Nashville had an excellent season in 1949, the first year of Larry Gilbert’s full-time position as general manager after turning over the field managing duties to Rollie Hemsley. Babe Barna (.341), Bob Borkowski (.376 to lead the league), and Tookie Gilbert (.335) had outstanding seasons at the plate.
But none had as powerful a year as Carl Sawatski, 22-year-old slugging sensation from Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. At season’s end, his statistics included 155 hits, forty-five home runs, 153 RBI, and a .360 batting average while managing most of the catching duties behind the plate.
Impressive Three Weeks
Perhaps most impressive is the three-week-long hitting performance he put on beginning on May 24 and ending June 14. He raised his batting average from .295 to .406 in 65 at-bats while collecting thirty-five hits, and safely hitting in every game (twenty straight).
His accomplishments are even more impressive by having ten home runs and thirty-four runs driven in during the span. When he hit his eighth home run on June 5, it was his seventh round-tripper in the last seventeen games.
Vols’ Longest Homer Ever
Sawatski, who may have hit the longest home run drive by any Vols player in history on opening day on April 15 in Chattanooga that traveled at least 520, finished his streak on June 14 by socking a home run over the icehouse beyond the right field fence at Sulphur Dell.
He would return to Nashville in 1950, playing in eighty games before being called up to the Chicago Cubs, one of five clubs he would play for in eleven major league seasons, including the White Sox, Braves, Phillies, and Cardinals.
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