The North Carolina State League suspended operations as did almost every other Minor League organization. They were however, also one of the first leagues to come back, starting up in 1945 when most leagues didn't continue on until 1946. With the return of NCSL came a few changes, especially to Thomasville. The Cleveland Indians had moved on and Finch Field was getting a new Major League umbrella to co-inside with this new era. The Brooklyn Dodgers were taking on the NCSL's incumbent champions and renamed the team,
the Thomasville Dodgers. The Thomasville Dodgers didn't have half the talent that the Tommies did, with many players failing to break .200 (Mendoza wasn't quite around yet). A very redundant Frank DeFrank batted .335 with 12 doubles and Fred Leonard batted .343 with 24 doubles and 8 HRs, while future NY Giants RF Archie Lennon just made it over .200 by batting .204. He had a good excuse... he was only 16. Another 16 year old tried to lead the pitching staff. Bob Ross would go 5-7 with a team leading 3.16 ERA, on his way to pitching for the Washington Senators. Unfortunately the league lead in wins (24), ERA (2.13) and strikouts (278) would be taken by the Thomasville Tommie's Forrest Thompson who had signed on with their nemesis Mooresville on his way to the Senators. The T-Dodgers would finish in 7th place with an awful 40-72 (.357) record. Thomasville did a little better in 1946 as Russel LIsch put up a 10-4, 1.87 record. Walter Fiala hit an excellent 3.52 to lead the league and future Philadelphia Athletics 2B Spook Jacobs hit .256. Future Boston Bees catcher Paul Burris also made an appearance hitting 12 doubles with a .198 batting average. By season's end, the Dodgers finished above .500 again (58-52, .527) and were back in the playoffs. Though they were swept by Concord in the first round, it felt good to be back in the post season. Unfortunately Mooresville would win the championship title. By 1947, Thomasville was back under .500. The Dodgers weren't giving Thomasville the talent that they had hoped to get going 54-56 (.491). Fans still loved the team however as they finished with 57k, only 3 below the top Salisbury Pirates. Fred Leonard returned to Finch Field and was great hitting 39 doubles, 16 HRs and batting .366. Guy Prater led the team in power with 19 2B's and 19 HRs and a .317 avg. In 1948, the Dodgers said goodbye and the Boston Braves came to town. WIth the change over, the team went through some big changes... especially in their name. It was in 1949 that teams playing in Finch Field, would adopt their sister city High Point as the hypenated connection to Thomasville, now making their moniker... "High Point-Thomasville". Shortening both cities now to Hi and Tom.. the team officially became the "High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms". The Hi-Toms were probably fine with the departure of the Dodgers. The team was looking forward to returning to the post season on a regular basis and hoped that the Braves were their first class ticket there. Their wishes couldn't have been granted any better as the Braves brought Alfred Jarlett to town. Jarlett was an incredible pitcher in the later years of his career and at age 33 was about to have a career year. Though he wouldn't top Paige Dennis' remarkable 28-2 season in 1938, he would come pretty damn close going 27-4 with a 2.84 ERA. Richard Moses also contributed going 14-8 with a 3.61 ERA. As great as the pitching was... the hitting was believe it or not... equally as good. The reason was the return of perhaps Finch Field's greatest player... James Gruzdis was back in High Point this time to take the reigns and manage the team into history. Gruzdis didn't put down his bat though... While he wouldn't hit .418 again, he would still lead the league with a nearly incredible .388 batting average along with 25 doubles, 6 triples and 7 homers... and that wasn't all!... Horace Hubbard batted .374 with 15 doubles, pitcher Al Jarlett was great with the bat as well batting .368, James Miller batted .353 and the Washington Senators former catcher Cliff Bolton joined the team and in 50 games batted a whopping .417 in 168 At Bats. Together this team blew away the rest of the league, finishing in 1st place with 67-43 (.609) record. The "High Point-Thomasville" name meanwhile seemed to actually work in making the Hi-Toms the home town team now for both cities... who came out in droves to cheer on the talented bunch to the tune of 100,000 fans... 32k more than the 2nd place Statesville Owls! With the NCSL's Win leader Alfred Jarlett and batting leader Jim Gruzdis at the helm, the Hi-Toms took to the playoffs to face Hickory. It would be a tight series with the teams going head to head for 6 straight games forcing a 7th and deciding game. Thomasville has done well in these situations before but not this time as Hickory pulled it out to win the 1st round leaving a very talented Hi-Toms scratching their heads in this huge upset. The post-season loss was hard to take after such a good year, because you never know when that situation will return. What they didn't know in 1948 however was the fact that they were going to be so much better in 1949 that it would make that 1948 team look like a bunch of hacks. It all started with a 17 year old kid from Santa Barbara High School that Boston was just beaming about. They thought that this kid would have all the tools that they would need to become a super team into the 1950s. His name was Eddie Matthews. The 17 year old came to Finch Field never having played on anything more than a dusty high school field. Now he was playing in front of 100,000 fans in a giant Minor League ballpark. Was he nervous? Perhaps, but how could you tell? Not even old enough to vote yet, Eddie tore up the NCSL batting .363 with 20 doubles and 17 homers prompting his promotion to Triple-A in 1950 where he promptly hit 32 HRs for the Atlanta Crackers at Ponce DeLeon Park. By 1952 he was in Boston playing for the Braves, hitting 25 homers in his first season, and by 1953 (after the Braves moved to County Stadium in Milwaukee), Matthews slammed 47 homers for the Braves. He followed that up with 2 more straight seasons of 40 HRs at a time when there weren't a lot of Albert Pujolses or Ryan Howards doing that very thing. Eddie would have 11 years in which he hit more than 30 bombs and 4 in which he hit more than 40. He finally retired in 1968 after playing for the Atlanta Braves... the only player to play for the Braves in all 3 locations... and was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978... the only player ever to reach the Hall from what could now be considered... historic Finch Field. Now... with that in mind, Matthews' stats didn't come close to what the Washington Senators' former catcher Cliff Bolton did. Bolton who hit .417 in limited play, did get to play for a full season in 1949 and came within one point of becoming the 2nd player in Finch Field history to break the .400 mark, batting .399 with 31 doubles and 10 Homers. Gruzdis was back at the helm as well adding his .359 batting average to the mix. Roland Harrington was one of two big power hitters batting .367 with 44 doubles and 21 homers, while Herman Niehaus hit 27 doubles, 22 homers and batted .267. Pete Williams added to the insanity batting .343 with 37 doubes and 12 homers. Whew! Now... the pitching staff. Lynn Southworth continued on with the tradition of absolutely ridiculous win-loss records going a mind boggling 21-1 with a 3.14 ERA to set the all time winning percentage in the NCSL. Al Jarlett's 15-6, 3.32 record seemed to pale in comparison... as did Ronald Shuttenberg's 19-4 3.56 record. Together, this all-time famed team put together a record 90 wins against only 34 losses for a .726 winning percentage, leaving 2nd place Mooresville in their dust with an 18 game lead. 95,000 people came to see this outstanding and historic team play as they blew through Landis in the first round to get to see Mooresville for perhaps a final chance at revenge... and as fate would have it... Mooresville got swept by Lexington. Lexington wasn't a very good team but were tremendously hot in the stretch run and put up a heck of fight in the finals... taking it to a tie after 6 games, forcing a final deciding game. Now we've been here before with mixed results... one win, one loss and one bloody tie if i'm not mistaken... so this was anybody's guess. Still... this team was too good to lose and in fact that would be the case as the High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms won the North Carolina State League championship for their 3rd trophy ever at Finch Field.