Back by popular demand from Memphis historians and collectors everywhere, is another one of AutoZone Park’s Nostalgia Nights. The first 1,500 fans to arrive at AZP for Wednesday June 24th’s Redbirds game against the Omaha Royals will receive a Martin Stadium miniature replica.
Martin Stadium was the home of the Memphis Red Sox, Memphis’ Negro League team from 1920 to the late 1950s. The stadium was built in the mid-’30s and was named after the owner and real estate investor, Dr. W.S. Martin, who purchased the club in 1932. Located on Wellington and Crump, what is now Danny Thomas and Crump, Martin Stadium had an original capacity of 3,000. Renovations to the stadium eventually allowed it to seat 7,000.
Most Negro League teams played in white teams parks when the white teams were on the road, however Martin Stadium was one of the few parks owned primarily for a Negro League team. With segregation still very prominent, Martin Stadium was one place the black community could comfortably gather and socialize without racial restrictions. The stadium had dormitories for their players that were located under the left field seats.
In their near 40-year existence, the Memphis Red Sox captured one championship in 1938. Of the many men that came through Memphis’ Negro League team, four of them went on to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The most recognizable pair are pitcher Satchel Paige and outfielder James ‘Cool Papa’ Bell. The other two are Willie Wells and Turkey Stearns.
The Negro Leagues began to diminish after Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Most of the teams’ better players found jobs with Major League clubs. All of the Negro Leagues soon disbanded; Memphis’ Red Sox lasted until the late 1950s.
Former Red Sox players Bill Little, Joe B. Scott and Lonnie Harris will be in attendance Wednesday and will be signing autographs in the Entry Plaza before the game. Gates open at 6:00 P.M.
Born: September 27, 1976 in Creswell, Oregon
Drafted by St. Louis in the 33rd round of the 1999 draft
Bodhi (Bo) J. Hart played seven seasons in the Cardinals organization and in four of those he spent time with the Redbirds. The Gonzaga University product played as the team’s second baseman, but also spent time at the shortstop and third baseman positions.
Hart joined the team in 2003, one year after the Cardinals released Stubby Clapp, and was expected to fill in as the new fan-favorite. As it turns out, the infielder was received well by Redbirds fans, and even though he does not have his number retired like Clapp, he was included in the 2009 bobblehead series (below).
In his 370 games as a Redbird, Hart hit .276 (365-for-1325) to post 206 runs, 26 homers and 131 RBI. After a couple of months in Triple-A, the then 26-year-old made his major league debut for the St. Louis Cardinals on June 19, 2003. He was granted free agency in December of 2005 and went on to play in the Rockies, Cubs and Orioles organizations. Hart played his most recent baseball in 2008 for an Independent League team.
While Memphis is often the final stepping stone for professionals to get to the majors, the Bluff City can also bring other important career moments. Bo Hart actually met his wife at a Redbirds game, when she performed the pre-game National Anthem. Eventually, Hart proposed to her in the Redbirds dugout during one of AutoZone Park’s post-game firework shows.
Much like outer space, and the New Age section at your local music store*, the human mind is filled with vast amounts of unexplored territory; hidden nuggets of information that often go unrevealed and are carried to the grave.
In most social circles, these hard-to-locate pockets of knowledge are known as ‘secrets’ and they loom in the back of nearly every individual’s psyche, showing themselves in only the most comfortable of situations (i.e. at your Grandmother’s house or while wearing a pair of over-sized sweatpants).
Secrets can be small, like enjoying musicals, or secrets can be not so small, like being an active member in the Julie Andrews fan club (there’s only about ten of us). No matter the size, each man or woman carries with them their own satchel of buried tales that define who he or she is. We at Chirp Chatter have taken it upon ourselves to root our way into the minds of some of this year’s Redbirds squad to see what secrets they might have in a segment we have laboriously titled, “Redbirds Secrets”.
*the secrets found here are probably best left hidden
To start our reoccurring piece, we give you first…Joe Mather.
Born:July 23, 1982 at Sandpoint, Idaho
Resides: Phoenix, Arizona
According to Joe
Favorite Color: Green
Nicknames: Joey Bombs, Bombs
Favorite Famous Mather: Jerry “Beaver” Mathers of ‘Leave it to Beaver’
Best Thing to do in Phoenix: attend Phoenix Suns games.
Recent Broken Bone Story: While batting, the knob of the bat pressed hard into the lower part of his hand and broke the bone. He pointed at the lower metacarpal.
Lightning Round Responses:
- Dogs over Cats
- Books over Movies
- Fruits over Vegetables
- Country Music over Water Sports
Memphis’ Best Kept Secret: Texas de Brazil
Joe Mather’s Best Kept Secret: He could eat pizza every single day of the year.
Royce Ring’s Best Kept Secret:Likes to go by the name ‘Snoozie’ and is a budding rap star.
Blake Hawksworth’s Best Kept Secret: Often provides Ring with backing beats to rap to and will most likely be Ring’s producer.
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Born February 24, 1973 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Drafted by St. Louis in the 36th round of the 1996 draft
Memphis Redbirds fan favorite, Richard Keith ‘Stubby’ Clapp, played seven seasons in the Cardinals organization, four of those with the Redbirds. The second baseman was known as the ‘Mayor of Memphis’ around town and delighted fans with his traditional pre-game flip, a round-off back-flip combination.
Stubby helped the Redbirds win their first and only team championship in 2000 and made his major league debut the following year on June 18. He had a short stay as a Big Bird, playing in 23 games where he hit .200 (5-for-25). He was released to free agency in 2002 and spent the next two years in the Braves, Indians and Blue Jays organizations before retiring.
On Stubby Clapp Day (above), April 21, 2007, the former Redbird’s No. 10 was retired at AutoZone Park. The likable infielder holds the all-time Redbirds records for runs (258), walks (222) and triples (19). No other Redbird has worn No. 10 since Clapp left.
Pictured above is the Stubby Clapp bobblehead (the third of the 2009 collection) that will be given away to the first 1500 fans to attend Monday’s home game on June 8, when the Redbirds host the New Orleans Zephyrs.
Clapp was known for his antics on the field (above) and off the field (below).
Don’t miss your chance to grab a Stubby Clapp bobblehead on June 8th.
One of the great things about working with the Redbirds thus far is experiencing the virtual melting pot that surrounds the game of baseball. This year’s intern class alone features representatives from nine states all over the U.S. From the Puerto Rican clubhouse attendants to the bevy of international players on our roster, AutoZonePark becomes a literal kaleidoscope of cultures that come together every time the ‘Birds play a game.
In the ‘Birds last homestand, Alex and I were provided the opportunity to share an international snack with the Redbirds Australian strength and conditioning coach, Cameron Brown.
Upon trying the Vegemite, Cameron told Alex and I that it had a taste similar to the generally well-liked chocolate spread Nutella.
After our initial and only run-in with this overly-salty jar of gross, it is safe to say that Vegemite has done the impossible. It has managed to capture the smell of dog food, transform it into an actual taste and then have it haunt your mouth for a solid hour-and-a-half. A tip of the multicultural hat to you, Australia!
Lesson learned and never again. We have included photos below to as a kind of visual precautionary tale to keep this from happening to anyone else. Thank you again, Cameron!