Goodman, Billy

Player Name: Goodman, Billy
Positions: Second base, first base, third base
Birthplace: Concord

First, Middle Names: William Dale
Date of Birth:  March 22, 1926       Date and Place of Death: Oct. 1, 1984, Sarasota, FL
Burial: Mount Olivet Methodist Church Cemetery, Concord

High School: Winecoff High School, Winecoff, NC
College: Did not attend

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 165
Debut Year: 1947       Final Year: 1962          Years Played: 16
Teams and Years: Boston Red Sox, 1947-57; Baltimore Orioles, 1957; Chicago White Sox, 1958-1961; Houston Colt 45s, 1962

Awards: NC Sports Hall of Fame, 1969; batting title, 1950; All-Star, 1949, 1952

 Career Summary
G               AB          H            R          RBI      HR       BA.       OBP.     SLG.      WAR
1623      5644     1691    807    591      19        .300     .376      .378       26.9

Billy Goodman played everywhere on the infield and most spots in the outfield during his 16-year career. That he could play so many positions and play them well surprised most veteran baseball people. To many of  them, the guy didn’t even look like a ballplayer, let alone like the most versatile one to ever put on a uniform. At 5-foot, 11 inches and maybe 165 pounds, Goodman was “built like an undernourished ribbon clerk,” noted the Saturday Evening Post.[I] He looked almost frail and certainly out of place.

“I’ve never seen a ballplayer like Goodman. He fools you more than any other player I can remember,” said Jimmy Brown, a fellow North Carolinian and an All-Star second baseman who first saw Goodman when he managed in the minors after his playing days. “The first time I saw him he was playing the outfield. He didn’t look like an outfielder but he could go and get them.  Then I saw him playing shortstop. He didn’t field like a shortstop but he dug them out of the dirt. He didn’t throw like a shortstop but I didn’t see him make a bad throw. And he always got his man.”[II]

Most so-called utility players are known primarily for their defensive skills, but Goodman was even better at the plate then he was in the field. He wasn’t a power hitter – he hit only 19 home runs in his career – but the little lefty sprayed the ball all over the field on the way to a career .300 batting average, tied for fourth-highest among North Carolina natives with at least 1,000 lifetime at bats. He’s a leader in nine other offensive categories as well. In one of the most-unusual seasons in baseball history, Goodman played six different positions in 1950 and won a batting title while doing it. The two-time All-Star was also almost impossible to strike out. He had more than a 1,100 at bats during the 1953 and ’54 seasons, for instance, and struck out only 26 times.

Joe McCarthy had seen some pretty fair players during his run as the New York Yankees’ skipper. Stars like Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey and Frank Crosetti had helped him win eight pennants. One could say that Marse Joe had seen them all. Then, he came out of retirement in 1948 to manage the Boston Red Sox and first laid eyes on Billy Goodman. “Look at that boy,” he said admiringly of the rookie that spring. “He’s all ballplayer.”[III]

The second of three brothers, William Dale Goodman was born in 1926 in Winecoff, a small community that once existed north of Concord in Cabarrus County. Named after one of the area’s prominent families, it has since disappeared amid the clutter of Interstate 85. The Goodman boys grew up on their father Fred’s 300-acre dairy farm. The family’s roots ran deep in that part of Cabarrus. The boys’ grandfather, C.J. Goodman, owned the ancestral homestead up the road.

Goodman was a three-sport star at Winecoff High School.[1] Although he was voted the best all-around athlete in the school as a senior in 1943, he wasn’t particularly noted for his baseball skills. He was the high scorer and captain of the basketball team for two seasons and a star halfback on the football team. As a baseball player, he was “steady and dangerous, but never spectacular,” a former teammate remembered.[IV]

It was during childhood that Goodman began honing his skills at various positions on the diamond. Small kids, he once explained, play more if they’re willing to go wherever needed. As a senior in high school, he often pitched one game and caught the next.

He played semipro ball for a season after he graduated and in 1944 signed with the Crackers in Atlanta, Georgia. Playing second base and in the outfield, Goodman was an All-Star for his first professional team, hitting .336 and leading the Class A Southern Association in runs scored.

Inducted into the Navy after the season, Goodman spent the remainder of World War II serving in the western Pacific.[2] He was discharged in June 1946 and was back with the Crackers a month later, picking up where he left off. He hit .389 in those last 86 games and .418 in the playoff.

