You may have guessed my theme “already for this series of articles.  No? Well, you probably will after this week’s story.  What are some of fun activities that you and your family enjoy doing at this time of year?  For some people it’s taking a much needed vacation, but for many of us, it’s a “Stay-Cation.”  That’s what it’s been for me this summer. 

This week’s story focuses on the Barbourville Governors, an amateur baseball team, which was created by a trio of Barbourville businessmen, J. F. .Rasnick of Cole-Hughes and Co., W.D. Bill Jones of the Ideal Café and Charles Jennings of Jellico Grocery. The men sponsored an amateur baseball team for the community recreation and to challenge the coal miner ball clubs in the nearby coal camps.  These men many of whom were from Knox County became excellent ball players.  During the summer of 1939, these Barbourville team members were nicknamed The Governors because Knox County had produced two Kentucky Governors in less than a decade, one Democrat and one Republican.  

After defeating the Pruden Coal Miners in August, The Governors advanced to represent the 5th District in the 1939 Kentucky State baseball tournament the first week of September.  When the Governors won over Jenkins a team that had gone undefeated for forty games, they won not only the State Championship but the right to represent the state of Kentucky in the National Amateur Baseball tournament.  It was set for September 23-30 in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Fifteen teams from all over the United States were poised to participate in the national play-off for the crown, the Adcocate announced on September 8, 1939.

On the front page of the Advocate, the article states, “Barbourville’s Governors Monday night brought home to Barbourville the first state championship ever won by a Barbourville athletic team. The Governors had tucked away the Kentucky amateur Baseball Championship which they won in three contests at Jenkins, Ky.  The Governors were riding high in the tournament of many of the 5, 000 spectators who saw the final game said the Barbourville nine was the best amateur baseball team that has been in Kentucky in the past five years.”

The players pictured in this photograph were: “Happy Mayhew, catcher-manager: Jimmy Wiggins, Walter Rose, Cal “Lefty” Mays, and Hercules “Herk” York, pitchers; Phil Fox, Ber Rasnick. Lum Logan, Jack Laswell and Dan McFadden a Union College student from London, Ky; infielders Arnold “Hot Dog” Hammons, Bill Nau, Chester A. Hammons, Rex Rasnick and Jim Messer, outfielders. Vernon Click was bat boy but Stormy Whitis’ role was unknown.

Unfortunately, several of the team’s best players were not able to make the trip to Michigan and the Governors failed to win a game in the National Tournament.   Several of the players benefitted from this trip however and were offered a chance to play in a minor league club as a result, according to an Adcocate Article on September 29, 1939.

Our story this week was taken from The Knox Countian published on August 15, 2017, Charles Reed Mitchell editor. 


Dora Sue Oxendine Farmer can be reached at 606-546-3940 and

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