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Baseball in Greenwood
By: Donny Whitehead

Professional baseball began in Greenwood in 1910 with our team&'s entry into the Class D Cotton States League. Led by manager Woody Thornton, Greenwood clinched the pennant over Jackson on the final day of the season. In 1911, Greenwood fell to fifth place in the Cotton States League. Manager Thornton was the leading hitter,batting .316 and tying for the league lead with ten triples. By 1912, the Cotton States League, was being played in two halves, with the winners of each half to play for the league championship.

The Greenwood Scouts were the winner of the second-half. The Vicksburg Hill Billies, first-half winner, was not available for the playoffs. Greenwood did not field a team in 1913, and the whole Cotton States League disbanded until 1921 because of World War I.

Greenwood was included in the new Mississippi State League in 1921. The split season was again employed, with Greenwood winning the first half and Clarksdale winning the second half. In the playoffs, manager Charles Bell's Greenwood team won the league championship over Clarksdale in five straight games. Kane, Greenwood-Meridian, was the league's leading batter with a .355 mark. Other leading hitters for Greenwood were Tom Toland, .327, and Hugh Critz, .298. With the addition of the Vicksburg Hillbillies and Greenville Bucks in 1922 the league grew to six clubs as the Cotton States League named restored.

The Greenwood Indians won the right to play in the championship by winning the second-half of the divided season and then beat the Meridian Mets, winners of the first-half, four games in a row.

In 1923, the Laurel Lumberjacks and Hattiesburg Hubmen were added to the Cotton States League and the split season was eliminated. Attendance was bad from the start and the directors of the league voted to end the season on July the 24th. The Greenville Bucks were declared champion with the Laurel Lumberjacks tied with the Greenwood Indians for second place.

Greenwood dropped from the Cotton States League until 1934 when, in the middle of the second-half, the Shreveport team was shifted to Greenwood. By now the league was operating as the Class C, Dixie League and was divided into two leagues, the East Dixie, of which Greenwood was a member, and the West Dixie.

In 1935, the Helena Seaporters and Columbus Bengals were added to the league. Columbus was unable to finish the first-half and was replaced by Cleveland, MS. The Greenwood Chiefs were last in the first-half and next to last in the second-half. Leading batter for Greenwood was HOF member, Walter "Smokey" Alston with a .326 mark.

The original Cotton States League name was restored for the 1936 season. The Greenwood Dodgers, under manager Frank Brazil, edged the Greenville Bucks by one game to win the top spot in the the league. Leslie Horn was Greenwood's leading batter at .328 and Tom Ferrick turned the league's best ERA, 2.17

El Dorado won the 1937 Cotton States League playoffs for the second straight season with the Greenwood Dodgers in the third spot with 76 wins and 62 losses. Glen Stewart was selected as the league's top 2B.

In 1938, the Greenwood Dodgers finished 7th with a 55-83 record, as the Greenville Bucks won the the regular league championship and Monroe won the playoffs. July 26th, was Eddie Amelung night. Bob Salveson played 2B, 3B, and SS and did an excellent job at all three positions.

Greenwood finished in 3rd place in the 1939 regular season, at 77-63, and proceeded to defeat the Clarksdale Red Sox and Hot Springs Bathers for the Shaughnessey title. Eddie Amelung established a new league record for triples with 23.

Greenwood's bright spot in 1940 was a no-hit game by Edward "Pat" Malone against Hot Springs. Greenwood finished the season in 7th place. With the coming of World War II, Greenwood would not have another team until 1947, when they became a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The league was reorganized for the 1947 season and the race was mostly a two-club affair. Greenwood won 92 games to tie the league high mark. They lost only 38, a new low. In the playoffs, Greenwood Dodgers beat the Clarksdale Planters and Greenville Bucks. Mervin Dornburg was Greenwood's leading batter. Bob Duchaney had 15 triples to lead all clubs, and Russ Opplinger had 21 victories.

The Cotton States League gained full strength in 1948 with the addition of the Natchez Indians and Pine Bluff. But once again, it was the Greenwood Dodgers leading the way with their second championship in a row. The Hot Springs Bathers defeated the Greenwood Dodgers in the playoffs 4 games to 3. Labe Dean of Greenwood set a new Cotton States League low in ERA at 1.34. The Cotton States League's first all-star game was played in Greenwood.

Greenwood continued it's Cotton States League superiority by winning the division three years in a row during the 1949 season. The Dodgers won 84-56 to land the top spot again, but lost to Pine Bluff in the playoffs. Tommy Graham, Pine Bluff Cardinals, and Elwood May, Greenwood Dodgers, both were 20 game winners.

The Pine Bluff Judges won the league crown in 1950 as Greenwood fell to fifth place at 69-69. Future New York Yankee Ryne Duren of the Pine Bluff Cardinals, led the league with 233 K's. Lou Landini of Greenwood was chosen as the league's all-star catcher.

