A Local Baseball Hero
By JOE HOLLEY
This story appeared in the Daily Mountain Eagle in July 2005
Ivy Paul Andrews was born in Dora on May 6, 1908, to J.T. and Paralee Andrews. He grew up playing baseball and other sports with his talented brothers and developed into, possibly, the greatest athlete ever produced in Walker County. He became one of only five Walker Countians to play major league baseball.
As an eighth-grader, he led the Dora High School basketball team to a state tournament appearance and, later, two trips to the Cotton States Tournament which was a meeting of high school teams from throughout the Southeastern United States. One season, Dora had no basketball coach so Andrews also coached the team while starring at the center position. He and Earl Washington were outstanding pitchers for the Bulldog baseball team and legend has it that, over a four-year span, neither lost a high school game. In 1925, Dora High began its football program and Andrews scored the first Bulldog touchdown on a 50-yard run from scrimmage against the Cordova Blue Devils.
Throughout high school, Andrews hoped to earn a college athletic scholarship to study medicine. However, that goal succumbed to the lure of the baseball diamond. During that era, a good athlete, and especially a good pitcher could earn a decent living playing for a mill or mine team and Andrews became a part of that world. He pitched for Sloss Mine of Dora, Empire DeBartlabon, Pratt Fuel of Dora and Bessie Mine.
In 1927 while pitching for Jim Daly’s Empire team, he squared off against his old high school mate, Earl Washington, who was the ace of Bill Cooksey’s Dora Pratt Fuel Team
In the 2-1 Andrews victory, Washington tripled twice and was stranded on third each time. That game attained legendary status and any baseball-loving Walker Countians who was alive at the time contended that he saw the contest.
Andrews' semi-pro pitching prowess was soon noticed and he was signed by professional scout Pop Shaw to a Mobile contract. He was optioned to Meridian, Miss., and had an outstanding rookie season posting an 18-10 record.
He successfully started the 1929 season with Mobile and soon caught the attention of the New York Yankees. In late July, the Yankees purchased his contract for a reported $25,000 and optioned him to Albany, N.Y., where he completed the year with a blazing 9-1 record.
Over the next two seasons, Andrews honed his pitching skills in the high minor leagues with stops in Oakland, Birmingham, and Jersey City. In late 1931, the Yankees recalled Andrews and he posted his first major league victory on September 3rd against the Boston Red Sox. In that win, Babe Ruth hit his 38th home run of the year. He opened the 1932 season with the Bronx Bombers and pitched very well until he was afflicted with attacks of influenza and lumbago, which restricted his participation for several weeks. In mid-season, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he finished the season with a very credible 10-7 record.
Over the next 4 1/2 years, he toiled with Boston, St. Louis and Cleveland and his performance was decent considering that he was with the least talented teams in the American League.
His best single season record was 13 wins and 7 losses with the lowly St. Louis Browns in 1935. He was reputed to have one of the finest curve balls in the Big Show.
While with Cleveland in 1937, he pitched a beautiful shutout victory against his old Yankee teammates, who were struggling at the time. .Based on that great performance, New York reacquired Andrews, to bolster their pitching staff during their successful drive for the American League pennant. In the fourth game of the ensuing World Series against the New York Giants, Andrews tossed 5 2/3 excellent innings in relief of starter Bump Hadley. The Yankees won the fall classic and Andrews had his coveted world championship ring.
He was a member of another world championship squad in 1938 and had the lowest earned run average in the American League. However, recurring injuries limited his playing time. In 1991, Andrews appeared in the HBO baseball classic documentary, "When It Was a Game," which included film footage of the 1938 Cubs-Yankee World Series. It was the first World Series color images ever recorded.
In 1939, the Yankees, hoping for his recovery, optioned him to their top farm team at Jersey City.
He never again pitched with his previous proficiency, although he continued his pro career until 1945 with stops at Hollywood, Kansas City, Montgomery, Knoxville, Greenville, S.C., Waterloo, Iowa, and Mobile. In 1946, he served as the first pitching coach in the history of the Birmingham Barons and, briefly, served as the team's manager. He retired from the game the following year.
