Playing, watching sports has been large part of King's life

P-I Feature Writer

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—Staff photo by Ann Broach

Chick King tells wife Rosemary about one of the events described in one of the clippings in a scrapbook that she assembled. The scrapbook contains memorabilia from King’s career in professional baseball and later when he coached
baseball in Henry County.


Charles “Chick” King of Paris is a real-life seventh son. Born Nov. 10, 1930, he is the youngest of seven boys born to the late Fred A. and Elsie Neese King.

When he was young the family lived in West Paris. He recalls, “Where we lived, steam engines would pull into the roundabout and smoke from the roundhouse would fill homes in the area.”

King can trace his family history to a minimum of his great-great-great-grandfather, Martin Luther Neese, who fought in the Revolutionary War.

“He was born in Pennsylvania and had moved to North Carolina by the time he was twenty-one and got in the army,” King said. “He was given five hundred acres (of land) near Buchanan after the war and he is buried there. His son, who fought in the Civil War, is also has buried near him.”

For those who are curious, King admits he doesn’t know how he got his nickname.

He said with a laugh, “I don’t know how I got it, but I was young. And it has been with me ever since.”

His family includes two sons: James King, who lives with his mother in Murfreesboro; and Charles Richard King of Paris. He also has two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

He and his wife, Rosemary, were married on June 26, 1986.

“I had known her in school and we became reacquainted after I saw her around town,” he said, adding they were reintroduced by friends at a dinner.

She is the mother of a daughter, Teresa (Ricky) Matheny of Paris, and has two grandchildren.

As a teenager, King joined the State Guard.

“I was too young (17) but I got in,” he said. “We trained at the old city auditorium. Men who returned from the war trained us.

“We had a two-week camp at Fort Campbell. One thing I really recall about that camp was that we got the highest rating of all the companies there from the southeast for our shooting and formation.

“On the shooting range, we had nine shots and eight out of the nine of us hit bullseyes. We were firing M-1 rifles and were taught by George Wyatt. John Hooper shot nine straight bullseyes,” he said.

“The hardest to shoot, and I was not good at it, was a thirty-caliber machine gun. But (overall) I got to see things about the Army that I had never seen before.”

Following his high school sports career, King attended Memphis State University for about one year. He played about 10 baseball games at Memphis before signing with Detroit to play professional baseball (see accompanying story). He also played with Chicago and St. Louis during his professional career.

He said that during those years, he was able to play some winter ball in Cuba, living there for four months. He was able to meet and talk with Fidel Castro after he took over the country.

“I remember the game was to begin at 7:30. The pitchers were warming up but the game could not start until he arrived. We kept waiting and waiting and all the players had gone to their dugouts before he finally arrived.

“About 8:30, the gate opened and he entered, surrounded by all his people. He came over and sat in our dugout because I was playing for his team, the Havana Reds. There were five Americans on the team and the rest were Cubans.

“I talked with him for about ten minutes and he talked fluent English. All the people around him had machine guns and that was scary. (But) he loved baseball.”

After his return to Paris from professional baseball, King coached and managed American Legion baseball and youth softball teams in Henry County.

Because of his professional and local involvement in sports, King was among the first five men inducted into the Paris-Henry County Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

“I was in the class with Bill Hudson, Robert Jelks and Sonny Humphreys. It was quite an honor to be in same group as Bill Hudson because I knew what he had done,” King said.

For many years after that, King served on the Hall of Fame committee to make future selections for the honor. Although no longer on the committee, he predicts that the Hall of Fame will continue for quite some time because “there are many who aren’t in there yet.”

Asked who one of the people he most admires is, King responded: “Robert Jelks is the main one. He was a Christian man and great coach of football and baseball at Grove (High School).”

King continues his love of sports today as a supporter of Henry County High School athletics and the Tennessee Titans. He also can be found enjoying all phases of sports activities with his family.

He has “been attempting to play (golf) for thirty years. It’s fun,” he said, adding with a laugh he’s not a golfer but “I’m a duffer.”

He plays regularly with the local Sally League, which was started by Jimmy Emerson of Como. Emerson compiles all the information about the matches in a computer program and gives members reports of the number of games each has played along with handicaps and other data.

“We have more than forty players, both retirees and some younger players,” King said. “It started a few years ago and we play on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays all over the area: West Tennessee, western Kentucky, Nashville, Memphis, Union City, Savannah.

“We choose teams and play against each other. The teams earn points and there’ve been no arguments. It’s a great thing for retired folks,” he said.

