Bill Hodgkinson’s Marauders

In May 1960, the  Saturday Evening Post published this photo:

Marauders at  Gault Field

It shows the Marauders — “a hustling club” — at the Gault Little League Field on Imperial Avenue. In the background — across the river — was Bedford Junior High School (now Saugatuck El). A short distance away — on the left — is the original Staples High School. It was torn down 7 years later.

The magazine identified the Marauders as (from left) Johnny Bissell, Bruce Corrigan, Geoff Hodgkinson, manager Bill Hodgkinson, Don Carroll, Art Hunter, Larry Hilliard, Brian Hitt, Carl Swanson and Tommy McCarthy.

Bill Hodgkinson died last month. He was 97.

bill Hodgkinson

bill Hodgkinson

A freelance graphic designer and 30-year Westport resident, he created labels, logos, packaging, ads and pamphlets for Sinclair Oil, GE, Union Carbide, Pepperidge Farm, Arnold Bakery and RC Bigelow. His Seagram’s VO whiskey label is still used today.

Just as importantly — to him, and many others — Bill managed the Marauders from 1955 to 1970. He was known as a fair, hard-working coach. He also served actively in many positions on the Westport Little League board.

What makes this “06880”-worthy — besides remembering a very talented and civic-minded Westporter — is that for the past few years, his grandson John Videler has carried on the family tradition of coaching the Marauders.

And Bill’s great-grandson, Case Videler, is on the team.

The next time someone says that, with all these newcomers and changes, Westport is no longer the small town it once was — well, just take ’em out to Bill’s old ballgame.

32 responses to “Bill Hodgkinson’s Marauders

  1. John McCarthy

    Very nice, thanks for bringing back good memories of Gault Field. Of course, John Videler was a great baseball player in his own right. A great pitching arm, always on target, whether chucking baseballs on the field or rotten tomatoes in the backyard!

  2. Dan,

    Thank you for the story of Bill Hodgkinson and the Maurauders!! I was lucky enough to be selected by Mr. Hodgkinson to play for him and the Maurauders in 1963. I played for him for two years!! He was a wonderful caring coach that worked with every youngster on the team and instilled in each of us the passion to play the game the as hard as we could each and everytime we played or practiced!! I was lucky to play with Bill Reilly, Brad Burnette, Art Corrigan, Alan Bravin, Dana Stefanson, Ian Lepofsky and a bunch of others. We had a wonderful experience because of Bill Hodgkinson!! I still have the incredible end of year graphics he made for each player. They had team pictures, individual shots, team and individual statistics on them. He was a special person to so many!!
    Thank you Coach Hodgkinson for being such a special role model to so many!!

    Tom Wall

  3. Tom Allen '66

    Bill Hodgkinson’s Marauders were the scourge of the American League majors of that era whose teams played their home games at Coleytown. The above photo was probably taken before a playoff game vs Harry Scott’s Hornets, the National League’s dominant team for years. Great to see Gault Field again, Imperial Avenue’s LL jewel and the National League’s home field (although some NL games were played at Rogers Field where the Levitt Pavilion now stands). Also great to see The Dude in this photo who played a mean second base for the Marauders. In 1960 the Marauders became the first-ever AL team to win a playoff game vs the NL, thanks to a walk-off base hit by The Dude off Hornets (and future Staples) ace Murray Rosenberg. Once again, however, the Hornets took the series and the town title.

    • geoff hodgkinson

      The photo was actually taken in January (the green of the trees in the background was later airbrushed in) to be used in an ad published in the Post in May of 1960.

    • The Dude Abides

      Thanks TA but it was actually short stop. Hitt was at second base. Mike Stephenson was our ace pitcher with Bob Montenaro our slugger. It was really the first year for the upstart Marauders to gain recognition in the newly founded American League at Coleytown. The Wonder Years in Westport. Thanks in great part to Coach Hodgkinson. He knew how to win with grace and pride.

    • Bonnie Scott Connolly

      Thanks, Tom, for getting the Hornets in this thread. I was hoping you would see it. I don’t remember Mr. Hodgkinson but I imagine he and my dad (Harry Scott) knew each other.

