1952 Southern Association Batting Champ Rance Pless

Today is the birthday of former Nashville player Rance Pless, born on December 6, 1925. A third baseman, Pless won the Southern Association batting championship in 1952 with the Vols, hitting for a .364 average.

Pless began the season with a 27-game hitting streak and at one time was on pace to break the single season franchise record for hits held by Joe Dwyer in 1936 with 230. After 93 games, Pless had 137 safeties.

Not only did he remain one of the top ten hitters the entire season, in a game against Mobile at Sulphur Dell on May 23rd Pless hit an unusual home run that went through the wire fence just a few feet above the wooden outfield fence.

Pless was selected as the third baseman in the Southern Association All Star game.

The property of the New York Giants, his Nashville manager, Bill Poland, was complimentary of the progress that Pless had made: “A player of Pless’ ability can never tell when his break may come. Things happen mighty fast sometimes.”Pless

On August 22 Pless was beaned by a fastball from Jerry Lane of Atlanta. The blow broke Pless’ jaw, fracturing it in three places.

Fearing the loss of his sight and end of his career, he rejoined the club with no ill effects a few weeks later and aided the club getting into the playoffs and captured the season batting title.

He won another league batting title in 1955 with Minneapolis in the American Association, hitting .337.

Pless’ only major league experience was in 1956 with the Kansas City Athletics, when he played in 48 games and split the rest of the season with Richmond in the International League.

He retired after the 1960 season with a minor league career batting average of .303 in 1,755 games. Pless became a scout for the Atlanta Braves in the 1960s and still resides in his hometown of Greeneville, Tennessee.

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