Abernathy, Tal

Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Bynum

First, Middle Names: Talmadge Lafayette         Nicknames: Ted, Tal

Date of Birth:  Oct. 30, 1921  Date and Place of Death: Nov. 16, 2001, Charlotte
Burial:  Olney Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Gastonia, NC

High School: Mebane High School, Mebane, NC
College: Elon University, Elon, NC

Bats: R             Throws: L                    Height and Weight: 6-2, 210
Debut Year: 1942       Final Year: 1944          Years Played: 3
Team and Years: Philadelphia Athletics, 1942-44

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA                 IP         SO       WAR
7          0          3          0       11.07               20.1     13        -1.2

Connie Mack was in a bind. The manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, Mack lost nine players to the armed services in 1942. To shore up his depleted pitching staff, he signed a 20-year-old lefthander with a stellar college career.

Talmadge Abernathy, who went variously by the names Ted or Tal, was born to a large family in Bynum, a cotton mill town on the banks of the Haw River in Chatham County. He did most of his growing up, though, in Mebane, North Carolina, in neighboring Alamance County where his father, John, worked in a hosiery mill.

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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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Coble, Dave

Primary Position: Catcher
Birthplace: Monroe

First, Middle Names: David Lamar
Date of Birth:  Dec. 24, 1912  Date and Place of Death: Oct. 16, 1971, Orlando, FL
Burial: Lakeland Memorial Park, Monroe, FL

High School: Undetermined
College: Wingate University, Wingate, NC; University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-1, 183
Debut Year: 1939       Final Year: 1939          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Philadelphia Phillies, 1939

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
15        25        7          2          0          0          .280     .280     .320     -0.2

First, it was the Washington Monument. Then, a skyscraper in Cleveland. Pretty soon baseballs were being tossed off tall structures and even out of airplanes and blimps all over the major leagues, and down on the ground players tried to catch them. Some lost teeth or broke noses. One was knocked clean out.

John Lardner, Ring’s son, was a pretty fair sportswriter himself. He once tried to explain what he called “the morbid lure” of this odd pastime that flourished during the early part of the 20th century. He thinks Walter Johnson inadvertently had something to do with it. The great Washington Senators pitcher and Hall of Famer was the hardest thrower anyone had ever seen in that era before radar guns. He was called The Big Train because, after all, locomotives were the fastest things anyone had ever seen. Gabby Street, Johnson’s catcher on the Senators, liked to encourage the legend of Walter’s blinding speed. A ham of the first order, Street often showed newspaper photographers how he shoved a raw steak in his mitt to protect his hand.

“And when fertile minds began to speculate on the possibility of this great catcher holding real, superhuman speed – the speed of gravity – there was the Washington Monument ready at hand,” Lardner wrote.[I]

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Cole, Alex

Position: Centerfield
Birthplace: Fayetteville

First, Middle Names: Alexander Jr.
Date of Birth:  Aug. 17, 1965                         

Current Residence: Undetermined

High School: Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe High School, Richmond, VA
College: State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, FL

Bat: L   Throws: L        Height and Weight: 6-0, 170
Debut Year: 1990       Final Year: 1996          Years Played: 7
Team(s) and Years: Cleveland Indians, 1990-92; Pittsburgh Pirates, 1992; Colorado Rockies, 1993; Minnesota Twins, 1994-95; Boston Red Sox, 1996

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
573   1760  493   288     117      5          .280     .360     .351     +4.2

Awards/Honors: Boys of Summer Top 100

Alex Cole arrived in the major leagues accompanied by the promise of stardom. He departed seven seasons later as merely a good player, his road to greatness blocked by injuries and indifferent outfield play. His life later spiraled out of control into the depths of drugs and included time in federal prison.

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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
9         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.

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