Oglethorpe University welcomed the family of 1932 alum and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Luke Appling to the Brookhaven campus this past Saturday for “Luke Appling Day.” Four generations of the Appling family attended the celebration. Appling’s sister, Linda Appling Sumpter, tossed out the first pitch prior to the Petrels’ game against Birmingham-Southern.
“Luke Appling Day” was in observance of the inaugural “NCAA Division III Week,” an initiative launched to celebrate the division’s unique philosophy that equally values academics, athletics and student-athletes’ involvement in a full and rich campus life.
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 three 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 seven All-Star Appearances and won two 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 for Luke Appling Day 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. Her daughter, Erin, Appling’s great grandchild, served as the Stormy Petrel Ball Girl for game. In addition to Lisa, six more of Luke Appling’s grandchildren were in attendance with their families.
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. Oglethorpe student-athletes joined the family members for a post-game cookout in the right field pavilion.