Welcome to the silent edition of Ghosts of the Minors, adapted from the segment from The Show Before the Show Podcast that asks you to identify a historical Minor League team hidden among two phonies. Here, we skip the quiz element and speed headlong into the past for a quick
Welcome to the silent edition of Ghosts of the Minors, adapted from the segment from The Show Before the Show Podcast that asks you to identify a historical Minor League team hidden among two phonies. Here, we skip the quiz element and speed headlong into the past for a quick romp through the true story of the real Minors team.
Go tell it on the mountain: The Graniteers were a solid presence in Mount Airy, North Carolina, for parts of the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. That’s not to say they didn’t have a few ups and downs. Mount Airy hit rock bottom in the 1939 Bi-State League and peaked nine years later, delivering fans Grani-tears of joy by climbing atop the Blue Ridge League in ’48.
Despite existing in such rarified air, in ‘49 the Graniteers just couldn’t get settled –as it took four men to hold down the managing job over the course of the season. The two that brought Mount Airy to the greatest heights that year -- Pete Treece and Okey Flowers -- were pitchers and co-managers.
That was a first managerial assignment for each (and it wasn't a last for either), but they were natural leaders. In fact, Treece took leadership so seriously, he led the league with 21 wins and 229 strikeouts on the mound.
But that managing job with the Graniteers was never etched in stone. The skipper of the ’50 club, Zip Payne, agonized over being replaced midseason by the same manager who had replaced him as the manager of the Tobacco State League’s Fayetteville club the previous year: Joe Roseberry. But Roseberry didn’t plant himself firmly enough with the Graniteers, either, as the whole franchise came tumbling down at season’s end.
Ever since fans took the team for granite, Mount Airy has been holding its breath for a new Minors team. That presumably included local boy Andy Griffith, who without a ballclub to support turned his energy to Hollywood, where he used Mount Airy as the basis for Mayberry, which you may berry well be familiar with from his eponymous television program.
And those are the peaks and valleys of the Graniteers, who did exist once upononmous time.
Josh Jackson is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @JoshJacksonMiLB.