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3 days ago  ::  Mar 29, 2015 - 1:49PM #4741
Posts: 12,065

100 Greatest Minor League Teams 

No 12- 1939 Kansas City Blues  Part 2

3rd baseman Billy Hitchcock, 23, was in his 1st year of pro ball, signed by the Yankees after graduating from Auburn University. He was with the Blues for 3 years, then was acquired by Detroit and made his MLB debut in 1942. Hitchcock was in the service in 1943-44-45, then played eight seasons in the American League with Detroit, Washington, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. In 703 MLB games he batted .243. He managed Buffalo (International) in 1954, then was a MLB coach for Detroit from 1955-1960. Hitchcock managed Vancouver (PCL) in 1961. He managed Baltimore in 1962-63, finishing 7th in 1962 and 4th in 1963. He was a field coordinator for the Orioles in 1964, a MLB scout for Milwaukee in 1965 and a coach for Atlanta the 1st 3-½ months of 1966. He was appointed Braves manager August 9, 1966, replacing Bobby Bragan. Under Hitchcock, the Braves finished the season 33-18, ending in 7th place. He piloted Atlanta all of 1967, the Braves coming in 7th again. His MLB managerial record was 274-261, .512. From 1972-1980 Hitchcock was president of the Class AA Southern League. At the 1980 Winter Meetings, Billy Hitchcock was honored as the “King of Baseball.” His older brother, Jimmy Hitchcock, also an infielder, played briefly for the National League Boston Bees.

Lending experience to the rookie infielders was 33-year-old Jack Saltzgaver, a veteran of 14 years in pro ball. Saltzgaver was a member of another Top 100 team, the 1932 Newark Bears, coming down from the Yankees where he had started the season. He played for New York from 1934-1937, then joined Kansas City in 1938 for 7 seasons. He managed the Blues in 1944. He hit .348, but his wartime team finished in the cellar. In 1945, at the age of 39, he played for Pittsburgh Pirates, batting .325 in 52 games. In the MLB, he batted .260-10-82 in 278 games. In the minors he hit .304 with 2,194 hits in 2,036 games.

The biggest bat in the Kansas City lineup belonged to center fielder Vince DiMaggio, the eldest of the 3 baseball playing brothers. He hit .290 in 154 games, led the American Association in HRs (46), total bases (346) and RBIs (136) and was 4th in runs (122). The 46 HRs were a team record and an especially impressive total because he played half his games in one of the most spacious parks in baseball. The distance down each foul line was 350 feet and it was 450 feet to dead center, no cheap HRs there. Vince was a good all-round player. He stole 21 bases, 6th in the league, led outfielders in fielding (.993) and double plays (10), and tied for the lead in assists (17). He also led the league in striking out, 123 times, 34 more than the runner-up. One of Vince’s HRs made a distinct impression on a fan. As described in The Sporting News, “Listening to a broadcast of the game with Kansas City, June 6th, while driving past the Louisville ballpark, James C. Wilson heard the announcer say that Vince DiMaggio had hit a HRr over the left field wall. Wilson poked his head out the car window to see if he could spot the drive. Just then the ball landed on his automobile.”

When Vince was 19 he was signed by his hometown San Francisco Seals and broke in with Tucson (Arizona-Texas) in 1932, hitting a HR in his 1st time at bat. After batting .347-25-81 in 94 games he was recalled by the Seals and hit .270-6-31 in 59 games. Late in the season he brought his younger brother, Joe, to Seals Stadium for a tryout. Vince started the 1933 season with San Francisco, but was released early in the season and was signed by Hollywood. The Stars franchise was moved to San Diego in 1936. DiMaggio had a good season, batting .293-19-102 with 14 triples, leading outfielders in assists (31), and was purchased by the National League Boston Bees. In 2 years with the Bees, he batted .256-13-69 and .228-14-61, leading the league in strikeouts both years and setting what was then a MLB record by fanning 134 times in 1938. DiMaggio was dispatched to Kansas City in the deal that brought shortstop Eddie Miller to Boston. Meyer worked long and hard with Vince to eliminate a pronounced hitch in his swing and to get him to lay off the high, tight pitches that contributed to his problems. In the 1st 3rd of the season, DiMaggio batted .342 and hit 24 HRs, but his average had dropped 50 points by the end of the year. Still, he did well enough that Cincinnati purchased him and he reported to the Reds after the playoffs. Cincinnati traded Vince to Pittsburgh and he remained with the Pirates until he was traded to the Phillies during spring training of 1945. He had some productive years with Pittsburgh, especially in 1941 when he hit .267-21-100. He played in 2 MLB All-Star Games, going 3-for-3 with a triple and a HR in the 1943 contest. Still, the strikeouts persisted, ranging from 83 to 126 from 1940-1945. He was acquired by the Giants shortly after the start of the 1946 season, but after going 0-for-25 with New York he was released to San Francisco. He finished the year with the Seals and played for Oakland in 1947.

