Leo Shoals

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Leo "Muscle" Sholes
First baseman / Manager
Born: (1916-10-03)October 3, 1916
Camden-on-Gauley, West Virginia
Died: February 23, 1999(1999-02-23) (aged 82)
Abingdon, Virginia
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB statistics
Batting average .337
Hits 2,125
Home runs 362
Runs batted in 1,529
Teams

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
  • Appalachian League champion (1951)
  • Carolina League MVP (1949)
  • Appalachian League Triple Crown winner (1951)
  • 3× Appalachian League batting champion (1939, 1947, 1951)
  • 5× Appalachian League home run champion (1939, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1955)
  • 2× Appalachian League RBI champion (1951, 1955)
  • Carolina League RBI Champion (1949)
  • Carolina League runs scored champion (1949)
  • Carolina League's 50th Anniversary team
  • Northeast Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

MiLB Records

  • Carolina League single season home run record with 55

Lloyd Cleveland "Muscle" Sholes Jr. (born October 3, 1916 in Camden-on-Gauley, West Virginia – died February 23, 1999 in Abingdon, Virginia) was a baseball player who was sometimes called "the Babe Ruth of the minor leagues."

Minor league career[edit]

He made his professional debut in 1937 in the Pennsylvania State League for the St. Louis Cardinals organization. A muscular 220-pounder, Shoals quickly established himself as a formidable slugger; in 1939, playing for Johnson City in the Appalachian League, he hit .365, with 16 home runs. Two years later, he hit 26 home runs in the Cotton States League.

In 1946 and 1947, Shoals played for Kingsport of the Appalachian League, where he batted .333 and .387. His only full year in the Carolina League was in 1949, and it was the best year of his career, the enormously popular Shoals pounded out 55 home runs for the Reidsville Luckies, a league record never equaled and not seriously challenged since Tolia "Tony" Solaita's 49 homers in 1968. Shoals also led the league in runs batted in and missed the batting title and triple crown by only two percentage points, the highlight of his season was a three home run, 15 total-base game against Greensboro on June 12. In his last at-bat, Shoals lined a single off the wall, only inches from his fourth homer. No Carolina League player has ever hit four home runs in a game.

Late in the season, the hapless St. Louis Browns offered to bring Shoals up to the majors. He declined for several reasons, including his wife's pregnancy, he also would have taken a pay cut. Shoals was the beneficiary of so many passed hats, $20 handshakes, and merchant discounts that he couldn't afford to leave.

The Cincinnati Reds, a much more prestigious major league organization than the perennially inept Browns, drafted Shoals and signed him to a minor league contract in 1950; he was sent to Columbia, South Carolina, of the South Atlantic League. Shoals subsequently disappeared for several games on the road trip to Jacksonville, Florida. When he finally showed up, he was released. Reidsville signed him for the remainder of the season, but the magic was gone, he batted only .224 in 116 at-bats. Shoals finished his career back in Kingsport. When he retired after the 1955 season, his career minor league stats included a .337 batting average, 362 home runs, and 1,529 runs batted in. He lived in the Southwest Virginia town of Glade Spring, with his wife, the home still stands today in the center part of town Leo "Muscle" Sholes was a great contributor to his town and it's history! The Washington County Park Association and Glade Spring named a park in his Honer!

Post-professional baseball[edit]

After retirement from professional baseball, Leo played (mainly pinch-hitting) and managed a semi-pro club in Saltville called the Alkalies while working for the Olin Mathieson Chemical Company.

Legacy[edit]

Muscle Shoals Park.JPG

In 2004, the Washington County Park Authority and the Washington County Department of Recreation dedicated a park in his memory.

References[edit]

External links[edit]