6/15/2020 - Phillies Minor League History - The High Point - Thomasville Hi-Toms
Time Period - 1957 to 1958
Venue : Finch Field
City : High Point, NC
Franchise History :
The professional franchise Thomasville Chair Makers were founded in 1937 and began play in the newly formed North Carolina State League. They became the Thomasville Tommies in 1939 and an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians from 1940 to 1942.
There was no local pro baseball team fielded during World War II but the team reformed in 1945 as the Thomasville Dodgers - an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers ... that lasted thru the 1947 season.
In 1948 the franchise was renamed the High Point - Thomasville Hi Toms becoming an affiliate of the Boston Braves thru 1949, the Boston Red Sox from 1951 to 1952, the Cincinnati Reds from 1954 to 1956, and the Phillies from 1957 to 1958. Both as an independent club and as an affiliated franchise the team played in the NC State League from 1945 till joining the Tar-Heel League ( 1953 ) and then the Carolina League in 1954.
No pro team existed in the High Point/Thomasville area from 1959 to 1964 but in 1965 the club reformed as an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins in the Western Carolinas League for two seasons. They became an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals from 1968 to 1969, the last season as a major league affiliated franchise.
Today the High Point - Thomasville Hi Toms are an amateur baseball team that plays in the collegiate Coastal Plain League ... they were formed and began play in 1999.
The High Point Rockers brought pro baseball back to the city in 2018 as a new franchise in the independent Atlantic League ... they began play in 2019 in a newly built stadium called BB&T Point.
The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :
Finch Field was built in 1935 by Thomasville Furniture Industries in northeast Thomasville, NC as a recreational outlet for company employees. It’s since hosted many events ranging from track meets to religious revivals.
It’s most prominent use however is baseball. It served as home to the professional franchise Hi-Toms thru the 1969 season. It’s also been and remains as the home to many local amateur teams ... civic youth leagues, Thomasville High School and the Summer American Legion League baseball program. Since 1999 it’s been the home of the Hi-Toms collegiate summer team that plays in the Coastal Plain League.
The field is located off of Interstate 85 on Ball Park Road. It’s seating capacity was 3,500 when the Phillies fielded a franchise there and dimensions were 320 to LF, 410 to CF and 320 to RF. On the original field there was a slight hill in left against the fence that outfielders had to climb to catch deep fly balls.
The grandstand and locker room burnt down as a result of arson in 1983. The city of Thomasville erected a concrete block stadium about a third of the size afterwards.
“In 2001 Thomasville Furniture Industries foundations joined forces with the city of Thomasville, HiToms LLC and local corporations to launch an initiative to completely revamp the historic ballpark. Razing the mid-1980's grandstand in 2005 after new lights, fencing and a patio grill were erected in 2002, Finch Field now sports a 1,700 seat, covered grandstand with new dugouts, a right-field line grass berm and a new bathroom and concessions complex. The renovations continued in 2007 when the HiToms upgraded the playing surface by installing a new infield.
Now over 75 years-old, Finch Field embarks upon another stage of its life. Outfitted with a new look and a rejuvenated purpose, the old ballpark is poised to provide this generation with a new chapter of family memories and opportunities destined to ingrain themselves in the unifying novel entitled: Finch Field: A Generation of Community Memories.” - hitoms.com
The Seasons :
Carolina League (B) ... Manager : Frank Lucchesi ... 79-61, 1st place ... Attendance: 46,755. Lost in the Championship Series to the Durham Bulls 4 games to 3
19 year old RHP Art Mahaffey pitched in 15 games tallying 48 innings, fellow right handers’ 17 year old Ed Keegan and 22 year old Dallas Green appeared in 12 and 25 games respectively ... Green posted a 12-9 record in 159 IP. 31 year old manager Frank Lucchesi even pitched an inning during the season. All four would go on to major league careers ... Keegan, to most of us, the least recognized name, pitched in three big league seasons with the Phillies and KC Athletics beginning in 1959.
Carolina League (B) ... Manager : Frank Lucchesi ... 76-63, 2nd place ... Attendance: 40,175. Lost in the Playoffs to the Greensboro Yankees 2 games to 1
20 year old LHP Chris Short pitched in 34 games and posted a 13-13 record in 243 IP ... he would make his major league debut the following year with the Phillies and pitch 15 big league years ( 14 with the Phillies, 1 with the Brewers ) before retiring after the 1973 season.
22 year old Catcher Jacke Davis led the league in home runs ( 25 ) and slugging percentage ( .552 ) while posting a .302 batting average in 391 AB’s ... he would go on to play in 48 games in the big leagues with the 1962 Phillies as an outfielder/catcher garnering 80 plate appearances ... the extent of his major league career.
20 year old outfielder Tony Curry led the league in hits (168), runs (106), triples (9) and Total Bases (277) while posting a .293 batting average in 574 AB’s - he hit 20 home runs and drove in 83. Curry would go on to play in parts of three major league seasons ( 1960-1961, 1966 ) with the Phillies and Cleveland Indians.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️