Nixon, Otis

Primary Position: Center field
Birthplace: Evergreen

First, Middle Names: Otis Junior
Date of Birth:  Jan. 9, 1959
Current Residence: Woodstock, Georgia

High School: West Columbus High School, Cerro Gordo, NC
College: Louisburg College, Louisburg, NC

Bats: Both       Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-2, 180|
Debut Year: 1983        Final Year: 1999          Years Played: 17
Teams and Years: New York Yankees, 1983; Cleveland Indians, 1984-87; Montreal Expos, 1988-90; Atlanta Braves, 1991-93, 1999; Boston Red Sox, 1994; Texas Rangers, 1995; Toronto Blue Jays, 1996-97; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1997; Minnesota Twins, 1998

Awards/Honors: Tarheel Boys of Summer Top 100

Career Summary
G             AB       H             R          RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1709    5115    1379    878    318      11        .270     .343     .327     +16.6

Otis Nixon stood at second base and basked in the moment. More than 27,000 people were on their feet in Fulton County Stadium on that steamy July night in Georgia in 1991, showering applause down on a man most had never heard of when he arrived in Atlanta just a few months earlier. The Braves then thought they had traded for a journeyman speedster who could steal a base and fill the occasional hole in the outfield. “The Braves might as well have traded for Richard,” a hometown sports columnist quipped, referring to the former president. “Neither had been able to hold a steady job in the big leagues.”[I]

Instead, the team and its fans got a wizard, a spinner of dreams. At second base, holding the bag high over his head, was the guy maybe most responsible for a remarkable season that had the basement Braves knocking on the penthouse door. Nixon had just stolen his 59th base, breaking a team season record that had been set in 1913, back in days of spitballs and Model Ts, back when the Braves were still in their ancestral Boston home. He led the National League in stolen bases and was third in hitting. More important, he was the ignitor atop a suddenly potent lineup that had powered the Braves to second place in their division, a mere four games off the pace. “Before the game I was thinking it would not be that big of a deal until several years down the road when I looked back on the moment, but it did feel really good when I did it,” Nixon said then of his record-breaking larceny. “Winning the division, though, is what’s really important.”[II]

The Braves did and went on to their first pennant in more than 30 years, but not before the other Otis Nixon showed up, the one who would burn through four marriages and whose drug use would grab headlines. The struggle between talent and temptation would mark Nixon’s career. Suspended by the baseball commissioner in September for twice testing positive for cocaine, he sat with strangers in a rehab center and watched his teammates in the World Series.

Nixon played for 17 years in the majors – only four North Carolinians have played longer — but those three seasons in Atlanta in the early 1990s were his best. The man who had been used mainly for his legs established himself as an everyday player. He hit close to .300 during that span, stole bases with abandon, and roamed the outfield with aplomb. His leaping catch in 1992 to rob the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andy Van Slyke of a home run became a signature moment in the history of a franchise that would dominate the decade.

Nixon retired at age 40 as the most prolific base stealer North Carolina has ever produced. His 620 career stolen bases are almost triple the total of the second-place finisher, Brian Roberts. He is among the top 20 in six other offensive categories and ranks 40th in the Tarheel Boys of Summer Top 100.

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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.

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Hodge, Gomer

Primary Position: Pinch hitter
Birthplace: Rutherfordton

First, Middle Names: Harold Morris
Nickname: Gomer

Date of Birth:  April 3, 1944    Date and Place of Death: May 13, 2007, Saluda, NC
Burial: West Memorial Baptist Church Cemetery, Rutherfordton

High School: Rutherford-Spindale Central High School, Rutherfordton
College: Did Not Attend

Bats: Both       Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-2, 185
Debut Year: 1971        Fina Year: 1971           Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Cleveland Indians, 1971

Career Summary
G          AB       H          R          RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
80      83        17        3          9            1          .205     .256     .277      -0.6

For a few weeks in the spring of 1971, a country boy from the hills of North Carolina with an endearing grin and an aw-shucks demeanor captured the hearts of the long-suffering fans of a moribund baseball team. He gave them something they hadn’t had in a decade: Hope. The dreams melted in despair as the loses again piled up and the season turned out like every other but this time, in the wake of the losing, a legend remained.

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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.

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Bibby, Jim

Primary Position: Starting pitcher
Birthplace: Franklinton

First, Middle Names:  James Blair
Date of Birth:  Oct. 29, 1944   Date and Place of Death: Feb. 16, 2010, Lynchburg, VA
Burial: Briarwood Memorial Gardens, Amherst, VA

High School: B.F. Person-Albion High School, Franklinton, NC
Colleges: Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC; University of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, VA

Bats: R Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-5, 235
Debut Year: 1972        Final Year: 1984          Years Played: 12
Teams and Years: St. Louis Cardinals, 1972-73; Texas Rangers, 1973-75; Cleveland Indians, 1975-77; Pittsburg Pirates, 1978-81, 1983; Rangers, 1984

Career Summary
G          W        L          Sv        ERA     IP           SO         WAR
340    111      101     8          3.76     1722.2  1079    +19.4

Awards/Honors: All-Star, 1980; Boys of Summer Top 100

Jim Bibby was a late bloomer. He was nearly 28 years old when he debuted in the major leagues and almost 36 before he became a consistent, winning pitcher. Just as he was on the cusp of stardom, though, his right arm failed him. The surgery was successful; the comeback wasn’t. He spent his later years teaching minor leaguers how to pitch and took great pleasure when one of his kids made the big time.

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