Wood, Ken

Primary Position: Outfield
Birthplace: Lincolnton

First, Middle Names:  Kenneth Lanier
Date of Birth:  July 1, 1924      Date and Place of Death: Nov. 22, 2007, Myrtle Beach, SC
Burial: Cremated

High School: Paw Creek High School, Paw Creek, NC; Central High School, Charlotte, NC
College: Did Not Attend

Bats: R              Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-0, 200
Debut Year: 1948        Final Year: 1953    Years Played: 6
Teams and Years: St. Louis Browns, 1948-51; Boston Red Sox, 1952; Washington Senators, 1952-53

Career Summary
G           AB           H           R           RBI         HR        BA.       OBP.      SLG.      WAR
342     995       223       110      143        34         .224      .298      .393      -3.3

Ken Wood was a lumbering 200-pound outfielder with a cannon for an arm and a bit of lightning in his bat. Unfortunately, he had hands of stone. He was so dreadful in the field, in fact, that his teams would have been better off without him in the lineup.

Poor defense combine with a lackluster bat to give Wood the lowest Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, of any of the more than 400 North Carolina natives who have played in the major leagues. That’s an advanced statistic that attempts to summarize a player’s total contributions to his team – his hitting, pitching, running, fielding — by estimating how many games a team can be expected to win with the player in the lineup instead of an average player coming off the bench or called up from the minors. The player’s value to his team accumulates over the course of his career, and the resulting number is expressed in plus or minus games, which can be useful yardsticks to compare players of different eras.[1] Wood has a -3.3 lifetime WAR, meaning the teams he played for during a six-year career in the majors lost more than three games with him in the lineup instead of a substitute.

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Yount, Eddie

Primary Positions: Outfield
Birthplace: Newton

First, Middle Names: Floyd Edwin   
Date of Birth:  Dec. 19, 1916 Date and Place of Death: Oct. 27, 1973, Newton
Burial: Eastview Cemetery, Newton

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

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-1, 185
Debut Year: 1937       Final Year: 1939          Years Played: 2
Teams and Years: Philadelphia Athletics, 1937; Pittsburgh Pirates, 1939

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
6         9          2          1          1            0          .222     .222     .222     -0.1

Eddie Yount’s big-league career was brief and undistinguished: six games over two seasons, a couple of years apart. In a minor-league career that stretched over 13 years, however, he was a feared slugger and the beloved manager of his hometown team.

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Coan, Gil

Position: Outfield
Birthplace: Monroe

First, Middle Names: Gilbert Fitzgerald
Date of Birth:  Jan. 18, 1922   Date and Place of Death: Feb. 5, 2020, Brevard, NC
Burial: Gillespie Evergreen Cemetery, Brevard, NC

High School: Mineral Springs High School, Mineral Springs, NC
College: Brevard College, Brevard

Bats:    L          Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-0, 180
Debut Year: 1945       Final Year: 1956          Years Played: 11
Teams and Years: Washington Senators, 1946-53; Baltimore Orioles, 1954-55; Chicago White Sox, 1955; N.Y. Giants. 1955-56

Career Summary
G          AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
918      2877    731      384      278    39        .254     .316     .359     +1.9

Gilbert Fitzgerald Coan was a 23-year-old, fleet-footed kid outfielder when he debuted with the Washington Senators in 1946. He would play 10 more years in the major leagues, most of them for the woeful Senators. The team, a charter member of the American League in 1901, had once been competitive back in the days when Walter Johnson commanded the pitching mound and Goose Goslin and Sam Rice roamed the outfield.

But by the time Coan arrived, the Senators could count only three winning seasons since their last pennant in 1933 during Franklin Roosevelt’s first term. Frustrated fans had resurrected the ditty about Washington that Charles Dryden, a legendary baseball writer, coined during an earlier period of team futility: First in war, first in peace and last in the American League.

