Kids and Kubs
Kids & Kubs History
KIDS & KUBS 1930- 2019
THE GRANDDADDY OF ALL SENIOR SOFTBALL TEAMS
No one can do justice in a few short sentences for an institution that has been around for over 80 years, and has provided recreation for approximately 1000 players and enjoyment to over 500,000 fans for 8 decades. The Board of Directors of the Kids & Kubs take this opportunity in appreciation of our past history and the legacy we inherited for an overview of the significant events over those years. We recognize that many special events may have been lost in the archives of time.
The Club started playing softball in 1931, after the initial goal to be more of a social “quilting” club.
In the early years the club played most of their games at South Waterfront Park, the present location of the parking lot of Mahaffey Theater. Collections were taken during the games to offset expenses and also allow sizable donations in support of many local charities, especially All Children’s Hospital. Collections at games continued well into the early 1980’s.
The club played exhibition games against local teams in and around the area and especially “ladies” teams for more than 50 years.
The Kids and Kubs incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1938 and formed a Charter that is filed with the Florida Secretary of State.
The club played before an estimated half-million fans since 1930. In the 1939-1940 season alone an estimate of 50,000 fans watched the games as noted in the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent. One game alone drew 8,500 fans.
In the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, the club enjoyed the on-field participation of baseball legends Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, Lefty Gomez, Pepper Martin and Connie Mack.
The Rilee brothers go after a pop fly
In 1939 the club was invited by the co-founder, Colonel Emory, a Plantation owner from Cuba, to visit his country and they played several games there. The Kids and Kubs played exhibition games in the early years around the State of Florida, many times taking a bus to places such as Miami.
K & K played exhibition games in Sacramento, California in the 1980’s as well as Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The club formed a Trust Fund in November, 1981, with the support of the local business establishment and several major donors. They started making yearly donations from the Trust Fund income after 1981 to many local charities, and since
1949 (70 years) have donated an estimated $195,000 to $215,000 to charities. The fund has grown and totaled about $90,000 under Treasurer Bob Warsaw in 2007. In 2016 Treasurer Ron Renz increased the value of stocks to nearly $104,000 with yield in the 7% range, 51% going to charities.
A selected team from the club played in their first Senior Softball World Series National Softball Tournament in 1992 in Detroit, Michigan, three years after national tournaments were part of Senior Softball around the United States.
The Kids and Kubs won the World Championship in 1998 at Chicago, Illinois, in the 80’s division of play and several National Titles since then.
The explosion of senior softball evolved starting in 1989 with the first truly national tournament. The Kids & Kubs expanded to 4 teams in the early 90’s to keep pace with active seniors, many wishing to continue playing as in their early years.
In 2005 the idea of a monument honoring the past members and present members at that time became a reality at North Shore Field with the construction of a marble bench with capsules of documents to be opened in 2030 for the 100th anniversary of the club.
Since the early 1930’s the Club has participated in the annual Festival of States Parade and the yearly game with the Festival Queen & Her Court.
In December of 2007 the Club was invited to play in Hawaii against a team from Japan, commemorating the end of World War II and honoring both the Americans and Japanese who fought and especially those who died in the Pacific Theater during the conflict.
In April of 2009, 5 members of the Club were invited and played in Japan as an extension of the 2007 event in Hawaii. Since 2016 the Kids and Kubs regularly play local teams from Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, Bradenton, The Freedom Spirit women's team from Seminole, and the Tampa General Hospital Transplant Team from Tampa.
THE HISTORICAL DETAILS
Evelyn Barton Rittenhouse, Co-Founder, October 23, 1878 - April 5, 1970
Evelyn, was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and for her health came to St. Petersburg in 1918 from New York City. She fell in love with the climate and after a few short periods away on various matters, became a permanent resident, living at 114 - 7th Avenue North. She owned and operated the Hibiscus Hotel at 106 - 3rd Street South.
She organized the Grandmother's Club, the Three-Quarter Century Club, the Show Biz Club, and the Senior Citizens Club. The latter organization is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world, having at one time more than 5000 members.
