Lewis, Buddy

Primary Positions: Third base, right field
Birthplace: Gaston County

First, Middle Names:  John Kelly Jr.
Date of Birth:  Aug. 10, 1916  Date and Place of Death: Feb. 18, 2011, Gastonia, NC
Burial: Cremated

High School: Lowell High School, Lowell, NC
College: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Bats: L Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-1, 175
Debut Year: 1935        Final Year: 1949          Years Played: 11
Team and Years: Washington Senators, 1935-41; 1945-47; 1949

Awards/Honors: NC Sports Hall of Fame, 1975; All-Star, 1938, 1947; Boys of Summer Top 100

Career Summary
G             AB         H           R            RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1349    5261    1563    839     607      71        .297     .368     .420     +29.1

The “baby of the American League” is what they called Buddy Lewis when he broke in as the starting third baseman for the Washington Senators in 1935.[I] He was all of 19 years old, just a year or so removed from American Legion ball back home in Gastonia, North Carolina. Sportswriters speculated whether one razor blade would last him the season.

He may have been a fresh-faced teenager but there was a reason why he was starting in the majors. He could hit, and he only got better as he matured — and presumably needed more razor blades. For nine seasons, Lewis was a reliable presence atop the Senators’ lineup, hitting close to .300 each year. No telling how much better he would have been if he didn’t take three years off to fight a war. Unlike so many ballplayers who spent World War II entertaining troops by playing ball, Lewis was in the thick of it, flying transport planes on almost 400 missions over the Himalayas to ferry supplies and commandos behind enemy lines. He came back a hero, though he never thought of himself as such, and one of the most decorated of major leaguers with a Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal.

But he wasn’t the same player. Time robbed him of skills and the war stanched his appetite for a game. He played only two full seasons after he returned, and his batting average diminished. Though only 33, the lifelong Gaston County resident retired and returned home where he owned a car dealership that gradually made him wealthy. He lived a long, quiet life, became a respected elder and a devoted supporter of the American Legion, where his baseball career had begun.

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Hart, Jim Ray

Primary Position: Third base
Birthplace: Hookerton
First, Middle Names:  James Ray

Date of Birth:  Oct. 30, 1941   Date and Place of Death: May 19, 2016, Acampo, CA
Burial: Cremated

High School: Snow Hill Colored High School, Snow Hill, NC
College: Did not attend

Bats: R Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 185
Debut Year: 1963        Final Year: 1974          Years Played: 12
Team and Years: San Francisco Giants, 1963-73; New York Yankees, 1973-74

Awards/Honors: All Star, 1966; Boys of Summer Top 100

Career Summary
G            AB         H           R            RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1125    3783    1052    518      578      170     .278     .345     .467     +24.9

Jim Ray Hart was celebrating his successful major-league debut in the Giants’ clubhouse at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on that Sunday afternoon in July 1963. The 21-year-old sharecropper’s son from the cotton fields of North Carolina was a rising star. He had hit with power and consistency during his brief tenure in the minors, winning two batting titles and impressing old pros who compared him to the likes of Henry Aaron and Ted Williams. His performance that day in the first game of a double header suggested there might be something to such talk, that this kid with a booming bat might make it in the majors. Hart had two hits, knocked in a run, and scored one in a 15-inning thriller against the St. Louis Cardinals that his team won 4-3. The affable farm boy was all smiles afterwards, clutching the game ball his manager had given him and high-fiving teammates. One noted somberly, though, that he’d face Bob Gibson in the nightcap.

“Who’s Bob Gibson?” the rookie asked.[I]

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Lindsay, Bill

Primary Position: Third base
Birthplace: Madison

First, Middle Names:  William Gibbon
Date of Birth:  Feb. 24, 1881  Date and Place of Death: July 14, 1963, Greensboro, NC
Burial: New Garden Cemetery, Greensboro, NC

High School: Undetermined
College: Guilford College, Greensboro, NC; Haverford College, Haverford, PA; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Bats: L Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-10, 165
Debut Year: 1911        Final Year: 1911          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Cleveland Naps, 1911

Career Summary
G          AB       H          R          RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
19        66      16        6          5            0          .242     .265     .273       0.0

Bill Lindsay’s major-league line isn’t particularly impressive: 19 games, 16 hits, five runs batted in, .242 batting average. As listed by major baseball references, his collegiate lineup, however, is All-Star caliber: Guilford College, Haverford College, Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Tulane University. Could this farm boy from Rockingham County, North Carolina, be the best-educated man to ever put on a baseball uniform?

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Goodman, Billy

Primary 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

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

Awards/Honors: NC Sports Hall of Fame, 1969; batting title, 1950; All-Star, 1949, 1952; Boys of Summer Top 100

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]

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Hodgin, Ralph

Primary Positions: Left field, third base
Birthplace: Greensboro

First, Middle Names: Elmer Ralph
Date of Birth:  Feb. 10, 1915  Date and Place of Death: Oct. 4, 2011, Burlington, NC
Burial: Guilford Memorial Park, Greensboro

High School: Jamestown High School, Jamestown, NC
College: Did Not Attend

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-10, 167
Debut Year: 1939       Final Year: 1948          Years Played: 6
Teams and Years: Boston Bees 1939; Chicago White Sox 1943-44, 1946-48

 Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
530      1689    481      198      188      4          .285     .330     .367     5.1

Awards/Honors: Boys of Summer Top 100

When he took the mound at Briggs Stadium in Detroit on that cold, windy April day for his second start of the 1947 season, Hal Newhouser could legitimately claim to be the best pitcher in the American League. Playing for his hometown Tigers, the 26-year-old lefty had won 80 games over the past three years and two Most-Valuable Player Awards.

The pitcher who faced the visiting Chicago White Sox on that April day, however, wasn’t that Hal Newhouser. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe the stiff wind blowing off Lake Erie carried with it the raw rookie, the wild Newhouser of 1939 or ’40 who walked six or seven batters a game.

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