Carl Sitton

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Carl Sitton
Vet Sitton (Oconeean 1903).png
Born: (1881-09-22)September 22, 1881
Pendleton, South Carolina
Died: September 11, 1931(1931-09-11) (aged 49)
Valdosta, Georgia
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 24, 1909, for the Cleveland Naps
Last MLB appearance
September 2, 1909, for the Cleveland Naps
MLB statistics
Win-Loss record 3-2
Earned run average 2.88
Strikeouts 16
Carl Sitton
Sport(s) Baseball, Football
Playing career
1902–1903 Clemson
Position(s) End (football)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1915-1916 Clemson
Accomplishments and honors
SIAA (football, 1902, 1903)
All-Southern (football, 1902, 1903)

Charles Vedder Sitton (September 22, 1881 – September 11, 1931), also known as Carl, C. V. and Vet Sitton, was a baseball player and coach. He attended Clemson College, where he also played football, and later coached baseball for the Tigers.

In his first two years as a pitcher in the minor leagues, he led his teams to a regional pennant. He then played major-league baseball in 1909 with the Cleveland Naps before returning to the minors.

Early years[edit]

Sitton was born to Henry Philip and Amy Wilkinson Sitton in Pendleton, South Carolina on September 22, 1881, the second of five children.[1] He was named after a renowned Charleston Presbyterian minister.[1] Known on the sports pages as Carl or C. V., his family called him Vedder.[1] Sitton's grandfather, John B. Sitton, built the first brick building in the town square of the Old Pendleton district; his father and an uncle, Augustus, fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War.[1] Augustus was later prominent in the Red Shirt movement.[1]

Clemson College[edit]

Sitton enrolled Clemson College in 1901, attending through 1903 but never graduating.[1] He played football and baseball for coach John Heisman's Clemson Tigers.[2]


According to one source, "Vetter Sitton and Hope Sadler were the finest ends that Clemson ever had perhaps".[3] Sitton played on the left and Sadler on the right on Clemson's football teams.[4][5] Both were All-Southern football players in 1902 and 1903.[6] 1902 saw a 44–5 beatdown of Georgia Tech in which Sitton scored first on an 80-yard end run.[7] The day before the game, Clemson sent in scrubs to Atlanta, checked into a hotel, and partied until dawn. The varsity sat well rested in Lula, Georgia as those who bet on Tech were fooled.[8]

A young Sitton in a dark turtleneck
Sitton at Clemson around 1903

In 1903, Sitton was reportedly injured before the Georgia Tech contest. Tech rooters thought perhaps it was another ruse from Heisman. It was no ruse, but Sitton's substitute Gil Ellison played well enough for a 73–0 rout.[n 1] The 24–0 win over Davidson saw one writer note "Clemson playing against eleven wooden men, would attract attention;"[10] and Sitt had a 60-yard touchdown run.[10] One writer noted

The 1903 Tigers went on to play in the South's first conference championship game, tying Cumberland 11–11. The tying score came after Cumberland muffed a punt. Cumberland expected a trick play when Fritz Furtick simply ran up the middle for a touchdown.[11] One account of the play reads "Heisman saw his chance to exploit a weakness in the Cumberland defense: run the ball where the ubiquitous Red Smith wasn't. So the next time Sitton started out on one of his slashing end runs, at the last second he tossed the ball back to the fullback who charges straight over center (where Smith would have been except that he was zeroing in on the elusive Sitton) and went all the way for the tying touchdown."[12]


He was also a starting pitcher for the baseball team,[13] "one of the best pitchers Clemson ever had".[3] and "one of the best twirlers in the country."[14] According to one account, "Sitton is considered one of the best college twirlers in the south ... He is a heady pitcher, and knows just what to do in every emergency."[15] He posted an 18–4 career record.[16]

Pro baseball[edit]

The 1908 Nashville Vols

After college Sitton played baseball in a number of cities, batting and throwing right-handed. He had his pitching debut with the Jacksonville Jays, leading the team to the South Atlantic League (SALLY) championship.[13]

Nashville Vols[edit]

Sitton was then a starting pitcher for the Southern Association champion 1908 Nashville Vols.[3] The club, under manager Bill Bernhard, entered the final day of that season with an opportunity to win the league pennant. The championship would be decided by the last game of the season, between the Vols and the New Orleans Pelicans at Sulphur Dell. Both teams had the same number of losses (56), but the Pelicans were in first place with 76 wins to the Vols' second-place 74.[17]

A crowd of 11,000 saw Sitton use his spitball to outpitch Ted Breitenstein for a complete-game, nine-strikeout, three-hit, 1–0 shutout, giving Nashville its third Southern Association pennant by .002 percentage points.[18] The Nashville team and the fans mobbed the pitcher on the mound.[18][n 2]

Grantland Rice called it "the greatest game ever played in Dixie".[20] According to one account, "By one run, by one point, Nashville has won the Southern League pennant, nosing New Orleans out literally by an eyelash. Saturday's game, which was the deciding one, between Nashville and New Orleans was the greatest exhibition of the national game ever seen in the south and the finish in the league race probably sets a record in baseball history".[21]

Panorama of baseball field and packed stands
The decisive Nashville-New Orleans game

