Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When the Chicken came to town

TAMIS, the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, presented this wonderful ad from 1988.

Knoxville Blue Jays Welcome the San Diego Chicken from TAMIS on Vimeo.

Promotions are nice, but who won the game?  The K-Jays, at that time, were a farm club of the Toronto Blue Jays.  They beat Huntsville 3-1, sweeping that series.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - June 4, 1988

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - June 4, 1988
The K-Jays finished that 1988 season with a 75-69 record, but that was only good enough to be the third best team in the Southern League, Western Division and the fourth best team in the whole of the league.

That season they had 23 players who were, or would be, in the majors.  If you were there that evening you saw the following previous or future major leaguers:

  • Kevin Batiste
  • Francisco Cabrera
  • Steve Cummings
  • Junior Felix
  • Webster Garrison
  • Darren Hall
  • Shawn Jeter
  • Domingo Martinez
  • Tom Quinlan
  • Alex Sanchez
  • Matt Stark

These two players did not make the show:
  • Jimmy Kelly
  • Tom Malave

Monday, September 26, 2016

A hot and tragic day in July 1932

It was just past the middle of July, 1932. A heat wave was enveloping Knoxville. On Sunday the 18th, the high was 92 and it didn't hit the low of 80 until midnight. Monday would reach 93.

The Smokies were in Chattanooga where they had split a double header with the Lookouts of the Southern Association. As a matter of fact, all the league teams that played that day split their doubleheaders. The Smokies were trying to climb out of the bottom of the standings. After Sunday's games they were in seventh place, 41-56. Only the Crackers of Atlanta had a more dismal record at that point in the season.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 18, 1932

Howard Freigau hadn't played in a major league game since September 29, 1928 for the Boston Braves.  That day he pinch hit against the St. Louis Cardinals\, the major league team that he started with in 1922.  He didn't collect a hit.

In the early morning hours of Monday, July 18th R. H. Griffith. a resident at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club invited Freigau to escape the heat of the day in the club's pool.  Freigau dove into the pool from a 20 foot tower and hit his head on the concrete bottom.  He was stunned and drowned.  He was pronounced dead by the Lookouts' team physician, Dr. H. Quigg Fletcher.

The story was reported on page one of The Knoxville News-Sentinel that very day.

There was an article on the sports page about Freigau hoping to get back to the big league.

His wife, the attractive Mrs. Mildred Freigau, left her home in Knoxville to tend to her husband's body in Chattanooga.

The Arkansas Gazette reported that at the time of his death he was batting better than .340.

The Smokies beat the Lookouts in the game that Monday by a score of 5-2.  The Knoxville club finished at the bottom of the Southern Association with a 60-93 record.

Howard Earl Freigau is buried at the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

NOTE: It was the sudden and unexpected death of José Fernandez of the Miami Marlins that spurred this post.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zeke Frumin - Knoxville Jewry's baseball hero

The Jewish Post - December 28, 1945
I'd never heard of Zeke Frumin, so off I went to my usual research haunts.

I was able to find a Seamore Frumine and his family living in Chattanooga at the time of the 1930 Census.
Year: 1930; Census Place: Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee; Roll: 2250; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0008; Image: 806.0; FHL microfilm: 2341984 Description Enumeration District : 8; Description: CHATTANOOGA CITY, WARD 2 (PART), BOUNDED BY (N) W. 6TH; (E) MARKET; (S) W. 9TH, CARLILE PL., WARD LINE; (W) BOYNTON TR. Source Information Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

I found Seymore Frumin in the Chattanooga High School annual for 1937.

The Dynamo (1937)
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

Why the change of names from Seymour (and variants) to Zelig/Zeke (and variants) I cannot explain.

I was able to find Zelik and his family living in Chattanooga at the time of the 1940 Census.
Year: 1940; Census Place: Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee; Roll: T627_3951; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 96-16 Description Enumeration District : 96-16; Description: CIVIL DISTRICT 1, CHATTANOOGA CITY WARD 4 (AREA A - PART) Source Information Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

His player page at Baseball-Reference doesn't list a place of birth.  The census images above indicate Poland.

