I found out about the MLB Network about a week before the 1.1.09 launch date. When I read the news I was really excited about it and went to make sure it was available in my area. After doing research I learned my cable company (Comcast) owns part of the network as in they are a share holder in the network yet some how some way the channel isn’t available in my area. I know most people can’t point out Chattanooga on a map but we have a history of baseball and are the home of the Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Here are a few tidbits of Chattanooga Baseball History…
Engel Stadium is a baseball field located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The stadium was built in 1930 and holds 12,000 people. It was the home of the Chattanooga Lookouts until 1999 when, at the end of the season, they moved to BellSouth Park. Engel Stadium was named for baseball scout and Chattanooga Lookouts owner, Joe Engel.
The stadium is located at 1130 E. 3rd Street, at the corner of O’Neil Avenue, adjacent to the historic Fort Wood neighborhood, Norfolk Southern’s DeButts Yard and Erlanger Hospital.
Many notables have played on the field, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Ferguson Jenkins, Kiki Cuyler, Kid ElberfeldBurleigh Grimes. and
During its minor league days, the ballfield had probably the deepest
in-play center field areas among active ballparks, 471 feet from home
plate. Harmon Killebrew was the only known player to hit a home run
over the 471-foot marker.
Engel Stadium (with a fence reducing its dimensions) is now used for high school baseball games and, up until a few years ago, for the TSSAA baseball playoffs, which were moved to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to be more centrally located for all Tennessee high schools.
The Story Of Jackie Mitchell
Some sources say that Jackie Mitchell was born in 1912 or 1913. Other sources say that she was born in 1914. Regardless of the year, she was a survivor from the start.
When Virne Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell was born, she only weighed three-and-a-half pounds. But as soon as she could walk, she went with her father to the baseball diamond. From him, she learned the basics of game.
At that time, Jackie was living in Memphis, Tennessee. Her next-door neighbor was a minor league ballplayer by the name of Dazzy Vance.
Dazzy (who would later play for the Brooklyn Dodgers) quickly recognized Jackie’s talent. In fact, he taught her how to throw his favorite pitch. He called it the “drop pitch.” This pitch would come in at one level . . . but dropped, right before it reached the plate.
Even though Jackie was only five or six years old, she learned how to throw this pitch. Dazzy Vance was impressed. With foresight, he predicted that Jackie would become a great ball player.
With confidence, Jackie believed him.
When Jackie was sixteen years old, she played for a women’s team in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When she was seventeen, she attended a special baseball school in Atlanta, Georgia. As a result, Jackie attracted the attention of Joe Engel, the president and owner of the Chattanooga Lookouts. He offered her a contract to play for the entire 1931 season.
On March 28, 1931, Jackie signed the contract. At that moment, she became an official member of the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA minor league team.
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees had finished spring training in Florida and were on their way to New York. As in previous years, they would stop in Chattanooga to play the Lookouts.
The game was scheduled for April 1. Unfortunately, it rained, and the game was cancelled. By Thursday, April 2, the rains had stopped. At 2:30 that afternoon, the game began but Jackie was not the starting pitcher.
Instead, she watched. Earle Combs, the Yankees’ lead-off batter, clobbered a double. Lyn Lary was up next. He slapped a single up the middle, scoring Combs from second. Next to bat was Babe Ruth.
At that moment, Manager Niehoff headed to the mound. He pulled the starting pitcher and waved Jackie to the mound.
Jackie’s first pitch to the Babe sailed high for a ball. But her next three pitches were strikes. In fact, her final pitch dropped across the plate for a called third strike.
The crowd of 4,000 went wild. But Jackie’s work was not over. The next batter was Lou Gehrig, the Yankees’ clean-up hitter. On three pitches, she struck him out, too.
The Rest of the Story
The news about Jackie’s strikeouts spread across the country. Fan mail poured in. One envelope had no address — just the words “The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth.”
Although Jackie did not continue to play for the Lookouts, she still continued to play ball. In fact, for five years she pitched for the House of David, a baseball team that traveled across the country.
At the age of 23, Jackie returned to Chattanooga to work for her father, an eye doctor. She lived the rest of her life in the Chattanooga area.
Jackie died in 1987. However, she always will be remembered as “The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth.”‘
Chattanooga Lookouts History
During previous owner Joe Engel’s tenure, the Lookouts won four championships – three with the Southern Association and a fourth with the South Atlantic League.
For a time, Engel led the charge to own the Lookouts privately, with
the help of several hundred fans as shareholders from 1938 to 1942. In
1939, as a privately owned franchise under coach Kiki Cuyler, the Lookouts claimed a championship.
In 1931, the New York Yankees played an exhibition game against the Lookouts. During the game, a 17 year old girl named Jackie Mitchell pitched for the Lookouts and struck out Major League greats Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. A few days after the game, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis voided Mitchell’s contract, claiming that baseball was “too strenuous” for women.
Notable former Lookouts players that have made it to the Major Leagues include Baseball Hall of Famers Burleigh Grimes, Harmon Killebrew, and Ferguson Jenkins. Other notable former players include Alvin Davis, Mark Langston, Deion Sanders, and Pete Rose Jr. (son of Pete Rose). Ben Broussard (New York Yankees), Adam Dunn (Arizona Diamondbacks), Austin Kearns (Washington Nationals), Trevor Hoffman (San Diego Padres) and Jason LaRue (St. Louis Cardinals) currently play in the MLB.
2008 marked the teams’ 123rd season of play in Chattanooga.
The team, which plays in the Southern League, is the Double-A affiliate of the major-league club.
From 1987-2008, the Lookouts were the Double-A affiliate Cincinnati Reds. For the 2009-2010 seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the parent club.
So in closing; comcast, if you could please get
your things together and start providing the MLB network to a town who
has deep baseball roots and who has plenty of baseball fans. We have
our own Minor League team after all. I know you may like shooting
yourself in the foot but us baseball fans here in Chattanooga want our