The Hi-Toms were down but not out. They vowed to get a new affiliation and come back stronger than ever. By the following season they were back, now flying the flag of their newest affilliate, the Cincinnati Reds. Even better, they had now jumped up tremendously in status, as the Reds had signed the team to be their new Class B affiliate... the Hi-Toms were now in the exculsive Carolina League. Finch Field had never played higher than Class D baseball. The Carolina League was perhaps one of the strongest leagues in the nation and they seemed to be one of the leagues most
likely to fight through what seemed to be a very tough financial situation across the board for baseball (thanks to television). In fact that would be the case as the Carolina League is still in existance today (now as an Advanced Single-A Minor League farm system), without ever having missed a single season since World War II. The Hi-Toms' first season back wasn't an easy one, as the team went through several managers (James Guzdis didn't follow the team over to the Carolina League) and a mix of players while trying to get some of the "kinks out". The team finished in 6th place with a 66-73 record. Former Boston Red Sox starter Woody Rich was the veteran pitching star with a 13-6, 3.59 ERA, while Noah Goode hit 17 HRs and batted .335. By 1954 the Hi-Toms had figured out all of their issues, and were back to playing great ball. Veteran pitcher Woody Rich was back and pitching better than ever, going 19-4 on the season with a 2.84 ERA. Jack Taylor was 17-11 with a 1.78 record and Rene Solis went 12-7 with a 3.69 ERA. Future Cincinnati Reds CF Danny Morejon was the hitting star with 30 doubles, 10 triples and 13 Homers while batting .324 which was good enough to earn him the MVP award for the season. Under the Reds umbrella, the Hi-Toms surged to an 80-58 record and were solidly in first place, and as they had done in previous seasons, had no problems forging ahead to the championship round. The Danville Leafs however proved to be tougher opponents than they had recently come across in the Midwest League and in the end, the Leafs would come out victorious. The Reds had promised some talent would come Finch Field's way and they certainly seemed to live up to the bargain producing the Carolina League's MVP in Danny Morejon. 1956 however would be the year that would put Finch Field in the spotlight... The Cincinnati Reds had a new prospect that they thought the world of. He was only 18 years old and had never played professional baseball before, but had tremendous skills, and many thought he could become a 5 tool player. Nobody expected him to become that 5 tool player in his first season however. His name was Curt Flood, and he would set the Carolina League on fire by slamming 21 doubles, 8 triples and an all time record 29 homers while batting .340 to take yet another MVP award home to Finch Field... all the age of 18... and remember, this isn't the Class D North Carolina State League... this was Class B baseball. Curt Flood would go on from the Carolina League to join the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the season to play in 5 games... still at the age of 18. Flood would make his name playing for the St. Louis Cardinals where he would lead the league in hits with 211 in 1964 and be a frequent member of the National League All-Star team. Flood retired in 1971 at only age 33... but having played in 15 Major League seasons... almost entirely for the St. Louis Cardinals. The 1956 Hi-Toms featured several other excellent players including Bill Ford (34 2B, 21 HR, .278), former All-Star Cincinnati Reds 1B Bert Haas meanwhile played throughout the season while taking over as the manager as well (11 2B, 11 HR, .326). On the mound, the Hi-Toms tradition of terrific pitching continued as the Hi-Toms featured future 14 year MLB veteran of the Cardinals, Athletics, Reds and Tigers, Orlando Pena who went 19-12 with a stellar 2.42 ERA. The now 40 year old Woody Rich returned for his 3rd season and went 17-12 with a 2.93 ERA, and the star pitcher... (would you believe we haven't gotten to the star pitcher yet?)... was Jack Taylor who put out an outstanding record of 22-11 with a 2.46 ERA. Not surprisingly the Hi-Toms finished with the best record in the Carolina League... for the 2nd year in a row... going 91-63 (their highest win total yet, though they were playing a lot more games then they were in the NCSL. WIth all that talent, many thought a 5th championship was going to come home to Finch Field. With perhaps the biggest upset in the Minor Leagues, the High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms lost in the 1st round.