Saturday, August 29, 2015

Base Ball Park, Knoxville, Tenn.

Over the years I've had the pleasure and privilege of meeting people involved with, or interested in baseball in east Tennessee.  One of those is Walter "Hawkeye" Bates.  I met Hawkeye through his involvement with the Knoxville Holstons Vintage Base Ball Club.  He's a member and I'm a fan.  Several months ago he mentioned to me that he had a photo/postcard of an old baseball ground in Knoxville.  My interest was immediately piqued.

We talked about it off and on through the summer and he finally got tired of me pestering him and sent a photo my way.


I looked through my reference notes and by the date that Hawkeye shares this would most likely be Chilhowee Park Base Ball Park.

I did see a listing on ebay for this postcard and a date of 1913 was attached.  I don't know if that was the date that the postcard was mailed or if there's some other info that indicates that this park was in use that year.  If it does depict a park in 1913 that might have been Caswell Park.

Thanks for sharing this, Hawkeye.  Keep your willow supple.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wonder how this worked out...

We've all wondered what the skipper and the ump are actually saying when they get together and express their displeasure for a call or each other. 

Athletes and coaches are "mic-ed up" in current sporting events, why not do it 57 years ago?
The Sporting News - April 30, 1958
Well, as the photo caption says, the placing of the microphone enabled "...fans to hear the managers and umpires discuss ground rules in pre-game huddles and for the announcing of lineup changes after the game is underway."

I guess they didn't get to hear the juicy stuff.  Unless the coaches were really loud.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Early Standings of the 1902 City League

Following up on the City League of 1902, I next found mention of the league in the paper a few weeks after they started.  Two games each have been played.  And the C.M. McClungs are on top of the standings.

Knoxville Journal and Tribune - July 27, 1902
image from the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection

Constable Doyle, who broke his left arm, was Perez Dickson Doyle.  He appears in the 1903 Knoxville City Directory.

Knoxville, Tennessee, City Directory, 1903
Ancestry.comU.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. 
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Perez Doyle was born in 1872, being 30 years old when he managed the South Knoxville team.  According to his death certificate he died of "cancer of stomach" in 1939.  He's buried in the New Prospect Presbyterian Church cemetery just off of Sevierville Pike, behind Chapman Ford Crossing in south Knoxville.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Singleton's Tigers Win

113 years ago today John Singleton's Tigers played the colored team from Chattanooga at Baldwin park and beat them 9-5.  Another game was scheduled for the 25th.

Knoxville Journal and Tribune - July 25, 1902
image from the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection
Baseball between colored teams was not uncommon in and around Knoxville at this time.  But who was John Singleton?  In the 1900 US Census there's a John Singleton who was 28.  No occupation is listed for him.

In 1910 we find a John Singleton who is now 38.  He's a city policeman, married with a daughter.  Ten years later he's 48 and a city detective. 

Chicago's Broad Ax, a black paper, carried the story of his appointment.

The Broad Ax (Chicago, IL) - April 28, 1917
image from GenealogyBank.com

I think that John Singleton the policeman/detective was also the John Singleton that ran a baseball team in 1902.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Foreign Born Players for Knoxville teams

For the summer meeting of the East Tennessee Chapter of SABR, I took a bit of time and assembled a list of players born outside of the United States that have played for a Knoxville team according to Baseball-Reference.com  

I assume that this list is not complete as there are some limitations on Baseball-Reference.  Some of the data just isn't there. 

The players are listed in chronological order of playing time.  I decided to stop at 1965 as the influx of foreign born players started to greatly increase and time was running out to do the research for the meeting.

Phil Nadeau - born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1872
Played outfield for the 1909 Charleston Seagulls / Knoxville Appalachians of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1894 to 1914

Dutch Schesler - born in Frankfort, Germany in 1900
Pitched for the 1936 Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association
His minor league career spanned from 1920 to 1943
He played 17 games for the 1931 Philadelphia Phillies

Jack Aragon - born in La Habana, Cuba in 1915
Played catcher for the 1939 Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association
He was back with the 1950 and 1951 Knoxville Smokies as both player and manager
His minor league career spanned from 1937 to 1951
He played 1 game for the 1941 New York Giants

Earl Cook - born in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada in 1908
Pitched for the 1941 Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association
His minor league career spanned from 1932 to 1946
He played 1 game for the 1941 Detroit Tigers

Al Campanis - born in Kos, Dodescanese, Greece in 1916
Played infield for the 1942 Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association
His minor league career spanned from 1940 to 1948
He played 7 games for the 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers

Lou Polli - born in Baveno, Italy in 1901
Pitched for the 1942 Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association
His minor league career spanned from 1922 to 1945
He played 5 games for the 1932 St. Louis Browns
He played 19 games for the 1944 New York Giants

William Casanova - born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1930
Played outfield for the 1956 Montgomery Rebels / Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1951 to 1956

Jacques Monette - born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1930
Played outfield for the 1956 Montgomery Rebels / Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
Played outfield for the 1957 Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1950 to 1958

Bill Diemer - born in Woodslee, Ontario, Canada in 1931
Pitched for the 1957 Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1951 to 1957

Dave Roberts - born in Panama in 1933
Played for the 1957 Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1952 to 1966
He played for three seasons in the Majors (Houston and Pittsburgh)
He later played for seven seasons in two different Japanese Leagues

Arnold Hallgren - born in Winfield, Alberta, Canada in 1933
Played outfield for the 1959 Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1952 to 1961

John Ryan - born in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada in 1939
Played infield for the 1961, 1962, and 1963 Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League
His minor league career spanned from 1960 to 1971

The 1963 season saw six foreign born players. The Smokies were part of the Detroit Tigers’ organization.
The 1964 season saw two foreign born players. The Smokies (Southern League) were part of the Detroit Tigers’ organization.
The 1965 season saw two foreign born players. The Smokies (Southern League) were part of the Cincinnati Reds’ organization.