King has been known to fish in some tournaments over the years.

“I once caught a $10,000 fish in a tournament in Florida. I was fishing with Ben McKinnon in 2002.” The fish King caught was a 62.6-pound wahoo and he has a photo of himself with the fish.

“It was less than two ounces from being a $20,000 fish,” King said, adding McKinnon did catch a $20,000 fish.

“We used the money to pay off this house,” King said. “I built this house and that apartment in the back. I learned to build in high school under Mr. Hudson. He told me I might want to build something someday,” he said laughing.

His wife added, “He designed it after I told him I wanted three bedrooms. He did lots of the work on the carpentry and framing, too.”

A guitar sits by the piano in their living room. King admitted he can strum the instrument but is not an experienced player.

“Rosemary is the talented one,” he said. “She was a Parkhill and can play by ear. Rosemary’s mother taught Rosemary’s father to play the violin. They are all musically talented.”

King said he had a busy professional sports career and enjoyed working with youth when he returned home, but overall he said, “the middle part of my life has been the greatest part of my life and of this country.”

King’s wife had words of admiration for him: “He’s an honorable man and man of integrity. He’s worked hard all his life and has been generous and hardworking.”

With words of admiration like that, there is little more that King could hope for other than to be remembered by his grandchildren as one who loved them.

Anyone who talks with King will have little doubt that he will get his wish.


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This is one of Chick King’s publicity photos when he played baseball for the Detroit Tigers from 1954-56. He also played for the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.


King recalls high school, professional years

P-I Feature Writer

Chick King has always loved sports. Growing up with six older brothers, all took part in sports. One of his early memories is being a bat boy for his brother’s baseball team.

“I began playing football in the fifth grade at (Atkins-Porter),” he said. “Joe Howard came here from Louisville and trained to be a principal under Mr. (W.O.) Inman. He started a football team there and I played through high school.”

In addition to football, King played baseball, basketball and ran track in high school. He is a 1950 graduate of Grove High School.

In his senior year, King was named to the All-State, All-Southern and All American football teams.

“I remember I ran for ninety-one yards for a touchdown and at that time it was unheard of to do that,” he said.

Archival records at The Post-Intelligencer state that event happened during a football game played at Crump Stadium in Memphis. The 1949 Blue Devils are often called the best team every put together in Henry County. That squad outscored opponents 372-55.

King said after the team was 10-0 on the regular season, the players went on to win a bowl game in Jackson, giving the team an overall record of 11-0.

After high school, King received a football scholarship to Memphis State University. He signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1951 to play professional baseball after about a year in Memphis.

King played professional ball for 11 years. In addition to Detroit, he played with the Chicago Cubs, and a short time with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he remembers playing with Stan Musial.

“I couldn’t believe the man he was and is. He was a tremendous athlete. I had always heard about him on the radio. I was fortunate I could actually be with him at games and in dugout and see the person he really was,” King said.

After about one month, King was sent to a minor league team where he replaced Bob Gibson after Gibson was injured.

“I knew he would be a super Cardinal player later,” King recalls. “It was such a good experience when you can see ball players in the big leagues and see they were great athletes,” King said.

Following his professional career, King returned to Henry County where he coached and managed American Legion baseball and youth softball teams beginning in 1963. Assisting him was Jimmy Fitzsimmons.

“Fitz and I played American Legion baseball. We got to know other people and how games were played in other areas. We saw that this area was lagging because the teams did not travel much. (So, our teams) traveled to play and learned more by going farther away to play.

“One thing that made us more aware of what we were doing with the boys was that they could get baseball scholarships to college,” King added. “We taught them not only to play but (also) taught them how to be young men..”

King said there recently was a gathering with some of his former players and it was good to see them. Some came from many miles to visit with King.

The P-I archives state that there is a lengthy list of young men who credit King with encouraging them in athletics and inspiring their love for sports. Many of them have gone on to promote athletic excellence locally and in other parts of the state and country.

King continues to support all local sports, both boys and girls. He also follows the Tennessee Titans.

“I watch high school (football) practice everyday. They are getting better, better, better. (Coach James) Counce and his assistants have done a tremendous job … this year.

“They had to replace a complete team from last year with sophomores, juniors and one senior, so all but one will return next year.

“It’s amazing what he’s doing. There is tremendous talent on the high school team this year. They are young, but are acquiring what it takes to make winners,” King said.


This material reprinted from
Paris, Tennessee
The October 26 , 2010 Edition
Used by Permission



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