Tag Archives: Roy Campanella

Famous Teams, Stars Played Exhibitions at Sulphur Dell on April 4

Major-league ball clubs, training in the southern part of the United States, scheduled exhibition games as they made their way homeward, primarily against minor-league clubs. April 4 was a popular date for such games in Nashville as the teams worked their way toward opening day. Often, the starting lineup consisted of the most famous stars against the hometown team.

In 1906, the Chicago Americans defeated Nashville 6-2 in a game that took 1 hour and 40 minutes. The game was played at Peabody Field due to the wet conditions at Athletic Park. Known as the “hitless wonders”, the White Sox would go on to win the pennant despite having the lowest batting average in the league, then becoming World Series champions by winning four-games-to-two over the Chicago Cubs.

In 1915, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Nashville Vols 7-4 at Sulphur Dell. Cy Williams hits two home runs and the Cubs score three runs in the ninth for the win. Cubs short stop Bob Fisher and brother of former Nashville owner/manager/player, was born in Nashville.

The World Champions New York Yankees paid a visit to Nashville in 1928, falling to the Vols 11-10. Ed Pipgras, brother to the Yankees’ George Pipgras, tossed the last three innings and was the winning pitcher for the Vols. One of his strikeout victims was Babe Ruth, who had a home run in the first inning. Lou Gehrig and Leo Durocher each had a double. The star of the game was Nashville right fielder Wally Hood, who hit a double and home run along with three singles. He was 5-for-5, had a sacrifice fly, drove in two, and scored three runs.

Ruth and the Yankees returned to Sulphur Dell in 1933. With two home runs, New York shut out the Vols, 13-0. Nashville had 23 assists, and only one runner made it to third base. 2,500 fans were in attendance.

In 1942, only 3,500 attend the game at Sulphur Dell as the New York Yankees route the hometown Vols, 10-1. Nashville can muster only six hits, while the Yankees collect a total of 15, including a three-run homer by Don Pulford. Charley English hits a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning off Lefty Gomez for the only run for the host team. The next day, the Yankees win again by a 11-6 score with a barrage of 18 hits as 8,000 fans witness the contest.

In a three-hour, six-minute game played before 12,006 fans in 1954, the Milwaukee Braves defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 18-14.  Nine ground-rule doubles are called on balls hit among those seated on the outfield hills. Carl Furillo smacks a grand-slam, and George “Shotgun” Shuba, Duke Snider, and Ed Mathews each hit homers. Roy Campanella pinch-hits and works the last inning behind the plate as Junior Gilliam anchors third and Jackie Robinson plays first.

Two years later, only seven days after Sulphur Dell is under fourteen feet of water, Eddie Mathews hits three home runs to lead the Milwaukee Braves over the Brooklyn Dodgers 10-8. Mathews’ first homer off Don Newcombe is a 340-foot drive over the left field wall. Tom Lasorda relieves in the 9th inning for the Dodgers. Sandy Amoros has two home runs and Hank Aaron also has a homer as Johnny Logan has two doubles and a triple. The Dodgers will go on to win the 1956 National League pennant with a one-game lead over the Braves.

Nashville fans had many opportunites to see baseball’s best and brightest at famous Sulphur Dell.

© 2017 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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Nashville’s Jim “Junior” Gilliam, 1953 Rookie of the Year

On this day in 1953, Nashville’s own Jim “Junior” Gilliam, second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, is announced as the winner of the National League Rookie of the Year, awarded by The Sporting News.

12,059 fans had  turned out to see the Brooklyn Dodgers defeat the Milwaukee Braves 3-1 on April 6th, but mostly to see home town favorite Jim Gilliam in his return to Nashville as a professional player.  Gilliams went 2-4 to lead the Dodgers. Warren Spahn is the losing pitcher as the Braves muster only one run on catcher Ebba St. Claire’s home run over the high right field wall. The Dodgers’ Dick Williams doubles off the left field wall and drives in two runs.

Jim_Gilliam_1A product of Pearl High School, Gilliam would lead the league with 17 triples, have 168 hits, 23 stolen bases, and a .278 average after taking over second base from Jackie Robinson who moved to third base and the outfield for the 1953 season.

On April 4, 1954 a sell-out crowd of 12,006 fans at Sulphur Dell watched the Milwaukee Braves defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers 18-14 with Gilliam anchoring third base.  Nine ground-rule doubles are called on balls hit among those seated on the outfield hills.  Carl Furillo smacked a grand-slam, and George “Shotgun” Shuba, Duke Snider, and Ed Mathews each hit homers. Roy Campanella pinch-hit and worked the last inning behind the plate and Jackie Robinson played first base.

A two-time All Star, Gilliam’s career lasted 14 years as he remained with the Dodgers during their move to Los Angeles and retired as an active player after the 1966 season.

One of the first African-American coaches in the major leagues as he continued with the Dodgers, Gilliam’s number 19 was retired prior to Game 1 of the 1978 World Series after he suffered a brain hemorrhage and passed away on September 17th.

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