Mobile Sports Hall of Fame to induct Carvel ‘Bama’ Rowell

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — He was a player, a soldier and an inspiration. Now, 30 years after his death, Carvel “Bama” Rowell is entering the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.

Born in 1916 in Citronelle, Rowell left LSU where he was on a football scholarship to sign a professional baseball contract.

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In 1939, at age 23, Rowell debuted in the big leagues playing 21 games with the Boston Braves for eventual Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel.

In 1940, his true rookie year, Rowell was Boston’s starting second baseman. He hit .305, the 10th highest in the National League and the highest average in the majors among rookies. Rowell stayed in the starting lineup in 1941, playing both second base and the outfield and hitting .267 with 60 RBIs.

Three months after the end of the season, though, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The U.S. was at war and Rowell was in the Army where he’d serve his country for the next four years, what should have been the prime of his career.

At age 30, Rowell returned to the Braves in 1946 and hit .280.

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Rowell hit .276 the following year for Boston, his last season in a Braves uniform. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948, which was his last year in the big leagues. Rowell spent four more years in the minors before retiring after the 1952 season.

Rowell will be forever known for one at-bat at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in 1946. His long drive struck, and broke, the Bulova Clock above the right-field scoreboard. That hit inspired the dramatic finale of “The Natural,” a 1952 novel and a blockbuster 1984 movie.

Anyone hitting the clock was supposed to have gotten a Bulova watch, but Rowell didn’t until the watchmaker sent a representative to Citronelle to right the wrong in 1987.

Rowell will be inducted posthumously into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, May 30, at the Mitchell Center. Other inductees are Kelli Ogden Hillier, Joe Gottfried, Pat White, and Captain Munnerlyn.

The induction dinner is being held in conjunction with the First Light Community (previously L’Arche) Football Preview. Tickets can be purchased at

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