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OConnor

From the Alan O'Connor Collection

Solon Knot Hole Gang

The “Knot Hole Gang” is a promotional concept that has been used by many professional baseball teams to encourage kids to attend their ball games. Originally, knot hole gangs came about when kids who could not afford a ticket would watch the ball game through knotholes in the old wooden fences that surrounded ball parks. Ball teams have appealed to this young fan interest for at least the last 90 years in providing free or reduced price tickets to kids who meet various criteria.

The first known use of Knot Hole Gang in Sacramento was in the mid-1930s. Tony Smolich (Christian Brothers High School Class of 1941) remembers being a member back then, but does not remember the membership requirements. However, he does recall using his card to get into Cardinal Field free on Saturdays. Joe Schwartz kept his 1940 membership card--a “Boy’s” card (girls got “Girl’s” cards). It is pictured below and reads “Sacramento Baseball Club--Solon Knot Hole Gang.” The young fan presented the card to get in free at the “Knot Hole Gate” where the card was “Good Saturdays and other designated Knot Hole days.” 

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The back of the card has the Solons Home Schedule and a four-part membership agreement that the young fan had to sign in order to activate the card. The kid agreed to:  

1. “…not skip school ...” or go “against the wishes of my parent or employer”;  

2. “…uphold the principles of clean speech, clean sports, and clean habits, and …stand with the rest of the Gang against cigarettes and profane language”;  

3. “…not give or lend the card…”;  

4. “…if I break this agreement, it may cost me my membership in the Solon Knot Hole Gang.”  

Also shown is a 1943 “Girls” card. The agreement on the back is basically the same, except it says “Girl Must Sign” instead of “Boy Must Sign.” The orange color of the card is likely because of the year (red in 1940 and orange in 1943?).

No evidence exists to indicate that the Solon Knot Hole Gang functioned from 1944 to 1951. The author would be interested in information from these years if anyone has it.  

I’ve pictured a “Wenatchee Chiefs Knot Hole Gang” pin-back button from about 1950. The Chiefs were in the Western International League and were the Class B farm club for the Solons in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This Knot Hole Gang was sponsored by KPQ Radio and Snyders Bread. Membership requirements are currently unknown. 

 

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The last image pictured is a 1952 Sacramento Solons Knot Hole Gang pin-back button. The City of Sacramento sponsored the Gang and there were requirements that had to be met in order to qualify for the membership button (however, the details are currently not known). A young fan who wore their button on designated days could see the Solons play for free.

Contact Alan OConnor at <alanoconnor@sbcglobal.net>

 Uploaded 12/19/2011 

 

 

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