ANDOVER—The Terrible Swedes ruled Andover from the 1920s into the 1940s, and for one day they ruled the village again in the 2000s. Feats of the famous baseball team were celebrated with a game against WQAD TV during Andover Colonial Days on Saturday, June 2, 2007.

Andover Lake Park hosted the slowpitch softball game on the Terrible Swedes Diamond.


Editor’s note: This article appeared in the Orion Gazette in June 2007.

The Terrible Swedes ruled Andover from the 1920s into the 1940s, and for one day they ruled the village again in the 2000s.

Feats of the famous baseball team were celebrated with a game against WQAD TV during Andover Colonial Days on Saturday, June 2.
Andover Lake Park hosted the slowpitch softball game on the Terrible Swedes Diamond.

The Swedes invaded Andover in two waves. Only four of the men from the second team are left, but Gene “Squirt” Carlson, Ben Johnson, Vergene Samuelson and Glenn Moody and their batboy, Russ Anderson, were able to attend the game.

Before the game, Anderson told the four men, all in their 80s, that they could bat and run.

“Do you have CPR guys between first and second?” Carlson asked.

Carlson may not have been as fit as the young men on the field, but he was proud to say he came within two inches of buttoning his old uniform pants.

Anderson’s father, Willis, was one of the original Terrible Swedes.

“I remember sitting in the dugout when they were playing a tough team,” Russ Anderson said. “Stripes Johnson—he was the ringleader—whatever he said stuck. I remember him saying, ‘We’re just terrible.’”

That is one version of how the team originated. Carlson said the name came from a barnstorming men’s basketball team, Olson’s Terrible Swedes, that one of the Andover players had seen.

Andover’s village president, Sandra Johnson, prefers to think of “Terrible” in the sense of striking terror into the hearts of opponents.

Indeed, the original Terrible Swedes could not have been too terrible. Henry County Farm Bureau sponsored a team, and the manager asked all 10 of the Terrible Swedes to play. He added a few men from Cambridge to the lineup.

They went down to Champaign and played teams from all over Illinois on the way to winning a state championship.

Rodney Anderson, son of Terrible Swede Sherman “Mulligan” Anderson, said his father had two brothers, Herb and Lee, and a brother-in-law, Bert Johnson, who were on the team.

One of the best players was Doc Johnson, the father of Bryan Johnson. He either struck out or hit the ball over the jail into the lake.

Located in right center, the jail was in play. The outfielders had to chase the ball around it.

There would be no stealing second, the Rev. Lynn Bergren joked. The offender would go directly to jail.

An outfielder gave Carlson his nickname.

“I was pitching, and a guy hit the ball in center field right out to the jail,”
Carlson said. “I hollered at him, ‘Hey, you little squirt, go get the ball.’
“He said, ‘Don’t call me Squirt, you’re the one that let him hit it,’” Carlson said.

As game time neared, Russ Anderson told Carlson, “Get out there and warm up.”

“I’m warm already in this suit,” Carlson replied.

“We should have done this 10 years ago,” Ben Johnson said.

The pre-game ceremony began with the dedication of a monument in memory of former village president Don Olson. He was the third baseman on the Andover Hawks softball team.

Olson’s widow, Judy, painted the dugouts red and the bleachers white.
Bergren spoke briefly as the monument was dedicated.

“No team plays forever,” he said. “Memories remain and always will. We look back with nostalgia at the original Swedes and the second wave. Because we remember, we stand at the entrance to a field of dreams.”

Noting the team had a special place in the village’s history, Sandra Johnson proclaimed June 2 “Andover Terrible Swedes Day.”

A color guard from American Legion Post 465 presenting the colors. Deanna Swanson sang the national anthem, and a moment of silence honored all fallen veterans.

Master of ceremonies Bruce Anderson, son of Russ Anderson, asked for a show of hands by all who had served in the armed forces.

As the WQAD?Terminators began infield practice, Swanson  led the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

All four of the former Terrible Swedes batted in the first inning. They had a little help from plate umpire Joe Swanson.

After calling strike two and a foul ball, he called “strike two-and-a-half.”

Moody had the best at bat. Swinging lefthanded, he singled. Willis Anderson’s great-grandson, Josh Anderson, went in to run for Moody.

The four Terrible Swedes stayed in the game for the bottom of the first inning. Moody went to first base, Johnson to second and Carlson to third, and Samuelson went out to center field.

When one of the four fell trying to field a ball, Bruce Anderson noted it was “a heck of a time to be looking for dew worms.”