In 1948, DiMaggio was appointed manager of the Stockton Ports in the California League. He batted .283 with 100 RBI in 127 games and led the league in HRs (30). The Ports finished 4th but reached the finals of the playoffs before bowing to Santa Barbara, 4 games to 3. In 1949 he signed to manage Pittsburg, CA, in the Class D Far West League. The Diamonds won the pennant in 1949 and finished 5th in 1950. Vince hit .367-37-117 in ’49 and .353-26-129 in ’50. In 1951 Pittsburg became one of the few 1st-place clubs to fold during the season. The Diamonds were 29-18, but were drawing fewer than 200 fans a game and disbanded June 14th. He finished the season playing for Tacoma (Western International), then retired from baseball. Vince was far more emotional than brothers Joe or Dom. Once, while managing Pittsburg and playing center field, he called “time” to protest a decision, came racing in, but ran right past the bewildered umpire and into the team’s office. He phoned Far West League President Jerry Donovan, an old Seals teammate, at his home to complain about the umpire’s call. Donovan told him, in no uncertain terms, to get back on the field or the game would be forfeited. DiMaggio also attracted attention at Pittsburg because his young daughter not only served as the team’s “batgirl,” but regularly took infield practice at 2nd base.

Another outfielder was 22-year-old, left-handed hitting Arthur Beauregard (Bud) Metheny, also a rookie up from Norfolk. Metheny hit .315-10-57. He was a wartime Yankee, playing for New York in 1943-1944-1945 and batting .247-31-156 in 376 games. He was back in the minors after the war, playing another 5 years before retiring. Metheny was the baseball coach at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA from 1948-1980 and the basketball coach from 1948-1965. The Bud Metheny Baseball Complex at Old Dominion is named in his honor. His teams posted a 423-363, .538 record, winning 7 conference and 5 regional championships. He was named NCAA College Division Eastern Regional Coach of the Year in 1963-1964 and National Coach of the Year in 1964. Metheny was elected to the College Baseball Coaches Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. His basketball teams posted 16 winning seasons in 18 years. He also served as the university’s Athletic Director from 1963-1970. 

Catching was in the hands of 33-year-old veteran Johnny Riddle and 22-year-old rookie Clyde McCullough. Riddle came out of the University of Georgia in 1927 and received his 1st shot at the majors in 1930 with the White Sox. Over the next 18 years he played all or parts of 7 seasons in the majors with Washington, the Boston Bees, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, batting .238 in 98 games. He spent most of his career in the American Association, 12 years with Indianapolis and 3 with Kansas City. Riddle was playing manager at Birmingham (Southern) for 3 years, 1942-1943-1944. He was a coach for Pittsburgh, 1948-1950; St. Louis Cardinals, 1952-1955; Milwaukee, 1956-1957; Cincinnati, 1958 and Philadelphia, 1959. His younger brother, Elmer Riddle, pitched for Cincinnati, 1939-1945 and 1947, and Pittsburgh, 1948-1949. The 2 formed a brother battery at times with the Reds.

McCullough, a native of Nashville, TN, broke into pro ball in 1935 with Lafayette (Evangeline). He was purchased by the Cubs after the 1939 season and sent to Buffalo for 1940 where hit .324-27-89 in 145 games and caught 117 consecutive games. He became the Cubs’ number 1 catcher in 1941. McCullough hit only 9 HRs that year, but hit 1 in each of the 8 National League parks! He was in the Navy in 1944-1945 and was discharged in time to make 1 pinch-hitting appearance for the Cubs in the 1945 World Series. He is the only player ever to be in a World Series without playing in a regular season game. McCullough was traded to Pittsburgh in December 1948 and traded back to Chicago in December 1952. His MLB playing career ended when he was released by the Cubs in July 1956. His 15-year major league batting average was .252 in 1098 games. He played for Miami (International) in 1957, then managed Reading (Eastern) and Asheville (South Atlantic) in 1958-59. He was a coach for Washington/Minnesota in 1960-61. In 1963 he began a long association with the New York Mets organization, managing in the minors for 9 years. McCullough was named Manger of the Year in the New York-Penn League in 1964-1965-1966 and the Carolina League in 1967. In 1969 he led Tidewater to the International League championship and was named The Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year. He scouted for Montreal in 1972, then returned to the Mets as a minor league instructor from 1973-1976. He subsequently joined the San Diego organization and during spring training 1982 was named MLB bullpen coach. McCullough was traveling with the Padres in San Francisco September 18, 1982 when he suffered a fatal heart attack. 

Kansas City did not have a 20-game winner, but Blues pitchers had the 3lowest ERAs in the league, and 4 of the top 5. Kansas City had no left-handed pitchers during the season. Marv Breuer (17-6, 2.28) led in ERA, Tom Reis (17-4, 2.30) was 2nd and led the league in percentage (.810), and Johnny Babich (17-6, 2.55) was 3rd. Breuer and Babich tied with Max Lanier of Columbus for the shutout lead with 4r. Al Piechota (16-7, 2.88) was 5h in ERA. Breuer, 25, was a civil engineer, a graduate of the Missouri School of Mines in his hometown of Rolla. He had been in the Yankees organization since 1934. In 1937 with Oakland he started the season 0-12, 4.02, still the Pacific Coast League record for consecutive losses. In June, the Yankees mercifully transferred him to Newark and then to Kansas City where he went 5-7, 3.46. On August 21, 1939 at Louisville, Breuer pitched a 2-0 1-hit shutout and had a no-hitter until 2 were out in the 9th inning. Only one batter, Vince Sherlock, had reached 1st base, on an error by Saltzgaver in the 4th. Colonels CF Chet Morgan, hitless in 28 trips to the plate, hit a high bounder in front of the plate which came down too late for Riddle to throw him out at 1st base. Breuer then retired pinch-hitter Fred Sington to end the game. Breuer moved up to the Yankees in 1940 and pitched 3e full seasons for them with a 25-25, 3.91 record. He relieved in 1 game each in the 1941 and 1942 World Series.

Babich, 26, from Richmond, CA, was signed originally by San Francisco in 1931 and was a teammate of DiMaggio with the Seals and Tucson in 1932. After going 10-3, 2.03 for Mission (PCL) in the early part of 1934, he was purchased by Brooklyn and finished the season there with a 7-11, 4.20 record. He pitched for the Dodgers again in 1935, then was traded to Boston in January 1936. He was injured almost all of the ’36 season, then went back to the PCL. He had a 19-17, 3.27 season with Hollywood in 1938 and was purchased by the Yankees. In October 1939, Babich was drafted by the Philadelphia Athletics. He had a good year for the A’s in 1940 (14-13, 3.73), a last place team that won only 54 games. Five of his victories were over the Yankees. He was hurt again in 1941, dropping to 2-7, 6.12, and was back in the Yankee organization in 1942 at Newark. His MLB career record was 30-48, 4.93. He pitched in the PCL for Seattle and Oakland the next 3 years and was a coach for the Oaks in 1946. In 1947, Babich managed the Stockton Ports in the California League, another Top 100 team, then retired from baseball.

Reis, 25, from Fort Thomas , KY, had been signed by Cleveland in 1933. In 1937 he had a 19-9, 2.97 record for Wilkes-Barre (NYP). On September 18, he pitched a no-hit, no-run game against Binghamton in the playoffs, retiring the last 26 batters in order. He was acquired by the Phillies and pitched 8 games for Philadelphia and Boston in 1938 (0-1, 12.27), his only MLB experience. He finished the year with Milwaukee. 1939 was his 1st year in the Yankees organization. He pitched for Newark and Kansas City in 1940 and for the Blues in 1941-1942-1943 before going into the service. After the war Reis pitched 1 year for Kansas City, then 7 seasons with Oakland, Seattle, Oklahoma City (Texas) and Tulsa (Texas). Piechota, a 25-year-old Chicagoan, broke in with Davenport (Mississippi Valley) in 1933 (a Top 100 team) and was purchased by New York after the 1935 season. 1939 was his 3rd year with Kansas City. At the end of the season he was purchased by the Boston Bees and went 2-5, 5.75 for them in 1940, his only full MLB season. In 1941 he was with Boston for1 inning, Hollywood, Toronto, Toronto and Hartford. Piechota spent the next 5 years in the service, then pitched 5 more years in the minors, 3 with Little Rock (Southern).

The Kansas City pitcher who had the greatest MLBe success was 26-year-old right-hander Ernie (Tiny) Bonham who was 10-9, 3.18 for the Blues with 3 shutouts. Bonham, from Ione, CA, a tiny town about 35 miles northeast of Stockton, was 22 when he broke into pro ball with Akron (Middle Atlantic) in 1936. The next year he was 17-16, 3.66 for Oakland and joined Kansas City from Newark in the middle of the 1938 season. In 1940 he went 10-4, 2.32 for the Blues and was called up by New York on August 1st. He had a 9-3, 1.91 record the last 2 months of the season and walked only 13 batters in 99 innings. In game 5 of the 1941 World Series he pitched a 3-1 4-hitter against Brooklyn to clinch the championship. His best year with the Yankees was 1942. He had a 21-5, 2.27 record, led the American League in won-lost percentage (.808) and shutouts (6), tied for the lead in complete games (6) and was 2nd in ERA. He walked only 24 batters in 226 innings, a league-best ratio of .98 a game. Bonham was named by the Baseball Writers Association to The Sporting News Major League All-Star Team. He was selected for the Major League All-Star Game in 1942-1943, but did not pitch. He pitched in 3 World Series, 1941-1942-1943, with a record of 1-2, 2.89 in 4 starts. Bonham was traded to Pittsburgh in October 1946. He was still with the Pirates when he died suddenly September 15, 1949, following stomach surgery. Bonham was a favorite of Bill Meyer’s, for whom he pitched at Kansas City and Pittsburgh. His MLB record was 103-72, 3.06.

Johnny Lindell

The Blues had another player of note, Johnny Lindell, a 22-year-old right-hander from Arcadia, CA, who had an 8-5, 4.40 record. He was signed by the Yankees in 1936 and went 17-8, 4.03 with Joplin (Western Association) in his rookie year. He also showed an ability to hit, batting .325 with 23 RBIs in 42 games. Two years later he went 9-8, 3.42 for Oakland and hit .368-4-27 in 60 games. In 1940 Lindell improved to 18-7, 2.70 for Kansas City, tying for the American Association lead in wins, and started the 1941 season with New York. After 1 game he was optioned to Newark where he had a sensational year. He won 23 and lost only 4 for the Top 100 champion, led the International League in ERA (2.05) and won-lost percentage (.852), was 2nd in wins and was named The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year. He moved up to the Yankees in 1942 and was 2-1, 3.74 in 23 games in relief. Joe McCarthy liked Johnny’s batting skills and with a shortage of outfielders because of the war, inserted him in the starting lineup and ultimately had him batting cleanup. Lindell had his best year in 1943, batting .300-18-103. He tied for the league lead in triples (16) and led American League outfielders in putouts (468). He remained with the Yankees until 1950. In the 1947 World Series he hit .500 (9-for-18) with 7 RBIs in 6 games as the Yankees edged the Dodgers, 4 games to 3. On May 15, 1950 he was claimed on waivers by the Cardinals. He batted only .186 for St. Louis and the Cards sent him to Columbus (American Association). Lindell wanted to play in the PCL and the Cardinals obliged him by trading him to Hollywood. In his book “Hollywood Stars,” Dick Beverage writes “Lindell was obviously past his prime as an everyday player, but (Manager Fred) Haney thought he might be effective as a pitcher. Lindell had developed a knuckleball, pitching on the sidelines in recent years. Although he had not pitched in 8 years, Haney used him in 2 games late in the year and was pleased by what he saw (no earned runs in 7 innings). The conversion of the ex-Yankee began in earnest during the spring. When the season started, Lindell was one of the starters. He succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.” In 1951, he went 12-9, 3.03. The next season Lindell improved to 24-9, with a 2.52 ERA, led the PCL in wins, percentage (.727), complete games (26) and strikeouts (190 in 282 innings). That earned him another shot at the majors, with Pittsburgh. After posting a 6-14, 4.66 record with the Pirates and Phillies in 1953, he retired at the age of 37. Lindell’s MLBe record as a batter was .273-72-404 in 854 games.

