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Taking You Back in History - The Old Ball Game Part 2 Groveland's Golden Era of Baseball

By Kathy Brown, Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum/Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society

Groveland Ball Club. Photo donated to STCHS by the Kundrotas Family.

In the early 1900s a confederation of baseball teams called the Mother Lode League was formed. It consisted of teams, which might change year to year, from Sonora, Jamestown, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Melones, Stockton, Oakdale, Columbia, Soulsbyville, and of course Groveland. The real passion for baseball in Groveland came during the Hetch Hetchy construction era. By the 1920s baseball had become a major sport for both players and spectators. At this time Groveland was the administrative headquarters for the Mountain Division of the Hetch Hetchy Project - the building of the dam and the section of pipeline to Moccasin. This brought a lot of men into the area to work, as well as giving jobs to local miners who were once again idle.

“Chief” Michael O'Shaughnessy, who oversaw the construction of the dam loved baseball and encouraged his workers to play it. During the summer the Hetch Hetchy project hired some high school and college players for work because they knew how to play the game. Ringers were hired by other Mother Lode teams as well. Some star players even went on to play ball for major or minor league teams but the majority of the Mother Lode League teams were local workers, lumberers, and machinists.