In observance of the inaugural "NCAA Division III Week," Oglethorpe University hosted the family of 1932 alum and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Luke Appling on the Brookhaven campus this past Saturday.
Four generations of Appling family members were in attendance as Oglethorpe hosted a pregame reception before Luke's sister, Linda Appling Sumpter, tossed out the first pitch prior to the Petrels' game against Birmingham-Southern on Anderson Field.
When the Oglethorpe athletic department first conceived the idea to host a "Luke Appling Day" during baseball season, Linda Appling Sumpter helped coordinate getting four generations of the family together for the afternoon celebration. After the NCAA launched their "Division III Week" initiative to celebrate the division's unique philosophy that equally values academics, athletics and student-athletes' involvement in a full and rich campus life, a perfect match was made.
Lucius "Luke" Appling enjoyed a stellar college career at Oglethorpe and, in 1930, led the Stormy Petrels to a perfect 15-0 record. In his final game against collegiate competition, Appling went out in style, hitting 3 homeruns against Mercer University. Appling was signed to a professional contract and spent the next 20 seasons wearing the #4 jersey and playing shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. He made 7 All-Star Appearances and won 2 American League batting titles, including hitting .388 in 1936 and being named the best shortstop in baseball. In 1964 he was elected into the Major League Baseball Hall Fame.
Among the attendees were two of Appling's three children – Linda Appling Sumpter and Carol Tribble. Their brother, Luke Appling III, was unable to attend but his daughter, Lisa Dunbar, was on hand for the occasion. Lisa's daughter Erin, Appling's great grandchild, served as the Stormy Petrel Ball Girl for game.
In addition to Lisa Dunbar, six of Luke Appling's grandchildren were also in attendance with their families. The other grandchildren present were Brett Sumpter, Ben Sumpter, Jack Tribble, Tammy McLaughlin, Jimmy Cox and Luke Appling IV. Joining the immediate family were the Dodds, Senkbeils and Chorons of Linda Sumpter's mothers' family.
The pregame reception included a historical display of artifacts depicting Appling's career provided by the Oglethorpe University archives. A booklet of press clippings detailing Appling's meteoric rise in the world of baseball was presented to family members who were also encouraged to attend a cookout in the right field pavilion free to all Oglethorpe student-athletes.
The accompanying photos show four generations of the Appling family on the steps of the entrance to Oglethorpe's Schmidt Center and Linda Appling Sumpter tossing out the ceremonial first pitch with her family looking on.