2016-03-24 / Sports

Jesup’s contributions are significant

baseball historian

Quote by Larry Fox...Baseball Digest 1963: “Rudolph’s fastball would have trouble chipping a Dresden china vase.”

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to south Georgia and speak at the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs in Jesup. My topic was a talk I give on the Greatest Generation of WWII baseball players and their service to America during the war.

Jesup is in Wayne County and is noted for producing great football players such as Len Hauss, Lindsay Scott, Greyson Lambert, and others. Hauss started out as a standout fullback for Jesup High School and moved on to star at UGA. He was a six-time Pro Bowl pick with the Washington Redskins and has been honored as one of the 70 greatest Redskins players. He is in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon.

It was an honor for me to meet and chat with the great Len Hauss, the NFL center who started in 192 straight pro football games. We both were delighted to know that we had a mutual friend in Jim Whitehead from Evans. Jim played football with Len at Georgia and they were close friends and I played baseball with Jim as a boy and we have been lifetime friends. As the saying goes, it really is a pretty small world in some ways.

Lindsay Scott, a Georgia wide receiver, is best remembered for the reception he made on a last minute pass from Buck Belue in the 1980 Georgia Florida Game. A game etched in the minds of Georgia fans forever as that touchdown allowed the Bulldogs to continue on to the National Championship of 1980.

So, to be able to talk about baseball in a town so noted for football is no small task within itself. I found that there was, and still is, great affection for baseball in Jesup after conversing with several of the civic club members there. I had a very interesting conversation with physician Dr. Lanier Harrell, who told me about the 1950, ’51, and ’52 Jesup entry in the Class D Georgia State League.

It seems that a Baltimore Maryland native named Frederick Donald Rudolph had quite a two-year career for the Bees in 1950 and ’51. As a left handed pitcher, Don won 41 games while losing only 18 in that two-year period. His year in 1951 was monumental as he won an amazing 28 games while losing only 8. This performance gained him national attention, and after several more years in the minors he was brought up to the majors in 1957 with the Chicago White Sox.

Don played six years in the majors and won 18 big league games while losing 32. The real notoriety in his life came when he married burlesque queen Patricia Brownell, stage name Patti Waggin. Her fame and his major league baseball career brought them attention wherever they traveled. I wonder which one of them had the best curves?

Don is featured on five different years of Topps Baseball Cards. His wife was featured on the cover of several national magazines. One of the fun things about baseball history is the uncovering, if I may use that term, of some wonderfully amusing stories. I put this one in that category.

A very knowledgeable baseball fan in Jesup, Rev. Marty McLeod, assured me that the Atlanta Braves have a bright future because of all of their recent trades and realignments. I optimistically told him I hope he is correct. My thanks go out to Dave and Kathy Harrell for inviting my wife and me to spend a few very pleasant days in Jesup as their guests.

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