Take Us Back to The Ball Game – At Goodwill Park – 1939

At the recent Holliston Historical Society Harvest Fair, many people saw the photographs on the walls in the main meeting room of the house. The baseball photos featured teams from the 1890s right up to recent years. One photograph came in for extra scrutiny. The 1939 Merchants team portrays 13 men plus a bat boy tucked in the first row.

Send your answers to Pubs.Holliston.Reporter@gmail.com

Perhaps a few other photos may help – or divert your attention:

Punk Vernon and Bill Honey

Town baseball provided by the Merchants Base Ball Team – financially supported by the merchants of Holliston – opened the 1939 season with a certain problem about playing baseball on Goodwill Park. They set about to fix it! The problem was that the Park Committee prohibited playing baseball on Sundays at the park and the team was obligated to schedule all Sunday games as out-of-town games at towns that had no such prohibition, much to the dismay of their fans. A series of articles written by local reporter, Michael Callahan of Mudville, tells the tale.


An article has been drafted and presented to the Selectmen, for Sunday baseball, and will appear in the warrant for the special Town Meeting to be held April 23. Baseball fans are being urged to attend the meeting and give their support to the cause. – Milford Daily News.

April 25, 1939 – By unanimous vote of the townspeople, last night at the Town Meeting, Sunday baseball was given the stamp of approval, and the Park Committee was requested through action under the article in the warrant to issue permits for Sunday baseball at Goodwill Park.

Duford’s Post of the American Legion was added to the list of contributors to the Merchants team.

Although the Park Committee can still have authority to grant or reject applications, it would appear . . .


Park Comm. Instructed to Issue Permits For Sabbath Games

HOLLISTON, April 25, 1939 – There can be little doubt in the minds of the Goodwill Park committee as to the feeling of the townspeople relative to Sunday baseball in Holliston, for last night at the special town meeting it was unanimously voted that the town request the park committee to grant permits for Sunday baseball games on Goodwill Park.

The session was not without its action, highlighted by the vociferous exit of Edward Robitaille, who was “fed up” with the entire setup of the park committee and the manner in which the committee conducted itself.

C. Walter Lovewell, president of the Merchants Baseball Club, moved that the voters instruct the committee to grant permission for Sunday ball on Goodwill park and this motion was amended by Roy T. Wells to have the town “request” instead of “instruct” such action and the amended motion accepted.

An amendment by Edward Robitaille to have the park committee increased from three to seven members, the new members to be appointed by the selectmen, was ruled out of order.

Edward G. Fischer offered an amendment to the effect that preference be given to games between residents of Holliston an explained that he felt the youngsters weren’t being given an opportunity to use the field, and that a certain few shouldn’t have the use of the field on Sunday afternoons. The real fireworks started after this proposal was voted down.

Robitaille inquired as to why all the restrictions were being placed on the use of the field, inasmuch as it was a public park, and stated that the present committee was really a one-man board. “We have a park,” said Robitaille, “and yet we haven’t a park, because what’s the use of a park it it can’t be used without all the restrictions now in effect?” After his request to have the deed to the park read was apparently misunderstood, Robitaille said that the “whole thing smelled fishy,” and made a noisy exit from the meeting.

Fred W. Miller, a park committee member, was called to task by Recreation Director Louis Baer for the failure of the committee to acknowledge written requests submitted by him in previous years for Sunday baseball permits.

Robert Adams was of the opinion that there was little doubt but what the townspeople were in favor of Sunday baseball and requested that any residents in the vicinity of the field voice their objections. No objectors were heard.

The sentiment of the people was expressed by a unanimous favorable vote.

Bill Honey


Goodwill Park Committee Allots MerchantsClub Date for May 7

HOLLISTON, April 28, – They’ve never argued, have Recreation Director Louis Baer and the members of the Goodwill Park committee. They’ve merely had differences of opinions regarding several items pertaining to the utilization of Goodwill park on various occasions. But all this is a thing of the past now and all external expressions of contrary natures are completely blanketed under a sudden-attained smiling front by both sides of the argumentative factions, and Mr. Baer, at a meeting of the Park committee Tuesday evening, acting in the dual capacity of representative for the Recreation Project and Merchants ball team, procured permission for those organizations or groups to play Sunday ball on Goodwill park. With nary a protesting voice the committee agreed to grant the permits.

So, the first Sunday baseball game will be played here on Sunday May 7, when the Holliston Merchants tangle with the West Boylston A. C. one of the fastest teams from the Worcester district. All members of the Merchants ball club are to meet tonight at 7:15 o’clock in the Cerel building. It is planned to have the new uniforms ready for distribution at this time. Plans are being made now for an alternate schedule of Sunday games away and at home by the Merchants, playing here on one Sunday and away the next. – Milford Daily News, April 28, 1939.

Charlie Lovewell

Selectman Joseph Haley will pitch  the first ball Sunday when the Merchants play the initial Sunday game of baseball on Goodwill park, the fruits of a struggle of several years’ duration in acquiring the right to play ball on the Sabbath. – Milford Daily News, May 5, 1939.

Submit your answers in the remarks column, and let’s see if we can identify all the players.  Next time you attend a baseball game at Goodwill Park, set yourself upon the stone bleachers along the first base line. The “bleachers” were constructed in 1924 – not for a Sunday game, for sure. The Two Hundredth Anniversary Celebration of the Town of Holliston in 1924 inspired some improvements at the Green Street park – that was yet to be called Goodwill – thanks to Arthur A. Williams, in 1936. We can be sure that the Goodwill Park bleachers were filled to capacity on that Sunday opening day, May 7, 1939 for Holliston’s first – legal, anyway– Sunday game.

Joanne Hulbert

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