Samuel Strang [Sammy Strang] Nicklin

1876–1932

Strang Nicklin, from Chattanooga, transferred from the University of North Carolina to UT in 1896. He was captain of the first undefeated football team in 1896 (four games). He was the first UT athlete to play major league baseball and the first to play in a World Series game. Because some of his family objected to his playing professional baseball, he played under the name Sammy Strang.

His paid baseball participation, together with playing baseball players who were not enrolled, occasioned the blacklisting of Tennessee by the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1897. Strang had played amateur noncollege baseball with Knoxville, Atlanta, and Madisonville and had played 14 games with the Louisville Colonels pro team.

After serving in the Spanish-America War, he returned to baseball (1900) for an 11-year career in the majors. He played for the Louisville Colonels (1896), the Chicago Orphans (1900 and 1902), the New York Giants (1901 ad 1905–8), the Chicago White Sox (1902), and the Brooklyn Superbas (1903–4). In 1905, as a member of the New York Giants, he played in the World Series. John McGraw, manager of the New York Giants, used Strang as a pinch hitter and is said to have coined the phrase pinch hitter to describe his ability to produce in clutch situations.

Strang coached baseball one year at Georgia Tech (1902) and coached baseball at West Point for nine years (1909–17), coaching a pitcher named Robert Reese Neyland Jr. and another future general, Omar Bradley. As a baseball player, his nickname had been the “Dixie Thrush,” because of his fine tenor voice. After leaving West Point, he went to Paris, France, to study opera.

He abandoned baseball and opera to serve in World War I as an infantry captain, following which (1919) he returned to Chattanooga and purchased its Southern League baseball club. He sold the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1927.

Nicklin’s father was mayor of Chattanooga from 1887 to 1889 and was president of what is referred to as the Southern League (baseball) in 1901.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Samuel Strang [Sammy Strang] Nicklin
  • Coverage 1876–1932
  • Author
  • Keywords Samuel Strang [Sammy Strang] Nicklin
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date April 21, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 9, 2018