Perhaps her most famous accomplishment was selling the City of St. Petersburg on the Kids and Kubs softball team. The first few years only members of the Three-Quarter Century Club or Society as it was sometimes called were eligible to join the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club, now better known as the World Renowned Kids and Kubs.
Dr. M. H. Emory, Co-founder 1855 - 1936
Dr. Emory was from Havana, Cuba, owned a large cattle ranch there. He was a winter visitor who became deeply interested in the formation of a softball team or group.
From the records available it was Dr. Emory who did most of the leg work that had to be done in this new venture. He was the liaison man between Mrs. Rittenhouse and the city and recreation department officials on numerous occasions.
His interest in this type of activity was manifest by his being the first manager of the club from its inception through the 1934-1935 season. Most of his time was spent here in St. Petersburg, leaving the operation of his ranch in the hands of a few trusted employees.
Records also show he was captain of the Kids through the 1934-1935 season and it was Dr. Emory who first called this group "The Sand Spur League." This name was dropped after 1936.
Charles W. Eldridge — 1831-1938
Charles W. Eldridge, was a sea-going man for over 50 years and a resident of St. Petersburg. At the age of over 100 he accepted the office of president of the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club and he held it for five years. He did not put on a uniform and become an active player, but he did take over the chore of being a coach on numerous occasions. He was one of the most faithful members of the club. He lived to be 107.
This is from an article in either the St. Petersburg Times or The Evening Independent in the early 1930’s. "It all started with a lost purse” by Evelyn Barton Rittenhouse:
Because a woman dropped her purse at the Chamber of Commerce one day in 1924, one of the world's most famous clubs came into existence.
Mrs. Evelyn Barton Rittenhouse, founder of the club and its guiding light since its inception, in an interview with Martha Lumplcin, a staff writer on one of the local papers, told how the organization was formed by this incident:
"I was working in the tourist relations department of the Chamber of Commerce at the time. One day I found a purse lying on the floor. Opening the purse in search of some identification, I found that the owner was a member of a Three-Quarter Century Club in California. I figured if California could have a Three-Quarter Century Club then Florida could have one also.
"With this in mind I found the owner of the purse and learned the club in California had been formed in 1918 and had died of inertia the same year. This was no reason that one here in Florida should meet the same fate — so within two weeks 42 of the 75-year youngsters met, and the club was off to a flying start.
"After a few quilting parties which consensus would have you believe were the proper sport for oldsters, members became restless with the inactivity and complained that quilting parties were pretty dull stuff for a person with so much life. The idea of softball came into being with the results that in 1931 a group of the more robust ones met at the ball field for the initial practice. After practicing this group went to the city hall and had their picture taken there on the front steps. Although only five of this group returned to the field in the fall of 1931, this was the birth of the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club."
This club known later as the Kids and Kubs soon went on to be world-renowned. The high quality national publications such as the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Reader's Digest and American Magazine have carried articles at times expounding the capers of this wonderful group, together with pictures to show them in action.
St. Petersburg's Central Avenue scene in the late 1940's
We have very little in the way of records for this season which was the beginning of the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club, first known as the "Sandspur League." It was also known at times as the Three Quarter Century Softball Diamond Club, but throughout early years it was known as the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club.
Mrs. Rittenhouse is given credit for the name of Kids and Kubs. While it is true we have little in the way of any written records for this period, in our archives at the club office we do have some very fine pictures of various groups taken during this period.
THE START — 1931
There were nineteen prospects for the teams that turned out on that memorial day in early 1931. After a little practice they walked to the city ball and had their pictures taken. From that group of nineteen only five turned out for practice the following November. They were Archie Taylor, W. C. Gray, C. D. Whitman, and Dr. M. H. Emory (retired) from Havana, Cuba. He helped Evelyn Rittenhouse organize the Three-Quarter Century Club and was the first manager in 1931-1935.
The fifth person was Chas. W. Eldridge, born June 29, 1831, who at the age of 100 became the first president. He held this office until 1937. At the age of 107 he was still on the ball field playing softball.
The records show that the following men, all in white shirts and trousers, gathered together in the latter part of December, 1931, at the ball field all set to play a game of softball. History was in the making.
