Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

IMAGES OF OUR PAST - P.M. WATSON & Co. South Jefferson Street, Dublin, Georgia


You may know that P.M. Watson, Sr., P.M. Watson, Jr. and P.M. Watson, III bought and sold junk and scrapped items.  But, did you know that the company had a dry goods and remnant store and an auto garage? 




IT'S SO, SHOELESS JOE PLAYED HERE!

IT'S SO, SHOELESS JOE PLAYED HERE

Banned from the sport he loved so dearly, Joseph Jefferson Jackson toured the South playing for the love of the game and the bounties of the baseball promoters. Thousands of adoring fans surrounded sandy diamonds throughout the Southeast eager to catch a glimpse of the man they called "Shoeless Joe."   Back in 1925, this unjust exile played two games in Dublin, never losing a step from the decade of the 1910s, when Joe Jackson was one of baseball's greatest players.

Joe Jackson was born in South Carolina in 1887.  At the age of six,  he began to work in the textile mills, which were a dominant part of his community's economy.  Upon his becoming a teenager, Joe was asked to join the mill's baseball team.  Since he worked half of every day in the mill, with an occasional break to play ball, Joe never obtained any degree of education, a misfortune which would haunt him for the rest of his life.    On Saturdays he would pick up a few dollars by playing baseball.  By the time he was twenty, Joe signed to play semi-pro ball with the Greenville Spinners for a lucrative $75.00 per month.  By the end of August, he made it to the major leagues, but disappointedly, Joe only played in five games. Jackson returned to the minor leagues,  only to return to the big leagues in 1910 as a member of the Cleveland Indians  of the American League.

As a rookie in 1911, Joe batted .408, the first and only rookie ever to exceed the highly coveted level of batting supremacy.  His batting average dipped to .395 in 1912, but the twenty-five-year-old phenom led the league in triples.  The following year Jackson led the league in hits and slugging average.    In 1915, Jackson was traded to the White Sox for cash and three players.    For the next five seasons, Joe Jackson was a terror in the batter's box,  never falling below .300.

Joe Jackson's colorful nickname was reportedly penned on him during a mill league game against a team from Anderson, South Carolina.    Joe supposedly discarded a new pair of spikes when they began to rub blisters on his feet.  He played the rest of the game in his stocking feet.  During his first plate appearance without shoes, Joe stroked a triple deep into the outfield, prompting an opposing fan to shout, "You shoeless son of gun, you!"

The zenith of Joe's career came in 1919 when his team, the Chicago White Sox, faced the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. The Sox lost the best of nine series, five games to three.  During the series, Joe was the only player to hit a home run and played outstanding ball in the field and at the plate.   Joe continued to excel in 1920, posting a .385 average and leading the league in triples for the third time.  Joe and seven other White Sox players, an octette dubbed the "Black Sox," were implicated in a scandal which accused Joe and his teammates of throwing the series.  Joe and the others were suspended from baseball until their fate could be determined.

In 1921, Joe Jackson was acquitted of any malfeasance in the series by a Chicago jury.  Despite his exoneration, he was banned from baseball for life by Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball's first commissioner, for his failure to disclose his knowledge of the conspiracy.  He returned home to Savannah, where he opened a  lucrative dry-cleaning business.   But as soon as the temperatures of the spring began to rise, offers for his services on semi-pro teams throughout the South and the North came pouring in. In the summer of 1923, Joe began the season playing in Bastrop, Louisiana. Near the middle of the season, Joe accepted an offer by a team from Americus, Georgia.  He led the team to the championship of the South Georgia League, batting .453 in 25 games and .500 in the league championship series over Albany.  He even pitched one inning, surrendering one base on balls,  but no hits or runs.    After the end of the South Georgia League season, Joe played with the railroad team out of Waycross, Georgia.  In 1924, Jackson led the Waycross Coast Liners to the Georgia Championship, doubling as the team's manager during the last half of the season.


In his last full professional season with Waycross in 1925, Joe played center field and managed the Coast Liners to an impressive record of 63-19-3.    The Waycross team played teams from Georgia, as well as ones from Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.    On June 22, 1925, the Coast Liners played the Right of Ways from Macon, Georgia, a team fielded by the Central of Georgia Railroad, on the 12th District Fairgrounds in Dublin.  The ball field, located at the western corner of Telfair and Troup streets, was the scene of a 1918 game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Braves and games between Oglethorpe University and the University of Georgia and the St. Louis "Gas House Gang" Cardinals in 1933 and 1935.

Regretfully, only sketchy details of the game have survived.  Joe's team won the first game, 8-7 on a field described as "rough and in very bad condition."    While no box score was published in the Macon Telegraph, Jackson was credited with leading his team to victory.   After the game, the field was improved for the next day's game, in which the Macon boys won by the score of  11-7.   A third game was apparently canceled, and the teams played two more games in Macon the following weekend.

One of "Shoeless Joe's" teammates on the 1925 Coast Liner team was William C. Webb.  Webb was born in Adrian, Georgia in 1903.  He graduated from Adrian High School and played college ball at Sparks Junior College.  Webb played under Jackson, whom he described as "a good baseball man." In a 2001 interview with John Bell, author of "Shoeless Summer" and "Georgia Class D Minor League Encyclopedia," Webb said of Jackson "Even though he was not educated, he had the ability to make managerial decisions that almost always turned out well.  He was a player's manager, who led by example and had great respect for his players."  Webb admired Jackson, who once let the country boy bat with his famous bat "Black Betsy," a hand-fashioned stick of hickory with a slight bend and which sounded like he hit a brick when he struck the ball.   Webb told his interviewer that he often had to help the uneducated superstar by assisting him in signing his name on the back of his paychecks.  Webb went on to play semi-pro ball well into his thirties.


