BY WAYNE PHILLIPS, SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
Jimmy Sauceman, who began his career in education and coaching at West Greene High School where he was tasked with starting a football program in the early 1970's, has just completed publishing his third book since his retirement from the Greene County School System.
Nobody knows the history of West Greene football like the man who started the program, so he published a record book of sorts on the Buffaloes in 2011. Sauceman coached the team through the 1986 season, and he kept quality records and newspaper accounts that helped him in compiling the publication, which was sold as a fund-raising project by the West Greene Booster Club and became a rousing success.
Now two years later, Sauceman has two more publications that are sure to be met with a lot of enthusiasm by the baseball-crazy county of Greene.
One publication is simply called "Baseball," and it follows the old Burley Cubs, Greeneville's first professional team that competed from 1921-1942, as well as the Greeneville Magnavox team that was one of the top semi-pro teams in the nation from 1949-1970. The back section of the book also contains info on the town's current professional squad, the Astros, who moved here in 2004 and each year have led the Appalachian League in attendance at Pioneer Park.
The second book is entitled "From The Sand Lot To the Majors," and it follows Greene County's semi-pro teams from across the county from 1900-1982. The publication is a solid reminder as to how successful the old Greene County Baseball League was in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's, and newspaper accounts as well as info Sauceman gleaned from a variety of other sources is included.
"I've been working on those books for years," Sauceman said, "even before I started working on the West Greene book. I spend a lot of time at the T. Elmer Cox Geneology Library, and I got a lot of information from the old newspaper archives up there. They have been most helpful."
Sauceman stresses that he didn't publish the books for monetary gain. He loves to record history, and collecting info like this information for his books is his hobby.
"I didn't want to spend a lot of money on printing the books, so I had only 40 of the Cubs and Magnavox book printed, and about 80 of the county league book," he said. "They're about all gone. I could have another printing I guess if enough people want a copy."
Most of the older baseball fans in the county would certainly enjoy a copy. I read through both, and the amount of work that has gone into collecting all the information is mind-boggling. The "Baseball" book has old boxscores from the Burley Cubs, as well as boxes from games played by the Magnavox in the national tournament.
The county league book has names that have been familiar to me for decades, names that I recall as being the top players from the days in the 1950s and 1960s when I was growing up at St. James.
"Some of the photos didn't turn out as well as I hoped they would, but I did change some of the photos in the Cubs book plus added some more after I got the first few copies back from the printer," Sauceman said.
The "Baseball" book is dedicated to John Bernard and Sam Alexander of the Greeneville Burley Cubs, Richard and Brumley Greene who managed the Magnavox team, Rance Pless who served as team captain of Magnavox for a number of years, and to "All the players who played for the Cubs and the Magnavox team."
The "County League Book" is dedicated to what Sauceman calls the pioneers who helped organize the county leagues: Claude "Tiny" Day, Charles Brown and Hugh Neas. Day was the long-time sports editor of The Greeneville Sun and is Sauceman's brother-in-law.
Other names that Sauceman lists on the "In Honor Of" page are Bob Broyles, Paul Maupin, Guy Bailey, Hector Teague, Arnold Hensley, Gar Pless, George Barnes, William "'Bumblebee" Starnes, John Baskett, Tom Jennings, Wilbur Collins, Crip Sheffey, R.K. Chandler, Lawrence Morelock, Ober White, Zora Neas, Clay Woolsey, Howard McNeese, Fred White, Oscar Charles, Henry "Boots" Anderson, Luke Pruitt, Slowly Gentry, S.H. Self, John Smith, Ralph and Woodrow Jeffers, Sam "Pap" Alexander, Carl Waddell, Dayton Seay, Howard "Boots" Hutton, Arnold Johnson, Dempsey Wampler and Joe Easterly, and to "the pioneers who organized the early teams and all the players who played in these leagues."
Brumley Greene is another Greene Countian who is a baseball historian, and he was happy to see the books published.
"Jimmy has just done a fantastic job in getting all these facts recorded," Greene said. "He's spent an enormous amount of time on this ... you can tell. I helped him with a lot of the Magnavox stuff, and I'm sure glad he's got it in print. It will help preserve the history of baseball in the county."
I don't know what's next on the agenda for Sauceman or what he plans on doing for an encore. But I've already asked him to help me gather information on a book I want to publish someday on the history of football in Greene County.
"Well I do enjoy looking through those old papers and things you find up at the library," he said. "Like I said it's a hobby for me, especially in the winter months when it's cold and you can't do much else."