Saturday, December 6, 2014

Verdo Wilson Elmore (1899-1969)

Verdo W. Elmore, from the April 25, 1954 Tuscaloosa News.

   The name would be Verdo Wilson, soldier, collegiate and major league baseball player, state senator, judge.....barbecue master? This oddly named man from Pickens County, Alabama is one of the most multifaceted folks you're ever going to read about and is certainly a man most deserving of an online biography. This lifelong resident of Pickens County served overseas during the First World War and in the 1920s played professional baseball with the St. Louis Browns. He would later turn his attention to law and served several months in the Alabama State Senate before being appointed as a Circuit Court Judge for Alabama's 24th district. And if  that weren't enough, Mr. Elmore gained local distinction as a true "master of the grill", garnering the moniker "the Barbecue King of Pickens County."
    Born near Gordo (located in Pickens County) on December 10, 1899, Verdo Wilson Elmore was the son of William Austin and Mary Ann Eads Elmore. A student in the Gordo public school system, Elmore enlisted for service in the First World War in February 1918 and served as a private with the 56th Coast Artillery. He would also serve with the American Expeditionary Forces and in July 1918 was transferred to the Western Front, serving in that area until the sign of the Armistice in November.
   At the conclusion of his service, Elmore returned to Alabama and turned his attention to law studies in the early 1920s. He would enroll at the University of Alabama and during his time there gained a reputation as a standout baseball player, accumulating a batting average of ".439 his freshman year." After graduating from the University of Alabama with his law degree in 1924 Elmore made his move into the big leagues, joining the St. Louis Browns as an outfielder. His time with the Browns would span nearly two weeks in September 1924 and following his time there returned to the minor leagues, playing with "Atlanta in the Southern Association" and dabbled in managing when he managed teams from Texarkana, Texas and Anniston, Alabama.

                                                                                 Verdo Elmore takes a swing.

  Verdo W. Elmore married in June 1927 to Winnie Lois Davis (1902-1979) and the couple would become parents to three children: Verdo Jr. (1929-2004), Margaret Anne (birth-date unknown) and William Walter (1945-1997). Two years following his marriage Elmore suffered a broken leg which in turn caused him to "quit organized baseball." He had earlier began a law practice in Gordo after leaving the University of Alabama and following his injury returned to that practice. Elmore first entered political life in February 1938 when he announced his candidacy for the Alabama State Senate's 14th district, winning election to that body in November of that year
   Elmore's tenure in the senate proved to be short-lived. Just 10 months after his election he was appointed by Governor Frank Dixon as Judge for the 24th judicial circuit of Alabama. He would serve on the bench until 1953 and early in his tenure on the court presided over the trial of R. Murray Pate, a former Tuscaloosa deputy sheriff who was charged in the murder of Macon Oswalt in July 1939.
  In addition to his athletic and judicial activities, Verdo Elmore was an ardent hunter and a veritable "Barbecue King of Pickens County". The Tuscaloosa News reported in his mastery of the barbecue in its April  25, 1954 edition, noting that:
"As much as 250 pounds of barbecue has been served at one time and as many as 300 have attended feasts at the Elmore barbecue grounds at one time......He supervises the barbecuing for church organizations, civic clubs, fox hunting associations and other clubs."
  After many years of public service to Pickens County Verdo Wilson Elmore died at age 69 on August 5, 1969. He was survived by his wife and three children and was later buried at the Gordo City Cemetery in Gordo, Alabama. In an interesting addendum to this write-up' Elmore is the second oddly named baseball player-politician to be profiled here, the other being U.S. Representative from New York Pius Louis Schwert (1892-1941), who played with the New York Highlanders from 1914-1916.


  1. Correction, my father's name was William Walter, not William Wilson. Verdo Sr. And Jr. have Wilson as second names. Thanks

    1. Hello Kari,

      Thank you for the correction! That's one that snuck by me! It has now been corrected.