OTD in 1954, the first issue of Sports Illustrated is released to newsstands. The first issue features a former High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms star on the cover.
Eddie Mathews was the Milwaukee Braves star third basemen in 1954, his third season in the Major Leagues. Signed by the Braves out out of Santa Barbara High School in 1949, the nation’s most sought after prospect was assigned to the High Point-Thomasville, NC team of the North Carolina State League. The 17-yr old Mathews hit .363 with 17 home runs for the Hi-Toms in 1949. In 1952, Mathews made his Major League debut for the Braves and hit 25 HR in 145 games. He would finish 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting. In Eddie’s sophomore year with the Braves, he would hit .302 with 47 HR and 135 RBI. His 47 dingers were the most in the Major Leagues in 1953 and Mathews would earn his first of 12 All-Star Game selections. He also finished 2nd in the 1953 NL MVP voting.
In his 17-year MLB career, Mathews hit .271 with 2,315 hits, 512 HR, 1,453 RBI, and 1,444 walks. Eddie would lead the NL in home runs 2x and walks 4x. Mathews also won 2 World Series Championships with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and 1968 Detroit Tigers. Eddie retired in 1968, becoming only the 3rd player to ever retire after winning a World Series. Mathews served as a coach for the Braves for a few years before serving as Atlanta’s manager from 1972-1974. In 1978, Mathews was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Baseball-Reference: Eddie Mathews’ career stats