Sunday, June 26, 2016



Banned from the sport he loved so dearly, Joseph Jefferson Jackson toured the South playing for the love of the game and the bounties of the baseball promoters. Thousands of adoring fans surrounded sandy diamonds throughout the Southeast eager to catch a glimpse of the man they called "Shoeless Joe."   Back in 1925, this unjust exile played two games in Dublin, never losing a step from the decade of the 1910s, when Joe Jackson was one of baseball's greatest players.

Joe Jackson was born in South Carolina in 1887.  At the age of six,  he began to work in the textile mills, which were a dominant part of his community's economy.  Upon his becoming a teenager, Joe was asked to join the mill's baseball team.  Since he worked half of every day in the mill, with an occasional break to play ball, Joe never obtained any degree of education, a misfortune which would haunt him for the rest of his life.    On Saturdays he would pick up a few dollars by playing baseball.  By the time he was twenty, Joe signed to play semi-pro ball with the Greenville Spinners for a lucrative $75.00 per month.  By the end of August, he made it to the major leagues, but disappointedly, Joe only played in five games. Jackson returned to the minor leagues,  only to return to the big leagues in 1910 as a member of the Cleveland Indians  of the American League.

As a rookie in 1911, Joe batted .408, the first and only rookie ever to exceed the highly coveted level of batting supremacy.  His batting average dipped to .395 in 1912, but the twenty-five-year-old phenom led the league in triples.  The following year Jackson led the league in hits and slugging average.    In 1915, Jackson was traded to the White Sox for cash and three players.    For the next five seasons, Joe Jackson was a terror in the batter's box,  never falling below .300.

Joe Jackson's colorful nickname was reportedly penned on him during a mill league game against a team from Anderson, South Carolina.    Joe supposedly discarded a new pair of spikes when they began to rub blisters on his feet.  He played the rest of the game in his stocking feet.  During his first plate appearance without shoes, Joe stroked a triple deep into the outfield, prompting an opposing fan to shout, "You shoeless son of gun, you!"

The zenith of Joe's career came in 1919 when his team, the Chicago White Sox, faced the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. The Sox lost the best of nine series, five games to three.  During the series, Joe was the only player to hit a home run and played outstanding ball in the field and at the plate.   Joe continued to excel in 1920, posting a .385 average and leading the league in triples for the third time.  Joe and seven other White Sox players, an octette dubbed the "Black Sox," were implicated in a scandal which accused Joe and his teammates of throwing the series.  Joe and the others were suspended from baseball until their fate could be determined.

In 1921, Joe Jackson was acquitted of any malfeasance in the series by a Chicago jury.  Despite his exoneration, he was banned from baseball for life by Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball's first commissioner, for his failure to disclose his knowledge of the conspiracy.  He returned home to Savannah, where he opened a  lucrative dry-cleaning business.   But as soon as the temperatures of the spring began to rise, offers for his services on semi-pro teams throughout the South and the North came pouring in. In the summer of 1923, Joe began the season playing in Bastrop, Louisiana. Near the middle of the season, Joe accepted an offer by a team from Americus, Georgia.  He led the team to the championship of the South Georgia League, batting .453 in 25 games and .500 in the league championship series over Albany.  He even pitched one inning, surrendering one base on balls,  but no hits or runs.    After the end of the South Georgia League season, Joe played with the railroad team out of Waycross, Georgia.  In 1924, Jackson led the Waycross Coast Liners to the Georgia Championship, doubling as the team's manager during the last half of the season.

In his last full professional season with Waycross in 1925, Joe played center field and managed the Coast Liners to an impressive record of 63-19-3.    The Waycross team played teams from Georgia, as well as ones from Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.    On June 22, 1925, the Coast Liners played the Right of Ways from Macon, Georgia, a team fielded by the Central of Georgia Railroad, on the 12th District Fairgrounds in Dublin.  The ball field, located at the western corner of Telfair and Troup streets, was the scene of a 1918 game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Braves and games between Oglethorpe University and the University of Georgia and the St. Louis "Gas House Gang" Cardinals in 1933 and 1935.

Regretfully, only sketchy details of the game have survived.  Joe's team won the first game, 8-7 on a field described as "rough and in very bad condition."    While no box score was published in the Macon Telegraph, Jackson was credited with leading his team to victory.   After the game, the field was improved for the next day's game, in which the Macon boys won by the score of  11-7.   A third game was apparently canceled, and the teams played two more games in Macon the following weekend.

One of "Shoeless Joe's" teammates on the 1925 Coast Liner team was William C. Webb.  Webb was born in Adrian, Georgia in 1903.  He graduated from Adrian High School and played college ball at Sparks Junior College.  Webb played under Jackson, whom he described as "a good baseball man." In a 2001 interview with John Bell, author of "Shoeless Summer" and "Georgia Class D Minor League Encyclopedia," Webb said of Jackson "Even though he was not educated, he had the ability to make managerial decisions that almost always turned out well.  He was a player's manager, who led by example and had great respect for his players."  Webb admired Jackson, who once let the country boy bat with his famous bat "Black Betsy," a hand-fashioned stick of hickory with a slight bend and which sounded like he hit a brick when he struck the ball.   Webb told his interviewer that he often had to help the uneducated superstar by assisting him in signing his name on the back of his paychecks.  Webb went on to play semi-pro ball well into his thirties.

Joe continued to play some mill league and semi-pro ball until 1941, when he played his first and last night games at the age of fifty-four, belting two home runs in a single game, when most men his age have long given up hopes of playing the game of their youth.  His statistics after 1925 are very scant.  Joe often played under assumed names.  Foster Taylor, the former beloved Mayor of Rentz, Georgia, always recalled the time that he played in a game with the great "Shoeless Joe."   Joe Jackson operated a liquor store and barbecue restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina until his death at the age of 64 on December 5, 1951.

