Bubba Church

It’s a shame that Bubba Church is mostly remembered for getting drilled below his left eye by a Ted Kluszewski line drive, because, as a 25-year-old rookie, Church was a key member of the 1950 Whiz Kids pitching staff. In fact, it is unlikely that the Phillies would have won the pennant without him. Although he didn’t record his first win until June 3 and wasn’t inserted into the starting rotation until July 18, after the Phillies had lost five in a row, he won eight of his first 10 decisions and played a large role in the team’s achieving a 7½-game lead in early September.

Kluszewski effectively ended his season on September 15 and the Phillies, with a depleted pitching staff, barely managed to limp to the pennant. If the Whiz Kids’ pitching had been at full strength at the end of the season with Church, Curt Simmons (lost to active military duty), and a healthy Bob Miller, the World Series against the Yankees might well have been a different story.

Emory Nicholas Church was born to Hilda and John Emory Church on September 12, 1924, in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lived almost his entire life. His older brother, Frank, had trouble saying “brother” while they were growing up. “Bubba” was as close as he could come, and the nickname stuck.1 His father had the talent to play professional baseball but with a family to support, he went into the fish business in Birmingham until the Depression hit. Church’s father died in 1934 when Bubba was 9 years old, leaving a wife and three children. By the time he was 10, Bubba was helping out the family by selling popsicles from an icebox strapped to his shoulders at the local farmers market from 4 to 7 A.M. When he was 11, he pitched the first game his YMCA team played, winning 11-2 and hitting a home run to boot. Thereafter Bubba played almost every position except pitcher into his high-school days, so good was his hitting.2

Bubba attended West End High School in Birmingham but dropped out in 1943 when he was 17, lied about his age, and enlisted in the US Army. He was sent to Camp Sutton in South Carolina, then to California for six days before shipping out to India, where he served in the Burma Road sector for 27 months.3 While there he was able to play some baseball in what the GIs called “the Tea Patch League,” playing on diamonds hacked out of the jungle. Church managed a team and pitched because he was the only man in his outfit who could throw a curveball. He even pitched a no-hitter.4

After Church was discharged he returned to Birmingham and finished high school, where he again played high-school baseball. In the summer he joined the semipro Stockholm Pipe Company and another team, and brought in a total of $105 a week playing the outfield and pitching. Church soon had offers to play professional baseball from the Tigers, Cardinals, White Sox, and Pirates, with the Tigers offering a $3,500 bonus.5 He also received a baseball scholarship offer from Mississippi State University.

Church’s manager with the Stockholm Pipe team was Charley Chappell, an old schoolmate of Ben Chapman, a veteran major leaguer then the manager of the Phillies. Chappell advised Church to not sign a professional baseball contract until he talked to Chapman after Ben returned to Birmingham at the end of the major-league season. So Church accepted the scholarship to Mississippi State and enrolled for the fall term. At the end of the semester he visited Chapman at his bowling alley in Birmingham. Chapman asked Church how long he thought it would take him to get to the big leagues and Church told him three years. Church was 22 and realized that he would be 26 by the time he got out of college, so he agreed to sign with the Phillies and head to spring training in Clearwater, Florida, in 1947.6 But before Church signed, Chapman told him to say he was 21, since 22 was a bit old to just begin a professional career. Church later said that he and his wife, Peggy, had two children before she found out how old he really was.7

Church was in the Phillies’ big-league camp for a time and started an exhibition game against the New York Yankees in Clearwater. Babe Ruth had played with Ben Chapman when Chapman was with the Yankees and attended the game dressed in a camel-hair coat. Before the game Chapman introduced the Babe to Church as that day’s starting pitcher and the Babe wished him good luck.8

The Phillies were undecided whether Church should pitch or play the outfield. Chapman thought that with his hitting prowess he should play every day, while Phillies general manager Herb Pennock was impressed with Bubba’s curveball and wanted him to pitch. They compromised by sending Church to Salina, Kansas, in the Class-C Western Association to do both.

