Baseball, politics, and the open range headline latest State Historical Society journal

South Dakota History 4602 Summer 2016Twenty-six seasons of professional baseball in Aberdeen, the fortunes of Democratic politicians in the state, and a memorable incident in the life of legendary cattleman George Edward (“Ed”) Lemmon are featured in the Summer 2016 issue of South Dakota History, the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Jon K. Lauck’s article, “‘It disappeared as quickly as it came’: The Democratic Surge and the Republican Comeback in South Dakota Politics, 1970–1980,” examines the heyday of the state Democratic Party in the 1970s, when Richard F. Kneip won three consecutive gubernatorial elections. As conservatism reasserted itself later in the decade, Democrats, including Senator George S. McGovern, fell out of favor with South Dakota voters, allowing Republicans to return to dominance. Lauck is president of the Midwestern History Association.

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Pictured from left to right in this February 1980 photograph are Kneip, who left the governor’s office in 1978; McGovern, who would lose he Senate seat in the 1980 election; and former Governor Harvey Woolman, who had lost the 1978 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“‘Keep Pro Baseball’: The Aberdeen Pheasants Baseball Team, 1946–1971,” tells the story
of the city’s link to “big-league” baseball. The community’s pride in its team was on full display in June 1964, when the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game with their minor-league affiliate in Aberdeen, which went on to win that year’s Northern League championship. Although the Pheasants had a core of dedicated fans, waning interest in minor-league baseball spelled doom for the Northern League in 1971. Author Daryl Webb is an assistant professor of history at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Local artist Gordon Haug’s cartoons featuring Philbert the Pheasant graced the front page of the Aberdeen American-News the morning after each game and usually commented on the team’s performance.

An excerpt from Nathan Sanderson’s book Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range, published in 2015 by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, follows Lemmon from a crippling range accident in South Dakota to a stay at his father’s Nebraska farm as he contemplated whether to continue the cattleman’s life. Lemmon went on to help found several towns west of the Missouri River, including the South Dakota community that bears his name. Sanderson is a policy advisor to Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Charles “Deacon” Phillippe, who learned to play baseball in Dakota Territory and went on to become the winning pitcher in the first game of the first modern World Series in 1903, is highlighted in the “Dakota Images” Sanderson - Controlled Recklessness (CI)biographical sketch that is a feature of each issue of South Dakota History.

South Dakota History is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. For information on membership, call (605) 773-6000. Individual issues may be purchased for $10 plus tax and shipping by calling (605) 773-6009.

Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range can be purchased by visiting or calling (605) 773-6009.


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