In a newsletter he mailed today, Hall, a Carthage native who at one time was a batboy for the city's minor league team, tells another fascinating tidbit of baseball history:
In the seven year history of the (KOM) league the batting champions were: Newton A. Keithley--1946 Miami, Loren Packard--1947 Miami, Bill Fox--1948 Chanute, Dick Drury--1949 Bartlesville, Stan Gwinn--1950 Ponca City, Jack Denison--1951 Ponca City and John Vossen--1952 Miami.
Joining the other six batting champions at that big batting cage in the sky, during the first week in October, 2009 was Richard Drury of St. Albans, West Virginia. He led the league in hitting with a .322 average. He beat out Kent Pflasterer of Chanute .314, Casey Wonka of Miami .313, Mickey Charles Mantle of Independence .313 and Harry Neighbors of Bartlesville .311 of those hitters with 300 or more plate appearances.
Drury was born May 27, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pa.. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948 and played at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in the Eastern Shore League. In 1949 he was on the Keokuk, Iowa club of the Central Association for the first month of the season. He was then sent to Bartlesville where he got into 90 games. That was one more than Mickey Mantle played in at Independence that same year.
In 1950 Drury earned a shot with Albany, New York in the Eastern League but wound up playing for Gloversville, New York in the Canadian-American League where he hit .303. That was the end of Drury’s professional career. He did make a comeback, in 1998, at the KOM reunion’s old-timers game. He cracked out a sharp line drive which made it to the outfield. In the process the bat was broken and it took him about two minutes to “run” to first base. You guessed it, the legs weren’t what they used to be. At the banquet that evening the bats that were used in the game were auctioned to either the highest bidder or more aptly stated, to those who were paying attention. Each bat brought about $50 as the highest bid with the exception of the one Drury broke. It fetched a $100 bid, thus making it the most expensive bat in KOM League history.
Over the years Drury kept in touch. His wife died about three years ago and he called then and we spoke of their life together. He called in mid-2009 stating that he wasn’t in the best of health but he was hanging in there. Today his son told me that he kept trying to hang on to encourage his granddaughter in her track career. His conditions worsened after attending the last track meet he was ever to attend. He fought the cancer for which he was afflicted for 86 days after the track meet and then gave up the mantle as the only living member of former KOM League batting champions.