In 1951, the Greenwood Dodgers finished in second place in the regular season and was eliminated in the playoffs by Pine Bluff. The official all-star team included Greenwood Dodgers players Fred Waters and Carl Tumlinson. Tumlinson hit a HR in the all-star game and Greenwood Dodger pitcher Hugh Moxley was the winning pitcher as the Mississippi all-stars beat the Ark-La all-stars.

1952 was to be the last year for professional baseball in Greenwood, which had it's origins back to 1910. The parent team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided not to operate a club in Greenwood in 1953. The record of the club had been excellent, but the income had been insufficient to cover operating expenses. Greenwood finished in 3rd place at 70-56 and lost in the playoffs to the Natchez Indians. John Tidwell batted .311 and John Forizs was 20-8, to lead the team in hitting and pitching. On August 8th, Karl Spooner struck out 19 batters to tie a CSL record.

Greenwood sent many players to the major leagues:

Name Year in Greenwood Major League Team
Ollie Welf 1910 Indians
Ray Rolling 1910-1912 Cardinals
Horace Leverette 1910-1911 Browns
Sherrod Smith 1911 Pirates
Ed Irwin 1911 Detroit Tigers
Pat McGehee 1911 Detroit Tigers
Ollie Welf 1911 Cleveland Indians
Horace Leverette 1911 St. Louis Browns
Pol Perritt 1912 Cardinals
Dummy Murphy 1912 Philadelphia Phillies
Riggs Stephenson 1920 Indians
George Murray 1920 Yankees, Red Sox, Washington, Chicago
Hugh Critz 1920-1921 Reds, Giants
Red Lucas 1921 Reds, Pirates
Harry Kelley 1923 Senators
George Gill 1934 Browns, Tigers
Bud Bates 1934 Philadelphia Phillies
Benny McCoy 1934 A's, Tigers
Roy Cullenbine 1934 Tigers, Yankees, Browns, Dodgers
Walter Alston 1935 Cardinals
Oscar Judd 1935 RedSox, Phillies
Bob Scheffing 1935 Cubs, Reds
Tom Sunkel 1935 Cardinals, Dodgers
Bob Carpenter 1936-1937 Giants
Clem Dreisewerd 1936 RedSox
Tom Lanning 1936 Philadelphia Phillies
Tom Ferrick 1936 Browns, Yankees
Howie Moss 1936-1937 Reds
Glen Stewart 1937 Phillies
Jack Aragon 1937 Giants
Frank Mancuso 1937 Browns
Turkey Tyson 1938 Philadelphia Phillies
Bob Chipman 1939 Cubs, Braves
Fred 'Papa' Williams 1939 Cleveland Indians
Ray Moore 1947 Dodgers, Orioles, WhiteSox, Senators, Twins
Fred Waters 1949 & 1951 Pirates
Norm Larker 1950 Dodgers, Colt 45's, Braves, Giants
George Witt 1950 Pirates, Angels, Colt 45's
Dick Gray 1951 Dodgers, Cardinals
Chuck Templeton 1952 Dodgers
Karl Spooner 1952 Dodgers
Danny McDevitt 1952 Dodgers, Yankees, Twins, A's

Former major league players who played in Greenwood:

Name Year in Greenwood Major League Team
Orth Collins 1911 Yankees, Senators
George 'Scoops' Carey 1911 Baltimore(NL), Louisville(NL), Washington(AL)
Rebel Oaks 1921 Reds, Cardinals, Pittsburgh Rebels(FL)
Sam Vick 1922 Yankees, RedSox
Irv Stein 1934 Philadelphia Athletics
Carlos Moore 1935 Washington Senators
Dino Chiozza 1936 Phillies
Frank Brazil 1936-1937 A's
Elmer Yoter 1938 A's, Indians, Cubs
Fred Bennett 1938 St. Louis Browns, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bill Patton 1938 Philadelphia Athletics
Gerard Lipscomb 1939-1940 Browns
Walter Carson 1940 Indians
Jim Bivin 1947-1949 Phillies
Lou Rochelli 1950-1951 Dodgers

Perhaps the two most famous former Greenwood players were Walter Alston and Hughie Critz. Alston played his first professional season in Greenwood in 1935 and was promoted to the parent St. Louis Cardinals for the 1936 season, where he struck out in the only at bat of his major league career. He was manager of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 23 seasons and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

Critz played for Greenwood in 1920 and 1921, and after seasons in Memphis and Minneapolis, he was sold to the Reds for the 1924 season. He played there until he was traded to the New York Giants in 1930. Critz starred at 2B until he retired following the 1935 season. He played for the 1933 World Champion New York Giants.