2013 Elite Series Ramada Quest Bull Shoals Lake - Bull Shoals, AR, Apr 19 - 22, 2013

Jerry McKinnis: Moments of Magic

“…goodbye to payin' dues…”

Two days later, I had the email address of this Peter G Pierce, so I email him this:

I'm doing a story about one of the owners of B.A.S.S., Jerry McKinnis who used to play in the Sooner State League with the 1956/1957 Seminole Oilers.

Just hoping if you would have a team picture from back there…or the logo of the team…anything we could use that would run in the story.

We will of course give you and your book massive credit for anything you may have.

A shot in the dark, hold your breath and hit…send.  I didn’t expect much but the email went to this Pierce dude on April 9, 2013 1:59PM

At 3:12PM, April 9, 2013, as I was working on my laptop on another story my computer went…ding…and when I opened the email this is what I read:

McKinnis was 11-11- for the 1956 "Miracle" Seminole club who went from 8th in July to 4th at season end and won the pennant from front-runner Ardmore in the playoff.  I've attached a 1956 team photo, some shots of the ball park (still in use) and a shot of the 1956-57 Seminole home flannels.  They were a Kansas City farm club so wore old Phila A's hand-me-downs.   McKinnis is mentioned at p. 292 of Baseball in the Cross Timbers.  He had, like most of the 1956 club, been promoted to Class C Pocatello for 1957.

"After appearing in eleven games at Pocatello, Jerry McKinnis was sent down. After three appearances for Seminole, he quit baseball.  One season in Class D was enough."

Hope this helps.

pgp

And as I scrolled down in the email,

I first saw a photo of the uniform that Jerry would have worn back then,

...seems I was right... Peter G Pierce...seems I was right...

then the ballpark he would have played in,

...because in this stadium, Oiler Park in Seminole, OKPeter G. Pierce...because in this stadium, Oiler Park in Seminole, OK

then,

then, a black and white team photo of the 1956 Seminole Oilers,

and I found myself staring into the eyes of my boss, when he was just 19 years old.

...a 19 year old Jerry McKinnis, kneeling 2nd from the left, was a pitcher for the 1957 Seminole Oilers. Peter G. Pierce...a 19 year old Jerry McKinnis, kneeling 2nd from the left, was a pitcher for the 1957 Seminole Oilers.
And playing pro baseball.

Believe it or not, at that moment,

tears came to my eyes.

We had just found,

Jerry.

From experience I knew, that not far behind would be,

moments of magic

“…goodbye to the cheers…”

“Golly db….I’m just overwhelmed…what did you do hire a private investigator to look into me.”

Uh, sort of.

A trick from my investigative days, you don’t ask to do the story until you have all the facts, know all the answers to the questions you will ask.

Knowing Jerry as well as I do and knowing how he will give me a hard time for calling him a Co-Owner of B.A.S.S., knowing this very public man prefers to be very private, the story is always about others, not him, knowing this going into the story…I had to have everything in place before I asked him for an interview.

Some call it boxing the person in.

I prefer to call it being…thorough.  Politer that way.

Jerry is the second guy from the left kneeling down in the photo.  He is 19, and he is a pitcher then…and 57 years later, was still a pitcher, while playing catch.

Where this story began.

“db…I was just a child…it was a great time in my life…I got to see and do things I never would have been able to do…it was like my college education those years.”

We talked baseball some, but I could hear in his voice, moments of the 19 year old, moments of the Sooner State League, were bouncing around in his head…

“You see that guy kneeling next to me on my right…that’s Chico…Flash…Gordon…man he could put a hurt on the ball hitting…he was from Cuba, about 5 years older than I was…”

Then the moment in time slowed down for Jerry, heard it in his voice as he began to tell me about his, “college education”…

“…you know db, back then they still practiced segregation and whenever we would go to a restaurant Flash couldn’t eat with the rest of the team…”

It was what he said next to me, what he said showed me that even as a child, he had the same heart as the 76 year old guy, boss, co-owner, friend talking to me know, and that his heart, was long ingrained,

“…they would make Flash go eat by himself in the kitchen, so I thought that just wasn’t right, so I would go and eat with Flash in the kitchen, the two of us, so he wouldn’t be alone.”

Probably the best “college education” I have heard in a long time.

“…and goodbye to the boos…”

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