of flyer passed out at a recent Retiree's luncheon
Knothole Club of Greater Cincinnati, Inc.
"Shorty was five feet and one inch
tall but he had a 10-foot heart." - From the eulogy of Father James N.
Brichetta, pastor, St. Xavier Church.
KNOTHOLE DEDICATES 1980 SEASON TO
The Knothole Club of Greater Cincinnati, Inc., has
dedicated its 1980 baseball season to the memory of George (Shorty)
Normile, who fathered the program 48 years ago.
Shorty died last Jan. 8th, one day short of his 84th
birthday. It was on another winter day in 1931 that the idea which
became Knothole was born.
Shorty and a few friends, athletes all, were idly telling
stories to each other in the old Deer Creek Commons Fieldhouse. Two
police teams were playing basketball in the gym. Outside, it was
It also was the depths of the Depression, and Shorty
worried aloud about what would happen the next summer when hordes of
Cincinnati basin youths (lots more people lived there back then) were
turned loose on sidewalks with no supervision, nothing to do, and scant
prospects of summer jobs.
Shorty's idea to deter delinquency was to put every boy
possible on a baseball team. Great idea, agreed the over-age athletes.
But who would form the teams? Who would provide equipment? Where could
the boys play? The men thought of myriad problems and wondered who
would solve the, and suddenly they looked at each other and knew --
themselves, that's who.
Undoubtedly, these pioneers wheeled, cajoled, and begged
in a practically moneyless time to get things started. Tiny things,
like getting one new baseball for any given game, were perils. The
pioneers excavated their own pockets.
And the first game was played at Deer Creek Commons in
Nobody can recall the name of the genius who came up with
the title of Knothole, but ancient records of the Cincinnati Recreation
Commission show this list of the earliest leaders:
Shorty Normile, Bill Bailey, Harry Dinkelaker, Phil
Domino, Sam Davis, Ray Hoffman, John Lanigan, Frank Maddon, Joseph
Blum, and Jim Wolstenholme.
What they started nearly a half century ago now is the
largest youth baseball program of its kind in the nation, with
approximately 35,000 youngsters playing on nearly 2000 teams throughout
south-western Ohio and northern Kentucky.
Shorty perennially used a one-sentance description of why
Knothole is good: "Show me a kid
throwing a baseball and I'll show you a kid who won't throw rocks."
Everybody knows what a great athlete Shorty was in his
youth, even if he only weighed 112 pounds, and how he is in the
Hamilton County Hall of Fame. But he did seem to have one failing.
A bachelor, he apparently felt as if every boy in Greater
Cincinnati belonged to him. In a way, they did.