More than a half century after his death, sincere and enduring baseball fans and former players are still seeking to add the name of Joseph Jefferson Jackson to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After all is said and done, he was absolved of any wrong doing by a jury of his peers and was a player whose .356 lifetime batting average is the 3rd highest in baseball history.  Maybe one day when the  summer skies are brightly shining in Cooperstown, New York, the announcer will step up to the podium and announce the name of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson to his rightful place among the ultimate immortals of the country's national pastime.


“The Great Gorton”

Ron Gorton came to Dublin, Georgia sixty years ago to play baseball.  Before he turned twenty-four years old, Ron’s professional baseball career was over.  Ron had two strikes against him, but he was not out - not yet.  In addition to his short-lived career on the diamond, Ron Gorton worked in a major circus, quarterbacked a major college football team, garnered two  boxing championship belts, appeared in a half dozen TV dramas and produced a major motion picture - all before he was thirty years old.  This is the story of a former Dublin Irishman baseball player and his remarkably unbelievable career on and off the field.


     Ronald Gorton was born on October 3, 1933 in Stamford, Connecticut.   Gorton’s star first shined as a member of Gorton High School’s Stamford Black Knights.  In his senior year, Ron was class vice president and co-MVP of the football team.  In his early teens, the adventurous athlete ran away from home to work in the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

“There was nothing he couldn’t do athletically,”  his friend Greg Michie told Bob Kennedy of the Stamford Daily Advocate. Teammate Fred Dugan echoed Michie’s belief that Ron could have been an all star at anything he wanted and agreed that Gorton (center left)  was always looking toward his next adventure.

As a sophomore, Ron Gorton was tapped as the savior of football at Villanova University. He was charged with the task of making the Wildcats the “Notre Dame of the East.”   During his first season, he got into a bar fight, left the team and joined the U.S. Army at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, where he served as a military policeman.

Gorton (right) lands a hard blow.

Gorton (left) and his fellow Golden Gloves champs celebrate.

While he was in Atlanta, Ron took up boxing, a wildly popular sport in the 1950s.  Once again, Gorton excelled, drawing the attention of the sportswriters, including Jesse Outler of the Atlanta Constitution who dubbed Ron as “The Great Gorton.”  Gorton not only fought well, he captured  the Golden Gloves championship  of Georgia and the Middleweight Championship of the United States Army.  While he was in the army, Ron sang and drummed as the “Singing MP”  in local night clubs for some walking around, fun money.  Ron favored football, but when he learned what the fort’s commanding general Alexander Bolling’s favorite sport was, he poured his soul into baseball.   Ron earned a spot on both the All Army baseball and football teams.

Gorton returned to Villanova in 1955.  Based on a strong performance in the season opener against Baylor, Ron, as a junior, was given a chance to become the team’s starting quarterback. Gorton’s best game came against the Indiana Hoosiers when he threw a 77-yard pass to halfback John Bauer, a mark which remains in the top ten longest pass receptions in Villanova history.   Gorton and his coach, Frank Reagan, rarely saw eye to eye.  Bob Kennedy related the story that Coach Reagan sent Ron into the game to run out the clock with a blowout loss.  Gorton threw three straight touchdown passes.  When the coach chastised Gorton for disobeying orders, the quarterback scolded the coach for not putting him in earlier and winning the game instead.  That incident seemed to bring an end to Gorton’s college career, although it has been reported that he came back to Georgia and played for the Georgia Bulldogs for two weeks.

Gorton signed a professional baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who assigned the $4,000.00 bonus baby to the Dublin Irishmen of the Georgia State League. Ron, who was encouraged by four of his army teammates who became major leaguers,  had hit .349 in the previous season and was hitting nearly .400 for the Fort McPherson team when he signed in late May of 1956.  Gorton played shortstop in 80 games for the Irish, who finished dead last in the Georgia State League in their last year of their existence.   He was a steady fielder, but a light hitter with a .230 batting average. Gorton was assigned to Jamestown New York team until he was traded to the Olean Oilers farm team of the Phillies during the 1957 season.  Just to keep in shape, Ron played in the Puerto Rican league as Ronaldo Gorton Gonzalez.  At the beginning of the 1958 season, the Phillies manager Mayo Smith  told Ron that he would have to play catcher if he wanted to remain with the team.

“Me, behind the mask! I’ve got to be out there so they can see my face,” Gorton exclaimed as he grabbed his duffle bag and left training camp for good.

Ron in an episode of "Sea Hunt" starring Lloyd Bridges. 

Gorton was driving around when he saw a sign that the television series Sea Hunt was being filmed there.  Gorton pulled in and approached the star, Lloyd Bridges, and told Bridges that he was a great actor.  He also spotted a man smoking a cigar and doing nothing.  When told that the man was the producer, Ron proclaimed, “That’s what I want to be - a producer!”

Ron in an episode of "Highway Patrol" with Broderick Crawford

Gorton appeared in two episodes of Sea Hunt along with single episodes of Highway Patrol, M Squad, Wagon Train, The Rough Riders and Bat Masterson.

With his irresistible charm and compelling personality, Ron Gorton achieved his dream of being  the producer of a major motion picture.  He set up a suite of plush offices in a swanky office building in New York.  Ron hired mega stars Maurice Chevalier, Eleanor Parker, Jayne Mansfield and Mike Conners (of Mannix fame) to star in his first movie, “Panic Button.”  The comedy, while not a big success, did receive some favorable reviews.

Buoyed by the success of “Panic Button,” Gorton, who seemed to find enough money to produce his movies, planned to begin production of “Jason.”  He was making arrangements to hire Frederic March, Betty Davis, Mickey Rooney and his first cousin, Jack Palance as the stars of a movie, where he would portray himself in the title role.  The project never materialized.

Ron Gorton worked with his close friend Sig Shore in producing the 1972 black exploitation film, “Superfly.”  In 1975, he teamed with Shore to produce, “That’s The Way of the World,” a music industry film, starring Earth, Wind & Fire.   His 1984 film, “The Act,” starred Eddie Albert and Jill St. John. His last film was  “A Walk with Death,” which he co-produced with his son, Ron, Jr., who also starred in the movie.

