For those who may have missed my second to last post I have a bit to add to these two related subjects. The Fats and Leans were a charitable organization whose mission was to help the needy in our community. Weekends On Wheels (WOW) is doing the same thing today.
According to the WOW coordinator, Patrice Bryan, they are currently helping thirty families. No community should have thirty families without enough to eat. What I did not have the last time was the contact info for WOW. So here it is:
WOW coordinator Patrice Bryan
Maplewood Richmond Heights School District
7539 Manchester Road
Maplewood MO 63143
They rely on donations to sustain their program. Just take one of those blank Christmas cards you have, address it to the above and earmark your generous check for WOW. Much thanks.
What follows is the text of an undated article about the Fats and Leans from the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.
Maplewood “Fats and Leans”
76 Years of Service—from information supplied by Jack Hogan
The year was 1905 and a drive was on to buy milk (and the ice to keep it fresh) for the poor babies of St. Louis. Money was scarce and the challenge was taken up by a well-known baseball team. “The Ellendales”.
The Ellendales had two teams, an “A” and a “B” team. The captains were Mike Ruck and J. C. Voohers. They met at the old bank along with some of their team members – Rip Mathews, Bud Noonan, Bob Ecoff and Fritz Bruno – and organized a charity game.
However, for this special benefit they abandoned the usual team line-up and the portly fellows played the skinny guys. They took in over $3,000 and the “Fats and Leans” were born.
At the turn of the century St. Louis County was composed mainly of farms and a few
scattered businesses. St. Louis City Limits extended only to Grand Avenue. The
World’s Fair pushed the limits out past Skinker almost to Big Bend. The Ellendale
baseball team was comprised of farm boys and a few businessmen from “the sticks”,
an area now known as Maplewood, Richmond Heights, Shrewsbury and the western
part of the city of St. Louis. Baseball games were played at the ball field under the
bridge at Grand and Market.
In 1906 the Ellendales held a second “Fats and Leans Charity Baseball Game” and
again grossed well over $3,000. In 1907 they formed the Fats and Leans Charity
Baseball Association and instituted an annual third Sunday in June ball game to
benefit their fellow citizens in need. Two team members became Maplewood’s first
councilmen when the city incorporated in 1908 and Mike Ruck became Maplewood’s
On June 27, 1928 the Fats and Leans were incorporated as the first private
charitable organization to be granted a 50 year charter by the state of Missouri. During
the early thirties the Fats and Leans. along with many other organizations, went
broke. However they continued to feed the hungry. A young Maplewood fireman,
Matthew M. Recsnik (Mike Ruck’s son-in-law) banded together with his fellow firemen
and the members of the police department and the street department. The fellows
would go on hunting trips and bring their game back to the fire station. They set up
cooking right there at the station and served the food free to the needy of Maplewood.
They delivered meals to shut-ins. The Fats and Leans men went door to door seeking
donations – money or canned goods, and the Maplewood city fathers donated part of
their salaries for a period of eleven months to keep the food service going at the
The Fats and Leans developed a more reliable financial base by holding carnivals
and barbecues with gambling. The gambling stopped in 1948 when it became illegal,
but the other activities continued to bring in a steady income for the organization.
Currently, the Fats and Leans makes money for its charity activity from the sale of
beer at the Maplewood ball park, turkey shoots, and softball tournaments. (The Fats
and Leans started the Saturday night league at the Maplewood ball park during the
summer of 1974.) And on June 14, 1978 the 50 year charter was amended to read
“duration shall be perpetual”.
The Fats and Leans are still supplying food to the needy of Maplewood. Referrals
come from priests and ministers and sometimes from the neighbor of a needy family.
Folks who apply for food stamps must wait 20 to 30 days before receiving their
stamps, and the Fats and Leans provide food during this “check-out period.” The
organization works with the Department of Social Services, Metroplex (Welfare), the
United Way, Human Development Corporation, Maplewood Mystery Santa,
Maplewood Lions and the St. Vincent De Paul Society.
“We give of ourselves when we give the gift of time, when we are minute builders of
more abundant living for others.” That is what the Maplewood Fats and Leans is all