Baseball on the Beach, Sea Birds, 1952-54
© 2008 Donald J. Mabry
“Play Ball !!” the umpire shouts and America’s beloved game
begins. Permeating the air are the smells of grass, hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn,
Cokes, and, often, beer. Excited fans love the intricacies of the game, the theater on the diamond
as it were, as players and coaches duel. They cheer and boo. Few things define
America so much as baseball. In the 1950s, baseball was still the
great American past-time. Boys played on sand lots, in Little League and
similar organizations, high school, college, and, if skilled and lucky enough,
professional baseball. Girls and women played, too, but not so many. Both sexes
formed the large crowds which paid to watch a game. Sports pages of newspapers
devoted many column inches to the sport and specialized magazines promoted it. People
talked and argued about the fortunes and misfortunes of their favorite
teams—professional, college, high school. Some bet on the outcome of matches.
Major league players were heroes. Baseball movies drew crowds. Minor league
teams—divided in to Class AAA, AA, A, B, C, and D leagues with D being the
lowest—were ubiquitous. In 1950, there were 430 minor league teams in 57
Even small towns could host a low-level professional team. One such
"town" was on the northeast
Florida coast, eighteen miles east of Jacksonville, where the smell of the ocean
added to the allure of games.
Â Â Â The Jacksonville Beach Sea Birds offer a case study of the
rise and fall of a minor league team. The Sea Birds played in 1952, 1953, and
1954 in the venerable Florida State League. The Sea Birds won more than they
lost in the three years, coming in second in 1952; thus, they were better than
the average minor leagues team and the team also produced some excellent minor
leagues players as well as one major league player and manager. Yet, the team
Â Â Â Source:
Beach Baseball Stadium 1950 & the Atlantic Ocean
Â Â Â The locale is important to the story. Although the team was
named for one city, the home town audience was larger. Hugging the coast, the
consisted of the village of Mayport and the adjacent U.S. Navy base on the
south bank of the St. Johns River, the small cities of Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville
Beaches, the unincorporated settlements of Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley in
neighboring St. Johns County, and the San Pablo Road area just west of the
Intracoastal Waterway. All except the last were on a lightly-populated barrier
island which stretched almost to St. Augustine. Most the land on the east
side of the Waterway was vacant; In 1950, about 12,000 or fewer people lived
there. Eighteen miles west of the Beaches was Jacksonville, the
county seat of Duval County, with 204,275 people. By 1950, there were two
highways to the Beaches: Atlantic Boulevard which separated Atlantic and
Neptune Beach and Beach Boulevard which used a former railroad right of way to
traverse from south Jacksonville to the ocean in mid-Jacksonville Beach. It
opened in late 1949 as a modern four-lane highway and refocused traffic to
Jacksonville Beach and its amusements. The building of a baseball park near
Beach Boulevard in 1950 enhanced the highway, which became U. S. 90.
Â Â Â Â Â Source:
Deane’s StudioÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â
Downtown Jacksonville Beach in the early 1950s
Â Â Â Jacksonville Beach was the business hub of the Beaches.
Atlantic, Neptune, and Ponte Vedra Beaches and Palm Valley were residential
except for a few businesses on the eastern end of Atlantic Boulevard. Mayport
was a fishing village. The Navy operated its own businesses and sailors also
shopped along the road leading to the beach and in Jacksonville Beach. The
Boardwalk stretched several blocks north from the Red Cross Volunteer Lifeguard
Station to the Sandpiper Hotel at N. 5th Avenue and the ocean. It
was an amusement park with games, food stands, carousels, Ferris wheels, bumper
cars, other rides, bars, bath houses, motels, and mercantile outlets. Close to the
oceanfront Boardwalk, there were restaurants, bars, liquor stores, motels,
hotels, rooming houses, bath houses, souvenir shops, and the other kinds of
commerce common to small towns.
Â Â Â The Boardwalk was the heart and soul of the summer tourist
season at Jacksonville Beach and its neighbors. Thousands descended during the
summer weekdays and tens of thousands during weekends. The key to the economic
prosperity was the attraction of more and more visitors to Jacksonville Beach.
The opening of Beach Boulevard meant many more day trippers from Jacksonville
because the highway was fast and direct and connected to the other major
highways passing through Jacksonville. Local businessmen, through the Chamber
of Commerce adopted a plan they hoped would maximize tourist traffic to the
Beaches via Beach Boulevard. They sought to bring minor league baseball to the
Â Â Â Jacksonville's baseball tradition extended back into
the 19th century.
The Jays played in the Class C South Atlantic League from 1904-10; was renamed
the Tarpons for 1911-16; and then the Roses for 1917. World War I interrupted
play. In 1921, a new team, the Scouts, played in the Class C Florida State
League. They became the Indians in 1922. The Tars played in the Class B
Southeastern League in 1926-30 moving to the Class B South Atlantic League from
1938-42 and the Class A South Atlantic League from 1946-1952. In 1953, the team
became the Braves and stayed with that affiliation through 1960. Then the team
changed names and affiliations again. The Jacksonville Red Caps
played in the Negro American League in 1938 and 1941-1942; the city had a very
large African-American population.
Â Â Â Spring training for Major League Baseball began in Jacksonville
in 1888. The
Washington Statesmen hosted the Philadelphia Athletics, Brooklyn Dodgers,
Cincinnati Reds and Boston Nationals.
The Boston Braves (then called the Beaneaters) trained in 1906. The Philadelphia
Athletics trained there in 1903, 1914-18;
the New York Yankees in 1919-20; the Cincinnati Reds in 1905. The Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers) trained in
1907-09, the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) in 1919-20, 1922; and the Pittsburgh Pirates
After all, those were the days before Henry Flagler and Henry Plant had opened
up Florida south of Jacksonville with railroads. Ironically, Beach Boulevard
was built on the right of way of Flagler’s defunct spur line from south
Jacksonville to the beach.
Â Â Â Jacksonville
Beach businessmen cashed in on the area's historic affinity for professional
baseball by daring to a ballpark a few
blocks south of the Beach Boulevard and fourteen blocks from the ocean. They created the Greater Beaches
Stadium, Inc. on October 7, 1949 in anticipation of the grand opening of Beach
Boulevard within two months. Stock was issued at $5 a share. The corporation was
capitalized at $25,000. Stockholders
included Howard A. Prather, Harry Hatcher, Jr., Herbert A. Shelley, F. A.
Griffin, W. D. “Pete” Dickinson, H. B. Bradford, Ira D. Sams, H. A. “Pee Wee”
Durden, and Martin G. Williams.
Prather was mayor; Sams, who owned a laundry and some apartments, would be.
Shelley owned two game sites on the Boardwalk and directed the Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
Griffin had his own amusement park on the Boardwalk. Williams and Dickinson
owned buildings which housed different concessions. Prather, a pharmacist, owned a drug store
and building across the street. He was the president of the corporation;
Hatcher, an accountant who also had a Boardwalk business, was vice president. Shelley was secretary. Ownership
appears to have been widespread.
