Woody Abernathy (minors01)

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Thomas Woodley Abernathy

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Woody Abernathy was an outfielder who spent 13 seasons in the minor leagues, from 1928 to 1940. He hit 210 home runs in his career, with as many as 42 in a season.

Abernathy first played for the Vicksburg Hill Billies in 1928, hitting .358 with only two home runs in 135 games. He did, however, hit a career-high 16 triples that season, second in the Cotton States League behind Mike Powers. He only struck out 11 times in 472 AB. The following year, with the Montgomery Lions, Abernathy hit .339 with 30 doubles, 13 triples and only three home runs. He was sixth in the Southeastern League in average and tied for third in triples. He had 19 outfield assists and just four errors. In 1930, he again hit .339 with the Lions, adding 22 doubles, 11 triples and four home runs to his statistics. He was named a SEL All-Star, finishing second to Rip Radcliff in batting average.

From 1931 to 1933, Abernathy played for the Birmingham Barons. In his first year with the team, he hit .311 with 10 home runs in 118 games, collecting 12 triples as well. He was 7th in the Southern Association in homers - all the players with more would spend time in the majors during their careers. In 1932, he hit .320 with eight home runs in 78 games and in 1933 he hit .322 with 10 home runs, 12 triples, 35 doubles and a career-high 186 hits in 150 games. He tied for 10th in the SA in two-baggers.

He then played with the Baltimore Orioles from 1934 to 1937, and it is with them that his power stroke met with friendly confines of a home park to produce higher home run totals. In his first year with the team, he hit .309 with 32 home runs in 151, hitting nine triples as well. He led the International League in both homers (one ahead of IL slugging star Ollie Carnegie) and RBI (120) and was sixth in slugging, right behind Johnny Mize. In 1935, he hit .276 with 31 home runs (third in the IL behind George Puccinelli and Carnegie). and in 1936 he hit .309 with 42 home runs - a career high. He led the IL with 132 runs scored, was third in slugging (.590, behind Phil Weintraub and Beauty McGowan) and easily led in homers, 18 ahead of Ab Wright. Every other player in the league's top 20 in home runs (numbers 2 through 19) made the majors at one point. He hit .284 with 21 home runs in his final year with the team. He tied George McQuinn, Carnegie and Les Powers for 5th in the IL in long balls.

In 1938, he played with the Buffalo Bisons, hitting .323 with 21 home runs, fourth in the IL behind Carnegie, Charlie Keller and Bob Seeds. On August 5, he was beaned in the head by a pitch from Johnny Gee and suffered a skull fracture, ending his season and threatening his life. He remained in the hospital for several weeks but eventually made a full recovery. A benefit game was held for him in Buffalo on August 22, raising $4,000 for his medical bills. He was released by the Bisons in the offseason and signed with the Knoxville Smokies in 1939, hitting .332 with 16 home runs. Every SA player with a higher average spent time in the big leagues. He tied Bud Hafey for 6th in the league in homers. In his final season, 1940, he played for the St. Paul Saints and Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .281 with 10 home runs.

Overall, he hit .315 with 210 home runs, 345 doubles and 106 triples in his 13-year minor league career. In 1,713 games, he collected 1,997 hits and slugged .502.