Baseball History for September 16th!

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1849 Rit Harrison
1857 Bill Henderson
1859 Bill Irwin
1864 Henry Easterday
1865 George McVey
1867 Spider Clark
1870 Sam Moran
1877 George McConnell
1887 Jim Galloway
1891 George Orme
1891 Dick Robertson
1898 Al Lefevre
1899 Heinie Mueller
1901 Ken Ash
1904 Edgar Barnhart
1905 Dinny McNamara
1905 Joe Vance
1908 Buster Mills
1912 Emil Bildilli
1919 Bruce Konopka
1922 Con Dempsey
1926 Roger McKee
1926 Kurt Krieger
1928 Vito Valentinetti
1930 Ron Mrozinski
1931 Jerry Schypinski
1944 Chuck Brinkman
1945 Ed Sprague
1945 Hector Torres
1945 Bob Chlupsa
1947 Gary Ross
1949 Mike Garman
1949 Roger Moret
1953 Chris Knapp
1955 Joe Edelen
1955 Robin Yount
1958 Orel Hershiser
1959 Tim Raines
1960 Mel Hall
1960 Mickey Tettleton
1960 Dan Jennings
1961 Chris Pittaro
1961 Scott Medvin
1961 Mark Parent
1967 John Ericks
1968 Mark Acre
1970 Bronswell Patrick
1970 Paul Shuey
1972 Brian Tollberg
1973 Desi Relaford
1976 Chad Harville
1979 Chris George
1979 Bobby Korecky
1982 Ramon Ramirez
1982 Chris Carter
1982 Michael Martinez
1983 Brandon Moss
1985 Matt Harrison
1986 Gordon Beckham
1989 Robbie Grossman

OBITUARIES:

1894 Terry Larkin
1915 Wally Goldsmith
1933 George Gore
1936 Henry Lampe
1944 Farmer Steelman
1946 Emil Bildilli
1951 Bill Klem
1952 Earl Sheely
1955 Dan Sherman
1963 Johnny Niggeling
1964 Herb Conyers
1967 Lee King
1968 Henry Bostick
1970 Ray Shook
1971 Hack Miller
1972 Eddie Waitkus
1973 Tom Long
1974 Frank Walker
1978 Bill Foster
1979 Charlie Deal
1987 Kermit Wahl
1988 Bob Trice
1993 Max Marshall
1994 Harry Chozen
1999 Ace Williams
1999 Doug Hansen
1999 Paul Gregory
2000 John Perkovich
2010 Wayne Twitchell

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1924 Jim Bottomly sets a record with 12 RBI in a win over the Dodgers, 17 – 3. The Card first baseman gets six hits and two homers.

1952 Joe Gordon, now a manager in the PCL, hits a pinch hit homer in both ends of a double header for Sacramento.

1960 Warren Spahn tosses a no-hitter as the Braves beat Philadelphia, 4 – 0. Spahn fans 15 in winning his 20th game.

1965 Dave Morehead blanks the Indians, 2 – 1, but does so without allowing a hit.

1972 I cannot promise you that it’s the first Cubs game I ever went to, but it’s the first one with really clear memories. Burt Hooten hits a grand slam in the third inning off of Tom Seaver and the Cubs beat the Mets 18 – 5 at Wrigley Field. Among the notes: Willie Mays played first base and Seaver went to the showers after giving up the slam to Hooten. Hooten got a standing ovation after the homer – the first one I ever saw, too. Leo Durocher pulled every starter but the two that didn’t get hits, which were catcher Elrod Hendricks and second baseman Glenn Beckert, who went 0 – 6 with 12 men left on base, which is a record. I remember being disappointed that all of my favorite players were pulled in order to play Davey Rosello, Pete LaCock, Billy North, Pat Bourque, Carmen Fanzone, and Jim Tyrone, but I learned to like them, too.

1975 Rennie Stennett goes 7 for 7 win a 22 – 0 Pirate clocking of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He got two hits in both the first and fifth innings.

1988 Cincinnati’s Tom Browning tops the Dodgers, 1 – 0 while throwing a perfect game, fanning eight batters.

Welcome to the Club!!!

1948 – Joe DiMaggio’s 300th homer.
1993 – Dave Winfield’s 3000th hit.
1996 – Paul Molitor’s 3000th hit.
2006 – Alfonso Soriano, 40/40 club.
2007 – Jim Thome’s 500th homer.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1885 Detroit purchases the entire roster of the Buffalo Bisons to acquire Dan Brouthers, Deacon White, and others…

1912 Rule 5 Draft… Among those taken, the Braves took Bill McKechnie from St. Paul in the American Association, and the Cubs took Otis Clymer from Minneapolis.

1961 Washington acquired Claude Osteen from the Reds for a player to be named later (Dave Sisler).

1964 Detroit signs amateur pitcher Dick Drago.

1977 California purchases Carlos May from the Yankees.

2009 The White Sox released Bartolo Colon.

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Happy Birthday, Joe “Pep” Peploski!

 

“It is not his intention to merely pitch or enter faster company as a twirler. He is a valuable man at the bat and on the bases and probably could be turned into a good all around man.”