Â Â Â By March 2, 1950, construction crews were hustled to the deadline of havingÂ
the ballpark ready for the March 27th
exhibition game between the Roanoke Red Sox and the St. Augustine Saints. The Beaches
News & Advertiser reported on November 17, 1950, that the
Beaches might get a Florida State League team in 1951. By early February, 1951,
the Corporation was trying to sell it to the City of Jacksonville Beach.
Although there was opposition, the Corporation prevailed. Many stockholders were also city government
officials, a fact which made it easier for the government to buy the assets.
Few, if any, made a profit. It was a civic gesture. The corporate owners
demonstrated that the ballpark was more than a pipedream and got the city
government to agree. 
Â Â Â The
city government did better. The Chicago Cubs sent three farm teams to use the
stadium in 1951. On April 3, 1951, the Greensboro Patriots and the Grand Rapids
Jets played an exhibition night game. Tickets cost seventy-five cents for
adults and thirty-five cents for children.
The Des Moines, Iowa Bruins team arrived in early April for six days.
The Rutherford County [Spindale , NC] Owls of the Western Carolina League
joined their fellow Cubs’ affiliates. City officials hoped to have two female
baseball teams in May. In mid-November, 1951, Mayor Sams, Prather, H. B.
Bradford, Harry Hatcher, Jr. met with officials of Florida State League and a committee
from St. Augustine with idea of creating teams in both cities. The previous St.
Augustine Saints of 1950 had become the Cocoa Indians. For scheduling purposes,
the league wanted an even number of teams.
In late November, 1951 the city was engaged in “office negotiations with
the St Louis Browns in hopes that several of its farm teams would do Spring
training in 1952. In August, 1952, Chamber of Commerce and city officials also
pursued the possibility of the Boston Braves in establishing a minor league training
camp in 1953 even though the Sea Birds were using the Municipal Stadium.”
Chamber officials estimated that the Braves’ organization would bring 240
players and 250 scouts, trainers, wives, reporters, and fans to the beaches for
five to six weeks and would pump $200,00 into the economy.
Â Â Â
Â Â Â Photo
by Don KellerÂ Â Â Â Â Looking North Along
Â Â Â The Jacksonville Beach Sea Birds, a Class D professional
team, began its short life in 1952. The businessmen who owned it hoped that
professional baseball would add still another source of entertainment for
residents and tourists. Many residents loved the game and a few men could also
fulfill their dream of becoming owners. Minor league teams seemed ubiquitous in
Florida, the rest of the United States, and, even, Mexico and the Caribbean.
How could it miss? The team was owned by the Greater Beaches Stadium, Inc.
whose officers were H. A. Prather (President), Harry M. Hatcher, Jr. (Vice
President), and Herbert M. Shelley
The ball park (known as the Municipal Stadium) was on South Penman south of
Shetter Avenue, a tad more than a mile from the ocean. Although the focus was
Jacksonville Beach, people in other contiguous communities—Ponte Vedra Beach,
Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Mayport—rooted for the new team.
Â Â Â
Source: BAHSÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Municipal Stadium (1950) with Intracoastal
Waterway in Background
Â Â Â The team would be part of the Florida State League. The
League was founded in 1919, folded in 1928, and restarted in 1936, and
suspended play in 1942-45 because of World War II. It membership fluctuated. In
1952, the teams were the Jacksonville Beach Sea Birds, St. Augustine Saints,
Deland Red Hats, Palatka Azaleas, Daytona Beach Islanders, Cocoa Indians,
Leesburg Packers, Gainesville G-Men, Sanford Seminole Blues, and Orlando
Senators, ten teams in all. The Sea
Birds were the northernmost team, 160 miles from Cocoa, the southernmost.
Â Â Â The owners hired Thadford Leon Treadway, a former New York
Giants player who had become a manager of minor league teams, to create the Sea
Birds. Red, as he was known, was born on
April 28, 1920 on Crabtree Creek near Athalone, North Carolina into a very poor
family. In 1932, the family moved to Marion, North Carolina where he got his first
shoes because the family fortunes had improved slightly. By age thirteen, in
1934, he was playing semi-pro baseball in the Tri-County Textile League as a
pitcher and a catcher. As he told it, he rented a mule for 10 cents to get to
his games. The textile mill gave him a dozen pairs of sox which he sold for a
penny each so he netted two cents from each trip, not much money even then but
Â Â Â Source: Bobby Trump, Sr. Manager-Player
Leon “Red” Treadway
Â Â Â Treadway’s
skill as a player landed him a professional contract. His play with the Tri-County
Textile League team and the Atlantic Christian College
in batting earned him a spot on the Wilson, North Carolina team, the Tobs
the Coastal Plains League in 1941. He moved up to the Atlanta Crackers of the
Class AA Southern Association and then to the New York Giants, playing as an
outfielder in 1944 and 1945 during World War II.
Â Â Â Treadway moved
down to the Class AAA Newark Bears of the International League in 1946 with
the end of the war and the return of veterans who had been Giants,. He left
the team before playing against the Montreal Royals which Jackie Robinson had joined that year.
In 1948, he starred on the Des Moines, Iowa Bruins in the Class A Western
League. He played in the Caribbean League, managing the Panama Refresqueros de
Spur Cola. On the Spur Colas were Negro League players Pat Scantlebury and Leon
Kellman. This winter league employed both locals and Americans, including
future television star Chuck Conners of Cuba’s Almendares Scorpions. Along the
way, Treadway and Conners roomed together.
In February, 1949, he starred in the first Caribbean World Series, batting .352
and getting the first hit. The teams—Panama, Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto
Rico—featured players of different races. In 1951, he worked as a
player-manager for the Suffolk, Virgin Goobers in the Class D Virginia
League. Eventually, he became a minor
Â Â Â Before
creating the Sea Birds, he managed and played for the Suffolk, Virginia Goobers
in the Class D Virginia League.
There he signed Bobby Trump, the most popular, versatile and colorful Sea Bird.
He saw Trump playing high school baseball at Suffolk High as a pitcher and a
catcher. Treadway was managing the Suffolk, Virginia professional team in the
Virginia League. Suffolk was the home of Planters Peanuts and Treadway and
other baseball players worked in the peanut industry as an inspector during the
off season. Later, he was able to get jobs in the industry for some Sea Birds jobs when he
managed that team. Treadway told the eighteen-year-old Trump on March 4, 1952 to be ready to be
transported to Florida by car later that month to begin training. Trump was born on June 19, 1933 in Suffolk,
Virginia. Jacksonville, Florida sports
columnist Joe Livingston in 1953 said Trump had been courted by the Cleveland
Indians organization but Treadway had convinced him to go with the other
Â Â Â The
collapse of the Virginia League and the Goobers freed Treadway and some other
league players to head south to Jacksonville Beach. Experienced players such as
player-manager of the
Emporia Rebels Hal Martin and player-manager of the Edenton Colonials
“Gashouse” Parker and others followed him to Florida.Â
Â Â Â Treadway and Trump were the only two who would play both
the 1952 and 1953 seasons. Minor league players came
and went. Some moved up to higher leagues; some quit; some were released; and
some were injured. Pay was meager and the season was only five months long. Scrabbling
for income for the rest of the year was tiring. Marriage and children
encouraged these young men to find steady, better-paying employment. Treadway was
the role model for the
club. His batting average in 1952 was .357 with 2 home runs, 65 RBIs, the best on the team. In 1953, it was
.365 and one home run with 83 RBIs. Trump would be the most versatile and
colorful member in those two years.
