Bonham's Most Faithful Sports Fan
Bonham Daily Favorite, April 25, 1993
The column this week will take a look at the distant past and no-so-distant past and a look at two persons whom many of you will remember. The first of these personages is the Reverend Richard Morgan, long-time rector of Trinity Episcopal Church. Not many people know that long before anyone dreamed of Little League, Richard Morgan founded the very first boy’s baseball program, in Bonham, about the time of World War I.
Our second participant this week is Mrs. C.G. (Aileen) Long who was the wife of the minister of First Presbyterian Church in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Mrs. Long wrote as a feature writer for The Bonham Herald. Today's column is a transcript of an interview Mrs. Long conducted with Richard Morgan as it appeared in the Herald May 7, 1951 * * *
The parish house which has recently been moved to the back of the south lawn of Trinity Episcopal Church stands on hallowed ground to youth.
The lawn was dedicated to boys for many years, although nothing was said about any formality. It was understood that the greensward belonged to "The Boys," under the quiet but firm guidance of a man who loved them and knew how to handle them.
Dr. Richard Morgan, Rector of the Church, who loved the boys and played with them for years, said the other day, "I realized the way to keep the boys busy and interested was to let them do the things they wanted to do, and to let them play the game they liked best, baseball."
The Rector spent many hours with the boys, devoting the west room of the rectory to their use and it was no wonder that those snub nosed, freckled faced kids felt that Dr. Morgan was their special property.
But one day trouble brewed. The Rector brought home a bride to the little Rectory. It wasn't as if they boys hadn't known Miss Anna Hansen practically always. It was only that she had come to take their place.
Mrs. Morgan tells the story of her first day at home with a tender smile curling her lips, "there were four disconsolate ten year olds sitting on the house steps the very day we got home. I spoke pleasantly to them, but there was no answer from their deep woe. They were ruined, they thought, and sat chin in fist, a disgusted look on their faces."
The four youngsters were Sam Leslie, Charles Kraemer, Robert Rodgers, and F.M. Gibson, all well known in the town, although some now live far away.
Mrs. Morgan went outside, smilingly told the boys the West room was still theirs to use all they wanted to, and that she wanted them to feel at home there. Then she proceeded down the street toward town but hardly had she moved away when they made a dive for the door and were soon inside their room.
Returning, Mrs. Morgan placed ice cream and cake on the table, invited the boys into the kitchen, and from that time on her stock went up visibly.
For two years Dr. Morgan had an organized baseball team with games played by his boys who took the name "The Broncos," versus various out of town teams. During these two years the late Ben Halsell was the umpire for the team.
On June 29, 1920, the Broncos played in Clarksville, the score Bonham 6, Clarksville 5, in a hard fought game.
On July 13, 1920, the game between the two teams was battled in Bonham, the score, Bonham 7, Clarksville 0. The next year, at Clarksville, the score on July 4 was Bonham 6, Clarksville,7.
The final game of the two year's team play was on August 2, 1921 at Bonham, and Dr. Morgan calls it "the best baseball game ever played in Bonham." The score was Bonham, 1, Clarksville 0.
The team play faded as the boys went to high school, but their interest in their own Dr. Morgan has never faded as evidence has been shown by visits with him since the boys are grown men and scattered in their various residences and professions .
The continued interest of the gang is passed on to their children. Only last summer, when the Reverend Charles Kraemer came to Bonham for a visit, his son Phillip, insisted on going to the church lawn where he batted a baseball over the back fence the "way daddy used to do."
"And now we have the whole parish house," Mrs. Morgan says happily, "we can have a reunion the the boys and hope to do so before long."
And now we notice the hallowed church yard resounding to the laughter of girls as well as boys. It's a different generation, and an older group of young people are frequenting the place as they untiringly but happily brush the paint on the walls and woodwork and clean up floors for parish house will not only be used for functions of the organizations of the Episcopal Church but will be loaned to the young people as a youth center for several nights a week.
Meanwhile, there is still a place where the younger boys of 8 to 18 can play ball, on Dr. Morgan's front lawn. Significant? Yes. Dr. Morgan took the lead as one who gave himself to youth.
Make no mistake about it, the youth will congregate together where they can have fun. How good it is that they will have a place, because of the continued work of Dr. Morgan through the years, where in that hallowed spot they may satisfy their gregarious needs amid clean surroundings with their friends, the adults standing by and applauding them in their own fine desire to make their youth center a wholesome pace for play.
NOTE: In June, 1963, between games in the National League of Bonham Boys Baseball, Bryce McIntyre, President of Bonham's Baseball program, presented Richard Morgan with a plague engraved:
"BONHAM'S MOST FAITHFUL SPORTS FAN."
Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas