Edwin C. “Alabama” Pitts (1909 – 1941)

Alabama Pitts
 
Probably one of the most unusual stories to come from Hank Utley’s research is the story of Edwin C. Pitts (1909 - 1943), known to his fans as “Alabama” Pitts. Born in Opelika, Alabama, Pitts joined the Navy at 15. Four years later, Pitts, like so many young men at that time, struggled to find work. Arrested and convicted for a holdup at a grocery store landed Pitts in Sing Sing Prison.  Fortunately, for the nineteen year old Pitts,  Warden Lewis E. Lawes had introduced athletic programs inside the prison as a form of rehabilitation. Upon his release, Pitts became one of the prison’s success stories, but his prison record prevented him from playing in the professional leagues and almost kept him out of the minors when he signed with the Albany Senators in New York as a center-fielder. International League President Charles H. Knapp refused to approve the signing. Judge William G. Bramham, president of the minors' governing body of the NAPBL endorsed Knapp's decision. However, public sentiment for Pitts won out and eventually Pitts was allowed to play in Albany. 
Hampered by injuries, Pitts left Albany to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. After a short season, Pitts turned to pro-football and played with several teams and even dabbled in pro basketball before making his way to the ICBL "Outlaw" League in North Carolina, where he enjoyed a great season in 1936 with the Charlotte Hornets then later with the Gastonia Spinners (1937) and the Valdese Textiles (1938). Although Pitts settled down in Valdese with his second wife, started a family, and even coached at the local high school, Pitts went back to baseball. While on the road with the Valdese team, tragedy befell Pitts again in 1941. He was killed in a Valdese tavern, when he tried to cut in on a couple dancing. He was only thirty-one.
(Sources: Clark, Michael, "The Sad Tale of Alabama Pitts", from http://philadelphiaathletics.org) [Viewed on 25 May 2012]