Â Â Â Of
course Treadway recruited more players than he would eventually use on the
sixteen-man team. Florida State League rules not only stipulated the number of
players on a team roster but also that no more than four (4) could be veterans,
that is, had played professional ball for three or more years. Treadway was a
player manager so he could only recruit three veterans.
Â Â Â Treadway
assembled his team, a mixture of veterans
and rookies. He held a tryout camp in early March in conjunction with the
As of the April 14, 1952 season opener, the team was: Lonnie Francis
(outfield), Hal Martin (outfield-infield), Harmon Young (3B), Red Treadway
(outfield, manager), Wally Nolan (2B), Bill Robertson (C), Tom Mills (P), Eddie
Celardo (C), Dave McCrickard (P), Alton Doyle (P), Buddy Spindler (SS), Joe
Angel (P), Bill Alexander (P), Joe Johnson (P), Bill Herman (P), Bobby Trump
(C), Bob Phillips (P), Ray Mieszkowski (1B), Buster Kinard (outfield), Bill
Langston (P), Gas House Parker (1B), and Shorty Long (SS). Langston, Parker,
Long were released shortly after the photograph was taken. Some were
traded. The players Treadway assembled
last year for spring training cost the owners $525 but the owners later sold
two for $800. By May 1, 1952, there were 16 on the team.Â
Â Â Â Source:
BAHS Harry Hatcher, Jr. (left) and
Howard Prather (right) with 1952 Team PlayersÂ
Â Â Â
Life was pleasant at the beach. Players roomed and ate in different places in Jacksonville Beach. For example, Bobby Trump and
David McCrickard lived above the Bamboo Bar in the heart of downtown which was
also the entertainment district. Some lived in the Travelrite Motel very close
to the ball park and ate in its restaurant, the Travelrite Drive-In. Others
stayed in rooming houses or furnished apartments, both of which were plentiful
in the resort community. The Treadways, including their daughter Laura, enjoyed
a house in Atlantic Beach. Restaurants often gave them discounts, helping these
youngsters who earned very little money in the five months they were in town. They did, of course, enjoy beach life, including the young women who
lived or visited at the beach. Konkoleski and some of his teammates in 1954
lived in two-storey frame houses so common in Jacksonville Beach.
Â Â Â Source:
Motel and Drive-In on Beach Boulevard
Â Â Â Before the season began, they played an exhibition game
against the Greenville, South Carolina Spinners from the Class B Tri-State
League. The Birds held their own; the game ended 5-5. They competed well
against a higher level team. The season looked promising.
Â Â Â The schedule was grueling. For example, in May the Birds
played at home on 15 times in 31 days, going on the road the other nights,
traveling as much as 161 miles on two-lane roads.
In the first week of the 1952 season, Hal Martin played first base until John
Hudzik returned and then moved to left field. Ray Panzo, a rookie from
Richmond, was signed to play Shortstop. For
their first game, they traveled 159 miles on two lane roads to Cocoa for a
Monday night game. Then the team returned home to open the home season against
St. Augustine which it beat 25-4 before 1,395 fans. Joe Angel pitched in Cocoa
and Tom Mills at home. Harmon Young demonstrated his power by hitting a home
Â Â Â In
the Cocoa game, Treadway began the search for the perfect batting lineup. He
relied upon men he had brought from the Virginia League: Nolan, Treadway,
Kinard, Martin, Robertson, and Young, Meiszkowski, Joe Angel, and Francis. As
the season progressed, Treadway adjusted the roster. John Hudzik, who played in
the Class C Middle-Atlantic League in 1951, joined the Sea Birds the morning of
the first game. Bobby Trump, the most versatile of the Sea Birds did well in
the first week; he got a single and a double in the Birds’ first home game
against Sanford. That week, he went to the plate 20 times and got 8 hits for a
.400 average. Two were doubles. He had four RBIs and a stolen base to his credit. During the course of the summer, Trump played
shortstop, second base, outfield, and warmed up in the bullpen in case he had
to pitch in relief.
Â Â Â By
July 4, 1952, Mills, Angel, and Herman all had thrown no-hitters. Mills threw a
no-hitter against Cocoa for his 19th victory in a 4-0 ballgame.
Thomas “Iron Man” Mills was a 20 year-old, from Geneva, New York who had three
years of professional baseball experience in Lockport, Pennsylvania in the
Class C Middle Atlantic States League.
1952 All-Star Game saw Tom Mills (21-4) as the starting pitcher for the
North. Pitcher Dave McCrickard, the only
Bird hurler not to have pitched a no-hitter, was added as a pitcher. The other two Birds on the All-Star team were
Treadway and Buster Kinard.
Â Â Â The
Birds were surprisingly successful. The Florida State League split the season
in half with the winner of the first half playing the winner of the second half
for the pennant. The Birds finished 2nd in the first half of
1952. At the end of the 1952 season
during the first playoff game, Bobby Trump demonstrated his amazing versatility
in a season-ending game against the Daytona Beach Islanders. For the first seven
innings, he played a different position. Had the centerfielder not injured
himself while running the bases and Trump had to take his place, the youngster would
have completed his grand tour. The game lasted 11 innings; the Birds notched a
7-6 victory. The Birds finished the 1952 season with a 80-56 record, finishing second in the league
behind Palatka. In the playoffs, the team finished second.
Â Â Â Treadway had acquired a considerable amount of
talent for the expansion team. Tom Mills enjoyed a 27-7 pitching record. Joe
Angel won 19 and lost 11. Bill Herman
went 16-15. Dave McCrickard won 12 and lost 13. These four were the only one
who managed to win ten or more games. The best sluggers were Treadway (.357),
followed by Hal Martin (.330), Buster Kinard (.314), and Bill Robertson
(.300). Floyd Clift hit .333 but he was
not on the roster for the entire season.
Â Â Â Source: BAHSÂ Â Â Â
Packed Stands ca. 1952
Â Â Â Julian
Jackson and T. F. Cowart, partners in the Jax Meat grocery store chain, bought
the Sea Bird team was purchased in August, 1952. They obtained a five year
lease on the stadium and promised to spend extra money on the team. They
renewed Treadway’s contract with a raise for the 1953 season.
