Comanche National Bank Presents: Around The Horn With Belve Bean

COMANCHE NATIONAL BANK SPONSOR

 There is nothing that I like better than a story about major league baseball and the players who have made it great. About 5 years ago I was visiting with Roxann Gray at the junior high campus here in Comanche when she showed me a picture of her grandfather Belve Bean standing with Ted Williams. She told me that the photograph was made after a day of fishing and that they were ready to clean fish here in Comanche at his house. Naturally I wanted to know the rest of the story. So here is what I have learned since the viewing of that picture:

Belve and Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams at Belve's house in Comanche after a day of fishing.

Belve and Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams at Belve’s house in Comanche after a day of fishing.

Belvedere Bean was born in Mullin, Texas in 1905. He and his family left there when he was a teenager and moved to Johnson County near Alvarado to make a living picking cotton.

The job of picking cotton almost thwarted the career of Bean. When it was suggested that he try out for the hard ball team in Alvarado he told the farm owner, Tom Senter,  that he couldn’t play ball that he had to help his family make a living.

Mr. Senter had seen Belve throwing rocks and he notified the coach of the Alvarado team to pay him a visit. That man promised the young Bean that if he would learn to play baseball he could buy all the groceries he wanted.

He began playing baseball and sure enough within a year he was told to go to Waxahachie and see A.A. Scott.  Mr. Scott was impressed not only with his ability but his size as well. He wanted a big strong boy like Belve. Living in Waxahachie away from his family he had to find work. He was given a job washing dishes of which he got tired of very quickly. One of his fellow employees told him that he had heard that the coaches were saying “with his potential that he wouldn’t be washing dishes much longer”.

He played baseball for Waxahachie High School who was a powerhouse at the time. From there he played with the Fort Worth Cats. After his last pitching performance a scout offered him a $150 per month contract. He said, “no but would go for twice that much”. He signed on for $300 in 1927.

Had a busted kneecap not stopped him Belve Bean very well could have ended up in Cooperstown.

Belve Bean the young pitcher with a fastball that fanned some of the greatest names in baseball history.

His first stop in the minor leagues was at Kansas City but didn’t stay long there because his contract was sold to New Orleans in the Southern Association. This is where people learned, for the first time, just how good he could hit as well as pitch.

The merchants of New Orleans were having a contest for the first player who could hit a single, then a double, a triple, and finally a home run. In his first at bat he clubbed a home run and they gave him all the prizes.

That year he hit for a .362 average which led the Southern Association in batting. His reputation as a great hitting pitcher was now beginning to grow. He also was proving that his pitching endurance and effectiveness was becoming well known. After beating league foe Little Rock 1-0 in thirteen innings, his contract was sold to the Cleveland Indians in the American League.

Not long after he arrived in Cleveland, the Indians were hosting the New York Yankees who had the legendary Babe Ruth in the lineup. In this particular game Belve was summoned for relief duty when the starting pitcher was knocked out in the fourth inning. When Ruth came to bat Bean struck him out on three straight pitches. As he walked back to the dugout he told the young pitcher, “I will get you the next time you big (expletive deleted). A couple of innings later Ruth walked to the plate once again. Much to his chagrin that at-bat had the same results: three pitches and a strike out. As the home run king walked away the crowd gave the young pitcher a standing ovation.

Belve Bean meets his family at the train station while playing in the major leagues. He is holding his daughter Carolyn with son Butch by his side and his wife Roxie looking on.

Belve Bean meets his family at the train station while playing in the major leagues. He is holding his daughter Carolyn with son Butch by his side and his wife Roxie looking on.

Bean would go  on to play five seasons with the Cleveland Indians before being traded to the Washington Senators where he would spend his last season in the majors.

This did not end his professional career. His contract was sold to the Minneapolis Millers who along with Bean had such players as Ted Williams, and in later years, Willie Mays and Carl Yastrzemski. It was during the 1938 season that he was assigned to be the roommate of Ted Williams who later became a Hall of Fame outfielder while playing for the Boston Red Sox.

It was with the Millers that Bean was in his most epic match-up of all-star pitchers when he faced Paul Dean of legendary St. Louis Cardinal fame and brother of well know Dizzy Dean. Both pitchers had won over 20 games on the season. Dean won the duel 1-0.

In 1941 bone chips that could not be repaired in this elbow forced his retirement. With his earnings from baseball he had purchased two thousand acres in Comanche. He moved his family here where he would later become sheriff of Comanche County.

It was during his time as sheriff that he realized that kids needed something to occupy what idle time they had in those days. He purchased land and recruited men from the city to help him build the old baseball park out on Highway 16 South. He lent out his equipment, shared his knowledge of the game, umpired and and announced for the youth in the community.

His love of the game, his devotion to his community, and his dedication to the youth along with his ability to inspire others gave rise to youth league baseball and now girls softball. His love of family is what has made all the baseball fields in Comanche a place where families can go and enjoy America’s pastime and spend quality time there with friends as well.

Belve Bean was a very humble man and the fact that he was a law enforcement officer who chose not to carry a gun, instead have one available if needed, was a sign that he believed in and trusted his fellow man. While playing baseball with some of the greatest names in baseball and matching them in talent on many occasions he never found reason to boast; only to inspire.

In the above picture the book is the Who's Who Of Baseball, 1933 and includes Belve Bean. It was regarded as the #1 baseball publication at the time. The ball on the left is signed by Ted Williams and the one on the right by former Texas Ranger baseball players who frequently visited Mr. Bean in Comanche. The bat was made from the wood from an old tree that Belve and his family used to sit under while fishing. Trent Davidson who is married to the former Kendra Gray, Belve's great-granddaughter made the bat. Trent took the actual signature of  Mr. Bean and had it engraved on the bat.

In the above picture the book is the Who’s Who Of Baseball, 1933 and includes Belve Bean. It was regarded as the #1 baseball publication at the time. The ball on the left is signed by Ted Williams and the one on the right by former Texas Ranger baseball players who frequently visited Mr. Bean in Comanche. The bat was made from the wood from an old tree that Belve and his family used to sit under while fishing. Trent Davidson who is married to the former Kendra Gray, Belve’s great-granddaughter made the bat. Trent took the actual signature of Mr. Bean and had it engraved on the bat.

Comanche National Bank
P.O. Box 191 · 100 East Central · Comanche, Texas 76442
 
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About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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