The Red Sox bought his contract the following February for $75,000, or almost $900,000 today. He got his first look at major-league pitching during an intrasquad game that spring against Boo Ferris, who had won 25 games the previous season. Goodman reached for an outside pitch with “the ease of a grocer’s clerk reaching for a package of biscuits” and ripped a line double to left, reported the Sporting News.[V] Though he made his major-league debut in 1947, Goodman played in only a dozen games for the Red Sox before being sent to their Class AAA club in Louisville, Kentucky, where he hit .340.

Goodman made the big-league team in 1948 but cracking the starting lineup was a tall order. The Red Sox were a talented bunch that featured perennial All-Stars all over the field.[3] As would be the case for most of his career, Goodman didn’t have a starting position when the season began, but he was soon filling in for the injured Bobby Doerr at second base. He moved to first on May 25 after an injury sidelined another teammate and remained there for the rest of the season, finishing with a .310 average.

Over the next decade, Goodman became Boston’s one-man bench, competently filling in for injured or slumping teammates at numerous positions. The exception was 1950, one of the few seasons he started with an assigned role. He was slated to be the Red Sox’s first baseman, but irony intervened. He fractured his ankle early in the season, and Walt Dropo was called up from Louisville to take his place. Dropo started crushing homers at a steady pace and would end up leading the American League with 144 runs batted in. He would be named the league’s Rookie of Year.

When he returned after a few weeks, Goodman once again had nowhere to play. Then, the Red Sox’s stars started dropping with alarming regularity, but Goodman was there to step in: for Doerr at second, for Vern Stephens at short, for Johnny Pesky at third, even for the great Ted Williams in left. The loss of Williams, who broke his elbow during the All-Star Game, was considered a mortal blow to the team’s pennant hopes. “But Billy the Kid outWilliamsed Williams,” wrote Arthur Daley of The New York Times, “again giving the team that tremendous inspirational lift he always furnishes.”[VI]

He was hitting .355 by the first of August and was the top hitter in the American League. “I don’t care where I play, as long as I play,” he said.[VII]

Steve O’Neill, who had replaced McCarthy as the team’s manager during the season, had never seen anyone like Goodman. “I think he’d be able to pitch if I asked him to pitch,” he said. “He’s the marvel of baseball.”[VIII]

No marvel, however, could long take the place of the Splendid Splinter. Goodman would again be without a job when Williams returned in mid-September and without the required at bats to qualify for the batting crown. Pesky, though, made it easy on O’Neill. In an act of selflessness rare then and unheard of today, he volunteered to give up his position. “I’ll gladly sit on the bench if it means we will win the pennant,” Pesky, who was hitting .314 at the time, explained. “Steve (O’Neill) owes it to Bill to play him after what he’s done to keep the team up there.”[IX]

Goodman ended the season at third base. Though the Red Sox didn’t win the pennant – they came in third – the super utility man won the batting title going away with a .354 average. He finished second to the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

During his decade in Boston, Goodman was an All-Star twice but never played in a World Series. That happened in 1959 with the Chicago White Sox. He had been traded two years earlier to the Baltimore Orioles, with whom he had played a season before ending up in Chicago. Goodman platooned at first base for the “Go-Go” White Sox, which won their first pennant since the Black Sox scandal of 1919.[4] He batted .350 during the season and played in five of the six Series games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and got three hits, all singles.

Used sparingly during the next two seasons, Goodman angrily left the White Sox training camp after a salary dispute in 1962 and signed with the expansion Houston Colt 45s. He hit .255 in a utility role and was released at the end of the year.

After a season as the player/manager for the Durham, North Carolina, Bulls, Goodman spent 12 years as a minor-league instructor and scout for several teams. He retired from baseball in 1976.

Goodman had married Margaret Little, his childhood sweetheart, in 1947. They had moved to Sarasota, Florida, three years later where they had raised their two children. In the offseasons, Goodman would wake his daughter up for a breakfast he always made, pick her up at school, take her fishing or hunting and allow her to pal around with his close baseball friends, such as Pesky and Williams. “He was totally my idol, the coolest man I’ve ever known,” Kathy Goodman Simpkins remembered years later.[X]

After retiring, he continued to run his successful commercial real-estate business and to manage his 30-acre orange grove. He also helped Margaret with her antiques business. He became ill with multiple myeloma in 1983 and died a year later. Margaret was once asked if she ever thought of remarrying. “Oh no,” she said. “We grew up together and there’s one love in a lifetime, and I had him.”[XI]

She died in 2011.