Â Â Â Nevertheless, the Birds had only drawn 23,210 people at home and lost money. Were
it not for Jackson and Cowart buying the team and investing $50,000, the team
would have closed after the 1952 season. Both loved baseball and attended the
home games, sitting behind the dugout, even though they did not live on the
beach. Jackson often brought his very young son, dressing him in a Sea Birds
Â Â Â Treadway
created a new team. He signed five rookies and was working on more. He and Young
would be the only two “veterans” returning; the League had halved the number
allowable. Trump was so good that his return was a cinch. The 1953 Birds would
be a quite different but weaker team at the beginning of the season. Florida
State League rules in 1953 only allowed two (2) players with three or more year’s
experience. Gone were Robertson who went to Class A Williamsport of the Eastern
League; Tom Mills who went to Class A Jacksonville but was drafted into the Army;
Bill Herman who had to leave because he became a veteran and went to Class B
Portsmouth of the Piedmont League; and Buster Kinard who retired.
Â Â Â Initially
before the final sorting out, the roster was: Pitchers: Ray Britt, Dave Whitten, John Martin, Ed
Paruch, Joe Angel, Jack Hazen, Bob Kitchen, Howie Rosenfelter, and Vivan
Wright. Catchers: Bobby Trump, John
Richard. Outfielders: Otho Kortz, Red Treadway, Clyde Briggs, and Dick Epps.
Infield: Pat Vastano (SS), Tommy West (2B), Jim Foster (2B) who played in 1949
and 1950 with Gainesville, Harmon Young (3B). Utility: Bob Duncan. There were
two bat boys, Ron Wingate and John Mead.
was not the final lineup for the 1953 team. John Hudzik, who had not been on
the team for most of 1952, was signed to play first base. By April 13, the squad had to be down to 20.
By May 3, the team would be pared to 16. Many of the pitchers would be dropped.
New players would be hired. Joe Angel, Ray Britt, and Jack Hazen were the three
best pitchers. Red Foster had played with Gainesville in 1950. Because star
third baseman Young pulled a muscle against Hickory, North Carolina in an
exhibition game, Florida State University graduate student Augie Pompelia
substituted until Harmon returned. Pompelia batted .278 with Class D Statesboro
in 1952. Britt played in 1949 and 1950 with the Gainesville G-Men. Clyde “Apple
Pie” Briggs, who turned 25 during the season, was hired by his fellow North
Carolinian in Virginia. He hit almost .400.
Â Â Â Some of the players were fresh out of local
colleges, a move that would increase the interest of fans. One was the
Pensacola native, Harold “Herky” Payne (pictured below). Quarterback Payne threw a touchdown pass for Tennessee’s score in its
20-14 victory over Texas in the 1951 Cotton Bowl. Tennessee became national
champions for the first time. Famous for
football, he was also the first All-American baseball player in the history of
the University of Tennessee. He earned second-team honors from the American
Baseball Coaches Association after helping the Volunteers reach the 1951
College World Series. The second baseman hit .362 that year, with 17 hits,
three home runs and 12 RBIs. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1952
but did not make the team. So he turned to baseball.Â
Â Â Â Another was Jack Hazen
pitched 9-1 for the University of Florida in 1952. Paul Florence tried to sign
him to a Cincinnati Reds Class B farm team Burlington [Iowa] Flints but
Treadway talked him into playing for the Birds. Jack and his brother owned a
1,000 acre farm in Brooker, Florida near Gainesville, a farm that supported
four families. Jack did not want to leave his brother in a lurch by going to
Iowa. Instead, he stayed in Florida and gave his brother half his baseball
salary and his brother gave him half the farm profits. Hazen said Class D
Florida State League ball and collegiate ball were similar. Hazen, before July
21, 1953, went on the inactive list because he had to return to his farm.
Â Â Â By
the second half of the season, the lineup had changed. Sid Hartfield and Herky
Payne were in the outfield. Warren Saye was catching while Trump pitched a 6-5
victory over the Leesburg on “Trump Night,“ the first game of the 2nd
half of the season. Fans loved seeing the teenager teach the “older” guys a
lesson. Besides, he was such an affable young man.
Â Â Â Source:
Bobby Trump, Sr.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Bobby Trump (C); Standing: Pat Vastano (SS), Red Treadway (CF and Manager), Jim
(Red) Foster (2B)
Â Â Â In 1953, the Florida State League changed membership.
Neither St. Augustine nor Gainesville sustained teams. The former was too
small; the latter lost to University of Florida sports. The League dropped to
eight teams. Then teams moved. The 1952 champion Palatka Azaleas became the
Lakeland Pilots and the Sanford Seminole Blues became the Sanford Cardinals when
the team became a farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Â Â Â Source: Bobby Trump, Sr.
Â Â Â Both
in 1952 and 1953, the owners tried a variety of gimmicks in the hope of
attracting more customers and entertaining them with more than baseball.
Various people, including Wilson Wingate, Trump, and other players manned the
Sound Car, which roamed the beaches trying to get people to attend games. The
team hosted the Duval County Beauty Queen contestants to begin the second half
of the 1952 season, and beat the Palatka Azaleas 4-2. The “Sea Bird Follies of 1953” on July 21st saw the players dressed as female
Hawaiian/South Sea Islanders. There was a Cigar Night for men, giving away
cigars and money. Free tickets were dispensed. A Knot-Hole Gang for kids was
created. Players and others performed tricks and stunts before the game to draw
crowds. Al Stracht, the baseball comedian, performed. The son of Bobby Trump,
one of its stars, reminisced about this in 2006.
father Bobby Trump played baseball for the Seabirds during the 1952-1953
seasons. His starting position for most of his time in Jacksonville was spent
behind the plate. He was also called on to pitch on several occasions. On June
23, 1953, he pitched the Seabirds to a 6 to 5 victory for which he received the
game ball. That was one of many game balls he would receive throughout his stay
with the team. My most memorable story of those days to go along with the many
game balls and newspaper clippings I still have telling of his early life
heroics was one where, before many of the games started the organization would
have the team members perform different promotional stunts. The particular
stunt that I recall the most was one in which my father was ask to race a horse
from home plate to first base. To this day he will still not tell me whether he
won or not.
Trump, Sr. reported in 2008 through his son-in-law Rich Hensler that he won the
Â Â Â The
1953 season did not go well even though there were stellar performances. On
April 13, 1953, the Birds opened their season in Palatka and returned to the
beach the next night to beat the Leesburg Lakers with Britt pitching. Britt was a strong pitcher who could throw
no-hitters. In the All-Star game, the Sea Birds placed Joe Angel, Red Foster,
Red Treadway, Bob Kitchen, and Bobby Trump. However, the Birds went 68-65 and finished 5th. Treadway went through 13 pitchers and only
three had double-digit records: Joe Angel 28-10, Ray Britt 14-7, and Bob
Kitchen 10-14. Of the 25 other players
who were on the roster that year, only three hit .300 or above: Treadway
(.365), Clyde Briggs (.350), and Jim Foster (.301).
Â Â Â Too few attended. The 17,785 patrons were considerably less than the year before. Without
paying customers who bought concessions and souvenirs, the team did not
generate enough income to cover costs. This was true even though as a
percentage of its population base it drew better than Jacksonville but, of
course, Jacksonville had a much larger population as well as Hank Aaron.
