- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - No matter how close Rio Rancho’s Allen Broyles puts his nose to the TV screen to watch the 112th World Series, the 82-year-old won’t have as good a seat as he had the last time the Indians won the championship, when he served as a batboy for the 1948 squad that featured Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Bob Lemon, Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner.

“We were all happy, very excited - the whole town was,” Broyles said of that long-ago Indians team, which earned its Series berth by winning the AL pennant in a one-game playoff against the Red Sox, 8-3, in Boston’s Fenway Park.

They went on to beat the Boston Braves to win the World Series title.

The then 14-year-old Broyles was chosen to be one of the team’s two batboys for the season after entering a newspaper essay contest conducted by the now-defunct Cleveland Press, reported the Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/2f5hOe7).

“I did it on my own, ‘Why I wanted to be batboy for the Cleveland Indians,’” said Broyles, who had moved to Cleveland the year before with father Joseph Warren and mother Edith. “It was written by me - it was a kid letter and didn’t have adult print on it. And I used Indians terminology, like ‘paleface.’”

Broyles came in second. That landed him honors as the visiting team’s batboy for the 1948 season.

His job was to retrieve bats from the field and to run to the mound to get warmup jackets when relief pitchers entered the game. And, otherwise, to stay out of trouble.

“I knew to get out of the way and to speak when spoken to - I was very careful about that,” he said.

About an hour before each home game, he’d arrive for duty.

“I was a gofer for anything the players wanted,” he said.

Among the visiting players he rubbed elbows with were the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio and Boston’s Ted Williams. He said his favorite Indians player was reliever Russ Christopher: “He was nice to me and would talk to me and was very accessible,” Broyles said.

And unlike many boys his age, Broyles said, he wasn’t glassy-eyed mingling with the heroes of the baseball world. Not then, anyway.

“No, no,” he said. “But I’m a lot more impressed now when I look back on it.”

But what about school? He must have been missing a lot of class time to hang out at the ballpark that spring as an eighth-grader and the next fall in ninth grade.

“It didn’t bother me,” he said, clearly missing the point of the question. “We played mostly night games back then.”

There were some nice perks involved for Broyles, too.

“The Indians made sure the visiting team paid me $3 (per series) and gave me an autographed ball with all the players’ signatures.”

Broyles estimates he has about 30 baseballs he keeps tucked away in a large safe deposit box at his bank. He said the most cherished signature he has is from Connie Mack, the longtime manager of the Philadelphia A’s.

Among the signatures on balls that he cares the least about are those of four members of the Indians - Bearden, Boudreau, Keltner and Mike Hegan.

“They were always on the other side of the field, and I didn’t get out there too often, so I didn’t get their autographs. So I wrote in their names myself,” he said somewhat sheepishly.

His collection of mementos would have included about a half-dozen autographed bats, including those with DiMaggio and Williams signatures, but said his mother gave them to Goodwill.

“I was out of school by then, and she got tired of handling them when she’d move,” said Broyles, who added that the loss of the souvenirs haunts him to this day.

Once the ‘48 World Series started, he took his place in the Indians’ dugout, because the Braves traveled with their regular batboy. But because the Indians’ regular batboy handled all his usual chores, Broyles just grabbed a seat while wearing his customary gray woolen “Cleveland” jersey while more than 80,000 fans crammed Municipal Stadium.

Yet that didn’t prevent him from bruising his noggin during one action-packed sequence: “There was an exciting play at the plate and I jumped up and hit my head on the roof of the dugout. Otherwise I just sat there and gathered splinters.”

The Indians won two of the three games played in Cleveland that Series and clinched its world championship in Boston on Oct. 11 by a score of 4-3.

It must be hard for Broyles to believe how time has flown since that last championship.

“No, it does feel like 68 years,” said Broyles, who served 40 years in the ministry with United Methodist Church, the first half with the New England Conference and the second with the Memphis Conference. Retired, he lives with wife Delores, daughter Marianne and a 7-year-old border collie named Bella.

Anyway, he’s now had five days to rest his vocal cords to ready for Cleveland’s battle against Chicago.

“I think the Indians have a very good chance, and their manager (Terry Francona) is great,” he said. “That team has us all excited.”

Just like old times.

___

Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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