At one time, the Quad Cities hosted three minor league baseball teams. Rock Island, Moline, and Davenport all had baseball teams. Today, the Quad City River Bandits, affiliated with the Houston Astros, are the lone professional baseball team in the QCA.
The Chicago Cubs have had a minor league affiliate in the Quad Cities, including the Quad City Cubs from 1979 to 1984. The QC Cubs later became the Quad City Angels, then the River Bandits (as well as the Swing of the Quad Cities for a short period of time).
Long before the Quad City Cubs were playing in Bettendorf, Iowa’s John O’Donnell Stadium (now Modern Woodmen Park) along the Mississippi River, the Moline Plow Boys were affiliated with the Cubs from 1937 to 1940 and played at Browning Field across the river in Illinois.
Moline actually hosted the Chicago Cubs team in an exhibition at Browning Field on April 14, 1938.
Mike Gazella managed the Plow Boys after a stint with another Cubs affiliate, Ponca City (Oklahoma) Angels. Gazella played for the New York Yankees during the 1920’s and played in the 1926 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
There was one future member that saw success with the Chicago Cubs after playing in Moline. Lou “The Mad Russian” Novikoff spent the 1938 season with the Plow Boys. He played for the big league team from 1941 to 1944.
The Chicago Cubs had an all-star lineup slated against Moline, with Billy Herman, Phil Cavarretta, Stan Hack, Billy Jurges, and Gabby Hartnett all starting.
The Moline Dispatch reported the Cubs would arrive by train around 5 a.m. on game day.
The Cubs delegation will arrive in Rock Island about 5 in the morning and the sleepers will be witched to the siding back of the LeClaire Hotel at about 8 in the morning. Rooms have been reserved for the entire party at the LeClaire where Louis M. Harvey, president of the ball club, is manager and will welcome the big leaguers. The cars are to be picked up by the 5 p.m. Rock Island train which will be held in Moline long enough to permit the normal ending of the game.
Did you ever wonder if there were autograph seekers in the 1930’s? Well, apparently there were, and the Moline Dispatch even wrote a story about the autograph hounds.
Nearly 4,000 fans filled Browning Field to watch the big league Cubs take on the Moline Plow Boys.
One of the future Hall of Famers that played in the game was catcher Gabby Hartnett. The Chicago Cubs were victorious, 18-4, and Moline Plow Boys alumnus Al Epperly.
Stan Hack hit a triple in the game. Hack went 3-for-6 with 5 RBI in the game.
Box Score for Chicago Cubs/Moline Plow Boys