James Walter Matthews
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 200 lb.
Jim Matthews was a minor league baseball outfielder who played from 1939 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1955.
He began his career in 1939, playing for the Union City Greyhounds (44 games), Hamilton Red Wings (35 games) and New Iberia Cardinals (three games), hitting a combined .286 with eight home runs in 82 games. The next year, he played for the Cooleemee Cards (35 games), Kilgore Boomers (48 games) and Pine Bluff Judges (18 games), hitting a combined .281 with 12 home runs in 101 games. He struggled with New Iberia and the Beaumont Exporters in 1941, hitting only .228 with six home runs in 125 games combined. In 1942 he fared even worse, hitting only .201 with 10 home runs for the Winston-Salem Twins (85 games) and Exporters (five games). With the Knoxville Smokies in 1943 he rebounded a bit, upping his average to .265 while hitting 12 home runs in 132 games. It was his longest taste of AA; he would spend the rest of his career at lower levels.
Due to World War II, Matthews did not play from 1944 to 1945. He returned to professional baseball in 1946 and would spend the most of the rest of his professional career in the high-offense Big State League and West Texas-New Mexico League. He mostly played for the Abilene Blue Sox of the WTNML (though he spent 18 games with the Mobile Bears as well), hitting .288 with 32 home runs in 129 games. With the Wichita Falls Spudders of the Big State League in 1947, he hit .342 with 40 home runs in 152 games. In 1948, Matthews played for the Big State League's Texarkana Bears, as well as the Tulsa Oilers, San Antonio Missions, Dallas Eagles and Little Rock Travelers, hitting a combined .281 with 15 home runs in 119 games.
He spent 1949 to 1951 with Texarkana. In 1949, Matthews hit .282 with 18 home runs in 139 games. The following year, he hit .243 with 14 home runs in 98 games, and in 1951 he hit .278 with 31 home runs in 145 games. He moved on to the Clovis Pioneers of the WTNML in 1952, hitting .320 with 39 home runs in 134 games. With the WTNML Amarillo Gold Sox in 1953, Matthews had career-highs in batting average, home runs, doubles and hits, posting a .393 clip with 50 home runs, 35 doubles and 186 hits. He also managed the team that year, leading them to a 71-71 record. He also led the league in homers (by 2) in the high-flying circuit. His 162 runs in 139 games were 3rd, while he ranked 5th with 152 RBI. He was 5th in average and first with 131 walks. His batting average dropped 145 points in 1954 as he batted only .248 with 20 home runs for Abilene, the Galveston White Caps and the Bryan Indians/Del Rio Indians. After hitting only .222 in four games with the Port Arthur Sea Hawks in 1955, his career was over.
Overall, Matthews hit .286 with 307 home runs and 306 doubles in 1,708 games over a 15-year career. In 5,895 at-bats, he had 1,684 hits.