“There are only two seasons, winter and baseball.”- Bill Veeck, past owner of the White Sox
Loeb Farms was a thriving business and community gathering spot in the late teens to early 1920’s. Visitors came on Sunday afternoons to stroll the grounds, marvel over the latest farm machinery, and buy fresh flowers, cheese, and ice cream. They also came to cheer on the Sodbusters, a semi-professional baseball team owned by Mr. Loeb.
“An avid baseball fan, Albert Loeb formed a baseball team for the farm in 1919. A regular baseball field with stone grandstand bleachers, dug-out, and diamond were erected at Loeb Farms, and the public was invited and encouraged to attend games.”
–For the Love of a Castle, Linda Mueller and Kathleen Irene Paterka
The Sodbusters were a member of the Northern Michigan Amateur Baseball League and regularly played other local teams from the surrounding cities. In July of 1919, in a “battle royal”, the Sodbusters squared off against the local Charlevoix Amateur League, with proceeds totaling $91.90 given to benefit the building of a local hospital. The community raised funds to renovate a two-story frame house on Hurlbut Street, which became Charlevoix’s first hospital in 1920.
While the game between the two teams in 1919 was well reviewed, not so for another meeting in 1920. The Charlevoix Courier wrote a scathing article on the teams poor behavior and listed out each injury received.
Perhaps the Loeb Farms team wished to convey a better image and cleaned up their act. According to a May 25, 1921 write up in the newspaper, both teams played “good, clean ball and are deserving of the support of every fan in this section.”
Professional baseball teams often toured the country, using exhibition games as training opportunities. Mr. Loeb sponsored the Chicago White Sox to play the Sodbusters in one such game. The Sodbusters disbanded in 1923 after one of its star players, Frank Tubbs, left to play for the Oklahoma City Indians. He played there through 1931.
Mr. Loeb was able to use the ballfield for more than just amusement- it was also used as an auction site for livestock. The remnants of the Sodbuster’s ballfield may still be seen from the Castle Farms property. While there is no access to the field, it may easily be seen through the fence by the Serenity Garden.