Because some people like numbers -- from 1897 to 1965 there were 20 different foreign born ball players associated with the Knoxville team.
  • 9 players from Canada
  • 5 players from Cuba
  • 1 player from Germany
  • 1 player from Greece
  • 1 player from Italy
  • 1 player from Panama
  • 1 player from Puerto Rico
  • 1 player from Venezuela

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The McClung's Baseball Team

On July 9, 2015, the McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture put the following on its facebook page.


The post was accompanied by the following photo.

Courtesy McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

It got me thinking about the team.  I'm familiar with most of the major teams in the region during that time, and it didn't ring any bells.  The McClung family was prominent in the physical formation and the economic life of Knoxville.  I assumed that the the team pictured was part of an industrial or city league.  I'm haven't sharpened my equipment or uniform dating skills in quite some time, but the style looked like it could have been from the late 1890s to the early 1900s.

I was able to make my way to the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection to do some research in their holdings.  I first looked in the vertical file stacks.  Thanks to the wonderful staff downtown I finally found some folders about the C. M. McClung company.  Newspaper clippings, anniversary booklets, things like that.  Interesting stuff, but nothing that talked about a company baseball team.

Then to the newspaper microfilm.  I first looked at the Knoxville Tribune from the summer of 1898.  I found some baseball articles, but nothing on the McClung's team.

Then I started searching the Journal & Tribune from the summer of 1902.  Bingo!

On page 5 of the July 18th edition of the Journal & Tribune I found a schedule for the City League.

Six teams would be playing forty five games from the middle of July to the middle of October.

The teams were:
  • Brookside
  • Knoxville Foundry and Machine Company
  • Shamrocks
  • South Knoxville
  • C.M. McClungs
  • Y.M.C.A.
They would spend their Saturdays playing on the grounds of Brookside Mills, Somerset, and Chilhowee park.

Journal and Tribune - July 18, 1902

Looking through the 1901 Knoxville City Directory I found that H.C. Gildard was probably Henry C. Gildard, a foreman at the Brookside mills.  He lived at 1347 Chestnut.

J.T. O'Connor is a bit harder to identify.  There were several James and Johns.  The only J.T. was a John T. O'Connor.  He worked as a driver (and later a clerk) at the Jung Brewing Company.  He boarded at 304 N. Central.

T.P. Condon might have been Thomas P. Condon, who I found in the 1901 Knoxville City Directory.  He was working for the So rwy (Southern Railway) and was boarding at 931 Asylum Ave.  Something in my gut tells me this isn't the guy.  I don't find him in the 1900 US Census in Tennessee nor in other local City Directories.


Looking through the 1902 Knoxville City Directory I found an advertisement for C.M. McClung & Co.


Knoxville, Tennessee, City Directory, 1902
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

In the near future I'll share how the McClung's team fared and how the league finished.

You'll note that I didn't directly answer the question that was posed.  I know that a baseball team sponsored by C.M. McClung & Co. played in the 1902 Knoxville City League.  I don't know if the above photo is of that team. 

My new mantra is: There's more research to be done.

My thanks goes to Linsday Kromer of The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture for permission to use the team image and to the staff of the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection for their assistance (and patience) in helping guide me in my research.

UPDATE (July 24, 2015): Christine Johnson from the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture shared this additional information:
On the back of the negative are the words,
"McClung Baseball Team
3/24/23
Glass Plate Neg.
Orig. Photographer - McCoy
313 Gay St."

Monday, June 22, 2015

1950 Tri-State League All-Star Game

It is currently the All-Star Break for the Southern League. While doing some research for foreign born players for Knoxville teams I came across Jack Aragon.

Angel Valdes (Reyes) Aragon was born in Cuba in 1915.  According to Baseball-Reference.com his minor league career started with the 1937 Greenwood Giants of the Cotton States League.  He caught for the 1939 Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association.  He was back in Knoxville in 1950 and 1951 as a player / manager.  The following article lists Aragon's first name as Art.  I don't know why.

In 1950 his team went 0-12 to start the season.  By the time that the Tri-State League had their All-Star game in July the they had improved to a very respectable 49-36, hanging on to second place, right behind Spartanburg.

I'm not sure how the All-Star team was selected in that league, but it looks as if the first place team played the All-Stars.  Maybe a Best versus the Rest.

Greensboro Daily News - July 14, 1950

According to the newspaper Knoxville had four players on that All-Star team.  Al Neil and Harvey Gentry were scheduled to play in the outfield and Hugh Oser and Joe Asbill were lined up to pitch.


The reporting of the All-Star game was very slim at GenealogyBank.com.  This was the only note I found.  The All-Stars pummeled the Spartanburg Peaches 19 to 4.

Greensboro Daily News - July 18, 1950

The Sporting News, from the PaperofRecord.com site, came through with some game details.
The Sporting News - July 26, 1950

The only player of the Knoxville All-Stars to make it to the major league was Harvey Gentry who played in five games for the New York Giants in 1954.  He came to bat four times and got one hit for a .250 BA. 

Note: Selection to an All-Star game does not guarantee any future success in the sport.