      • The Dude Abides

        Indeed, Bonnie, I have a picture of your Dad coaching third base during the Hornets-Marauder slugfest of the ’60 championship game at Coleytown.

        • Bonnie Scott Connolly

          Really? I’d love to see it. I thought I would post that Hornets team photo on one of the Westport Facebook pages. I may tag you to identify people like you did when I put on my Facebook page. Anyway, thanks again.

  4. Tom Allen '66

    It’s well worth mentioning that Bill Hodgkinson was one of several LL coaches in that era who coached their teams for many years after their sons aged out, exerting a very positive impact on the lives of many Westport boys. That group includes coaches Bob Rogers of the Bombers, the Hornets’ Harry Scott and my former coach, Bob Jones of the Jaguars whose Jags coaching years matched those of Bill Hodgkinson. A great group of dedicated men.

  5. Very cool picture–and story. Does the Westport Historical Society have a copy of this photo? A lot is captured in this one picture. Thanks.

  6. Gault Field was the best! Watch the game or the ducks…

  7. Jeffrey White

    Great picture. It was a great field. But as noted, we in the “Junior Circuit” over in the American League at Coleytown played second fiddle to that Saugatuck dominated National League at Gault Field.Some of the names I remember very well. Larry Hilliard was a friend of mine and lived near me along with his older brother John. Larry was an infielder, and his older brother pitched. He had a big leg kick and threw straight over the top. I remember correctly, One of the sadder days of my the young life was when their father passed away suddenly of a heart attack in the late 50s. Tommy McCarthy was a a pretty sure handed infielder with a sunny disposition, and we played together on a younger team. He saved me many times when I got too close to the strike zone with a pitch.

    I am going back many years, but Tom Allen was also a good player and a year behind me.

    And hello Tom Wall. Hope is well down in North Carolina.

    • Hey Jeff White!!
      Hope you guys are doing great!!! Wonderful to remember back when!! Westport was a very special place then!! I would be great to travel back to those times!!!

  8. Tom Allen '66

    Suffield Academy’s Jeff “Jet” White ’65? If you’re him , you and I co-captained the Suffield freshmen/sophomore baseball team in ’63 — before I got thrown out and landed at Staples for 10th grade. What an incredibly small world!

  9. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    You really hit a home run with this article.

  10. Carl Addison Swanson

    Great memories. I was on that team and in the picture. It was actually an advertisement for PF Flyers and my father, who was with UniRoyal was greatly concerned that my participation in the photo would caste doubt on the superiority of his Kids sneakers!!! Coach Hodginson was not only a super coach but also a super guy. Each Christmas, he would send each team member a enlarged picture of the team a long with statistics of each player the entire season. My forthcoming book “Double Parked in the Twilight Zone” deals specifically with the summer of 1960 and the Marauders’ rise to the American League championship. Thanks Professor for a great article. I have been looking for this picture for decades. My condolences to the family of one great Westporter. His legacy will be long remembered.

  11. Jeffrey White

    Tom Allen, yes it is Jeff the Jet. And, yes I do believe we were captains for that team. I forgot about what u did to get tossed, but society, Suffield, and u survived. Didn’t u go to Coleytown also?

  12. Tom Allen '66

    Jeff, send your email address to Dan and he’ll forward it to me. He and I are in near constant contact. I went to Saugatuck, like Peter Kinnear ( I caught your photo in Suffield’s online mag) and played for the Sabres and Jaguars, so was a died-in-the-wool National Leaguer. I think you and I are the embodiment of my pal Carl Swanson’s new novel (see comment above), “Double Parked in the Twilight Zone”.

  13. I have wonderful Little League memories even though I never made it to the Majors. We, too, had a great guy for a manager, Lou Hammond, who helped guide us to the 1964 World Series title in the minors–and Mike Rea was a pitching ace for us. (I actually decided not to try out for the Majors in ’65 because I wanted the opportunity to pitch, and there was no way I would have been able to do that even if I had made it to the big leagues.) Bob Uly was probably the best pitcher from my grade in the Majors. He was our Sandy Koufax/Juan Marichal. We played at Rogers Field and Coleytown. Can’t wait to read Carl’s book. (Maybe the Levitt Pavilion will book him to do a reading on a summer’s night on the site of the old Rogers Field.)