“Detroit Secures Seton Hall Star”, Bridgeport Farmer, 22 May 1913, Page 7.

A celebrated pitcher with good batting skills, Joseph Peploski turned his successful college career at Seton Hall into a two game tryout with the Detroit Tigers.

Joseph Aloysius Peploski was born 12 September 1891 to a pair of Polish/Russian Immigrants, Stanislaus and Adolpha (or Adele) Peploski.  The pair had children on both sides of the Atlantic according to the 1900 US Census (the 1910 US Census suggests all the kids were born in the United States, but a couple of travel records support the 1900 Census data).  The Peploskis brought three children with them to the United States around 1890, Joseph was born here (baseball records say Brooklyn but the census suggests it might have been in Bayonne, New Jersey) then returned to their home of Czarina.  There, they had a couple more kids and returned to Bayonne – and had two more children so that they could field a full lineup and keep a second pitcher if necessary.

“Peploski was born of Polish parents in Brooklyn twenty years ago. Upon his graduation from a Bayonne, N. J., parochial school he entered the prep, attached to St. Mary’s College, Detroit, where he played on the baseball team, filling the position of shortstop for four years. The remarkable speed with which the freshman shot the ball across the diamond attracted the attention of the varsity coach and in 1909 he took him in hand and gradually moulded him from a fast shortstop into a speedy pitcher. For two years he pitched for the St. Mary’s varsity nine and his record of twenty games won and none lost was brought to the notice of President Navin of the Detroit American club. Although his services were desired by Detroit, Peploski, being desirous of completing his college course, turned down all offers and instead at the end of his sophomore year entered the Seton Hall College, South Orange, becoming a member of the junior class.”

“…The manner in which Peploski lands on the ball has caused him to become an object of fear to every twirler he faces and has helped him to pile up the fine batting average of .512.”

“College Lad Hits .512”, Wilmington News Journal, 04 June 1912, Page 11.

Joe Peploski - Seton Hall 1912In addition to the baseball notes above, Peploski would also play for the Orchard Lake Seminary club, and spend a season in a low level minor league in Keene, VT.  After arriving in Seton Hall, Peploski took to his studies and to his baseball.  Before long, scouts were watching Peploski’s games and it wasn’t certain whether Peploski would be a hitter or a pitcher.

“Big Joe Peploski, of little Seton Hall University, in South Orange, N. J., looks like the most promising college player of the year, according to reports. Buried as he is on a comparatively almost unheard of team, he has fought his way into the glare of the spotlight through sheer merit during the last two seasons. Seton Hall was hardly on the map at all last year, but the remarkable all-around work of this youngster made an otherwise weak team so formidable that the institution was able to build up a schedule containing games with many of the foremost universities in the East this season.

Peploski is a big right-handed pitcher whose strikeout record excels that of any other college twirler in the East, and the greatest number of hits registered off his delivery in any game is six, with the average about four hits. After watching him perform in several games in his home town, three big league scouts sent to look him over agreed that he appeared to be the most promising college player they had laid eyes on. When he isn’t pitching he plays the outfield, and is also a star in that position. His batting average for the two years he has played is over .700. The six-footer wants to play in the garden of the big league team that lands him, which is believed will be the Pirates, though the Tigers have also made him a definite offer.

“Weekly Sport Digest”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 25 May 1913, Section 3 Page 8.

(Author’s note:  How tall was that reporter?  Peploski was a sturdy athlete, but stood 5′ 8″ tall.)

Peploski chose the team that had scouted him before he set foot on the Seton Hall campus and signed with Hughie Jennings and the Detroit Tigers.  He was one of four college players who landed in Detroit.

Joe Peploski - group pictures in 1913

He didn’t sign until after he graduated – Peploski, to his credit, wanted to finish his degree.  However, within days of inking the contract, Peploski was given a chance to play in the majors.  On 24 June 1913, he replaced George Moriarty at third base and played two innings there.  The Tigers trailed the Indians by four runs in the second game of a double header.  In the ninth, though, the Tigers rallied and the bases were loaded when Peploski picked up a bat.  The eager kid took a quick cut and fouled out for the second out of the inning.  Donie Bush followed, though, and doubled home three runs to tie the game.  Three walked batters gave the Tigers a win.

Two days later, Peploski replaced Moriarty again at third base and this time Peploski fielded one ball cleanly while lacing out a pair of singles in three at bats.  The Tigers rallied to tie their game with St. Louis on a Sam Crawford slam, but the Browns won in 14 innings.

Those eight innings at third base, and a .500 batting average is all Peploski would show for his major league career.  Both Retrosheet.org and Baseball-Reference.com would show Peploski as scoring a run, but the box scores don’t agree with that…  Instead, he was sent to Lincoln in the Western League to hone his skills.

“The doctors say that if the ball had struck an eighth of an inch lower the accident would have been fatal…” 

“Peploski’s Injury More Serious Than Was First Reported”, 10 August 1913, Sporting Section Page 2.