Players at the beach, such as Britt, Trump, and Treadway, and Angel, could play
excellent baseball but they could not generate the excitement that Aaron did
twenty miles west as he dominated the hitting in the South Atlantic League, playing
for the Jacksonville Braves. “Aaron delivered a dominating
performance, leading the league in runs (115), hits (208), RBI (125) and
batting average (.362). The display of offense captured the league's MVP
honor.” Attendance increased dramatically because Jacksonville was integrating
its team with Aaron, Felix Mantilla, and
Horace Garner and Aaron was so outstanding.
African American attendance skyrocket but also those of whites.
Â Â Â One solution to the attendance problem at the
beach was to hire some black players but that was not to be. Hank
Aaron said that the Birds tried to put black players on the team but the local
chamber of commerce said no. Herb Shelley, Secretary of the Chamber, said “No
race is involved in it. It’s just that patrons of the team felt they would
rather have an all-white team.” City officials and the American Legion also
opposed such a move.
Â Â Â By August, owners Jackson and Cowart began talking of shedding their
$50,000 losses by pulling out; they demanded concessions from Jacksonville
Beach by November 1, 1953. To wit, they wanted a rent-free
stadium, utilities, $20,000 worth of advance ticket sales, and 500 season
tickets at $40 each ($20,000). Al Burt, a Jacksonville sports writer who was
also the team’s scorekeeper, said the biggest problem was attendance and he
thought the current attendance was probably the ceiling. An agreement with a
major league team might help stabilize the team financially. He thought having
a full-time desk man who focused on the problems, as man such as Treadway,
might solve the problem. Treadway moved to the Fitzgerald, Georgia team,
Trump was released on February 24, 1954. The rest either went to another team or gave
up the dream. On March 18, 1954, the City of Jacksonville Beach helped the
Seabirds Baseball Club by leasing the stadium from April 15th to
September 15th for one dollar ($1); agreed to maintain the field and
fence; provide police protection; and provide an estimated 65,000 KWH of
electricity at the very low rate of two cents a KWH which would total $1,300.
The Club would have all rights to advertisements on billboards and the fence.
The City, for its part, could use the Stadium when the baseball team had no
scheduled game. So, the City had decided to make the 1954 season attractive to
owners and a major league team.
Â Â Â The Cleveland Indian kept the Sea
Birds alive for another year as one of its farm teams but changed the personnel
of the team, bringing Spurgeon Ferdinand “Spud” Chandler to coach and a new set
of players except for Briggs and West. Briggs had hit .350 with 55 RBIs and one
home run in 1953; he would hit .355 with 39 RBIs and 3 home runs in 1954. West
hit .243 with 6 RBIs in 1953 and improved to .307 with 70 RBIs and a home run
in 1954. The Jacksonville Sea Birds Baseball Club was headed by Jackson with
Cowart as vice president and Lewis Matlin as business manager.
Â Â Â Chandler
was a well-known in baseball circles and has been nominated for the Baseball
Hall of Fame.
He played 11 years with the New York Yankees (1937-47) with a pitching record
of 109-43 with a 2.83 ERA. He was the only Yankee pitcher to be named the
American League’s Most Valuable Player. He served in WWII. He played in 1946,
going 20-8 with a 2.10 ERA. However, arm surgery failed to solve the problem
that developed and he was released from the Yankees in 1948. He would serve as
a scout and manager for the Cleveland Indians, Yankees, Kansas City Athletics,
and Minnesota Twins. After the Sea Birds stint, Chandler was manager of the
Spartanburg Peaches of the Class B Tri-State League in 1955, and a coach for
the Kansas City Athletics in 1957-1958.Â Â Â Â Source: MiLB.com
Â Â Â Twenty-eight people appeared on
the roster at one time or another. Most of the turnover was in the pitching
staff as Chandler tried to find a cadre of good hurlers and as the Cleveland
Indians gave recruits a tryout. The star pitcher in 1954 was Ray Konkoleski,
the young ace from Adena, Ohio. He far outshone the rest with a 22-6 record and
an ERA of 2.77. He was a star athlete at Adena High School in 1948-52,
lettering in three sports. He played semi-pro baseball with the Dunglen [Ohio]
Miners, UMWA League champions in 1952 and 1953; Bill Mazeroski, the future
Pittsburgh Pirates star, played with him in 1952 as well as on the championship
team of the Times Leader Twilight
League; the team won the league in 1953 as well. Then he was signed by
the Cleveland Indians in 1954 and sent to the Sea Birds. The other successful
pitchers were Dick Hogg who won 12 and lost nine and had an ERA of 4.08 and Joe
Sirois who went 10-4 and had an ERA of
4.36. The other 12 who played at
various times seldom won.
Â Â Â The Sea Bird who succeeded in
baseball was Russ Nixon, who won the 1954 Florida State League batting title.
Before the Sea Birds, he captured the Three-I League hitting crown while
playing for the Keokuk Kernels in 1955. By 1957, he was playing for the
Cleveland Indians. After his playing career, he became a manager for the
Cincinnati Reds, the Atlanta Braves, and some minor league teams.
Â Â Â The
home schedule began for the first half on April 12 and ended on June 20 for 34 games. The second half began June
24 and ended August 30 for 35 games. The road schedule began April 13 and ended
on June 18 for 35 games and June 21 through August 28 for the 35-game second
season. In total, it was supposed to be a 140 game season.
Source: Deane's Studio and Ray KonkoleskiÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Among
the players in the 1954 team photo were the following. The middle bat boy was Frank
Chandler, the son of Spurgeon Chandler. Kneeling are Lou Matlin, business
player, Roy Nixon, Bill Dashner, Tommy West,Â Lyn Henry, unknown person. Standing
in the first row are Julian Jackson (co-owner), unknown player, Roy Chambers,
unknown player, Spud Chandler, Ray Konkoleski, Russ Nixon, and T. F. Cowart
(co-owner). In the row, Allen Myers is on the extreme right. People in the
photo were identified by Ray Konkoleski and by comparing various photos.
Â Â Â Source: Ray Konkoleski
Â L-R: Allen Myers, Roy Chambers, Ray
Konkoleski, Lyn Henry
Â Â Â The final roster included seven
pitchers and ten other players plus Chandler. Throwing right handed were Ray
Konkoleski, Ralph Englert, Zack Gray,Jr., Wilfrid Sirois. Throwing left handed
were Stan Skaza, Dick Hogg, and Gerald Bennett. Jim Mulby and Russ Nixon, the
future major league player, caught. Roy Nixon played first base; Tommy West
held down second, and Lyn Henry third with Allan Meyer at short stop. Roy
Chambers was the center fielder; Billy Joe Dashner the right fielder, and Clyde
Briggs the left fielder. Chandler managed and served as the pitching coach.
Â Â Â Konkoleski
remembers his year with Jacksonville Beach fondly. He was given a $1,500
signing bonus collectible at $500 a month. His salary was $175 a month. When
the team traveled, the players received $1.75 a day for meals and owner Jackson
matched it. Restaurants often gave them a discount. They lived in two-story
frame houses, common to the beach, usually renting rooms.
