Spring is here, the weather is warming, and it’s time to dust off those gloves and take part in the nation’s pastime: Major League Baseball’s return on Sunday.
La Crosse County Historical Society has an extensive footwear collection, which includes this pair of baseball cleats from 1910 that belonged to Quincy Hale, used while he was playing high school baseball.
Hale was a widely known La Crosse lawyer and community figure. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a law degree in 1918. That same year, Hale joined the Army Air Service and began training in Texas. Hale’s training was not completed before the end of World War I, so he returned to La Crosse and joined the law firm of Hartwell & Cowie. In 1923, he married Helen Wilson. The Hales had three daughters: Jane, Molly and Helen.
In 1925, Hale was diagnosed with tuberculosis and went to a sanitarium in Stevens Point, Wis., for treatment. Within a year he recovered and began serving the La Crosse community.
These are just a few of the groups to which Hale belonged: the City Plan Commission, the La Crosse Public Library, the La Crosse County Historical Society, the Pettibone Park Commission, G. Heileman Brewing Co.’s board of directors, and the planning commissions of the La Crosse airport and the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium.
In 1945, Hale was the first La Crosse lawyer to become president of the Wisconsin Bar Association. He was a lawyer in the La Crosse area for more than 60 years, and he handled the transfer of Hixon House and all its contents from Alice Green Hixon to the La Crosse County Historical Society.
Hale’s cleats were donated to historical society in 1987 by his daughter, Helen Thiesen. His daughter thought that the cleats were used while Hale attended the old Central High School. Unfortunately, Hale did not come to La Crosse until 1919, after graduating from college and serving in the Army. In fact, he graduated from Spring Valley High School, in Spring Valley, Minn., so his cleats were not used for the old Central High School baseball team.
As important as family stories are, they do not always hold up well against the facts. We may think we know our parents’ history, but mistakes like this are not uncommon.
These cleats have menacing metal spikes, which fell out of favor years ago because of obvious safety problems. Shoes such as these were made of leather and were uncomfortable to wear. Today’s cleats are made of synthetics with plastic spikes that look like running shoes, and are safer and more comfortable.
Although Hale never went on to play baseball professionally, his cleats share the history of a favorite pastime of the nation and of a man committed to serving his community.