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1960 antics

Before the Fourth of July (which I prefer to call Independence Day) gets away, I want to share the following. At the heart of this story is a kind of fireworks that I remember from my childhood: cherry bombs. My first memories of the Fourth come from when I was growing up in the late 1950s in Eastern Montana and heard older cousins referring to the powerful devices.

They were still on sale then, but safety concerns prompted the banning of cherry bombs from sale to the public under the federal Child Safety Act of 1966. Nowadays, for individuals to possess a cherry bomb containing more than 50 mg of powder, they need a license or permit issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This wasn’t the case when a pair of Billings buddies pulled a prank sixty-four years ago ...

The antics that best friends and Billings Legion Post 4 teammates Dave McNally and Bill McIntosh engaged in included something that happened in the summer of 1960.

As related by Ed Bayne, Jr., several Legion Post 4 players were sitting in the first-base stands at Cobb Field, watching the Class A Billings Mustangs play. The contingent included McNally and McIntosh.

“Suddenly, there was a loud bang from under the grandstand in the men’s restroom, “ Bayne said.1

McNally, McIntosh and a couple more youths, who had been away from their seats, came. running up the stairs and sat down with the team. But their reappearance didn’t escape the notice of veteran Billings police officer Blackie Johnson. Johnson, a Legion baseball booster and friend of Coach Bayne, kept an eye on the Legion players during their activities, sanctioned or not, around Billings.

Johnson, standing on the opposite third-base side of Cobb Field, rushed over to where the Legion players were gathered. He grabbed McNally and McIntosh, and the story of what had happened spilled out.

A fan had gone into the restroom, entered a stall, closed the door and sat down on a toilet. McNally and McIntosh came up with the idea of rolling a cherry bomb cherry bomb under the stall door towards the unwitting individual answering nature’s call.

When the bomb went off, “the man came roaring of the stall, pants down, (toilet) paper in hand, and smoke all around,” Ed Bayne, Jr., said.

After the smoke cleared, literally and figuratively, Johnson told the Ed Bayne, Sr., what had happened. The Legion skipper suspended McNally and McIntosh, and they missed the team’s road trip to play Sidney and Glendive.

  1. Coach: Baseball and Life-Eddie Bayne Style compiled by his Billings American Legion baseball players, private printing, Billings, 2015 ↩︎

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Jamie Larson