Footnotes
[1] The first school opened on the site of the present elementary school in 1877. Martin Henderson Winecoff donated the land, cut the timber and helped build the school so that his children and those of his neighbors would have a local school to attend. C.J. Goodman, Billy’s grandfather, also donated land and provided housing for the teachers. The school has been a high school, middle school and elementary school. https://www.cabarrus.k12.nc.us/domain/1112.
[2] Billy Goodman was stationed in Ulithi, an atoll in the Caroline Islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean so tiny and remote that it was often left off maps. It’s made up of 40 islets almost 1,000 miles east of the Philippines. They total about two square miles of land, surrounding a lagoon. Most barely rise above the sea and only four are inhabited. The deep, calm anchorage afforded by the lagoon attracted the Navy, which made it a major staging area for in the final year of WWII.
[3] The Red Sox All-Stars during the 10 years Billy Goodman was on the team, 1947-56, and the number of times they were chosen: Left fielder, Ted Williams, 9;  second baseman Bobby Doerr, 4; shortstop Vern Stephens, 4; center fielder Dom DiMaggio, 4; catcher Birdie Tebbetts, 2; and right fielder Al Zarilla, 1.
[4] In the Black Sox Scandal , eight players with the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. In response, team owners appointed Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the major leagues’ first commissioner with absolute authority to restore the sport’s integrity. Landis banished the accused players from baseball.

References
[I] Anderson, Ron. “Billy Goodman.” Society of American Baseball Research. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/billy-goodman/.
[II] Hurwitz, Hy. “Jimmy Brown Sings Praises of Goodman and Babe Martin.” Boston Globe, April 9, 1948.
[III] Marin, Whitney. Associated Press. “Versatile Bill Goodman Keeping Bosox in Race.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, August 23, 1950.
[IV] Anderson.
[V] Anderson.
[VI] Daley, Arthur. “Sports of the Times.” The New York Times, February 2, 1951.
[VII] Ibid.
[VIII] Allen, Eddie. “Sports Asides.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, August 24, 1950.
[IX] Holbrook, Bob. “Pesky Suggested Goodman Stay In on Ted’s Return.” Boston Globe, September 15, 1950.
[X] “Art of the Red Sox: Baseball Great Billy Goodman Part of Rockwell Masterpiece.” Salisbury (NC) Post, May 11, 2014.
[XI] Anderson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fonville, Chad

Position: Second base, shortstop
Birthplace: Jacksonville

First, Middle Names: Chad Everette
Date of Birth:  March 5, 1971
Current Residence: Jacksonville

High School: White Oak High School, Jacksonville
College: Louisburg College, Louisburg, NC

Bats: S             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-6, 155
Debut Year: 1995       Final Year: 1999          Years Played: 4
Teams and Years: Montreal Expos, 1995; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1995-97; Chicago White Sox, 1997; Boston Red Sox, 1999

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
226   546    133     80       31        0          .244     .302     .269     0.0

In the City of Angels, Chad Fonville seemed heaven sent in the summer of 1995. He had spent most of his career in the remotest reaches of the minors. Few fans in Los Angeles had ever heard of him, but they soon loved the little guy who came off the bench to provide the spark the Dodgers needed to win their division. He hustled, swiped bases, got big hits, and exhibited a genuine enthusiasm for the game.

If heaven sent him, opposing pitchers dispatched him. Fed a constant diet of breaking balls, Fonville floundered the following year. His batting average plummeted. He was in the minors again before the season ended. Except for a few brief excursions back to the major leagues, that’s where he would remain until his retirement. He has spent the years since teaching, coaching and passing on his love of baseball to another generation.

Chad Everette Fonville was born in Jacksonville in 1971 to Charlie and Mary Yvonne Fonville. He was an all-conference baseball, basketball, and soccer player at White Oak High School and led the soccer team to a state championship in 1988.

