Tag Archives: Carl Sawatski

Jack Harshman Hits 26th Home Run of 1951 Season

July 2, 1951 – Jack Harshman hits his 26th home run of the season with a two-run drive in the tenth inning, his second round-tripper of the game, to break up a slug-fest at Sulphur Dell as Nashville wins over New Orleans 16-14.

Harshman will go on to hammer 47 home runs, and tying former Vols player Carl Sawatski’s record with five grand slams for a season. The strong-armed first baseman also pitches in five games that year, making his debut at Sulphur Dell on July 19th with two scoreless innings of relief against Chattanooga.

When the Southern Association relaxed a rule that kept non-pitchers off the mound, Nashville general manager Larry Gilbert suggested to Harshman that he might make it to the majors sooner by relying on his arm strength instead of his power.

Harshman spent the 1952 season with Minneapolis but returned to the Vols in 1953. Primarily a starter, in 40 games Harshman worked to a 24-7 record with a 3.27 ERA. He was sold to the Chicago White Sox for $25,000 in September, and went on to a 69-65 record in eight years in the major leagues.

© 2017 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

Sources

baseball-reference.com

Nashville Tennessean

newspapers.com

sabr.org

The Sporting News

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Nashville’s Slugging Combinations

In 1927 Babe Ruth hit a remarkable 60 home runs for the New York Yankees. Lou Gehrig had 47, and for many years their two-man total of 107 was the benchmark for home runs by two team mates.

In 1961 Roger Maris of the Yankees hit 61 for the season, breaking Ruth’s single-season record, and Mickey Mantle hit 54 to give the duo a total of 115. The Maris-Mantle record still stands.

In comparison, when Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 73 homers in the 2007 season, team mate Rich Aurilia’s 37 round-trippers gave them a total of 110.

Nashville had a few tandem sluggers, too. In 1930 first baseman Jim Poole slugged 50 home runs and second baseman Jay Partridge added 40 to set a Southern Association record of 90. Two years later Moose Clabaugh and Stan Keyes combined for 67 but fell far short of the Poole-Partridge tally.

Workman_GilbertBut in 1948 Charlie Workman and Charlie Gilbert hit 96 home runs combined; Workman had 52 and Gilbert added 44. It was an especially notable feat in that the entire club hit only 60 the previous season.

The pair had previously played for Nashville with very little home run success. Gilbert roamed the outfield hills for his manager-father Larry Gilbert in 1939 and 1943 and had 21 total. Workman played for the senior Gilbert in 1941 and 1942. His production increased from 11 to 29 those two seasons, but both players especially found the Sulphur Dell fences to their liking during 1948.

In 1949 two new sluggers appeared on the scene and immediately chased the record of the previous season. Catcher-outfielder Carl Sawatski, with 45, and outfielder Herman “Babe” Barna with 42 gave the Nashville club an added season of slugging success with 87 combined.

The Southern Association record for home runs by one player came in 1954 when Nashville’s Bob Lennon hit 64. Nearly reaching the 1932 combined record of Clabaugh and Keyes all by himself, the second place slugger for the Vols was Larry DiPippo who had 20. His and Lennon’s output totaled 84.

Taking the comparison one step further, the major league record of 165 home runs by four players on the same team in a single season is the 1961 New York Yankees: Maris with 61, Mantle with 54, Bill Skowron with 28, and Yogi Berra with 22.

Next is 147 by the 2001 San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds with 73, Rich Aurilia with 37, Jeff Kent with 22, and Marvin Benard with 15.

Nashville had two teams with impressive homer stats that are not too far off from those major league totals; both the 1948 and 1949 club tallied 129:

Home Runs by 4

In both of those seasons the quadruplets hit for a combined .351 average and led Nashville to Southern Association pennants. Those feats were never accomplished again; even with Bob Lennon’s excellent record-setting season, the 1954 team tied for seventh place:

Home Runs by 4 1954

In the history of Nashville baseball, none could match the slugging combinations of 1948 and 1949.

© 2015 Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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The Nashville Vols Era: Did You Have a Favorite?

Most Nashville Vols memories written to me and posted on the “I remember…” page of sulphurdell.com were from the 1950s and early 1960s. Very few are from the 1940s, as fans from that era have either passed away or had no internet or email access. Those who did write to me usually had a favorite player or two, and the memories of those players are vivid.Vol_Player

Here are a few that I have received over the years. Take a look and see which players you remember:

“I remember players like second baseman Buster Boguskie; shortstop Hal Quick; catchers Smokey Burgess, Carl Sawatski, Rube Walker, and Roy Easterwood; right fielder Charley Workman; center fielders Charley Gilbert and Carmen Mauro; left fielders Elwood “Footsie” Grantham and Johnny Krukman; pitchers Pete Mallory, Ben Wade, Hal Jeffcoat and Bobo Holloman (but for the life of me I can’t remember who played 1st and 3rd during those times).” – Don Duke, Cadiz, Kentucky