Always a promoter, it seemed only natural that Ron would venture into sports promotions.  In January of 1969, he produced the  first American “College All Star” Bowl in Tampa  in January 1969 which was sponsored by the  Tampa Bay area Lions Clubs until 1977.

Later that year, Ron Gorton almost pulled off one of the greatest boxing matches when he secured what was to be the first bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.  Tampa officials and citizens, objecting to Ali’s stance on religion, the military and Vietnam,  forced the cancellation of the highly heralded event, which eventually took place in New York in 1971.

Gorton claimed some credit for the formation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but never realized his dream of being an NFL or MLB owner, nor did he ever become the governor of his native state of Connecticut.

The decade of the seventies saw Ron turn to writing.  1977's “The Soul” was a novel complete with exorcism, murder and the supernatural.  Based partially on his life as a boy, Ron began a revolutionary war against organized religion and the concept of a wrathful God.  In 1978, he renewed his attack on traditional religion by publishing “Lawyers of Hell.” Gorton’s attacks on televangelism led to many talk show appearances including ones on “The Larry King Show” and “Oprah.” The last of the trilogy was  his 1989 book, “The Hucksters of Holiness.”

Ron Gorton was indeed a man of many talents - a true Renaissance man.  What he lacked in patience and stability, Gorton more than made up with his extraordinary brilliance, unparalleled talent, indestructible self confidence and dogged determination.   He died
on January 31, 2003 in his home in Clearwater, Florida.

Ron's appearance on Sea Hunt episode
"Chain of Evidence" 
beginning at 02:48.

Preview trailer of "Panic Button"

Trailer - "That's The Way of the World" 

Friday, June 19, 2015



It is indeed rare that within the space of 357 days that three athletes from three adjoining rural counties are selected in the first round of major sports drafts. Such was the case between May 8,2014 and April 30, 2015 during two NFL drafts and one NBA draft. As for now, I will say that this triple  take has never happened before.  I will wait until one of you sports trivia experts quickly prove me wrong. 

It all began on May 8,  2014 when the Cincinnati Bengals chose Darqueze Dennard of Twiggs County, Georgia  in the NFL’s annual draft.  Six weeks later on June 26, the San Diego Clippers picked Brian Craig, aka “C.J.”, Wilcox, a native of Dublin, Georgia, as their first pick in the 2014 NBA draft.  To complete the triad, the Pittsburgh Steelers, tabbed  Alvin “Bud” Dupree from neighboring Wilkinson County as their first round pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Darqueze Dennard hails from the tiny Twiggs County town of Dry Branch, Georgia. This rather light defensive back was the 24th choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in last year’s NFL Draft.  Dennard was a member of the 2013 Big Ten champion and 2014 Rose Bowl champion Michigan State Spartans.  A unanimous All-American choice in 2013, Dennard was selected by the Jim Thorpe Association  as the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best collegiate defensive back. Dennard was among the top five finalists for the Football Writers Association of America’s Bronco Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s best defensive college player.

A three-sport star for the Twiggs County Cobras, Dennard played both defensive back and wide receiver.  Although his stats as an offensive player were good, a few college scouts saw more promise in his defensive ability to read the quarterback and his speed in moving toward the football.  In his senior year, Dennard finished second in the Class A 100-meter dash.

Considered only as a two-star recruit, Michigan State took a chance on Dennard, who missed nearly half of his freshman season due to an injury.  As a sophomore, Dennard began to show the skills his recruiters had seen in him.  Two of his 42 tackles came against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2012 Outback Bowl.  Dennard  continued to improve during his junior season and finished his final season with 62 tackles.

Brian Craig "C. J." Wilcox was born in Dublin, Georgia on December 30, 1990.  Raised by his grandmother down the road in Eastman, Wilcox moved to Utah with his father Craig Wilcox, a Dodge County basketball star and former BYU basketball player.   The 6'6" shooting guard was the 28th pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft.  

Young Wilcox didn’t take long to prove that he was a “chip of the old block.  In his preteens, Wilcox began to stand out in AAU games.  He played high school ball at Pleasant Grove High Vikings, where he averaged 22.2 points per game. 

Utah colleges began to take notice, most notably. Utah, Utah State and Brigham Young.  Wilcox decided to leave home and sign with the University of Washington Huskies.  

After being redshirted in his first season in 2009-10, Wilcox was named to the Pac-10 All Freshman Team. As a sophomore, Wilcox was tabbed as an Honorable Mention to the All Pac-10 team for his deadly three-point shooting. Wilcox moved up to the Second Team All Pac-12 during his junior season after finishing with the 11th highest single season point total in Huskie history.

For the second time, Wilcox was selected to the Second Team All Pac-12 despite the fact that he finished his career as the second highest scorer, fifth in blocked shots, first in three-pointers (6th in Pac-12 history,) and ranks as one of only three players in conference history to score 1700 points.  

Alvin Dupree - his friends call him “Bud” - was born in Macon, Georgia and grew up in Wilkinson County, Georgia.   Dupree was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 22nd pick in the first round of last month’s NFL draft. 

  Dupree attended Wilkinson County High School in Irwinton, Georgia. During his senior season for the Warriors, Dupree played both ways, scored 10  touchdowns and garnered more than more than 1000 yards in receiving yards.  Only a three-star recruit, the six-foot, four-inch Dupree, a first team all state player,  tackled 62 runners and sacked the opposing quarterbacks, 10 times.

Dupree signed with the University of Kentucky Wildcats.  In his freshman year, the 269-pound defensive end, played in twelve games. In the same number of games in his sophomore season, the big lineman jumped from 21 tackles to 91 tackles for a career season high. 

A steady performer on defense, Dupree was named to the first team of the All Southeastern Conference in his senior season in 2014 finishing his career with 247 tackles and 23.5 sacks.

