Carels continue family tradition on diamond
By Ray Dyer,
“Union City folks who laughingly accused diamond enthusiast Will Carel of raising eight sons so he’d have a baseball team have wiped those smiles off their faces and are shaking their heads in amazement.
Fulfilling a long-standing dream, the 68-year-old baseball fan gathered his sons together Sunday to hand the regular Union City ball club an 8 to 5 whipping.”
That was how a local newspaper reported the August 1956 baseball game that pitted the Carel brothers and their dad against the Union City club. The story spread far and wide, evidenced by it being published in the Kansas City Star.
Decades later, Cecil Carel is the sole survivor of the Carel brothers ball team. At 92, he recalls some aspects of the contest. It was August and it was hot.
“I loved two things, baseball and boxing,” Carel said. “I don’t remember a lot about it, but we beat ‘em.”
Now living at St. Katharine’s Retirement Center, Carel remembers how his dad, Will, would hit him and his brothers pop flies in the evening after dinner when they were young.
Years later, several of the Carel boys would find themselves overseas, serving in the military. While Cecil also served, he never had to leave the United States, instead serving in the Air Force stationed in Louisiana.
Brothers Ralph and Oliver did spend time in the military overseas, but by the mid-1950s they had returned to the States and that’s when their dad put out the call forming the family team.
The news account said that for Will Carel to gather all his sons for the baseball game was a “dream come true.”
The lineup that day for the Carel club had dad playing right field; James of Oklahoma City was at second base; Robert of Tuttle was the catcher; Ralph, who had just returned from overseas, was at first base; Oliver of Dallas was in left field; Cecil of El Reno played center field; Lawrence of Union City was at third base; while Hubert of Union City was the pitcher and brother Alfred of El Reno was at shortstop.
Cecil didn’t recall if the team ever played together after that one matchup with Union City, but he does recall some interesting times, growing up in Canadian County, making a career at the Federal Correctional Institution, raising a family of his own, and, oh yes, a short stint as a bootlegger.
He had learned to fly at the Gibson/Ramsey airfield in El Reno. It was a time when Oklahoma was still under the rule of prohibition, meaning it was illegal to make or sale liquor or beer. Texas had earlier done away with prohibition and so it was decided since Cecil knew how to fly, he would make a quick trip to the Lone Star State and come back with some spirits.
“It was for me and my brother and some friends,” Cecil said.
He flew to Electra, Texas, where he loaded the small aircraft with liquor. Apparently he loaded a little too much, the extra weight was making takeoff very difficult. Things got worse when a jolt sent a can of oil perched above him crashing into his head.
“It about knocked me dizzy,” Cecil said of the blow from the oil can. The plane had just lifted off and there wasn’t time to sit it back down with a cluster of trees quickly approaching.
“I said, ‘God, if you get me out of this I’ll never fly again.”’
Cecil remembers hearing the belly of the plane brush the tops of the trees as it barely cleared. He made it back to Oklahoma and was the first to pull the cork, settling some skittish nerves after the Texas tree-top experience.
Cecil recalls another experience when he quickly turned to the Good Lord for help. He and his new bride, Theresa (Hamby), headed to Colorado and Pikes Peak for their honeymoon. They were driving a brand new Crown Victoria. Going up the mountain the car handled beautifully, but on the way down the steep incline seemed to pull the car faster than seemed safe.
“I said, ‘God, please slow us down.’” At the bottom of the mountain Cecil remembers saying, “Thank you, God.”
Theresa wanted her turn to drive the new automobile and so on a long stretch of highway Cecil traded places with his new wife. Soon behind the wheel, Theresa was pushing pretty hard on the gas pedal.
“I looked over and the speedometer said 110,” Cecil said. “I said. ‘Honey, this damn thing can run, but it can’t fly.”’
Before his wife and children became the center of Cecil’s life, his two loves, like he said, were baseball and boxing. One time at a county fair he remembers getting coaxed to climb into the ring against a fellow who was said to be a “regional welter weight champion.”
“The referee said go and I tore into him,” Cecil said. “I knocked him down and he got up. Then I knocked him down again.” That was the end of the fight.
In another fight, Cecil was at least 10 pounds lighter than his opponent. He remembers the fellow landed a “good one” on the side of his face, sending him to the canvas. Apparently, the blow only served to rile Carel. He got up and made quick work of the other boxer, winning the fight with a technical knockout.
Maybe a good thing for Union City that Will Carel never dreamed of forming a family boxing club.
Ray Dyer is the co-publisher and editor for the Mustang News and the El Reno Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org