During the first half of the season with Salina, Church played the outfield for three games and pitched the fourth, although he was told not to try to steal a base. Midway through the year he was 9-6 as a pitcher and hitting about .320 when the Phillies decided that he should concentrate on pitching.9 He went 12-3 the rest of the year to finish 21-9 with a 2.93 earned-run average in 249 innings for the pennant-winning Blue Jays. He struck out 219 batters and walked only 79. At the plate, he finished with a .280 batting average in 78 games and 275 at-bats.

Church’s performance in Salina earned him a promotion for 1948 all the way to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Triple-A International League. He struggled, however, to a 5-9 record and a 5.52 ERA under Eddie Sawyer, his future Whiz Kids manager.. He attended Louisiana State University for the second offseason and was so discouraged that he even contemplated quitting baseball.10 Church ultimately decided to come back, determined to improve. And with the help of veteran catcher Hal Wagner and manager Del Bissonette, he did bounce back with Toronto in 1949, compiling a 15-8 record and a 2.35 earned-run average, the lowest in the International League. In 211 innings he gave up only 152 hits with 15 complete games and three shutouts.

While attending LSU after the 1949 season Church met a cute coed named Peggy Anne Maddox from Huntington, Tennessee, whose background was in dance. They soon married and would have three children, Cynthia, born in 1950, Lisa born in 1951, and Johnny, born in 1955.

With his big year in 1949, Church had his sights set on making the Phillies in 1950. He recalled that Toronto would often change trains in Philadelphia on its way to play the Baltimore Orioles, then still in the International League. The players could see Shibe Park, the Phillies’ home ballpark, from the train and when time permitted some of his teammates would head over there to look around. Church, however, vowed that he wouldn’t go to Shibe Park until he was on the big-league roster.11

Church didn’t have long to wait. He was invited to the big-league camp in 1950 and impressed with his curveball in Florida. He pitched the final three innings of the Phillies’ last exhibition game in Clearwater before the team broke camp. He struck out Ted Williams for the last out of the game and watched Williams hurl his bat about 50 feet in the air in frustration.12 The Phillies’ first stop on their way north to open the season was Church’s hometown. Eddie Sawyer picked him to start against the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association and Bubba solidified his position on the Opening Day roster by pitching the first complete game of the spring, a 10-4 victory.13

Once the season began, however, the 24-year-old Church sat in the bullpen for two weeks without being called into a game. He fussed and fumed, but coach Cy Perkins told him to be patient, that he would get his opportunity.14 Finally, on April 30, the 12th game of the season, manager Sawyer summoned Church to relieve in the sixth inning of the first game of a doubleheader, with the Phillies down 2-0 to the Boston Braves at home. He induced the first batter, Pete Reiser, to hit a comebacker and set the side down in order. Church pitched three scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing only a single to Earl Torgeson in a game the Phillies eventually lost 4-1.  

Two days later Church pitched an inning and a third of scoreless ball in a loss to the Cubs, prompting Sawyer to give him his first start, in Cincinnati on May 7 in the second game of a doubleheader. The Phillies jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings but Church couldn’t hold the lead, leaving the game in the bottom of the sixth with the scored tied, 4-4. The Phillies went on to win 6-4, fueled by an eighth-inning home run by Del Ennis and a ninth-inning double by Granny Hamner.

After two more scoreless relief appearances, Church got a second start, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Philadelphia on May 24. He again pitched well and allowed only two hits in the first six innings. The game was scoreless heading into the seventh inning, when Church allowed a three-run home run by Wally Westlake. The Phillies, however, got Church off the hook with a six-run eighth, led by a three-run homer by Dick Sisler, and prevailed 6-3.

