As the only surviving starter of the 1948 Cleveland Indians World Series championship team, he has every reason to feel bitter for not being invited back to the city where he experienced the most enjoyable season of his 13-year playing career.
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A Northwest Missouri man leaves a legacy pressed in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The small town guy lived thankful for his career playing professional baseball. From the small town in Missouri to the small town of Cooperstown, N.Y. baseball fans find the story of a historic baseball career.
“This is one of the great moments of my life. I’m here on my first visit and I saw a lot of things at the Hall of Fame which brought back memories. It is a beautiful setting for this sort of thing. I’d like to take this occasion to thank everyone for everything,” Zack Wheat said during his induction ceremony in 1959.
He grew up in the country, near Polo, Mo. (Population: 575), and he always wanted to play professional baseball. The stretch of Missouri Highway 13 crossing through Caldwell County and Polo is dedicated as the Zack Wheat Memorial Highway, and at a young age he rode that highway out of town to play semi-pro baseball in Kansas, Louisiana, and Alabama.
In 1909 Wheat signed a Major League contract at age 21 with the Brooklyn franchise, the Suberbas. Charlie Ebbets was the president of the franchise destined to be called the Dodgers, and as the financier he built Ebbets Field in 1912. Wheat spent most of his 18 year career playing at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. He played with some of the greats – Honus Wagner, Jimmie Foxx, and Cy Young. Many legends were made in this era, Wheat included.