The Longview team got its distinctive name when in June of 1895 the club defeated the San Antonio Missionaries, 7-0, in a hastily scheduled game when the Texas League squad missed its train connection at Longview after a series of games in Shreveport.
Longview newspaperman C.B. Cunningham reported that the Missionaries “were eaten up by the Longview Cannibals.” The name stuck, and the Longview team was soon known all over Texas as “the Cannibals.”
The name, however, ceased to be used after Longview’s 1939 minor league season. Local teams were later known as the White Sox, the Texans, the Cherokees and the Pirates.
“Like never before, Jeff Barnhart describes what it was like to be a semi-pro and professional baseball player in East Texas when baseball was truly the national pastime and a central part of life in the small towns of America,” said Lufkin historian and author Bob Bowman.
“Jeff Barnhart has blasted a home run with The Longview Cannibals,” said Bill O’Neal of Carthage, author of “The Texas League.” “With exhaustive research and the artistry of a novelist, he brings back to life the players, fans, and games of a bygone era.”
“Thanks to Jeff Barnhart’s exhaustive efforts, a valuable slice of East Texas and minor-league baseball history has been preserved for future generations,” wrote Van Craddock of the Longview News.
“No one has ever captured the the magic of East Texas pro baseball like Jeff Barnhart’s history lesson on the Longview Cannibals,” said David Smoak, host of KTBB Sports Talk Radio.
Semi-pro baseball flourished in Longview and other parts of East Texas throughout the late 1890s and the first decade of the new century. Teams played at Marshall, Lufkin, Jacksonville, Mount Pleasant, Mineola, Henderson and other towns in the region.
Copies of the 520-page book may be ordered from Jeff Barnhart at firstname.lastname@example.org, at PO Box 10207, Longview, Texas, 75608, or at the website of www.longviewcannibals.com.
The book was published by Best of East Texas Publishers of Lufkin.