The Tarp Skunks are celebrating Howard Ehmke’s 126th Birthday with 29% OFF the Team Jersey

An important member of Chautauqua County is a man named Vince Martonis. Vince is a historian from Hanover, NY who works extremely hard to preserve the history of Western New York to keep it alive, well, and fresh for the younger generations. Vince was excited about the Tarp Skunks when the name debuted on January 22nd. He was especially excited about the man being honored, Mr. Howard Ehmke. The Tarp Skunks were fortunate enough to “sit down” with Vince Martonis to discuss the importance of Howard Ehmke.

Tarp Skunks: Vince, thank you for chatting with us about Howard Ehmke, the pitcher from Silver Creek, NY. Firstly, he was a fantastic pitcher! Who better to honor on a jersey top than a guy who won Game 1 of the 1929 World Series with a then strikeout record! What kind of cool trivia do you know about the 1929 World Series that some of us may not know?

Vince Martonis: In beating the Cubs 3-1 (in Game One), Howard Ehmke got 1 of the 6 hits for the Philadelphia Athletics! While pitching, Howard Ehmke held the great Hall of Fame players Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, and Gabby Hartnett hitless, striking them out five times. Also, Hall of Fame player Kiki Cuyler struck out two times and got one hit. Ehmke set a World Series record striking out 13 Cubs batters, a record not broken until 1953! Ehmke’s salary for 1929 plus his share of the Series came to $9,000.

Tarp Skunks: That’s a lot of money for 1929! And to get a hit in that game, talk about pitchers who rake. Vince, we know about Howard Ehmke’s baseball heroics – as he is a 1983 Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame Inductee; but what else makes Howard Ehmke so special to Chautauqua County?

Vince Martonis: In one simple word, Ehmke was a gentleman. He held on to the values he learned from his parents, and carried them through his life: kindness, honesty, truthfulness, sharing and giving to others, teaching others. He didn’t drink or smoke, and he believed in proper behavior when in public. His home was Silver Creek. Ehmke was honored at a banquet and reception in Silver Creek on Oct. 10, 1930. Over 170 people attended, including the manager of the Cubs! Howard was presented with an engraved watch by the people of Silver Creek: “From Silver Creek fans.” People should know that Howard Ehmke loved his country enough to take time off from baseball to join the Navy during World War I.


Howard Ehmke in his Navy uniform, a photo never before seen courtesy of Vince Martonis.

Tarp Skunks: He sounded like a great guy to be around, and very well liked back home. What were some of Howard Ehmke’s hobbies?

Vince Martonis: Howard returned to Silver Creek from time to time to visit family and friends. He was a member of the Silver Creek Masonic Lodge. Howard liked golf. While visiting Silver Creek, Howard used to hit golf balls off the high banks of Walnut Creek to practice. An amateur golf tournament in Philadelphia was named after Ehmke.

Tarp Skunks: Bet he could drive a golf ball pretty far. So, Vince, what do you think Howard Ehmke would have to say about his name being on the Tarp Skunks jersey?

Vince Martonis: I really believe that Ehmke would absolutely love the idea that his name was on the Tarp Skunks jersey, but he would be humbled by the honor. He wasn’t one to seek glory. He loved the idea of kids learning baseball and being able to see it played at all levels. He played for the Silver Creek Horseshoes and watched their games when he visited Silver Creek. He was a huge supporter of amateur baseball.


Ty Cobb, Connie Mack, and Howard Ehmke. Another rare photo from Vince’s collection.

Tarp Skunks: That’s great to hear, hope he never had a run in with skunks! Vince, did Howard realize at the time that his application of tarpaulin on the field totally changed baseball for the better?

Vince Martonis: As far as I know, Howard did not realize that the infield tarp he sold to teams would make that big of a difference to baseball or go down in baseball history. He was an intelligent man who saw a need that he could fulfill in baseball and make some money doing it. Remember, pitchers probably more than any other player are aware of what a wet ball and field can do to winning a game!

Tarp Skunks: Absolutely! Vince, thank you so much for helping us celebrate Howard Ehmke’s 126th birthday!

Vince Martonis, Hanover NY Historian, with “Tarp Skunks” gear at Jamestown Cycle Shop, January 2020.


Did the Philly A’s have a band? That’s Howard far left playing sax!

Remember, the official Tarp Skunks jersey – both home and alternate – is 29% OFF on April 24th ONLY to celebrate the legacy of Chautauqua County’s own, Howard Ehmke. Follow the link to pre-order yours: