Wednesday, July 27, 2016

1938 all-star baseball game changed site of Evergreen Greenies home game

Virgil Trucks
If you take a close look at The Courant’s Sports Flashback feature this week, you’ll see where it was on this day, July 28, in 1938 that the Evergreen Greenies beat the Andalusia Rams, 4-3, in an Alabama-Florida Class D Baseball League game in Andalusia.

During that game 78 years ago, the Greenies benefited from a strong pitching performance by left-hander Joe Cudillo. According to The Evergreen Courant, this game was originally scheduled to be played in Evergreen, but the league’s All-Star game was set to be played in Troy earlier that afternoon, which caused the Evergreen-Andalusia game to be moved to Andalusia, with the Greenies serving as the home team.

The local players picked for the All-Star game were to play that afternoon in the All-Star game and then journey to Andalusia that night for the game with the Rams. Evergreen players in the All-Star game included catcher Waldron, utility infielder Koval, utility outfielder Joe Cudillo and pitcher Lee Anthony, and they all played on the Northern Division team.

Players from Andalusia played on the Southern Division all-star team, and those Andalusia all-stars included catcher Yaryan, first baseman Langston, shortstop Carmen Soltis, utility infielder Moseley, outfielder Gorman and pitchers Virgil Trucks and Brockhoeft.

According to the Troy Messenger, the 1938 all-star game was the first such game in the history of the Alabama-Florida league. Players from Evergreen, Union Springs and Troy made up the Northern Division team, while players from Andalusia, Dothan and Panama City made up the Southern Division team.

As things turned out, the game was played at Trojan Field in Troy before a record crowd of 2,300, including 1,803 paid fans. The Southern Division ended up winning, 9-3. Trucks allowed no hits in two innings of work, and Soltis finished the game with two home runs, a single and four RBI.

Many of you reading this will know that Virgil “Fire” Trucks went on to bigger and better things after the 1938 season. On Sept. 27, 1941, Trucks, a right-handed native of Birmingham, made his Major League pitching debut when he took the mound for the Detroit Tigers. He continued to play for the Tigers up through 1943, but then missed two seasons due to military service in World War II.

After the war, Trucks returned to the Tigers and played on that team through the 1952 season. After his years with the Tigers, he went on to play for the St. Louis Browns, the Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Athletics and the New York Yankees. He appeared in his final Major League game on Sept. 26, 1958 when he took the mound one last time for the Yankees.

Trucks, who died in Calera in 2013, finished his career with a 3.39 ERA and with 1,534 total strike outs. He was a two-time All-Star (1949, 1954), was on two World Series championship teams (1945, 1960), led the league in strike outs in 1949 and threw two career no-hitters.

Needless to say, when Trucks finished his Major League career, he’d come a long way from the Evergreen and Andalusia teams of his Alabama-Florida League playing days.

(I attempted to dig up all of the first names for the other all-stars players mentioned above, but was unable to get them before this week’s sport deadline.)

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