Talking baseball: Crown Mill in the spotlight at historical society – The Daily Citizen

When Marvin Lewis was a kid, he heard tales of his dad, who was a pitcher in the old industrial leagues around northwest Georgia.

He said his dad was such a good pitcher that he was in demand from local mill managers who wanted bragging rights.

“He wanted a job at one place, and he went there and the manager asked if he played baseball,” Lewis said. “He told him he was a pitcher, but he didn’t get a job because they already had a pitcher. He got a job with another company, and the next Sunday they played them and he pitched a shutout and hit a home run for a 1-0 lead. Guess they should have hired him.”

Lewis was one of many who packed into the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society presentation on the area’s baseball history by retired Dalton State College history professor Dr. Tom Veve titled “Mill League Memories.”

Dalton has a rich baseball history and tradition, and it isn’t just for the fact that two players — Mitchell Boggs and Harry “Suitcase” Simpson — both made it to the big leagues.

While those two players have certainly added to the tradition, the baseball history in the area goes back to the old industrial leagues, which began in the late 19th century. Those leagues of the industrial revolution were the beginnings which would later form in Dalton.

Of particular interest for Veve was the Crown Mill baseball teams of the mid and late 1940s. He gave a presentation Sunday in front of the Whitfield Murray Historical Society with a pair of former players in attendance.

Wilbur “Ears” Caldwell and Clarence LaFayette Richardson played in the semi-professional leagues in the 1940s with both of their baseball careers interrupted by World War II. Caldwell was in the U.S. Navy, and Richardson was in the Army. Both played for the Dalton Crown Mill team which was part of the Tennessee-Georgia Baseball League. Other teams in the area were the Boylston Crown, the Dalton Tigers and the Dalton Macs. Also, industrial softball leagues were extremely popular as well among workers and management.

Caldwell went on to play into the 1950s in middle Georgia with a team affiliated with the Dodgers. Richardson pitched in the Giants’ organization for three years before joining Caldwell on the Dodgers’ team. He played for Newport News in 1951 and played Double-A ball in New Orleans before finishing his career.

The Crown Mill teams would play against other teams in the area, including teams in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton and Hixson, among others.

“This really was a lifestyle tied to the area,” said Veve, who grew up in New York as a huge New York Giants fan and was decked in Giants garb on Sunday.