After another relief appearance, Church started again 10 days later against the Cubs in Wrigley Field and earned his first major-league win, 6-2. He allowed 10 hits in 6⅔ innings before Sawyer brought in Jim Konstanty to secure the win.

Although Church sported a 2.93 earned-run average, it was back to the bullpen for the next six weeks, and he continued to sparkle, allowing only three runs in eight appearances spanning 15 innings.

In mid-July the Phillies went into a skid, losing five games in a row and six out of seven. The fifth straight of those losses was to the Cubs, 5-2, on July 18 in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game Sawyer shook up the lineup and gave Church his first start since early June. Bubba was up to the task and pitched a complete-game 8-3 victory, allowing only five hits. The Phillies gave him an early cushion, scoring five runs in the first two innings to chase Cubs starter Bob Rush. Church even contributed at the plate, going 2-for-4.

Church later related that sometime before the All-Star break Sawyer had called him over to his seat on the train and told him to quit worrying, that he would get his shot. Sawyer said, “If we didn’t think you could help this ballclub, you wouldn’t be here.”15

After making the most of his chance in Chicago by breaking the team’s losing streak, Church found himself in the regular rotation. On July 21 he won his next start, 4-1 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh in another complete-game outing to run his record to 3-0. Then he topped that performance on July 25 against the Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader in Philadelphia with his first major-league shutout, a 7-0 win in which he scattered three hits, did not walk a batter, and lowered his earned run average to 2.11.

Robin Roberts won the second game of the doubleheader in a tense, taut affair that wasn’t decided until the Phillies Richie Ashburn singled to drive in Putsy Caballero in the bottom of the ninth with the only run of the game. Afterward, Church told Roberts how he didn’t think it was fair that he pitched a three-hit shutout only to have Roberts outdo him with a 1-0 win in the nightcap.16

In his next start, against the Pirates in Shibe Park, Church finally suffered his first loss, by a 7-4 score, before rebounding with another three-hit shutout against the Cincinnati Reds to win 2-0 and bring his record to 5-1. Church drove in the first run of the game with a line single in the fourth. He continued to pitch superbly, losing his next start against St. Louis despite giving up only two unearned runs in seven innings, before winning three in a row, all complete games, to run his record to 8-2. By this time, he was being touted as a serious Rookie of the Year candidate, even with his late start.17

Church had played a large role in the Phillies’ torrid August and when he defeated the Braves 7-3 in Boston on September 1 for his eighth victory, he helped stretch the Phillies’ lead to seven games over the Dodgers and 9½ over the Braves. It was, however, his last win of the year.

Church lost his next two starts, to the Dodgers and Braves, although he pitched well in both. Then, on September 15 in the top of the third with two outs, Church was struck by Ted Kluszewski’s line drive. It happened on a first-pitch fastball over the plate to the left-handed-swinging Kluszewski. Church later remembered that he saw the ball off the bat, got his glove up, and thought he was going to catch it. But he thought the ball must have sailed because the next thing he knew the ball hit him. He watched the ball travel out to right field while he spun completely around, ending up on his knees.

As he cupped his hands to his face, he remembered hearing a story about a fan being struck by a foul ball in Birmingham whose eye supposedly just fell into his hands. Church momentarily thought that was what had happened to him, but soon realized he was just bleeding from a large cut under his eye.18    

Teammate Jimmy Bloodworth and trainer Frank Wiechec carried Church off the field and into the clubhouse fireman-style. Church kept asking Bloodworth if they got Kluszewski out and Bloodworth told him, “Sure we did, Bub, sure we did.”

Church replied, “You’re lying to me, Bloodworth. I know we didn’t.”19  

Church also remembered teammate Blix Donnelly coming in to the clubhouse and telling him, “We know you’re all right, it hit you in the head. If it had hit you in the foot it would really have hurt you.”20

The Phillies took Church to the hospital and it turned out he was not seriously injured, although his cut did require attention and then plastic surgery. His first visitor was teammate Bill Nicholson, who had been hospitalized with diabetes and was listening to the game on the radio.

