In 1939 Thomasville changed their name for the 3rd time in 3 years... this time to the Thomasville Tommies. With their co-championship title in hand, Thomasville couldn't wait to get back in the ring with Mooresville. They would have to play well enough to make it to the playoffs however. They would get the help they needed from Ray Lindsay who led the league in strikouts in 1938. Lindsay went 22-10 with a 1.89 ERA which led the league, while striking out 237 which led the league for the 2nd straight year. Paige Dennis
who had the miraculous season in 1938 came back and played a very good 17-10, 2.96. The MVP on the team was easily Ted Mueller who hit 34 2Bs, 10 3Bs, 10 HRs and batted an amazing .391... all of which led the team and the average and hits (161) of course would lead the league. Between Paige Dennis, Lindsay and Ted Mueller, the Tommies finished with a 58-52 record (.527) and took on Lexington in the first round. Lexington actually put up quite a good fight but the Tommies took them in 5 games. It was the finals and there they were... the Thomasville Tommies vs. the Mooresville Moors. The showdown turned out to be only a fraction of what was anticipated. Mooresville rolled right over Thomasville taking 4 out of 5 to beat the Tommies for the Championship. Finch Field meanwhile led the league in attendance by almost 10,000 over all the other clubs with 60k. All of the press that Thomasville was getting finally caught the attention of Major League Baseball, as the Cleveland Indians signed the Tommies to a 3 year PDC in 1940. Under the Cleveland umbrella, the Tommies continued to play good ball and stayed above .500 (56-54) thanks much in part to Ray Lindsay's league leading 20-11 record and 3rd straight league leading 269 K's and a 1.93 ERA. Woody Crowson also helped going 12-11 with a 3.67 ERA on his way to the Philadelphia Athletics. Paige Dennis meanwhile was no longer with the club, and though Lindsay continued to pitch excellently... they didn't play well enough to make the playoffs, finishing in 5th place. In 1941, the Tommies played much better going 56-44 (.560) on the season... good enough to make the postseason behind Ray Lindsay's 17-13, 2.92 record... the first season in 3 years in which he didn't lead the league in something... and the hitting talents of Danny Amaral (27 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, .340) and James Burns (19 2B, 11 HR, .305). Again the Tommies couldn't make it past the first round, this time being beaten by the Salisbury Giants. Luckily Mooresville who did keep making it to the finals kept losing in the championship round. The Tommies had to start getting themselves prepped if they were ever going to beat Mooresville... and that would mean getting far enough into the playoffs to actually play them. In 1942, they would get all the help they needed as the team was overwhelmed with talent... and before we go any further we could say that even without all that talent, James Gruzdis would probably have been all the team needed in the lineup anyway. The Tommies were led by future Cleveland Indians All-Star and MVP Al Rosen, who would easily go on to have the greatest success of an Thomasville player to date, slamming 43 homers for the Indians in 1953 (winning the MLB MVP) and then leading them following year to a Championship season. Rosen hit 12 2B, 7 HR and batted .307 for the Tommies, while future Chicago White Sox SS Frank Whitman hit .277 at only the age of 17. Charles Bohning hit .384 in 96 At Bats. Ralph Rowe hit .357 with 16 doubles and 5 HRs and Ray Hickernell hit 25 doubles, 11 triples, 6 homers and batted .310... and none of them... not even Rosen could touch what James Gruzdis accomplished. Gruzdis batted a whopping .418 with 19 doubles, 8 triples and 4 homers... to break the all time North Carolina State League record for hitting. On the mound, future Philadelphia A's pitcher Woody Crowson returned, going 17-7 with a league leading 1.60 ERA while future Washington Senators pitcher Forrest Thompson went 10-9 with a 3.35 ERA. This ridiculously talented team finished the season tied for 2nd place with the arch nemesis, the Mooresville Moores (61-39, .610). In the first round where Thomasville usually got hung up, the Tommies had no problems taking down Concord who featured the best pitcher in the NCSL. They had finally made it to the finals again and were looking for revenge. As luck and irony would have it, Mooresville was swept by the Landis Senators and weren't there to take any revenge on. Landis proved to be a formidable opponent however and held tight forcing a final game 7. Last time Thomasville was in this position, their fans went on a killing spree... this time they kept it safe so that their Tommies could finish the game and win their second ever Championship in the North Carolina State League. It was definately a time to celebrate... and then a bomb was dropped on Pearl Harbor.