Senator fans had reason to hope, though, when Coan took the field on that April afternoon. The team had finished in second place in a wartime-depleted league in 1945. This new kid was considered a can’t-miss prospect. Many thought he would play a big part in that brighter future.

“Gil Coan was the most promising rookie ever to arrive on the Washington baseball scene,” declared Joe Engel, the Senators’ chief scout who had discovered Goslin, Rice and Bucky Harris. Coan, he said, was the best of them all.[I]

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Cooke, Dusty

Primary Position: Outfield
Birthplace: Swepsonville

First, Middle Names: Allen Lindsey        Nicknames: Dusty

Date of Birth:  June 23, 1907  Date and Place of Death: Nov. 21, 1987, Raleigh, NC
Burial: Westview Memorial Gardens, Lillington, NC

High School: Durham High School, Durham, NC  

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-1, 205
Debut Year: 1930       Final Year: 1938          Years Played: 8
Team(s) and Years: New York Yankees, 1930-32; Boston Red Sox, 1933-36; Cincinnati Reds, 1938

Career Summary
G           AB         H           R          RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
608    1745    489      324    229      24      .280     .384     .416      +7.1

Awards/Honors: Boys of Summer Top 100

Life had been good to Dusty Cooke as he trotted out to right field at Griffith Stadium in Washington on that Sunday afternoon in April 1931. He was 24 years old, a kid from the sticks of Alamance County, batting third for the great New York Yankees, and playing in place of The Babe himself, who was nursing an injury. In his second year as a big leaguer, Cooke was beginning to show why one of his managers down in the minors called him “the game wrecker.” Through the first week of the new season, he was playing every day, hitting a torrid .353 and stealing bases with abandon. The kid had greatness written all over him, and his time had come.

Ossie Bluege, the Senators’ leadoff hitter that inning, lofted a flyball to shallow right. Cooke showed his dazzling speed by almost reaching the spot where the ball would land. He dove to make up the last couple of feet, and, in the instant it took to hit the ground, life turned mean. Cooke writhed in pain on the freshly mowed grass. The ball bounced toward the wall. No one thought to chase it down, as worried teammates gathered around the prone kid in obvious pain. Bluege was credited with an inside-the-park home run.

They carried a broken Dusty Cooke off the sun-drenched field that afternoon. Doctors later determined that his shoulder was separated and his collarbone splintered. Surgery would be required.

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Booe, Everett

Primary Position: Outfield
Birthplace: Mocksville

First, last Names: Everett Little       
Date of Birth:  Sept. 28, 1891    Date and Place of Death: June 21, 1969. Kenedy, Texas
Burial: Kenedy City Cemetery, Kenedy, Texas

High School: Undetermined
College: Davidson College, Davidson, NC

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-8, 165
Debut Year: 1913       Final Year: 1914          Years Played: 2
Teams and Years: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1913; Indianapolis Hoosiers, Buffalo Buffeds, 1914

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
125    352    77       43        22        0         219      .289     .210     -2.0

The “e” in Everett Booe’s last name is silent, and he played baseball in a time before public-address equipment and names printed on the back of jerseys. To introduce players to fans, umpires bellowed out their names when they stepped to home plate for the first time.

Those were the circumstances under which Everett Booe met Bill Klem. The year was 1913. Booe was a 21-year-old rookie who was warming the bench for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had been born in Mocksville, but his family had moved to Davidson, North Carolina, where his father owned a market and his mother ran a boarding house.

Klem was about a quarter of the way through an almost 40-year career that would make him one of the most-respected umpires of all time and one of the first inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He would introduce several innovations, such as hand signals that allowed fans even out in the bleachers to know the umpires’ decisions. Calling balls and strikes was a serious matter to Klem and he instructed other umpires how to position themselves to best judge the strike zone. They still stand in Klem’s “slot” between the batter and catcher to get the best view of home plate. Most importantly, Klem injected much-needed professionalism into a job that had known more than its share of drunks and rowdies.

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