Tag Archives: Appalachian League

Born Here, Played Here, Died Here: Nashville’s Dawson “Tiny” Graham

Dawson_CINREDBorn in Nashville on September 9, 1892, Dawson “Tiny” Graham had a frame that did not match his nickname. Graham stood 6’ 2” and his playing weight was 185.

The right-hander began his pro baseball career with the Appalachian League’s Cleveland Counts (and then the Morristown Jobbers when the team moved mid-season), hitting .370.[1] He was released by Morristown to the Roanoke Tigers of the Virginia League[2] in 1914 where he hit for a .295 average[3].

A first baseman, Graham was sold to the Cincinnati Reds by the Roanoke club on July 1, 1914. He was released by the Reds late in the season after playing in 25 games and batting .230 on only 14 hits in 61 plate appearances.

By April of 1915 Tiny was competing with Toronto veteran Tim Jordan for the Maple Leafs’ first base job[4]. Under manager Bill Clymer Graham had 146 hits in 506 plate appearances for a .289 average. The next season the Leafs made a managerial change, naming Joe Birmingham to lead the club and Graham increased his hit production to 164 and his batting average to .294.

Graham played for Toronto again in 1917, this time under the tutelage of future Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie, reporting from his home in Nashville “in excellent shape”[5]. However, Graham’s average slipped to .267 and in the spring of 1918 he was released to Chattanooga of the Southern Association.[6]

Hitting at a .275 clip did not please Chattanooga president Sammy “Strang” Nicklin, although Graham had enlisted in the Army on July 31st.  He was discharged on December 3 soon after World War I ended. Reporting in 1919, Graham sat out the beginning of spring training while Nicklin offered him to Texas League and International League teams. However, Graham was allowed to umpire the Lookouts’ first intra-squad game.

Eventually signing with Chattanooga he was unconditionally released mid-season, but was signed on July 12 by the Vols during a July series between Nashville and the Lookouts. First baseman Dick Kauffman had suddenly left the team, deciding he could make more money by playing with a semi-pro team in his home state of Pennsylvania.[7] Manager Roy Ellam immediately filled the void in the Vols’ infield by signing Graham.

His season average was .248 on 86 hits between the two Southern Association clubs.

In his nine seasons in the minors, Graham never hit for a higher average than he achieved during his first season, although in his last year he hit .316 for Oklahoma City. Graham retired from baseball after the 1921 season with a career .291 average.

Upon his death on December 29, 1962 he was buried in Calvary Cemetery in his hometown.[8]

(c) 2014 Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

[1]Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved June 15, 2013

[2] Sporting Life, January 24, 914

[3] Baseball-reference.com

[4] Sporting Life, April 24, 1915

[5] Sporting Life, April 21, 1917

[6] The Sporting News, March 7, 1918

[7] Nashville Banner July 13, 1919

[8] Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2014

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Gerald Montgomery, Nashville Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee for 2014

Gerald Montgomery has a special memory of Sulphur Dell, Nashville’s famous ballpark, that took place when he was fifteen years old.

“In 1961 at Sulphur Dell, on the last day of the Nashville Baptist League season, I pitched both ends of a must-win double header and our team won the championship.”

Gerald is proud of his baseball history without boasting, but his recollections are detailed and clear. His amateur play included playing for Woodbine Lions in the Babe Ruth League and Post 5 in American Legion ball. Gerald began his scholastic career at Central High School where he played with his brother Robert, who had a 10-year major league career with the Boston Red Sox.Gerald

When his family moved into the Antioch High School zone, he played quarterback for the Bears football team, and excelled at basketball and baseball, too. Gerald was a two-time All-Nashville player in baseball and was awarded “Player of the Year” honors his junior year. A right-hander, Gerald led Antioch to the state tournament.

Signing a professional baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox in 1965, Gerald was assigned to the Harlan Red Sox in the Appalachian League and finished the season in Wellsville, New York in the New York-Pennsylvania League. At the age of 20, Gerald was back in the NYPL for a second season, this time at Oneonta, New York where he pitched to a 2-2 record.

Once his professional career ended he returned to Nashville, playing in the Tri-State League for Haynes Garment and Nauta-Line before becoming a player-manager for the Nolensville team.

When I was elected vice-president of the Old Timers organization, the president was Gerald Montgomery. What I learned from him during his term (2007-2008) was dedication and leadership. Those qualities are often found in “baseball people”, but Gerald took extra steps to prepare me to become president once his term was to end.

In 2009 he sent a letter to me, offering more encouragement as my term began. I valued the time he took in offering guidance and I continued to ask his opinion on Old Timers business.

Gerald will be presented as the newest member of the Nashville Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame at the 76th annual Old Timers banquet on Thursday, January 23rd at the Millennium Maxwell House. His baseball friends will honor his accomplishments with his induction into the Old Timers Hall of Fame.

© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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