2011-04-21 / News

From Lincoln Co. to Washington, D.C.

By Lamar Garrard


Joseph Walton Haynes 
Photo: Courtesy Baseball Hall ofFame Cooperstown Joseph Walton Haynes Photo: Courtesy Baseball Hall ofFame Cooperstown The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball and other baseball references state that Joseph Walton Haynes was born in Lincolnton, Georgia on Sept. 21, 1917. His parents were Thomas Clarence Haynes and Lou M. Walton. Lou’s father was Dr. Henry C. Walton of Wilkes county. The 1920 US census shows Thomas Haynes and his wife living in the Goshen community of Lincoln County. They had seven children, four boys and three girls with Joe Haynes being the youngest at two years of age. Local sources have confirmed that Joe was a resident of Goshen as a young boy and some either knew him or knew his family.

What makes the life of Joe Haynes so interesting to local history is that he went on to become an all-star major league pitcher and later became a part owner of a major league ball club, the Washington Senators. The details of his early life in Lincolnton are not readily available but we know that his father was a farmer and the family was probably typical of most farm families in that era.

Sources indicate that the family moved to Columbia, SC when Joe was around 12 years old. At an early age Joe must have been adept at the game of baseball. It is known that he played American Legion baseball in Columbia and when he was about 18 years old he played for a team called the “Owls” in the Carolina League. He also played in the South Carolina Textile League for the mill teams: Appleton, Laurens, and Anderson around 1935.

The textile leagues produced some great ballplayers and many went on to the major leagues. Hall of fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda pitched for the Ft. Jackson team during WWII and was recruited to play textile ball for Joanna and Camden. While playing for the Greenville Spinners he met his future wife. North Augusta resident Lou Brissie pitched for Ware Shoals and went on to become an all-star pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians. Textile league baseball was dominated by teams with exceptional players. Many had played in the minor leagues and others had been up to the majors already and some were to be future major leaguers.

Joe Haynes signed to play professional baseball with the Washington Senators organization in 1937 and at age 19 he was assigned to Jacksonville in the Sally League. Joe spent the latter half of the 1937 season with Chattanooga in the Southern Association and in 1938 the right hander pitched for the Charlotte Hornets in the Piedmont league.

In only two minor league seasons, appearing in 66 games, he had a great won lost record of 29 and 20 with and earned run average of 3.32. He had put together two fine years and somewhere along the way was given the nickname, “Honeyboy”. On August

15, 1938 at Charlotte pitching fortheHornets,hepitcheda7to0 win over Portsmouth with a no hit, no run performance and almost a perfect game. Two batters reached base, one on an error and the other on a walk but neither scored. Haynes also carried a big bat in the minors batting .291 including 3 triples and 3 home runs. “Honeyboy” Haynes from Lincolnton, Ga. would soon be in the major leagues residing in Washington, DC.

In 1939 Joe was called up to the parent club the Washington Senators. He won 8 games and lost 12 and started to develop arm trouble. While in the minors he had battled osteomyelitis in his left arm but not his pitching arm. In 1940 he went 3 and 6 with the Senators and on January 4, 1941 he was sold to the Chicago White Sox. On October 11, 1941 he married Thelma Robertson Griffith, the adopted daughter of the Senators team owner, Clark Griffith. He was classed as 4-F because of his bone disorder and did not serve in WWII. Joe went on to pitch 8 years for the White Sox from 1941 through 1948. He was chosen to play on the American League 1948 all-star team.

The game was played in St. Louis at Sportsman’s park, July 13, 1948. The American league beat the National league 5-2 and some of Joe’s teammates were future Hall of Famers; Bob Feller, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams.

In 1949 Joe was traded back to the Senators. He pitched the final four years of his career for Washington and his last game was August 30, 1952. His best year was 1947 when he was 14 - 6 and had a league leading earned run average of 2.42. In fourteen major league seasons he appeared in 374 games winning 76 while losing 82 with an ERA of 4.01. He was a better than average pitcher on many teams that finished in second division in the standings. He was a coach for the Senators from 1953- 1955 and in 1956 became vice-president of the team. He was named executive vice-president in 1958 and was in that role when the club moved to Minneapolis to become the Min- nesota Twins in 1961. He served in that capacity with the team until his death.

Joseph Walton Haynes died of a heart attack while shoveling snow at his home in Hopkins, MN on January 6, 1967. He was 48 years old. He is buried in Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Brentwood, Maryland. His wife Thelma at one time owned twenty six percent of the Minnesota Twins. She passed away in 1982 in Orlando, Florida at the age of 82.

Lincoln County can be proud of this one time resident who went on to succeed in grand style by playing major league baseball, coaching, then managing the baseball and business activities of the club and club ownership. Play ball!

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