Joe continued to play some mill league and semi-pro ball until 1941, when he played his first and last night games at the age of fifty-four, belting two home runs in a single game, when most men his age have long given up hopes of playing the game of their youth.  His statistics after 1925 are very scant.  Joe often played under assumed names.  Foster Taylor, the former beloved Mayor of Rentz, Georgia, always recalled the time that he played in a game with the great "Shoeless Joe."   Joe Jackson operated a liquor store and barbecue restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina until his death at the age of 64 on December 5, 1951.

More than a half century after his death, sincere and enduring baseball fans and former players are still seeking to add the name of Joseph Jefferson Jackson to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After all is said and done, he was absolved of any wrong doing by a jury of his peers and was a player whose .356 lifetime batting average is the 3rd highest in baseball history.  Maybe one day when the  summer skies are brightly shining in Cooperstown, New York, the announcer will step up to the podium and announce the name of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson to his rightful place among the ultimate immortals of the country's national pastime.

Friday, April 29, 2016

JACK MASSEY


ENTREPRENEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE

Jack Massey knew a good deal and how to make dollars, millions of dollars, from his investments.  This native of Tennille, Georgia was a major owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a major franchisee of Wendy’s Hamburgers.  When his customers had too much fried chicken, cheese burgers and fries, his other major business interest, Hospital Corporation of America, would treat them for heart attacks, high blood pressure and other associated illnesses. 

Jack Carroll Massey was born in Tennille, Georgia on June 15, 1904.  During the latter years of the 1920s, A drugstore delivery boy in his uncle’s pharmacy, Massey obtained a pharmacy degree from the University of Florida and set his aim on operating a drug store as his life’s career.

At the age of nineteen, Massey obtained his pharmacist’s license.  He bought his first store six years later and sold his his chain of drug stores while he was in his early 30s.  In his mid 1950s, Massey ventured into the surgical supply business.

When Jack turned 57 years old in 1961, he thought about retiring.  That thought didn’t last long.

Massey was bored with playing golf and decided that buying and building businesses was what he still wanted to do.

Fate led him to John Y. Brown, Jr., a lawyer from Kentucky, who would eventually become governor of that Bluegrass State.   Brown and Massey approached Harlan Sanders, a small scale restauranteur who mainly sold his chicken to small restaurants and diners.  It was a business with little organization and corporate structure, one which was ideal for Massey and Brown to buy and make into an icon of American fast food eateries.

The two-million dollar deal was made.  Sanders remained as the face of Kentucky Fried Chicken while Massey and Brown ignited a spark with massive ad campaigns in newspapers, magazines and television and turned Kentucky Fried Chicken into the largest fast food business in America in just four years.  Fortune seekers all over America bought stock in the company.  Kentucky Fried Chicken stock became one of the hottest stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

Elbert Mullis, who had operated the Shake and Burger in Dublin, Georgia’s  Shamrock Shopping Center, was one of the lucky ones and opened one of the first KFC franchises in Middle Georgia on June 18, 1965.

Another early franchisee and one of the chain’s largest was Dave Thomas, who founded Wendy’s hamburger restaurants.  Seven years and  some 3500 franchises later, Massey and Brown sold the business for $239,000,000.00.

Massey’s golden touch succeeded once again in 1968, when he joined with Thomas Frist, Sr. and Thomas Frist, Jr. (above) to found Hospital Corporation of America.  The organization was an unqualified success as the nation’s largest chain of for-profit hospitals with 11 hospitals within 18 months.  By the end of the Seventies, HCA registered more than a billion dollars in annual revenues. Again, in typical fashion, Massey founded the business, worked his magic and left the management, and sold the nation’s largest operator of hospitals.

Hospital Corporation of America purchased Laurens County’s Memorial Hospital  in the early 1980s and operated it for a few years until a new modern hospital was built on Industrial Boulevard.

Not satisfied with being a king, or co-king of the fried chicken business, Massey, a Nashville, Tennessee resident for a half century,  formed Winner’s Corporation, which became one of the country’s largest franchisees of Wendy’s hamburger restaurants in the United States and operated its own Mrs. Winner’s chicken restaurants.

Massey, was an entrepreneur and a philanthropist.   He helped to establish Nashville’s Baptist Hospital.  In addition to his substantial monetary donations, Massey gave twenty years of his life and sage business knowledge as a hospital trustee, twelve of which he served as chairman of the board.

Jack Massey’s gifts left a long lasting legacy on his adopted state of Tennessee.    He was posthumously honored in 2005 by Belmont University when it named a financial trading room in his memory.  The university also established the Jack C. Massey Graduate School.   The University of Florida established a fund to assist professors in his memory.

A 1987 inductee into Junior Achievment’s United States Business Hall of Fame, Massey worked to establish Corrections Corporation of America, which is today the nation’s largest private corrections company.

Of his appetite for financial adventure, Mr. Massey once said: ''Lots of people have more than I do, but not many have as much fun. The fun is in the accomplishing.''

Jack Massey died on February 15, 1990.

In commenting on his death, an editor of Advantage magazine opined, “Last month, the most improbable thing happened. Jack Massey retired. He passed away on the morning of February 15, leaving behind a legacy of mythical proportions and only likely to increase as the months roll on. Jack Massey was the embodiment of the American spirit, an amalgamation of sophisticated business acumen and frontier expansionism.  He was a liberal giver of both money and advice. But Jack Massey was no saint.  He was known as a ruthless negotiator who could, as one acquaintance put it, ‘talk you out of your last penny.’”

His HCA business partner, Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr. wrote, “His achievements in numerous business enterprises are legendary, and his ability to capture and move forward an innovative concept may be his greatest legacy.... He was truly a business genius.”

IMAGES OF OUR PAST - DUBLIN GARMENT COMPANY - MARCH 1956