    • Tom Allen '66

      Fred, great idea re CAS and Levitt. I’d travel out to Westport from the city to see that. However, no evocation of Rogers Field would be complete without mention of the ever-present stench from the landfill on which it was built and of the dive-bombing seagulls.

      • Carl Addison Swanson

        If you dug in hard at home plate with your cleats, a beer can would pop up from the dirt. I know you guys disagree but I remember Rogers Field as full 90′ diamond where we played Babe Ruth League??? Also, under the lights, circa 1962.

        • Jeffrey White

          Rogers may have had two different baseball lives. When it first opened it was a Little League Field. I moved out of town in 1959, but someone told me they converted it to a larger diamond, We’ll have to check it out. Might have been a pony field. It really did smell, and I had my first contact with a sinkhole at third base.

  14. The Good Old Days baby!!!!!
    Sam Gaults grandfather saw boys playing baseball in the street one day and asked the boy why they were playing in the street?

    Boys said “there was no place to play”, so he built Gault Field…

    TRUE STORY and that is how we rolled in Westport in the “Good Old Days”!!!!!!

    Gault Field was the Williamsport of Westport and every Litttle Leaguer wanted to play there because the ball flew out to left and center with the jet stream coming off the river..

    Thanks John for continuing the family tradition and Thank You to the Gault Family for Gault Field, many baseball great memories, and personally, a few Monster Home Run during my Little League career courtsey of that jet stream at Gault Field.

    Jeb Backus

  15. Tom Allen '66

    Great anecdote about Gault Field, Jeb. There was no jetstream to right for us lefties, though. With its bleachers. outfield fences, center field scoreboard, refreshment stand and even a small roofless press box, it was Yankee Stadium for us Cap Leaguers when we were called up to the minors. There are sensory memories of Gault Field as well: the onion grass in the outfield that we chomped on and the whiff of lilacs in the spring. Each time I smell lilacs, even at my age, the image of green Gault Field comes immediately to mind. The aroma of the Saugatuck at low tide, though, was another matter.

  16. The Dude Abides

    Nice tribute to the Wonder Years of Westport Little League. I might add Robert Mulligan to the list of managers who coached his son, Bobby, through cap league to the majors including my minor league Cardinals,which faced Tommy Allen’s championship team and also included Michael Douglas, the actor, on the roster.

  17. Jeffrey White

    Robert Mulligan was an excellent Manager, and he always set a fine example of how to conduct oneself. I played for him, and I apologize to his family if I gave him angina over my many debates with umpires about balls and strikes. I am sure more than once, he wondered, whether he had Billy Martin Jr. playing for him.

  18. Hey Dan great story and picture!! Anyone beside me notice that the Dude is back. Hey Dude I don’t know you but I sure missed your posts here. I for one get a kick out of you and as a “new” resident of Westport (20years) I enjoy your thoughts..hope to see more.

  19. Art Hunter-
    Bill was one of the best coaches I had the experience to play for. I remember his son Geoff and all the others mentioned in the picture who I knew for years after. My condolences to the family, Bill was a great mentor.

  20. Carl Addison Swanson

    @Art: Good to see your words. Hitt is DOD cop in Denver, McCarthy an accountant in CA and Corrigan-me, attorneys in Westport. Not sure of the rest. Hope this finds you well.

  21. Lee Saveliff

    As granddaughters of Howard Gault, my sisters Kelly and Karen (nee Frey) and I grew up next to the Little League field and the dirt parking lot. We spent many summer evenings along the banks of the river, buying penny candy, and just being kids. Our mom, Judy Sterling, would ring the bell when it was time to come home for dinner. Magical times. Ironically, the day Dan posted this article was on my grandfather’s birthday. He was born on March 22, 1898 and would have been 115 ! He too lived into his 90’s dying at 99 years old. Thanks for posting Dan and bringing back fond memories.