Thursday, May 5, 2016

The 'Clown Prince of Baseball' visited Brewton, Alabama 76 years ago today

Alexander "Al" Schacht
The first full month of the Major League Baseball season is in the books and what’s transpired so far doesn’t bode well for fans of the Atlanta Braves.

As of Monday morning, the Braves had the worst record in the Major Leagues, having gone 6-18 since the start of the regular season on April 4. This includes a nine-game losing streak to open the season and an eight-game losing skid between April 20 and April 27.

To add insult to injury, while most teams play better at home, this hasn’t been the case so far for the Braves. To date, they were 1-12 at Turner Field with a 5-6 record on the road. Almost needless to say, they’re in last place in the NL East with a 3-9 mark against division opponents.

All of this begs the question: How much longer will it be before the bigwigs in the front office fire manager Fredi González? Who will they get to take his place? Is this season a lost cause already?
Only time will tell, but at this point things don’t look good for the Braves.

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A little closer to home, the three Minor League teams within a short drive from Evergreen were doing better than the Braves, some better than others. As of Monday morning, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos were 14-11 overall, and the Montgomery Biscuits were 13-10 overall. The Mobile Bay Bears, who are celebrating their 20th year in the Port City, were 8-15 overall.

All three of these teams compete in the 10-team Southern League, which is separated into North and South divisions. The Wahoos, who are affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds, were in second place in the South division, and the Biscuits, who are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays, were in second place in the North Division. The Bay Bears, who are affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, are in last place in the South, behind the 9-15 Mississippi Braves.

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If you look over in the Sports Flashback feature for this week, you’ll see where Al Schacht, aka the “Clown Prince of Baseball,” was scheduled to appear in Brewton 76 years ago (on May 5, 1940) during a Minor League baseball game between Brewton and Tallassee.

Schacht, who pitched two seasons for the Washington Senators between 1919 and 1921, was a big deal in his heyday and was known for attracting big crowds with his famous baseball-themed comedy routine. Born in New York City in 1892, he would have been 47 years old by the time of his visit to Brewton. He also went on to live well beyond his trip to our area, living to the ripe old age of 91 before passing away on July 14, 1984 in Waterbury, Conn.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, in the days before every home had a television, local ballparks provided a lot of entertainment to communities like Brewton and Evergreen. The owners of these parks and local teams would often go to great lengths to attract big crowds, which explains why someone like Schacht ended up in Brewton. After all, the bigger the crowd, the bigger the ticket sales, a portion of which likely went to Schacht during his visit to Brewton.

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