Robert Gerald Hank Utley - Biography
Robert Gerald "Hank" Utley was born March 22, 1924 in Concord, North Carolina. He was he oldest son of Jack and Ruby Utley. As a young boy, Hank was a fan of Hank Greenberg, the famed first baseman with the Detroit Tigers. Greenberg's personal integrity influenced the young Utley, as well as his baseball talents. Soon Gerald became known as Hank among his friends and family. Utley graduated from Concord High School where he played on two championship baseball teams.
Like so many men in the early 1940's, Hank Utley served his country during World War II with the US army Air Corp as a 2nd Lieutenant Bombardier on a B-29. After his discharge in 1946, Utley enrolled at North Carolina State University.
Utley played baseball at NC State, receiving the first baseball scholarship in 1946. A third baseman on the North Carolina State Red Terrors, Hank Utley was on the 1946 championship baseball team, the first for NC State in eighteen years. In 1950, Utley graduated from North Carolina State with a BS in Textiles.
A baseball enthusiast and historian, Utley is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). He is nationally recognized for his life-long collection of Hank Greenberg photographs and memorabilia, as well as his research regarding textile mill baseball and the Independent Carolina Baseball League (1936 - 1938) during the Great Depression.
Utley was invited to speak about his research on the Carolina League, 1936-1938 at the 1997 Society For American Baseball Research (SABR) National Conference, June 1997 in Louisville, Kentucky.
In June, 1998, Utley and co-author Scott Verner spoke at the Tenth Annual Symposium on Baseball History and the American Culture, sponsored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. On this occasion, they donated, to the minor league archives, over 50 photographs of professional baseball players that were declared "outlaws" by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NABPL).
Utley and Verner's book, The Independent Carolina Baseball League, 1936-1938, Baseball Outlaws was published by McFarland Press in February, 1999.
Outlaw Ballplayers, by Hank Utley and Tim Peeler with Aaron Peeler was published in June, 2006 by McFarland Press. This book contains interviews, some in their own words, and profiles of baseball players, wives, and management of the Carolina League.
Hank Utley married Jean Ritchie in 1950 and they have two children, Linda and Robert, as well as five grandchildren, Sam, Kelly, Matt, Jessica, and Nicholas. He is a retired textile engineer and served ten years as the Executive Director of the Cabarrus County Boys and Girls Club.