Fonville attended Louisburg College, a private, two-year school in Louisburg, North Carolina, on a baseball scholarship. The switch-hitting shortstop hit .375 as a freshman in 1991 on a team that won 44 games and was ranked tenth in the nation among junior colleges. He was rated in the top 20 of junior-college players by Baseball America the following year when the San Francisco Giants chose him in the eleventh round of the amateur draft.

He spent the next three years on the lowest teams in the Giants’ farm system. Fonville hit over .300 at each stop and was among the leaders in stolen bases. The Giants, though,  never put Fonville on their major-league roster. That made him eligible in 1994 to be taken by another team. The Expos did, and he appeared in 14 games in Montreal before being waived in June and chosen by the Dodgers. According to the rules, such players have to remain on the major-league team for the season or be returned.[1]

Fonville was pressed into service on June 17 in Chicago after an injury to the Dodgers’ shortstop. He went four-for five. The ecstatic rookie called his mother after the game. He went three-for-four the next day and impressed Manager Tommy Lasorda with his speed, beating out two slow rollers. “The little guy might be there tomorrow,” he said of his new, 5-foot, six-inch shortstop. “He’s a streak of lightning going down the baseline.”[I]

He moved into the leadoff spot after slumping Delino DeShields went down with a leg ailment, and he continued to hit. Though his fielding was erratic, Fonville was batting .280 by mid-August as the Dodgers took over first place in their division. They had been a fourth-place team playing .500 ball when Fonville arrived. Lasorda even began treating the kid as his good-luck charm, removing Fonville’s hat and rubbing and kissing the top of his head when the team needed a big hit. What others saw as an exhibition of the manager’s over-the-top Dodger Blue spirit, the most-prominent black newspaper in town interpreted as a racial insult.

If Fonville minded, he didn’t complain publicly. He seemed to enjoy being the least likely success story in baseball. He had 12 at bats with the Expos when they put him on waivers. Before then, his career had consisted of 251 Class A games spread over three seasons. “I play hard every inning,” Fonville said. “I was blessed to get the opportunity to play here and I’m trying to take advantage of it. I’m having fun winning and being involved in a pennant race.”[II]

Though his future looked bright when the season ended, those four months would be the highlight of his major-league career. He was a player without a position when he reported to spring training in 1996. The Dodgers had resigned DeShields to play second and had signed free agent Greg Gagne for short. Fonville, Lasorda said, would be a “super” utility player.

Coaches lectured him during the exhibition season about being sullen and pouting over his status. He conceded that training camp was difficult, but he insisted that he was happy. “I’m not going to lie. It’s been tough. It’s not an easy job coming off the bench,” he said. “But I knew my role coming in. I knew I’d be a utility player.”[III]

Teammates’ injuries and slumps during the season once again gave him his chances, but opposing pitchers were ready the second time around. They were unrelenting with their breaking balls in the dirt that Fonville kept missing. He went into long hitting tailspins. That resulted in reduced playing time. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox in September.

He spent two seasons in the minors before appearing in three games for the Boston Red Sox in 1999. He retired two years later after a couple of more minor-league seasons. “My body was changing and I was getting older,” Fonville said. “I was just playing for the love of the game. I just played until I couldn’t play and that was it.”[IV]

Fonville returned to Jacksonville in 2006 where has coached baseball at area high schools. “Baseball has given me a lot, and now it’s my turn to give back in any way I can,” said Fonville.[v] 

Footnote
[1] The Montreal Expos chose Fonville in the Rule 5 Draft, which has been held every December since the current rule was established in 1985. The rule, with roots that reach back to 1892, allows players more opportunities to crack big-league rosters and prevents teams from stashing talented players in the minor leagues. While tweaks have made to the format over the years, the basic premise of the Rule 5 Draft has remained the same over the past five decades. Players who have spent multiple years in the minors (the current threshold is four or five seasons, depending on the age they signed their first contract) that are not protected on their affiliate’s 40-man roster can be selected by another team in the Rule 5 Draft.  A player selected in the draft is immediately added to his new team’s active roster, where he must remain for the entire season.

