The Greeneville Parks and Recreation Board voted on the naming earlier this year at one of their regularly scheduled meetings. There was a dedication ceremony at 6 p.m. this evening at the Greeneville Parks & Recreation Eastview Rec Center.
Rance Pless (December 6, 1925 – November 11, 2017) was born in Greeneville, Tennessee. He grew up on his family’s farm in the Cedar Creek community of southern Greene County.
Pless served in the Navy during World War II, assigned to a Landing Craft Infantry ship (LCI-696) in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater from 1944 to 1946. He was a professional baseball player from 1947 to 1960, getting his start with the New York Giants’ minor league team and making it to the majors in 1956 with the Kansas City Athletics.
He was a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves for 25 years and worked at The Magnavox Company as security from 1947 to 1987. He played on the Magnavox Semi-Pro baseball team in the 1960s and managed the team in 1970, its last year. He had 2,037 hits and an MVP award to his credit during in his 14-year professional baseball career. His career minor league batting average was .303 in 1,755 games.
Buddy Hawk (January 1, 1943 – March 23, 2023) was an iconic figure in Greeneville and Greene County for decades. He enjoyed many years of playing baseball as a youth, then later college and semi-professional baseball teams. His athletic accomplishments ensured his induction into the Greeneville High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
In the early 1960s, Hawk was an honored baseball player at Tusculum College where he was named to several All South teams during his playing days there, having a lifetime batting average of .397. He later joined Greeneville’s semi-professional Magnavox baseball team, which played and toured all over the United States, playing against the likes of MLB Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, against whom Hawk went 2 for 4. The Magnavox team regularly qualified to represent Tennessee in the National Baseball Congress World Series, which was and still is held in Wichita, Kansas every year.
Hawk was most recently known for his tremendous support of youth sports, having served for over a decade on the Greeneville Town Council, Greeneville’s Parks and Recreation Board, and Greene County Sports Council. Recently, the Parks & Recreation Greene Fling Baseball Tournament was also named in Hawk’s honor.