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Remember This? A World Series whiff — but an Auburn man's lasting honor

1959 Auburn manager molded Journal as well as Little Leaguers
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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“Remember This?” and Gus Thomson can be reached at

or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.  

 

By Gus Thomson

Of the Auburn Journal

 

The man in the photo is the man whose name is on the sign.

He’s Lloyd Beggs and the photo went with a Journal story in 1988 about Auburn Little League’s deep connections with the community — and a point of pride that he played a major role in orchestrating 29 years earlier.

In his day job, Beggs was the Auburn Journal news editor. When he retired in 1972 after 25 years with the newspaper, U.S. Rep. Harold “Bizz” Johnson, D-Roseville, marked the occasion by reading a tribute into the congressional record. That was a rare moment, indeed, for a newspaperman whose pages over the years had chafed politicians as well as, perhaps not as often, gilded their accomplishments with the pithy prose of the day.

“I have known no one who is more fair, more accurate and more compassionate than Lloyd Beggs and the staff in the editorial department that he guided,” Johnson would exult for the record.

Through a quarter-century of pressure-packed deadlines, Beggs — pipe in mouth and editor’s sharpened pencil in hand — would be at the helm of Auburn’s weekly newspaper. Often, the Journal would end the year with statewide awards, including the prized California Newspaper Publishers Association general excellence honors.

Claim to fame

The sign Beggs stands with in the photo marks a more celebrated claim to fame than any Journal awards crammed onto an office wall.

Beggs was the manager of the 1959 Auburn Little League team that won 13 of 14 games — a feat that ended in a 12-0 loss to Hamtramck, Mich. in the World Series final.

It would be revealed soon after he returned that while base coaches were required to be players on the 12-and-under team, batters would be getting their signals from the dugout from Beggs — whose own baseball background included high school heroics with the Hood River Apple Pickers in Oregon and with the University of Oregon Ducks during his college days.

And in 1959, Beggs and his Auburn players struck Little League gold. Strong pitching and clutch batting pointed the way to the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, championship field. And Auburn beat the odds.

The World Series finals appearance was noteworthy enough to result in a mile-long motorcade from the Sacramento Airport to Auburn and a crowd of 3,500 at Central Square.

Beggs was the center of attention at the Auburn fete, with many onlookers in the crush of the crowd aware that he intended to step down from managing baseball on his doctor’s advice. Beggs had been seriously injured during World War II while taking part in the Italian campaign when a vehicle he was in in was blown up. Returning to action, he was wounded a second time when a German plane strafed his position with machine-gun fire. Nagging war wounds would result in rounds of new surgeries years afterward.

Mission improbable

A week after Auburn’s Little Leaguers returned home, Beggs was the center of attention at the Recreation Park Little League field when 1,000 people turned out for ceremonies rededicating the facility in his name.

Ever the realist, Beggs was asked if he thought that Auburn would ever return to the LIttle League World Series championship game for another shot at the crown.

“No,” was Beggs’ astute observation, noting that there were more than 20,000 leagues leagues participating and the sport was growing. And Beggs, who died in 1999, was right. So far.

“Remember This?” and Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.