Nashville Banner sportswriters Fred Russell and George Leonard created all-time team lists of the top Nashville players from 1901 to 1919 and from 1920 to 1963. Sitton was named a pitcher on the former team.[22]

Cleveland Naps[edit]

Nap Lajoie's Cleveland Naps soon lured Sitton from the Nashville club, making him the first Clemson player to play in the major leagues.[23] Sitton was optimistic when he arrived at spring training to replace the ailing Glenn Liebhardt.[24] He pitched well in the preseason, including a shutout against Mobile.[24] Sitton made his major-league debut on April 24, 1909 against Rube Waddell and the St. Louis Browns, winning the game. He also won his second game, against Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators.[24]

Although Sitton had an early 3–0 record, he was overshadowed by other pitchers on the club such as Cy Young and Addie Joss. With his high hits–to–innings ratio, he was relegated to the bullpen.[24] Sitton played his last game in the majors on September 2, 1909, against the New York Yankees; he did not finish the game, losing 6–1.[24]

He appeared in a total of 14 games (five as a starter), posting a 3–2 record and a 2.88 ERA. Sitton had as many hits as innings pitched and a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.[24]

Return to minors[edit]

Sitton then returned to the minors, playing with the Montreal Royals, Atlanta Crackers, Troy Trojans, and Binghamton Bingoes.

Clemson as coach[edit]

He was head baseball coach of the Clemson Tigers in 1915 and 1916.[3][25][26] Before his hiring, Sitton was known as a frequenter of Clemson games.[27] Sitton posted a 26–18–1 career coaching record.

Traveling salesman[edit]

After 1916, Sitton's career as baseball player and coach apparently ended. He surfaced again in the 1920s as an employee of the California-based Hercules Powder Company, a former munitions firm which manufactured fertilizer.[24] Sitton lived in the Daniel Ashley Hotel in Valdosta, Georgia at the beginning of the Great Depression, and lost his job around 1931.[28]


On the morning of September 11, 1931, two weeks before his 50th birthday, Sitton borrowed a car from a Valdosta native and drove to the Lowndes County Fairgrounds.[28] There, parked near the baseball diamond,[28] he shot himself in the head.[29] No motive for his suicide was found.[28]


  1. ^ Georgia awarded Clemson 44 bushels of apples, one for each point over the total posted over the Bulldogs the week previous. This game led to Tech's later job offer to Heisman.[9]
  2. ^ The one run was scored with the bases loaded, Sitton on second. Ed Hurlburt scored from third and Sitton was thrown out.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Simpson, p. 54
  2. ^ "Football All-Time Lineups". CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 12 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Vetter Sitton Clemson Coach". The Anderson Daily-Intelligencer. January 21, 1915. 
  4. ^ Kyle King. Fighting Like Cats and Dogs (PDF). p. 33. 
  5. ^ "Amateur Sport". The Olympian Magazine. 2: 383–384. 
  6. ^ e. g. see Fuzzy Woodruff's A History of Southern Football 1890-1928
  7. ^ "Clemson Wins From Georgia Team Heisman Game Again Successful". October 19, 1902. p. 5. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ "John Heisman Bio -". 
  9. ^ Mandle Parrish (October 31, 2000). "Clemson-Georgia Tech Series". 
  10. ^ a b "Clemson Defeats Davidson". The Charlotte Observer. November 22, 1903. p. 5. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  11. ^ Lou Sahadi. "24. 1903 Game With Cumberland". 100 Things Clemson Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. 
  12. ^ Wiley Lee Umphlett. Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football. p. 67. 
  13. ^ a b NEA News Service (March 17, 1923). "College Star In Great Debut". Iowa City Press-Citizen. p. 11. Retrieved August 14, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  14. ^ "Amateur Sport". The Olympian: 502. 1903. 
  15. ^ "Crackers Lose Pitcher Sitton". The Atlanta Constitution. January 31, 1904. p. 10. Retrieved August 14, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  16. ^ "Tiger-Tech Tales". 
  17. ^ Simpson, p. 164
  18. ^ a b Simpson, p. 172
  19. ^ John A. Simpson. Hub Perdue: Clown Prince of the Mound. p. 62. 
  20. ^ Simpson, pp. 25, 174
  21. ^ Hamilton Love (October 10, 1908). "South Sayings" (PDF). Sporting Life: 16. 
  22. ^ "Nashville Vols Year-by-Year Results" (PDF). 2015 Nashville Sounds Media Guide. Nashville Sounds. 2015. p. 201. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 7, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  23. ^ Blackman, Sam; Bradley, Bob; Kriese, Chuck (2001). Clemson: Where the Tigers Play (Updated ed.). Champaign, IL: Sports Pub. pp. 117–118. ISBN 1582613699. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Simpson, p. 206
  25. ^ "Baseball Outlook For Present Season". The Tiger. 10 (19). March 10, 1915. 
  26. ^ Hennessy, Brian. "2011 Clemson Baseball Media Guide". Clemson University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "Sitton Likely To Coach Clemson". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. January 24, 1915. 
  28. ^ a b c d Simpson, p. 207
  29. ^ "Last Rites For Vedder Sitton". The Index-Journal. September 16, 1931. p. 8. Retrieved August 14, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read


Simpson, John A. The Greatest Game Ever Played In Dixie. ISBN 9780786430505. 

External links[edit]