Allie, Gair

Position: Shortstop, third base
Birthplace: Statesville

First, Last Names: Gair Roosevelt     
Date of Birth:  Oct. 28, 1931  Date and Place of Death: Oct 14, 2016, Tucson, Ariz.
Burial: Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Tex.

High School: Statesville High School 
College: Wake Forest University, Wake Forest, NC

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-1, 190
Debut Year: 1954       Final Year: 1954          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1954

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
121      418    83      38        30        3          ,199     .294     .268     -1.5

Marjorie Allie had seen the name in a movie magazine. She liked it so much that she decided to give it her only son. Her husband, Kermit, apparently didn’t mind.[1]

Gair grew up to be a strapping six-footer by the time he went to high school, lettering in football, baseball and basketball. He may be one of the best athletes to ever play at Statesville High. He was co-captain of the football and basketball teams and made the all-conference and all-state teams. Six colleges offered him football scholarships when he graduated in 1950, but Allie chose Wake Forest College because there he would play baseball.

The college season apparently wasn’t enough because Allie played for a semipro team in Nova Scotia in the summer of 1951. A teammate knew a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates, the teammate wrote, had to check out this shortstop Allie. That led to a tryout at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Branch Rickey, the team’s general manager and among the shrewdest judges of baseball talent, offered Allie $20,000 to sign, or about $200,000 in current dollars. It was an eye-opening amount back then.

Goodbye Wake Forest; hello New Orleans.

There, Allie spent 1952 playing for the Pirates’ Class AA team. He hit only .216, but he impressed his coaches with his deft fielding and power. At 190 pounds, Allie was big for the diminutive shortstops of the era, who went by nicknames like Pee Wee and Scooter. Rickey was sure his powerfully built shortstop was a key piece to a pennant.

He invited Allie to train with the big-league club in Havana in the spring of 1953, but Allie broke his leg sliding into home, ending his season. He effectively ended his major-league career the following year when he made the club as the starting shortstop but hit a horrendous .199 in 121 games. He found himself competing for the job in the spring of 1955 with Dick Groat, the Duke University star who had returned from military service. Groat would anchor the Pirates’ infield for 14 years, winning a MVP award and playing in two World Series.

Allie went back to the minors where he lingered until 1961, with the Army claiming two of those years.

He settled in San Antonio, Texas, after baseball. He owned several bars and restaurants, ran unsuccessfully for the town council in 1963 on a platform of expanding the city’s parks and playgrounds, worked as an executive for many years for Falstaff Brewing Co., and raised five children with his second wife, Rita.[2]

Allie died in 2016, two weeks shy of his 85th birthday.

Footnotes
[1]Marjorie’s other children were also unusually named: Carrola, Sherwyne and Deema.
[2]Allie’s first bar, The Tiffany, was the meeting place of local sports figures. He also played for a recreational softball team at the time called the Flamingo Lounge Lizards. Allie opened the Raffle Restaurant and Bar in San Antonio in 1987. He ran it with his family until 2015.