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World Series-Bound Detroit Tigers Have Historic Link to Norcross

Hailing from Norcross, Red Wingo played for the Tigers from 1924 to 1928.

Hailing from Norcross, Red Wingo played for the Tigers from 1924 to 1928.

In its heyday of the 1920s, Norcross drafted more players to the major league (per capita) than any other town in the U.S.

Red and his brother Ivey drafted to the bigs in the early 1900s when baseball was in its infancy, just before blossoming into the national past time loved by millions of fans today. As the Tigers won their spot in the World Series, some of the old timers were no doubt smiling down from baseball heaven.

Red was traded to the Tigers in '24 from the Philadelphia Athletics in 1919 (the same year his brother Ivey caught for the Cinncinatti Reds in that years Series later doubted "the Black Sox Scandal") and stayed in Detroit after retiring from play. Red was hired by the Ford Motor Plant where he worked (and died) on the assembly line.

During the Tigers' glory days Wingo played left field with Harry Heilmann in right and another Georgia grown player, Hall-of-Famer Ty Cobb, in center. During their years in the outfield together the trio boasted batting averages in the high 300s. This feat won them a place in the history books as no other outfield trio has ever maintained this high of batting averages.

Cobb was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936 and is perhaps the most competitive and complex personality ever to appear in a big league uniform. Cobb was the dominant player in the American League during the Deadball Era (before a cork center was added), and arguably the greatest player in the history of the game. During his 24-year big league career, Cobb captured a record 11 (or 12) batting titles, batted over .400 three times and won the 1909 Triple Crown. Upon his retirement he held career records for games played (3,035), at bats (11,434), runs (2,246), hits (4,189), total bases (5,854) and batting average (.366). Cobb also retired with the 20th century record for most career stolen bases, with 892.

Heilmann (nicknamed "Slug") won the American League batting title assuring his entrance in the Hall of Fame in 1952.

Red settled in Detroit and started a family. When the Great Depression crippled the country he was lucky to land a position at the Ford plant, with the help of the owner of the Tigers. Red raised a family and with just a month left before retirement, he fell from the cab of a truck and was crushed by the oncoming vehicle that followed behind. His family was understandably devasted.

His grandson, James Wingo, returned to Gwinnett County and Norcross in 2011 when Grandpa Red and Uncle Ivey were inducted into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame located in Cool Ray Field, home to the Gwinnett Braves. Wingo and others from the family visited the old house on the corner of College and Jones streets (the home of their great grandfather Doc Wingo who treated patients in one of  front rooms), as well as having their pictures snapped under the "Wingo" Street sign in Norcross, once Railroad Street, renamed in the 1950s to honor these hometown baseball heroes.

See also:

  • Baseball's Southern Boom Town: Norcross
  • Longtime Pinckneyville Baseball Volunteer Remembered
  • Baseball Museum at Home in Welcome Center
  • Baseball's Wingo Brothers: Tear Down the Field But They Won't Leave

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