In its last 15 years in the league, Kansas City won its share of regular season titles (1940, 1942, 1947) and playoff championships (1952, 1953). In 1955, the Athletics moved west, displacing the Blues, knocking the city out of the minors for good.

The 1939 Blues were one of the best teams ever to grace the long-lived American Association. In 95 years of league history, only one other team collected a better winning percentage than Kansas City’s .695 mark in ’39.

1939 American Association standings
KANSAS CITY 107 47 .695 - ST. PAUL 73 81 .474 34.0
MINNEAPOLIS 99 55 .643 8.0 MILWAUKEE 70 83 .458 36.5
INDIANAPOLIS 82 72 .532 25.0 COLUMBUS 62 92 .403 45.0
LOUISVILLE 75 78 .490 31.5 TOLEDO 47 107 .305 60.0

1939 Kansas City Blues batting statistics
Johnny Sturm 1B 131 528 76 163 59 31 6 7 29 25 9 .309
Jerry Priddy 2B 155 580 110 193 107 44 15 24 45 61 12 .333
Phil Rizzuto SS 135 503 99 159 64 21 6 5 36 27 33 .316
Jack Saltzgaver 3B, OF, 1B 129 436 74 126 58 18 8 4 73 38 14 .289
Vince DiMaggio OF 154 544 122 158 136 32 9 46 89 123 21 .290
Bill Matheson OF 115 379 64 114 57 20 9 9 16 51 21 .301
Art Metheny OF 95 298 55 94 57 24 4 10 42 37 4 .315
John Riddle C 100 265 25 62 25 12 1 3 27 16 3 .234
Billy Hitch****pan> 3B, SS 116 369 52 97 40 17 11 4 23 51 15 .263
Clyde McCullough C 108 282 55 78 42 18 9 11 35 55 9 .277
Buzz Boyle OF 83 212 32 67 39 12 8 5 42 21 6 .316
Rupert Thompson OF 44 125 18 28 17 3 1 2 26 16 3 .224
Johnny Lindell P 40 81 8 15 8 1 1 0 3 6 0 .185
Sandy Vance P 38 58 9 19 10 0 2 1 0 6 1 .328
Johnny Babich P 37 79 11 22 10 3 1 1 0 18 1 .278
Frank Makosky P 36 18 2 3 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 .167
Tom Reis P 34 52 4 7 3 1 0 0 4 16 0 .135
Al Piechota P 33 66 6 15 7 3 0 0 3 10 0 .227
Tiny Bonham P 32 67 6 12 4 1 0 0 5 13 0 .179
Marv Breuer P 26 56 5 4 2 0 0 0 4 17 0 .071
Tommy Holmes OF 7 20 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 .150
Herman Schulte 3B, 2B 7 16 1 4 1 1 0 0 0 .250
John Stonebraker OF 5 9 1 3 0 0 0 0 1 .333
Ed Kearse PH 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 155 5054 835 1447 264 91 132 154 .286
1939 Kansas City Blues pitching statistics
Tom Reis 17 4 .810 34 17 11 3 164 140 61 77 2.30
Johnny Babich 17 6 .739 36 27 15 4 208 196 78 117 2.55
Marv Breuer 17 6 .739 26 25 15 4 178 154 56 93 2.28
Al Piechota 16 7 .696 33 22 15 2 181 162 56 93 2.88
Sandy Vance 10 4 .714 32 19 9 0 152 148 61 49 4.32
Tiny Bonham 10 9 .526 32 26 12 3 198 172 62 143 3.18
Frank Makosky 9 3 .750 36 0 0 0 74 76 30 50 4.74
Johnny Lindell 8 5 .615 23 16 7 0 131 143 45 53 4.40
Don Hendrickson 0 0 ---- 5 0 11 8 5 3

3 days ago  ::  Mar 29, 2015 - 6:39PM #4742
Posts: 12,065

05/11/2007 10:00 AM ET

Stowe snags win without a pitch

Left-hander left behind by Yankees found quick way to net a 'W'

Casey Stengel felt Hal Stowe was a big-league pitcher, but Ralph Houk's arrival in the Bronx squelched the lefty's future with the Yankees. (Clemson University)


It certainly seemed as if Hal Stowe would have accomplished more than he did in his abbreviated baseball career. After all, he had some impressive credentials coming out Clemson in the late 1950s.


