Sunday, January 29, 2017

COMC Black Friday #3: Joe Adcock

Yesterday I posted about the Warren Spahn cards that I picked up off COMC around Thanksgiving. I had intended to combine Spahn with Joe Adcock's cards because of their playing for the Milwaukee Braves together and all. As I wrote about the three Warren musicians, though, stopping with them made a ton of sense.

So, today, let me finish my thought, so to speak. We had Warrens introducing Warrens yesterday, and I was going to do the same for Adcock -- have Joes introduce Joes.  But, today it's time for a different tack. I am going to intersperse baseball cards with some serious history. Apologies for either "boring" you with history or making the trite decision to include baseball cards with much more serious discussion.

Adcock was born and raised in Coushatta, Louisiana -- about 45 miles south of Shreveport in a rural area with a checkered past and a pretty dire-sounding present.

1978 TCMA The 60s I
1989 Swell Baseball Greats
Starting with Coushatta's dire present, well, how bad is it? Well, a population which has declined from a high of 2,299 in 2000 to an estimated 1,852 in 2015, caused almost certainly by the fact that nearly half the population -- 49.7% -- live below the poverty line. That includes 64% of the population in Coushatta who are below the age of 18. The median income for a household in 2000 was $18,958. That's the midpoint. Seriously.

W461 Exhibit
1982 G.S. Gallery All Time Greats
It is worth noting that the area today is represented by Republican Gerald Long -- a 72-year-old whose family history in Louisiana is long and quite checkered itself. Gerald's third cousin is the infamous Kingfisher himself, Huey Long. Huey was a populist demagogue whose platform was based around wealth redistribution under the "Share Our Wealth" program. Gerald, on the other hand, is the only member of the Long family to have been elected as a Republican. 

The area is a very conservative area and is noted as being the last parish in Louisiana to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2015. Parish Clerk of Court Stuart Shaw had sided with then-Governor Bobby Jindal to defy the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. But that ended soon thereafter.

1963 Topps
1961 Nu-Baseball Scoops
Coushatta's checkered past came during Reconstruction, when the local White League got very active. Wikipedia informs me that the White League was "an American white paramilitary organizations started in 1874 to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing." What differentiated the White League from the Klan was the fact that it operated openly. People in the community knew exactly who they were and what their goal was -- the overthrow of the Republican Reconstruction governments in the south.

1956 Topps
1955 Bowman
In Coushatta, the White League forced 6 Republicans from office in August of 1874 and then killed all six before they could leave the state. These people included the brother and three brothers-in-law of Marshall H. Twitchell, a "carpetbagger" from Vermont who moved to the area after the Civil War and married a local woman. He became a successful cotton planter and was elected to the state legislature, and he appointed his family to the local offices in which they served.

The White League also killed between 5 and 20 freedmen (depending on what source you use) who had been escorting the Republicans from the state. This later became known as the Coushatta Massacre. President Ulysses Grant had to send in federal troops to pacify the Red River valley area where Coushatta is located, but the damage was done: voting by Republicans decreased and the Democrats took over the state legislature in 1876.

1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Sluggers
1978 TCMA The 1960s II
What followed? The Democrats took over in Louisiana for the better part of the next century and disenfranchised poor whites and African Americans to maintain control of the state. In fact, starting in 1876, it took until 1980 for Louisiana to elect a Republican governor. The chair of the Louisiana senate was a Democrat from 1877 until 2000. Both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives had a Democratic majority until 2011. That's how strong Reconstruction and its fallout were.

1962 Topps
1961 Topps Stamp...same photo (and same photo as used in 1962)
To be fair, Adcock and his family benefited from this. His family owned a farm and his dad was Ray Adcock -- the longtime sheriff of Red River Parish. His dad was sheriff starting in 1940 and ending in 1952.

To be fair to Joe, it wasn't like he got a ton of benefits. Joe grew up in a time where most people in the Parish did not have telephones -- as one source states, before 1950, only about 30 to 35 percent of parish households had telephones. Due to African American migration outward, population in the Parish declined steadily from 1940 onward. Adding insult to injury for the area, the Red River flooded at historic levels in 1945. By that point, though, Joe found himself at LSU on a basketball scholarship -- he clearly was a lucky boy to get out as he did.

2005 Upper Deck Classics
It's easy (at least for me) to forget at times where baseball and its players fit into the history of our country. This post originated simply because I was curious about the place where Joe Adcock was born, raised, and, in 1999, where he died. It turned into a history lesson for me -- and I hope you didn't mind coming along for the ride.


  1. Awesome post, Tony. Louisiana is a unique place. Thanks for the history lesson. And the Adcock cards are neat. I guess that '63 shows what passes as a smile for him. The '61 stamps are the first Topps 'insert' I recall from my youth. Looking at one reminds me of riding the public bus home from elementary school. So much nostalgia.

  2. Extremely informative - it's nice to get a dose of reality with your baseball cards every now and then.

  3. I enjoy seeing things like this..

  4. I second Mike's comments. And the others. I drool for 1956 Topps. But never on them.