From Bat Boy To Captain

On this day, September 20, 1941, Mickey Kreitner lived the dream of every bat boy. His hometown team, the Nashville Vols, added him to their active roster.

Nashville’s bat boy for the previous five seasons, Kreitner had tried out for the Chicago Cubs and after signing with the major league club, Mickey Kreitnerwas assigned to Americus, Georgia in the Georgia-Florida League. A catcher, he batted .232 in 100 games before he was called up to Larry Gilbert’s ball club. Listed at 6′ 3″, 190 lb., he batted and threw right handed.

Nashville was battling Dallas in the Dixie Series, a playoff between the Southern Association and Texas League champions. The Vols had finished second in the regular season behind Atlanta, but Nashville won over Chattanooga and Atlanta in the league playoffs before winning against Dallas 4 games to 0.

Larry Gilbert, Nashville manager, knew the value in young players’ gaining game experience, even if from the dugout. Kreitner did not play, but for the 1942 season he was on the Nashville squad full-time while Gilbert helped him hone his craft behind the plate as he played in eighty games that year.

In 1943, Kreitner appeared in 100 Southern Association games for Nashville, hitting a respectable .248.

Near the end of they season, he was called up to Chicago where he played in three games for the Cubs. On September 28, 1943, 20-year-old Kreitner became the tenth youngest player to appear in a major league game in a doubleheader against the New York Giants at Wrigley Field.

The next year Kreitner played in 39 games for the Cubs, but suffered an injury that caused him to sit out 1944 before moving to the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in 1945 where he batted .277 in 101 games.

Returning to Nashville upon his retirement from baseball, Kreitner would become a famous restaurateur, owning 39 restaurants including The Embers, The Court of Kings, The Luau, Mickey’s and Mickey’s Jr., an oyster bar and delicatessen that opened in the old Maxwell House hotel only 11 days before the 1961 Christmas Day fire there.

He was probably most famous for owning The Captain’s Table in famous Printer’s Alley, where he celebrated his 55th birthday along with baseball greats Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle, and several other celebrities.

Born in Nashville on October 9, 1922, Kreitner died in his hometown on March 6, 2003 at the age of 80 from complications of open heart surgery.

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