Billy Southworth Elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame

Inducted on Sunday, July 27, 2008,
 in Cooperstown, New York

Sunbury’s Billy Southworth was  among five men elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee announced the Miami Herald Monday, December 3rd, 2007.  Others elected are former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former executives Walter O'Malley and Barney Dreyfuss, and former manager Dick Williams.

Southworth posted a winning percentage of .597, fifth-best all-time, in 13 seasons as a major league skipper with the Cardinals and Braves. He led a pair of World Series champs with St. Louis in 1942 and '44. His 1943 Cardinals also won the NL pennant and he moved to Boston in 1946 and captured another NL flag in 1948 with the Braves.

 See the entire Miami Herald Story    Much of the article below ran in The Sunbury News.

Because  You Asked . . . .

Boston Braves Manager, Billy Southworth

Sunbury's Southworth Wins World Series

Few baseball players are fortunate enough to play in the World Series let alone be there with more than one team. Billy Southworth played in the World Series in 1924 with New York Giants and 1926 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. At the age of 34 he became the manager for the Cardinals and guided them to 3 National League Pennants (1942, 1943, 1944) and two World Series titles (1942 and 1944). In 1945, Southworth moved to the Boston Braves and led them to the National League Pennant in 1948. 

William Harrison Southworth was born March 9, 1893 in Harvard, Nebraska, and grew up in Columbus.  While still in high school, Billy and his boyhood friend, Marty Purtell, began playing baseball for the Kenton Reds for $5.00 per game. Marty went on to be a baseball scout while Southworth joined the Portsmouth team (Ohio State League) in 1912. Two years later he played for Portland in the Pacific Coast League before being sold to the Pittsburg Pirates. Three seasons later he was traded to the Boston Braves and then to the New York Giants. From there he went to the St. Louis Cards. Outfielder Southworth’s all-time batting average was .298.  During the 1926 World Series he batted 29 times with 10 hits:1-2nd base, 1-3rd base, 1 home run, 6 runs, 4 runs batted in for a batting average of .345.

After playing in the 1926 World Series which the cards won 4 games to 3, Southworth managed the Rochester Red Wings in 1928, and later the Columbus Red Birds before becoming the manager of the St. Louis Cards.  Under his term as manager, the Cards beat the New York Yankees (4-1) in 1942, got beat by the Yankees (4-1) in 1943, and beat St. Louis Browns (4-2) in 1944.

In 1940, Billy and his wife, Mabel Stemen, built their house of stone from the Big Walnut west of St. Rt. 37 at the edge of Sunbury. Always a baseball town, Sunbury welcomed Billy like a native son.

Edwards' Photo

His son, Billy Brooks, was following in his father's footsteps until he left baseball to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940.  Major Southworth, a B-29 bomber pilot,  was one of the first fliers to battle the enemy overseas.  After flying 25 successful missions over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, his plane went down in Flushing Bay, N.Y., on February 15, 1945, the town joined the Southworths in the vigil waiting for closure.  When his body washed ashore in August, the town mourned with the Southworths.

When Southworth led the Boston Braves to win the pennant in 1948, all the merchants painted the town red to encourage the Braves to scalp the Cleveland Indians. Bill Whitney obtained a horse shoe from Night Dream, winner of the Little Brown Jug and had small shoes made from it for the players and a big one for Billy. Hoyt Whitney, Bill’s brother, presented them to the team at a testimonial dinner in Boston before the series. Dr. and Mrs. M. W. Livingston and Mrs. Whitney went to Boston with Hoyt and saw him make the presentation.  Cleveland defeated Boston 4 games to 2

When his health failed in 1951, Southworth retired to Sunbury where he was active in Little League, Big Walnut Conservation Club, Sparrow Lodge and other organizations.  He enjoyed his daughter, Carole Watson, and four grandchildren. 

In 1967, Billy and his wife went to St. Louis to throw the first ball in the World Series.  In November 15, 1969, he died at the age of 76 following a long bout with emphysema and is buried in the family plot in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.  His widow, Mabel, died in 1998.

During his life, the Kenton Elks Lodge held a banquet in Billy's honor each year.  He was a member of the Rochester Hall of Fame, Elks Hall of Fame, Ohio Hall of Fame, and Nebraska Hall of Fame. 

A member of the Big Walnut Conservation Club, Billy Southworth bought land on Hartford Road for the Club which included a cabin, club house, pond and a few acres.  The baseball diamond on the property was known as Southworth Park and used by Little Leagues. 

More about Southworth:


Columns are:
Billy with the
 St. Louis Cardinals 
Sporting News photo from 
The St. Louis Cardinals by Frederick Lieb
Charts from The Baseball Encyclopedia, 1976      

Photos from Helen Coffee

Managers' Wives
Mable Southworth and Mrs. Luke Sewell
World Series
October 5, 1944
Sportsman's Park
AP Wirephoto
  Major Billy and Manager Billy
by George Dorrill
in St. Louis

Major Billy was killed in WWII
  Billy in his Car

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


Goto  Local History Index

(12/27/2012 )

Click on Photos to Enlarge
Use BACK to Return to this Page