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 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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) U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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, Heska Amuna Synagogue at, or Tidewell Hospice at Online condolences may be sent to 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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ray V. DuPue - minor league short stop, physician

While looking through the digitized archives of the Knoxville News-Sentinel for Frank Moffett, I came across the obituary of Dr. Ray V. DuPue, physician.
Knoxville News-Sentinel - December 22, 1974

... and later played semi-pro baseball for Frank Moffett's independent ball club, where he played second baseman and shortstop.
Frank Moffett was involved in quite a few baseball enterprises, as a player, manager, promoter, league organizer, and scout, among other things.  When could Ray have played for Frank?  According to his obituary, Ray was 88 when he died in 1974.  That would put his birth around 1886.  I found his World War I draft registration card on

"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images,
( : 14 May 2014),
Tennessee >Knoxville City no 1; B-Millett, Pat J. > image 2121 of 5964; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509
(Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
The birth year is confirmed.  Since he graduated from LMU's medical school in 1910, I'm going to assume that he had a window from 1906 to 1908 to play for Frank.

There is just one DePue listed at  He played in 1907 for the Darlington/Florence Fiddlers of the South Carolina League.  Maybe he's our man?

Oh, look.  Frank Moffett is one of the managers.  I'm feeling better about this.

Here's a newspaper article from that season:

The State (Columbia, SC) - June 27, 1907
image from

And here's the end of season average for DuPue.

The State - September 29, 1907

From the info I've gathered we can add a few more details to the BBref listing for DuPue.
He had 11 Runs, 1 Sac. Hit, and 2 Stolen Bases.

But how is it that Moffett and DuPue came to Darlington?  It looks like Frank Moffett had a good team that played in Chattanooga but Darlington purchased them.

The State - June 22, 1907
I don't yet have any info on Moffett's Chattanooga team.

As mentioned in his obituary, Dr. Ray V. DePue was buried at Knoxville's Greenwood Cemetery.  Here's a link to his FindAGrave memorial.

If this DePue is Ray V. DePue, then we can add a birthdate: Oct 21, 1886, birthplace: Stillwater, NJ, death date: Dec 20, 1974, death location: Knoxville, TN.

I don't have 100% proof that the DePue with no first name is Ray V. DePue, but I'd bet my paycheck on it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The half-named players of the 1929 Knoxville Smokies does good work. But some of their data is lacking. Not surprising when one considers the thousands of players that have suited up professionally.  I'm going try to correct some of the missing info.

Here's's page about the 1929 Knoxville Smokies.  I've snipped a portion of the roster and will try to determine if I can find more info about these half-named players.

Players are listed with limited info, most noticeably no first name.  Digging into the newspapers reveals a bit of info about some of the players.

Brillheart (Sabr ID: 9994f9b9).  That would be Walter Brillheart.  Now we've got a first name.  And we know that he was a right-handed pitcher.

Dietrick (Sabr ID: e9e69bc3).  That would be Bill Dietrick.  Or as spelling sometimes gets mangled, Bill Deitrick.  I think that these two players need to be combined.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - April 13, 1929

Erwin (Sabr ID: 625ec687).  That would be "Babe" Erwin.  I couldn't find a real first name for him.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - June 18, 1929

Fowlkes. That would be Hi Fowlkes. 

Baseball-Reference already has a Hy Fowlkes.  Based on other newspaper accounts I would bet that these two players are one in the same.  Time for a merge.  That would be unnamed Fowlkes (Sabr ID: 8335997c) and Hy Fowlkes (Sabr ID: e43c5e32). 

Top center (2), is Hi Fowlkes.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - March 31, 1929

The Fowlkes family has a website featuring Hy Fowlkes, complete with a different photo.

Gore (Sabr ID: 36fe0a97).  That would be Joe Gore.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - April 29, 1929
Could it be that this Gore and Joe Gore (Sabr ID: 2b5a9b36) are the same player?  The scant info in the newspaper article hints towards it.  And we know that this Gore was a right-handed hitter.

Since this was a test run or exercise, I didn't fully pursue Johnston (or Smith, Stafford [Harold Stafford, probably this Harold Stafford], Tashjian [it is Bert T. Tashjian], or Turner [Glenn Turner, probably this Glenn Turner]).

There's a lot more biographical info to be researched.  Dates and places of both birth and death.  School and burial info.  But this is a start.

Newspaper images from the Papers to Pixels campaign of the Knox County Public Library.