The Semi-Pro club in Fort Wayne brought home three National Titles under the General Electric moniker in the late 1940s yet often go unnoticed in the history of baseball in the Summit City.
On the night of September 17, 2009, the Fort Wayne TinCaps put a bow on their historic first season under their current moniker, defeating the Burlington Bees in Game 3 of the Midwest League Championship to capture the clubs first league title. To most in the Fort Wayne community, this was the first baseball championship to be brought to the Summit City. What they don’t know, the city was home to one of the winningest semi-pro baseball teams of the 20th century.
The GE Club Voltmen, Fort Wayne General Electrics and simply General Electric were all names synonymous with championships in the city of Fort Wayne in the late 1940’s. The Voltmen competed in the Michigan-Indiana Semi-Pro Baseball League which in turn qualified them to compete for the National Semi-Pro Championship in Wichita, Kansas, today known as the National Baseball Congress World Series.
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Corporate sponsorship of teams was common at the time and General Electric held a strong foothold in the Fort Wayne community with their large campus located just south of the city’s downtown making them a perfect fit to hold naming right of the local semi pro-ball club. The Fort Wayne General Electrics basketball team also competed in the National Basketball League at the time.
Playing their home games at Dwenger Field, located across from Memorial Park, east of downtown Fort Wayne, the Voltmen played their way to the 1947 Michigan-Indiana Semi Pro League title before moving on to Wichita to take on Golden Coors of Colorado whom they defeated 4-2, bringing home the clubs first national championship. Manager John Braden was named the manager of the tournament along with Bill Brandt (P), Ray Scott (SS), Henry Blair (C), Pete Chapman (OF) and Pete Elko (UTL) who were named to the All-American Team. Upon their return the the Summit City, the team was met at the train station by a large crowd who cheered the team as they were driven to the Allen County Courthouse for a special ceremony.
Despite three consecutive national championships, General Electric dropped their sponsorship of the team after the 1949 season Capeheart Television and Allen Dairy went on to sponsor the club in future season. In total the club won five total national championships, adding titles in 1950 and 1956.
While the impact and legacy of General Electric has remained strong in the Fort Wayne community, first and foremost with the current development of the Electric Works project, the baseball footprint left by the ball club donning their name, is often left forgotten. You can celebrate the club’s legacy with the new Voltmen Collection available now!