Moon, Leo

Primary Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Alamance County

First, Middle Names:  Leo
Date of Birth:  June 22, 1899  Date and Place of Death: Aug. 25, 1970, New Orleans, LA
Burial: Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans, LA

High School: Undetermined
College: Did Not Attend

Bats: R Throws: L         Height and Weight: 5-11, 165
Debut Year: 1932        Final Year: 1932    Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Cleveland Indians, 1932

Career Summary

G          W         L           Sv         ERA             IP          SO        WAR
1           0           0           0          11.12            5.2        1           -0.3

Leo Moon acquired a reputation as a “nightlifer” with a pretty mean fastball. During a minor-league career that spanned nearly two decades, he won almost 200 games in the daylight and danced the nights away in clubs from Minneapolis to New Orleans. His major-league career, however, lasted all of one game and consists of this ugly pitching line: 5.1 innings, eight runs, 11 hits, and seven walks. He wasn’t in the majors long enough to enjoy the big-city lights.

Born in the mill village of Bellemont in Alamance County in 1899, Moon was the youngest of William and Ellen’s six children. Their father farmed and worked in local cotton mills. Moon did the same while growing up and living all over the county from Graham to Swepsonville to Haw River. At 19, the kid they called Shine started pitching for semipro teams sponsored by the mills. Five years later, in 1924, a pitcher for the Patriots, a minor-league club in nearby Greensboro, North Carolina, was injured in a knife fight and the team hired Moon to fill the rotation spot.

He would go on to pitch almost 3,000 innings for 14 minor-league teams over the next 17 years, winning 183 games along the way. He said in an interview late in his life that he was making $1,000 a month in 1927, or the equivalent of about $17,000 in 2022. Though he was already a successful minor-league pitcher with three 20-win seasons and was playing for a top-tier club, the Class AA Millers of Minneapolis, Minnesota, it’s unlikely that he was paid that much. Most major leaguers didn’t make that kind of money. In any case, Moon had more cash in his pocket than he had ever had before, and he learned that he liked spending it. “I was a poor boy with a lot of money,” Moon said in that 1962 interview. “You might say the bright lights dazzled me.”[I] His manager, Mike Kelly, worried that his ace might leave his fastball in the nightclubs. Moon worried that his reputation as a night owl might scare away big-league clubs.

For whatever reason, he didn’t get his shot until 1932, at age 33, when the Cleveland Indians bought his contract from the New Orleans Pelicans. Manager Roger Peckinpaugh sent his elderly rookie into his first game a few days later on July 9. His team was already down 6-3 to the Senators at Washington’s Griffith Stadium when Moon took the ball with one out in the third inning. Peckinpaugh left him in to finish the laugher that the Senators won 14-4. Moon was soon on a train back to New Orleans,

He pitched for six more seasons, coached for a year, and returned to the mound again in 1940 when he was 41. Though he won 12 games for a Class B club in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Moon retired after the season. “After a man reaches 35 it’s harder and harder to get into shape,” he said years later. “I saw the handwriting on the wall. My arm was still good – it’s never once got sore in my career – but my fastball was going.”[II]

He returned to New Orleans where he had lived for several years. He worked at the airport and at a plumbing warehouse. A degenerative optic-nerve disease slowly robbed him of his sight. He was totally blind for the last decade of his life. He had married twice and had three children. Moon died of an undisclosed illness in 1970.

References
[I] Hunter, Bill. “’Shine’ Moon, ‘Belinski of His Era, Can Recall Colorful Career.” Daily Times-News (Burlington, NC), July 28, 1962.
[II] Ibid.

Prince, Don

Primary Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Clarkton

First, Middle Names:  Donald Mark

Date of Birth: April 5, 1938    Date and Place of Death: Nov. 8, 2017, Myrtle Beach, SC
Burial: Hammond Cemetery, Nichols, SC

High School: Floyds High School, Nichols, SC
College: Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC; East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Bats: R Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-4, 200
Debut Year: 1962        Final Year: 1962          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Chicago Cubs, 1962

Career Summary
G          W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
1          0          0          0          0.00     1.0       0          0.0

Don Prince pitched one inning in the major leagues and seven years in the minors, but this really isn’t a story about his life in baseball. He was later a successful insurance agent and enthusiastic private pilot. This isn’t about annuities or aviation, either. This is, instead, a sad tale about how a brother’s fidelity – yes, some might bluntly call it his stupidity – led him down a dark path where federal agents posing as hit men lurked in the shadows. This is a story about how Don Prince, baseball pitcher, insurance salesman and pilot with a wife, children, a house at the beach, and all the trappings of a good life, turned to murder to save his brother.

