A number of players started or passed through the Union City Greyhound team on their way to the majors or on their way home after playing in the major leagues. Most of the latter were managers. Some of them are listed here. If you have more information or stories to share email me.
Clarence "Heinie" Mueller was manager of the 1936 Greyhounds. He played in the majors from 1920-1935 with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and Boston Braves before closing out with the St. Louis Browns. He played in 693 games and had a lifetime batting average of .282. His best years were 1921 and 1923 when he hit .352 and .343 respectively. He came to Union City as manager at the bequest of Branch Rickey in the first season that the Greyhounds were in the Cardinal farm system. This arrangement was largely the result of the great relationship developed between Rickey and the Union City civic leaders after the successful exhitition game between the Greyhounds and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1935. Mueller was a colorful character about whom numerous stories were circulated. One involved the first time he met Branch Rickey. Rickey was said to be interested in Mueller because he was so fast on the bases. When Rickey mentioned to Mueller that he understood him to be quite fast. Mueller responded. "you know that guy Jack Smith who plays for you? I'm faster than him." "Judas Priest!" exclamed Rickey. "I don't know about Priest," said Mueller. "I never seen him play." Mueller was fired by the Greyhound team directors after the first half of the 1936 season. His record was 35-23. Who knows what they were thinking! He died in 1975 in Creve Coeur, MO at the age of 76.
Fred "Bootnose" Hofman succeeded Heinie Mueller at mid season 1936. He played in 378 major league games for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox from 1919-1928. His lifetime batting average was .247 and his best years were his .297 with the '22 Yanks and .272 with the '27 Red Sox. Freddie was a very popular manager with the team officials and the fans. He led the Greyhounds to first place in the 1936 second half standings. A normal Kitty League brouhaha made the Greyhounds the league champions. The second half was a close race and a meeting was held to make preprations for the playoffs against Paducah the first half winner. The plan was for a best of seven series immediately following the season's end. The teams in contention were Union City, Lexington and Jackson. Paducah manager Ben Tincup protested the idea of playing any games at night and said he would not participate if games were held thusly. If Lexington were to finish first it would not be a problem because Lexington did not have a lighted field. In the final days of the season with Union City leading Lexington by three games and only needing one win to clinch the title, the Greyhounds went to Lexington for a Friday afternoon game. All the businesses in Lexington closed for the game which Lexington won 5-2. Union City finally clinched first place by defeating Paducah with only one game left in the season. Paducah protested the eligibility of some Union City players including pitcher Rip Schroder a former House of David player. When that protest failed, Paducah protested the playing of night games. While this may seem ridiculous today, at the time night games were not the norm, and playoff games were traditionally played as daytime events. Nevertheless Judge Branham of the National Association of Professional Baseball ruled this was a decision for the league to make. Union City defeated Paducah 6-2 in the first game in Turner Field. Tincup did not accompany his team. None of the Paducah players showed for the second game and it went as a forfeit, as did the rest of the playoff games. Freddie Hofman then gave the Union City Greyhounds their first league championship. Hofman, born in St. Louis in 1894, died in St. Helena, CA in 1964.
Fred Martin was a member of the 1936 Greyhound team. A pitcher, Martin went on to pitch on the St. Louis Cardinal teams in 1946, 1949, and 1950. In 57 games he had a won/loss record of 12-3 with an ERA of 3.78. Know as a good man with the bat, Martin hit.281 in the majors including a .331 with the 1950 Cardinals in 31 games. Martin was born in 1915 in Williams, OK. He died in Chicago in 1979.