After his baseball career was over Zeke was in Knoxville, playing basketball for the Jewish Community Center.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel - February 17, 1947

Zeke passed away in 2015.  Below is his obituary as it appeared in The Knoxville News-Sentinel.
FRUMIN, ZELIG (ZEKE) - 94, formerly of Knoxville, passed away Saturday, January 17, 2015, at his home in Sarasota, FL. He was a long time member of Heska Amuna Synagogue. Zeke was a loving husband to Rosie Cooper Frumin (deceased), and a devoted father and Papa to his family. He was a lifelong sports fan having played second base for the Chicago Cubs minor league from 1943-1947. In later years, he was an avid tennis player, a devoted UT fan, and a dedicated cheerleader for the Atlanta Braves. Zeke is preceded in death by his parents Dora and Sol Frumin; sister, Ann Busch, and brother, Walter Frumin. He is survived by his brother, Isidore Frumin of Chattanooga, his daughters and sons-in-law, Joani and Gary Leeds and Ardell Terry and Jim Atsaides; grandchildren and spouses, Jennifer Zlotogura (Pete) Littleton, Michel Zlotogura (Ken) Morrow, Jonathan (Carmen) Terry, and Ben (Lynn) Terry; great-grandchildren Zoe Littleton, Lauren Knight, and Emma and Dustin Terry. Family and friends will meet Wednesday at 9:45 AM at the New Jewish Cemetery for a 10:00 AM graveside service with Rabbi Alon Ferency officiating. Pallbearers: Jim Atsaides, Arnold Cohen, Gary Leeds, Pete Littleton, Ken Morrow, Ben Terry, and Jonathan Terry. The family request that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Pat Summitt Foundation at patsummitt.org, Heska Amuna Synagogue at heskaamjna.org, or Tidewell Hospice at tidewell.org. Online condolences may be sent to www.rosemortuary.com. Arrangements by Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel. Knoxville News Sentinel (TN) - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Maps of The Negro Southern League

William J. Plott wrote a wonderful book, The Negro Southern League - A Baseball History, 1920-1951.

Using the data in his book I've made maps of the cities in the league by year.  Limitations in Google Maps forces me to have no more than 10 layers (seasons) per map.

1920s (1920-23, 1926-29)

1930s (1931-36)

1940s & 1950s (1945-49, 1950-51)

Friday, July 29, 2016

On this day - 71 years ago

71 years ago today the Indianapolis Cardinals played host to the Knoxville Grays.  Both teams were members of the Negro Southern League.

Prior to the game Knoxville was ahead of Indianapolis in the standings.  This is for the second half of the season.  The New Orleans Black Pelicans dropped out of the NSL and the Indianapolis Cardinals stepped in.

Indianapolis Recorder - July 28, 1945

Indianapolis Recorder - July 28, 1945

A full page ad / scorecard in the paper.

Indianapolis Recorder - July 28, 1945

Indianapolis Recorder - July 28, 1945

A week later it was reported, in the next to last paragraph, that the Cardinals were victorious by a score of 10-3.

Indianapolis Recorder - August 4, 1945

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tony LaRussa comes to Knoxville

Tony LaRussa was in town 50 years ago today, as a member of the Mobile A's of the Southern League.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 22, 1966
Joining the future Hall of Famer was Sal Bando.  The each got three hits in the A's romp over the Smokies.

Tony LaRussa would later help guide the 1978 Knoxville team to a Southern League championship.

But was this Tony's first trip to Knoxville as a baseball player?  He played in 75 games for Birmingham in 1965, so it is possible that he played in our fair city that year.

Yep.  On August 25, 1965 he played for the Barons in a double header, first as an infielder and then as a pinch hitter.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - August 26, 1965

He was liked much better in 1978.

images from the Knox County Public Library

Monday, July 4, 2016

Knoxville Giants play double header on July 4, 1933

July 4th. A time to celebrate Independence Day. A time to play baseball. In 1933, the Knoxville Giants, part of the Negro Southern League, played a double header against the Alcoa Aluminum Sluggers.

Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 4, 1933

The story in the next day's paper shows that the Giants won both of the games.

Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 5, 1933

So where was Leslie Street Park?  From Ronald Allen's book, Same Old Smokies:
The Knoxville Giants, a black Knoxville baseball team, played their games at the Leslie Street Park.  The field was located on Leslie Street, south of Western Avenue and north of University Avenue. The field was long a playing field for local African American teams, and also by neighborhood youngsters.

Google Maps locates it where the Knoxville New-Sentinel building is.  Some of the street names have changed over the years.