Thursday, February 4, 2016

University bbc refuses challenge of local colored bbc - 1875

Not a shining day in UT base ball history.

Public Ledger (Memphis, Tennessee) - March 30, 1875

There was a bit more information in the local press.

Press and Messenger (Knoxville, Tennessee) - March 31, 1875

Public Ledger image from Chronicling America
Press and Messenger image from

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Appalachian League Black Book of 1949

I came across a book title that was enticing. The Appalachian League Black Book.  What sort of secrets were hidden in there?  Off to WorldCat to see where this gem could be seen.  They had a listing for the book but no record that any library had it.

Some snooping around shows that The Baseball Hall of Fame has a copy.  Surely there must be one closer than Cooperstown.  How about one of the cities where the Appy League played?  I found a copy in the Kingsport Public Library, just 93 miles away.  I contacted fellow SABR member and friend, Marshall Adesman, who lives in that area, asking him to take a few minutes to look at the book.

He was able to go the next day and copied a few pages.  Thanks, Marshall.  I'll have to make a trip over to see the rest of it.

Do who is this Karl Wingler, Baseball Historian and Statistician?  The Hall of Fame library lists that he compiled and edited the 1940 book, Who's Who In The Burley Belt League.  The 1940 US Census shows that there's a Carl Wingler, then age 21, that lived in Damascus, Washington county, Virginia.  The 1930 US Census shows that there's a Karl Wingler, then age 11, with the same family in the same town.

According to a local newspaper in February of 1949, "Karl Wingler of Damascus, Va., who is the official record compiler for the Appalachian (League)..."

The Kingsport Times-News - February 6, 1949
image from

In the February 8, 1940 edition of The Sporting News Karl is listed as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Burley Belt League.  A few months later, on May 9, 1940, in the same paper, he is promoting the Baseball Data Club, of which he is the president.  He is also listed as being the sports editor for the Washington County Forum, a weekly publication.

In the mid 1940s Karl created a new way to rank pitchers.  Some called it the "Wingler System".

The Sporting News - January 25, 1945

The Springfield Republican, from Massachusetts, gave a more full explanation and results the prior week.

The Springfield Republican - January 16, 1945

In September of 1947 Karl is looking for a photo of Jiggs Donahue as a left handed catcher.  November of 1947 brings him wanting to compile the statistical history of the American League.  He's listed as writing a page for the April 13, 1949 edition of TSN about US Presidents tossing out the first pitch.

By November of 1953 Karl is affiliated with the Heilbroner Baseball Bureau. 

For me, his trail goes cold after that.  What a wonderful thing it would be to find his ledgers and notes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Nomadic Appalachian Canners of 1940

While doing some research on the standings of the Appalachian League in 1940 a clipping caught my eye.  Maryville, Tennessee, was on the radar to get its first professional ball team.  The earliest that I've found base ball being played in Maryville is 1876 when the Reckless Club of Maryville College played other local teams.

This narrative is so twisty I've decided to let the articles speak for themselves in chronological order, with little commentary.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - May 24, 1940

So, at the end of May, 1940, the league directors approve the move from Newport to Maryville.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - May 25, 1940

Maryville's home field was to the Fairgrounds.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - May 27, 1940

"Thursday of this week" would be May 30, 1940.  But it was not to be.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - May 29, 1940

Conflicting reports abound.  The following article is from The Sporting News out of St. Louis.  Maybe the word didn't reach them in time for the presses to stop.

The Sporting News - May 30, 1940

A week later The Sporting News ran the story.

The Sporting News - June 6, 1940

The Greensboro Daily News was even slower to get the news.

Greensboro Daily News - June 9, 1940

Over a month later there was still talk of Maryville getting a club.  This time it wasn't the Newport Canners moving, but the Erwin Mountaineers.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 17, 1940

Two weeks later it is being reported that Maryville is considering taking over the Newport franchise.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 31, 1940

Apparently the club transferred and some in Blount county didn't want them playing on Sunday.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - August 6, 1940

The standings and the scores show that Maryville had taken over the Newport team.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - August 6, 1940

The league directors approved the transfer.  Again.

The Sporting News - August 8, 1940

Apparently the move to Maryville did the team some good as they climbed out of the cellar and were winning on a semi-regular basis.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - August 10, 1940

In the Appy League it seems that the fans have more pull than the directors.

The Sporting News - August 22, 1940

The Newport/Maryville Canners finished the season with a 56-63 record, just 29 games out of first place.

