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Chiquola Mill Greats, South Carolina

As told by Students storytellers in Anderson County District 2, South Carolina
Belton , South Carolina

Story Narrative:

A woman with white hair and colorful vest sits in front of a blue backdrop.

Students from Anderson County School District #2 worked with the Belton Area Museum Association in South Carolina to produce this documentary featuring oral history interviews related to the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, which toured South Carolina in 2016 and was on view in Belton. 

Speaker 1 (00:18): Textile mill baseball was a source of hometown pride, bragging rights, and wholesome entertainment. Chiquola Mill's owners wanted the best and most talented players available.

Speaker 2 (00:30): To field a winning team, players were recruited from other mill teams and even the minor leagues.

Speaker 1 (00:36): The Chiquola Mill owners found ways to entice and keep the best players.

Joe Atkin (00:42): The mill started checking around, finding players. They'd come there and want a job. Jobs was hard to get back then. They'd give these guys a different town to give them a job, little old light job, messing around toting water, or little nothing to play ball on Wednesday. But they're trying to get the best ball players so they could win.

Ellis Lark (01:06): My understanding that they would go to Florida during spring training, and some of the players that were not going to make it in the majors, the different mill companies went after them to come and play textile baseball for their mill.

Speaker 5 (01:22): They got more money than the mill workers. A skilled mill worker, they probably made right at $12 a week. And I've been told some of these baseball players when they came to town, they made $25 a week. And so they didn't do any manual work. They just more or less played baseball. And the mill company looked after these guys because it was a way of life and everybody enjoyed baseball.

Mae Knox (01:55): It just cost 25 cents to get in. And this little boy was standing there looking through a knothole, looking at the ball game. In case a foul ball came over the fence, he could get that foul ball and go into the park to see the ball game.

Speaker 2 (02:13): Inside of each of these houses counted by the ball players, there were numerous fans of all ages.

Joe Atkin (02:20): They had a crowd.

Ellis Lark (02:22): And that was a big way of life for people on the village to go and watch these baseball teams play.

Speaker 1 (02:30): Early players made a great impression on the young boys, inspiring them to pursue baseball.

Speaker 5 (02:36): Shag, who was probably the best ball player that's ever played in Honea Path, hit a home run over the left field fence. He was a little guy in stature, but he hit that one out of the park. And Shag was my hero when he played.

McDavid Carr (02:50): They called mama. Told mama, "Have a place for him, and get somebody to meet him." Course me being a young little boy, that tickled me death. Going to be a ball player.

Speaker 1 (03:06): Shag Knox spent over 40 years in Honea Path influencing the quality and integrity of baseball play.

Mae Knox (03:13): I would've loved by you to have seen him on that ball field. He was graceful. He was just as graceful as he could be out on that ball field. He was a wonderful ball player and a wonderful person.

Joe Atkin (03:30): Oh the best ball player? I say Shag Knox when I was growing up. He was just a good shortstop. He could hit and play ball.

Mae Knox (03:39): He had a good batting, they called it a batting average. He had a good batting average. He was on his way to Moultrie, Georgia. He was working his way up to the major leagues. When he got to Honea Path, he just fell in love with the people. So that was the reason he stayed there.

Speaker 1 (03:57):n From the story of the train station, all the away to the baseball field, McDavid Carr, a mentee of Shag, contributed to the local baseball scene.

Ellis Lark (04:06): David Carr also was a real good baseball player. However, David Carr is probably the one who has preserved the history of textile baseball in Honea Path.

Joe Atkin (04:19): David Carr, he was a good outfielder. He was fast.

McDavid Carr (04:23): I run a 100-yard dash about ten three. So every time they pop up, they holler, "David." Out there on the country mile, you get a pop up when the second baseman and shortstop they'd be a-standing out there watching.

Speaker 1 (04:46): Al Evans, a famous catcher who made it to the big leagues to play with the Washington Senators, brought a lot of fun to the local game.

Speaker 9 (04:54): Bill Womack, Chick's pitcher, recalled one day when Al Evans was carving a potato in the dugout. During the next inning, Womack threw a strike to his catcher, who proceeded to throw a wild ball over the first baseman's head. However, as the base-stealing runners came into home plate, Evans pulled the real ball out of his mitt and tagged him out. The Equinox Mill Team protested, but all the referee could answer was that there was no rule prohibiting a potato from being thrown on the field.

Speaker 1 (05:21): Virgil Stallcup, another Chiquola player went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds.

Ellis Lark (05:29): Virgil Stallcup was the only player that I actually knew from Honea Path that made it all the way to the majors.

Speaker 2 (05:34): It was a great day when the boys of summer played. They each were extraordinary ball players who left their marks on the Honea Path, South Carolina community.

Joe Atkin (05:45): But the best ball player, they ain't ever been discovered. I mean, they didn't have a chance. They had to go to work when they're 16 years old and they had to quit school. And they had some good-looking ball players back then, fast and all. They were little. They was on the nurse, I think, what they are now. But they were good athletes.

Asset ID: 2022.23.02
Themes: Baseball, minor league teams, major league baseball, textile baseball, stadiums, Great Depression, sports, uniforms, Hometown Teams, industry
Date recorded: November 2016
Length of recording: 06:36 m
File Type: Video
Related traveling exhibition: Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Anderson County School District #2, in collaboration with the Belton Area Museum Association, South Carolina
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