Donald Mark Prince was born in 1938 in Clarkton, a small farming community in southern Bladen County. His brother, Roger DeWitt, who went by the name Bill, was born a year later. Their father, Woodrow, raised tobacco, first in Bladen and then on leased land in adjoining Columbus County.

On a rainy night in 1951, Woody went to out to the tobacco barn. He was wet and barefoot when he plugged in the heater. The resulting electrical shock killed him instantly. The consequences of the tragic accident were immediate and would ripple through the brothers’ lives for decades.

With no way to support herself and her children, the widowed Carrie Prince moved just across the state line to Nichols, South Carolina, to be closer to her family. That’s where Don played high-school baseball and basketball. After graduating in 1956, he played the same sports for two years at Campbell Junior College, now a university, in Buies Creek, North Carolina. He would be inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1968. Prince then went on to what’s now East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, for his teaching certificate. He would teach and coach in North Carolina high schools during the offseasons throughout his baseball career. His basketball team at Hoke High School in Raeford would go the state finals in 1966.

Prince signed his first professional contract in 1958 with the Chicago Cubs and spent all but a year of his career in their minor leagues. A career sub-.500 pitcher, he had his best year that first season when he was 11-6 with 3.76 earned-run average for the Cubs’ Class D club in Paris, Illinois. The Cubs summoned him to Chicago for the end of the 1962 season. He pitched a hitless ninth inning in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets on Sept. 21 but was sent to the minors the following year. He finished his career in 1964 in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system.

Back in Raeford, Prince continued to teach and coach but began selling insurance on the side. Within a couple of years, he opened an agency that he moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1968. He apparently did quite well. He and his wife, Jill, bought a house in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where they raised their two children. Prince learned to fly small planes and became an avid aviator. Life threw him a curve in 1977 when Jill died, but Prince pressed on.

Dark clouds started gathering the day in 1955 when Billy E. Graham, a prominent and wealthy tobacco farmer in Olanta, South Carolina, met brother Bill at a tobacco warehouse, where the teenager was selling boiled peanuts. Impressed with the boy’s salesmanship, Graham, a bachelor, started looking out for Bill after learning that he came from a poor family and had no father. They were “really close,” the Florence County sheriff would later say. Graham, he said, “had practically raised” Prince.[i]

After graduating from high school, Bill moved into Graham’s handsome brick house with its velvet wallpaper and sunken bathtub. In the garage was the Cadillac Graham liked to drive around town. A million dollars in show horses grazed in the surrounding pastures. The two eventually started a business to farm the more than 3,000 acres of tobacco, and Bill was the beneficiary of a $500,000 life insurance policy on Graham that he had bought from his brother.

The clouds thickened as the relationship slowly came apart when interest rates rose and commodity prices fell in the late 1970s. Crops failed during the drought of 1979-80, and Graham was bankrupt. He lost it all: the Cadillac, the show horses, the handsome brick house with its velvet wallpaper and sunken tub. By 1985, it was only the generosity of friends that kept him from becoming destitute. One bought the old house from the bank and allowed Graham to move back in. He had been living in a string of seedy motels.

Bill Prince, however, wasn’t among those who aided the broken man who had once treated him like a son. In fact, Graham by then thought that Prince was trying to steal his land. Untangling the byzantine financial arrangements between the two that fueled Graham’s suspicions and ultimately led to the ugly night of June 10, 1987 requires diving into the murk of federal crop loans and land-bank rules, an unsavory task not necessary for our purposes here. All we need to know is that Prince and several partners, who included Charlie Dorn Smith, the president of a bank in Olanta, formed a business in the early 1980s to lease and farm Graham’s land and pay off his substantial debt to federal agencies. It didn’t work out, and a jury in a civil lawsuit later brought by Graham determined that Prince and his partners owed the bankrupt farmer more than $200,000.

The storm broke on that June night when fire engulfed the handsome house on the edge of town. By the time the flames were quenched, the house was a charred ruin. Graham’s badly burned body was found in his second-floor bedroom. The coroner ruled that he had died of smoke inhalation. In other words, an accident. Prince paid the undertaker $3,500 to bury his former partner and benefactor.