Church was in the hospital for eight days,21 and one day after his release he was back on the mound, on September 24 against the Dodgers in Shibe Park. The Dodgers nicked Church for two runs in the first four innings before the roof fell in in the fifth. The Dodgers scored six runs in that frame and went on to win 11-0 on a two-hit shutout by Erv Palica.

With the Phillies in a tailspin and desperate for starting pitching, Sawyer again trotted Church out, on two days’ rest, against the Giants in the Polo Grounds in the second game of a doubleheader. After retiring the first two batters, Church gave up two singles and a walk. Bobby Thomson then smashed a drive to deep left-center field and circled the bases without a play at the plate for an inside-the-park grand slam. After surrendering a double to Alvin Dark, Church was through for the day and, as it turned out, for the year. He finished his rookie campaign with an 8-6 record and an impressive 2.73 earned-run average. He allowed only 113 hits in 142 innings and completed eight of his 18 starts.

Although Church lobbied to pitch in the World Series, Sawyer didn’t use him as the Yankees swept in four close games, three of which were decided by one run.

Heading into the 1951 season, there was concern whether Church would be able to bounce back from his scary injury. He struggled early in the year and after six starts sported a 2-3 record and a 4.99 ERA. On May 25, Church started against the Giants and struck out Willie Mays looking in Mays’ major-league debut.22 He went on to retire Mays three more times in a game the Giants eventually won 8-5, thanks to a shaky Phillies bullpen.

After his slow start, Church won 10 of 12 decisions to push his record to 12-5 and lower his earned-run average to 3.15 as he established himself as the number-two starter on the team, behind only Robin Roberts. Included in that run were four shutouts. Along the way, he had a streak of 28⅓ scoreless innings.23

On July 8 Church hit the first of three career home runs, launching a two-run upper-deck shot in Shibe Park against Preacher Roe of the Dodgers. For the season he hit .256 with, in addition to his homer, three doubles and seven runs batted in.

On August 5 Church threw a one-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing only a solo home run to Ralph Kiner on the way to a 5-1 victory for his 13th win against only six losses. Dick Sisler leaped at the left-field wall for Kiner’s blast, but it landed just out of his reach.24

Church started the last game of the season, against Brooklyn in a meaningless game for the Phillies but with the pennant on the line for the Dodgers, who were in a dead heat with the Giants. The Phillies jumped out to a 6-1 lead after three innings, sparked in part by Church’s two-run single in the third, but Bubba could not hold the lead and was taken out in the fifth with the Phillies still ahead 6-5. The game eventually went 14 innings before Jackie Robinson’s home run won it for the Dodgers and sent them into the famous playoff series against the Giants.

Church finished the season 15-11 and pitched 247 innings, behind only Roberts’ 21 wins and 315 innings, as the Phillies slipped to a disappointing fifth place, eight games under .500. In the best season of his career, Church started 33 games, completed 15 and threw four shutouts.

The Phillies had high hopes to rebound in 1952 from their forgettable ’51 season with the return of Curt Simmons from the military. Church, however, hurt his arm in spring training on a chilly day, and was largely ineffective the rest of the spring. He also managed to get crossways with manager Sawyer, who didn’t pitch him until the 11th game of the season, against the Cubs in Wrigley Field.25 He couldn’t get out of the third inning, however, in an eventual 9-8 Phillies’ loss.

Church didn’t pitch again until May 17, allowing two runs in three innings in a relief appearance against the Reds. Then on May 23 the Phillies, who were in fifth place and appeared headed for another disappointing season, pulled the plug and traded Church to the Reds for pitcher Kent Peterson and outfielder Johnny Wyrostek.

