By Don McAlvy: Columnist
Five years ago I wrote a column about the Pioneer Baseball team in Clovis. You might remember that I called it the semi-professional baseball team. Did I ever get into trouble. You don’t want to mess with professional sports and fans of professional sports.
Morning after the column ran I got a call before breakfast from T. E. Willmon and he was the first baseball fan to tell me I had it wrong, that I shouldn’t have called the Pioneer baseball team “semi-professional.” I received a lot of calls about my mistake.
In the spring of 1938, a baseball diamond was laid out for the Pioneers professional baseball team that became part of the West Texas-New Mexico League. John Rallis of Clovis became the president of the board of local businessmen, professional men and sport enthusiasts, who brought the organization together.
You might remember that Norman Vohs, the first bat boy who became famous as the greatest Wildcat booster who ever lived, was on the 1938 Pioneer baseball team.
In its early days Paul Dean was hired as coach. Some of you youngsters might not know who Paul Dean was. He was famous before he came to Clovis and so was his brother, Dizzy Dean, who sort of made himself at home in Clovis.
Paul Dean was born Aug. 14, 1913, in Arkansas. He became a professional baseball player in 1932, signing up with Houston of the Texas League. In 1934, he joined his brother Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean on the pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals. Paul Dean won 19 (including a no hitter), and Dizzy Dean won 30 as they led St. Louis to a World Series championship.
The next season, Paul “Daffy” Dean (he didn’t like the nickname Daffy) won 19 games and Dizzy Dean won 28. Paul Dean injured his arm in 1936 and never again was an effective pitcher. This was one reason Paul Dean became coach for the Clovis Pioneers.
The Deans’ performance in 1934 assured them a place in baseball history. In the race for the National League title, one of them pitched in 37 of the season’s final 52 games. Each won two games in the World Series as St. Louis won the championship. After his playing career, Paul Dean was a minor league manager for seven years and a coach for the University of Plano, Texas baseball team for a time. I never learned how long Paul Dean managed the Clovis Pioneers professional baseball team. I bet T. E. Willmon would know!
In 1965 Paul Dean retired and became a farmer and rancher. He died on March 17, 1981, from a heart attack. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Clarksville. Ark.
In 1953 Dizzy Dean was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died July 17, 1974, in Reno. Nev.
The Clovis Pioneer professional baseball team played won 71 games and lost 58.