R. C. "Seaboat" Stevens - Class of 1951

 

R. C. "Seaboat" Stevens was a country boy, born July 22, 1934 somewhere outside Doerun, Colquitt County, GA.

I played high school baseball and football for Coach A. F. Shaw at Moultrie High School for Negro Youth. Where I excelled in baseball as a first baseman.

When Coach Shaw received a letter from Branch Rickey asking him to submit prospects' names, he recommended me. Pittsburgh Pirate scout George Platt visited Moultrie, and "he took me on Coach Shaw's word". I had graduated from high school and working building the projects in northwest Moultrie.

Coach Shaw convinced me "the big first baseman" to go and try out for the Pittsburgh Pirates in DeLand, FL. The Pirates was so impressed with the 18 year-old that they immediately offer me a contract and I signed. Then, over the next few years, I was off to Batavia, NY, St John's in Canada, Burlington, NC, Hollywood, CA, Columbus, OH and Salt Lake City, UT.

In 1955, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent me from their spring training site in Texas to Anaheim, CA where their Hollywood, FL farm team was working out. I reported to manager Bobby Bragan, who immediately had me to suit up and head straight out for batting practice.

Stepping in the batters' box, the catcher greeted me from behind his mask. Hi I'm Bill Hall. What's your name? I was, "the 6-foot-3, 200 pounds right-hand hitter. "Where are you from?" the catcher asked. "Moultrie, GA", R.C. replied. The catcher pulled off his mask and started laughing. Are you kidding? He asked and I say no, and Hall said, I'm from Moultrie too.

Two of the finest baseball players ever from Colquitt County had never met on the playing fields of South Georgia. But we both became members of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization being 3,000 miles from home and we became acquainted in a batting cage in California.

I appeared in 59 games with the Pirates in 1958, batting .267 and hit seven home runs. I was sent to Salt Lake City the next spring. I responded by hitting a Pacific Coast League leading 39 home runs.

I played in three games that year with the Pirates and nine more the next season, when Pittsburgh defeated the New York Yankees in seven games to win the World Series. I was not on the World Series roster, but traveled with the team. Manager, Danny Murtaugh use me as the first alternate.

The next season I was traded to the Washington Senators expansion for left- handed pitcher Bobby Shantz. I began to play platoon with Dale Long and batted .129. They played Dale with no bitterness. He was one of their marquee players. It just didn't work out for me there. Washington sent me to Toronto of the International League and I was called into the U.S. Army. I went back to Toronto after military stint, but I was released in 1962.

My wife, Carrie and I moved in 1960 to Davenport, IA, where I built a house next door to my former Pittsburgh teammate Gene Baker. After baseball, I worked at International Harvester and retired as a department manager. I often returns to Moultrie and play golf with longtime friend George Walker.

Carrie died in 1995, now I live alone with my cat. I play plenty of golf with ex-Washington Senator Dean Stone.

The biggest change in baseball are the salaries. The minimum was $7,500 when I played and players received a $10 a day for meals. The money I made playing would be considered "chump change" for players today.

In 2000 I was inducted in the Colquitt County Sports Hall of Fame.

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