, 2013, survived by wife Maxine Huffman Cummins.

First wife Peggy McClure Cummins and son John preceded him in death. His grandchildren gave him 11 great-grandchildren, four stepgrandchildren and six stepgreat-grandchildren.

And if in reading this your curiosity is piqued like mine about the 158 Club, here’s the skinny: Scotty Cummins and Ward Gardner, owner of the now defunct Gardner’s, the state’s oldest department store that was on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street, were among 158 people who paid attendance at a football game.

Whitman professor and graduate manager Frederick Santler founded the 158 Club in 1948, saying with such low paid attendance, “it looked like the beginning of the end for intercollegiate athletics at Whitman.”

Through fundraisers, its members supported Whitman athletes with partial scholarships.

It was connected to former Whitman football players who belonged to the Seattle Linebackers, according to a brief outline. The 158 Club ended in 1976. The

Whitman archive collection of club records was crea-

ted by Bill Berney.

Found: 13-inch-tall plush teddy bear, brown eyes, brown fur, brown bow. Separated from family. Wants to go home.

Colleague Catherine Hicks found the cuddly bear on Ninth Avenue in front of Yungapeti Taqueria on the afternoon of Jan. 5.

“My daughter and I were driving behind a silver-gray car driven by a blonde woman with an infant or small child in the back seat. The bear was on the back of their car. It fell off in front of us,” Catherine recalled.

Catherine pulled alongside the woman, who was waiting to turn left off Ninth onto Malcolm Street. Catherine made a valiant attempt, but was unable to get her attention and lost contact.

Teddy would like to be reunited with his family. Please call Catherine at the U-B at 526-8312.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Grant Farmer Post 992 will host its third annual Winter Wonderland fundraiser on Jan. 25 at 102 N. Colville St.

Wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres will begin at 4 p.m. followed by a silent auction at 5 p.m., said Larry Diederich, Post commander.

After the 6 p.m. dinner, they will have a live auction featuring a flat-screen TV, wine storage cooler, beautiful baskets and much more.

All of the proceeds raised will benefit local homeless, needy and disabled veterans. “This project has helped numerous local individuals and families,” Larry said.

Tickets are $15 for dinner, which includes everything, or $10 for the wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres only.

Shaniko Band members Bob Humbert, Duane Thacker, Little Joe, Dave Cratty and Jason Woods perform all types of country and country rock. They will donate their performance, which will begin at approximately 8 p.m.

The Post is accepting donations from anyone who would like to do so, Larry added. To attend, RSVP by Jan. 22 at 525-1310 or 301-0751.

For its speed in relaying the word worldwide, I love the Internet. For example, I sought permission to use a photo in my Jan. 5 column and emailed Dirk H.R. Spennemann who took the Morgan’s Lookout photo. I sent the message to his address in Australia. He responded within a few hours while on sabbatical in Paris.

And no sooner had I posted stories for the Sunday U-B on our website than I heard from an editor with the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser in response to the Jan. 5 Etcetera column about the Ganmain man unearthing a World War I-era medal he located at Morgan’s Lookout near Walla Walla (Australia) with his metal detector.

The Adversiter’s Deputy Editor Peter Mahoney (although “it’s pronounced Marney in Australia”), fired off a speedy e-salutation, “G’day, Annie. Indeed, ‘walla’ does come up on the web ... enjoyed your article on Walla Walla.”

Not only is Wagga Wagga close to Walla Walla (Australia), he added, but it’s not far from Gumly Gumly and Book Book.

“You see the places around here are so good ... we name them twice.” I wonder if Peter’s heard our little catchphrase that our “Walla Walla is so nice they named it twice.”

“Just as we’re surrounded by fantastic town names including Waitsburg, Washtucna, Wallula and Wallowa, Ganmain is home to the “Grong Grong Matong Aussie rules footy team that plays in the same competition as Mangoplah Cookadinia United ... welcome to the Land Down Under!” For details about Australian rules football, see bit.ly/1cGpKaP .

Interestingly, when one Googles “Walla Walla” for its meaning Australia’s aboriginal version is “many rocks” and our town name is “many waters,” from the Walla Walla tribe.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.


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