Thursday, January 8, 2015

Coaches Corner, Mgm Owner Plane Crash Anniversary Marked

The coaching staffs (staves?) of Southern league teams have slowly been coming to light over the past few weeks. Here is what we have heard about so far...

For the Braves, the field assignments remain the same for manager Aaron Holbert and pitching coach Dennis Llewallyn, but the hitting coach will be Garey Ingram who returns after one season at Gwinnett. We will only host the Braves once this year.

In Chattanooga, where the new affiliation with Minnesota will bring alot of new faces to the Southern league. One of them will be a rookie skipper in mlb veteran Doug Mientkiewicz.

Hitting coach Chad Allen and pitching coach Stu Cliburn also bring major league experience to the new-look Lookouts. Googling Chad Allen tells us that the hitting coach has the same name as an actor in Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman. The Lookouts are the first team the Skitz face at home in the new season, so we will get to see the first game for the newly minted manager.

For the Smokies, there is no change from last year - Buddy Bailey remains at the helm, Storm Davis returns as pitching coach as well as hitting coach Desi Wilson. While the Biscuits hosted them only once last summer, Montgomery fans will have a every opportunity to get to know the Smokies and their coaches well. Very well.

The BayBears will be skippered by former D-backs backstop Rob Hammock. Hammock was the guy receiving the tosses during Randy Johnsons no hitter.
Mobile's pitching coach was named as Orlando Cepeda, back for his first season as a BayBear, likewise for hitting coach Jason Camillia.



January 1st marked the 60th anniversary of the death of multi-millionaire Rebels owner Hoke VanDeGriff in a New Years Eve plane crash. He had taken his private plane and a small party of family and friends to the Gator Bowl to watch the Auburn Tigers face Baylor. 

The plane went down on its return flight, there were no survivors.

The Auburn Tigers were in TWO Gator Bowls in 1954. The first was early in the year, in January and the second was on December 31st. It was at this second game that Vandegriff made his fateful flight.

I haven't been able to confirm this yet, but I am pretty much working from the assumption that the construction of Paterson field was facilitated by H.L.Vandigriff. I would say there is a strong chance that his construction company built it, or had a hand in its building. Vandigriff's company was one of the largest and most active in the area at that time, so it only stands to reason.

Built in 1949, Paterson Field is largely the same today as it was then, though renovations have been discussed.


 Obviously this tragic event had a major effect on the team, in just about 18 months the Rebels of the Sally League would be replaced by the Southern Associations Little Rock Travelers, and by 1957 Montgomery would be just a D-League team in the Ala-Fla circuit.

We wouldn't get back to double-A until 1965. After Vandigriff and his associates put up more than $35,000 to bring Montgomery into the league in 1954, the Rebels were sold for a meager $3,500 in June of 1956.

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