Â Â Â Chandler,
like Treadway, was like a father to the players who were, for the most part,
considerably younger than he. Both managers were experienced Major League
Baseball players and minor league managers/coaches. They were married men with
families; most of the players were bachelors. Chandler demanded that they not
get sun burned, fining any who did, but they could frequent the Boardwalk and
Â Â Â Spring
training was in Daytona Beach, home of their arch rivals, the Islanders whose
fans harassed the Birds on and off the field. Konkoleski never lost a game
against Daytona, giving the Birds great satisfaction. To these young men, being
on a team with other like-minded young men, living on a beach, and traveling
was as much fun as playing professional baseball. In the early 1950s, when the
Unites States was not as prosperous nor as well-organized at it became in the
twenty-first century, life held frequent surprises and serendipitous events. Once,
when the team bus broke down, the players piled into a pickup truck to get to
Â Â Â Source:
Â Â Â Chandler’s 1954 Sea Birds won the first half
of the season but the
Birds had a 76-63 record (55%) and lost in the league finals, finishing third
in the league. Lakeland won the second half of the season and then defeated the
Birds in the five-game playoffs, three to two. Konkoleski and Russ Nixon could
not win the games by themselves. The Florida State League only had six teams in
1954: Jacksonville Beach Sea Birds, Orlando C.B.s,
Daytona Beach Islanders, Deland Red Hats, Lakeland Pilots, and the Cocoa
Indians so his team had not done as well as the two that Treadway managed.
Attendance had rebounded to 22,660 but still below the 1952 figure of the first
Treadway team. Even the presence of the twin brothers, Roy and Russ Nixon, born
February 19, 1935 in Cleves, Ohio, did not draw the crowds. Roy batted .324,
hit 4 home runs, and had 91 RBIs but Russ batted .387, hit 6 home runs, and had
96 RBIs. He won the Florida State League batting title in 1954 and went on to
became a major league player in Cleveland, Boston, and Minnesota. He would
manage with the Cincinnati Reds in 1982, 1983 and with the Atlanta Braves in
1988, 1989, and 1990.
Â The Indians abandoned the Birds and the Sea
Bird franchise disappeared. Some men would play elsewhere; some found other
jobs. Both Russ and Roy Nixon moved to better teams, Russ reaching “The
Show.” Ray “Chesty” Konkoleski followed
Chandler to the Spartanburg Class B Peaches. Then Konkoleski moved to the
Fayetteville [NC] Highlanders Class B club and pitched 12-16. He advanced to
the Class AA Mobile Bears in 1957; was drafted; and returned in 1959. Although
he played for the Class A Reading [PA] Indians until 1961, his pitching arm never
recovered so he was released as a player and began managing. Class D baseball gave
young ball players the chance to compete for a few months or years but, of
course, few climbed the ladder to reach the majors.
Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â What
happened to the baseball facilities? City Manager Wilson
Wingate worked with Joe O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Pirate organization to locate the Pirates’
minor league training facilities in Jacksonville. Beach.
built four baseball diamonds just south of the Jacksonville Beach baseball
stadium. Seventeen teams trained between 1957 and 1961. In 1957, the Beaumont
Texas Pirates of the Class B Big State League, the Clinton Iowa Pirates of
the Class D Midwest League, the Columbus Ohio Jets of the Class AAA
International League, the Grand Forks, North Dakota Chiefs of the Class C
Northern League, the Jamestown, New York Falcons of the Class D New
York-Pennsylvania League, and the Lincoln, Nebraska Chiefs of the Class A
Western League. Clinton, Columbus, Grand Forks, and Lincoln were joined in
1958 by the Salt Lake City, Utah Bees of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League and the San Angelo, Texas
Pirates of the Class C Sophomore League. In 1959,
Columbus, Grand Forks, Lincoln, Salt Lake City, and San Angelo were joined by the Class D Dubuque, Iowa
Pirates of the Midwest League, the Idaho Falls, Idaho Russets of the Class C Pioneer League, the Wilson, North
of the Class B Carolina League, and the Columbus, Georgia Pirates of the Class A South Atlantic League.
Columbus, Grand Forks, Lincoln, Salt Lake City, San Angelo, and Dubuque were joined in 1960 by
the Asheville, North Carolina Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League, the Burlington, Iowa Bees of the Class B
Illinois-Iowa-Illinois League, the Hobbs, New Mexico Pirates of the Class D Sophomore League, and the Savannah, Georgia
Pirates of the Class A South Atlantic League. In the last year, 1961, only four teams trained there: Asheville, Burlington, Hobbs, and the Batavia, New York Pirates of the Class D
New York-Pennsylvania League.
Â Â Â These teams
included African American players to the beach. The Beaches
were not hospitable to African Americans so there were no facilities available
for the black minor league baseball players at the beaches. Wingate’s son, Ron,
remembers hearing discussions regarding this problem. Housing was accomplished
by farming them out to “The Hill,” a black section of Jacksonville Beach a few
blocks east of the station. Strickland’s Restaurant, a very popular eatery more
than a mile north, added a back room in which African Americans could eat and
be served by fellow African Americans. 
Strickland's Restaurant, ca, 1955, Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Â Â Â The Pirates stayed three years and left but the Beaches benefited. The Pirates organization infused money into the local economy while
undermining some of the segregation practices as black and white men played
together. After they left, the facilities plus some other acreage were
converted to a golf course, Wingate Park with two adult softball fields, two T-Ball fields, two little major league”
fields, and a girl’s softball field, and a police building.
Â Â Â Why was a community based on entertainment unable to
sustain a professional baseball team?
Â Â Â The Beaches permanent population in 1950 was less than
11,000. Daytona Beach, which still has a Florida State League team, has 30,000
inhabitants and no big city nearby. Before television, small towns far from big
cities could sustain a team, but the Beaches did not meet these conditions. Even
though the Beaches grew in the early fifties, supporting a Class D team was
impossible. Jacksonville residents could attend the games of the Class A
Jacksonville Tars/Braves; why
drive twenty miles to see a lesser team? The Birds could not compete against
Hank Aaron in 1953 or the Braves in 1954 which also finished first in the league
but came in second in the league finals. Even with Russ Nixon playing very well
in 1954, the beach team could not compete against the Braves.
Â Â Â The city fathers, especially the group
which built the stadium and attracted the team, may have assumed that baseball
games would be an added tourist attraction in addition those on the Boardwalk and
the Jacksonville Beach entertainment district. The city fathers depended upon
tourist spending because most were in the hospitality business.Â We now
know that a baseball team at the Beaches could not be profitable or draw people to the beach
communities. They misjudged business conditions.
Â Â Â Air conditioning in homes kept people
inside. The number of air conditioner units, window or central, grew in the
early 1950s. In 1950, the nation manufactured 194,000 room air conditioners; in
1955, 1,283,000. The key reason was television. In 1950, 3,875,000
homes had television; by 1955, 30,700,000 did.
