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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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Characters in the history of the Knights

Posted 04-23-2009 at 04:07 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 04-25-2009 at 09:29 AM by TommyJohn

Some of the characters I created to fill the roster of the New Orleans Knights from 1892-present

Jeremiah Thomas Brennan II-team founder and first owner. A rigid segregationist whose old world ways were mourned upon his passing in 1950, just as his son was integrating the Knights.

Jeremiah Thomas Brennan III-son of the founder; World War I veteran (Army-First Cavalry); ex-minor league catcher; team GM and owner from 1950-70s. He integrated the team despite rigid, raging opposition; built pennant winners in the 1950s. Called the "Grand Old Man" of Knights baseball.

James Timothy O'Reilly-one of the team's first stars in the 1890s; a large, loud, barrel-chested pitcher who loved baseball, life and whiskey with equal zest. Got into more than one scrap with his equally hard-headed boss-owner/manager Brennan II.

Gerald James "Buddy" Lewis-slugging first baseman and star of the 1930s and 40s. Socked over 500 home runs in his career, which was spent on mostly mediocre teams. A huge fan favorite.

Robert Delmar "Bucky" Rivers-large (6'5", 235 lb) catcher who turned down a full-boat football scholarship offer from Ole Miss to sign with the Knights at age 18. Played one season before he was pressured by the press into enlisting in the Army during World War II. Played for the team in the 40s and 50s. Called the best catcher in team history, known as the "285 man" for his symmetrical 285 home runs and .285 batting average. However, an extremely controversial remark in opposition to Jackie Robinson has thus far kept him out of the Hall of Fame, much to his everlasting bitterness.

Daniel Edward Walsh Nichols-born and raised on the south side of Chicago to an Irish immigrant (revised from Russian, which he was when I created him) pitcher-turned- saloonkeeper. Raised a White Sox fan, was a star pitcher on the Knights from 1927-42; enlisted after the 1942 season and served for the duration of the war. Retired after discharge, later managed team in 1960s. Born on October 11, 1906, the same day that Ed Walsh of the White Sox shut out the Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series. His Sox fan father named his first son after his favorite player.

Albert Earthell Montgomery-the first black player in team history, breaking the color barrier in 1950 amidst heated opposition. Before that attended Morehouse College and served in the Army as one of the "Tuskegee Airmen" corps of bomber escorts. Was a baseball player in college. He accepted an offer to play for the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs in order to pay his law school tuition. The Knights discovered him and made him an offer which he initially refused. Went on to play with them for 12 seasons, faced the same virulent racial hatred that Jackie Robinson had faced, and also bore it stoically. Became a lawyer and politician upon retirement. Elected to Congress to represent his home district in Atlanta, Georgia. Served from January to June, 1975. Was conducting an interview with Ebony Magazine on July 3, 1975 when he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Daniel "Danny" Wilson-second black Knight and first black pitcher; debuting on July 4, 1950 before a packed Brennan Park. Started life as one of five children, had to go to work at age 11 after his father died. Signed with Birmingham Black Barons at age 17, was drafted into Army but got deferred until 1945. He was in basic training when war ended. The complete opposite of the erudite, educated Montgomery; Wilson had only a 6th grade education and spoke in a thick southern accent and had a loud sense of humor. These traits endeared him to the white press, who would always turn to him for snappy quotes and funny stories, much to the consternation of Montgomery. Pitched from 1950-59 before a deranged woman who claimed to be a jilted lover shot him. Came back in 1961 but wasn't the same, retired in 1962 after one year with expansion Mets. Became a pitching coach and was later hired by Brennan to be Knights manager-the first black manager in NL history. Didn't last long. Tireless campaign by Times-Picayune reporter finally got him elected to Hall of Fame.

I'll post more later.

Spiro Theodore Agnoupolos-Career minor league player-manager in the Pirates system before being hired to manage the Knights at the tail end of the 1971 season, in which they finished 54-108. Agnoupolos infused the team with new blood and a bold attitude. New young players led to a resurgent 73-80 record. The next year he talked superstar Johnny Bassett-whom he had managed and mentored in the minor leagues-into joining the team after Bassett threatened to quit after being traded to them. Bassett crushed the ball on his way to an MVP season and the Knights finished 89-73. That is as high as the team would get during that era, as the next year injuries would begin to blow apart the promise of the team. Bassett injured himself that year and was accused of indifferent play once the Knights fell far behind. 1975 saw them fall back again, and Bassett would quit after the season. In 1976 a ragtag group put together by the near-broke Brennan lost 97 games. Agnoupolos sensed the situation would get no better and resigned at the end of the season. His tenure left behind mixed reviews-some say he was a talented manager who didn't have the players to win, others said he coddled Bassett to the detriment of the team. He went on to manage two more teams in the big leagues before becoming a General Manager. He retired in 2000.

John Albert Bassett "Johnny the Brat"-gifted athlete and superstar slugger who came to the Knights in 1973 and very nearly led them to a surprise division title en route to being voted NL MVP. The following season they were picked by many to win it all, but Bassett injured himself in midseason. When he came back in late August, the Knights were mired in the second division and several sportswriters accused him of not caring. Bassett had one last season with the Knights and put up great numbers for a losing team. He quit at the end of the season but would come back the next year. He was the son of a career minor leaguer who was almost psychotically determined to turn Bassett and his brother Allen into the major leaguers he had never been. John made it, but Allen was a career minor leaguer. John was a rebellious free spirit tuned into the times. He grew his hair long, experimented with drugs and eagerly pursued the hippie lifestyle. He broke in with the Pirates and had two cup of coffee trials before they traded him to the Cardinals, convinced he would never be a solid ML player with his attitude. Became a superstar in St. Louis. Earned the nickname "Johnny the Brat" because of the temper tantrums he sometimes threw and his overall defiance of authority. His hippie ways and defiance of the baseball establishment made him a counterculture folk hero and drove the brass crazy. Spent five tumultuous years in St. Louis and one apiece in Houston and San Francisco before being traded to the Knights. His career ended with two flat years back in St. Louis. He disappeared into San Francisco once his career was over. Suffered a near-fatal heart attack on April 4, 1986 and was bedridden for months. Slowly got back in touch with his estranged family. Now lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the city in which he grew up.
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