James Vincent Jamison Jr.: Blue Ridge League President, 1916–18, 1920–30

This article was written by Mark Ziegler

This article was published in the The National Pastime: Monumental Baseball (Washington, DC, 2009)


Much more than a booster of baseball locally, V. Jamison Jr., prominent Hagerstown industrialist and civic leader, was a moving spirit of professional baseball for most of the first half of the twentieth century. His influence reached not only his hometown and the state of Maryland, but the country. Jamison was born in Luray, Page County, Virginia, on February 28, 1885. His family moved to Hagerstown when he was 12 years of age. Mr. Jamison’s interest in sports traced back to his public school days and to St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. A natural athlete, he became a three-letter man in college, taking as well to tennis and football as he did to his favorite sport, baseball. His classmates named him best athlete of St. John’s graduating class of 1905.

While pursuing a career in manufacturing, he co-founded what is now known as Jamison Cold Storage Door Company in Hagerstown, Maryland, with his father when they purchased the Jones Cold Storage Company in 1906. Jamison kept up his interest in baseball, and was elected vice president of the semipro Tri-City League in 1914. This proved to be a training ground; Jamison was elected president of the Class D Blue Ridge League in May of 1916 by the league directors after original League president, Charles W. Boyer, who also owned the Hagerstown club, abruptly re-signed because of a conflict of interest. Jamison developed one of the finest Class D minor leagues in the nation during his tenure with the league, which lasted through the 1930 season, the remainder of the league’s existence. The league was a proving ground for many major leaguers, including Hall of Famers Lefty Grove, Hack Wilson, umpire Bill McGowan, and noted players Bill Sherdel, Jimmy Dykes, Joe Boley, and Eddie Rommel.

His firm hand in dealing with controversy in the league and handing out swift punishment to those who violated the rules gave Jamison a reputation that was admired by his fellow league presidents and followers throughout the sport. Mr. Jamison served on a commission that elected Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first commissioner of baseball in 1920. Jamison held many offices in the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, and served several terms on the Board of Arbitration and the Junior World Series. At one time, he was in charge of the intra-city series between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

In addition to his contributions on a national level, Jamison always contributed generously of both time and energy to the promotion of baseball in Hagerstown and Washington County, Maryland. He was instrumental in planning and building Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown in 1930, and was a key figure in effecting the return of Organized Baseball to Hagerstown by helping persuade Oren E. Sterling to move his Class B Interstate League franchise from Sunbury, Pennsylvania, to Hagerstown in 1941. Five years later, Jamison was elected president of that league, which experienced spectacular success during the postwar years.

Jamison was a founding member of the Hagerstown Rotary Club, and was active in the American Red Cross and in the state’s political arena as a prominent Democrat. He married the former Anna Elder Alvey, who died in 1908. They had two children, James Vincent Jamison III and Richard Alvey Jamison.

Jamison died in Hagerstown, Maryland, on August 28, 1954, at the age of 69. 

 

Sources

Frank Colley, sports editor, obituary and article in Hagerstown (Md.) Morning Herald, 30 August 1954; Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library, Hagerstown, Maryland. Author’s note: Colley pitched in the Blue Ridge League for several years, including 1916, 1917, and 1922.

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