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The following was taken from the August 6, 1953 Lennox Independent: Hometown Cheers Champs’ Return

For many of our younger citizens the display of emotion which was witnessed here Wednesday noon was their first such experience.

With more than 500 people gathered on Main street, flags waving in the pleasant midsummer breeze and the band gathered in front of the makeshift speaker’s platform, all were outward signs that something wonderful had happened to the old home town.

With ears “glued” to their radios until almost midnight on Tuesday evening the local citizenry had listened in breathless anticipation for the final outcome of the State Championship Junior League baseball tournament, begun at Watertown last Friday and climaxed at Redfield Tuesday. It was indeed one of the most thrilling and best played games of the entire tournament and certainly the most important for Lennox.

Approximately 50 carloads of local people drove up to the highway 17 corner, 13 miles north of town, Tuesday morning to meet the baseball victors.

They returned home amid all the glory usually reserved for conquering “heroes”

And as one of the team members, Ronnie Hoffman, expressed it: “The biggest thrill of my life was when all those people came to meet us!”

Elmer Douglas, superintendent of the Lennox schools and a well-known umpire for baseball games, acted as master of ceremonies, with all the members of the team, their coach and athletic director assembled on the platform. The Lennox municipal band, recruited from their many various occupations, played several numbers in tribute to the boys as Mr. Douglas jokingly commented: “The uniforms the band members are wearing today were purchased with the proceeds of their last concert.” Two State Highway patrol cars escorted the team and welcoming aggregation back into town.

The boys rode in two convertibles and waved to folks waiting on the street.

Introduced by the emcee were Marvin “Mike” Poppens, captain of the team and an outstanding pitcher; Robert Jibben, pitcher, who was asked how he felt those last few minutes of the Lennox-Britton contest; and Ronald Hoffman.

Former Legion Commander Oliver Larson of Rapid City, spoke briefly, as well as Gus Parker, Legion athletic director.

Each member was introduced individually and applauded by the crowd.

A photographer from the Argus-Leader was on hand to record the event for publication.

When Howard Amen, who has successfully coached the local Juniors for three successive seasons, was called upon he related that he had told his boys they would have to “fight” to win the Regional tourney and “apparently they believed me”.

They fought right on through to the finish.

“Welcome Home Juniors” was hurriedly painted on several local store windows Wednesday morning, but had they lost their last game instead of won, the welcome which Lennox folks gave their Juniors would have been no less enthusiastic, and regardless of the outcome of their game with the State winners of the “A” tournament, they’ll still be the “best” team in the State, so far as we are concerned. Commenting on Junior League baseball in general, Oliver Larson pointed out that the game is sponsored in the interests of sportsmanship and that the Lennox Junior team is an example of everything the program is expected to typify.

During the tournament games, both at Watertown and Redfield, the Juniors were not without the whole-hearted support of the folks back home. A large representation of local people was present at all the games, among whom were mothers and fathers of team members watching in proud admiration, all of them, as well as their sons, deserving at this time hearty congratulations.

TOURNAMENT SIDELIGHTS:

It was by far the biggest sports event in the history of Lennox, both from the stand-point of excitement and in numbers witnessing the event. Just in case someone reads this who hasn’t been around for awhile, we’re talking about the Junior League baseball tournament held here last Saturday and Sunday.

Everyone appears completely satisfied with the outcome (every one except Aberdeen, that is) and it will give the home folks something to talk about for a long, long time.

The first of the two-game series, with the score held at 4 to 1, was rated the better of the two, but Lennox Juniors’ fielding was outstanding in both games. It generally is agreed that no one would care to see a ball game if they knew before the game started that the ball never was going to be hit out of the infield and that no errors would be committed.

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The “outstanding player of the year” award was a fitting climax to the great Junior League career of Marvin “Mike” Poppens — the boy who never is too proud to admit that there are always eight other players on a team Nine lads can either be a ‘team or a group. Lennox has a team. “Mike’s” citation read: “in recognition of his playing ability, mental attitude, cooperation, morals, citizenship and general conduct.”

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Cortland “Cordy” Carnes got a lesson in rassling in the Sunday game when he slid into third. The Aberdeen sacker missed the ball but flopped on Cordy, making it impossible for the runner to go home. This bit of rassling skill was to no avail however, as the umpire signaled the runner home. If Verlyn “Babe” Groen had been the runner in this case he probably would have “risen to the occasion” and carried the third baseman home “piggy back”.

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One little four-year-old “hero-worshiper” informs us that he is waiting to see a picture of the Lennox Junior League team on a Wheaties box. After all, explains the youngster, that’s the breakfast of champions!

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