Monday, March 30, 2015

Knoxville's first two no hitters

Fellow SABR member Chuck McGill has been collecting info on minor league no-hitters.  He's added over 500 no-nos to those already known about and published in the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball.  Last week The Sporting News published a nice story about his work.

He's made his spreadsheet available to others.  I grabbed it and extracted the games that Knoxville / Tennessee was involved with.  I'll look at the first two known no hitters.

On August 22, 1912, Finis Wilson threw one against the Johnson City Soldiers.  This was Fin's second season playing for the Knoxville Reds of the young Appalachian League.

Tulsa World - August 23, 1912

Richmond Times Dispatch - August 23, 1912

The article in the New Orleans Item has the game scores reversed but does share that Fin Wilson pitched both ends of that double header.
New Orleans Item - August 23, 1912
Just a few years later Fin would be pitching for the Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League.  He went 1-9 with a 4.03 ERA.

The shortstop Morley was Bill Morley.  The 1913 season he played two games for the Washington Senators of the American League.

It was almost a full ten years before another no hitter was tossed by Knoxville.  By this time the team had changed its name from the Reds to the Pioneers.

According to McGill's spreadsheet the second no hitter was tossed by "Red" Stoner on July 7, 1923 against the Kingsport Indians.    McGill's spreadsheet has the score listed as ?-0. 

The SABR Minor League Committee newsletter for the Spring of 2007 was seeking the info.

Beating the Bushes (SABR Minor League Committee newsletter) - Spring, 2007
I have not yet been able to locate a description of the game, but I did find a score for it.

Macon Telegraph - July 8, 1923

Not much is known about Mr. Stoner, except that he went 17-6 for the Pioneers that season.

And that he was sold to the New York Giants in August.

Trenton Evening Times - August 23, 1923

Times-Picayune - September 13, 1923

Apparently the big baseball news coming out of Knoxville at the time of Stoner's no hitter was that Frank Kane was released from the team.
Richmond Times Dispatch - July 8, 1923
Less is known about Frank Kane than is known about "Red" Stoner.  As usual, more research is needed.

Newspaper article images from

Friday, March 13, 2015

1927 Townsend "Lumberjacks"

Another one of my SABR colleagues and friends, Brad Ridenour, shared this find with me.

Knoxville News-Sentinel - September 11, 1927

Monday, February 23, 2015

Knoxville College Team - 1913

I don't have much information on the Knoxville College baseball program.  But my SABR colleague and friend, Skip Nipper, pointed me to this photo.

The Reach Official American League Guide for 1913

I haven't yet researched the various baseball guides to know when the first image of a black baseball team was published.

image from

Friday, February 13, 2015

UT's 1894 season

A bit of research on UT's 1894 base ball season yielded a more info than their 1893 season did.

The local paper speaks well of the upcoming base ball season.

Knoxville Daily Journal - January 21, 1894

In fact, things are going so well that a second squad has been formed.

Knoxville Daily Journal - March 11, 1894

And the second squad was almost as good as the University school club.

Knoxville Daily Journal - March 18, 1894

The team traveled to Blount County to take on Maryville College.

Knoxville Daily Journal - April 8, 1894

And a review of the game from the losing side.

The Maryville Times - April 11, 1894

The boys take a trip.

Knoxville Daily Journal - April 19, 1894

Here's Sewanee's year in base ball from their yearbook.

Cap and Gown - 1895

And Vanderbilt's year.  I've highlighted the 1894 season.

The Commodore - unknown year (19??)

So, right now, here's how I have UT's schedule for the year.  They finished up 2-3 in college play.

I'm sure that more research needs to be done.

