On Friday, April 4, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., the NC Wesleyan College Bookstore will host Gaylon H. White, who will autograph copies of his recent book, The Bilko Athletic Club: The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels.
The Bilko Athletic Club has special meaning for all who knew or know of NC Wesleyan’s own Raymond E. “Moe” Bauer, recognized as the Father of NC Wesleyan College Athletics. The college’s Bauer Field is named in his honor. “Moe” Bauer is featured nearly two dozen times among the anecdotes and photos throughout White’s 326-page hardback. Bauer was a 27-year-old pitcher with the famous 1956 Los Angeles Pacific Coast Minor League team when it was considered the best of all the minor leagues.
Bauer came to Wesleyan as one of its first faculty members. By the time he retired in 1993 as professor emeritus of education, he had dedicated 33 years to Wesleyan and his students. He died in 2005 at age 77, but he left a legacy of service as director of athletics, department chairman in education and physical education, academic dean, teacher of physical education and activity courses, and baseball coach.
Gaylon White is a writer who went from sportswriting at the Denver Post and other papers to speechwriting for top corporate executives to writing and producing videos about design and innovation. He authored nearly 100 articles, many on baseball, before producing The Bilko Athletic Club. The book includes in-depth interviews with Stephen “Steve” Bilko and 25 of his 1956 Los Angeles Angels teammates.
The book cover explains the story of Bilko and his team:
“During the 1956 baseball season in the city of Los Angeles, Mickey Mantle’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record was matched only by the day-to-day drama of Steve Bilko’s exploits in the Pacific Coast League with the Los Angeles Angels. Bilko hit one mighty home run after another to earn Minor League Player of the Year honors and inspire the team’s nickname, “The Bilko Athletic Club.”
The Bilko Athletic Club tells the story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels, a team of castoffs and kids built around Steve Bilko, a bulky, beer-loving basher of home runs. The Angels’ unforgettable season unfolds through stories told by the players themselves, as they racked up runs and rolled to a 107-61 won-loss record, finishing sixteen games ahead of their closest competitor.
Featuring never-before-told anecdotes, photos, and in-depth interviews with Steve Bilko and twenty-five of his ’56 Angels teammates, Gaylon H. White provides an intimate portrait of life in minor league baseball in the 1950s. A fascinating account of a season to remember, The Bilko Athletic Club will take fans and historians of the national pastime back to the golden era of baseball.”
The book was released in March by Rowman & Littlefield. Copies are available in the NC Wesleyan Bookstore, which is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.