In March, 1954, the Press-Chronicle launched its sixth annual “Johnson City Cardinals (Appalachian League) Batboy Contest.” Four judges, Ralph Cox, Tom Lyons, Bill Miller and Jimmy Smyth, selected six boys as finalists: Joe Ward Booth, Sammy Broyles, Bill Dyer, Dana Lyon, Ronnie Rickman and Richard Teaster.
The Six Semifinalists of the 1954 Johnson City Cardinals Batboy Contest
Each youngster was asked to identify his favorite baseball player. The final score was Stan Musial 3, Yogi Berra 2. Johnson City's own Billy Joe Bowman received the sixth vote.
The Cardinals management through president, Carl A. Jones, and business manager, Ralph Cox, issued a statement praising the boys who submitted applications and essays. It acknowledged the many fine entries and regretted that they couldn't use a couple dozen more batboys.
After that, it was time for the public to pick a winner by filling out a ballot that was printed in the newspaper and mailing it to the Press-Chronicle office. The paper urged its readers to get their ballot back to them before the April 9 noon deadline. The winner was to be announced in the paper the next day. Below are abbreviated excerpts from the essays of the six finalists:
Joe Ward Booth: “I would like to be batboy for the Cardinals because I would like to become a Cardinal baseball player when I finish school. A batboy has a wonderful opportunity of developing himself, morally, physically, mentally and socially. This would be a step toward being a professional baseball player.”
Sammy Broyles: “Baseball is my favorite sport. I have played baseball for the Little League for three years and liked it very much. If I am chosen as batboy, it would give me a better chance to learn more about baseball and to learn all of the rules and regulations.”
Bill Dyer: “I would like to be the batboy for the Johnson City Cardinals this year because I like baseball. I would like to learn all I can about baseball. I am also interested in becoming a professional ball player someday. I am 15 years old and always like to go to the ball games.”
Dana Lyon: “I wish to learn more about baseball and know the players better. Besides wanting to know more about professional baseball, I would use the money I receive to buy school clothes and books for next year. Being batboy would be more than a job to me. It would be responsibility, which I would work hard at trying to do my very best.”
Ronnie Rickman: “My greatest ambition is to play baseball in the Cardinals organization. I have played baseball in both the Little and Little Bigger leagues and feel that being the Cardinals batboy would help me in my playing. I have a great love of baseball and keep up with all the Cardinals games. I would consider it an honor to be chosen.”
Richard Teaster: “I would like to be the Red Birds' batboy because it would teach me to become a good sport and sportsmanship is very essential to an athlete. I would like to learn about fielding, pitching and batting. I would like to have the proud feeling of beating a top team, someone hitting a home run, a pitcher pitching a shutout or a no-hitter. I would like to share their every thrill.”
All six finalists were awarded prizes. First prize was, of course, to be batboy for one year. Second prize was a season ticket to all games plus an autographed baseball and bat. The third winner received a ticket to the opening game, a hat, a ball and an autographed picture of the 1953 Cardinals. Fourth, fifth and six accolades consisted of an opening day ticket, an autographed baseball and a picture of the 1953 Cardinals.
Thanks to several of my readers who correctly identified the winner of the batboy contest as Joe Ward Booth.