Andrews was particularly noted for his love of sports, his hometown, his alma mater and his beloved "Madam Queen." In 1934, he married Josephine Gwin, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. P.E. Gwin of Sumiton. (The wedding was reported on the sports page of the New York Herald)
Mrs. Andrews was also an ardent sports fan and, for more than 60 years, the Gwins and/or the Andrews had box seats behind the Baron dugout at Rickwood Field and, later, at the Hoover Met. During his baseball off seasons, Andrews played for and coached the Summit Coal Company entry in the Birmingham YMCA Basketball League and coached a youth basketball team known as the Dora Rinky Dinks. Because of the manpower shortage during World War II, Dora High School found it impossible to hire coaches through normal education channels. To solve the dilemma, Andrews coached the Bulldog football and basketball teams in 1943 and 1944. He was also a longtime football and basketball official.
No matter where he played, he was a walking chamber of commerce for Dora, which he often referred to as "Horse Creek." His folksy references to his hometown invariably made their way into local newspapers. He was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "If you live more than 50 miles from Dora, you must be camping out."
Mrs. Andrews was an extremely popular history teacher at Dora High School. She founded the school's Beta Club chapter in 1938 and, later, began the very popular Miss Dora High School Pageant.
She also directed hundreds of weddings. Ivy Paul actively supported her endeavors and is fondly remembered by thousands of former Walker County students as a gregarious chaperone at State Beta Club conventions. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews often attended the World Series when the Yankees participated.
Andrews played with some of the greatest players in baseball history. He was friends with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Dizzy Dean and Joe DiMaggio. The couple was friends of Bear Bryant and Shug Jordan, as well as many show business and political personalities.
When dining in a Birmingham restaurant, they seemed to know every other patron. When Andrews was nominated for entry into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the normally aloof Joe DiMaggio penned a very eloquent letter of support.
Andrews died on Nov. 24, 1970, and is interred in the Shanghai Cemetery. Several of his greatest honors came after his death. In 1979, the baseball field at Dora Municipal Park was named in his honor, and, in 1985, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, an honor received by only two Walker County residents.
His wife died in 1994.
Letters from the Stars that Played with Ivy Paul Andrews
Joe DiMaggio: Andrews part of 'backbone' in bullpen
Joe DiMaggio's two-page nomination letter for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame was handwritten in cursive writing. The letterhead simply said, "Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco, Cal. 94123." The letter is on view at the Hall of Fame in Birmingham.
July 26, 1980
Robert Veitch, Executive Director
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 414
I am writing this letter on behalf of the late Paul Andrews, a team mate of mine (and also a roommate) on the Yankee roster in 1937, 1938 seasons.
Paul Andrews and Johnny Murphy were the backbone of our bullpen and helped us considerably in our drive to the pennant and to ultimate victories in the 1937-1938 World Series.
I remember Paul as a quiet, soft spoken affable man. But, inside that quiet reserve, he had a fiery competitive spirit that made him such a valuable asset to the Yankees that it was easy for him to fit into our teams of that era.
I think it would be a wonderful addition to the Alabama Hall of Fame, along with your .excellent selections of Dixie Walker, Ben Chapman, Sam Byrd, Joe Sewell, etc.
Thank you for the
Bill Dickey, Yankee Catcher
I am writing this letter to recommend Ivy Paul Andrews for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Paul made himself a fine pitcher with hard work and determination. He was aggressive, a gentleman and an asset to every club he was with. I hope you will consider him for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Sincerely, Bill Dickey
Remembering Paul Andrews
The following came from parts of a nomination letter from Glenn C. Gant of Dora:
...I knew Paul Andrews personally for 20 years, and I watched his baseball career even before I knew him. After I came to Dora, Alabama, as principal of the high school, Mr. Andrews had completed nine years in the Major League and three years in the Yankee Organization in Newark, N.J., Hollywood, California, and Kansas City, Missouri.
Paul Andrews was available when any of his baseball friends needed him to finish out the season for him -in the Southern League and once in the "Three-I League" with Waterloo, Iowa, where he won 10 and lost 0 from July 4th to the end of the season.
In the Southern League one year he pitched for Knoxville - shutting out Atlanta twice in a week. He came to Birmingham and beat the Barons with 8 scattered hits and except for 3 unearned runs would have had a "shut out"....
Mr. Andrews coached a group of 15 year old boys in basketball. The team was called the "Dora Rinky dinks." This team played the Jr. Celtics and the Birmingham Boys' Club several times in preliminary games before the Boston Celtic Basketball games at the Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham.
He refereed many of Dora High School's home games and would not accept any pay. He gave freely of his time and talent to "sports" which was so great a part of his entire life.
