Alva BoBo Holloman will never make the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but he accomplished something 60 years ago on the diamond that has not been equaled since.
Holloman, who was born in The Rock and lived there until his family moved to Athens when he was 17, pitched a no-hitter for the St. Louis Browns in his first official major league appearance.
If you dont know, The Rock is located between Thomaston and Barnesville in Upson County and claimed actress Susan Hayward as a part-time resident back in the 1950s and 1960s. Hayward, who owned a ranch in The Rock, appeared in more than 60 films and was in some great ones, including Id Climb the Highest Mountain, Back Street, I Want to Live and The Valley of the Dolls.
But so much for Susan Hayward. Lets get back to Bobo Holloman.
Holloman actually got his start in professional baseball in Macon while working as an apprentice in the Central of Georgia Railroad machine shop. He had played a lot of sandlot baseball, and his colleagues at work thought he should try out for the Macon Peaches in the South Atlantic League. He did so and was signed to a contact by Macon but was assigned to the Moultrie Packers in the Class D Georgia Florida League. He went 20-5 in Moultrie with a 2.33 ERA.
Following his first season, Holloman played winter ball in Cuba before returning to Macon to pitch for the Peaches in 1947, appearing in 45 games with 294 innings pitched and recording an 18-17 record. In 1948, he split time between Macon and Nashville in the Double-A Southern League. Thats where he acquired his nickname BoBo. Nashville owner Larry Gilbert gave him the moniker because Holloman reminded him of Bobo Newsom, who spent 20 years in the big leagues playing for 10 different teams. Holloman played three seasons in Nashville, where his games on radio were broadcast by Larry Munson.
Holloman was invited to spring training in 1950 by the Chicago Cubs but failed to make the team and was back in Nashville, then to Shreveport in the Texas League, then to Albany, N.Y., and then to Augusta.
Augusta sold his contract to Syracuse, a Triple-A team in the International League. At Syracuse, Holloman was 16-7 with a 2.51 ERA. That winter, he headed to Puerto Rico for winter ball, pitching for Santurce where he was 15-5. The following spring, Syracuse sold his contract to the St. Louis Browns
Even with a sore arm, Holloman made the team and actually got a start against the New York Yankees before his no-hitter, but the game did not count because it was called after four innings due to darkness. In the four innings, Holloman did not allow a hit or run and struck out Mickey Mantle twice.
His first official decision and the no hitter came on May 6, 1953, 60 years ago Monday, against the Philadelphia Athletics. He faced 31 batters, striking out three with five walks, three in the ninth inning, and made his teams only error when he bobbled Gus Zernials infield grounder in the fifth inning. BoBo also had two hits in the game.
That no-hitter was the highlight of a short-lived major league career for Holloman. He was in the show for just the 1953 season, where he appeared in 22 games with a 3-7 record while recording 25 strikeouts. He was back in the minors for the 1954 season, which was his final year in professional baseball.
Holloman died in 1987 at the age of 62.
Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org