References
[I] Daley, Ken. “Fonville Making Persuasive Case for Playing Time.” Los Angeles Daily News, June 19, 1995.
[II] Malamud, Allan. “Notes on a Scorecard.” Los Angeles Times, August 16, 1995.
[III] It’s Hard to Tell, But Fonville’s Happy.” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1996.
[IV] Miller, Chris. “Fonville: Baseball Had Been Good to Me.” Jacksonville (NC) Daily News, April 27, 2013.
[V] Lingafelt, Lance Cpl. Jared. “Former MLB Baseball Player Gives Back to Community.” Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, June 19, 2014. https://www.dvidshub.net/news/133829/former-mlb-baseball-player-gives-back-community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young, Pep

Player Name: Young, Pep
Position: Second base
Birthplace: Jamestown

First, Middle Names: Lemuel Floyd  Nicknames: Pep, Whitey
Date of Birth:  Aug. 29, 1907  Date and Place of Death: Jan. 14, 1962, Jamestown           
Burial: Guilford Memorial Park, Greensboro, NC

High School: Jamestown High School, Jamestown   
College: Did not attend
Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-9, 162
Debut Year: 1933       Final Year: 1945          Years Played: 10
Teams and Years: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1933-40; Cincinnati Reds, 1941; St. Louis Browns, 1945

Awards: NC Sports Hall of Fame, 2000

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
730  2466  645   274     347     32       .262     .308     .380     6.0

For most of baseball’s history, players like Pep Young were the epitome of middle infielders. No one expected them to hit balls out of the park or drive in many runs. They had to field their positions with aplomb, expertly turn the double play and hit just well enough and at the right times. During his four years as a Pittsburgh Pirates’ starter, Young was considered the best defensive second baseman in the National League, while hitting a respectable .260. He teamed with Hall-of-Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan to give the Pirates the best double-play combination in the league.

Born in 1907 in Jamestown, a Quaker settlement in Guilford County, Young was the second of John, a mill worker, and Bertie Young’s six children. He pitched on area sandlot teams and then for old Jamestown High School.[1]

Young signed with Fayetteville, North Carolina, of the Class D Eastern League as an outfielder in 1928 and batted .307. He moved up a rung the following season to the Class C Piedmont League where he played second and the outfield for teams in Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina, and hit 22 home runs.

The Pirates, who bought his contract after the season, invited him to train with the big-league team in 1930, but Young spent most of the spring at home with an illness. He played three infield positions and everywhere in the outfield in the Pirate farm system during the next three years and was called to Pittsburgh late in the 1933 season. He was used as an utility infielder for the next two years until starting second baseman Cookie Lavagetto pulled a leg tendon in May 1935.

Manager Pie Traynor inserted his 27-year-old reserve into the lineup on May 18. Young hit .429 over the next month with six doubles, three triples and a homer. He endeared himself to fans at Forbes Field after collecting two triples and a pair of singles against Carl Hubbell in a home game against the hated New York Giants. “So enthusiastically did Pep fling himself into his work that it now appears nothing short of a broken leg will cause the erstwhile utility man and pinch hitter to vacate the newly won position in favor of Lavagetto’s return,” the Sporting News, baseball’s bible, gushed.[I]

His slick, acrobatic fielding was also turning heads. Dizzy Dean, the St. Louis Cardinal’s Hall-of-Fame pitcher, became an baseball announcer after his retirement who was known for his colorful use of fractured English. He once had this to say about Young, “Pep scampers all around and eats up them grounders like a little old owl picking up mice, and he don’t never drop none.”[II]

All that scampering impressed the great Honus Wagner, a Pirates’ coach when Young joined the team. He said he never saw anyone play with such hustle and pep. The name stuck. Young had been called Whitey in the minors because of his light, blonde hair.[III]

He and Vaughan anchored the Pirates’ infield through much of the late 1930s. They turned 120 doubles plays in 1938 to lead the league. The Giants tried to trade for Young that season to shore up their infield for a pennant run. The deal went through until the Pirates had second thoughts and called if off. “We owned Pep Young for a few hours one night last June,” said Horace Stoneman, the Giants’ owner. “Young would have made the difference in the pennant race. The deal would have made us and ruined them.”[IV]

The Pirates released Young at the end of the 1940 season after he suffered through a couple of injury-plagued, lackluster years. The Brooklyn Dodgers picked him up in October and traded him to the Cincinnati Reds two months later. Young appeared in four games in 1941 and was released after the season. He pinch hit in two games for the St. Louis Cardinals late that season. He spent three years in the minors before returning briefly to St. Louis in 1945. He left baseball the following year after another season in the minors.