Rumors about the death of the popular resident circulated quickly through the small farming town. “People were not satisfied with the results of the investigation,” said Mayor Kelton Floyd. “No names were called, but they did not believe that the man just burned.”[I]

New evidence persuaded authorities to exhume the body.  This time two .32-caliber bullets were found in its skull. Almost two years later, in 1989, Prince and Smith were charged with hiring a killer to execute Graham and set the fire. Prince, then 51, was convicted in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. Free on bond while his case was appealed, he fled two years later when the state supreme court refused to order a new trial.

This is where Don Prince re-appears. He would later admit that he helped his brother for the year that he was on the run. Diagnosed with cancer, Bill was hiding in Puerto Rico, but Don brought him home for treatments. He made sure he kept his doctor appointments, paid his medical bills, and helped run the farming business in Olanta. All the while, he urged his brother to turn himself in. Bill was captured in a motel in Knoxville, Tennessee, in August 1995 and began his life in prison.

Don was a frequent visitor. He continued to manage Bill’s affairs and worked with his lawyers. His talks with his brother soon turned from crop prices and family matters. To prepare for the new trial that they hoped the courts would order, the brothers discussed ways to persuade the two key witnesses to recant their testimony.  When neither seemed willing, Bill noted that one of his prison mates was getting out. He knew someone who would kill the witnesses, Bill said. That prisoner, though, was also an FBI informant.

That’s how it came to be that Don stepped out of his car at a rest stop on I-20 in South Carolina on Dec. 8, 1995. He had driven from Wrightsville Beach to pay the hit man who had killed one of the witnesses and to arrange for the murder of the other. The assassin showed Don a photograph of the dead man – doctored, it turned out — and Don handed him $5,000. The FBI undercover agent slapped the cuffs on Don. “The things you do for your brother,” he said disgustedly.[II]

The brothers were convicted the following year. Bill got 15 years added to his sentence. Don got 17. In a letter to his wife before their convictions, Bill asks about the wellbeing of his brother’s children. “I know that they are really hurt with everything that is going on,” he wrote. “But I hope they will understand that everything is my fault. I will never be able to forgive myself for the problems that I have caused everybody. But if it would be any consolation. I would have done the same for Don.”[III] Bill died in prison in 2003.

After his release, Don moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he died in 2017.

References
[I] “3 More Arrested for 1986 Olanta Murder.” The Item (Sumter, SC) April 7, 1989.
[II] United States v. Don Prince, No. 97-4329; United States v. Roger DeWitt Prince, a/k/a Bill, No. 97-4334 (4th Cir. 1999). https://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/Unpublished/974329.U.pdf.
[III] Ibid.

 

Brewington, Jamie

Primary Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Greenville

First, Middle Names: Jamie Chancellor        
Date of Birth: Sept. 28, 1971
Current Residence: Chandler, AZ

 High School: J.H. Rose High School, Greenville, NC
College: Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

 Bats: R Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-4, 180
Debut Year: 1995        Final Year: 2000          Years Played: 2
Teams and Years: San Francisco Giants, 1995; Cleveland Indians, 2000

Career Summary
G          W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
39        9          4          0          4.85     120.2   70        0.4

Jamie Brewington’s 13-year journey through professional baseball spanned the breadth of a continent, from the sandy loam of the North Carolina coast to the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest, from the Bisons of Buffalo, New York, to the Toros of Tucson, Arizona. He moved his family 23 times to pitch for 16 different teams, including two in the major leagues where he spent parts of two seasons. As so often happens to pitchers, it was a tour interrupted by arm injuries, surgery, and rehabilitations.

Even in his retirement, baseball continued its hold on Brewington. He’s coached kids, scouted for the majors, and tried to inspire young Blacks to play the game that shaped his life.

Born in 1971 in Greenville, North Carolina, Jamie Chancellor Brewington was one of James and Naomi’s two sons. He came from athletic stock. His father had been a defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League and his brother, Mike, would play in the United States Football League in the early 1980s.

It was baseball, though, that called to Jamie. As a young teenager, he pitched for two Babe Ruth teams that advanced to the World Series. He was the star pitcher for a team at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville that went 26-0 in 1988. A sore shoulder limited him to two brief appearances in the state playoffs. Though he pitched in the final game, Brewington didn’t last an inning in an 11-8 loss to Harding High School of Charlotte, North Carolina.

He continued his pitching for Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and turned professional in 1992 when the San Francisco Giants chose him in the 10th round of the amateur draft.

