Alfred G. Wheelock

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Alfred Green Wheelock (born May 14, 1912 in Johnson City, Tennessee), was the son of Sam Wheelock and Carrie Ledford, local store merchants. Alfred married Juanita Rosenbaum and later married Lorena Barnes. Alfred's young life involved running corn liquor in the hills of East Tennessee where he and his brothers met Al Capone sometime between 1928 and 1931. The moonshine business was booming and all trains on the east coast ran through Little Chicago. Johnson City was a meeting place for many mob bosses to do business because it was a halfway point from Chicago to Miami and is believed the nickname Little Chigago was given by the mobsters. During this time, Alfred, and his brothers Don and Sam (Bruce), were invited into the world of organized crime running corn liquor, brothels and private road houses. It was handed down from Alfred to family members that Al Capone wanted Alfred and brothers to start dealing drugs Reefer Madness in the area of East Tennessee and Alfred declined to do so. Because of this, it is believed* by the brothers that some of Al Capone's men had Alfred and Bruce framed for larceny and armed robbery. Alfred and Bruce did 4 years in the Brushy Mountain State penitentiary in Tennessee. Alfred was also charged with possession and sale of corn whiskey.[1]

Baseball Player

Alfred was a Baseball player pitching for the Minors Appalachian League for Kingsport Cherokees in 1941 and 1949 Elizabethton Betsy Alfred also played a season with the Newport Tennessee Yankees . Alfred played baseball in the East Tennessee area for about 15 years at Soldier's Home and various other community teams. In 1950 Alfred played for Knob Creek from Johnson City, pitching the team into the championship playoff in the community league with a 17 and 1 record for the season.[2]

Boxing

January 31, 1954 Upper East Tennessee Golden Gloves bouts are history, but the drama and excitement of the three nights that saw some 3,500 fans to crowd into the Park and Recreation building to see the bouts will live on for many moon. The final night was one of packed tension with some fireworks that weren't even on the 25-cent program put out by the sponsors. But the sum total of it all was that the best golden gloves program ever staged in upper East Tennessee was chalked off precision-like by Tourney director Howard Johnson and commissioner William A. (Bill) Pike of Elizabethton. The fun was increasing in intensity over the first two nights that also produced quick action. When balding 41-year-old Alfred Wheelock, entered the ring, for the final bout on the golden gloves card, some of the doubters shook their heads. When it was over the same crowd was admitting: "life begins at 40" Wheelock who hadn't fought in over 15 years put on an amazing display of fisticuffs that gave Elizabethton's own Billy Ray Morris Plenty of trouble. His classic remark was that one of Morris' blows "shook my toe nails" will go down in Golden Gloves history as the remark of a sturdy fighter who knew what he could do at 41 and acknowledged readily what a much younger fighter could do. Alfred lost the bout by a split decision.[3]

Inventor of new devices in baseball training

During 1950 Alfred G Wheelock invented the Baseball Suspended Tension Backstop and Batting Training Cage tension Structure. Wheelock first used his idea of the training and pitching cage in 1951 at Harmony in the community league, but without the tension principle. The Baseball Suspended Tension Backstop was finished in the summer of 1956. The principle involved has the structure constructed in such a way that the net does not come in direct contact with the frame at any point, thereby absorbing the shock of a deflected ball and giving a safety feature against injury from a rebounding foul. Besides the added safety feature, the backstop and net are more durable because of the principle used. In 1957 Wheelock designed a custom Baseball Suspended Tension Backstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Specific qualifications for Brooklyn included a roll-down dome structure of the top to fit in Ebbets Field because the Dodgers' storage space was under the stands. To comply with the needs of the New York Yankees, the structure was built with wings and collapsible back with two doors to enter near the back. At Brooklyn, terms were negotiated with the team's purchasing agent Matt Burns. 1957 Wheelock traveled to Vero Beach, Florida, to the Dodgers training camp and confirmed the deal with Brooklyn. This design is now being used all over the world in little league, high schools, colleges and professional baseball stadiums.[no citations needed here] The Baseball Suspended Tension Backstop was also installed free of charge at Milligan College and East Tennessee State University.[4]

Hitrite Batting Ranges

Hitrite Batting Ranges and Cages was located at 831 West Main Street Johnson City, Tennessee, it was the most modern, safest and most efficient equipment made for commercial amusement, community recreation fields, schools, colleges and professional baseball clubs. The facility was open to the public for recreational and training during the late 60s and early 70s. Many young ball players with dreams of playing for the minors and majors trained at this facility that was one of a kind during those days.

Baseball Coach

During the late 60s and mid 70s, Alfred coached many little league and Babe Bruth players in the Johnson City Area. The teams during that time were Optimus Jr. Babe Bruth and USA Bank Little League. Alfred also coached famed University of Tennessee Basketball Player Gary Carter. Alfred had a family of Baseball players he can be attributed to handing down his knowledge of the game. Son's Gary Wheelock, Arlin Wheelock, Ross Wheelock, Roscoe Wheelock, sons-in-law McArthur Blevins and Boyed Dowell that he landed a tryout for San Francisco Giants, and grandson's Steve and Scott Blevins. Alfred would coach baseball to anyone, anytime, day or night if you asked him for his help. The game was his true love and passion.

Alfred G. Wheelock Died of Cancer March 3, 1979 in Johnson City, Tennessee.

References

  1. Lendt, Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary 1940 Census and Wheelock family Information
  2. Lendt, Baseball Reference
  3. Lendt, [1]'
  4. Lendt, Johnson City Press March 10, 1957, p. 5.