Pro Baseball in Valdosta

The Georgia-Florida League

The Georgia-Florida baseball league was formed in 1935, the first games being played on April 23, 1935 in Panama City, Fla, Americus, GA, and Thomasville, GA. The league started with 6 teams, the Albany Cardinals, Americus Phillies, Panama City Pilots, Moultrie Athletics, Tallahassee Pirates, and Thomasville Tigers. The 6 teams brought out over 4,500 fans and bands of musicians on the day of their first games.

Due to travel expenses, the Panama City team was replaced in the 2nd season by the Cordele Indians. The Cordele team introduced night baseball to the circuit and had a winning team for two year, proving to be a strong replacement for the Panama City team. The league grew in 1937and 1938 as more teams added night ball, which was strongly attended.

Big change came to the league came in 1939, as the Valdosta Trojans and Waycross Bears were added to the circuit. The league continued to grow as an eight-team organization until 1942 when, due to the increasing hostilities of World War II, Thomasville dropped out of the league to be replaced with a team out of Dothan, Alabama. This gave the Georgia-Florida league a three-state spread for the first and only time in its history. All operations of the league were halted in 1943 and remained inactive in 1944 and 1945, picking back up in 1946 with the end of the war. In 1947 the league drew 541,881 attendants, a staggering amount compared to the 121,971 of the 1935 season.

The Class D Valdosta team played as the Trojans from the time of their creation until 1943, when they affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Valdosta Dodgers were a very healthy Class D team, having no financial problems and consistently drawing a large crowd. Many nights saw over 1000 attendants at Valdosta’s Pendleton Park, which had one of the first lighted baseball fields in the league. ¬†Pendleton Park was the home of Valdosta baseball from 1939 to 1958.¬† The park was located on Woodrow Wilson Drive, between Pineview General (now South Georgia Medical Center) and the site of the Valdosta Public Library.

The Dodgers eventually relocated to Thomasville. For 1953, the Valdosta team paired with the St. Louis Browns but settled with the Detroit Tigers the next year. The Valdosta Tigers continued until 1958, when the entire league disbanded. With the rising popularity of television, it became harder and harder for minor league baseball games to draw large crowds. Although the price of admission was only $1 for adults, it couldn’t compete with the professional baseball games constantly shown on TV. It was no longer profitable to maintain minor league teams and because of that the league called it quits.