If it hadn't been for baseball Arthur Gardner would not have gone to college at Lipscomb University. But the former shortstop, known across campus as "Tubby", came to Lipscomb and received a degree in business. He is retired but he stays in close contact with the school, especially the baseball program. He will be one of the attendees at a baseball reunion Thursday night on campus. He spoke with Lipscombsports.com this week about how the game sent his life in an unexpected but satisfying direction.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played baseball for Lipscomb from 1954 through '58. Elvis Sherrill was the coach my first year. Charlie "Tiger" Morris coached me the next three years"
How did you find your way to Lipscomb to play baseball?
"Carl Walker was playing first base at Lipscomb at that time. He was a little bit older than me. He encouraged me to come to Lipscomb to play baseball. I wasn't planning on going to college at all.
"I said, `I don't have a way and my parents don't have the money'. He said, `I will come by and pick you up and bring you to school'.
"He said you won't have a scholarship as a freshman and you will have half scholarship as a sophomore if you make the team. I made the team my freshman year.
"I was a day student. I lived at home. I lived in a little place called Baker Town. Nobody now knows where it is. It was where Harding Place and Antioch Pike intersect. All of that was in the country at the time. That is also where Carl Walker lived. We had played baseball together as kids. That is why he encouraged me to come to Lipscomb. I went to Antioch High School.
"Ken Dugan was our centerfielder. Archie Crenshaw was pitching. Hoyt Kirk played second base.
"I was known as a `good glove, no stick' man'. But I have a lot of good comments from my teammates that said I was the best at shortstop."
How did you get the nickname "Tubby", an usual nickname for a shortstop?
"I was heavy when I was four, five or six years old. A family friend started calling me `Tubby' and it stuck with me through college. A lot of professors didn't know my name. They called me Tubby. Old friends still call me that."
Talk about your baseball career after Lipscomb?
"A scout from the Chicago Cubs called me after I left Lipscomb. I thought it was somebody playing a joke on me to tell you the truth. He told me he saw me play at Lipscomb and was interested in signing me. He came by my house on a Saturday and met me and said they would be in touch.
"I went on and played for a couple of years. I wasn't expecting to play pro ball.
"They sent me to the rookie league in Virginia. I played in Pulaski. I got a letter telling me where they wanted me to go and I rode a train from Nashville to Pulaski. I got there about 3 a.m. and I went to the hotel. I couldn't get anybody to come to the door. Finally, a guy came to the door and told me the team had moved about half a mile down the road. I was scared to death.
"I had played shortstop all my life, but in pro ball they put you where they need you. When I joined the team they were already playing. The center fielder tore his knee up and they put me in center field. I never got to play in the infield during those two years which really hurt me. I was a good infielder.
"The next season I went to spring training with the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. They sent me to Paris, Illinois. After that season I came home.
"I came back and started playing in the Nashville City League. There were a lot of ex-pro players in the league. I played there for several years. I was also in the Air National Guard for nine years.
"Bill Dickey (Hall of Famer with the New York Yankees) was a scout for the Yankees. He was scouting a player at Belmont and he came to campus to talk with me. He had heard about me playing here.
"I have several pictures of us together. They didn't sign me. The Cubs and Yankees were the only teams that showed any interest in me."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"I have a lot of fun memories of the teams back then. We all remained good friends through the years. I just enjoyed the opportunity to play baseball.
"Playing at old Onion Dell was a memorable time."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Probably Bill Banowsky and Ken Dugan.
"I wasn't surprised Ken became a successful coach. He was a great ball player. He was very disciplined.
"He was so attentive to the game. He dedicated himself to being better. That was an influence on me.
"Bill started out catching. He had difficulty throwing the ball back to the pitcher. Coach Sherrill had him run the ball back to the pitcher and hand it to him."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"It would be chapel. Ray Walker led the singing my freshman year. The singing was the most memorable thing."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I guess the fact that here at Lipscomb the morals of the school were so strong. There was a cleanliness to people's lives. That aspect was a tremendous influence on me and it has stayed with me throughout my life."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Eugene "Fessor" Boyce and Carroll Ellis.
"Fessor Boyce had such a quiet demeanor. He wouldn't scream at people. He was a very calming person with his speech and mannerism. He was always smiling.
"When I first got to Lipscomb I was majoring in athletic training. He taught me in a kinesiology class.
"I decided to major in business and minor in physical education. I was originally going to be a teacher and a coach.
"Dr. Ellis preached at Waverly-Belmont where I attended. He was always encouraging me and telling me how much he enjoyed watching me play baseball. He was a wonderful influence on me. He was just a swell person."
Where do you live now?
"We live in Old Hickory, Tennessee. We also have a little place in Sebring, Florida where we spend the winter. It is a little town in the central part of Florida."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I worked for First American Bank. And then I went to work for a friend of mine from high school, Ken Stilts, who owned S & S Industries out in Mount Juliet. I was the senior director of finance.
"He later got in the music business and started managing Naomi and Wynonna Judd. I worked for them about 10 years in management taking care of their tour buses. I worked for both S & S and the management company at the same time. I hired all of the bus drivers and kept the buses going. I have been retired since December of 1998."
Tell us about your family.
“My wife, Novella, went to Isaac Litton High School. She was the head majorette there. I met her when I was playing in the city league. She was a fan. We met and got married.
“We have a daughter, Julie, who graduated from Lipscomb. She married Danny Carlton. They met at Lipscomb. They have a son at Goodpasture.
“Our daughter, Joelle, went to the University of Tennessee. She married Tim Fox, who has his Ph.D. They live in Atlanta. They have a daughter and a son.”
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.