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Vidalia's Professional Baseball History

The history of the Vidalia-Lyons Twins

Toombs Now began its research on professional baseball in Toombs County with a conversation with Jody Peacock, who has been digging into this subject for several years.  Audio Story  

Don Dillard played with Vidalia in 1955 and in the Major Leagues with Cleveland and Milwaukee Audio Story

Lou Holdener was the catcher on the 1956 team and he shares his memories with Toombs Now.  Audio Story

Parnell Ruark, a GSL batting champ and home run leader, played on the 1954 team.  Audio Story  

Jerry Silverman, who played for Vidalia-Lyons for three seasons (1948, 49 and 50), was a fine defensive first baseman and a contact hitter who rarely struck out.  Audio Story  

Vidalia's Ralph Parson played one season in the GSL with the Statesboro Pilots   Audio Story

Link to Coach Parson's story about the night the bat boy went to the plate in a GSL game in Statesboro  Story

Vidalia's Bob Bass was the team's bat boy for many years and he shares his many stories.  Audio Interview   

To purchase a fine 504 page reference book on Class D baseball in Georgia, which includes a year-by-year look at the Georgia State League please click here.  

If you have an information or pictures about pro baseball in Vidalia and would like to submit it to Toombs NOW, please e-mail me.    

Jody Peacock's collection of authentic memorabilia

 

Vidalia Indian team picture- year unknown

 

Jersey salvaged from the old Threlkeld Ford building

 

From 1948-50 the team was called the Vidalia-Lyons Twins (notice the light poll in foul territory in left field)

 

The 1948 Vidalia-Lyons Twins were one of six franchises in the inaugural season of the Georgia State League. None of the teams were affiliated with a major league club.  The Twins had only one winning season- in 1949 they went 72-65 and finished fourth in an eight team league.  Toombs County did not have a team in 1951 and in 1952 minor league baseball returned with the Vidalia Indians. 

 

A sparse gathering for a day game- in its last season the team averaged just 288 fans

 

This is a bat used by Lloyd Swain. He played for Vidalia-Lyons in 1949 and 1950. He was a pitcher who could hit. Swain hit .296 in 1949 and .306 in 1950.  As a pitcher, the lefty was 5-6 and 9-5 with a 5.53 ERA.

 

A full house at Vidalia Municipal Stadium.  During the championship season of 1954, the Indians drew 53,334 fans and averaged around 821 fans per game.   

 

Don Dillard played just 27 games in Vidalia in 1955. The outfielder hit .247 and had one home run. Four years later he was in the big leagues and in 1961 he hit .272 with Cleveland. Dillard's lifetime batting average was .244 in six major league seasons. Story

 

Gary Bell made his major league debut at the age of 21 and went 12-10 with a 3.31 ERA. In his second season with the Cleveland Indians he won a career-high 16 game. Bell won 10 or more games in seven of his 12 big league seasons. Bell was on the AL All-Star team in 1960, 1966 and 1968.

 

In 1967 Bell pitched in three World Series games for the Boston Red Sox, who lost a seven-game series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Bell started and took the loss in game three, pitched in relief in game four and he pitched two scoreless innings (8th and 9th) in game six and was credited with a save as the Red Sox stayed alive in the series with an 8-4 victory. The Cardinals closed the series with a 7-2 win in game 7.

 

Read more about Stigman's big league career Story  

 
Dick Stigman spent the 1956 season in Vidalia, Georgia and it was his best in professional baseball. Stigman was 17-9 with a 1.44 ERA. He struck out 263 batters in 213 innings and walked 97 batters. In 1960 Stigman made his major league debue with the Cleveland Indians and he was 5-11 with a 4.50 ERA. He was an American League All-Star as a rookie. In his best season, in 1962, Stigman was 12-5 with the Twins. He was 15-15 in 1963 with Minnesota with a 3.25 ERA. In total Stigman won 46 big league games in seven seasons.    
 

Are you in this picture?

Pictured to the left is a bunch of local children who participated in a summer league. On the front row are five Vidalia-Lyons Twins baseball players who taught the kids the fundamentals of the game. On the far right, with his head titled down, is Mike Rossi. Rossi was the top pitcher in the Georgia State League in 1949. He threw a no-hitter on July 16th and he set the all-time GSL record for innings pitched with 325. Rossi went 25-13 with a 2.80 ERA. He lead the league in wins and was third in ERA. Sam Hamrick and Jim Smith, from the Twins, are also on the front row.