Mystery Photo: 1962 State and Sectional Champs

This photo was acquired at the Ellefson Estate Sale in the Upper Cody part of West Duluth in 2019. It shows a youth baseball team with players wearing different jerseys, suggesting perhaps it’s an all-star squad or the team had multiple sponsors. The sponsor names on the shirts are: Kelley Duluth, City Bottling, YOT (Young Old Timers), Gately’s, West Arrow Chevrolet, Moose 1478 … and one looks like it might be M&J Super Value (the bottom word is blocked by the players forearms). Two jerseys are plain white; those players have an M on their caps while the other players have caps with no lettering.

The writing on the back of the photo gives the biggest clue: “1962 State & Sectional Champs.” But the names of the players and coaches are lost to history unless a nerd or two step up and solve the mysteries.

The website of Unpage Publications, which is “dedicated to providing you with current and historical coverage of Little League Baseball state and region tournaments in the major baseball (11-12 years old) division,” has a page of “Minnesota Little League State Tournament Historical Results” that notes:

Seven leagues were chartered in the Duluth area in 1961, and after the one-year waiting period that was required before entering tournament play during this timespan, the first state tournament was held in 1962. West Duluth Little League won this inaugural tournament, and the following year, Duluth Central Little League won the state tournament en route to Minnesota’s first berth in the Little League World Series.

Delving deeper, Unpage offers more specific info on the 1962 tournament:

NOTE: This was the first Minnesota state tournament. No Minnesota leagues participated in the 1960 or 1961 international touranments, and in the 1950s, Minnesota leagues competed alongside leagues from Western Ontario in district tournament competition. Duluth’s leagues were chartered in 1961 and were first eligible to participate in the international tournament in 1962.

All Minnesota leagues began international tournament play at the state tournament level in 1962.

Opening Round:
Hibbing 8, Skyline 5

Quarterfinal Round:
Duluth Central 6, Far West 3
West Duluth 16, Suburban 7
Lake Park 1, Duluth Eastern 0
Virginia 16, Hibbing 6

Semifinal Round:
West Duluth 5, Duluth Central 0
Virginia 9, Lake Park 4

Championship Game:
West Duluth 10, Virginia 7 (TITLE)


Walt Dizzo

about 2 years ago

I love these old handstitched jerseys!

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Props to Susan Feriancek-Rice for finding this Duluth News Tribune clipping from Aug. 6, 1962. It doesn't totally fill in the blanks on the original photo, however, because the kids are in different places in the newspaper photo. Also, they are not in different uniforms, but instead all wearing YOT jerseys. 

Based on suggestions from the fuzzy memories on social media and comparing faces from the two photos, below is my best guess at matching names with the proper players. Any of these names could easily be wrong.


about 2 years ago

I'd like to make corrections.

Bottom Row L to R: Not Tony Zanko. I think that is Joe Fredrickson.
Steve Ellefson - Correct
Dick Mays (Incorrect) - he is Tony Zanko. I should know. It's me! Dick Mays is the boy yawning I'm pretty sure.

Your original photo shows the team wearing our individual team uniforms.

The photo from Susan Fariancek (I assume is Matt's daughter) was taken in the YOT team's uniforms that were selected for us once we were on our way to the sectional playoffs in Omaha (Ralston, actually). Boys Town hosted us and we stayed in the dormitory there and used the grounds and field house for practice.

The Little League Field in Ralston (a small town within the confines of Omaha) where we played and won is still there. I saw it a few years ago.

Hi to all the guys in the picture.

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Thanks Tony! Here's an updated labeling of the names.

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