He returned to Jamestown where he had driven trucks and worked in the area mills during the offseasons and where he and his wife, Mabel, had raised their two children. He was working as a shipping clerk in one of those mills in 1962 when he died of a heart attack. He was only 54.

Young was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.


Footnote
[1]Also known as Jamestown Public School, the historic school building was built in 1915. It is a 2 1/2-story, Classical Revival style brick building with cast stone detailing. It features a full-height tetrastyle entrance portico supported by Ionic order columns and pilasters. The building underwent a major rehabilitation in 1986 and 1987 and now houses the public library. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

References
[I] “Floyd Linwell (sp.) (Pep) Young.” Sporting News (St. Louis, MO), June 13, 1935.
[II] Firesheets, Tina. “Pep Young\Jamestown Resident Steve Crichfield Shares Story About Baseball Star From the 1930s.” News & Records (Greensboro, NC), October 18, 2003.
[III] Ibid.
[IV] Russell, Fred. “Sideline Sidelights.” Nashville (TN) Banner, August 29, 1938.

 

 

Cole, Stu

Position: Second base
Birthplace: Charlotte

First, Middle Names: Stewart Bryan
Date of Birth:  Feb. 7, 1966                           

Current Residence: Charlotte

High School: South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte
College: University of North Carolina- Charlotte

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6.1, 175
Debut Year: 1991       Final Year: 1991          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Kansas City Royals, 1991

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1          7          1          1            0          0          .143       .333     .143       0.1

Stu Cole’s baseball career probably didn’t turn out as he had hoped when the Kansas City Royals drafted him out of University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1987. He didn’t become a big-league star. There were no dives at second base to save a World Series game, no dramatic homers in the ninth to win one, no film clips on ESPN. In fact, his major-league playing days were over almost as soon as they began: one month, one game started, one hit.

Yet, here he is all those years later, a respected elder in the game and a mentor to hundreds of young players. Cole celebrated 25 years with the Colorado Rockies’ organization in 2020. Most of that time was spent as a minor-league manager, but Cole has been a fixture in the third-base coaching box at Coors’ Field for eight years.

“Just to see the guys come up through the organization, to watch them improve and make it to the big leagues has been very rewarding,” Cole said in a Denver Post podcast in 2019. “It’s been a joy to see guys get better and know you were a part of it.”[I]

Cole had played baseball since his childhood in Charlotte. As a 12-year-old, he starred on an all-black little league team that won a state championship. He lettered in baseball and football at South Mecklenburg High School and played baseball at UNC-Charlotte.

It took him four years to work his way up the Royals’ farm system, making his big-league debut on Sept. 5, 1991. He got seven at bats over the next month. One resulted in a single, his only hit in the major leagues. “You always dream about playing in the big leagues and to go and make that dream come true and to participate and get a big-league hit,” Cole said in that podcast. “That’s something that can never be taken away from you. It was something special and I will always treasure that moment.”[II]

Cole was back in the minors in 1992. He was playing for Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Rockies’ Triple A club, three years later when his knees began aching. He had had two previous knee surgeries and didn’t want another. He retired at age 29.

He became a Rockies’ minor-league manager in 2001, managing in more than 1,600 games at every level of the team’s farm system for the next 12 years. He was named the Manager of the Year Award in 2003 in the California League. Cole joined the big-league club as its third-base coach in 2012.

Cole still lives in Charlotte with his wife, Maria. They have two children.

Footnotes
[I] Newman, Kyle. Episode 91, Stu Cole. On the Rox podcast. Denver (CO.) Post. May  2, 2019. https://soundcloud.com/rockiespodcast/ep-91-rockies-third-base-coach-stu-cole.

[II] Ibid.

