October 6, 2021 — Every small-town baseball player believes that with a little hard work, a lot of practice, and maybe a touch of luck, he’ll make it to the World Series. On this date in 1950, eighteen players of the Mayville North Dakota Red Caps donned their uniforms and rolled into Yankee Stadium – even though they only sat in the stands. Their hard work and a little luck are exactly how they got to see the Yankees win the World Series.
That August, forty-one teams, each a winner of their local tournaments, had met in Jamestown to decide the eighth annual North Dakota amateur baseball championship. For twelve days teams from all over the state fought hard against elimination, until only Davenport and Mayville remained to settle the championship. Mayville’s secret weapon, pitcher Harvey McMullen, had cut an undefeated swath through the other teams, and on September 5 he and his fellow players left Davenport in the dust with a score of 21 to 3.
In previous years, the Mayville Red Hats would have started preparing for the national tournaments of the American Baseball Congress, but one thing stood in the way. The North Dakota teams had not joined the Congress in 1950, meaning no more games for Mayville, but state amateur baseball association president Tom Farley announced that he would send the team to an even larger championship. The prize for winning state would be a free trip to the American League city in which the World Series would be held, and tickets to watch the games.
Major League Baseball was still in the playoffs when the state championship ended, so Red Caps manager Al Meyer was worried that they wouldn’t find lodging or enough seats when the American League winner was decided. But President Farley came through as soon as the pennants were won. The Red Caps would attend all of the games in New York between the Yankees and the Red Sox.
On October 4, all of Mayville turned out to see off their hometown champions. The Red Caps paraded through town on the city fire wagon while the Mayville Teachers College band played. Local business owners presented the team with champion jackets; mayor Junior Elken awarded each player a gold belt buckle; and pitcher Harvey McMullen was given a Most Valuable Player award from the Fargo Forum. When the ceremonies were over, the seventeen players and their manager hit the road, bound for Yankee Stadium.
“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairiepublic.org.