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From The Killefer Brothers To "Paw Paw" Maxwell, One Town's Baseball History

Detroit Tigers outfielder Charlie Maxwell waves goodbye outside Tiger Stadium in Detroit June 25, 1962, after the ball club announced he had been traded to the Chicago White Sox
Alvan Quinn
The Associated Press

Paw Paw Village Council President Roman Plaszczak says people ask often if Charlie Maxwell is “still around”. The man who became known as the “Sunday Punch” during his major league baseball career will be the special guest on Sunday June 9th when an exhibit on the history of baseball opens at the Carnegie Center in Paw Paw.

Plaszczak says the exhibit is part of a new effort to highlight Paw Paw’s history. Plaszczak says for the first one they decided to focus on baseball. It’s called Past Times in Paw Paw: a History of Baseball in Our Hometown.

Baseball in Paw Paw is believed to have first been played in the 1860’s. Plaszczak says it became established at the high school level. The Killefer brothers Wade and Bill had careers in the major leagues. Wade would play for the Detroit Tigers. Bill Killefer spent his major league career with the St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs. He was considered a great defensive catcher. Bill Killefer spent much of his career catching for hall of fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.

WestSouthwest Podcast with Roman Plaszczak

Maxwell started his 14-year major league career with the Boston Red Sox. He played for the Tigers from 1955 to 1962, twice while with Detroit he was named to the American League All-Star team. Maxwell was called the “Sunday punch” because he often hit home runs on that day of the week. That includes four in four consecutive at bats during a double header in 1959. That happened against the New York Yankees – on a Sunday. Among Maxwell’s other nicknames was “Paw Paw” because of his hometown. Plaszczak says for many people, Maxwell, who is 92 years old, is the Tigers’ representative in Southwest Michigan.

Plaszczak says future exhibits at the Carnegie Center will focus on other aspects of Paw Paw’s history. He says that may include agriculture and the town’s many wineries. The exhibit Past Times in Paw Paw: a History of Baseball in Our Hometown runs from Sunday June 9th until September 8th.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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