Reminiscing with Billy Capps ... Hoover HS Graduate and 1954 American Legion Team

Updated: Apr 24

"Here is a photo of our Hoover HS American Legion Post 492 at Yakima, WA on Sept 6,1954. We had just beaten Gastonia, NC 7-2 to become the national champs. I’m the skinny kid first row on the left side of the national trophy. Sadly five of these guys have passed away. Oh, my what a summer of ‘54 it was for us. The Sporting News paper called us “The Team from Rags to Riches.” Our uniform trousers were in very bad shape; all wool material in those days."

"We had traveled by train for five weeks beating teams in the regionals and sectionals to get to the finals. We slept on the train maybe six nights during our travels from San Diego to Ely, NV, to Hastings, NE to Yakima, WA to San Diego."

"Our 1954 record was 36-3. All of our players were Hoover students except two, they just left Wilson Middle School and were coming to the 10 grade at Hoover that September; in my day Hoover had only three grades, 10,11, and 12th."

"Here is a July 18, 1955 photo taken at Abner Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY. This photo from left to right: Hall of Fame Eddie Mathews, me, Billy Capps ( I was 18 yrs old here) and the great Ted Williams (1937 Hoover HS Graduate). I believe Eddie was about 24 and Ted about 36. I was in Cooperstown to receive my scroll attesting me as the 1954 American Legion Player of the Year. After the photo session the Milwaukee Braves and the Boston Red Sox played an exhibition game. There were approximately 7000 folks in attendance at the baseball park. Within one month after this photo, I signed a $4000 bonus contract with the Kansas City A’s ( now the Oakland A’s). By the way I got married in this wool suit five years later in June 1959!"

"Sept 1954 at Yakima, Wa. Is: Ronnie Wilkins, me, Jimmy Galasso, Ronnie Crise and Joe Cottell. We had just beat Gastonia, NC the score 7-2 to take the national title. I have no idea why this photo was selected by the author, Mr. Walker. Take note: I was wearing my Hoover HS letterman jacket. Just prior to this photo being taken, Sid Keener the Director the the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum introduced me as the Player of the Year. I was 17 years old about to enter my senior year at Hoover HS. Your pal, Billy"

Individual stars in American Legion Baseball before the 1960s By Richard Walker APR 05, 2021

A Little Reminiscing with Billy Capps

~1955 Graduate Hoover High School, San Diego, California

~1954 National American Legion Player of the Year