This Week in Sapulpa History: Heavy Hitters From Class of 1921

Rachel Whitney, Curator,
Sapulpa Historical Museum

Over the last year, we have discussed the lives and careers of Denver Grigsby and Frances Hutt, later Frances Hutt Dewey. These two lived different lives, one in baseball and one in singing. One returned to live in Sapulpa, one would become a First Lady of New York and could have been First Lady of the United States. Both grew up in Sapulpa and graduated from Sapulpa High in 1921.

This week in Sapulpa history, both Grigsby and Hutt had a great week in their separate careers before leaving high school.

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Freshmen in 1918; it is believed that Frances Hutt is standing near the center, behind the sitting girl in white.

In early May 1921, “nearly every branch of High School work will have a representative from S.H.S. at the State Contests at Norman this week.” For example, in English represented by Joyce Burke; in Mathematics were Hal Lyon, Juanita Reynolds, and Tully Nourse. Track Men were Bruce Morris, Eugene Brodsky, James Hale, and many others.

Voices were represented by Frances Hutt and Dorothy Taylor. Under Baseball listed Denver Grigsby, Rex Thomas, Clyde Smith, George Connor, Hippos Morris, Raymond Desmukes, X Jones, Clemmeth Flynn, Kenneth McFann, Cleo Caywood, Walton Gilbert, Lester Caywood.

Sapulpa baseball and the music department were making headways.

And Hutt was making news for another reason outside of her musical abilities.

“The Valedictory of the Senior Class goes this year to Miss Frances Hutt, who with an average of 94, shutting out by two points Ferol McCall, who with an average of 92, claims the Salutorianship from Dorothy Green, with an average of over 90.” Hutt was announced Valedictorian for the class of 1921.

The last day of school for 1921 was held on Friday, May 27. Graduation plans were underway, making a schedule, and having presenters and events. And the school had announced “the graduation of the forty-three members of the senior class.” And these seniors get to enjoy one last event before graduation. “One of the biggest events of the Senior week will be given on Wednesday evening before school closes, and this is the Junior-Senior banquet.”

However, Hutt and Grigsby had to get through this week of tournaments.

Headlines read: “Big Week for H.S. Students Drawing Near.”

Sapulpa faced off in the state championship held in Norman. “Sapulpa High School’s baseball team won the state championship by defeating Altus 8 to 1 in the final game.”

“These two teams had won their games in the preliminaries until the contest in this one of the most important athletic events narrowed down to them two of the Sapulpa team continued to show its superiority and won easily.”

In the final game, Denver Grigsby pitched a 6-hit ballgame. “Sapulpa made 9 hits and 1 error and Altus got 6 hits and made 3 errors.”

1920 Sapulpa High School Baseball Champions, possibly Denver Grigsby is holding the plaque on the right.
Grigsby at the Kansas City Blue Jays.

In the same article, “Sapulpa Hi Is Champion,” was not only about baseball, but it was also about and contest. “Sapulpa’s Hi’s Girls Glee Club took first place in their event.”

Dorothy Taylor took first place and Frances Hutt was second.

By the end of the week, “Denver Grigsby, Sapulpa’s star pitcher and the 1921 baseball captain, presented the 1921 shield to the school in ‘behalf of the state champs.’ Miss Smith, represented the Girls’ Glee Club, presented their trophy, a shield, to the school. These trophies along with many already won, such as shields, cups, and banners, are to be placed in a new trophy case which is to be made by the teacher, Mr. Holly, and the boys of the manual training department.”

After graduation in 1921, both stars of Sapulpa went to New York and Chicago—not necessarily at the same time or in that order.

Frances Hutt, circa 1944.

Denver Grigsby would be drafted by the New York Yankees, but then traded to Chicago Cubs. He would later play for the Kansas City Blues before returning to Sapulpa.

Frances Hutt went on to music school in Chicago before transferring to New York, working on Broadway, and marrying Thomas Dewey. Thomas Dewey became Governor of New York and would run for presidency in the 1940s. Read more on the childhood and rise of Frances Hutt here.

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