The book has yet to be written on Darqueze Dennard, “C.J.” Wilcox and “Bud” Dupree.  Dennard, hampered by the lack of playing time in his rookie season, tackled opposing players seventeen times in four games.  Dupree, plagued by injuries which forced him to start the 2014-15 season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, managed only to appear in only 21 games this season and scored two points as he looks forward to the fall and a chance to play full time. And, of course, the recently drafted “Bud” Dupree has yet to don a Steeler uniform.

It is well worth remembering that Wilcox and Dupree were only three star recruits out of high school while Dennard was only rated as a two-star player.  Only one of the three, Dennard, were chosen as an All-American and Wilcox didn’t make the first all conference team.

It shall also be noted that Demaryius “Bay Bay” Thomas (left)  was the first person from this area to be drafted in the first round of a major professional league draft when he became the 22nd pick of the Denver Broncos of the first round of the 2010 NFL draft.   Of the four area players in five years, Thomas was the most highly heralded both coming out of high school and college.

The record of being the highest pick from this area goes to McIntyre’s Georgia’s Kevin Brown, (left)  who was selected by the Texas Rangers as the 4th overall pick in the 1986 MLB draft.

But I must say that coming in second in the ranks of highest selected local player in a professional draft goes to my classmate Tina Price Cochran, who was selected as the 15th overall pick in the 1978 Women’s Professional Basketball League.  The former Dublin and University of Georgia basketball and tennis star was chosen by the team from Washington, D.C, which was relocated and renamed the Dayton Rockettes.    Tina (below) gave up basketball and tennis to return home to Dublin to raise a fine family and share her blessings with her students in Dublin city schools. 

Monday, May 11, 2015



It was unanimous.  The Lions Club voted to sponsor a return visit to the Dublin Homecoming Day.  The 1935, held eighty years ago this month, would feature as the  opponent, the University of Georgia.  Dubliners were thrilled when it was announced that Dean would pitch in Dublin.  Dizzy Dean had become one of the most popular players in baseball.   The tall, amiable, and talented righthander drew a crowd everywhere he went.  During this period, his popularity was only equaled by Babe Ruth, although he was not very popular with opposing players because of his taunting and high self esteem.    His career  spanned 12 years from 1930 to 1941.  He had to retire because of arm problems.  He pitched only four innings during a comeback attempt in 1947.  In 1934 and 1935, he won 58 games and lost only 19. Despite his short career, he had 150 wins and a .644 winning percentage, one of the highest in history.   "Ole Diz" regained his popularity in the 1960's when he was the color man on the Yankees and Braves games.  Diz always had a funny story to tell.  He coined expressions such has "He slud into second" and "Powder River".  Dizzy's trademark was his bellowing rendition of "The Wabash Cannonball" in the late innings of the game. Dizzy was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.  From 1932 to 1937, Diz was as good as anypitcher in baseball history. 

The Cardinals  fielded a team with Hall of Famers; Joe Medwick, Frankie Frisch, Leo Durocher, and Jesse Haines. Joe Medwick,  .324 lifetime batting average (34th all time) and 540 doubles (12th all time), was one of the best outfielders of 1930s.  He was the NL MVP in 1937 and the last National Leaguer to win the Triple Crown.  Frankie Frisch was one of the better all around players in the 20s and 30s.  He was a member of eight NL World Series teams - more than any other player, a .300 hitter thirteen times, a scorer of 100 runs seven times, 1931 NL MVP, a lifetime .316 hitter, and 25th on the all time hiT list with 2880. Jesse "Pop" Haines, the elder member of the team at 42,  threw his knuckleball for 210 wins and 209 complete games.  In the days before the Cy Young Award, he might have won the Best Pitcher Award in 1927, leading the league in complete games and shutouts and second in wins and winning percentage.   Leo Durocher (LEFT) was one of the most famous and colorful managers in baseball history.  Pepper Martin was one of the most speedy, colorful and hustling players in the thirties.  They joined Jimmy "Ripper" Collins, a .300+ hitter four times and NL Homerun Champ in 1934, Paul "Daffy" Dean, 1934 Rookie of the Year,  and Spud Davis, a steady .308 hitter who has the 3rd highest lifetime batting average for a catcher, to round out the team. 

   The Cardinals arrived in town on April 2, 1935, at 9:00 a.m. in three Pullman cars from Bradenton, Florida.  Paul Dean had lost a close game to Yankee great, Lefty Gomez, the day before.  They went to the Fred Roberts Hotel on Academy Avenue to check into their rooms. Dizzy (LEFT), Paul, and Player/Mgr. Frisch were whisked off to the school auditorium up on the hill where the City Hall now stands. Dizzy, speaking first, told the house  packed with youngsters and fans, "If you want to be a baseball star like some of the Cardinals, don't smoke or drink."   Daffy shyly rose to speak.  He grabbed the attention of the admiring kids when he told them, " I want to say that you should get all the education you can.  I never had the chance to get an education myself, but if you ever want to become anything, to get somewhere, you better get all the education you can." Paul had said this many times before.  As Paul returned to his seat, he looked to Dizzy for approval.  The crowd signaled its approval with a tremendous roar. 

     As the Deans were walking back to the hotel they were followed by hundreds of kids, Frankie Frisch (LEFT), and Bobby Norris of the Macon Telegraph.  Paul said, "You know, I've had to do that fifty times I guess.  Sometimes I think it gets monotonous, but every time I get up before a bunch of kids like that, and they applaud, it gives me goose pimples."  Dizzy nodded in approval.  Dizzy and Paul signed well over a thousand autographs that day.  The popular Frankie Frisch only signed a few dozen, mostly when the Deans weren't around. 