Upon joining Cincinnati, Church was put into the starting rotation, but was then relegated to the bullpen with an unsightly 10.91 earned-run average after failing to get out of the first inning in a June 7 start against the Dodgers in Cincinnati. After five relief appearances, he got a start against the Boston Braves on June 19, which ended in a no-decision. Thereafter, Church was in the starting rotation, with rather indifferent success for the sixth-place Reds. Highlights were a four-hit, 4-1 win against the Pirates on July 3 and a six-hit 4-0 shutout versus the Braves in Boston on August 3. On September 12, Church’s 28th birthday, he smacked a home run in the top of the third inning off the Giants’ Al Corwin in a game he eventually lost, 4-2. For the season he recorded five wins against nine losses with a 4.55 earned-run average in 158⅓ innings.

Church didn’t feel particularly comfortable with his new team, because he was for the first time in his baseball career subject to second-guessing. Once when he came back to the dugout after giving up a home run on a curveball, Reds manager Luke Sewell asked him why he’d thrown the batter that pitch. “Because I wanted him to hit a home run,” replied the exasperated Church.26

After the 1952 season, Church pitched for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he worked on a slider to add to his fastball and curve. He pitched very successfully, and some observers thought he was back to his 1950 and 1951 form.27

Church was back with the Reds in 1953 with high hopes, but was bothered in the spring by a sore shoulder and was again inconsistent, pitching out of the bullpen but also getting some starts. By June 9 he was 3-3 with a 5.98 earned-run average when the Reds shipped him to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-handed pitcher Bob Kelley and rookie left-hander Fred Baczewski. Church later related that he was relieved to get away from Reds manager Rogers Hornsby, who had replaced Sewell in the middle of the ’52 season. Hornsby, who made little secret of his disdain for pitchers, didn’t even come to the mound when changing pitchers. Instead, he just waived in the relief pitcher from the dugout.28

Church, still plagued by inconsistency, was in and out of the Cubs’ starting rotation for the rest of the ’53 season, finishing with a 7-8 record and 5.29 ERA in 148 innings. His top performance was a complete-game 10-inning 3-2 win over the Dodgers on June 21 in which he gave up only one earned run and struck out eight.

Church made the Cubs out of spring training in 1954 and began the year with a strong complete-game 9-2 victory over the Reds on April 25. However, he failed to make it to the second inning in his next two starts and was relegated to the bullpen, where he also struggled. On May 24 the Cubs gave up on Church and sold him outright to the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

Church continued with inconsistent performances for the Angels, at times pitching spectacularly and other times poorly. He reached the pinnacle on August 3, pitching a no-hitter against the Portland Beavers. He fanned six and walked three in the gem, facing only the minimum 27 batters thanks to three double plays behind him. For the year he compiled 11 wins against 9 losses with a 3.89 earned-run average in 134⅓ innings, which included 10 complete games and three shutouts. He also showed that he could still swing the bat, hitting .239 with 11 hits in 46 at-bats.

His performance with the Angels earned Church a 1955 spring-training invitation with the Cubs and he started the season with Chicago. However, after two relief appearances in which he pitched 3⅓ innings and gave up two earned runs, the Cubs returned him to the Angels of the PCL. In what would be his last major-league appearance, he relieved in the ninth inning on May 1 at Connie Mack Stadium against his old team the Phillies and earned a save in an 8-7 Cubs victory. He faced two batters, retiring former Whiz Kids teammate Willie Jones on a popout to first and striking out pinch-hitter Marv Blaylock to end the game. Although he was just 30 years old, his chronic sore arm effectively ended his big-league career.

Church spent the balance of the 1955 season with the Angels and pitched well if not inconsistently, with 11 wins and 7 losses and a 3.66 earned-run average in 34 appearances. In 14 starts he threw five complete games and two shutouts for Los Angeles, which finished in a tie for third place in the PCL. At bat he hit .204 with a home run and five runs batted in and was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter by manager Bob Scheffing.