Joe Hauser came to Union City to manage the 1955 team. Considering the success of the 1954 team, it would be a hard act to follow. Hauser, a 56 year old non-playing manager, was one of the most interesting and colorful characters to appear in the league. He played six years in the majors, five of them with Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's from 1922-28. He hit a career .284, and over .300 twice with 80 home runs. Following an injury that sent him to the minors for the rest of his career he became one of the all time great homerun hitters in minor league history. He hit 63 homers in 1930 with Baltimore and hit a record 69 for Minneapolis in 1933. The record stood until Fred Bauman of the Roswell, NM team in the Lonhorn League hit 72 in 1954. He was the only man to ever hit 60 or more homers in two years until Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire in 1999. He was touted as a great teacher of young players and had been a manager in the Dodger chain for 11 years before coming to UnionCity, all in his hometown of Sheboygan, WI. He won five championships and never had a team finish out of first division. Collier magazine writer Tom Meany came to Union City in the summer of 1955 and did a story on Hauser that appeared in the national publication. Hauser, a left handed first baseman, hit 27 home runs in 1924, second in the league to Babe Ruth. He had fond memories of the Babe. Saying "Babe loved to pull my shirttail out every time he stopped at first base. Lucky for me, he seldom stopped there. He was usually on his way to another base." The Kitty League fell apart and closed down at the end of the 1955 season. The Dodgers were not successful that year because Hauser said the Brooklyn organization did not provide sufficient help. Hauser returned to his home in Sheboygan where he owned a sporting goods store. He remained there until he died in 1997 at the age of 98. He died four days after receiving word from the Commissioner's office that all players who served in the majors before 1947 would receive a pension.
Johnnie Antonelli was born in 1915 in Memphis. He was an outstanding athlete in the Memphis area. He had played two seasons 0f professional baseball when he was chosen to manage the Lexington entry into the Kitty League in 1936. Following the 1935 and 36 seasons in Lexington he was selected as manager of the Greyhounds in 1937. That year Antonelli hit .363 and his team won the league championship. From 1938-1941 he played in the Texas League for Houston. Then he joined the Columbus teams in the AAA American Association for '42, 43 and 44, before being called up to the St. Louis Cardinals for 8 games. He returned to the Cardinals in 1945, but was traded to the Philadelphia Blue Jays (Phillies) where he played in 125 games and hit .256. He played for Buffalo the next two seasons in the International League before returning home to Memphis and the Southern Association in 1948-49. His last season of pro ball was in 1950 when he managed Hot Springs in the Cotton States League. The Greyhounds tried to entice him to another contract as manager several times after the league resumed play following WWII but they were never able to make the connection. He was a very popular player and manager in Union City. He died in Memphis in 1990.
Bill Endicott played for Union City Greyhounds for a short time in 1936 when he was 18 years old. The outfielder/pitcher devoted himself to the outfield after 1936. In '37 he played for Albuquerque in the Arizona-Texas League and Albany, GA in the Georgia-Florida League. He hit .383 and .297, respectively with those teams. Returning to Albany in '38 he hit .354, and continued his upward climb in 1939 with Mobile (.320) and Houston (.236). Another year in Mobile in 1940 (.320) and Hollywood (.298) in the Pacific Coast League in 1941 brought him to WWII and wartime service. In 1946 he made the St. Louis Cardinal team and played in 20 games hitting .200. He played one more year in Houston before giving up the game.
Albert "Red" Schoendienst joined the Union City Greyhounds on June 12, 1942 during a road trip in Bowling Green. Red was 19 years old. In three games at Bowling Green he went 8 for 14, including a double-header. When the team returned to Turner Field, it was announced that the league would cease play on June 18 because of the effects of WWII. He went 3 for 13 in three games at Turner Field for a batting average of .407. After Red became the star of the Cardinals a few years later, he became somewhat a legend in Union City and the entire city was quick to take credit for his success. It was said that he was just a poor country boy who stayed in Mr. Dietzel's barn beside the left field side of Turner Field "all the while he lived in Union City". It is not know if this is true, but it is not unlikely as other players did sleep in the barn from time to time...and Red was only in town three days before being shipped to Albany, GA in the Georgia-Florida League for the remainder of the season. After two more seasons of minor league ball, he started in the outfield for the Cardinals in 1945, before moving to second base for the next 19 years. He was with the Cardinals until a 1956 trade sent him to the New York Giants and an additional trade put him with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957-60, before returning to the Cardinals where he has managed and coached until this day. Oddly his three appearances in the World Series as a player came with the Cardinals in 1946 and the Braves in 57 and 58. From his Union City start, Red played in 2216 major league games, hit a lifetime .289, and made the Hall of Fame. However had all the fans in Union City who later claimed to have seen him hit and run the bases at Turner Field actually saw him, there would have been much larger crowds at the Greyhound games in 1942.
