Written by Cathy Buckley
Ruston Daily Leader
May 15, 1947
BIG SIX BECOMES BIG EIGHT
Bernice 1949 Champs of the Big Eight
Front Row L/R: Paul Salley, Joe Leonard Green, Bobby Till, Luther Lois Farrar, Charles Salley. Second Row L/R: Calvin Tanner, Lamar Heard, C.R. Jarmon, Dewell Jeffcoat, Glen Post, J.C. Farrar, Duck Farrar, Johnny Bledsoe. Back Row L/R: Shelby Tucker, Henry Albritton, J.C. Tucker, Wick Laurence, Jack O’Bannon, Billy Till, Sam Willis O’Bannon, Bud McDonald, Dendy Elliott, Preston Copeland, Billy Ross O’Bannon
BIG EIGHT OPENING 1950 SEASON on May 14th
Eight clubs will begin playing twice a week according to L.J. Fox director of the amateur league. Don Lomax, Mayor of Bernice served as Vice President. Teams in the league were Ruston Rebels and Ruston Vols, Bernice, Farmerville, Sterlington, Dubach, Minden and Hodge.
Front Row L/R: Henry Albritton, Johnny Emmons, Dendy Elliott, Johnny Bledsoe, Elliott Burson, Duck Farrar, Bobby Elkins, Billy Till. Back Row L/R: Alton Bradley, Joe Leonard Green, Jack O’Bannon, Preston Copeland, Glen Post, Ben Carroll, Calvin Tanner, Harry Cunningham, Lefty Smith, Herbert Cook, Al Nocosia.
Glen Post who successfully managed the Bernice Club will manage Minden when new season starts May 13th. Bernice will have Luther Hanna as their new manager. The League managers pledged themselves to keep the league on a non-professional basis so that high school and American Legion players could participate and remain amateurs.
1951 was “the beginning of the end” of the Big Eight League because that was the year in which the organization made a quantum leap toward semi-professionalism in a way that made the league more like a professional league than an amateur circuit. The Big Eight League simply got too big for itself. (Joe Leonard Green)
Kneeling L/R: Victor Albritton, Johnny Bledsoe, Warren D. “Donny”Grfton, David “Buzzy” Green, Benny Hollis, Hoye Grafton, Roy Post, Lefty Smith. Second Row L/R: Ben Carroll, Pete Adkins, Ira Simpson, Preston Copeland, Earle Benson, Bobby Elkins, Billy Till. Back Row L/R: Alton Bradley, General Manager, Henry Albritton, Dendy Elliott, Joe Warren “Duck” Farrar, Glen Post, Manager, Jimmy “Red” Parker.
Players from Bernice Lions were: Johnny Emmons, team manager and league home run leader; Catcher Ben Carroll; First Base Billy Till; Utility Infied, Ty Pendergrast; Pitcher Dan Goad
The league defined a pro as someone who had pitched 50 innings or had taken their turn at bat 75 times. Anyone meeting the criteria could not play in the Big 8 until they had been out of the pros for 5 years. Those in the league were Bastrop, Bernice, Farmerville, Dubach, Homer, Minden and Ruston.
The circuit had evolved at such an accelerated pace that it was not uncommon to see 4 or 5 major league scouts in the stands on any given night. I recall that Atley Donald was a steady presence at games in Bernice. (Joe Leonard Green)
1958 Season Ends in Confusion
Alexandria Town Talk
June 15, 1959
BIG EIGHT PREP LOOP FOR MAJORS
Up in the northwestern part of the state, there’s one of the classier semi-pro baseball leagues in operation. They call it the Big Eight, but actually there are only four teams in the league – Minden, Homer, Ruston and Bernice. Not one of these towns has a population over 15,000. In fact, Bernice isn’t much larger than a hamlet.
A glimpse into the history of the league reveals that such towns as Bastrop, Farmerville, Hodge, Springhill and El Dorado, Arkansas have supported teams.
In recent years the Big Eight has been the spawning place of many professional players.
Many say this league is equivalent to Class B or C baseball. As one person pointed out, it’s the fast brand of pitching that make a league a success. Usually a batter with a .308 average will win the batting title, proving the potency of the Big Eight pitchers.
Financially the Big Eight isn’t a big money maker. However it does give a host of college boys a chance to play throughout the summer and still maintain their amateur status. There are only two leagues in the country recognized by the NCAA and the Big Eight is one.
The 1959 Season was the last of the Big Eight
Cathy Buckley is a native of Union Parish and lifelong citizen of Shiloh. She served as Principal of Spearsville High School for many years until her retirement. Cathy is now the director of the Bernice Depot Museum and a active member of the Bernice Historical Society.