MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- From 1882 through 1941, they were simply called the “Blue Caps." The amateur club baseball team earned the nickname "invincible Blue Caps" and among the invincible are Leonard Garton and George Larson.
Both Garton and Larson were pitchers for the Blue Caps in 1934 and 1935, playing at Wakanda Park in Menomonie and all around Dunn County.
“We had an awful good bunch of fellows. I was just a rookie just out of high school and they took me in and made me feel comfortable,” said Garton who started playing at age 18. Today, he’s 97-years-old and at the end of this month, he’ll be 98.
Larson is almost 100. His birthday is in September and he marked an early centennial by attending the WEAU Charity Softball Game against the Menomonie Blue Caps with his friend Garton.
The two were awarded a blue caps of their own from the Menomonie Blue Caps.
“Why do I like it? Because it’s fascinating,” said Larson when he was asked about his love for baseball. “I could've went to the big leagues but I respected my family.”
Both men dreamed about the big leagues and remember winning plenty of games with the Blue Caps.
“I distinctly remember Dizzy Dean and Daffy Dean. They were pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals and they were my idols,” said Garton.
Larson said he grew up with his nine brothers, all playing baseball as a family in the neighborhood. He was known as George “Hooker Crook” Larson, throwing one of the “dirtiest” curve balls.
Larson used to play ball with his assistant superintendent when he was a teacher. They’d play around the noon hour.
“He said, ‘you can show me the dirtiest curve you want’ and I said okay. So the next time he goes, ‘alright Larson, let me have that dirty ball’,” said Larson. “The ball hit him on his toe and broke his big toe.”
Garton said the secret is in control.
“I had a three hitter one time. That was pretty good at the time,” said Garton. “Control was the best for it. So when the catcher put his glove up like that, you hit his glove. You threw and hit his glove.”
On Wednesday night, the two friends were back together at the very spot they played ball in 1934.
“Wakanda Park was our home base,” said Garton.
Right now, Garton and Larson both live at assisted living homes in Menomonie.