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September 3, 2010

Oroville Mercury
July 28, 1951
A Tribute to Hero Jim Hudgens
Babbitt Hurls No-Hitter, Olives Roll On-
Locals Fell Giants, 4-0, Rack up Fifth Straight
Officer Gene Babbitt enforced the law at Bryant Field in Marysville last night and the Giants couldn’t get away with a thing- not even a base hit. The tall right-hander, who spends part of his time being a Sacramento policeman, had more curves than a French chorus girl, mixed with a discouraging selection of slow stuff, as he cut the Giants down inning after inning, while the rest of the Olives grazed in awe and asked each other if this could really be happening to them. Once convinced that it actually was, they played excellent defensive baseball and made their four first-inning runs stand up for a 4 -0 victory – their fifth in a row. The closest the Marysville club came to getting a base knock came in the seventh inning when Big Bill Wright took picks on a high change-up and drove it far and high into left center field. Elbie Stafford took off in the same direction and succeeded in hauling it down for one of the best catches seen in league play.

Jim Hudgens led off with a bouncer over the head of Sam Stassi at second, and was followed by Dick Warner who dropped a hump-backed liner into right. Hudgens going to third, and Warner to second, when the right fielder bobbled the ball. Bob Strang then poked a single between third and short to tally two and followed with a steal of second to put him in scoring position. Nick Smyrni’s single sent Strang to third, and Nick himself stole second on an attempted double steal that didn’t quite come off. Strang in on Van Buskirk’s fly to right, and Jim Sady singled to left to score Smyrni with the fourth Olive run of the inning and their last of the game. Johnny Johnson then grounded to second and Vick Pitts too Elbie Stafford’s liner to end the inning. Jim Hudgens reached first in the second inning when he bounced one off the left of first base and then outran Bryant, who was racing from the mound to cover for the toss from Wright. Hudgens then stole second but was left there as Bryant settled down to retire the side. A fast double play cut off an Olive threat in the third and they could get absolutely nowhere from that point on as Bryant suddenly discovered a curve ball and went merrily to work on our heroes. Meanwhile, Babbitt maintained a steady pace and never once let the Giants get out of hand. By the time the seventh inning rolled around, most of the fans, of whom over half were from Oroville suspected that the tall boy had a no-hitter going, and they began to grunt with every pitch . When the last inning came up the excitement in the stands was equivalent to that which occurred the day the main vat collapsed at the local brewery.

On Wednesday night the Olives and the Pruners tangle at Mitchell Field in the top battle of the year. Babbitt announced last night after the game that he would be ready and willing to go against the Pruners and manager Jim Cluff took him up on it. Therefore, it will be Babbitt probably against Carl Hoberg when the two teams square off at mid-week.

Stu’s Notes
: This story might not seem like a Veterans story, but Jim Hudgens was killed fighting in Korea just a few months after the no-hitter game. He was in the Navy at the time of the Game. Some of the other Olives also might have been Veterans. Jimmy married Oroville’s Norva Dugger shortly before he went to Korea. Five years ago I found a story about James Hudgens. I met Norva Dugger Green and she has been very supportive of our Veterans Memorial. She sends us hats that we sell to benefit the memorial, some of her family still live here. Over the years I hoped to find a story about James when he played for the Oroville Olives and I finally did. There wasn’t a bi-line with the story, but I think it might have been written by Bill Talbitzer, as he wrote of the Boston Red Sox having a professional ball team in Oroville in 1948, that Jimmy played on. See our web site for more on Jimmy, May 5, 2005.

In just two weeks, Friday, September 17th, we will have a program in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, on the steps of the Veterans Memorial Hall on Montgomery Street, at 7pm.

If you have a motorcycle or know someone who does, tell them of the Motorcycle Rally/Poker-Run, 117 mile scenic route thru the Sierra Foothills.
All proceeds benefit “Oroville Veterans Memorial Park For all of Butte County”. The Run starts and ends at Feather Falls Casino. There will be live music from Bill Mangus and the Crossroads Band, with cash prizes. Pins, wrist-bands and Tee Shirts for the 1st 200 registered. The date is Saturday, Sept 18, 2010. Registration is from 7:00am to 9:00am. Poker Run begins at 8:30am the awards will be between 5pm and 7pm; cost is $25 Single and $15 for Passenger. Cash prizes will be $500 High hand, $300 Low hand. Discount rooms will be available at The Lodge on site. For more information you can call 589-5748.