Maryville would finally get a permanent team in 1953.  They had to share the honors with Alcoa, as the Maryville-Alcoa Twins.  They started the 1954 season as the Maryville-Alcoa Twins, but then the team was transferred to Morristown.

Maybe Maryville wasn't cut out to be a minor league city.

The question that I have is: "Should Maryville officially be considered as having a franchise for a portion of the 1940 Appalachian League season?"

Monday, January 4, 2016

East Tennessee SABR Chapter Meeting recap - November 21, 2015

East Tennessee SABR Chapter Meeting recap
Meeting: Saturday, November 21, 2015
Location: Lawson McGhee Library, Knoxville, TN
Time: 2:30-4:30pm

Attendees: Marshall Adesman, George Aubrey, Mark Aubrey, Joe Gallagher, Lucas Hobbs, Brad Ridenour, Bryan Steverson

Next Meeting: Saturday, January 30, 2016 (SABR Day)
Location and Time: Lawson McGhee Library, Knoxville, TN - 10am-12:30pm


Mark Aubrey led a very informative meeting which included the following subjects:

Joe Gallagher gave a fascinating presentation on the "10 and 10 Club" of New York City, from 1959-1961. Each member put up $10.00 for prize money. More than 100 fans and writers from all over the country participated. The objective was to pick the 10 players in either league who you thought would end the season with the highest batting average. Selecting the first few was easy with Aaron, Mantle and Mays usually a given. Joe mentioned it was the surprise players who would win you the money. In 1960, the surprise player was Los Angeles Dodger first baseman, Norm Larker, who batted .323 in 493 plate appearances. Larker finished second to Dick Groat that year for the NL and MLB batting crown. Noted sports writers Dick Young of the New York Daily News, won the "10 and 10" Club top monetary prize in 2 of the 3 years of the club. Great presentation on a great bygone club.

Joe Gallagher

Mark Aubrey discussed the research he and his dad were conducting on early baseball at Maryville College. In locating various leads and sources, Mark was very complimentary of the assistance provided by the college, Blount County Library and the County Court House. Rosters of teams dating to the 1870's were located and copied. There was even reference to an Institute team which may refer to an early all black baseball team of the Freedmen's Institute. Maryville College was reputed to have been a stop on the Undergound Railroad and nearby Friendsville, was founded by Quakers. More research is planned.

Lucas Hobbs will be attending the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville as a representative of the Bristol Pirates and the Appalachian League. Discussion of the Apply League History project created interest by many at our meeting.

Bryan Steverson revealed the 2016 Hall of Fame votes from an electronic poll of candidates emailed to our members. Our chapter would suggest the election Ken Griffey, Jr (unanimous) and Mike Piazza to the Class of 2016. The next closest votes were at 50% for Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. We had a spirited discussion on players/managers currently in the Hall who some consider as questionable. Also the subject of PEDs and the DH creates a welcome involvement of many opinions.

Members were very interested in a combined East TN Chapter, Chattanooga Chapter and Nashville Chapter meeting in 2016. It would be a full day meeting, 10am to 4pm with a joint lunch in a location convenient for all. Members could present subjects challenging and interesting to all.

Bryan Steverson, George Aubrey, Marshall Adesman, Mark Aubrey, Lucas Hobbs, Brad Ridenour (L to R) 

Upcoming Calendar Dates:

January 21, 2016, Nashville Old Timers Baseball Association Banquet (Rollie Fingers guest), Nashville, TN

January 28-31, 2016, Cincinnati Reds Caravan

Atlanta Braves Caravan TBA

January 30, 2016, SABR Day, East TN Chapter Meeting, Knoxville, TN

February 19, 2016 - UT season opener vs. Memphis, Chattanooga, TN

March 2, 2016 - UT home opener vs. Cincinnati

March 10-12, 2016, SABR Analytics Conference, Phoenix, AZ

April 1, 2016, Baseball in Literature and Culture Conference (#21), Ottawa Univ., KS

April 3, 2106, MLB Opening Day, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball

April 7, 2016, TN Smokies Opening Day v. Mobile BayBears

April 7, 2016, Nashville Sounds Opening Day v. OKC

April 9, 2016, Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball season opens

April 15-16, 2016, Frederick Ivor-Campbell Conference, Cooperstown, NY

May 2016, Rickwood Classic, 21st Annual, Birmingham, AL

June 21, 2016, Class AA All-Star Game, Pearl, MS

June 23, 2016, Appalachian League Opening Day

July TBA: Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference (#19), La Crosse, WI

July 22-25, 2016, National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, Cooperstown, NY

July 27, 2016, SABR National Convention, Miami, FL

August 3-7, 2016,  National Sports Collectors Convention, Atlantic City, NJ

My thanks goes to Bryan Steverson for taking great notes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Watching the 1925 World Series

Tonight is the first game of the 2015 World Series.  Many of us are watching the television or an app on our phone to follow the game.

