Position: Relief, starting pitcher
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
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.
Tal pitched for the local high school and went on to nearby Elon College where, as a freshman in 1939, he tossed a no-hitter in his first start for the varsity squad. He also set a school record that year by twice striking out 17 batters in game. Abernathy went 13-2 over the next two seasons, leading Elon to consecutive conference championships. World War II forced the school to suspend its baseball program in 1942, but Abernathy left enough of a mark to attract Mack’s attention.
Abernathy pitched parts of three seasons for the Athletics, shuttling back and forth to the minors. He saw his most playing time in 1943 when he started two games, but he gave up 21 earned runs in 14.2 innings. He appeared in one game the following year, his last in the major leagues.
It was a time, though, when a player could hang on in the minors. Abernathy pitched five more years, compiling a 79-67 record in 238 minor-league games.
During the 1948 season, Abernathy made his managerial debut as the player-manager of two Carolina League teams in North Carolina, the Burlington Bees and the Reidsville Luckies. He was fined during his tenure with the Bees for throwing a baseball out of the park after an argument with an umpire. Abernathy later apologized to his teammates and promised to buy them all a steak if he were ever fined again.
Abernathy, his wife, Ruby, and their eventual six children continued to live in Mebane during his baseball career. He was a member of civic groups and the high-school booster club. The family even won an honorable mention in Mebane’s annual Christmas decoration competition in 1948.
With his playing days over the following year, Abernathy began a long career in textiles with Dixie Mercerizing Co. in 1951 in Burlington, North Carolina. A job for American and Efird Mills and Textiles brought him to Gastonia in the 1960s. He was also the North Carolina sales engineer for Saco-Lowell, then the largest maker of textile machinery in the world
Abernathy was inducted into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.
He and Ruby were still living in Gastonia when Abernathy died in 2001 at the age of 80. Ruby died the following year.