Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baseball's in our Blood - Sports Saturday

My grandfather Bob Sawyer and great-uncle Phil Sawyer played minor league baseball in the 1920s. Uncle Phil was pretty good, far better than Granddaddy, by all accounts.

When I posted Uncle Phil's obituary Jack Morris commented with a link to a great website Baseball that had statistics on Uncle Phil's career. I searched for Granddaddy's stats which confirmed that Phil had a better minor league career than his big brother. Phil was a right-handed pitcher for six seasons, playing two seasons of class D ball with the Greeneville Burley Cubs, part of one season in with the Class A Birmingham Barons and the three seasons with the Class B Knoxville Smokies. Granddaddy never made it out of Class D, playing one year for Greeneville and two years for the Johnson City Soldiers.  He had his best year in 1924, hitting .334 and pitching in 19 games (11 wins, 8 losses). He hung up his cleats after that season and began his career as a salesman. He did marry a Johnson City girl in 1925, so the baseball career had some long term benefits. 

According to the Baseball website Bob and Phil played one season together in 1921 for the Greeneville Burley Cubs only a few miles from their father's home in Warrensburg, TN.  The site does not have any information for the 1922 team beyond the fact that it existed so it is possible they also played that season. This photograph was found in an album put together for Bob's 50th wedding anniversary. Phil is the third from left in the back row. Bob is the third from the right in the back row. The photograph was taken by J. M. Stanfield, Photographer (Cleveland, TN). 

Greeneville Burley Cubs, Photograph, c. 1921. Digital Image. Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1999.


  1. I love reading the baseball stories and seeing the photos of the ball players in our families. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds like grandaddy still went home a winner! Love the photo!

  3. How cool.

    Makes me wonder...were there any people in my tree who were noted for their sports ability.

    I don't recall any stories - maybe I haven't asked the right questions...

    Thanks for this post.

  4. Interesting history for your family-and I love the photo : )


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