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.