Franklin Lions/Rotarians play ball

Published 8:06 pm Monday, August 1, 2022

By Clyde Parker

On Thursday night, July 31, 1947, fully a thousand spectators packed the grandstand at Franklin Park and overflowed its bleachers for an unusual baseball game between teams representing the Franklin Lions Club and the Franklin Rotary Club. They played in pajamas.
Here is a report on the ballgame by The Tidewater News in its Aug. 8, 1947 edition:
Under skies that dripped, intermittently and threatened to give down with a copious precipitation of globular H2O, the proceedings got under way about on schedule. It was a colorful scene, what with the members of the rival teams wearing pajamas and nightshirts of loud and vivid hues.
The game itself was alone worth anybody’s price of admission, the participants making up in enthusiasm and comradery what they lacked in form and, boy, were they lacking in form. The rain had softened the infield making feats of skill out of the question but the way the base runners and fielders ploughed up the earth in their cavorting about the diamond was enough to draw guffaws from even the gloomiest cynic. In a very few minutes the freshly laundered “negligees” were liberally spattered with mud. It was good fun, but it was far from clean.
For the Lions Club, the starting team was composed of Lemuel Branch, catcher; Floyd Briggs, pitcher; Bob Powell, first base; Bill Bryan Hastings, second base; Herbert Edwards, short stop; Linwood Edwards, third base; Ruel Blythe, left field; Walter Norfleet, center field; and Samuel Bradshaw, right field. Others performing for the Lions were Dutch Holland, Carlton Cutchins, Wayland Stephenson, Ned Wilkerson, Dellie Cotton, Allen Soble and Percy Bunch.
For the Rotary Club, the lineup included: Hinson “Hinky” Parker, catcher; Charlie Morgan, pitcher; Dr. “Specks” Snipes, first base; Bob Allport, second base; Bill Jones, short stop; Rev. Randolph Gregory, third base; Bill Coker, left field; Hap Pillow, center field; and Steve Lipscomb, right field. Capable substitutes were Cecil Vaughan 111, George Parker, and Dr. Burton Ray. J. C. Taylor was the umpire.
If it means anything to anybody, the Rotarians actually won the game. But nobody actually knew the score.
Somewhere in the midst of the proceedings, somebody fired a couple of flares, one of which landed near second base and produced a cloud of smoke which drifted into the grandstand. Also, between the second and third innings, if that many were played, three members of the Franklin High School football squad — Vaughan Fowler, William Rhodes, and Mac Coker — clad in the new uniforms donated by the Franklin Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), sponsors of the game, dashed from the home team dugout in view of all the crowd and made for the dressing room in the Franklin High School gymnasium. They looked pretty good in their new outfits of blue trimmed with gold. Incidentally, we hear that one of our prominent Rotarians has donated to the football squad 31 blankets which match, in color, the blue of the uniforms.
The threat of a downpour cut short the evening’s program to the disappointment of both the promoters and the assembled throng. Shortly after nine o’clock, Sol W. Rawls, Jr. drove up to home plate in a beautiful 1947 Ford sedan which was to be given to the holder of the lucky ticket. From a large fiberboard drum, Raymond Holland, veteran of World War II, drew a ticket-colored green. When the color of the ticket was announced, immediately, there arose a groan of anguish from all those holding pink and yellow tickets. Then, when Mayor W. J. M. Holland Jr. read the green ticket, number 1,659, a shriek of happiness came from the dim recess of the grandstand. The holder of the lucky number was Mrs. B. R. Carr who resides on South Street. Quickly, Mrs. Carr made her way from the top middle portion of the grandstand to home plate where she received the congratulations of Mayor Holland and members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and numerous friends and acquaintances.
A gratifying sum was realized for the evening’s entertainment for the benefit of the Franklin High School Athletic Association and other organizations in which the Jaycees are interested.

Clyde Parker is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net.