Hillis Layne, 91, died at his daughter's home on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Born on February 23, 1918 in Whitwell, Tn., he was a resident of Chattanooga for most of his life.
He was a longtime member of the East Ridge Church of Christ, where he served as a deacon for many years.
Mr. Layne enjoyed a 37-year career in professional baseball. He was signed by Joe Engel to play in the Washington Senators organization, and played for the Chattanooga Lookouts before being called up to the Washington Senators in the 1941 season.
After his major league career, he led the Pacific Coast league in batting in 1947. He played in nearly 2,000 professional games, with a lifetime batting average of .335.
After his playing days, he was a minor league manager, a minor league director for the Senators, and a baseball scout for the A's, Mets, Senators, and Rangers. He was recognized by the Society for American Baseball Research as one of the top 100 minor league players of all time. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.
Following his baseball career, Mr. Layne managed the downtown Chattanooga Ira Trivers clothing store for 15 years.
Mr. Layne was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Graham Layne; parents, Elijah and Dolly Hudson Layne; and brothers Harrell, Meredith, Seth, and Jewell Layne.
Survivors include a sister, Leona Graham, Whitwell; a son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Pennie Layne, Kingsport; a daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Brian Dowling, Signal Mountain; and four grandchildren, Lori Layne, Clemson, South Carolina; Andrew Layne Johnson City; and Maggie and Jack Dowling, Signal Mountain.
The family will receive friends for visitation from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Chattanooga Funeral Home, East Chapel.
Funeral services will be held at noon on Friday, Jan. 15, at East Ridge Church of Christ with Minister Charles Cochran officiating. Interment will follow in the National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the benevolent room at East Ridge Church of Christ.
Former Major Leaguer Hillis Layne Has
Died At Age 91
Hillis Layne, 91, a Whitwell native, played in the major and minor pro baseball leagues. For much of his career, Layne played for the Seattle Mariniers of the Pacific Coast League. His play on the field earned him the nickname Mandrake after the magician in the comics and the leagues batting championship in 1947.
Other playing stops for Layne included the Chattanooga Lookouts and the major league Washington Senators.
Layne was a scout for many years for the Texas Rangers. Altogether, Mr. Layne spent 40 years playing, managing and as a scout for professional baseball teams.
Layne lived near Boyd Buchanan school in recent years. He was preceded in death many years ago by his wife. He has a son and daughter, sister 94 years, and many nephews an nieces and other relatives.
He was healthy at 91 years, until a sudden heart attack two days ago and died.