 

Brown, Jimmy

Position: Second base, third base, shortstop
Birthplace: Jamesville

Full Name: James Roberson  

Date of Birth:  April 25, 1910 Date and Place of Death: Dec. 29, 1977, Bath
Burial: Brown Family Cemetery, Jamesville

High School: Jamesville High School 
College: N.C. State University, Raleigh

Bats: Both                   Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-8, 165
Debut Year: 1937       Final Year: 1946          Years Played: 8
Teams and Years: St. Louis Cardinals, 1937-43; Pittsburgh Pirates, 1946
Awards: All-Star, 1942

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
890    3512    980    465      319      9          .279     .326     .352     8.6

There was a time in baseball when players like Jimmy Brown were called pepper pots. Such players were, like the 5-8 Brown, small in stature but scrappy in nature. Like him, their uniforms were always dirty, and their shirttails were usually hanging out. Also, like Brown, they played aggressively, attacking every pitch and diving for every ball. And they were loud. Brown’s rapid-fire chatter in the infield was once compared to one of those tobacco auctioneers back home.

Brown anchored the pre-World War II infield for the St. Louis Cardinals for seven years, playing every position but first base. One of the toughest batters to strikeout in the National League, he usually led off and hit .300 or close to it most seasons. His .279 career batting average ties for 20th place among North Carolina players with at least 1,000 at bats. He was an all star one of those seasons and a Word Series victor.

Mike Gonzalez, a Cardinals’ coach, once said this about the team’s spark plug, as relayed by a sportswriter trying to mimic his Cuban accent: “I satisfy if I have nine Jingy Browns. I do win plenty pennant and make many buckerinos.”

Brown grew up on a small farm along the Roanoke River in Martin County. Tragedy struck when Brown’s father, Archie, was killed in an accident when Jimmy was a teenager. His mother, Dare, struggled to raise her nine children.

A pitcher and shortstop at old Jamesville High School, Brown could throw effectively with either arm. A natural right-hander, he had taught himself to throw left handed after breaking his right arm as a child.

Brown was in and out of N.C. State College, probably because his money kept running out, and he left for good before the end of his senior year in 1933 to sign with the Cardinals.

After struggling at the plate during his second year in the minors, Brown learned to switch hit and batted .309 in 1936. He was in the majors the following year.

Brown was one of the leaders of the 1942 Cardinals team that closed a 10-game gap and overtook the first-place Brooklyn Dodgers by winning 44 of its last 53 games. The team included fellow North Carolinian Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial, playing his first full year, in the outfield. They went on to beat the heavily favored N.Y. Yankees in the World Series.

 That was also the year that Brown was selected as an all star, though he hit just .256, the lowest in his major-league career. He did, however, knock in 71 runs from the leadoff position.

Drafted into the Army in 1943, Brown spent the war coaching baseball and basketball teams at a base in Tennessee.

The Cardinals sold Brown for $30,000 to the Pittsburgh Pirates when he returned to the majors in 1946. The layoff had eroded bis batting eye and age – he was 36, old for an infielder –had sapped his speed. He hit .241 that season as a part-time player. He was credited, however, in helping defeat another union attempt.

Robert Murphy, a Harvard-educated labor lawyer from Boston, formed the American Baseball Guild in 1946 to unionize major-league players. It was at least the fourth attempt to organize players against the tyranny of team owners who controlled every aspect of a player’s career. Murphy wanted the teams to set minimum salaries for its players, provide for arbitration to settle salary disputes and grievances, and allow players who are sold to get a share of the purchase price.

Murphy chose the Pirates for the union’s first test because of the city’s large union workforce. He claimed to have induced most of the players to join the guild, but William Benswanger, the team’s owner, wouldn’t negotiate. Murphy called for a strike on Friday, June 7, a night game at the Pirates’ Forbes Field. Two-thirds of the team had to approve the strike.

At a tense, players-only meeting on the day of the game, support for the strike collapsed after fierce opposition from Brown and pitcher Rip Sewell. The vote fell four shy of the required super majority. Fans booed the home team when the Pirates took the field that night. About a month after the vote, four men attacked Brown outside the ballpark. He said the men were drunk and that he didn’t know the reason for the attack. Brown wasn’t badly hurt.

Brown never publicly explained his opposition. He was among the highest-paid players on the team. He also was at the end of his career and from a state where unions weren’t popular.

In any case, Brown retired as an active player at the end of the season. Maybe as a reward for his loyalty, the Pirates gave him the managing job at their top farm club in Triple A. That began a 13-year career as a manager in the minor and winter leagues.

 Brown left baseball for good in 1964, and he and his wife, Sarah, lived the rest of their lives on a farm in Bath.