Archie Taylor, 79 — Massachusetts J. E. Ogden, 85 — Ohio
W. C. Gray, 79 — New York H. S. Jennings, 85 — New York
C. D. Whirmore. 79 — Vermont G. J. Yesberger, 75 — Ohio
M. H. Emory, 77 — Cuba Chas. H. Wells, 82 — New York
C. W. Eldridge, 100 — St. Petersburg C. L. Higgins, 81 — Canada
L. H. Rumage, 75 — Ohio J. E. Winnings, 84 — Alabama
Archie Dunham, umpire George Hastings, 77 — Mass.
F. A. Place. 75 — New York H. H. Whitney, Coach — NY
E. H. Wright, 79 — New Jersey G. M. Brown, 79 — Ohio
C. H. Young, 77 — Massachusetts William Judd, 91 — Mass.
Ernest Naramore, 77 — Massachusetts C. E. Countryman, 80 — NY
In checking over the microfilms of both the St. Petersburg Times and the Evening Independent we find no mention whatever in the Times. The Evening Independent contains the following three items:
February 3, 1932, first mention of the Kids and Kubs — Kids 19 and Kubs 11 with no box score.
March 3, 1932, Kids and Kubs given temporary playing field at First Street and Fifth Avenue South. A crowd of 1500 were in attendance for the last game.
April 18, 1932, Kids and Kubs to resume play due to public interest.
December 12, 1932, Kids and Kubs to start practice. No more mentioned until January 10, 1933.
January 10 thru April 25 — Twenty-five games were played. Kids won 21 and Kubs 4. It was the custom in the first few years at least, that once a team was made up that team remained a unit throughout the year and the records show the same line-up followed year. Replacements were made to fill a vacancy.
Once a captain of a team, that man remained as such for a number of years. The box scores show that George Yesberger earned the nickname of "Babe."
Babe Ruth was at times the base umpire and well-known to all the Kids and Kubs. Appearing as a ball player, Yesberger had 108 hits in 133 times at bat. At the plate he averaged .812. Included in his hits were 30 home runs, 25 triples, and 22 doubles. He played in 21 of the 25 games and at that time all games were for 5 innings only.
The scores were also all in double figures — highest Kids 54 and Kubs 25.
Yesberger played left field, first base, pitcher, catcher. He was the winning pitcher with 10 wins. Dr. Emory was the leader with an 11-2 record. Dr. Emory was captain of the Kids and Charles Eldridge at 102 was captain of the Kubs and took his turn in the coaching box.
During the 1930's Shuffleboard and Roque were the front page attractions in the local papers. In November of 1932 there were 500 members of various shuffleboard teams. A daily box-score appeared in the papers giving the number of members in town at the time as compared to that date one year ago.
December 6, 1932: Headlines stated that Eddie Clark, world's champion Roque player, would spend the winter in St. Petersburg.
Once again both The St. Petersburg Times and the Evening Independent were very stingy with space for the Kids and Kubs. Shuffleboard and Roque were the main local sports attractions for the tourists.
The Independent mentioned the Kids and Kubs 11 times during the entire season and even then nothing more than the score. Yesberger still seems to be setting the pace as he did last year. December 12, 1933 he hit three home runs. On December 26th Yesberger had 6 hits in 6 times at bat. February 3, 1934 he was 5 for 5 with 1 home run. March 3 Yesberger pitched, winning 20 to 15. He struck out the side in the 4th inning. Even without any publicity from the papers, the February game drew 2000 fans and the March 17th game drew 4000. Those were the days long before television!
The following newspaper information about the games this season shows that the club is well-established with large crowds in attendance:
December 29 — Kids 44, Kubs 23, 11 home runs. Young had 3, West 2, Walker 2, Arlington 2, Yesberger 1, Frisbie 1. Voted to accept the Junior College's invitation to play a game next Saturday.
January 8, 1935 — Waterfront Park — Kids 32, Kubs 19- Home runs by Yesberger, Kemp and Frisbie.
February 2 — Kubs 32, Kids 19 — 2500 fans present. Yesberger stole home sliding across the plate. Home runs by Yesberger 3, Harris 2, Hall 2, Frisby 2.
