Tulsa TV Memories: Tulsa pop culture      

Tulsa Oiler baseball is on the air!

Oiler Park, from the Wayne McCombs Archive

From the collection of Wayne McCombs, author of "Baseball in Tulsa".
See the book and read more about it in this newspaper ad.

Oiler Park
Looking east on 15th St. Courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa

Old Oiler Park was located just to the west of today's Driller Park.
The Tulsa Oilers were a AA (then AAA, beginning in the later
60s) farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals, owned by
A. Ray Smith, father of "Sweet Emily" Smith
of Leon Russell song fame.

Joe Patterson card

'Speedo' Joe Patterson

"Speedo" Joe Patterson was a popular player in the 60s.
Once on base, there was a good chance he would steal.

Let's gooooooooooo...Tulsa!

Andy Andrews: 'Let's goooooo...Tulsa!'

The Tulsa Oilers' biggest fan: Andy Andrews

He started each game by hollering:
"Let's goooooooo...Tulsa!"
 (67K .wav file)

Andy yelled from 1941 to 1971. He worked as a salesman for the team from 1956-1959 and 1961-1970. He passed away in March 1972 (this info courtesy of Wayne McCombs).

(from Guestbook 190) Donella Gilbert (daughter of Don Gilbert, KVOO announcer) said:

My mother and I were talking on the phone tonight and she said that she had finally gotten a chance to read some on Tulsa TV Memories. She reminded me that her first cousin, a woman named Bonnie, was married to Andy Andrews.

Click for larger pic
Click for larger image

Walt's Goobers...Awful Fresh! (Logan Concession)

Cracker Jack prize
Cracker Jack story at NPR

Peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jack...right here!    

Tulsa Oilers Grill
Courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa

(from Guestbook 190) Scott Linder said:

We did live wire recreations of out-of-town Tulsa Oilers games from (Broadcast Center in Brookside). Jack Campbell and Mack Creager did the play-by-play from wire copy. Mo Billington recorded some great ballpark crowd loops, as well as "cheer and boo" carts which we used as needed. Engineer Les Nichols built a great "bat crack" sound effect device...a woodblock which was struck by a solenoid when the button was pushed. It sounded great on the air.

Jack and Mack worked on Western Electric 639B mics with mute switches and Brush single-ear headphones. One would occasionally hear the studio door close on-the-air as either announcer would go to the teletype to rip off the latest copy. I'm sure that many listeners were never aware that Jack and Mack were not really at the game!!!

By the way, it was my 17 year-old voice saying "peanuts...popcorn..." on that ballpark loop, for any of you who remember...or care!!!!

Nelson Briles
Fireballer Nelson Briles at the 1964 "Oilers Frolics"

Robert Walter Dews
Shortstop Bob Dews

Nellie Briles was the fastest pitcher I ever saw at Oiler Park. He moved the ball over the plate like flipping a bead on an abacus. He soon moved up to the Cardinals. Bobby Dews was a singles hitter and wore glasses (like me). When he finally belted one over the left field wall, I was thrilled.

Roy Majtyka of the 1963 Tulsa Oilers Oiler autographs: Rogers Robinson, Nelson Briles and Bobby Dews                 Don Dennis

Dal Maxvill

Pepper Martin was an outfielder for the "Gashouse Gang" St. Louis Cardinals from 1928-1944.

Pepper did the color on Len Morton's KVOO radio broadcast of the Oilers' games.

Like sour dough biscuits? Here's Pepper's autographed recipe! And here's a more printable copy (same spelling and punctuation)

Mack Creager was a longtime "Voice of the Oilers" and signed off "I'm rounding third and headin' home. Good night, everybody."

        Pepper Martin

 Bob Tolan and Ed Spiezio   Dennis Aust      

Harry Watts

I somehow acquired one of Harry Watts' bats as a kid. It had a super-thin handle and was so heavy,  I had to choke up a lot to use it playing wiffle ball in our backyard. Harry was a slugger.

Read about Roger Maris' stint with the Tulsa Oilers
on the "UHF" page.
See 1939-40 Tulsa Oiler team photos starting here in
Flickr Photos from TulsaTV
See 1955 and 1962 Oiler Park Radio-TV Night photos starting here in Flickr Photos from TulsaTV.
New! 1963 Oiler team photo. I had this one.
See Leon Russell at Oiler Park in 1971
How do you get the money to buy baseball cards?
Cashing in Pop bottles!
The Tulsa Drillers have been our AA club since 1976. The ballpark experience is still great fun today.
Check out TulsaDrillers.com.
See an unusual interview with the Tulsa Drillers'
director of media relations, Brian Carrol,
on the Beef Baloney page.

1977 Drillers Press Card, courtesy of John Hillis

(via email, 9//2002) John Hillis said:

Fooling around with the scanner tonight and decided to send you a copy of my Drillers Press Card, faithfully toted around since 1977, which may explain the smudgy condition. You never know when you'll be in Tulsa some afternoon and want to take in a game.....

(from Guestbook 24) Lowell Burch said:

I really enjoyed the old Oiler Park. Do you remember Joe, I believe his name was, a vendor who carried dry ice in his mouth and blew vapor as he hawked his products?

I did not know they were recreating ball games on the radio until I was a teen, the talent was so competent. Once I found out, I noticed the hits all sounded alike, foul grounder or fly, and the same kid was always yelling the same thing over and over in the background, no matter which team was at bat.

(from Guestbook 84) James Lawrence said:

My grandad took me to the Oiler games when you could see the ground down below the bleachers!