People chose to watch TV programs, including sports, at home. Minor league
teams and leagues were disappearing because of the preference for television
and watching major league teams or a higher level minor league team.
Â Â The
major leagues hurt the minor league teams in two ways. First, they expanded the
American and National Leagues by absorbing some of the most important and
successful minor league teams. Second, they created a farm club system,
spending money to insure that the majors would have the players they wanted.
This had the effect of orphaning those teams not connected to a major league club’s
system. In short, lower-level professional baseball became serious business. By
1960, there were 135 teams in 20 leagues. By 1963, national attendance had dropped from
42 million to less than 10 million.
Â Â Â The Sea Birds never solved the attendance problem. Giving
away tickets, performing stunts, and special events failed to create an audience
that could sustain the team. As the chart below demonstrates, the average crowd
never approached three hundred and fifty persons.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Source: Mike McCann
Â Â Â The Sea
Birds team was just a small episode in the fundamental change in American
baseball, a change that made professional baseball a commercial product seen
largely on television and not in small ballparks throughout the nation.
Professional baseball became a vehicle for giant corporations to advertise their
wares on regional and national television. To facilitate making professional
baseball a commodity as well as an advertising vehicle, the leagues were reduced
in number and categorized into higher levels. Gone were Classes B, C, and D as
well as some teams at high levels. Major League Baseball expanded but it was
corporate not everyman's baseball.
Â Â Â The
Sea Birds may have been a footnote in professional baseball history but the team
was fun while it lasted. Young men got a chance to see how well they could
compete. Some were able to play for other minor league teams, enjoying the
thrill. Russ Nixon made a successful career in Major League Baseball. Treadway
and Chandler were able to shape and inspire young men. Fans saw some good
players and some great games and have fun. And isn’t that what the sport is
By Don Mabry
and Pete Palmer, Total Baseball
Warner Book, 1989), p. 584 assert
that, in the 1949-1963 period, the number of leagues dropped from 59 to
18 and attendance went from 42 million to less than 10 million.
Beaches is used to mean the
communities and towns of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach,
Ponte Vedra Beach, Palm Valley, and Mayport, all of which are on the northern
end of the barrier island off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. Although
disparate in many ways, they were a cohesive unit in the 1950s. See my World's Finest Beach
“Jacksonville Baseball History, “
The corporation ended on April 13, 1956 by proclamation.
 Ocean Beach Reporter
, Friday February 9, 1951.
Chamber of Commerce
, March 2, 1950;
Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
14 (November 15, 1951); Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
, III:6 (March 29, 1951); Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
, III:6 (March 29, 1951);
Some of the players lived in the Travelrite although Bobby Trump and David
McCrickard lived above a downtown bar. Some ate in the Travelrite Drive-In
Restaurant. They got a deal because the business manager in 1952 was Harry
Hatcher, Jr. Hatcher became a manager of a Gainesville drug store in 1953. He was
replaced by Mrs. Vivian Ropson [now Breckner]. She wrote the column “The Bird
Brain” in the Sea Birds program. The TreadwaysÂ and the Chandlers lived
in Atlantic Beach.
Jules Tygiel, Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie
Robinson and His Legacy,
pp. 120-121, says “Treadway of the Newark Bears refused to play against Jackie Robinson in
1946 (a Sunday double header). League officials said he couldn’t find an
apartment in Newark and that he opted to play in the Mexican League. A short time later, he asked to be sent to
the segregated South Atlantic League.” Bruce
Adelson, Brushing Back Jim Crow: The
Integration of Minor-league Baseball in the American South
University of Virginia Press, 1999, p. 68
perpetuates the story.
Three years later, Treadway was the
manager-player of a racially integrated team and
played against racially integrated teams in the Caribbean League, including
Scorpions pictured below.
Â Â Â Source:
Cubanball.comÂ Â Â Â Â
Chuck Conners, according to the Web site http://www.armchairgm.com/Baseball_Notebook:_Jim_Abbott_and_Chuck_Connors_Facts
(retrieved July 3, 2008) was born Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors on April
21, 1921. He played in the National Basketball Association, was drafted but
never played in the National Football League, and made a reputation playing
professional baseball, mostly in the minor leagues. His play for the Los
Angeles Angels provided the entry into show business.
After he managed the Sea
Birds in 1953 and 1954, he moved on. Treadway was manager of the Fitzgerald Red
Legs of the Class D Georgia-Florida League in 1954, Duluth Dukes of the Class C
Northern League in 1955 (beginning of season), Ogden Reds of the Class C
Pioneer League in 1955 (end of season), and Fitzgerald A's of the Class D
Georgia-Florida League in 1956. Treadway, as a New York Giant, inspired a poem
by Saul Bennett:
Leon Treadway Enters Heaven
I watched in the War my beloved
outfielder no one knows today,
Leon (Red) Treadway, explode
from first on a swat into a Polo Grounds gap,
round third in an arc so wide I feared
at 8 for his run that would knot the game.
When his slide eluded the Nazi's lunge
at the plate I felt nothing, ever, again, might get me.
Trump was young, handsome, humorous, and talented. He was a credible player at
any position. He was willing to engage in the various promotional stunts
dreamed up by management to boost attendance. He also came to know some local
people including girls from the high school. Ron Wingate, one of the bat boys
in 1953, remarked that Trump was idolized by young boys because he seemed to
have it all.
An example of roster fluctuations can be found in
Beaches News & Advertiser
, April 3, 1952. Floyd Clift was moved from 1B
TO RF; Lyn Karp, a newcomer on option from Cincinnati, was sent to 1B. Steve
Korfonta, a new player, was assigned to 2B; Harmon Young went to 3B; Nibaldo Ugarde played SS, and Ernie Clark,
said to be owned by the Cincinnati Reds, was signed as a new pitcher.
Veterans included those who had played professional baseball but the Florida
State League classified a veteran as a person who had played three years or
 Beach News
, Thurs, March 6, 1952.
 Beaches News &
, April 3,
Beaches News & Advertiser
Teammates nicknamed him “Apple Pie” after a young woman rewarded him with one
of her apple pies.
Hank Aaron with Lonnie Wheeler, I Had A Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story
. NY: HarperCollins, 1991, p
Adelson, Brushing Back Jim Crow: The Integration of Minor-league Baseball in
the American South
. University of Virginia Press, 1999, p. 68.
In 1955, he managed the Duluth [MN] Dukes of the Class C Northern
League in the first half of the season and the Ogden Reds of the Class C
Pioneer League at the end of the season. Then he returned to Georgia to manage
the Fitzgerald A's of the Class D Georgia-Florida League in 1956. By 1960, he
moved to the Atlanta area and took a non-baseball job and died there in 1994.
Trump was drafted in November, 1953 and entered the U. S. Army for two years
where he continued to play baseball, including in Okinawa. He went back to
Virginia and graduated from the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia which became Old
Dominion University. He could not play college baseball as he would have liked
because he had been a professional. He worked for Pepsi Cola before joining a
bank (now the Sun Trust chain) from which he retired.
