SEWELL, JOSEPH WHEELER (9 Oct. 1898-6 Mar. 1990) outstanding CLEVELAND INDIANS baseball player for 11 years, was born in Wetumpka, Alabama, the son of Jabez Wesley and Susan Hannon Sewell, one of three brothers to play professional baseball. After attending public schools, he enrolled at the University of Alabama, playing college football and baseball with his brother James Luther (Luke) Sewell and contributing to the school's four Southern Intercollegiate baseball championships. After graduation in 1920 he signed with the New Orleans baseball club, but the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract to replace shortstop RAY CHAPMAN who died when hit by a pitched ball.
Sewell batted .329 in the final 22 games of the 1920 season as the Indians won the American League title and the World Series. He played shortstop and third base for the Indians through 1930, moving to the New York Yankees for the 1931-1933 seasons. During his 14-year career, he compiled a batting average of .312 and set five major league records including fewest strikeouts in a season (3) and fewest total strikeouts in a career by an everyday player (114). After Sewell retired in 1933, he coached for the Yankees and scouted for the Indians. As head baseball coach at the University of Alabama, 1964-1971, Sewell compiled a 114-99 won-lost record. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.
Sewell married Willie Veal 31 Dec. 1921, and they had three children, Joseph, Jr., James, and Mary Sue. He died at the home of his son in Mobile, Alabama.