Photographs Courtesy of Jim Reynolds
When the Tigers returned in 1940, Billy Johnson was now 21 and the future Yankees All-Star was hotter than ever. Putting up 34 2Bs, 20 3Bs and a .346 batting average, Johnson would tie the all time triples record held by Joe Mitchell. Amazingly, Billy wasn’t even the best player on the team. Future St. Louis Cardinals’ Art Rebel would pick up 200 hits including an all time Jenning Stadium record 47 2Bs, 19 3Bs, 7 HRs and a batting average of .348. (Bloomer Milner had previously held the doubles record at 42). Future Philadelphia A’s’ Ford Garrison was also excellent batting .333 with 31 2Bs and 10 3Bs. On the mound, James Davis would rise up to take over Leo Twardy’s wins record, going 23-9 with a 2.71 ERA. Unfortunately Davis didn’t get much help as Joseph Foran went 13-18, 3.80 practically negating any good that Davis had done. The rest of the rotation was right about .500. The Tigers finished with a 77-73 record and despite several heroics from some great players, the Tigers didn’t make the playoffs. The 1940 team would be the end of a short lived era. The Yankees pulled out of the Southern League and the Detroit Tigers returned to take back the Augusta franchise. If you’re thinking maybe things got a little better this second time around, think again. The Tigers fell to 10 games under .500 by 1941 and by 1941... they were in last place, 30 games under .500 finishing at 54-84. On the mound, the Augusta Tigers would find their 3rd future All-Star as the Yankees’ Joe Page would put up a 12-12, 4.39 record in 1941. At the plate meanwhile, 1941 would welcome future Yankees/Tigers manager Ralph Houk (11 2Bs, .271). After the 1942 season, the Southern (South Atlantic) League suspended operations for another 3 years… this time due to World War II.