The journey then began. It started that year in Everett, Washington, in the Class A Northwest League and ended in 2004 on Long Island, New York, in the independent Atlantic League. In between, there were stops in Clinton, Iowa, and Kinston, North Carolina; in San Jose, California, and Pawtucket, Massachusetts; in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Edmonton, Canada. Two stops in the major leagues were included in the itinerary.

Brewington was a promising pitcher with a 35-17 record in the minors when the Giants summoned him to San Francisco in 1995. He won his debut on July 24 with seven strong innings in an 8-3 victory over the Florida Marlins. He won his second start as well. With his father in the stands at Candlestick Park in San Francisco for his next turn, Brewington pitched well against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo but lost 3-0. He finished with a 6-4 record but found himself again in the minor leagues to start the new season. The journey resumed.

By the time he stopped in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2000, Brewington’s best years were behind him. He had pitched effectively in the minors as a reliever in the two years since an arm injury had forced him take 1998 off to recuperate. He appeared in 26 games for the Indians, all in relief, and won three of them, but he yielded almost six runs a game. The Indians released him in October.

A detour to the hospital for shoulder surgery put him again on the sidelines for the 2003 season. He played one year for the independent Long Island Ducks and retired.

Brewington returned to Chandler, Arizona, where he and his wife, Debbie, had settled in the early 1990s. They finished raising their three children there. Debbie opened a popular apparel and gift shop   with a Christian theme while Brewington continued to pursue baseball. He was a high-school coach, an instructor at a youth baseball camp, and a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He also became an outspoken proponent of reforms that would make baseball once again attractive to Black kids. About half the kids who played in youth leagues in Greenville were Black, Brewington once explained. As he moved up the baseball hierarchy, from high school to college to the majors, the Black players started to dwindle, he said. When he was a rookie pitching for the Giants, a plate of collards and peach cobbler mysteriously appeared in front of his locker before each start. After the season, he learned that Manager Dusty Baker, an African American, put the food there. “He did things he didn’t have to do to make me feel comfortable,” he said.[I]

In retirement, Brewington tried to help young Black players. He provided one-on-one coaching and bought them cleats, gloves, and other equipment if they couldn’t afford them.


Reference
[I] Woods, Alden. “Young Black Baseball Players Struggle.” Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), March 24, 2019.

Stewart, Joe

Primary Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Monroe

First, Middle Names: Joseph Lawrence Nickname: Ace
Date of Birth:  March 11, 1879 Date and Place of Death: Feb. 10, 1913, Youngstown, OH
Burial: Suncrest Cemetery, Monroe, NC

High School: Unknown
College: Erskine College, Due West, SC

Bats: Unknown           Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 175
Debut Year: 1904       Final Year: 1904          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Boston Beaneaters, 1904

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
2         0          0         0          9.64     9.1       1          -0.4

Though he appeared in only two major-league games, Joe Stewart spent much of his short life playing baseball.

He likely played in high school in Monroe, North Carolina, where he was born in 1879, the third of seven children. His father, John, owned a clothing store. His mother, Harriet or “Hattie,” died when he was seven years old.

We know he played at Erskine College, a Christian school in South Carolina, but don’t know how well. Stewart is the second of eight players from Erskine to play in the majors. Champ Osteen, a likely teammate, beat him by a year.

We also know that he played for the Wilmington, North Carolina, Giants of the old Virginia-Carolina League, a Class D assemblage that lasted five seasons. Stewart moved up to the Class B Pelicans of New Orleans, where he won 20 games in 1902, and then to the Saints, a Class AA club, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he won 16 the following season.

That got him a look from the Boston Beaneaters of the National League in 1904. Stewart pitched well in his debut on June 9, giving up a hit in three innings of work against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Two days later, though, the Pirates pounded him for 11 runs on 11 hits in six innings in a 19-1 drubbing of the Beaneaters. Stewart returned to the minors.

He was in Ohio in 1906, pitching for another lowly Class D team in Zanesville. He settled in Youngstown playing baseball for nearby minor-league clubs and taking odd jobs in the offseason While working at a hotel in Youngstown in February 1913, Stewart fell out a third-story window and died. He was 33.

He was “a generous-hearted young man and very popular among his associates. He was kind, loyal and true,” his obituary in a Wilmington newspaper a few days later noted.[I] It could have added: And he played baseball, not for the money or the fame, but for the love the game.

Reference
[I] “Lawrence Stewart.” Wilmington (NC) Dispatch, Feb. 21, 1913.