90 years ago in Knoxville people thronged to So. Gay Street to keep up with the action.

1925 World Series baseball game reported at the Knoxville Sentinel
part of the Calvin M. McClung Digital Collection
In October of 1925 the Pirates and the Senators battled it out over seven games.  Knoxvillians seemed to be very interested in the results.

I don't know if that is a PlayOGraph scoreboard, but it was on the front of a building on the NW corner of South Gay and Main streets.

The Auto Tire Co.? That was actually the Tinsley Tire Co.

Knoxville, Tennessee, City Directory, 1925
U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
Knoxville, Tennessee, City Directory, 1925 U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

So let's look at some maps to see where Tinsley Tire Co. was located.

Zooming in a bit, I've added a bit of Google Maps.  This is just south of the Bijou Theatre.
And this is what that corner looks like today.

Google Maps

Times have changed.

The Pirates won the 1925 Series.

Monday, September 21, 2015

1925 Knoxville Colored High School baseball team

I was able to make a return trip to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center on Saturday afternoon. I was seeking baseball info from African-American newspapers that they have in their collection.  They're currently undergoing some rearranging and that resource wasn't available to me.  So I turned to their local yearbooks.

Knoxville Colored High School was formed in 1916.  Robert Booker wrote about the history of the Austin schools in a Knoxville News Sentinel column in 2009.

This team photo came from The Echo (vol. III), the KCHS yearbook of 1926.

I think that the coach, O. C. Twyner, was Olger Conelius Twyner.  I have found him in the both the 1927 and 1928 Knoxville City Directories.
1927 - Twyner, Olger C (c) (Mary H) sec-genl mgr Western Heights Merc Co  r 1817 College
1928 - Twyner, Olger C (c) (Mary H) tchr r 1817 College
That address today is at College and Jourolman, just north of Knoxville College.

Below is his draft registration card for World War One.

 Description: Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: St Clair; Roll: 1613396; Draft Board: 3
Description: Draft Card: T

Source Information: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.
Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.
Searching through the public family trees at Ancestry, it appears that Coach Twyner passed away in May of 1975.

I'm assuming that Greeneville College is somehow associated with Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee.  Nelson Merry College, an African-American school, was located in Jefferson City, Tennessee.  Walnut Hill High?  There is a Walnut Hill in Sullivan County, Tennessee.  There was a Langston High School located in Johnson City.

baseball images from the Beck Cultural Exchange Center

Sunday, September 6, 2015

East Tennessee SABR Meeting in Bristol

On August 29, 2015, the East Tennessee Chapter of SABR had their summer meeting on August 29, 2015, in Bristol, Virginia.  Lucas Hobbs, the Vice President of Bristol Baseball, Inc., worked with the Bristol Pirates to make our memorable.

Bristol has a varied baseball history.  Some of the highlights are winning the Appalachian League title in 1922, 1942, 1950, 1972, 1974, 1985, 1998, and 2002.  They also had a player named Ron Necciai who struck out 27 batters in a single game.

There were three SABR members in attendance, with two guests.

The meeting started at 6pm, with Jeff Johnson, the Pirates pitching coach, talking with us about his time as a player and then as a coach.  The audio clip can be found on the audio page.  If that doesn't work (and I've been experiencing some issues with it, try this direct link to the mp3 file).

The meeting was cut short as Lucas had duties to attend to and I had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.  Let's just say it was a bit low and inside.  Or maybe I was channeling what Jeff Johnson said about teaching his pitchers to throw down and tight.

The Pirates were hosting the Pulaski Yankees in the final game of the season at Boyce Cox Field.  The baseball was enjoyable.  One of the guests at the meeting was Tony Hightower, father of the Pirates pitcher Scooter Hightower.  Unfortunately, Scooter got his second loss as a Pirate that evening as they fell to Pulaski 6-1 (box score).

The night was beautiful.  The following is an untouched photo from my cell phone.

Marshall Adesman and I sat in the reserved seats on the first base side and spent most of the game talking baseball and swapping stories.  We ended up running into Lee Landers, president of the Appalachian League.  More swapping of stories.

All in all, a nice night.