Johnny Gill, born in Nashville March 27, 1905, made his debut in the majors on August 28, 1927 with the Cleveland Indians. He played during six seasons from 1927-1936 with the Indians, Washington Senators, and the Chicago Cubs. He played in 118 games as an outfielder and hit .245 in the majors, but had a lifetime .325 overall when he came to Union City. He became the manager of the 1946 Union City Greyhounds and played first base. That year when he was 41 years old he hit .378 with 17 home-runs and 83 RBIs. The following year he managed Fulton and Clarksville and hit .396 with another 17 home-runs and 104 RBIs. In March, 1946 Walter Ward, the Greyhound Business Manager signed Gill to manage the Hounds on the recommendation of Johnny Antonelli, who had just finished the '45 season with Philadelphia, and Nashville manager, Larry Gilbert.. The Greyhounds had a working agreement that year with Providence, RI of the New England League. Before the season started Business Manager Walter Ward resigned to sign a contract as a player. The Greyhounds did not play good ball in 1946 and were languishing in seventh place in late August when Johnny Gill quit the team. It was reported that the club directors told him they were going to cut every expense they could in the final two weeks of the season. Gill told them they could start with what they owed him for the remainder of the season. He had signed for $2000 for a 126 game season. Jess Webb was named to finish out the season as manager. Gill died the day after Christmas in 1984
Tony Rensa was signed in January, 1948 to manage the Greyhounds. He was 46 years old and a catcher. The two previous seasons Rensa had managed the Pittsfield, MA team in the Canadian-American League. At age 45 he caught 108 games. In six seasons between 1930 and 1939 Rensa played in 200 major league games for Detroit, Philadelphia Blue Jays (Phillies), New York Yankees, and theChicago White Sox. In 1930 he hit .285 in 54 games with Philadelphia. In between he played a lot of minor league ball in the Texas League, the American Association, the Southern Association, and the Eastern League. The 1948 Union City Greyhounds were one of the best ever to play for the city. It was the first time in 11 years that Union City finished high enough inthe standings to get nto the playoffs. The team finished the regular season with a 79-46 record. Union City battled three Kentucky teams for the Championship. Union City beat Owensboro 3 games to two, while Madisonvill was defeating Hopkinsville by the same margin. The Greyhounds then beat Madisonville four straight games, with the last game being won by pitcher Bernie Olinger, a pitcher Madisonville had released in mid-season for showing no potential. He was 13-4 with the Hounds. Bud Hutson set a record that year with 129 RBIs and the team turned 120 double plays for another record. Rensa was signed to manage the team again in 1949, but did not complete the season when he was fired on August 3, 1949 with a record of 44-43. He was the longest serving manager at that time. Tony died in 1987 in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Rudy York succeeded Tony Rensa as manager in August 1949. York was a true major leaguer who played for 11 consecutive seasons in the big leagues. He debuted with the Detroit Tigers at age 21 in 1934. Following two years in the minors wilth Milwaukee and Dallas in '33 and '36, he returned to the Tigers where he was a starter for 8 years at catcher and later first base. In 11 seasons with the Tigers, Red Sox, and Philadelphia Athletics, he played in 1603 games, hit 277 home runs, 1152 RBIs and hit.275 lifetime. He also played in three World Series, each going seven games, in 1940 and '45 with Detroit, and 1946 with the Red Sox. His major league career came to an end because they said he could no longer see big league pitching. He could Class D pitching. The fans came early to watch him take batting practice at Turner Field. He routinely clouted the balls over the long left field fence and the youngsters took full advantage by running down the balls and "keeping on a running". York was out of baseball in 1950, but returned to manage Oil City-New Castle in the Mid-Atlantic League in 1951 where at age 48, he hit 34 homers and had 107 RBIs. York died in 1970 at Rome, GA.
