LIMA — Crack! Marlie Vaughn sent the baseball flying, far enough for him to get his second triple of the game.
He was the star of the Lima police team that day, the only player to get more than one hit, and he also caught a couple of long flies in the outfield. The efforts could not overcome the Lima Locomotive Works team, however, according to a story in The Lima News published in July 1924.
But about a month later, Vaughn — playing right field — helped turn the tables when the police team took down the loco team 4-3.
“It was probably the hardest fought game of the year in the Industrial League,” The Lima News reported.
The police team kept it going with a win against the Dayton police. Vaughn “played an errorless game, air tight from beginning to end” in the outfield, The Lima News reported. The team even challenged other police teams from Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus to “come out of their peaceful holes and take their medicine like obedient disciplinarians.”
The Lima police team wasn’t the only baseball team Vaughn played for. He started playing at a fairly young age in junior city leagues and at church picnics.
Robert Marlie Vaughn was born to Albert and Josephine Vaughn on July 4 around the beginning of the 1900s. Some sources say 1897 while others say as late as 1904. His name is also sometimes reported as Manley Vaughn.
His father died in 1920 before he was able to see much of his son’s success as an amateur baseball player, success reached on African-American teams and teams with white and black players.
One of the first teams Vaughn played for on the amateur level was the Fort Wayne Colored Giants in 1922. In 1924, he played for the Triangles as well as the Lima police team, though he had much more success with the latter.
He was thrown a curve ball in 1925 when he was playing for the Lima Indians. The Lima News reported he broke his right leg when he attempted to slide home. On the upside, the Indians won both games they played that day.
Fortunately, Vaughn was back at it with the Indians by the summer of 1926. He stuck with them for a while and even acted as team manager in 1927. In June of the same year, he had the highest batting average of his team at .333. He continued playing for the Indians until about 1930, including a brief time with the Lima Cardinals in 1928.
Vaughn married Sadie Jones in 1928, but the marriage only lasted until 1933 when Vaughn filed for divorce. They didn’t have any children. Not long after the divorce, he married Mildred Hurd. They had two children in the early 1930s, Marlien and Mattie Jo.
Vaughn’s baseball career was going strong in the early 1930s. He went back to the Lima Cardinals in the summer of 1930 and helped them to a win in their first game of the season. In a game against the Wapakoneta Reds, The Lima News reported Vaughn led with his hitting — getting a triple, double and single — but the Cardinals were defeated that day.
But by the summer of 1931, the Cardinals were undefeated, eventually becoming Hardin-Dixie league and Lima Amateur Baseball champs that year.
In 1932, Vaughn was listed as playing catcher and second base for the African-American team the Lima Grays. He also played with the Lima Indians, Orioles and various other teams, most often as catcher or in the outfield.
Not just one to play baseball, the Central High School graduate involved himself in Lima. He was installed in the Knights of Pythias, Morning Star Lodge 15, in July 1934. In 1935, he won four first prizes with rabbit exhibits at the Ohio State Fair, The Lima News reported. He was a Sunday school teacher at St. Paul AME Church.
In July 1939, the papers reported he and his wife, Mildred, were divorcing. Less than a year later, he was dead.
Vaughn’s body was found on a sidewalk on April 5, 1940. Officials said he had a heart attack. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
In 1951, daughter Marlien Vaughn remembered her father in The Lima News:
“In memory of my father, Marlie Vaughn who passed away 11 years ago today, April 5, 1940.
You are gone but not forgotten,
Tho on earth you are no more:
You are with me still in memory
As you always were before.
You bade no one a last farewell,
You said goodbye to none.
Your loving heart just ceased to beat,
Before I knew it you were gone.
Greatly missed by
His daughter, Marlien A. Vaughn.”
Reach Janna Ross at TLNinfo@civitasmedia.com.