Ewald (Schultz) Pyle
The Daily Register
Thursday, january 15th, 2004
Ewald Pyle, 93, of 538 Halliday Avenue in Du Quoin died 11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004, at home.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004, in the First Baptist Church at Du Quoin with the Rev. Bob Dickerson officiating. Burial will be in Sunset Memorial Park, Du Quoin.
Visitation will be after 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16, 2004, at Maxton Funeral Home, Du Quoin, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the church.
Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church building fund or Luke Memorial Hospice.
Mr. Pyle was a retired major league baseball player and founder of the Du Quoin Khoury League summer baseball and softball program.
He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Du Quoin.
Ewald was instrumental in the establishment and organization of the Perry County Workshop for the Handicapped, now 5-Star Industries. He was active in the community and served on the park board, among other activities. He was honored as the Citizen of the Year in 1978.
He was born Aug. 27, 1910, in St. Louis, Mo.
His natural father died. He and his mother, Dora Mae Hall, moved to Du Quoin when Ewald was two years old, where his mother married and he was adopted by Warden Pyle.
He began playing professional baseball in 1939 at age 28 with the St. Louis Browns minor league team in San Antonio, Texas. His final year in professional baseball came in 1950 at age 40.
He married (Lillie) Louise Smith on Jan. 24, 1936, in Murphysboro. She preceded him in death.
He is survived by three sons and two daughters-in-law, Ron and Sonja Pyle of Summerfield, Fla., Doug and Sharon Pyle of Harrisburg and David Pyle of Du Quoin; nine grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.
His parents preceded him in death.
Ewald Pyle: Tall on the Mound, Taller in Life
Ewald Pyle, Du Quoin's portside curve ball hurler with a soft smile, brought strength and grace to baseball, to amateur sports and to the Du Quoin Khoury League program he founded.
His sincerity and love of "the game"--real baseball, back then--were magnetic.
Pyle died last Saturday at the age of 93 and just as he inherited the earth with his humility and integrity, he inherits the Field of Dreams, reunited with great players from the Browns, Senators, Giants & Brewers teams of the 30s and 40s.
The fairness of this lean, towering six-foot-something hurler with his brown, wavy hair and soft, humorous brown eyes inspired us all.
Visitation is after 6 p.m. Friday at Maxton Funeral Home. Services are Saturday at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church.
He also championed the needs of the handicapped. "He was multi-dimensional," said longtime Du Quoin resident and friend John Childs, controller for Five Star Industries. Childs witnessed Pyle's community service first hand in establishing the Perry County Workshop for the Handicapped.
"He was dedicated to the handicapped," said Childs. "When he said something, you listened." He was everyone's voice of reason, everyone's "rock." He also served Du Quoin as a member of the park board.
Contemporaries talked about Pyle's great career in professional and semi-pro baseball, but few ever knew what his involvement was.
It was a long time ago.
Pyle was born in St. Louis on August 27, 1910. His natural father died. Ewald and mother Dora Mae Hall would move to Du Quoin when Ewald was only two, where his mother married and Ewald was adopted by Warden Pyle.
Pyle's love of baseball grew in the side yard of the Sacred Heart Catholic School in Du Quoin, where he pitched balls after school.
He would help give the Mount Vernon Car Builders the 1934 Trolley League Championship here in Southern Illinois.
Jimmy McLaughlin, a scout for the St. Louis Browns, saw him pitch and got Ewald his first contract with the Brown's semi-pro San Antonio Missions team in the Texas League.
Players got about $125 a month and Pyle remembered starting in Class "C" at $75 a month.
Pyle would move in and out of the majors four times.
He would open at the age of 28 with the old St. Louis Browns in 1939 and stayed there until May 15. He repeated with the Browns in 1942 and went with the Washington Senators where he stayed until July 29 of the following year.
The New York Giants grabbed him up for two seasons when in 1945 he and Joe Medwick were traded to Boston for Clyde Klutz. He would have his best season with the Giants, going 7-10 with a 4.34 ERA in 21 starts.
All told, he played in 67 games, which included 36 starts and five complete games.
Pyle stayed in Boston for only three weeks before going to the Milwaukee Brewers, where he would again prove himself. His ambition was to help his team win in the post pennant playoffs. The Brewers had won their league pennant for three years, but were beaten every time in the playoffs following the regular season.
This year, Ewald came to a team that would be in fifth place and "didn't have a prayer of winning the pennant."
In his 1946 season with the Milwaukee Brewers, the then 33-year-old "lefty" would post a record of 10 consecutive wins, something unprecedented. He said at the time the streak amounted to "a lot of luck."
He would spend the season perfecting his curve ball with the hope of taking his fifth shot at the major leagues.
His curve ball became so strong that he said it was his "pitch of choice" even when he got behind on a batter. A catcher's signal to the pitcher for the curve ball was the same as Churchill's two-fingered victory sign and for a Brewers' catcher, the curve ball sign was almost frozen to his hand. Pyle would launch a curve into the strike zone as easily as he would launch a straight ball.
He would spend his days in ballparks across America and told me in a 1978 interview that he could never encourage his three sons to go into baseball because "it is very tough."
He loved his country, but a "football shoulder" kept him out of the war. His war effort would include giving American GIs dozens of great stories to read about the successes of the hometown teams he played for.
In the off-season Ewald said he would pick up jobs to sustain his family. He would do maintenance work and sign on in the coal mines. He would take care of the Elks Lodge.
Ewald's final year in professional baseball came in 1950 at the age of 40.
After leaving baseball, he would take a job with United Electric Coal Company and later the City of Du Quoin water department. He always found a way, and he inspired others to do the same.
Most would say he was blessed.
His marriage to (Lillie) Louise Smith on January 24, 1936 would give birth to three sons--Ron, Doug and David. He has nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
A March 4, 1966 letter from George Khoury, executive director of the George khoury Association of Baseball Leagues, Inc. would leave no doubt as to Pyle's influence on amateur sports in Southern Illinois.
Khoury wrote in a personal letter: "Mr. Pyle has been a credit to the Khoury League, inasmuch as he helped organize the league in Zeigler, Sesser, West City, West Frankfort, Johnston City, Carterville, Herrin, Pinckneyville and Du Quoin.
"He also helped organize the South Central Circuit consisting of these towns plus Benton, Valier, Carbondale, Trico and Murphysboro."
In 1978 he would be named the Du Quoin Business Association's Outstanding Citizen of the Year and subsequent honors would include being named recipient of the Du Quoin Rotary VIP Award and naming one of Du Quoin's little league fields Ewald Pyle Field.
Ewald was easy-going, slow-talking and modest at every turn. He loved to talk baseball, but never asked for the spotlight. He loved the sound of the ball snapping into the leather mitt. He loved the kids. He knew that baseball was more than America's pastime. It was as magnetic as family and church and community. We still steal time from other things just to be around it.
We will remember the days that Ewald Pyle walked among us and made our lives better.