The 25 most memorable characters in Memphis baseball history

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The 25 most memorable characters in Memphis baseball history

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In 132 years of baseball in Memphis, there’s been a great deal of characters, ranging from the strange to the cute and chocolately.

In honor of the Redbirds making the playoffs, here a list of the 25 most memorable characters to ever grace the baseball scene in Memphis.

25. Thomas Watkins (Known as “Tradin’ Tom”, Watkins helped engineer the Chicks to championships in 1921 and 1924. He also changed the name of the franchise from Turtles to Chicks in 1915)

24. Doc Hottum (Long before there was a Doc Prothro and of course, a Doc Hancock, there was Doc Hottum, who brought baseball back to Memphis in 1885 after an eight-year hiatus. He also promoted a swimming race that ran from 1900 to 1944 that took place in the Mississippi River.)

23.  Joe McEwing (”Super Joe” McEwing, who is still one of my favorite players in Redbirds history, above Rick Ankiel, played for the 1998 Redbirds and became a fan favorite instantly. I remember in that summer, his hits in the clutch kept the Redbirds in the hunt for the postseason and while the Redbirds did fade in the end, McEwing became one of the most popular players in Redbirds history.)

22. Andy Reese (Andrew Jackson Reese, a Tupelo native, was by far the most popular player in the original Chicks’ history. Reese played for the Chicks in the 1930’s, was given a key to the city in 1938 and helped the Chicks to success in the ’30’s.)

21. George Mooney (While Mooney may best remembered for broadcasting the Vols, he actually got his start here in Memphis during the 1940’s. From 1952 to 1967, Mooney became the voice of the Tennessee Vols and later on, the founder of the Vol Navy.)

20. Russell E. Gardner (Ever wonder how Russwood got its name? The name came from a combination of Gardner’s first name and the wood used for the stadium. I don’t think people would have remembered Red Elm Park)

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19. Sabrina Duncan and Katie Williamson (One of many female buddy duos in the summer of 2006, Ms. Duncan and Ms. Williamson made me laugh during the game between the Redbirds and the Iowa Cubs on May 6, 2006. Unlike my mother, they do know when the World Series is played.)

18. David Kelly (Voice of the Redbirds from 2005-2007, a frequently forgotten fact was that the home run call that I used in 2006 was a play off his home run call of “Goodnight, Irene!!!!”)

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17. Ted Kluzewski (The big first baseman, known famously for his time with the Reds, got his start right here in Memphis back in 1948. He is the last Memphis baseball player to win a batting title, which came during that ‘48 season.)

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16. Steve the Fantasy Baseball Guru (In 2006, I relied heavily on the wisdom of fantasy baseball guru Stephen Brice. Because of that wisdom, I have won back-to-back division titles in fantasy baseball and could win a third one this year. That wisdom in 2006 propelled Brice to become general manager of the Burlington Royals.)

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15. Razor Shines (A fan favorite in the late 70’s and 80’s for the Chicks, Shines later gained fame by being a coach on the 2005 World Series champion Chicago White Sox. Did you know that Razor is a family name for the Shines clan?)

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14. Michelle and Melissa Williams (Whitehaven graduates and former Redhots were part of the summer of 2006. In fact in 2006 alone, four Whitehaven graduates had some capacity with the Redbirds, yours truly, Sharika Washington, and the Williams twins.)

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13. Amber Bryant (One of my good friends from the summer of 2006, Ms. Bryant actually had a hand in two historic events, one of which became a part of Memphis baseball history and part of NFL lore by convincing Brett Favre to come back.)

12. Tim McCarver (While I loathe him as an announcer, you have to agree that the guy as a player had a solid career, catching for pitchers like Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. He played on the 1960 Chicks squad, which featured Mike Shannon)

 

11. Abbey Dane, Michelle Southerland, and Kelly White (While it wasn’t MV3, Ms. Dane and Ms. Southerland were like my big sisters down at the corner of South Third and Union in 2006 and well, there was an interesting book that came out about that summer.)

10. Miss Candy (Zack Morris had Kelly Kapowski, Ethan Embry’s character had Jennifer Love Hewitt and yours truly had the chocolate cutie, who became the answer to a trivia question on July 4, 2006 as the first Redhot to ever make an appearance in the Fan Radio booth. While Zack Morris and Ethan Embry’s character ended up together with their crushes, yours truly for the most part came up short with the chocolate cutie.)

9.  Tom Stocker (For a generation, Tom Stocker was the voice of baseball in Memphis, first with the Chicks and then with the Redbirds. His “Redbirds win!!!” call of Albert Pujols’ game-winning home run still brings a tear to my eye. We need to bring him back.)

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8. Pete Gray (The 1944 Southern Association MVP, Gray helped the Chicks to the playoffs by stealing 68 bases and hitting .298. He would later gain fame by playing for the 1945 St. Louis Browns)

7. John Guinozzo (For 38 years, the Whitehaven graduate has scored games for the Blues, Chicks, and the Redbirds. Also he and yours truly share the same high school alma mater, Whitehaven High School.)

6. David Ramsey (One of the true legends in this city’s baseball history, his rendition of “Here Comes the King” had to be one of the best I ever heard.)

 

 

5. Bo Jackson (The legend of Bo Jackson is filled with tales and feats that no one could have ever thought of but the best known feat from his time in Memphis was his moonshot, one that traveled well over the new left field bleachers and into a field directly across the street from Christian Brothers University. Today its still the longest homer in Memphis baseball history.)

 

4. Bo Hart (Perhaps no player hustled as much as Bo Hart during that rough 2006 season. Before the “Doc and Miss Candy Show”, he ended up proposing to his now-wife after the 2005 fireworks show on the 4th.)

3. Brian Esposito (I actually met this guy in 2006 and during that season he attempted to publish a fake engagement ad for Skip Schumacher and a friend. Not only that, he called the 2006 Redbirds the “Deadbirds.)

2. Doc Prothro (James Thompson Prothro, otherwise known as Doc Prothro, is the winningest manager in Memphis baseball history. Not only that, he won 4 championships as a manager and one as a player in 1924. He would also manage the Phillies from 1939 to 1941 and the Little Rock Travelers.)

1. Stubby Clapp (Perhaps the most popular Redbird ever, Clapp entertained fans with his play and his backflips onto the field during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, the latter being the championship season in which a 20 year-old kid by the name of Albert Pujols won it with a homer inside the foul pole in right field. Clapp is the only Redbird to ever get his jersey retired, the last jersey to be retired by a Memphis team was Tim McCarver in 1993.)

So there you have it, the 25 most memorable characters in Memphis baseball history. 132 seasons of summer fun can bring back a lot of memories, crushes, and God knows what else.

 

 

 

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