Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hidden History of Montgomery Baseball


The Todd Glaesmann Rain Turtle continued its domination of the Biscuits summer, forcing a two game set on Wednesday after the daily downpour doused the grounds beyond playability.

Mark Thomas, Biscuits catcher, has been suspended 50 games due to a second positive drug test for a drug of recreation. Smoking pot? No wonder we have been cheering for him! Too bad its against mlb rules when many states are seeing that its less harmful than alcohol. Besides, ya need something to take the sting out of a .152 batting average!

Rebels Logo, classic!
I found out yesterday morning that the Biscuits would be having two former Rebels in a pregame ceremony to honor Montgomery and its place in the game.

The city paper had an article that discussed Turkey Stearns for ten paragraphs, one paragraph of other Montgomery managers past and one single paragraph that substantiated the article headline "Montgomery baseball heritage to be honored".

I have lots to say about this topic, even if the mainstream media can only devote one paragraph.

The history of Montgomery baseball has been long hidden and left to rot without discussion, due in part to memories not wanted. But all history is history, good or bad.

We in Montgomery have learned the importance of embracing the bad, lest the lessons be forgotten. The same is true of our baseball history, where we may have been guilty in the past of negative social skills and low behavior. I think the only way to rise above it is to see what has happened. In that way we appreciate the good and learn from the bad. 

Embrace it, learn from it and love it, for it is unchangeable.

First, I am glad they are doing it at all. After last years rain out and no reschedule I think its a long overdue event for our team to host.

Secondly, I think its terrible to not promote this better. That I learned of it just two days before it happens shows how little preparation has gone into the planning. This is the type of thing that deserves more attention or risk coming off as an afterthought. It needed to be on the calendar for at least a week!

Third, where are our throwback uniforms?
Biscuits sport Montgomery Climbers uniforms ca 1910, at Rickwood

Also, the players appearing are an interesting choice, former Rebels Buddy Lively and John Young.

Photo of Buddy Lively
Bud Lively ca 1950
Bud Lively only played two games for Montgomery, as a Rebel in 1942 and managed by Bill Cronin.

Jack Lively, Buds dad, also to be honored
At that time the Rebs were pretty much the second team in the city - much below the level of play shown by the Maxwell Bombers who sported a big-league rotation that included four pitchers who either would or had tossed no-hitters in the majors.

Lively spent several seasons playing for Shreveport, Jacksonville and Augusta in the 1950s Sally League. He likely made more starts AGAINST Montgomery than for us.

Buds father, Jack Lively, will also be honored and is the subject of a future blog post. Jack played for the famous '09 Climbers team and also had great seasons in the Majors.


Young played for the Rebels in 1970, 71 and part of 74.

In 74 he played for current Tigers mgr Jim Leyland and alongside Ted Brazell and big leaguers Vern Rhule and Bruce Kimm. John Young would make the majors himself, playing for the Tigers he had a cup of coffee in 1971. Getting into two games he had two hits, one was a double, an RBI.

John Young 1971
Both hits and the run batted in came in a victory against the Yankees, John entered the game in the fourth inning and in the fifth doubled off of NY starter Roger Hambright. He would score on a Mickey Stanley sac fly after being moved up to third when Willie Horton singled. In the 8th inning he would single to drive in Carlos Gutierrez. John Young would be stranded on base to end the eighth and would never get another major league at bat.

As a Rebel he played 1b, though he did get into 12 games in the outfield in '74. Young had a great season in 1971, batting a solid .297 with 17 homers and 63 runs batted in to go along with 30 stolen bases - numbers that likely earned him the callup in September.

Playing for Jim Leyland was a new thing for Young, but playing WITH him wasn't. For a short time, Leyland was Young's teammate on the Rebels in 1970 under manager Stubby Overmire. Jimmy Leyland was 25 that year, and caught just two games for the Rebels. The following season his Montgomery manager was Dick Tracewski - who we discussed in a recent blog.

Mr.Young also is the founder of RBI, Reviving Baseball in the Innercities. Very cool.

So we get a couple former players, one from way back and one from the 70s heyday of the Rebels teams. The article in the paper states that there are other aspects of this "Montgomery Baseball Leadership Heritage Day", including exhibits/events at City Hall, Gateway Lodge, Bellingrath CC and Troys Whitley Hall.
Where the teams played but not hosting events for this?
 Why are we hiding this history? The City of Montgomery announced the event in a press release today. Talk about short notice! However it does provide a great deal more info than the much longer article in the Advertiser - including a list of honorees that is much more in keeping with the names and history that I would expect.

The City and the Biscuits need to be looking ahead on this project, it should be an annual buildup over the next three seasons ahead of the return of the Southern League AllStar Game to Montgomery in 2016. While it hasnt been announced for us, Mobile had the one in 2005 and interviews with their front office after the recent announcement that they get the game in '15 imply that teams "go in order, taking turns hosting" the midsummer event.

Sparking an interest in this history of our baseball teams and players is a major part of getting people to support the game and the team we have. The city could do worse than promote civic pride in the area of baseball, as we are already well sold on the concept of other major sports.

Cramton Bowl, home of the Climbers, not mentioned? Ruth/Gehrig played here!
Also I consider this a pretty sad attempt to lure the Southern League Hall Of Fame, which would be an awesome draw for the Biscuits as well as the City. We are pretty much centrally located to the current teams in the league, and would have ample classic buildings to house the museum, which could easily be tied into the whole downtown renovation.


MaxTooney said...

Just stumbled across this blog--thought you and other fans of the 1970s Rebels might want to know that John Young passed away on the 8th of May.

Bane Nelson said...

I have a team autographed Montgomery Rebels baseball from 1942. Was wanting to post a pic or two but did not see how. I also have a small wood bat the is stamped Montgomery Rebels 1948. Nice to stumble on this page.