As Jim Bouton noted in his book, Ball Four, there was also a good upward view for the ballplayers from the ground under the bleachers at Oiler Park.

For avid readers of that book, the July 28, 1970 Oilers program notes that the visiting team was the Indianapolis Indians featuring "the" Dooley Womack.

(via email) Frank Morrow said:

Here are a couple of pictures of the Tulsa Oilers baseball team of 1940. They played their games at Texas League Park, which was located in a different place from where the Drillers play now. It was next to the race track. From the top row of the grandstand on the first base side, you could watch the car races.

See 1940 Tulsa Oilers photos starting here in Flickr Photos from TulsaTV.

The interesting thing about one of the pictures is that it was a momento of "Radio Appreciation Night." This was a special evening of various events which were staged along with the game. Notice that the sports announcer gets equal billing with the team manager. The "Ballcaster," was Don O'Brien. I recall that another play-by-play announcer for the Oilers during a different year was named Dave Manners. All the games were broadcast on radio.

There were two significant things about this team. First, you notice that Dizzy Dean is included. He was sent to Tulsa to try to work out his arm troubles which he encountered in the Major Leagues. I was at his debut in a Tulsa uniform. He beat "Beartracks" Greer in an afternoon game before an overflow crowd. Second, many of the players from this team were brought up to play for the Chicago Cubs during the war. Their World Series against the Detroit Tigers was contested with at least seven players from the Oilers.

(from Guestbook 43) Frank Morrow said:

Regarding Dizzy Dean, I saw him pitch his first game for the Tulsa Oilers before the war, when he came down from the major leagues to work on his hurt arm. It was the largest crowd in Oiler history up until that time.

There was a great satire on Dean’s broadcasting technique which came out on an obscure 78rpm record in the mid-fifties. It poked fun at Ole Diz’ penchant for going off on tangents. On the record, “Dean” is spinning yarns, while all kinds of important things are happening on the field, including, eventually, a gang fight. He never gets past the introduction of the leadoff hitter, “George Tealy…….2nd Base." He also kept repeating the question, “How can it be so hot today, with so many fans?”

I watched TV while the “me” half of “Me n’ Paul” did commentary during the perfect game that Don Larson pitched during the World Series. As was the long-standing custom at time, there was not a mention of the perfect game while it was in progress, although it was on everyone’s mind. Finally, about the 7th inning, Diz said, “I can’t hold it any longer! I can’t keep quiet! I realize that it’s against all baseball tradition, but I gotta say it. Don Larson is pitching a perfect game!”

That broke the ice. The possible perfect game was the main topic of conversation for the rest of this remarkable performance.

Here are some Dizzy quotes from the Baseball Almanac.

Diz, by Bob Gregory

Tulsa TV's own Bob Gregory wrote Diz: The story of Dizzy Dean and baseball during the Great Depression.

It is currently out of print, but can be found with this link to rare and used books through Amazon.com. Bob's research and writing skill make it a pleasurable and evocative experience.

Falstaff beer
Has all this talk about Diz given you a powerful thirst for some Falstaff beer? Read an interesting discussion about it and its cousin, Griesedieck beer, on this site in Guestbook 43!

(from Guestbook 139) David Batterson said:

I remember Oiler Park well. I went there many times in the '50s with my parents. And my dad knew Tulsa Oilers General Mgr. Hugh Finnerty. And one night my dad caught a foul ball--with his bare hands! That was a thrill. I never caught one, but a player tossed me a ball over the fence one night.

(from Guestbook 139) Chuck Fullhart said:

Mike Miller is right. Old Oiler Park was at 15th and Sandusky, west of where the Driller Stadium is today. About the only thing that is left from the old stadium is a pine tree that somehow made it through the years. Sources: Wayne McCombs' "Baseball in Tulsa" and my sore, hot feet from pacing the parking lot.

Oiler decalThe first time I went up in the Pressbox, or Pigeon Coop, in old Oiler Park to make sure the phone company got the lines in the right place for the games that the station I worked for was going to air, I kind of had my doubts about how secure the stadium, and the press box was, but Terry Greene assured me that it had been there for years, and wasn't going to fall down unless it was blown down. (Remember the one phone company days? One call sets up the circuits for the games.)

But it was a windy Spring day, and the phone guy beat a pretty hasty retreat, and this was a guy that was used to climbing poles.

By the way, if you haven't picked up a copy of McComb's book, and you like Tulsa history and sports in general, it's worth the money.

Halfway through the season, the budget ran out, so we put Terry Greene in the control room, and I sat in the production room with the SFX records and a few other things we contrived.

A quick,real quick because of the cost, long distance call at the end of the innings would give Terry the stats, and we were on our way to producing what was probably one of the last "fantasy" baseball games heard on Tulsa radio.

At least, I hope so.

(from Guestbook 139) Rich Lohman said:

The old "Oiler Park" had a walkway collapse in 1977 shortly after the Drillers were born. During the customary parent club visit the Rangers were scrimmaging the Astros when a section of bleachers collapse under weight during a rainstorm. 1980 is when Robert Sutton coughed up the dough to build the stadium at its current location, after the voters turned down a bond issue or tax.

I was there for that first season in the new park and I defy anyone to identify any remaining structure of the original Sutton Stadium today. Drillers Stadium is a marvelous facility. We don't need fancy iron work or bricks, that place is a masterpiece. Finest park in the minors hands down.

I remember the old Oiler Park light standards stood for many years after the park was demolished. When did those finally come down?

(Video captures from the video, "Things Not in Tulsa Anymore", courtesy of  Jack Frank.)

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