Stowe's path to stardom, however, short circuited in the Bronx, leaving him as not much more than a bystander in what would ultimately be considered the end of the great Yankees mid-century dynasty. Rather than laying claim to being part of the Mantle and Maris years in New York, Stowe eventually found fame -- well, notoriety anyway -- far from the bright lights and big city.

It was in Charlotte during the summer of '64 when the left-hander grabbed headlines across the country, giving the baseball world something to talk about. By then, Stowe had been jettisoned by the Yankees and was finishing up his career with Minnesota's Double-A affiliate in the newly named Southern League. But when he won a game on July 11 without ever throwing a pitch, it made for some unusual media fodder, giving Stowe his 15 minutes of fame.

Charlotte was a pedestrian team in 1964, finishing in fourth place, eight games back in the eight-team Southern League. Asheville was simply dreadful, and would finish in the cellar, 28 games behind first-place Lynchburg. But on this night, the Tourists rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score at 5-5 in Clark Griffith Park.

Asheville's Roberto Herrera had singled in the tying run off George Miller to cap the rally, and was on first base when Charlotte manager Al Evans decided to bring in Stowe. The veteran wasted little time in squashing the rally.

"I came in with two outs and a man on first base, took a stretch, he took a lead off the bag and I picked him off," Stowe said. "We came up, someone drove in a run and we won the game. It had to be the easiest game I ever won. I had never heard of that happening before and haven't since."

It was small consolation for a hurler who fully expected to have 15 years, not minutes, when he left Clemson in 1959 after leading the Tigers to consecutive College World Series appearances. He was 24-13 with a 2.32 ERA in three seasons with Clemson, and left such a mark that the institution now presents the Harold Stowe MVP award annually to its top pitcher.

"The two Yankees scouts that signed me were their top-notch, big-dog scouts," Stowe, 70, said. "They were after me for about a week. It was between them, the Phillies and the Red Sox. I took the advice of a close family friend, who was kind of an agent even though we didn't have agents then, and signed with New York.

"The Yankees sent me to Greensboro and I stayed there about a week before I went to Fargo, N.D. I didn't lose a game there and the Yankees brought me up at the end of the season, but I didn't get into any games. I went to the fall rookie league that year, and Spring Training in 1960 with the Yankees, before they sent me back to Amarillo [of the Texas League]."

Stowe made the most of his time in the Texas League, going 15-3 with a 3.43 ERA. At one point he won 12 consecutive games, earning a promotion to the big leagues. He even pitched an inning with the Yankees that August, impressing manager Casey Stengel. But it would turn out to be the only inning Stowe would pitch in the big leagues, ultimately leading him down the path to that Saturday night in Charlotte.

"At that time, I felt as if I were a big-league pitcher," Stowe said. "And Casey thought so, too."

The problem was that Ralph Houk didn't share Stengel's feelings. And when Houk took over as New York skipper in 1961, it signaled what would be the end of Stowe's career with the Yankees. This despite the fact that he was given the Most Outstanding Young Pitcher Award that spring after allowing only three runs and four hits in 17 innings.

"I guess I wasn't his type of pitcher," Stowe said. "I had no idea why. A lot of people asked me that question, but I never knew why. That's 50 years behind us now. I made a lot of good friends with the Yankees and they paid me a good bonus. I wish I could have had more of an opportunity with them, but the good Lord didn't wish it."

Stowe broke camp with the Yankees in '61 and stayed with the team until mid-May, though he never pitched an inning. He was eventually sent to Richmond and was finally released following the 1963 season.

Minnesota, looking to add some pitching, offered Stowe a contract for 1964, but wanted him to pitch in Triple-A Vancouver. Stowe, a North Carolina native, had no intention of heading across the continent. By that point, he was gearing up for life after baseball. But when the Twins told him he could pitch for their Double-A affiliate in Charlotte, he agreed and thus was pointed toward his unusual effort against the Tourists.

Stowe won eight games for the Hornets, ending his career close to home. By that time, he was married with children and decided to take a public relations job. Nine years later he took over the family restaurant in Gastonia, N.C., and that's where he's been ever since. He's planning on celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary this year with a trip to New York, where he hopes to catch the Mets-Yankees Subway Series in June.

He has some memorabilia in his playroom at home: signed Yankees pictures and a plaque from The Sporting News commemorating what he did on that July night against Asheville.

"My wife has the article hanging there on the wall," Stowe said. "I walk past it all the time, but this is probably the first time it's come to mind in 40 years."

Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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