Knoxville Daily Journal articles from
The Maryville Times article from LoC's Chronicling America
Cap and Gown image from
The Commodore image from

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

UT's 1893 Season - sort of

I was looking back at the early years of the University of Tennessee baseball program and I came across something that didn't set well with me.  From the 2014 UT Baseball Record Book:
Newspaper records trace Tennessee baseball history to 1897, the first year the university had an official baseball team.
2014 UT Baseball Record Book
page 98
"That can't be correct," I thought.  Based on knowing the base ball scene in Knoxville I thought that there must have been a UT team prior to 1897.  Better dig around a bit. 

The site has scanned some old publications that deal with sports.  I found this proposed schedule for the Southern Intercollegiate Association.

The Sporting Life - April 1, 1893
Transcribed from the above article:
  • Vanderbilt vs. University of Tennessee, at Nashville, April 24 and 25.
  • Vanderbilt vs. University of Tennessee, at Knoxville, May 6.
  • Sewanee vs. University of Tennessee, at Sewanee, April 22.
  • Sewanee vs. University of Tennessee, at Knoxville, April 14 and 15.
  • University of Alabama vs. University of Tennessee, at Chattanooga, April 25.
  • University of Alabama vs. University of Tennessee, at Birmingham, April 7 and 8.
And then placed in chronological order:
  • University of Alabama vs. University of Tennessee, at Birmingham, April 7 and 8.
  • Sewanee vs. University of Tennessee, at Knoxville, April 14 and 15.
  • Sewanee vs. University of Tennessee, at Sewanee, April 22.
  • Vanderbilt vs. University of Tennessee, at Nashville, April 24 and 25.
  • University of Alabama vs. University of Tennessee, at Chattanooga, April 25.
  • Vanderbilt vs. University of Tennessee, at Knoxville, May 6.
Now this poses a bit of a problem since Vandy and 'Bama are both scheduled to play UT on April 25, in two different cities.  Hmmm. 

Wait.  The Southern Intercollegiate Association?  Was that a precursor to the NCAA?  In a sense, yes.  Let's side track a bit.

For the happenings of 1892 I found this clip:

The New York Clipper Annual for 1894

The Sporting Life gives a bit more detail:

The Sporting Life - December 31, 1892
This story was getting some regional attention:

The Savannah Tribune - January 7, 1893

Closer to home, a local Knoxville paper talks of "The U.T. boys are enthusiastic and say that they propose to pull down some of the plums."

Knoxville Daily Journal - January 8, 1893

A month later we see the University of Michigan trying to plan their southern trip.  They want to play in Knoxville.  Against the University of Tennessee.  So, in early February there was still talk of UT having a baseball team.

The Sporting Life - February 11, 1893

But I'm having difficulty finding any records that the University of Tennessee nine played against SIA opponents in the spring of 1893.

There were some games played in the SIA that year.

Daily Enquirer-Sun (Columbus, Georgia) - April 16, 1893

And if we look at the record of Sewanee from one of their annuals it shows that more games were played, but none against Tennessee.
Cap and Gown - 1895

We see that Sewanee was the winner of the Southern division of the Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association.

The News and Courier (Charleston, SC) - May 9, 1893
But from the Cap and Gown records we see that the University of the South fell to Virginia, 5-13.

A peek inside the University of Alabama's annual, The Corolla, for 1893 doesn't show UT as being part of the SIA.  For some reason or other they have dropped out.
The Corolla - 1893

I did find a few articles that show there was some UT baseball activity that spring.

Knoxville Daily Journal - February 5, 1893

Knoxville Daily Journal - February 27, 1893

Knoxville Daily Journal - April 30, 1893

The DeHarts appear to have been a youth team in existence from at least 1891 to 1895, maybe longer, but that's a post for another time.

So, did the University of Tennessee have "an official baseball team" in 1893?  It could be argued that there were plans for one based on the meeting for the formation of the Southern Intercollegiate Association.  On the other hand, since there's no record that the team played other collegiate nines, it might be safe to say that there wasn't "an official baseball team".

UT Record Book image from
Sporting Life articles from
NY Clipper
image from Google Books
Cap and Gown image from

The Corolla image from University of Alabama
other articles from