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Provo’s new Angels resurrecting dreams

Baseball fans hope glory days return

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PROVO — In the movie "Field of Dreams," the character Terence Mann says that baseball has been the one constant in our nation's history.

Baseball is a part of our past, he says, and reminds us of all that once was good and could be good again.

To men like Glen Berg, a former shortstop, and Sherm Wankier, a former pitcher for the now defunct Provo Timps, Terence Mann was right.

As members of the Provo Timps, a semipro team that played from 1932-1956, Berg and Wankier helped write the history of baseball in Provo. The two men fondly recall the spirit of unity their team brought to the city and hope Provo's new team, the Angels, will do the same.

"We're a smaller town than Salt Lake and that makes us feel like we own a piece of this new team," Berg said. "When we played, everybody came. Baseball was utopia in this state."

By the time Berg joined the Timps in 1939, organized baseball had been a fixture in Provo for more than 20 years. Provo played in a league made up of city teams from central Utah from 1914 to 1932.

In that year the Timps joined the state industrial league, which included teams sponsored by mining and beverage companies.

Berg can't remember the exact years the Timps won the league crown, but as he recalls, his team "won the championship over half the time."

The team would play two to three nights a week, including Sunday, which was the biggest day in attendance. The Angels will not play on Sunday.

All of the players had other jobs; Berg sold insurance and Wankier worked in the auto industry. Many of the players worked for Geneva Steel.

In 1956, the last year the Timps participated in the league, the team won 26 games in a row. It was the second year Doug Hansen served as manager and as a player on the team. Both years the Timps won the league championship.

Hansen died two years ago, but his wife, Pat, keeps a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings on the team. She gave a scrapbook to each of her children to remember their dad.

Baseball has remained an important part of her life: one of her sons recently built a batting cage in his backyard and one of her grandsons, who is 10, struck out 13 batters in a recent Little League game.

Hansen said she misses watching baseball games on summer nights from the wooden benches in North Park, where the Timps played. She plans to attend Angels games with her children and grandchildren.

Most Provo residents do not know the history of North Park or of baseball in general, even those that play the game. On Friday afternoon two baseball players hoping to walk on at Utah Valley State College were practicing at North Park.

One of the players, Bill Hoops, will work as an usher at Angels games and has hopes of playing minor league baseball. The other player, outfielder Jeff Foody, wants to become a pitcher and will pitch for the first time Saturday.

E-MAIL: jhyde@desnews.com