     Dizzy and Paul (LEFT) slipped off into the lounge to get a rest before lunch.  They sat down with Jesse Haines and Burgess Whitehead for a game of Bridge.  The upcoming year was the topic of conversation.  Dizzy was worried about the Giants while shuffling the cards.  The old veteran Haines asked Dizzy, "Diz, are you going to rub the spots off those cards?"  Diz stared at Haines and dealt the next hand.   After a few hands, Dizzy walked around town and finally admitted he would be happy to win 23 games this year. 

   The weather was perfect!  By noon, the 3000 seats were crammed. Another 3000 fans walled the outfield fences.  The Cardinals took the field with Dizzy Dean on the mound.  The Bulldogs were coached by former Lanier High School and University of Georgia Football Star, Vernon "Catfish" Smith.   His assistant actually coached the team that day.  Dean struck out Jimmy Moore. Ennis singled through Pepper Martin's legs.  E.J. Moore flied out to center and Andy Anderson struck out to end the inning.  Pepper Martin (LEFT) led off with a 373 foot double off the left field fence.  Frankie Frisch singled, scoring Martin.  Rip Collins then followed with a ground rule double into the crowd, scoring Frisch.  Martin doubled off the wall again but failed to score in the 2nd inning.  Five singles by Frisch, Medwick (BELOW), Collins, Durocher, and Dean led to three runs in the third inning. Three successive doubles by Frisch, Medwick, and Collins accounted for four more runs in the 4th inning.

   Dizzy lasted until the 5th inning when he gave up three runs and ran his hit total to seven.  Dizzy was probably drained from all the pre-game excitement.  Ed Heusser came in and finished the game.  Bishop relieved the Bulldog pitcher, Nichols in the 5th.  The Cardinals picked up two runs in the 8th when Wilson and Worthington doubled and scored. The Bulldogs picked up one run in the 8th and 9th innings.  The final score was Cardinals 11, Bulldogs 5.  

     The game also had its humorous moments.  The base umpire Bill Delancey, a Cardinal back up catcher,  swung at Dizzy.  A couple of the Cardinals ran to his defense pretending to knock the umpire flat on his back.  One of Dizzy's teammates threw a cup of water on him after he got "dizzy" over a bad play. One fan, dressed in a hunter's green suit, hat, and suede shoes stood out even more with his lavender shirt.  Some men could hardly keep their eyes on the game for the hundreds of pretty girls.  Former Dublin dignitaries such as Tom Linder, Agricultural Commissioner; Hal Stanley, Prison Commissioner; Vivian Stanley, Secretary of Commerce; and Peter Twitty, Game and Fish Commissioner were in attendance. 

     The excitement didn't end after the game.  Kids by the hundreds followed the teams back to the Fred Roberts Hotel  to wait on the Cardinals to come down and autograph balls, cards, and other items.  A local man, Tom Pritchett, was asked if he was a ball player.  He nodded yes and signed over a dozen times in the presence of an amused Clarence Carroll and Cicero Walker.  The Boy Scouts served as "Gophers" for the players.  Jule Greene ran errands for Dizzy Dean.  One little boy asked a man, "Are you Dizzy or Daffy?"  The man sent the boy away by saying, "I may be a little dizzy and daffy, but I'm not of the Dean variety." 

     The teams were entertained that night with an informal dance at the Country Club.  After a good night's rest, the Bulldogs returned to Athens and the Cardinals headed west for another season.  Well, most of the Cardinals had a good night's rest.  Ole Diz really enjoyed himself at the dance.  Diz slipped off with some locals to Frank's Place, which was located on the site of the Oaks Shopping center, for some stronger refreshments.   According to "Time" Magazine, Dizzy missed the train the next morning drawing a $100.00 fine.  Not to be outdone, Dizzy announced his retirement after the season.  The Cardinals finished second that year, four games  behind the Chicago Cubs.  Dizzy won 28 games and led the league in strikeouts while Daffy gathered 19 wins.  Joe Medwick finished near the top of the league with a batting average of .353.   Ripper Collins had one of his best seasons, batting .313, with 23 homeruns, and 122 runs batted in.

1934 St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers
World Series

Dizzy Dean

The Gas House Gang

Sunday, April 12, 2015


We Are The Champions!

The 1929 edition of the Dublin Boosters had no choice but to fight. From the first to the last game of the season, this ragtag congregation of old professionals, former minor leaguers and good ol' country ball players had to scrap, claw and struggle their way out of the abyss of last place from day one. In point of fact, when the first games of the South East Georgia League were played on June 4, 1929, the team from Dublin had not even entered the league.

In the early decades of the 20th Century, baseball was king. Almost every Georgia town had a team. Some were strictly amateurs. Others were semi pros, who played for little or nothing but the sheer love of the game. A few Georgia cities like Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Augusta and Columbus boasted minor league professional teams.

(Tiny Osborne - above) 

Dublin was no exception. In years past, local men formed a team formed of primarily truly local players. Every once in a while, a former professional or collegiate player might by charmed or lured by the payment of folding money to join the local aggregation for the summer. Among some of the more popular of the former collegiate athletes were Wally Butts, a teacher at GMC and Joshua Cody, the basketball and football coach at Mercer. Butts went on to become a legend as the iconic football coach of the University of Georgia over four decades. Cody, an All American lineman at Vanderbilt, went on to coach football at Vanderbilt, Florida and Temple.

The Southeast Georgia League, in the first season of its two-year existence, was composed of teams from Fitzgerald, Douglas, Eastman, Vidalia, Helena and Cochran. Representatives from each team met in Dublin with Dr. C.J. Bedingfield, who called a meeting of twenty or so of the Dubln's most rapid and wealthy baseball fans. The group unanimously agreed to replace the team from Cochran, which never really got off the ground and folded within its first ten days in the league. To manage the team, the team's owners hired R.T. Peacock, Sr., a local Chevrolet dealer.

It was to say the least an inauspicious and horrible start for the Dublin Boosters, who lost their first three games and put themselves in the cellar right from the beginning. By the end of June, the Irishmen won three in a row, played .500 ball, and managed to crawl out of the cellar to a respectable 7 and 7 record, placing fourth during the first half of the season.

