With two consecutive Dixie Series titles under their belt, the Nashville Vols opened the 1942 season on a winning note on April 10 with a 10-4 victory over the Smokies in Knoxville.
Under gray skies that threatened rain the entire game, 2,126 fans braved the cold weather in their overcoats as umpire Steamboat Johnson began his 23rd Southern Association season.
Stocky left-hander Vito Tamulis allowed 16 hits by Knoxville. Still, with basepath miscues, he kept the Smokies from scoring in crucial situations throughout the contest, a complete game for the pitcher of Lithuanian descent.
Charley English led the Vols with two doubles and two singles, accounting for three runs. Hank Helf drove in one run with a double, then added a 345-foot home run for three RBIs to pad the Nashville lead.
LeGrant Scott, a 31-year-old outfielder who was previously a star for the Barons in Birmingham for five seasons in the 1930s and acquired by manager Larry Gilbert just before spring training, added a single and triple.
In the third inning, centerfielder Dutch McCall made a backhand catch of a ball hit by Skeeter Scalzi that saved extra bases by the Knoxville shortstop and the Vols leading, 3-0.
Nashville padded its lead with five runs in the top of the ninth, including Helf’s clout, but with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning, Tamulis struck out Al Simmons to end the game.
The Smokies left 11 men on base while Nashville stranded seven. Tamulis struck out three as the Vols completed three double plays. Steve Warchol, who won nine and lost eight with New Orleans in 1941, was the losing pitcher.
Bert Niehoff, the new Smokies manager, began his 18th season as skipper of a minor league ball club, with previous Southern Association stints in Mobile, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Little Rock. He won league titles in 1922 with Mobile and in 1925 with Atlanta.
Knoxville would end the season in last place with a 61-88 record, 27 1/2 games behind pennant-winning Little Rock. Nashville would finish in second place, 4 1/2 games back.
But Gilbert would lead his club to a third Dixie Series title, becoming the first Southern Association team do accomplish the feat, matching Jake Atz’ Ft. Worth Panthers record in 1923-1925.
Gisclair, S. Derby, “The Dixie Series,” (2023, S. Derby Gisclair)
Wright, Marshall D., “The Southern Association in Baseball 1885-1961,” (2002, McFarland)
© 2023 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.