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Jeff Peeples Was a Vanderbilt Star

On April 27, 1973, Vanderbilt’s Jeff Peeples started and won both ends of a doubleheader over Auburn, 5-1 and 1-0, becoming the all-time winningest Commodore pitcher with 25 wins. His performance on the pitching mound was instrumental in Vandy’s first Southeastern Conference baseball championship that season after losing to Mississippi the previous year.

Peeples was a dominant, dependable pitcher for head coach Larry Schmittou, who relates a notable feat in a game against USC (Southern Cal).

“My assistant, Roy Carter, asked me what I was going to say to the team before the USC game. I walked down there and you could tell everyone was nervous. I said, “Fellows, we’ll win. Peeples is pitching. Let’s go.”

Four times, Peeples struck out Fred Lynn, the future American League Most Valuable Player for the Boston Red Sox.

Schmittou concluded: “We beat them (USC) 5-4 and were ahead the whole game.”

According to his Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame biography, an induction that took place in 2001, Peeples was named All-City in football and baseball all four years he played at Montgomery Bell Academy. He earned All-State honors and was named Nashville Interscholastic League (NIL) Most Valuable Player in both sports.

After high school he signed a scholarship to Vanderbilt and was named All-SEC in 1971, 1972, and 1973 in baseball. After Vanderbilt’s second SEC baseball championship in 1973, he was named second-team All-American.

He performed the rare feat of having consecutive seasons with the lowest ERA in the conference: 1.56 in 1971 and 1.30 in 1972. Peeples was named to the Vanderbilt Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Upon graduation, he held the career pitching record for the Commodores with 29 and an ERA of 1.68. When his collegiate career ended, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 37th round of the 1973 MLB June Amateur Draft.

Assigned to the Red Birds of the Gulf Coast League, he was 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA where he struck out 26 batters in 27 innings. He relieved in two games in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where his manager was Jim Piersall, before being injured in an automobile accident on July 20.

Peeples did not pitch in 1974. Released by the Cardinals, he signed with the Atlanta Braves. After the accident chipped a bone in his elbow, he was sent to Greenwood, South Carolina, in the Western Carolinas League to begin the 1975 season. His catcher was future Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy.

Peeples was 0-1 with a 4.97 ERA in nine games, and gave up five homers in 29 innings before being released by the Braves on May 18.

Pat Nolan relates one unique feat accomplished by Jeff Peeples.

“A few years before we went to Vanderbilt, I once saw Jeff Peeples do something I still don’t believe I actually witnessed. A local radio station had a contest to see if anyone could throw a 45 RPM record (remember those?) across the Cumberland River. I think the competition was trying to emulate what George Washington once did in throwing a stone or some kind of item across the Potomac River. Well, Jeff stepped up and he did it! What an athlete!”

Jeff Peeples, born in Syracuse, New York, on March 12, 1951, but grew up in Nashville, is remembered as an iconic performer in sports, especially football and baseball, and memories abound for this one-of-a-kind competitor.

After suffering a stroke in 1996, he passed away at the age of 46 on November 1, 1997, while on a pheasant hunting trip in Paris, Illinois. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Nashville.

Note: I remember facing Peeples once, in the 1966 Babe Ruth state semi-finals at Donelson. Nashville had a robust Babe Ruth League with teams divided between eastern and western division foes. I played for Knight Drugs in the western division and was fortunate to have been selected to the All-Star team. With the state tournament slated for Nashville, we played against Madison in a best two-of-three series, with the winning team to be the host team, bypassing the district tournaments. We won, and made it to the semi-finals of the double-elimination tournament. However, that meant we ultimately had to face Jeff Peeples or Wayne Garland and the Eastern All-Stars.

We faced them both.

The first was played on July 21, 1966 with Peeples on the mound and he struck out 13 in holding us to two hits, one each by Sam Wallace and Mike Scruggs, in a 15-1 drubbing. Our team came back to beat Morriston West in two games to advance to the finals where we faced the Eastern All-Stars once again. We did not fare better; two days after Peeples beat us, on July 23, Wayne Garland held us to two hits, both by Milton Jones.

Garland struck out 11. I do not know who the other eight were, but I was three of ’em.

While Eastern earned a trip to the Southeastern regionals in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, our Western team was the first host team to make it to the finals of the state tournament. – Skip Nipper

© 2024 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.


2024 Vanderbilt Baseball Yearbook:, retrieved April 27, 2024.

Grave Story: Jeff Peeples (1951-1997):, retrieved April 27, 2024.

Nashville Banner

Nashville Tennessean

Peeples, Jeff, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame:, retrieved April 27, 2024.

The VU Centennial Class:, retrieved April 27, 2024.

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