As I mentioned in my last article, P.A. Olson, the editor of the 1940 Story City Herald Anniversary Book included quite a few articles about baseball. The section on baseball wouldn’t be complete without an article about Story City’s most famous baseball player Hank Severeid. And who better to write the article than Hank himself. Olson included an article that had been written by Hank a few years before 1940. Even though Olson titled Hank’s article “Hank Severeid Tells of Rise from Amateur Ranks to Big Leagues” in the Anniversary Book, I believe the theme of the article is more about Hank’s love for the game and the town in which he grew up.
Hank begins the article by talking about his first recollection of baseball when the ball grounds were in Marvick’s pasture just west of the Northwestern depot. He recalls a game between Story City and Roland in which the umpire turned to watch a player attempting to steal a base and the ump got hit in the back of the head with the ball. From an early age Hank learned the lesson “always keep your eye on the ball”. Hank was about eight years old and the water boy at the time.
By the time that Hank was getting big enough to play “funny man” for the team, the games were played down in the park. According to Hank, the “funny man” was a player who was not good enough to play any position so they let him play anywhere when they were in need of players. Hank needed a uniform, so he bribed his good friend Bert Hill to give him the red uniform he had. Hank had worn many uniforms over the years but he always considered that red one the “honey” of them all.
The first Story City team Hank play on included the following players, Bert Hill, Oscar, Chris and Charley Severeid, Hank Jacobson, Carl and Tom Clayberg, Severin Hill, Ira Brattebo, Sig Fraland, with George Kramme as manager and Charley Bartlett as scorer. As he continued on with the team, Hank played on third base and in the outfield regularly. One day when they played Roland, the catcher didn’t show up so Hank tried catching and stuck with that. “You know they say all a catcher needs is a strong back and a weak mind, and sometimes one feels they are right; but seriously, if I had to choose, I would still choose catching, because it’s the most interesting of all positions.”
After a couple of years with the Story City team, Hank was hired by the Nevada team. This was the first ball club on which he played every day. After Nevada Hank played with Charles City for a few weeks then went to Burlington of the Central Association in the latter half of 1909. According to Hank, the first professional game he ever saw he played in, which was Burlington against Quincy. Hank went on to play for Ottumwa in 1910 and the following year on May 15, 1911 he made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds. During his major league career, Hank also played for the St. Louis Browns, the Washington Senators, and the New York Yankees.
To close, I’ll share this section of Hank’s article that shows his love for the game and his hometown. “Many things have happened since we took part in those games at the park, and while it may be a long jump from playing with the Claybergs, Hills, Knudsons, Petersons, Jacobsons, Boyds, Nordskogs and others to playing with Ruth, Johnson, Sisler, Williams, Peckinpaugh, and other major league players, but for sheer joy and pleasure it would be hard to beat the kid day games, and a victory in a World Series game was no sweeter than a 1 to 0 victory over Maxwell.”