Photo from Newark Public Library
The 1938 Newark Bears were coming off a season in which they would go down in history as one of the 3 best teams in the history of the Minor Leagues. It seems it would be nearly impossible to top that, or even come close. Somehow... they would do just that. Future All-Star Yankee Charlie Keller would return in 1938 to bat .365 to take over the all time Ruppert batting title set by Ike Boone in 1934 (.357) while putting up 36 2B, 8 3B and 22 HR. Buddy Rosar tried to completely topple him over by batting a whopping .387 with 26 2B and 15 HR but would be called up to the Yankees before he could get enough plate appearances to make history here at Ruppert Stadium. Bob Seeds provided the biggest punch posting an incredible 28 HR in just 230 at bats before being called up to the Yankees. Seeds was en-route to a 60+ HR season. Jim Gleeson meanwhile would take over his own all time Ruppert Stadium doubles lead set the previous season with 50 doubles while also slamming another 16 HR and putting up a .310. On the mound Atlee Donald returned to post a 16-7, 3.66 while John Haley was a nearly perfect 17-2, 3.47 and future All-Star Marius Russo went 17-8, 3.15 on his way to a special but shortened Yankee career (Russo never was able to regain his form after losing 3 years to the war). The best pitcher perhaps on the team was a 6'2" 215 pound future star named Tiny Bonham. Bonham quietly went about his business posting an 8-2, 4.04 record for the 1938 Newark Bears and by 1942, would be one of the best pitchers in the Majors... posting a 21-5, 2.27 record for the Bronx Bombers in one of his 2 All-Star seasons. While this wasn't the 3rd best team in Minor League history... the 1938 Newark Bears were considered to be the 16th best team in the history of Minor League baseball. Quite an amazing two years here in Newark as the Bears posted a 104-38 record and again won the International League Championship. It was the perhaps the 2nd greatest run by any team in history.. except perhaps for the Baltimore Orioles who had the 8th best team ever in 1920, the 2nd best in 1921, the 16th best in 1922, the 19th best in 1923 and the 5th best in 1924. It would be the 3rd Triple-A Championship for the Newark Bears in the International League.