February 3, 2024 - August 4, 2024
Baseball has been America’s pastime sport since the mid-nineteenth century. Its origins in Massillon
began during the 1860s with the area’s team, the Desters. This team batted against local affiliations and several from the Pittsburgh area. Over the next fifty years, business owners became managers of numerous amateur sports teams, fielding baseball leagues in the spring and summer, and football in the fall. Among these teams—many of which were company-sponsored teams—the Massillon Agathons became the focal point, complete with their own baseball diamond located at the corner of Cherry Road NE and Route 21 (razed in 2000).
Since the early 1900s, Massillon has boasted several players in the professional leagues. Charles “Cy” Rigler established early hand signals for umpires the 1910s, and Earl Blackburn and Robert Roy “Fats” Fothergill both played for the Agathons during their professional careers. Former Massillon Tigers Joe Sparma, Mike Hershberger, Dan Seimetz, and Aidan Longwell had success on the college and pro diamonds. Tommy Henrich is a household name in Massillon, with a career that spanned three decades. Johnny Robert “Bob” Dixon was a well-known player in the Negro National Leagues who made his home in the community. Carl “Ducky” Schroeder, while he did not make it to Major League Baseball, spent his entire career in Massillon coaching the next generations of professional sports players. This exhibition is not an exhaustive history of baseball in Massillon, but highlights the excellence in the sport, and features ten players who made a significant impact during their careers. Baseball has deep roots in the community, and sparks enjoyment for fans of all ages and backgrounds. As every announcer has proclaimed, “Play Ball!