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Tennessee Tomahawks

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The first professional baseball team based in Winchester, TN, the Tennessee Tomahawks were a top club in the 1996 Big South League. They were 22-12 in the first half before a 18-18 second half. Managed by Mike O'Berry, they fell 2 games to 1 in the playoffs to the Columbia Mules. They led in attendance with 57,086 fans. All-Stars were SS Jeff Michael and P John Dopson (6-5, 2.95, the league leader in ERA and strikeouts {99}). Mike Felder's .338 average led the club.

They then joined the Heartland League in 1997 and won the first half in the southern division at 22-14. That was merely the prelude to a 33-1 second half. In the playoffs, though, they fell in the first round, dropping 2 of 3 to the Columbia Mules. They led the league in attendance (51,106) and were managed by Jeff Gamble.

Jason Baker (.333) and Jeff Michael (.333) tied for the run lead (58) while Baker led the league with six triples. Alonzo Mendoza (.282) drove in 60, the most and Curtis Underwood (.258) had a HL-high 15 homers. The staff included ERA leader Dopson (10-2, 1.78), Jamie Sepeda (10-4, 2.39), win leader George Mianowski (11-1, 2.70) and strikeout leader John Oestreich (9-4, 2.88, 120 K in 100 IP).

In 1998, the Tomahawks won the first half (24-11, a half-game ahead of the Cook County Cheetahs) and the second half (19-10). The league still had a playoff and the Tomahawks lost 2 games to 0 to Cook County. They again led in attendance (39,356). Managed by Mike O'Berry, they had 4 All-Stars - 1B Underwood (.299, .424 SLG), 3B Doyle Preston (.314), OF Baker (a league-leading .349 with 49 R, 18 SB) and reliever Michael Danley. Dopson went 8-1 with a 2.85 ERA in another fine year. The league folded after the season as Tennessee was one of just two teams to draw 1,000 fans per game.

Sources: 1997-1999 Baseball Almanacs

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