Forgotton Champions - December 2015

The Story of Greenfield High Schools 1932 Baseball State Championship and Coach Russell Bratton

We study history, we read history, we enjoy history because we want to learn, and we don't want to forget. We want to hold onto to that one piece of information for as long as we can. Every day we lose a little bit more of our piece of history. Every day a grandparent's journal gets tossed into the trash because it's just an old piece of paper. Every day old pictures get tossed without being scanned. But.....everyday a forgotten piece of history is also discovered. And that's what the inspiration for this month's article.

As usual in doing research I find a story while I'm doing research for another story! And that's what happened in this case.

In 1927 Greenfield High School, for the first time since it opened, did not form a baseball team. Unfortunately newspaper articles just didn't cover that kind of story back then as sports were rarely written about. The Camaraderie Yearbooks also don't divulge a reason for the stoppage of the sport. But for three seasons, 1927 to 1930, Greenfield High School did not have a baseball team. The 1931 Camaraderie yearbook stats that "the sport was resumed primarily to the interest of the boys". So with that we're left to assume that baseball wasn't played for three seasons because they didn't have enough boys interested. Unfortunately no other information could be found to this point that gives any other clues.

In 1930 things changed. One change was that Russell Bratton was hired as a teacher of Geography at Greenfield High School. This young energetic teacher quickly got involved in sports. Along with teaching he became the assistant football and basketball coach and he became the head baseball coach.

In his first season as head baseball coach he led the Tigers to a 9-5 record. In 1931 the Tigers had a 6-4 record. But in 1932 things would change.

The season started off with a 3-3 tie versus Maxwell at Maxwell High School. But the Tigers went on a roll and won the next twelve games, never loosing again. There biggest games came against Terre Haute and Richmond. Terre Haute was considered the 1931 State Champions. And it was also the home of Coach Russell Bratton. The Tigers beat Terre Haute 4-3. Richmond was considered at the time to be the best team in the state for the 1932 season. The Tigers would beat Richmond twice, 6-4 and 7-6. Going undefeated and having beat Terre Haute and Richmond the 1932 Tigers of Greenfield were considered the State Champions.

Unfortunately this season goes undocumented. The IHSAA didn't start recognizing baseball state champions until 1966. It does recognize the 1911-12 and 1916-17 winners. But those that followed baseball all new that Greenfield was the Champions.

2015-12-1
1932 State Champions Team

1932 Schedule
Greenfield 3 Maxwell 3
Greenfield 20 Warren Central 6
Greenfield 13 New Palestine 4
Greenfield 17 Knightstown 8
Greenfield 5 Mt. Comfort 2
Greenfield 3 Shelbyville 0
Greenfield 12 I.S.S.O.H 3
Greenfield 4 Terre Haute 3
Greenfield 6 Shelbyville 0
Greenfield 6 Richmond 4
Greenfield 7 Richmond 6

Roster

  1. Charles Jackson Short Stop
  2. Ralph Pope Center Field
  3. Russell Souder Second Base
  4. Milo Eakes Left Field
  5. D. Carson Third Base
  6. Marshall Bundy Pitcher
  7. Chester Ballinger First Base
  8. J. Dennis Right Field
  9. R. Bass Right Field
  10. Lafayette Sink
  11. Howell
  12. Paul Warrum

 

M. Bundy was considered one of the best pitchers in the state and would later go on to pitch some games for the Indianapolis Indians. I would love to know if he went on to pitch in college.

Another reason this team was so good was because as a team they average a .310% batting average which for that time was remarkably high for a high school team. C. Jackson led the team in batting percentage going .440 for the season. R. Pope also went over .400 with a .405 average.

Coach Bratton was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana State Teachers College or Normal College. He came to Greenfield High School in 1929. He was the head baseball coach from 1930-37. During those seven seasons he compiled a 77-35-4 record. Beginning in 1933 baseball was played in both spring and fall seasons. Coach Bratton was named Athletic Director at Greenfield High School in 1932 and served in that capacity until 1938.

Coach Bratton was also the Junior Varsity basketball coach from 1930-32. He became the head basketball coach from 1932-38. He compiled a 66-78 record and won two sectional titles in 1933 and 1936. He ranks 3rd All-Time Career Wins for Greenfield High School in basketball.

Coach Bratton was also the head track coach in 1933, '34 and 1936. He was also the assistant football coach in 1929-31 and the head football coach in 1932.

Mr. Bratton taught at Greenfield High School until 1943. During his teaching career he taught Health, Geography, Physical Training, Physiology, and Safety. He also was an Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) official for many years.

But despite the impact he made as a teacher and coach in this community the biggest impact he made began on December 6, 1938. That year, starting in the basement of the Riley School building, or old high school on North Street, He became director of the local chapter of the James Whitcomb Riley Foundation for Youth. This foundation would later be called the Boy's Club or as we know it today as the Boys and Girls Club. The Club would meet after school where he would organize games and sports. He was elected Vise-President of the Boys Club Workers Association of Indiana in July of 1939. In 1942 he left teaching to become the clubs full-time director once the club moved into its newly remodeled location of the Lincoln School Build on Pennsylvania St.

This is the kind of story that makes your community great. Although this history was buried in some dusty old books we have not forgotten our champions.

Greg Roland

References:
Greenfield High School Camaraderie Yearbooks
Indiana High School Athletic Association
Greenfield Daily Reporter

More Greenfield History