After the season Church decided to hang up his spikes and return home to Alabama, even though he was just 31 years old. Church tried entering the real-estate business, settling in Montgomery, Alabama, but struggled to adjust to life without baseball. During the winter after the 1956 season, he called Phillies owner Bob Carpenter and asked for a job back in baseball. Carpenter obliged and signed Church to pitch for the Miami Marlins, the team’s affiliate in the International League, where one of his teammates was the 50-year-old Satchel Paige.29 Church proved serviceable, winning five and losing six with a 3.69 earned-run average as a spot starter. He showed that he was still adept at the plate, batting .250 in 36 at-bats.

After the 1957 season Church returned to the Venezuelan Winter League, where he had pitched successfully five years previously. He pitched well and on January 20, 1958, set a Venezuelan league record by recording 16 strikeouts.30

In 1958 Church was named pitching coach for the Marlins, although he remained on the active roster, appearing in three games. Havana was in the International League that season and on one trip Church was allegedly involved in “a sombrero incident” in which he along with pitchers Mickey McDermott, Windy McCall, and Dallas Green showed up at the Havana airport wearing sombreros after a night on the town.31

Church later remembered his time in Miami fondly. He and Peggy had a dog named Tiger who liked to go to the ballpark and sit in the bullpen. But the dog howled and howled whenever the National Anthem was played. So when it was time for the anthem, ballpark regulars would remark that it was time for Bubba’s dog to howl.32          

Church retired from baseball for good after the ’58 season and moved back to Birmingham. After another try in the real-estate business, he became successful running a linen supply business for doctors’ offices and clinics.

Over the years, Church had become good friends with legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant. In the fall of 1961 Alabama had an unhappy freshman quarterback named Joe Namath, who was contemplating packing up, heading home to Pennsylvania, and signing a pro baseball contract with the Chicago Cubs or one of the other organizations that had scouted him in high school. Coach Bryant asked Church to talk to his discontented player and he did, telling Namath about how his sore arm caused him to go 13-20 in his last four big-league seasons and ended his career prematurely. The message was that Namath would be better off staying in college and getting an education to fall back on.

Church then reportedly pulled some money out of his wallet and told Namath to use it to fly home to think about whether it would be better for him to be there or back at Alabama. Namath did decide to return to school, and of course the rest is history.33

Bubba’s son Johnny was an all-state shortstop and quarterback in high school and was on the recruiting lists of Alabama and other SEC schools. In the spring of 1972, his junior year, Johnny led his high-school team to the Class-4A Alabama state baseball championship. That June, however, unthinkable tragedy struck. Johnny was riding in the backseat of a car that was hit by a train, killing him and two classmates riding in the car.34

After Church retired from the linen supply business, he played golf, appeared at Whiz Kids reunions and kept in touch with old Phillies teammates like Andy Seminick, Robin Roberts, and Putsy Caballero. He was elected into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, just months before he died on September 17 of that year, just five days past his 77th birthday. His wife, Peggy, had died in 1995.


This biography appears in “The Whiz Kids Take the Pennant: The 1950 Philadelphia Phillies” (SABR, 2018), edited by C. Paul Rogers III and Bill Nowlin.



In addition to the sources cited in the notes, the author also consulted:

Beverage, Richard E. The Angels — Los Angeles in the Pacific Coast League (Placentia, California: Deacon Press, 1981).

Cook, William A. Big Klu — The Baseball Life of Ted Kluszewski (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012).

Fehler, Gene. Tales From Baseball’s Golden Age (Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing Inc., 2000).

Lavin, Thomas. “Bubba Church: A Forgotten Member of the Whiz Kids,” Baseball Digest, October 1989.

Robin Roberts with C. Paul Rogers III, My Life in Baseball (Chicago: Triumph Books, 2003) republished as Throwing Hard Easy, Reflections on a Life in Baseball (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).

The author would like to thank Bubba Church’s daughter Cindy Marino, and his grandson Preston Neel for their help with the family history used for this biography.