The second half of the season was a different story. Under the new management of T.A. Curry, Sr. and Izzie Bashinski, Dublin won the first game against Helena and never looked back. The Dublin nine captured five straight wins before losing a close game to Fitzgerald. The Irishmen slumped into second place after playing .500 ball during the next ten games.

It was on the 1st day of August when the Boosters turned it up a notch or two. With a 15-8 thrashing of first place Fitzgerald and a 2-1 slim victory again the next day, the Boosters moved into first place and won five games in a row for the second time that season.

The boys from Fitzgerald keep fighting as well going toe to toe with Dublin and wound up in a tie for the second half of the season. A best two of three series was set for August 13 and 14 with the first game in Dublin and the second in Fitzgerald.

After Fitzgerald jumped on Boosters starter Earnest Osborne for two runs in the first inning, the Irish pitcher settled down and held the Fitzgerald nine scoreless for the rest of the game. With singles and walks, the Boosters whittled the lead and took the first game 7-2. The Dublin boys made sure that there was no coin toss for the location of the third game when they eked out a 7-6 victory to clinch a trip to the championship series against the first half champs from Douglas.

Charlie Morgan, a Macon prep and college star who spent a year as the catcher of the Toledo Mudhens, was chosen to umpire the league championship series along with George Sears of Alamo.

Dublin, behind the pitching of Clark and the catching of M.C. Dowda, defeated Douglas 4-2 in Douglas to take the first game of the seven game series. The teams returned to Dublin the following day in front of a very large crowd at the 12th District Fairgrounds. Despite Osborne giving up a few early runs, the Boosters pounded the Douglas pitchers Tully and Baker to take a 12-5 win.

The teams moved to a neutral location in Fitzgerald for the third game, which saw Fitzgerald slaughter the Boosters 12-0. In the fourth game, Dublin pitcher Carter silenced the home team Douglas batters, while Patterson drove in both Dublin runs. Defensively Dublin's Lynwood Mallard, a former Mercer University star athlete, gunned down a Douglas runner at the plate to preserve the 2-1 victory and a 3-1 lead in the series.

Mallard, a member of the Mercer and Georgia Sports Halls of Fame, was the top athlete at Macon's Lanier High School in  1926 and helped lead Lanier High to the GIAA state championship in basketball while averaging 17 points per game. He lettered in four sports at Lanier and at Mercer University and was named to Mercer's all‐time football team and was Mercer's leading scorer during his three years of basketball.  "Baggy" Mallard was a fine baseball player averaging .347 at the plate...Later played for the Johnstown, Tennessee squad in the Middle Atlantic League.

The 5th game was played in Dublin on August 21. The game was close through the first eight innings. In the bottom of the 9th with Dublin trailing 3-2, Eldon Carlyle, who batted .442 in the season and signed to play with the Atlanta Crackers, walked. It shall be noted that Carlyle, who made it to New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association, was the brother of major leaguers, Cleo and Roy, the latter of who is given credit for the longest (618 feet) home run in major league history.

Osborne, running for Carlyle, made it to third when the Douglas second sacker fumbled Walker's hot grounder and threw wild to first. Parks sent a single with eyes which eluded an errant Douglas outfielder allowing Osborne and Walker to score, setting off a near riot in the Dublin stands. The boys from Dublin had done it! They were league champs!

Without a doubt, the most valuable player for Dublin was one Earnest Osborne.(Above)   Facetiously dubbed "Tiny" by his teammates and fans, this six-foot, four-inch, two hundred and fifteen-pound pitcher led his team to victory. "Tiny," a 36-year old native of Porterdale, Georgia, began playing in the minor leagues in Augusta, Georgia in 1919. Osborne joined the Chicago Cubs in 1922. In his rookie season, he posted a 9-5 record pitching to Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett. Osborne, who pitched along the side of Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, finished with the 2nd best record of hits per nine innings, 3rd best record of strikeouts per inning and 4th most games saved and played in the National League. In a dubious category, "Tiny" led the NL in the most batters hit by a pitch (12), a feat which did not subject him to being charged on the mound because of his tremendous size.

Osborne slipped to 5-15 in his second season before he was traded during the 1924 season to the Brooklyn "Robins" Dodgers. After going 14 and 20 in a rotation which included Hall of Famers Burleigh Grimes and Dazzy Vance, "Tiny" left major league baseball. In his early thirties, Osborne pitched in the Southern Association with the Nashville Volunteers and New Orleans Pelicans and the Three I League and the Macon Peaches of the South Atlantic League in 1928 before coming to Dublin in the summer of 1929.

Osborne's career highlights included earning a save in the August 25, 1922 game between the Cubs and the Phillies which ended with a 26 to 23 victory for the Cubs and the highest scoring game in major league baseball history. Known for having a large pair of hands, Osborne was once photographed by the Sporting News holding five baseballs in his pitching hand. Osborne won his very last game for the Jackson Mississipians of the East Dixie League in 1935 at the age of 42. His son, Ernest Jr. played in the minor leagues and his grandson Bobo played seven seasons in the majors. "Tiny" died in 1969 in Atlanta.

In a time when Dubliners were looking for looking for something good in the dark years of the Depression, the Dublin Boosters had gone from worst to first in their first year of existence. They were the champions! The next year, Dublin lost in the league championship to Fitzgerald in the league's final game.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


You may have never heard of Richard Von Gammon.  But, when he died one hundred and ten years ago today, football in Georgia was nearly forced out of existence by the bereaved legislature of this state.  Throughout Georgia and across the nation, a congregation of ministers cried out for the abolition of this most violent and vicious  game.  Without the aid of Von Gammon's mother and Bulldog captain William B. Kent, football in Georgia may have ended, if only for a little while.