Earl Naylor was a pitcher/outfielder, born in Kansas City in 1919. He broke into baseball with Fayette in the Arkansas-Missouri League in 1937. Although he shows pitching records in seven different years between 1938 and 1953, including 1942 with the National League Philadelphia team, he is credited with only one win. That one came in the Kitty League with Uniion City. As an outfielder and hitter he was much more successful, hitting over .300 for most of his career with 136 home runs during his professional career. Naylor made short appearances in the majors three different times. He was with Philadelphia in 1942 for 76 games where he went 0-5 as a pitcher and hit .196 as an outfielder. He returned to Philly in 1943 for 33 games in the outfield and hit a poor .175. He made another appearance with Brooklyn in 1946, but played in only three games. After 1946 he continued to play in the Brooklyn farm system in AAA American Association with St. Paul. It was the Brooklyn association that brought him to Union City as the manager of the Union City Dodgers in 1953. That year, in a support role, he hit .326 with 12 homers and 75 RBIs. In 1953 there were two new rules passed concerning conduct. The first one was thinly veiled, but obviously aimed at Sam Lamintino, the Fulton manager. It decreed any foul language within the hearing of ladies and children would be cause for a fine on the first offense, a heavier fine for a second offense, and possible expulsion from the league for subsequent offenses. Lamintino was a showman that would loudly and profanely argue at the drop of a hat about any aspect of the game or the weather. The fans of every opponent loved to hate him, but they paid their admissions. The second rule disallowed smoking within the playing field area including the dugouts. This allowed Earl Naylor to become closely aquainted with the fans behind the first base dugout as he took frequent between inning breaks there. Naylor's 1953 team was not very successful. However his 1954 team was statistically the best team ever to play in Union City. Union City celebrated it's 100 year birthday in 1954, and the baseball team helped make it a summer to remember. As a team they hit .301. Individually Al Shinn won the batting title with .392 and a slugging average of .706. Outfielder Ed Allen hit .356, Sal DeMattis, .338, Earl Naylor, .320, Lowell Mendenhall, .319, and shorstop Al Costa, .312. Pitcher Jim Major had a record of 18-8 with 174 strikeouts. Chuck Templeton was 10-3. Rene Masip finished at 19-5, and Tom Sheridan was 10-7. The team won the first half of the season in a runaway, and defeated Madisnville in the playoffs for the league championship. Naylor played and managed in St. Paul and Ashville in 1955. He died in 1990 in Winter Haven, FL.
Chuck Templeton was born in 1932 in Detroit.Signed by the Broklyn Dodgers in 1954, he was forst sent to Montreal of the International League. Later that year he was sent to UnionCity. A left handed pitcher, he had a blazing fast ball that was made more intimating by Templeton's imposing size. He was 6' 3" and weighed 210. He literally blew batters out of the box. Following the 1954 championship season in Union City where he was 10-3, he was called up the AAA St. Paul in the Ameriacan Association. for the remainder of their season. In 1955 he was 14-9 in St. paul before being called to the Brooklyn Dodgers at the end of the season. He was back in St. Paul in '56 and '57, where he went 11-14 with short stints each year with Brooklyn. However he had injured his arm and it never recovered the speed and control that he exhibited early on in his career. He did not play professionally after 1958.
Al Lakeman was a catcher on the 1938 Greyhounds team. The team was a farm club of the Cincinnatti Reds that year. Born in Ohio in 1918, Al was 19 years old in Union City. By 1942 he had been called up by the Reds at the end of the season. He made brief appearances again in 1943 and 44, before playing in 76 games in 1945. He went to the Phillies in 47 and 48, the Boston Braves for a short time in 1949. Later he served as a coach for the Red Sox and played in 5 games for the Detroit Tigers in 1954. He managed several minor league teams including in the Pioneer League in Idaho until 1957. Lakeman's totals includind 239 major league games with 649 at bats for a .201 average. He died in 1976 in South Carolina.
Dave Bartosch was only 20 years old when he hit .337 for the 1937 league champion Greyhounds as an outfielder. He had already played the 1936 season with Union Springs in the Alabama-Florida league and with Daytona Beach in the Florida State League. In 1938 the Cardinals dropped Union City as a farm team so he started the season with Paducah before moving on to Ashville in the Piedmont League. !939 and 40 found Dave in Decateur of the Three I league, Portsmouth in the Mid-Atlantic abd El Dorado in theCotton States League. Then as with many young men he was caught up in WWII. He returned to play with Columbus in theAmerican Association in early 1945, before getting a shot with the Cardinals for 24 games that same year. He hit for .255 in 47 at bats and walked an additional 6 times to give him an on base average of .340. At age 28, he did not play professionally again although baseball continued to be a big part of his life.