Area rooted for Snooks' foray in the majors

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Raymond "Snooks" Evans

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Paul Vincent
Museum of the Albemarle.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

“Snooks, we are with you. We believe you’ve got the goods…But whether you make good or not, to us fellows here at home you are the same old Snooks…” −Edward Flora, 18 February 1921

On a fair winter’s evening at Elizabeth City’s Southern Hotel, friends and family gathered in grand style to honor twenty-three-year-old amateur baseballer Raymond “Snooks” Evans. Banquet guests, including future North Carolina Governor J.C.B. Ehringhaus, toasted the young pitcher’s promising new start in the big leagues; Snooks would leave soon after for spring training in San Antonio with the New York Giants. “I assure you that I am going to put forth every possible effort to make good,” he replied. This twilight league twirler was determined to show the Giants he could play ball.

Snooks, perhaps like many other amateur ball players at the time, took advantage of the newly-formed “twilight leagues” springing up across the country following the war in Europe. So-called for the time of day during which these games were played, the growing popularity of such leagues attracted throngs of young service men returning home. Evans himself likely began playing while still on duty overseas, as the Elizabeth City native served as a Wagoner with the 320th Ambulance Company beginning in September of 1918. By the time Snooks received his honorable discharge in June the following year, Elizabeth City’s own twilight league was playing out its first season. It wouldn’t be long before the Evans boy got a piece of the action.

The Harbor of Hospitality came down with twilight baseball fever during the spring of 1919. Teams were formed out of the city’s wards and high school. Civic groups such as the Improved Order of Red Men and Kiwanis Club would come to sponsor their own. As for Snooks, local newspapers report him hard at work on the mound, pitching for the Elizabeth City Elks in 1920. The Elks carried the season over the Cubs and the Reds, scoring 14 out of 15 wins. The September 1st issue of the Daily Advance boasted of their championship victory, taking home the coveted silver loving cup trophy that summer. By October, the majors were starting to take notice of the Elks’ star pitcher.

Evans signed on with the National Exhibition Company near the end of January 1921. The Advance reported on the 28th the details of his contract, “by which he [would] receive $250 a month to play with the New York Giants in the National League.”

While Snooks spent the remainder of the winter in Texas training with the Giants, unbeknownst to him at the time, this would be the extent of his major-league career. Evans played the rest of the 1921 season in Norfolk, farmed out to a Virginia League team. He eventually returned home to play ball with the twilight league, in its twilight years; the Elizabeth City league disbanded after the 1923 season.

In the end, Snooks Evans made good and played professional ball, even if only for a short while. Nevertheless, to his friends and family, he remained the same old Snooks.

Paul Vincent is an Artifact Collections Assistant at Museum of the Albemarle.