It was a typical fall day on the 30th day of October 1897.  The bleachers and sidelines of Atlanta's Brisbine Park were crammed with spectators to see if the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs, inspired by a trouncing of Georgia Tech the week before, could defeat the powerful Cavaliers of Virginia in a contest for superiority of southern football.  Georgia  had just completed  the team's first perfect season, albeit they only played four games and won them all.  

Richard Van Gammon, a well-liked fraternity fellow and outstanding quarterback from Rome, Georgia, kicked off to Virginia to open the contest.  In the second half with Virginia in command of the game, Van Gammon, playing  defensive back, sprinted toward a Virginia runner.  Before he could make the tackle, the helmetless Bulldog was overrun by a wall of blockers, said to have been joined in a flying wedge formation with arms locked and bearing down upon him with all the force of an equine stampede.

Van Gammon dove to tackle the Cavalier runner and struck the ground headfirst.  The Virginians trampled over his motionless body.  For several excruciating minutes, players and coaches vainly attempted to revive the fallen star.  At first it appeared as if Von Gammon was completely paralyzed, his eyes gazing blindly into the autumn sky.  Eventually he was revived and helped to the sidelines, where he was examined by physicians who were attending the game.  The doctors decided to transport Von Gammon to Grady Hospital for further examination and diagnosis.  After he arrived at the hospital, Richard's temperature  soared up toward 109 degrees.  With his brain swollen to intolerable limits, Von Gammon never regained consciousness and died.

Just days after the fallen footballer's funeral, mass hysteria swept throughout the Georgia legislature.  Fueled by intense lobbying by a host of ministers and a nationwide cry against the barbaric deaths that football had caused across the country, the lawmakers adopted a near unanimous ban on football in the state.  The bill was sent to Georgia governor W.Y. Atkinson for his signature.

It was then when Van Gammon's mother and Bulldog captain William Kent issued an appeal for the governor not to sign the ban.  The people of Athens, most of the university's faculty and even some Georgia players thought it was best to put an end to football at Georgia forever.  Mrs. Von Gammon wrote a letter to Governor Atkinson pleading to him not to allow her son's death to end the game he so dearly loved.  Aided by a poignant and stern letter from renowned Georgia professor and the team's first coach, Dr. Charles Herty, who advocated the necessity of sports to promote physical health, and the persistence of Captain Kent, the governor never signed the bill.  Though football ended for the 1897 season after three games - they only played four or five games anyway - the games would resume the following year.

William B. Kent was born in Montgomery County, Georgia on January 30, 1870.  This son of William Kent and Martha Beckwith Kent entered Mercer University as a freshman at the ripe old age of twenty-three in 1893.  After playing football at the Baptist college for a single season, Kent transferred to Athens for the 1894 season, where he played guard.  In 1896, William was moved to right tackle by Georgia coach Pop Warner, who went on to iconic status as the coach of Jim Thorpe of the Carlisle Indians, as well as successful stints at Pittsburgh and Stanford.  Kent, at five feet eleven inches in height and weighing in at 185 pounds, was one of the strongest men at the college.  In his junior season at Georgia in 1896, Kent was named president of the Athletic Association and captain of the football team for his senior  year.     As president of the Athletic Association, Kent led the organization out of its bankrupt position onto solid financial ground. 

Off the field Kent excelled as an editor of the Pandora, the university's yearbook, as well as serving with highest honor of the Demosthenian Literary Society and as a commissioned officer in the military department.  Considered one of the most popular men on campus - there were very few, if any, women enrolled as students in those days - William was known to have been a man of high moral character and a leader in the Young Men's Christian Association and his Sunday school class at the Baptist Church in Athens.   During his semesters at Georgia, Kent served as president of eight organizations.

Kent, a self-made man, studied law, literature and bookkeeping.  To pay for his studies, he taught  school and even sold lightning rods one summer.  

While he was in Athens, William met and married Miss Senie Griffith, daughter of Clarke County state representative F.P. Griffeth.  Following her death, Kent married Lallie Calhoun, a member of one of Montgomery County's oldest and most prominent families.

After his graduation from Georgia, Kent was admitted to the bar, beginning his practice in that portion of Montgomery County, which would later become Wheeler County in 1912.  In addition to his duties as an attorney, Kent served as both solicitor and judge of the City Court of Mt. Vernon, a state court assigned to handle misdemeanor offenses and minor civil claims.

In 1910, Kent, the former football hero, was elected to represent Montgomery County in the Georgia legislature.  While in the House of Representatives, Kent introduced a bill to carve out that portion of his county lying on the western side of the Oconee to form a new county, purportedly to be named Kent County, not in his own honor, but in honor of his father, an early settler of the area.  The name of the new county was Wheeler instead, named in honor of Confederate cavalry general Joseph Wheeler.    Kent was chosen to serve as the first judge of the Wheeler County Court of Ordinary, or as it is today known, the Probate Court. 

William B. Kent died on November 21, 1949.  He is buried in Oconee Cemetery in Athens, Georgia in a town where football is king on autumn Saturdays.  Perhaps the epitaph on his tombstone should read, "here lies William B. Kent,  the Savior of Georgia football."  

Thursday, January 8, 2015


A Legend That Never Ends

In a world where cliches are never cliche, Hubert Mizell has seen it all.  For the last fifty years, he has written about courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice.  Hubert has told stories of leadership, teamwork and the triumph of the human spirit.  He loves sports and loves to write about the events which keep on taking us out to the old ball game.  For this Dublin native, his dream to become a sportswriter has come true, more than he could ever imagine.

Hubert Coleman Mizell was born in Dublin, Georgia in 1939.  His parents, Leon Mozart Mizell and Annie Mae Williams Mizell, named him for Dr. Alfred Coleman, the doctor who delivered him.  Hubert grew up in the days of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Joe Louis.  As a child of a poor family, Hubert lived in eleven towns and in twenty-seven buildings.  His father left school after the end of the 5th grade.  A saw mill accident left the elder Mizell with a severely mangled arm, relegating him work at strenuous jobs, often enduring eighty-four-hour work weeks.  Hubert's mother worked whenever and wherever she could to help make ends meet to support the family, which included Hubert's baby sister Linda.

