Ned Waldrop was the
greatest hitter in Kitty League history. While he was a home
run threat, he was by no means a free swinger. He was a
powerful line drive hitter who consistently batted over .300
and drove in over 100 runs a season.
Waldrop's career in the
Kitty League began on June 17, 1949 with an 0-for-3 debut
against the Madisonville Miners. It concluded seven years
later after setting career records with 719 games played,
110 home runs and 727 runs batted in from 1949 to 1955.
Big Ned came close to
capturing the league's Triple Crown in 1950 and 1954, but
his batting average fell short both seasons. Nevertheless,
the six-foot-three first baseman led the Fulton
Railroaders/Lookouts to a record three consecutive Kitty
League pennants from 1951 to 1953. His best season was 1954
as he batted a career-high .380, led the circuit with 22
home runs and broke the season-season RBI record with 159
held by Bowling Green Barons first sacker Ellis
"Mike" Powers. He won the first--and only--Most
Valuable Player award in the league that season.
Waldrop set a league
record with 12 consecutive hits in three games June 7-8,
1952. After getting a hit in his last at-bat during the
first game of a June 7 doubleheader, he went 6-for-6 in the
second game (a single, four doubles and a triple). The next
day he was a perfect 5-for-5 (all singles). Those dozen hits
raised his batting average from .297 to .353!
His professional career
began as a right-handed pitcher at Springfield, Mass. in the
Class AA Eastern League in 1943. Two years later, he pulled
a tendon in his back while pitching for the Atlanta Crackers,
an injury that forced him to give up pitching.
It wasn't until 1948 that
he returned to the professional ranks as an outfielder at
Forest City, N.C. in the Western Carolina League. After
starting the 1949 season with the Washington Senators'
Charlotte, N.C. farm club in the Tri-State League, the
Senators sent him to their Fulton club in the Kitty League.
Waldrop began the 1955
season as manager of the Fulton Lookouts. But a few weeks
later, the club had a losing record and there were rumors
that his former skipper Sam Lamitina would take his place.
Rather than wait for the axe to fall, he resigned and left
He returned shortly
thereafter as a player, but he left once and for all four
days later. He fielded his position for the first half of
the first inning, then walked off the field after three outs
were made. He was given his release the following morning.