Saturday, July 28, 2012

WWII shortstop became Elvis' bodyguard

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

            One of Elvis Presley’s bodyguards circa 1960 was a former major league ballplayer.
            That’s according to St. Louis sports writer Ed O’Neil (no, not Ed O’Neill the former Youngstown State football player/AlBundy/Jay Pritchett).
            Writing in his “Breezes From Press Box / Picked Up by Bended Ear,” column in the July 6, 1960, Sporting News, O’Neil revealed,
            “Elvis Presley’s bodyguard is a fellow with a brief major league background.
            “Bitsy Mott, paid as a ‘security’ man by Presley, is the same Elisha Matthew Mott who played in 90 games and hit .221 for the 1945 Philadelphia Phillies, playing second, third and shortstop.
            “Mott was a special deputy on the Tampa, Fla., sheriff’s staff before going with Elvis into teen-age combat. In Presley’s G.I. Blues movie, Mott plays a sergeant, tongue-lashing Elvis. He uses the oratorical style he acquired while debating heatedly with umpires.”
            In 1961, Mott appeared, again uncredited, as a state trooper in the Elvis Presley movie, Wild in the Country.
            Mott, whose nickname came from his 5’ 8”, 155-lb. frame, got the Presley gig because his sister married Elvis’ agent, Col. Tom Parker.
            Mott’s pro career began in 1939 and ended in 1957. He played all over the Eastern U.S., mostly in lower-classification leagues in the Southeast. He never played higher than a single game of Class AA ball, with Little Rock of the Southern Association. He was the prototypical “good field, no hit” infielder, batting around .255 for his career.
            As far as I know, Mott never appeared on a baseball card.

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