When Hubert was seven, the Mizells moved to Jacksonville, Florida.  A trip to the Georgia-Florida game, long before it became the wild spectacle  it is today, sparked young country boy's love of sports.  At the age of fourteen, Hubert took a job as an usher and later as a scorekeeper at Wolfson Park, home of the Jacksonville Tars.  Playing for the Tars that year was a young kid by the name of Henry Louis.  You know him better has Henry "Hank" Aaron.

Before he completed high school, Mizell developed a relationship with the Times-Union, Jacksonville's leading newspaper.    At first he worked as a sport's copy editor.  During his spare time, Hubert studied and carefully analyzed the writings of the nation's greatest sportswriters.  After his college days at the University of Florida were over, Hubert returned to the Times-Union as the High School Sports Editor.  In 1964, he took a job in the public relations department of the Gator Bowl.

In 1967, Hubert came of retirement as a sportswriter for the first time.  He returned to the Times-Union as its Florida Sports Editor.  In addition to his duties in the sports department, Mizell covered hurricanes and even the 1972 Republican National Convention.  Later in the 1970s, Hubert became the state sports editor of the Times-Union.

Hubert Mizell's first major sports assignment came in the late summer of 1972.  Hubert witnessed swimmer Mark Spitz's world record seven gold medal performance and the emergence of one of the world's greatest gymnasts, Olga Korbut.  He was there when the zebras gave the Russian team three unwarranted chances to defeat the US basketball team in one of the most controversial games in Olympic history.  Hubert was an eye witness to one of the darkest moments, not only in Olympic history, but in the history of sports.   Working closely with a young Peter Jenkins of ABC News, Hubert saw the hooded gunmen who killed eleven Israeli athletes.   He was stationed at the airport when their corpses were sent back home.  "It was like a punch in the stomach," Mizell remembered. Hubert still lists the '72 Olympics as the highlight of his career.

Being based in the subtropical climate of Florida, Hubert normally didn't cover hockey games.  But in the winter of 1980, Hubert was in Lake Placid, New York, covering the first of his four Winter Olympic games.  Mizell and the corps of sportswriters, normally trained to be neutral in their coverage of sports, shivered in emotion as they witnessed, in Mizell's words, "the most colossal upset in the history of sports."  Mizell still rates the game in which the upstart US team defeated the heavily favored Russians  as the No. 1 game he has ever covered.  In 1986, he moved to Atlanta and took a job as a feature writer and television critic for the Atlanta Constitution.  It wasn't long before Hubert decided to return to Florida and the love of his life.

Mizell was present at one of baseball's most memorable games, not because of the score or the events which transpired on the field.  It was late in the afternoon on October 17, 1989.  The Giants and Athletics were preparing to play their 3rd World Series game when the stadium began to shake violently.   Hubert hit the floor and then the lights went out.  He managed to make it out of the stadium safely, writing his column on the hood of an ABC -TV truck.  The calamitous earthquake was the most frightening thing Hubert ever witnessed in sports.

During his fifty years in journalism and sports, Hubert has attended nearly fifty college football bowl games, forty Masters golf tournaments and  more than thirty college basketball final fours and Super Bowls.  He has been in attendance at more than a dozen U.S. Golf Opens and Kentucky Derbies.  Hubert has crossed the Atlantic to witness a half dozen or more British Open golf tournaments and even more Wimbledon tennis tournaments.  Mizell has covered six summer Olympic games and four of the winter games.  The number of the other sports events he has seen is virtually incalculable.

College football and golf are Hubert's favorite sports.  He loves going to Notre Dame to watch a football game the best, though he does rank Grant Field as number nine and between the hedges at Sanford Stadium as his sixth most favorite college football venue.  He lists Arnold Palmer, Steve Young, Pete Maravich, Jack Nicklaus, Magic Johnson and Richard Petty as his favorite athletes.  Interestingly, he list former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lee Roy Selmon as the most honorable athlete he has known.  Nancy Lopez is a close second in his mind.  Among the most mesmerizing interviewees, Mizell lists Muhammad Ali, Bobby Jones, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Red Grange, Charles Atlas and Jesse Owens.  His favorite sportscasters include Pat Summerall, Jim McKay, Bob Costas, Jack Whitaker and Howard Cossell.

Frequently honored by his colleagues, Hubert  has served on the ESPY committee of ESPN Sports, which annually honors the best of the best in sports. Mizell was a charter inductee into the United States Basketball Writers Hall of Fame.  In 1980, his fellow sportswriters elected him as president of the Associated Press Sports Writers Association.  Chris Berman of ESPN remembered Hubert for being kind in helping him out when he first got into broadcasting.  Veteran St.  Louis announcer Jack Buck said, "Everybody loves Hubert, especially the athletes - they trusted him."  Jack Nicklaus said "Hubert tried to do the right thing and be in the right place at the right time."  Fellow golfer Gary Player echoed Nicklaus, "He's been a tremendous contributor to golf, but he's been a great gentleman.  Really a nice man and you can't say much more about a person than that."

Hubert retired from sports writing, at least partially, in 2001. He and his wife moved to Virginia and the promise of peace and quiet. Hubert did continue to write a weekly column for the St. Petersburg Times until the end of 2004.  He planned to retire, but Hubert couldn't leave sports.  He returned to the sports room last year and writes today for the Gainesville Sun.    This past April Hubert Mizell was honored by the Augusta National Golf Club, which awarded him and thirteen other writers and broadcasters with the first "Masters Major Achievement Award." According to the editors of Sports Cliches dot com., a sportswriter must be around for at least thirty years to qualify as a legend.  Hubert Mizell is twenty years beyond that level and still going strong, watching and writing about the greatest legends in the games we play.