Primary Position: Pinch hitter
First, Middle Names: Roy Theophilus
Date of Birth: May 30, 1926 Date and Place of Death: Nov. 13, 1986, Concord, NC
Burial: Greenlawn Cemetery, China Grove, NC
High School: Kannapolis High School, Kannapolis, NC
College: Did Not Attend
Bats: L Throws: L Height and Weight: 6-0, 175
Debut Year: 1953 Final Year: 1953 Years Played: 1
Team and Year: St. Louis Browns, 1953
G AB H R RBI HR BA. OBP. SLG. WAR
9 8 2 3 1 1 .250 .333 .625 0.0
Dixie Upright hit everywhere he went in the minors. At his first stop in 1947, a lowly Class D league in Oklahoma, he scorched the ball at a .360 clip. Promoted up the ladder, he continued to hit: .336 in Class B, .343 in Class A, .300 in Class AA. Once, in a doubleheader in Memphis, Tennessee, he reached base nine consecutive times. He often challenged for batting titles each season and was among the league leaders in home runs and runs batted in. When he was done after 12 seasons in the minor leagues, he boasted a career .311 average. Yes, Dixie could hit.
About the only place he didn’t was in St. Louis, Missouri. The American League’s Browns bought his contract in 1953 after Upright had hit .318 for the Memphis Chicks the previous season. He appeared in nine games in early May as a pinch hitter. He got two hits, including a home run against future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians. It wasn’t enough, however. The Browns sold him to the Chicago Cubs who promptly sent him back to the minors, where he remained until he retired in 1958. By the way, he hit .343 that final season.
“He would always say that he was good with the wood but not the glove,” said his wife, Marcelle, years later.[I]
After a season as a minor-league scout, Upright returned to Kannapolis, North Carolina, where he was born in 1926. His father, Gother, spent most of his life working for Cannon Mills, the local company that then was the largest towel and sheets manufacturer in the world. His mother, Marie, had her hands full with seven children. Roy Theophlus was the second oldest of the brood.
Growing up, he was known as Bud to his brothers and sisters and to everyone else in town. Like so many other Southerners, he was tagged with the unimaginative nickname during his first year in the minors. It stuck. He was forever Dixie, even to his family and friends back home.
Upright played first base and the outfield at Kannapolis High School and for the local American Legion team. He enlisted in the Army after graduating in 1944 and spent World War II at a base in California. He was playing semipro ball in Kannapolis after his discharge when the Pittsburgh Pirates signed him to his first professional contract.
After his career, Upright sold furniture at several local stores. He served on the executive board of the local Chamber of Commerce and raised money for the blind and for disabled children as a member of the Lions and Optimists clubs. For his humanitarian efforts, Upright received the state’s Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.
He died of an undisclosed illness in 1986 at age 60. His obituary lists no children.
[I] DeAdwyler. Ted. “R.T. ‘Dixie’ Upright, Ex-Baseball Player.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, Nov. 15, 1986.