“Once shortstop Bobby Durnbaugh turned on an inside pitch and hit a woman sitting behind third base. Bob Lennon had an exaggerated swing to hit pop flies over the right field wall. George Schmees played the right field dump like no one else.” – Glenn H. Griffin, Pelham, Alabama

“I remember Chico Alvarez in left one night, catching a drive while flat on his back on that bank. My memory of the ‘Dell’ is mainly about the Jay Hook-Jim O’Toole-Jim Maloney-Johnny Edwards era, all of whom had fair-to-good major league careers.” – Tony Bosworth, Nashville, Tennessee

“Our favorite players over time were John Mihalic, Buster Boguskie, Les Fleming, Tookie and Charlie Gilbert (along with their father/manager Larry Gilbert) and Carl Sawatski; high on the list was Hal Jeffcoat.” – Bill Dunaway, Huntsville, Alabama

“I remember the night that I believe it was Tookie Gilbert that hit it over the fence almost dead center field. It hit a bus in the street and came back in the park and he only got a triple!” – Richard Ramsey, Winter Haven, Florida

“…George Schmees, Eric Rodin, Buster Boguskie, Hugh Poland, and Larry Munson.” – Larry Neuhoff, San Diego, California

“I remember my parents took me to Sulphur Dell each year in the mid- to late- 50’s and maybe a few times in the early 60’s. The names that come to mind are Tommy Brown at third base, Bobby Durnbuagh at shortstop, Larry Taylor at second base, Haven Schmidt, and of course, the right fielder who roamed the “Dump” and his name was George Schmees. I always enjoyed going to the Dell and listening to Dick Shively and later Larry Munson do the play by play on the radio.” – Teddy Ray, Fayetteville, Tennessee

In those days fans seemed to take a deep personal interest in hometown team heroes. Who was your favorite?

© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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“Swish”, “Swisher”, or “Swats”: By Any Name, Carl Sawatski Slams ‘Em

One of the most popular players to have donned a Nashville baseball uniform, Carl “Swish” Sawatski was born in Shickshinny, Pennsylvania on November 4, 1927. A catcher for the Vols for two seasons, Sawatski led the league with 45 home runs and set a league record with five grand slams, hitting .360 as Nashville captured the 1949 Southern Association pennant.

On Opening Day, April 15, 1949 in Chattanooga, Sawatski hit a home run that traveled at least 520 feet and bounced among the railroad tracks outside Engel Stadium. It was considered to be the longest homer ever hit by a Vols player in any park in the league.

His slugging feats continued that same season, as on June 13th he hit a home run over the ice house beyond the right field fence at Sulphur Dell. Fans would often consider a ball hit on top of the building outside the stadium as a feat in itself, and Sawatski was known to have hit several on or over the roof.Sawatski_Swat

Also known as “Swats” and “Swisher”, Sawatski’s record-setting fifth grand slam took place on August 31st. The slam came in a 24-4 win over Atlanta; it was his 24th homer of the season as Nashville swept the Crackers in all eleven games in Sulphur Dell between the two teams.

As feared as Sawatski was at the plate, he garnered a bit of respect on September 11th in the final game of the 1949 season.  He received only blooper pitches every time he faced Chattanooga’s Bobo Newsom in the final game of the Southern Association season at Engel Stadium. Reaching across the plate on his final at-bat, Sawataski caught one of Newsom’s bloopers, and fungoed the ball into right field as Sawatski is called out for interference by chuckling umpire Bill Malesky.

Returning to Nashville for 1950 to a totally revamped squad, only six members of the previous year’s Southern Association championship team were still on hand to hoist the pennant during the pre-game ceremony on June 1st:  Carl Sawatski, Buster Boguskie, Joe Damato, Paul Mauldin, Tony Jacobs, and Charles “Bama” Ray.

However, Sawatski was in the middle of picking up where he left off in 1949. On June 5th, Sawatski socked his seventh home run in seventeen games by tagging Mobile’s Chuck Eisenmann.

Homers seemed to come fast and furious, as on July 24th as the Vols were beating New Orleans 9-6 in Nashville, Sawatski slammed a grand slam for his 19th home run of the season.  He would finish his season with 24 homers in 80 games with a .304 average.

He went to the Chicago Cubs and played in 38 games but only hit one home run.  Sawatski was in the military during 1951 and 1952, came back to finish the 1953 season with the Cubs before signing with the Chicago White Sox.  Although never playing more than 86 games during any portion of the 11 seasons he was on the roster of the Cubs, White Sox, Milwaukee Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, or St. Louis Cardinals.

Sawatski was a member of the 1957 World Series champions Milwaukee Braves.  He served as president of the Texas League from 1976 until his death in Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 24, 1991.

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