February 19 — Kids 32, Kubs 18 — 2500 fans. Home runs by Yesberger 3, Rummage 1, Craft 1, Curtis 1. Rummage wore a new hat given him for winning previous game with a home run. No account of this game was in the paper.
February 23 — Kubs 26, Kids 17 — Largest crowd of the season, 3500. Yesberger, home run king of the Sand Spur League struck out for the first time.
February 26 — Now known as the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club, played for the first time on the new diamond, way down south in Waterfront Park. Kids 32, Kubs 21. Countryman stole 2nd, 3rd and home. In the 3rd inning Yesberger fanned for the second time in his career. Walker was benched for insubordination.
March 2 — 2500 at Waterfront Park. Kids 17, Kubs 7. Dodge played without his glasses. The 76 year old Kid did not want to be benched to make way for an "old fellow". King stole home.
March 5 — Kids 28, Kubs 16 — home runs by Wells 2, Wilkens 1, Curtis 1, Nichols 1, Yesberger 2.
March 9 — Kids 17, Kubs 7 — Rummage was credited with an assist which put himself out in the 2nd inning. He hit the ball and it dropped in front of the plate, he picked it up and tossed it to the pitcher who threw it to first for the out. Wells, 86, oldest man in league had 2 home runs. Yesberger went hitless. Silver offering by 3000 fans was divided among the players. "Munn Boys" quartette entertained between innings.
March 12 — Kids 21, Kubs 9 — Kemp stole home, sliding across the plate. Home runs: Yesberger 2, Arlington 1. An all star team will play exhibition game on March 21 with team of Infants, 60-70 years of age.
March 16 — Kids 23, Kubs 20 — Shakeup of players gave Kubs new line-up. Home runs: Yesberger 1, Young 1.
March 19 — Kubs 39, Kids 28 — Home runs: Mitchell 1, Young 1. Harris had a perfect day at bat, 5 for 5.
March 21 — An all star* Kids and Kubs team was tied by Infants 60-70 year olds- Babe Yesberger pitched and had 1 home run. Duff homered for the "Infants."
March 23 — Kids 35 with 42 hits, Kubs 8 with 8 hits. Winning pitcher Harris L. P. Young. Yesberger out with "Charley Horse". Harris 6 for 6. Home runs: Curtis , Frisby
March 27 — Kubs 22 with 20 hits, Kids 20 with 24 hits. Harris, winning pitcher, had 4 for 4. Young had 4 for 4. Home run: Kemp 1.
April 1 — Kubs 19 with 26 hits, Kids 10 with 10 hits. Five inning game. Yesberger, winning pitcher, and had 4 for 4. Home runs: Mitchell 2. Yesberger was married Friday.
April 4 — Final game of season — Kids 20 with 26 hits, Kubs 19 with 22 hits. Home run: Harris 1, who was the winning pitcher- Before the game all the players assembled in the center of diamond and sang America and then sang Auld Lang Syne.
Early times from the 1930's through the 1950's, Hard Times, WW II, the Korean War
America suffered ten years of hard times during the Depression in the 1930's which did not end until the country started the "Arsenal of Democracy in 1940 after France fell to Germany in the beginning of World War II. Meanwhile, in this pre-TV era, the Kids and Kubs attracted thousands to Waterfront Park with as many as 3000 to 5000 people attending. During this time were enacted the Social Security Act, the GI Bill of Rights, the Full Employment Act, and the discovery of Fiscal & Monetary Policy to regulate the cycles of Boom, Bust, and Depression...all those changed America forever.
The Kids and Kubs were considered one of St. Petersburg's greatest tourist attractions along with the Million Dollar Pier, the Green Benches, spring training for the New York Yankees, Sunken Gardens, and Webb's City, touted as the world's most unusual drug store where one of the K & K players worked for 30 years. The City Council and the Chamber of Commerce enthusiastically sponsored the Kids and Kubs and the Yankees each spring. Mayor Al Lang and Connie Mack, baseball's greatest manager and owner, were big boosters of the senior softball club and major league baseball. Many big league baseball stars had their pictures taken with the Kids and Kubs players and they umpired many games. Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel, and later Don Zimmer became honorary members of the club. And during this time St. Petersburg tripled its population to over 80,000 permanent residents.
