Program in Rippey shared town’s baseball history

By NANCY HANAMAN

RIPPEY, Iowa, Oct. 10, 2016 – Former players, coaches, fans and many others gathered for the Greene County Historical Society program about Rippey’s baseball heritage on Friday, Oct. 7, at the United Methodist Church here.

Following a “ball park meal” of hot dogs, brats and hamburgers served by church members, community leader & historian Mary Weaver opened the program by leading those present in the Pledge of Allegiance and a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” accompanied by Dick Bardole.

Weaver shared some of the early baseball history, including a story about Rippey’s first team, founded in 1888, which played under the name “Hardscrabble.” Later town teams were known as the Rippey Merchants and the Rippey Demons, the latter coached by Pat Daugherty, who went on to become a top college and professional coach.

Those teams helped build the town’s love of baseball, and that led to Rippey having one of the first lighted ball parks – and one of the finest diamonds – in the state.  In fact, the Iowa High School Athletic Association hosted at least five high school state championship games in Rippey.

A panel of former Rippey High School and town team players Dan Peters, of West Branch, Iowa, and Lester Zanotti, of Omaha, and Ron McNeil who grew up in Jamaica and later was principal and coach at East Greene High School, responded to Weaver’s questions about their experiences with baseball here. Peters and Zanotti played together while in high school in the mid 1950s.  Zanotti went on to play for the University of Iowa and also in the U.S. Army, and Peters signed a professional contract and played in the minor leagues.

Many memories were shared by former players and others, including Cindy Anderson Cole, daughter of Walt and Nadine Anderson. She talked about her memories of being at the ball park with her dad and racing to retrieve foul balls. John Munson brought a catcher’s mitt stuffed with horse hair that had belonged to his father Willis Munson. Baseball uniforms and other items were also on display for viewing.

Lester Zanotti, Dan Peters and Ron McNeill (left to right), all of whom have deep roots in Rippey baseball history, told stories and answered questions when the Greene County Historical Society met at the United Methodist Church in Rippey on Friday, Oct. 7. Zanotti and Peters were two of the best Rippey High School players in the 1950s, and also played on the Rippey Merchants town team. McNeill was a principal and coach at the former East Greene High School, which served Rippey, Grand Junction and Dana. (Photo by Nancy Hanaman)
Lester Zanotti, Dan Peters and Ron McNeil (left to right) telling stories and answering questions about Rippey’s baseball heritage (Photos here by Nancy Hanaman)
Artage Zanotti, another former Rippey High School player, brought along a scorebook from the 1940s.
Artage Zanotti, another former Rippey High School player, now of Charles City, Iowa, brought along a scorebook from the 1940s. At left is program moderator Mary Weaver and at right is Artage’s brother Lester Zanotti.
A classic Rippey High School baseball jersey, made of wool.
A classic Rippey High School baseball jersey, made of wool.
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