The Reds said goodbye to Finch Field for the 1957 season. They would be replaced by a new affiliaton as the Philadelphia Phillies moved out of Wilson North Carolina's Fleming Stadium and into the Finch. The Hi-Toms were hoping that the Phillies could somehow maintain the talent level to keep the Hi-Toms on top of their game, and as the new talent rolled in... it was as impressive as always. Fred Van Dusen was all of 19 years old when he strolled out to Finch Field. Van Dusen was the Phillies' hottest prospect and he certainly lived up to his reputation, as he
hit 15 doubles, 5 triples, 25 homers and batted .310 bringing home to Finch Field for the 3rd season in a row... the Carolina League MVP. Bill Ford returned as well and hit 25 2B, 20 HR and batted .290 while Phillies SS John Kennedy hit 26 doubles, 19 HRs and batted .270. Eddie Logan also contributed hitting 31 doubles, 7 triples, 11 homers and batting .327. The rotation was solid featuring future Mets and Phillies star Manager Dallas Green who went 12-9 with a 4.02 ERA, Arthur Hirst who went 17-7 with a 3.50 ERA, future Philly Ed Keegan who went 3-2 with a 2.20 ERA, Robert Milo who went 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA, Jerry Kettle who went 11-4 with a 3.74 and future Philadelphia Phillies All-Star pitcher Art Mahaffey who went 3-4 with a 5.62 ERA. While it wasn't their dominating 1st place finish that they've become accustomed to... they were certainly impressive finishing 2nd with a 79-61 record. The Hi-Toms were ready to forge ahead in the post season and fought their way to the Championship series where they woud meet the Durham Bulls. Another great season would quickly come to an end as the Bulls held strong to take away the Hi-Toms title hopes yet again. Luckily the Hi-Toms were as hot as any team in the Minors and 1958 held the same quality of talent as the season before. Future Phillies LF Tony Curry hit 31 doubles, 9 triples, 20 HRs and batted .293. Steady Bill Ford returned to hit .260 with 26 doubles and 15 homers and future Phillies catcher Al Kenders hit 15 doubles and 5 homers while batting .264. The big hitting star would be future Phillies' Jacke Davis who hit 21 doubles and 25 homers while batting .302. While it was certainly good enough to lead the team, it was just short of being good enough for MVP considerations. Still... the Hi-Toms were proud of having taking the MVP title home to Finch Field for 3 straight seasons. As usual, the pitching was as good as ever... Jack Taylor returned from to the Hi-Toms where he had his 22 win season to go 19-9 with a 3.07 ERA (amazing that this guy never made it to the Majors). Future MLB All-Star Art Mahaffey also returned for 7 games to go 5-1 with a 2.12 ERA. Future Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Gene Snyder would go 15-7 with a 2.76 ERA and future National League All-Star and 20 game winner Chris Short went 13-13 with a 2.63 ERA on his way to a 15 year loyal career with the Phillies as their #1 starter. The Hi-Toms were led for the 2nd year by future Philadelphia Manager Frank Lucchesi and finished with a 76-63 record... their 2nd straight 2nd place finish. For the 4th straight season (and the 9th time in 11 years) the Hi-Toms were the perennial team of the playoffs. When they lost in the first round, the awful news that nobody broke that made everyone's heart sink... the Philadelphia Phillies were pulling out of the Carolina League and the entire league would be contracting 2 teams to cut their roster down to 6. Sadly the two teams would be the former champion Danville Leafs and... the High Point-Thomasville High Toms. The Tar Heel League was now long gone and there was no place left to turn to. Without a place to play, vintage historic Finch Field would go dark. Unlike 1954 when the team disbanded only to be rescued by the Carolina League, that wouldn't be the case here. The Hi-Toms would remain inactive for 7 very long years. It wasn't until 1965 when the South Atlantic League (then known as the Western Carolinas League) signed the Hi-Toms to a Player Development Contract with the Minnesota Twins. The South Atlantic League is a Regular Season A league and is still very much in existance today. The new revamped Hi-Toms played simply as the Thomasville Hi-Toms without the "High Point" partnership. The team was a good team that relied mostly on its strong pitching. The rotation was led by Dick Sommer who put up a 14-9, 2.56 ERA. Sommer was followed by Dave Bryce (13-4, 2.84 ERA), Robert Calvert (12-8, 3.05), Gary Weldon (8-1, 2.74) and Larry Bohannon (3-2, 1.10). The tough pitching staff made up for the team's lack of hitting... only one player hit higher than .250 (.259) and featured no future Major Leaguers. Still... the pitching was good enough to get the team to 2nd place with a 73-52 record. In 1966, the Hi-Toms almost repeated that same number going 71-52 but this time finishing 3rd. Luis Lagunas made up for last season's lack of hitting by slamming a Hi-Toms record 35 home runs setting the all time record for Finch Field along with a .311 batting average. Bobbye Beckner also blasted 21 bombs. The pitching remained strong as Gene Melton went 13-8 with a 3.61 ERA. Bob Rommes went 12-6 with a 4.03 , James Merrick went 8-3 with a 2.97 and future Twins starter Dick Woodson went 6-5 with a 5.35 ERA.