Baseball


Baseball was a sport that all young black Newton Countians felt compelled to play. The exploits of Bill White, Junior Freeman, Norman Freeman and others were legendary.

Each community fielded it's own team: Nelson Heights managed by Seal Franklin and John Smith, Needmore managed by Theodis Bell, Sr., Oxford managed by Hillman Godfrey, Spring Hill managed by Otis Weaver and the Stewart Community Team. Since there was no high school baseball team black youth gravitated to these teams during the summer months. There were many intra community games arranged between the teams. The managers furnished balls, bats, and uniforms for the teams. The funds for these were solicited by the managers or given personally by them.

Many of these games were played at Tom Brown's Lake on July 4th and on local neighborhood fields. Fourth of July at Tom Brown's Lake included baseball games, the best barbeque that you could eat and a night of music and dance. Many of these players moved on to the adult teams in town, the Porterdale Blue Caps or Springhill.

The Porterdale Blue Caps were coached by Carl McKnight, Sr and Mr. Joe Petty. The team was sponsored by the Bibb Mfg Company who provided uniforms and a dozen balls for each game. Bibb Mfg also sponsored a team in Macon that was made up of players from Macon and Forsyth. Games were scheduled between the two and were played at the Newton County Fairgrounds or the baseball Park in Porterdale. The Blue Caps played in several leagues and were Champs of the Middle Georgia League. They traveled to different towns to play. Teams were in Milledgeville, Athens, Royston, Atlanta, Ellenwood, Macon, Madison and Newnan. There was always a great rivalry between the Blue Caps of Carl McKnight and the Springhill team of Otis Weaver. Norman Freeman, Jessie Brown, Freddie 'Bujack" Usher and others were members of Springhill's team. Even though we were rivals friendship remained an integral part of all that we did.

The Blue Caps played against the likes of John "Blue Moon" Odom from Macon who became ace of the Oakland Athletics staff and Mack Jones who became an outstanding member of the Atlanta Braves. Earlier Blue Caps team played the likes of the Kansas City Monarchs and Indianapolis Clowns in exhibition games. The Blue Caps would play a Saturday night game in Porterdale Park, a double header either at home or away and a Monday night game at Porterdale Park. These games were attended by at least a hundred spectators and were often played under the lights in Porterdale Park. Since the river was so close to the park many games were called after the allotment of baseballs were gone.

Some of the outstanding pitchers in Newton County were Willie Roy Grier known as "Bo Gator." His assortment of slow "stuff" and his unusual wind up kept hitters off balance. Often he would tell the batter what pitch he was going to throw and still strike them out. I remember one game that be pitched with a quart of liquor behind him on the mound. Junior Freeman of Springhill whose pinpoint use of the strike zone and his assortment of breaking stuff left a hitter speechless. His brother Norman, whose fastball was over 100 miles per hour would devastate hitters and his sometimes wildness would scare you out of the batter's box. Some members of the Blue Caps were: Catcher - Bubba Green, Joe Petty, Jr. John Wesley Smith, 1st base - George Petty, 2nd base - Joe Kimball , John Wesley Smith, SS - John Lee Avery, 3b - Joe Petty, Jr., LF Hugh Avery, Johnny Johnson, Tommy Adams, CF Fatman McKnight, RF Carl McKnight, Jr. Philip Adams - Pitchers - Johnny Johnson, Lent Neal, Robert Walter Cooksey, Henry and Johnny Hollingworth.

My personal experience with the Blue Caps was a rewarding one. I had met Chico Renfro who was from Atlanta and played in the Old Negro Leagues. When I arrived in Erie I met many of the players that he had mentioned to me that he had played with or against. In Erie were George Jefferson, Sam Jethroe, Lovell " Big Pitch" Harden, Willie Grace, and Walter "W.C." Crosby all had played with the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro League.

(submitted by Johnny Johnson) (picture of Johnny Johnson - Picture/OF - Porterdale Blue Caps - 1965)

*If anyone has more information about the players and pictures about these teams please submit.


Johnny_Johnson_-_Pitcher,_Porterdale_Blue_Caps_-_1965.jpg
Johnny_Johnson_-_Pitcher,_Porterdale_Blue_Caps_-_1965.jpg

BIBB MANUFACTURING BASEBALL TEAM forerunner of the PORTERDALE BLUECAPS


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Bibb1.jpg

Standing: Carl McKnight, Sr. (manager),Henry Hollinsworth,James Flambro,Charles Carr,Charlie Perry,Walt Blackwell,Bill White,Dempsey Henderson
Kneeling: Johnny Hollinsworth,Robert Sawyer,Venus Jackson,Bobby Gaither,James Jr Sims,Joe Petty, Brat Heard

The above picture was submitted by Flemmie Pitts, on October 11, 2007. It is a picture taken in the 1940's or 50's of the Bibb Manufacturing Baseball Team the original Porterdale BlueCaps.