Boney, Hank

Primary Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Wallace

First, Middle Names:  Henry Tate
Date of Birth:  Oct. 28, 1903   Date and Place of Death: June 12, 2002, Lake Worth, FL
Burial: Wauchula City Cemetery, Wauchula, FL

High School: Undetermined
College: University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Bats: L Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 176
Debut Year: 1927        Final Year: 1927          Years Played: 1
Team and Years: New York Giants, 1927

Career Summary
G          W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
3          0         0          0         2.25     4.0       0          0.1

Hank Boney was 23 years old and fresh out of college when he stepped onto a big-league pitching mound for the first time on June 28, 1927. Professional baseball was less structured then and its players little more than talented chattels. A manager, like the New York Giants’ John McGraw, could pluck a promising kid from college for a pittance to fill a roster hole, throw him into a game or two, and then discard him like yesterday’s newspaper if he didn’t work out. For the rest of his life, though, the kid would likely thank his manager for giving him a chance.

Down 7-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth inning, McGraw figured it was a suitable time to see what the rookie could do. Boney didn’t disappoint by retiring the three batters he faced. He gave up a single in his next outing two days later, a 6-1 loss to the Boston Braves, and then one run in a couple of innings against the Cincinnati Reds two weeks after that. And then he was gone for good, though his professional resume of a sole run in four innings would seem to have warranted a longer stay.

Boney kicked around the minor leagues for a few seasons and then settled down in Florida for a long life. He raised cattle, grew oranges, became a leader in his church, and ran companies that distributed fuel along the state’s Gold Coast. He outlived three wives in the process. He died just a few months shy of his 99th birthday.

The Boney name is an old one in Duplin County, North Carolina. After the American revolution, William Boney owned much of the land that is now the town of Wallace in the southern end of the county.[1] Most of his holdings were included in a grant from England’s King George II. Henry Tate Boney was born in 1903 into a particularly large contingent of the clan. His parents, Jacob and Julia, worked a farm near Island Creek north of Wallace where they raised eight children.

The family moved to Wauchula in central Florida sometime in the 1910s where Jacob continued to farm. Henry likely attended old Wauchula High School, but no existing records confirm that. He also likely pitched, either in school or for local semipro teams, because he was on the starting staff for the University of Florida in Gainesville in the mid-1920s. Boney apparently dropped out of school when he was signed by the Giants in 1927.

After his brief stay in New York, he pitched for minor-league teams in New Jersey and Connecticut. He returned to Florida in 1935 to live with his mother who owned a boarding house in Wauchula. His father had died six years earlier.

He married Viola Smith in 1938. Known as Brownie, she came from Wauchula’s most-prominent family. Her father was one of Hardee County’s first citrus growers and its largest landowner. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, a private, women’s school in Georgia, Brownie was a talented singer and became a local celebrity. For most of her life, she was in high demand as a vocalist, singing at veterans’ memorials, social-club meetings, and holiday celebrations. In fact, she is more likely to turn up in searches for “Henry Boney” in Florida newspapers than her husband.

The couple moved to Lake Worth on Florida’s east coast in the late 1930s where they both worked for a company that distributed oil and gasoline. He was its manager; she was its bookkeeper. Boney would remain with Atlantic Fuel Company for more than 30 years, rising to become its president. He would also own a company that distributed propane.

A leader in the Presbyterian Church, Boney was a ruling elder at his local church and a member of the national board that published the annual church histories.

He didn’t seem to dwell on his former life as a professional baseball pitcher. There are no newspaper clips of his talks on the subject, no stories about him throwing out the first pitch at a local minor-league game. About the only remnant of his former life that pops up is a boxer puppy named Muggsy, the nickname for McGraw that the manager detested. Boney took out classified ads in several newspapers asking readers to be on the lookout for his lost dog. There’s no record that the errant Muggsy found his way back home.

Brownie died in 1966. Boney remarried. When that wife, Lida, died, he married again. Reta left him a widower for the third time. He had no children.

Boney died in June 2002 in Lake Worth.

Footnote
[1] For a small, rural town, Wallace is the home of a surprising number of professional athletes. M.L. Carr starred in the American and National basketball associations and was the head coach and general manager of the Boston Celtics in the NBA. Wray Carlton and Javonte Williams were running backs in the National Football League and Nate Irving was an NFL linebacker. Wallace was also the birthplace of James R. Jordan Sr., the father of North Carolina’s most-famous athlete, Michael Jordan