The Appy League: play ball!

Posted by | May 13, 2016

The Appalachian League was born in 1911 with teams in Asheville, N.C.; Bristol, Va.; Cleveland, Tenn.; Johnson City, Tenn.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Morristown, Tenn. That first version of the league lasted just four years, with the league disbanding in the middle of the 1914 season when Morristown and Middlesboro, Ky., folded on June 17.

The league reformed in 1921 with six teams: Bristol; Cleveland; Greenville, Tenn.; Johnson City; Kingsport, Tenn.; and Knoxville. That incarnation of the league managed five seasons, before again closing up shop midway through 1925.

In 1937, the Appy League, as many called it, was restarted with the Elizabethton Betsy Red Sox in Elizabethton, Tenn.; the Johnson City Cardinals in Johnson City; Newport, Tenn.; and the Pennington Gap Lee Bears (league champs that year) in Pennington Gap, Va. During World War II, while most other minor leagues ceased operations, the Appalachian League played on. It continued right up until 1955. The league’s current incarnation got underway again in 1957 after one inactive year.

Ron Necciai, the Bristol Twins

On May 13, 1952, while playing for the Class-D Appalachian League Bristol Twins, pitcher Ron Necciai struck out 27 batters while pitching a 7-0 no-hitter against the Welch Miners.

“After the game, [catcher] Harry Dunlop said, hey, you had 27 strikeouts,” Necciai says. “I just assumed it had been done before. It wasn’t till the next morning when the phone started ringing that I understood it hadn’t.” By the next morning Ron Necciai was a celebrity, soon to be the subject of a feature article in The Sporting News. Necciai’s accomplishment remains without parallel in baseball history.

The league’s season starts in June, after major league teams have signed players that they selected in the annual amateur draft, and ends in September. The league is divided into an East Division and a West Division.


Related posts: “Baseball legend Hack Wilson”

Appalachian+League Appy+League minor+league+baseball appalachian+culture appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

One Response

  • Hugh Goodman says:


    I am doing some research for a friend of mine whose uncle is supposed to have played in the Baltimore Orioles farm system in the 1950s. I did notice that the Orioles had a farm team in Wytheville in 1954 and Bluefield in 1958-59. The player in question’s name is Preston Marathas.

    Are you aware of any local baseball historians i could contact who might be able to assist me?

    Thank you

    Hugh Goodman

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