Annual Awards Banquet in 1935
These historical notes would not be complete without noting some outstanding members of the Kids and Kubs of past years. Some were excellent players and others were great managers or administrators. Some were active into very advanced ages.
Charles Eldridge was 100 when he became president and he held the job for 5 years.
George Bakewell, the Kids and Kubs public relations man, actually participated in games until he died at 107.
William Judd was 91 when he joined the original club in 1931.
Paul Good was a great player and was president for 13 years. He was active with the club when he was 98.
At one time the four Rylee brothers all played on the club. Pat played until 2007 while in his mid-90's.
Present day (2019) members in their 90's are Hal Fisher, Maynard Saugstad, Andy Devine, and Don Osborn.
The 1936-37 Kids and Kubs Teams - first time with baseball caps
The Kids are standing in back in blue caps; the Kubs are kneeling in front in red caps. There was no color photography at the time,
so the trees and caps in this black and white photo were tinted and made into post cards, one of which is in the club office.
There have been some exceptional players and hitters right from the start of play in 1931. For many years an annual spring banquet was held in April at the Princes Martha Hotel to honor and award the trophies for home run king and batting champion. The banquet tradition has continued to the present, though now around Christmas or New Year's time and including spouses. The following players earned one or both of the trophies in the early years:
Ed Forrester - 6 years; Jack Wertz - 5 years; Ed Stauffer - 5 years; George Yesberger - 4 years; Frank Peckinpaugh - 4 years.
The all-time batting champion is Ed Stauffer with an .833 batting average.
Some time in the early 1990's the Kids and Kubs quit keeping batting averages and with the senior slow-pitch style of play, errors and fielder's choices do not count against the batting average. That relieved a lot of intra-club tension on the field of play.
St. Petersburg High School, founded in 1898, is a secondary school located in St. Petersburg, Florida. The school's current building, a historic landmark, was built in 1926 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The school was billed as the nation's first million dollar high school. The school previously occupied several other historic locations around St. Petersburg, including a location at Mirror Lake from 1919 to 1926. This is the way the high school looked when the Kids and Kubs started playing in 1930.
Newsman Tom Brokaw named the Americans who fought in World War II "The Greatest Generation." Somet of the recent members of the Kids and Kubs are of that generation and many participated in the fighting. Cliff Zalay lost an eye at the Battle of the Bulge, Joe Coro was a prisoner of war for years, Hal Fisher was shot down and rescued after days at sea, and Andy Devine was torpedoed twice in the Pacific. Present members have participated in later wars and survived to become active players with the Kids and Kubs.
Since the presidency of Paul Good five men have directed the activities of the club. They are Harvey Musser, Maynard Saugstad, Winchell Smith, Andy Devine and current President, John Wilkinson. Wilkinson is assisted by Ron Quatkemeyer, Vice President; Dave Glauner, Treasurer; Ed Asay, Secretary; and Directors Jon Reynolds, Frank Sirois, and Jerry Wollman.
History is an ongoing phenomenon and this story will continue as long as the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club of St. Petersburg, Florida, continues its very active program. In 2019 there were 56 paid-up members with dues at $100 a year. The club consisted of four teams of active players, some of averagel skills and some of upper and lower levels of playing abilities. Four teams played the regular season from November 1, 2018, to March 30, 2019. There were also numerous games played against teams from nearby Florida cities and other states.
This website is an extension of the club's brochure which is published annually and which pictures each member with a short biography. A copy of each of the brochures of past years is kept in the club office which is located at the Sunshine Center at 330-5th St. No., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Also there is on the office computer a spreadsheet database containing the names and other information of all who have ever been Kids and Kubs members, staff, or assistants.
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The Kids and Kubs 2005 team picture with Mayor Rick Baker at City Hall
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The Kids and Kubs 2007
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The Kids and Kubs in 2011
The Kids and Kubs in 2019
Rob Moorman Photographics, LLC, pictured the club for many years.
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