Thursday, June 23, 2016

Montgomery Rebels baseball stopped in Evergreen 76 years ago in 1940

I don’t know what’s got into the Atlanta Braves lately, but whatever it is, they shouldn’t change a thing.

As of Monday, the Braves had won five straight games, including a three-game sweep of the division rival, New York Mets. This five-game winning streak is the longest such streak of the season for the Braves, so far, topping a four-game streak they put together in late April.

Atlanta had the day off on Monday, but were scheduled to begin a two-game series against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday in Miami. Atlanta’s fared well so far this season against Miami, having gone 5-1 against the Marlins as of Monday.

Despite their 23-46 overall record, Atlanta hasn’t done bad against division opponents this year. Through Monday, they were 12-5 against teams in the National League East with about 93 games still left in their regular season schedule. Atlanta’s been at the bottom of the division standings pretty much since the beginning of the season, but if they continue to play like they’ve been playing this past week, they might be able to pull themselves up to a more respectable position in the standings.

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I was looking through some of my notes earlier this week and was reminded that Saturday, June 25, marks the anniversary of a somewhat unique sports-related event in the history of Evergreen. It was on this day in 1940 – 76 years ago – that the Montgomery Rebels of the Southeastern Baseball League stopped in Evergreen to eat on their way to Mobile for a series against the Mobile Shippers.

This event was such a big deal at the time that The Evergreen Courant newspaper had a front page story about their visit to Evergreen in the June 27, 1940 edition. That story read as follows:

“MONTGOMERY BALL CLUB PAYS VISIT HERE TUESDAY MORNING: The Montgomery Rebels of the Southeastern baseball league honored our fair city with a visit Tuesday morning when they stopped to dine at a local café, enroute for a series with the Mobile Shippers. The Rebs are holding down third place in the league standings, and are enjoying the best season they have had in years. More power, we say, to the capital city horsehiders.”

The Southeastern Baseball League was an old minor league organization that dated back to 1910, and in 1940 it was considered a Class B league, that is, it was four levels below Major League Baseball. Over the years, a wide variety of teams were part of the Southeastern League, but in 1940 the league included the Montgomery Rebels, the Mobile Shippers, the Gadsden Pilots, the Jackson (Miss.) Senators, the Pensacola Pilots, the Anniston Rams, the Selma Cloverleafs and the Meridian Bears.

Montgomery had a middle-of-the-pack team in 1940. They finished the season in fourth place behind first-place Gadsden, second-place Jackson and third-place Pensacola. Anniston came in fifth, and Selma was sixth. Mobile finished the season seventh overall, just ahead of Meridian.

The 1940 Rebels, who played their home games at Cramton Bowl on Madison Avenue in Montgomery, had an impressive roster, including at least seven players who played in the Majors. Those Major League players included second baseman Bill Adair of Mobile, pitcher Ivy Andrews of Dora, pitcher Orville Armrust of Beirne, Ark., outfielder Tom Cafego of Whipple, W.V., pitcher Larry Crawford of Swissvale, Pa., first baseman Bob Prichard of Paris, Texas and pitcher Ernie Wingard of Prattville.

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