Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Cleburne

February 2, 2009

Gone but not forgotten

Railroaders’ brief stay gave rise to Major League great

They were here for a brief, blazing moment, like a high-flying bottle rocket. And then they were so quickly gone and forgotten that Cleburne is still without a historical marker to signify where they played.

They were the 1906 Cleburne Railroaders — possessors of one of the greatest Major League baseball players of all-time, Tris Speaker, and arguably the most prolific Texas League player of all-time, George “Lucky” Whiteman.

Playing at Gorman’s Park, hallowed grounds now at the intersection of Hillsboro and Westhill in Hulen Park, the Railroaders won the 1906 TL pennant, though by an asterisk. Fort Worth claimed the first half title and Cleburne the second half. When Fort Worth was unable to report for a playoff because most of its players had scattered to the four winds, Cleburne was toasted as the roost-ruler.

You can read all about this in Fort Worth author Wiley Whitten’s equally fascinating and colorful book about the 1906 Texas League season, with a focus on the Railroaders.

Thus far, the tome is in manuscript form. Whitten, a Burleson resident at the time he did the manuscript, said he hopes to self-publish it in the near future.

It’s worth buying just for the photographs, But there’s so much more. Whitten was able to track down a number of the children, grandchildren and assorted relatives of players such as Speaker, Dode Cross, Hickory Dickson, Dee Poindexter and Uncle Charlie Moran.

Whitten determined he may even be related to one of the old Railroaders, a pitcher named Wingo Charlie Anderson, listed by various sources as hailing from Venus, Alvarado or Lillian.

“All the players are long deceased,” Whitten said, “but I found a lot of their kids and grandkids by hook and crook. I was able to find Dode Criss’ daughter. Criss had a souvenir book he loaned to someone who lost it when a house got repossessed. Criss never could get the book back. I found Walter [Hickory] Dickson’s son in Albuquerque. Dickson lived in Oklahoma, and most of his possessions were washed away in a flood. He played in the old Federal League and died in the flu epidemic in 1918.

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