Sibilsky Brothers featured squad of siblings
HURONTOWN — Over the decades, the Copper Country has seen all the famous touring ball teams.
The famous House of David baseball team appeared here. So did Eddie Feigner of The King and His Court softball fame.
The Colored Ghosts (an all-black team) was here. And there were two major league barnstorming teams who made the trip in 1948, 1949 and 1956.
But few people will recall the 9 Sibilsky Brothers baseball team.
Formed in 1930, the team was the brainchild of Theodore Sibilsky, the father of the clan.
The late Fred Sibilsky said his father also served as manager of the team.
“We wanted to form a team for him, as much as anything,” Sibilsky said in a 1999 interview. “He really enjoyed the whole idea.”
The nine brothers, Patsy, Ted, Fred, Gus, Louie, Harold, Bill, Carl and Ernie, all had played baseball. Some were more talented than others, but they all knew their way around a ball diamond.
The Great Depression was already in full swing in 1930 and people were anxious to find a way to entertain themselves.
“Every small town had a baseball or softball team back then,” Fred Sibilsky recalled. “The times were tough, but people found their entertainment wherever they could.”
The Sibilsky brothers played exhibition games against teams from Houghton, Hancock, Lake Linden, Calumet and L’Anse in 1930 and 1931.
They more than held their own against the town teams, recalled the late Louie Sibilsky.
“We were competitive against all those teams,” he said. “But then again, we had a pretty fair bunch of players.”
Louie Sibilsky was considered the most talented of the family, possessing power-hitting abilities and a good glove.
In fact, he and Gus were invited to tryout camps held by the St. Louis Cardinals in Bloomington, Ind. and Hot Springs, Ark.
“There were a lot of people at those camps,” he said. “So many that you couldn’t even play a regular game. I did get to see (Hall of Famer) Rogers Hornsby at the one in Hot Springs, though.”
In 1932, it seemed like the Sibilsky brothers might hit the big time when organizers of 1932 Chicago World Fair offered them a proposal for a game against an Illinois family that had its own team.
But the idea fizzled out because of a lack of funds, and the game never took place.
The team continued to play local exhibitions. In 1934, the team dropped just one game, a 6-3 decision to a good L’Anse team. They later avenged that defeat with a 10-5 victory.
The brothers still got together for occasional games after that. But Louie was the most active, later playing and managing for Niagara, Wis. in the old Northern Wisconsin-Michigan League.
Ted’s son, Ted. Jr., also played a few games for the team. Ted Sr. was the oldest of the clan.
The pre-1950s have often been called a golden era for town baseball in America.
In the Copper Country, the 9 Silbilsky Brothers created their own niche in that time.