One of the umpires in the A-Sun baseball tournament played at DeLand, Fla., last week was Vic Correll. For longtime fans of the Atlanta Braves, that name should be familiar.
Although the umpire is not the former Braves player but his son Vic Correll Jr.
Vic Correll Sr. spent eight seasons in the big leagues, including four with the Braves from 1974-77. He was Atlantas primary catcher in 1975 and was the starter the night Hank Aaron hit home run No. 715 to break Babe Ruths record. Correll signed with the Cleveland Indians organization right out of college before catching on with Boston, with whom he played three seasons in the minors and one with the big league club, backing up future Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk before being traded to Atlanta.
After four seasons in Atlanta, he played his final three years in Cincinnati, where he was a backup to another Hall of Famer, Johnny Bench. Correll says being able to play with Aaron and the Cincinnati team that included Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver, Cesar Geronimo and Bench is among his biggest thrills while in baseball. He thought his teams in Atlanta were good clubs even though they didnt win a lot. Their best record during his time was his first season, which produced an 88-74 mark while the worst was his final year when they were 61-101.
Correll had the opportunity to play for numerous managers during his career including Eddie Kasko at Boston, Eddie Mathews, Clyde King, Dave Bristol and Bobby Cox in Atlanta and the legendary Sparky Anderson in Cincinnati. According to Correll, Anderson was the best manager that he ever played for. He said he wished he could have played for Mathews for more than one season as he thought he was a good manager, as well.
As compared to todays minimum salary in the big leagues, which is $490,000, Correll came along at a time when the minimum was $25,000 and meal money was $1.50 a day. He said he ate a lot of hot dogs on the team bus.
The 67-year-old Correll starred in college baseball at Georgia Southern after transferring from Pembroke State (S.C.) after his freshman season. He played for the late J.I. Clements, helping lead the Eagles to the 1967 NAIA World Series his junior year. He was inducted into the schools Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. Correll, now retired, has called Perry home for the past two decades and can be found playing golf a couple of times a week.
He coached Vic Correll Jr. in youth baseball and saw him go on to play at The Citadel, and like his son he had a decade-long stint as an umpire, calling both high school and college games during the 1980s.
The elder Correll had the nickname Bird Dog for obvious reasons. He trained bird dogs for more than 25 years in south Georgia, most notably around Nashville and Albany. He worked with hundreds of those animals during his time in that profession.
Correll says he still keeps up with baseball watching on television and listening to games on the radio and calls himself a Braves fan.
He has had an association with Macon for more than 46 years as his wife, the former Cheryl Culpepper, is from the city where she was a student at A.L. Miller High School before attending Georgia Southern where they met. They also have two daughters, Amy Catchpole, who lives in Charlotte, and Maggie Taylor, who is in Perry. The Correls have seven grandchildren.
Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at email@example.com