In 1975, the Andrews Award was established in his memory at Dora High School. This award is given to a graduating senior who has participated in two or more sports and has maintained a 2.5 (or a 3.0 scale) grade average. The recipient is selected by the coaches, the principal, seniors, and the cheerleader sponsor....
The following came from parts of a nomination letter from Arthur Lee Taylor of Dora:
It was while he was attending Dora High School that Ivy Paul Andrews began to draw attention to himself as an athlete...He often played against Ben Chapman, Sam Byrd and Dixie Walker either in high school or in the semi-pro league....
While with a group of industrial leaguers in Birmingham, Alabama, ivy Paul signed with Selma in 1927. Then in 1928, "Pop" Shaw of the Mobile Club of the Southern Association opened the door of organized baseball for him. He was farmed out to Meridian in the Cotton State League where he established a mark of 18 victories against 12 defeats to be declared the most valuable player on his club that season.
In the trade of Danny Mac Fayden the New York Club sent him to the Boston Red Sox in 1932 and he won ten and lost seven for the two clubs that year. It was while with the Red Sox that he struck out Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons and Jimmy Fox in rapid succession when all three of them were with the Philadelphia Athletics.
The year 1933 found Ivy Paul with the St. Louis Browns. The St. Louis manager, Rogers Hornsby, stated that "after getting Ivy Andrews from Boston, 'Poison Ivy" developed a screw ball and that this made him a great pitcher." His best year with the St. Louis Club was 1935 when he won 13 and lost 5 for the last place club and was noted to the American League "honor list" that year when the members of the Baseball Writers committee chose Hank Greenberg as the most valuable player....
The Sept. 28, 1937, issue of the New York World Telegram quoted Yankee manager Joe McCarthy as saying that Andrews had a greater variety of stuff than any pitcher in
Baseball. "Gomez, Ruffing and Person have the old fast one," (McCarthy said.) “Then along comes Andy they'll break their backs."
....In the major league, Andrews pitched in 253 games and had a 50-59 record in wins and losses.
Russell D. Upton of Dora commented about Andrew's record in his nation letter.
His record of 50 games won and 59 games lost does not do him justice when you take into consideration that two of those years (1937 and 1939 were spent in relief roles and at a time when records kept did not indicate the number of games saved at a time when relief pitchers not given their due recognition.
A November 1984 story by Sue Darby of The Community News was written in advance of his induction the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
...One story written in 1937 by Gordon Cobbledick related a shut-out of the Yankees by Andrews while he playing for the Cleveland Indians.
"They sent the blond and portly Andrews out there yesterday to do the best he could. It was pretty hopeless anyhow, because that Goofy Gomez was pitching for the Yankees.
"And Ivy Andrews did the best could, which consisted of shutting out the world's champions with four widely scattered hits, while the Indian) kicked El Gomez around for ten in a 4-0-0 victory that gave them a clean sweep of the two-game series."
Andrews found himself back with the Yankees soon after the shut-out.
Another writer described Andrews pitching style prior to the 1937 World Series: "Paul dotes on slow stuff and freak deliveries.
He has greater variety of stuff than any pitcher in baseball. Throw screwballs, sinkers, sailors, knucklers, has a snapping curve, a humming fast ball, control and savvy. He drives batters crazy with a meat ball they can't carve. Never saw a Series game, even from the bench. Says if he can't play in the big games, he doesn't want to watch them."
...His wife, who has covered the walls of her home with photos and memorabilia of Andrews career, will be at the induction ceremonies and will accept the award for him.
"I think he would be proud, but not nearly as excited as I am," she said when asked what her late husband would have thought of the honor. "He always said he wasn't a star player, but that he played with the stars."
Then-Eagle Sports Editor Dennis Sherer visited Mrs. Andrews' Dora home about .the time of the 1985 induction. In a Feb. 13,1985, column, he talked about visiting her vast collection, some of which made its way to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame for display there.
...The wall in the Andrews home is covered in photos of baseball heroes such as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, just to name a few, along with countless other photos which are true classics.
Mrs. Andrews has a collection of baseballs ranging from one thrown by her husband in 1937 on the New York Yankees' trail to the World Series to one bearing the signatures of legends of the game, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron....
The scrapbooks include photos of the 1928 Selma baseball team, a Class D team, where Andrews' went in 1927 after graduating from Dora High School in 1926.
A caption with the Selma team photo tells of how Andrews worked out with Shug Jordan, who was a senior in high school at the Selma YMCA....