Kevin M. McCarthy. Baseball in Florida.
FL: Pineapple Press, 1996, 112-113.
His obituary of January 11, 1990
in the St. Petersburg Times
[Florida] says he moved to the St. Petersburg
area in 1954. Chandler was born in Commerce in Franklin County, Georgia. Ty
Cobb was also born in Franklin County.
Professional Baseball Player Database Version 6.0 1995-2005 Old-Time Data Inc.
Lowenfish, Lee, Branch Rickey : Baseball's Ferocious
Gentleman. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2007, p. 512 notes that, in
the early fall of 1951, Branch Rickey of the Pirates had an instructional
league for promising young players in Deland, Florida. Nearly 60 minor leaguers
plus 4 young members of the Pirates were trained.
Conversations and electronic mail with Ron Wingate and Tom Ravoo, who worked at
Strickland’s. Ravoo worked as a part-time busboy. The players were served by
black female kitchen workers but Ravoo and the other busboys had no trouble
working that dining room because they enjoyed seeing professional baseball
player. Ravoo’s comments are posted on beacheshistory.wetpaint.com at 3:14 PM
EST, February 22 2008 under RE:
Pittsburgh Pirates at the beach. Data on the Pirates' farm teams was supplied by
Kevin Saldana of Baseball Guru, http://baseballguru.com/ksaldana/.
Bill Foley, “Spring training dream endures in N. Florida,” Florida Times-Union,
July 30, 1997.
The team was renamed the Braves in 1953 when it affiliated with the Milwaukee
The Statistical History of the United
States: From Colonial Times to the Present
(New York, Basic Books, 1976),
The Statistical History of the United
States: From Colonial Times to the Present
(New York, Basic Books, 1976),
and Pete Palmer, Total Baseball
Warner Book, 1989), p. 584.
Note: I am deeply indebted to the family of Bobby
L. Trump, Sr., his wife Joyce, his son Bobby L. Trump, Jr. and his son-in-law, Rich Hensler for supplying me
with newspaper clippings, photographs, and details of his life.Trump died on December 14, 2008, months after this article was written. I am also
indebted to Laura Treadway de Martino, daughter of Leon “Red” Treadway. Ray and
Lois Konkoleski were generous with materials and stories about his career. The
Beaches Area Historical Society, especially archivist Taryn Rodríquez-Boette,
was helpful. In addition, the following individuals, most of whom were
teenagers in the early 1950s at the beaches, corresponded with me on Sea Bird
history: Austin Smith, Ron
Wingate, Terry Jones, Harley Henry, Paul Marino, Tom
Ravoo, and Harley Henry. Dick Bussard, a former editor of the Ocean Beach
Reporter, Mike McCann, an informed baseball Webmaster, Clint
Chafin, Jeff Howell, and Edwin Ellis
helped as well.
Beaches News and Advertiser
Ocean Beach Reporter
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Adelson. Bruce. Brushing Back Jim Crow: The Integration of
Minor-league Baseball in the American South. Charlottesville,
University of Virginia Press, 1999.
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and Walker, James Robert, “Did Televised Baseball Kill the
"Golden Age" of the Minor Leagues? NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture , - 13:1, Fall
2004, pp. 59-73.
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Jacksonville Journal, May, 1952.
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Burt, Al, “Treadway Inks Sea Bird Pact, Begins Winter Player
Drive.” Jacksonville Journal. 1952.
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Beach Wins,” Jacksonville Journal.Â ca.1953.
“Sea Birds Will Face Palatka Nine First,” Jacksonville Journal, April, 1953.
“Saturday Special,” Jacksonville Journal,
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Journal, April, 1952.
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Enter No Hitter In Book,” Jacksonville Journal, 1953.
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as Beach Wins,” Jacksonville Journal,
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2-1,” Jacksonville Journal, July, 1953.
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Journal, April, 1952.
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Journal, April, 1953.
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Journal, April , 1953.
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No Hitter in Book,” Jacksonville Journal, 1953.
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Drive,” Jacksonville Journal, 1952.
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Beach Baseball Rests, and Now Citizens Must Produce, “ , Jacksonville
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Journal, July, 1952.
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Feller,” Jacksonville Journal, 1954.
Gordon. Ninth Series of Famous American
Athletes of Today. Grierson Press, 2007.
Chamber of Commerce Newsletter, 1949-1959.
Chamber of Commerce files, Beaches Area Historical Society.
“Celebrating Sea Bird Victory,” Newspaper
Photo, April, 1952 or 1953. Ray Britt pitched 5-2 victory over Leesburg Lakers.
Crawford, Ray, “Blues Conquer Sea Birds, 9-4,”
Jacksonville Journal, 1952.
Crawford, Ray, “Beach Downs Sanford, 5-0,”
Jacksonville Journal, 1952.
Crawford, Ray, “Kitchen, Trump Lead Birds in 4-1 Triumph
Over Pilots,” Florida Times-Union.
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to 2,” Florida Times-Union April, 1953.
Foley, Bill, "Spring Training Dream Endures in N. Florida,
" Florida Times-Union, July 30, 1997.
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Yankee. Chandler Has the Best Winning Percentage in Baseball History, “
Suite101.com, September 21, 2007. http://major-league-baseball.suite101.com/article.cfm/spud_chandler_the_commerce_yankee.Â
Greater Beaches Stadium, Inc. stock
“HELP SUPPORT THE SEA BIRDS!,” The Beach News, May 1, 1952.
“Herky Payne Signs With Sea Birds.” newspaper photo, 1953.
“Jacksonville Beach Seabirds,” BR
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Players Who Integrated Baseball—And America. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2007.
Beach Council Approves Use of Stadium,” Beach
News-Advertiser (March 18, 1954).
“Joe Angel Hurls a No-Hitter for Jacksonville Beach,
Fla.,” newspaper clipping. April 27,
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Community Building Through Hometown Sports. New York, Routledge, 2003.
“Lakers Defeat Sea Birds, 5-2,” Florida Times Union,Â Â Â Â
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Baseball,” Journal of Sports History, 24:2 (Summer 1997), 177-191.
Land, Kenneth C., Davis,
Walter R., and Blau, Jennifer R., “Organizing The Boys of Summer: The Evolution
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ofÂ Sociology, 100:3
(November, 1994), 781-813.
Joe, “Meet the Sea Birds: Philly Writer Stirs Thadford’s Dander,” Jacksonville
Journal, April, 1952.
Livingston, Joe, “Tom Mills’
No-Hitter Birds’ Third This Year,” Jacksonville Journal, July 5, 1952.
Livingston, Joe, Trump Was Drafted As Prep Catcher,”
Jacksonville Journal, 1953.
“Meet The Birds: “Apple Pie” Briggs Is Man In A Hurry,” Jacksonville Journal.
Livingston, Joe, “Meet the Sea Birds: Trump Was Drafted as
Prep Catcher,” Jacksonville Journal, 1953.
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