Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"A Brief History of the Ipswich Chiefs"

"A Brief History of the Ipswich Chiefs"
By Joshua Boyd

Ipswich - While the Intertown Twilight League celebrates its 80th anniversary, the Ipswich Chiefs are celebrating their own milestone.

The Chiefs are in their 50th year, having started as members of the ITL in 1959. Don Burke and his brother Bob Burke were the founders of the Chiefs that year.

Don Burke had recently completed a brief professional minor league baseball career in the Brooklyn and then Los Angeles Dodgers organization in the late 1950s.

Upon returning home and settling in Ipswich, he joined his brother Bob, who was an education teacher at Ipswich High School.

“He raised the money and I got the players,” said Don. “I came back from playing pro ball, and there was a big softball league at that time in the area. After the softball games, we’d round up guys and tell them about the team. Mike Singer was one of these guys, and once I got Mike, he helped me get other guys.”

The No. 1 rule for the Ipswich Chiefs then was that each player must be a resident of Ipswich. The “resident” rule for another team is what created the Chiefs, in fact.

“My grandfather, John Burke, had played for the Rowley team in the Intertown League, and both my brothers and I also played for them,” said Don. “We lived in Ipswich, so we couldn’t play for Rowley anymore, so we started our own team.”

Singer played on that first Chiefs team in 1959 and stayed with the Chiefs into the early 1970s. Afterwards, Singer became the Umpire-in-Chief of the ITL. Nowadays, he’s among the Chiefs’ biggest fans.

“It’s a great tradition. I go every Monday night to the games. Naturally, I’ve stopped playing, but I love to watch the Chiefs play,” said Singer.