Baseball Stars of Past Era Visited Often in Bonaparte
O. R. Perkins
BONAPARTE - Although Meek Brothers Woolen Mills and clothing factory
were chiefly responsible for making Bonaparte one of the best known
towns in Iowa many years ago, the town had its name on the national
baseball map through the efforts of
J. S. (Boss) Entler.
Entler also provided the town with recognition by what many called the
finest tinware in southern Iowa. All was made by hand in his shop and
only a minimum of machinery was used in shaping various products.
Baseball Held Him
Entler also sold good sporting goods of various kinds,
baseball supplies, skates, bikes and his merchandise was probably the
largest collection of its kind in southern Iowa too. When the first
bikes were introduced, Entler was host to the children if the town.
After a ride on a hot day, the finale stop was always the ice cream
parlor for the whole group.
Yet baseball held first interest in the life of "Boss" Entler. He was
the best known baseball umpire in Southeastern Iowa. If there was a
baseball game to be umpired, Entler left the business to the good
management of Casady and took off. It was not uncommon for him to umpire
a baseball game a day. He found that business in the tin shop and sport
goods store was better when he was away than when he was there, so he
never hesitated to answer the call of "play ball."
Entler managed to handle a baseball game no matter what league caliber
it was -- by himself. Today as many as four umpires are needed. He
umpired at the plate, but was "right on top of the ball" at any part of
the infield. He was respected by semi-pro players of those days for his
fast, accurate and fair decisions.
Boss Entler was invited to become an umpire in the National league. He
thought long and hard over this. Finally, he declined -- because of his
age and his growing extensive business here.
Some of baseball's biggest men were his guests in Bonaparte, for a day
at a time, on their way south on hunting or fishing trips after the
close of the season in the fall.
Friends of Comiskey
Baseball players and managers from all parts of the country assembled at
Hickman, Ky. in the years gone by. There they were guests of
Charles Comiskey on his palatial houseboat which was made ready for its annual
trip south with its guests each season.
The trip would be made down the Ohio to the Mississippi and down the
Mississippi to the Red river for hunting and fishing in Arkansas.
Two passenger trains each day between Keokuk and Ottumwa afforded ample
transportation to the little town of Bonaparte. Guests would come up for
the day, returning to Keokuk in the evening and rejoin the Comiskey
party on the houseboat -- after visiting their friend, Boss Entler.
Among those who came to Bonaparte to chat with their old friend were
John McGraw, famous manager of the New York Giants, originally from
Charles (Old Roman) Comiskey of the Chicago White Sox;
Hans Wagner, known in the baseball world as "The Flying Dutchman" and
Pittsburgh's Joe and Mike Cantillion. Joe played in the American
association for years and later became an umpire.
J. (Peck) Sharp, one of the shining lights of Milwaukee, Kansas City
and Columbus, O. in the American association, came home regularly and
never missed a session with Boss Entler. He accompanied the great array
of baseball talent each year on the southern trips, too.
Harrington of Keokuk
Jerry Harrington of Keokuk, played one season with Bonaparte's
semi-pro team and then went up to become one of the National league's
great catchers, being with Cincinnati for many years. Harrington was
often in the party which visited Bonaparte.
There are still enough old timers in Bonaparte and this area to remember
those golden days of baseball in this part of Iowa.
Source: Daily Gate City newspaper, Keokuk, Lee, Iowa; 7 June 1956 (view
Note: Comiskey, Wagner and McGraw all members of
Baseball Hall of Fame
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Steve Smith,
member of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) for making us
aware of this story and Tonya Boltz of the Keokuk Public Library for her
assistance in obtaining a digital copy of the article.