"Matagorda Clippers: History of a local team that played across Texas" By Simon DeSoto

Courtesy photo
The Matagorda Clippers fast-pitch softball team in 1975.

   The Matagorda Clippers Men’s Fast Pitch Softball team was formed in or around 1948, just after WWII. 
   The team was organized by Captain Bob Parker, owner of Matagorda Shell Company, which, in later years, became Parker Brothers. 
   The name, Matagorda Clippers, was selected due to the nautical theme with Matagorda, at one time, being the largest port in Texas. 
   Also, organizer Bob Parker was an important part of the marine industry on the Texas gulf coast, thus the theme for the team name. 
   In the early years, many of Capt. Parker’s employees, along with local Matagorda men, made up the team. 
   In the later years, the majority of players were always from Matagorda, with a few area players helping round out the team. 
   Parker also made sure that the team had uniforms in the early years and Matagorda County supplied the land for the softball field.  
   Parker paid for installation of lights for the field, so the team could play night games. 
   In the later years, Jimmy and Joe Yeamans sponsored the team and provided the needed uniforms and equipment for the team. 
   Throughout most of the team’s existence, funds were raised for needed equipment and expenses by selling advertising signs that hung on the outfield fence. 
   Early years and even in later years, the cost of advertising stayed the same, $25 per sign, for local businesses to advertise. 
   In center field, the sign, Clipper’s Harbor, highlighted all the signs on the outfield fence. 
   The team started playing fast pitch softball in a local Bay City area church league to begin in the late 1940s. 
   As the team played in the 1950s, they started playing teams from area towns such as Bay City, Wharton, New Gulf, Markham and Lake Jackson during league play. 
   In the later years, the league consisted of teams from Garwood, Wharton, Rosenberg, Needville, Damon, New Gulf, and West Columbia along with the Matagorda team. 
   League play was only a part of the Clippers season, as they played games during week nights. 
   On weekends, the team would travel to other area cities who hosted fast pitch softball tournaments. 
   Softball season would start in March and last until the later part of August each year. 
   In later years, the team would travel all over Texas each weekend during the summer to participate in fast pitch softball tournaments. 
      The Clippers would feature some of the state’s most accomplished softball players. 
   The culmination of the fast pitch softball season would come at the ASA State Softball Tournament each year. 
   The Clippers would represent the area at the state tournament from all recorded accounts from 1962 until the late 1980s when the team was disbanded. 
   They could have possibly played in the state tournaments earlier, but records can’t confirm this. 
   The Clippers were also the host of the Matagorda invitational softball tournaments during the majority of their existence. 
   The Matagorda tournaments drew teams from all over the area, with most of the top teams in Texas requesting to play in the tournament. 
   One of the crowd favorites each year was Lackland Air Force Base, who would travel each year from San Antonio to Matagorda to compete in the invitational tournament. 
   Crowds would overflow the ballpark with parking for at least a two-block area of the ball park to see the tournaments.  
   Along with the tournaments, one local flavor was the concession stand, which most of the time, featured barbecue made by locals that would entice the fans!  
   The Clippers, over the years, featured some of the state’s top softball players.  
   In the early years, Ray Roberts was one the Clippers pitchers and was considered one of the top pitchers in the state and in the later years, Jimmy Yeamans was another Matagorda pitcher was also one of the top hurlers in Texas. 
   Many Clippers hitters were dominating in Texas and at few, James Ward, Norman Cobb and Mike Miller, went on to play in the World Fast Pitch Softball tournaments and on teams that played all over the world. 
   One interesting side note saw the Clippers debut their rainbow blue jersey in 1975, the same year that the Houston Astros debuted their rainbow orange jerseys. 
   Local sporting good supplier, Denn Brothers Sporting Goods store in Bay City secured these exclusive rainbow blue jerseys for the Clippers and as far as anyone can tell, the Matagorda Clippers were the only team in South Texas, and possibly the entire state, with the rainbow jerseys. 
   The Clippers finally disbanded in the late 1980s, as a lack of teams to play locally became almost non-existent due to the rise of slow-pitch softball dominating the area. 
   Four of the Clippers are in the Houston Area Softball Hall of Honor: Tom Ward, James Ward, Jimmy Yeamans and Wayne Yeamans.

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