1 Robin Roberts and C. Paul Rogers III, The Whiz Kids and the 1950 Pennant (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996), 209; Harry Paxton, The Whiz Kids — The Story of the Fightin’ Phillies (New York: David McKay Co., Inc., 1950), 106; J.G. Taylor Spink, “ ‘I Can Pitch in This League,’ Said Church,” The Sporting News, August 23, 1950: 8. Brother Frank went on to star in track at LSU, specializing in the sprinting events. John Webster, “Bubba Church, Who Foiled Sophomore Jinx, Vows Hard Work and No Injury Means Finest Year,” unidentified clipping dated March 6, 1952, from Church’s file at the National Baseball Library.

2“Bubba Church: After Popsicles Pitching Was Easy,” Baseball Life Stories 1952: 19.

3 Spink, 8.

4 Popsicles, 93.

5 Spink, 8.

6 Roberts and Rogers, 209-210; Spink, 8; Cynthia J. Wilber, For the Love of the Game (New York: William & Morrow, Co., 1992), 311-12; Rich Marazzi, “Bubba Church Was a Vital Part of a Phillies Club That Made History,” Sports Collectors Digest, January 2, 1998: 90.

7 Roberts and Rogers, 210; Marazzi, 90.

8 Wilbur, 312.

9 Roberts and Rogers, 210.

10 Popsicles, 93.

11 Roberts and Rogers, 210-11.

12 Wilbur, 312-13.

13 Roberts and Rogers, 209.

14 Skip Clayton, “Bubba Church — Who Can Forget His 1950 Season?” Phillies Report (undated copy on file with author), 10.

15 Roberts and Rogers, 234.

16 Roberts and Rogers, 237.

17 “Bubba Church Touted for NL Rookie of the Year,” unidentified article dated August 28, 1950, from Church’s file at the National Baseball Library.

18 Even 40-plus years later, Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer and teammates Del Ennis and Andy Seminick still thought that Church’s eye was hanging down out of his eye socket. In fact, the nasty cut was right under his eye and Church was bleeding profusely from his nose and the cut, but his eye remained intact. Roberts and Rogers, 290-91.

19 Roberts and Rogers, 291.

20 Roberts and Rogers, 291.

21 Marazzi, 91.

22 Mays then grounded out to third and flied out to right in this next two at-bats, both against Church, who left after seven innings with the game tied, 5-5. The Giants went on to win, 8-5as Mays went 0-5 for the day.

23 Clayton, 10.

24 Gene Fehler, When Baseball Was Still King — Major League Players Remember the 1950s (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012), 113.

25 Stan Baumgartner, “Church, 15-Game Winner, Hasn’t Pitched for ’52 Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 22, 1952, from Church’s file at the National Baseball Library; Clayton, 10.

26 Bubba Church interview, July 22, 1993, on file with author.

27 https://newspapers.com/newspage/40697208/.

28 Bubba Church interview, July 22, 1993, on file with author.

29 Sam Zygner, The Forgotten Marlins — A Tribute to the 1956-1968 Original Miami Marlins (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2013), 81; Wilber, 315.

30 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&dat=19580120&id=4rwyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JewFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2429,2014518&hl=en

31 Zygner, 150-51.

32 Wilber, 315.

33 Mark Kriegel, Namath — A Biography (New York: Penguin Group, 2004), 78-79.

34 The other two boys killed were Tim Mote, a starting linebacker on the football team, and John Ogletree, the senior class president. Johnny Church’s high school (now called Hoover High although it was known as Berry High School when Johnny attended) has for the last 45 plus years annually awarded the Johnny Church Memorial MVP Award to the top player on the baseball team. http://hooverhighathletics.com/2016/02/15/words-of-wood-johnny-church/.

Full Name

Emory Nicholas Church


September 12, 1924 at Birmingham, AL (USA)


September 17, 2001 at Birmingham, AL (USA)

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