Leesha Faulkner


With the advent of a limited Major League Baseball season this year, one of the best pitchers in the late 1920s hailed from Tupelo Military Institute and started his Major League career with the Chicago Cubs.

Guy Terrell Bush.

Guy was an Aberdeen native, but ventured up here to the All-America City to attend TMI in 1916. Baseball captured his attention, and he ruled the mound in those four years of high school. After graduation, he cut a swath through the wilderness of semi-pro and independent teams in Mississippi until 1923 after he caught the attention of George Wheatley, president of the Greenville Swamp Angels, who signed him up into professional baseball.

After pitching a doubleheader for the Angels shortly after he arrived, the Cubs signed him to a $1,200 contract and wired him to hop on the train for the Windy City. It is reported that Bush dragged his feet about going to Chicago because of a fear of gangsters and violence. Yet in September 1923 he pitched a ninth inning as a Cubs reliever and struck out two and gave up one hit. The New York Giants beat the Cubs on that day.

Bush worked hard on his curve ball through the years, playing with two other star pitchers, Pat Malone and Charlie Root. For several years, Bush pitched in the shadows of Malone and Root. But he broke out in 1929, beginning the season with a three-hit shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals. By August of that year he had logged a 16-1 record. By post-season, Bush had tossed 270 innings and tied the National League record for saves, winning 18 games total.

He hit a slump just about the time the Cubs went to the World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics. Root and Malone pitched the first two games and lost. Bush started Game Three. He pitched a complete game, giving up nine singles in the 3-1 victory that kept the Cubs in the running. After an inning late in the game as the Athletics led 1-0, the Chicago Tribune sportswriter, pounding away at a manual typewriter in the booth, says, “Bush, as cool as an Alexander, curves a second strike over the plate. On the next throw Miller hits a fly which Stephenson catches. Bush grins, walks toward the dugout, beads of perspiration dripping from his face. That was pitching, pitching that requires skill and courage. Pitching that is worth seeing, worth talking about.”

The Cubs would lose the series. Coming back from a couple of injuries, Bush would pitch for the Cubbies in another World Series, this time against the New York Yankees. The Yankees won that series. Started the first game of the series and give up three hits in five innings, but walked five and the Yankees scored eight runs on him. The Yankees were victorious, 12-6. Bush returned in the fourth game of the series, but pitched only a fourth of an inning. The Yankees won and took the pennant.

In 1934 the Cubs traded Bush to the Pittsburg Pirates. It was the season of 1935 that marked another notch in the TMI graduate’s history and a game against the Boston Braves. Bush took the mound as a reliever. Babe Ruth came to the plate twice during Bush’s stint on the mound and took the Mississippi native two times for homeruns – the last two the Babe would hit out of the park. That 714th, which stood until Hank Aaron broke the Babe’s record in 1974, was the first to clear the right-field grandstand at Forbes Field.

Bush recalled the event the day Aaron broke the record: “I got a signal for another fastball and I came through with one. …(he) got ahead of the ball and hit it over the triple deck, clear out of the ballpark. I’m telling you, it was the longest cockeyed ball I ever saw in my life.”

In 1938 Bush went to the Cardinals, but they cut him early in the season. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels shortly after, returning to the Cubs system through its farm league. He retired, then returned to the Cubs farm league in 1944 and pitched almost a dozen games before the Cincinnati Reds signed him. He played until May, then finished his career after 17 years.

He came home to Shannon shortly after. In 1973 Bush was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. He died of cardiac arrest in July 1985 and is buried in the Shannon cemetery.

LEESHA FAULKNER is curator of the Oren Dunn City Museum. She may be reached at leesha.faulkner@tupeloms.gov.

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