At Lincoln, especially with the PEP letters at the beginning of his last name, writers took to calling Peploski “Pepper.”  His season was going along well enough, despite a low batting average, until he was nailed in the head by a relay throw while trying to break up a double play in a game against St. Joseph.  Pep missed about ten days of action before returning to finish the season.

In 1914, Peploski returned to class – he began taking law classes at Fordham – and the ballpark in Lincoln.  However, his batting average continued to hover around .200 and he was released at the end of April.  He signed briefly to play in Utica, then was released to play in the New England League.  Peploski played with Lawrence, MA for about five weeks before was involved in a six player trade with Haverill.  And with that, his professional career was over.

In 1917, however, Connie Mack made a run out of getting Peploski back in professional baseball.  While Joe was a law student at the University of Pennsylvania, Mack offered Pep a chance to play with the Athletics.  Peploski had other ideas.  Now married to Clara T.  Johnson, whom he met at Seton Hall, he had other obligations.  Peploski would play baseball – but only in the semiprofessional leagues for most of the next decade.  He did spend one spring while taking classes at Fordham where he coached college pitchers, but that was it for his baseball life.

Instead, Peploski became a family man – he and his wife had a son, Robert, and a daughter, Marie Claire. Joseph took a position with a law firm, and later was a salesman for a trust company.

Pep Peploski wasn’t the only Pep Peploski to play baseball.  His youngest brother, Henry, was a third baseman in the Boston Braves chain and made it to the big leagues for six games in 1929.  He was so frequently called Pepper, he later changed his name to Henry Pepper.

Apparently, Joe didn’t stay tight with the family. A SABR researcher in Georgia named Tom Hufford was trying to put together data on the two baseball brothers and learned that Henry and Joe didn’t really stay in touch.

“When I asked (Henry) about Joe, he just would not answer. I wrote to him asking for his help on Joe. He ignored the request. After he died, I contacted Henry’s widow and asked her about Joe and she said Joe was kind of the black sheep of the family. He used to come back for an annual family reunion, but when he quit coming around they assumed he had died in 1946 or 1947.”

Levine, Al. “In search of baseball’s past”, Atlanta Constitution, 22 June 1993, Page F-7.

Henry wasn’t the only Peploski to change his name to Pepper.  At some point around 1930, Joseph and his family did the same thing.  When Joseph registered for the draft in 1942, he was Joseph Pepper living in New York and working for Electrical Testing Laboratories.  And, he was already no longer acting like a member of the family.  Joseph, when listing a person on his draft card who would always know his New York City address, listed his doctor.  In the 1940 US Census, Claire Pepper, Robert, and Marie are living without Joe (though Claire is listed as married) in their Plainfield, NJ home.  Claire was now working as a nurse while her son was playing baseball professionally in the minor leagues and Marie was working as a clerk.  When Marie Claire Pepper O’Brien died during heart surgery in 1963, her obituary listed all of her next of kin, except her father.  Claire died in 1976 and her obituary said she was a widow.  Robert Johnson Pepper passed on Halloween in 2002.

Joseph Peploski, now known as Joseph Pepper, died in New York City on 13 July 1972.  His obituary was brief and listed no next of kin.

Sources:

Baseball-reference.com – Joseph Peploski
Baseball-Reference.com – Robert Pepper
Retrosheet.org – Joseph Peploski
Retrosheet.org – Henry Peploski

Findagrave.com

1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census

Boat Transport Records, 1896, 1904

Social Security Death Records (Joseph Pepper)

World War II Draft Registrations (Joseph Pepper and Robert Johnson Pepper)

“Detroit Secures Seton Hall Star”, Bridgeport Farmer, 22 May 1913, Page 7.

“Sporting Notes”, Brattleboro Daily Reformer, 18 April 1913, Page 4.

“Seton Hall, By 7 to 1.”, Boston Globe, 16 May 1913, Page 4.

Box Score in Boston Globe (15 May, 1913, Pg 3).

“Weekly Sport Digest”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 25 May 1913, Section 3 Page 8.

“Sporting Notes.”, Brattleboro Daily Reformer, 25 June 1913, Page 4.

“Great Ninth Inning Finish Gives Tigers an Even Break”, Detroit Free Press, 25 June 1913, Sporting Section Page 1. Includes Photo of New Tigers (Peploski, Harry Elder, Les Hennessy, and Wally Pipp.

“Browns Get to Zamloch in 14th and Beat Tigers 7 to 5”, Detroit Free Press, 27 June 1913, Sporting Section Page 1.

“Lincoln Gets Joe Peploski”, Detroit Free Press, 03 July 1913, Page 10.

Photo of Peploski in New York Sun, 02 June 1912, Sporting Section Page 3.

“College Lad Hits .512”, Wilmington News Journal, 04 June 1912, Page 11.

“Knapp Sets Witches Back in the Second”, Lincoln Daily Star, 20 July 1913, Sporting Section Page 1.

“Sporting News”, Barre Daily Times, 22 July 1913, Page 8.

“Peploski’s Injury More Serious Than Was First Reported”, 10 August 1913, Sporting Section Page 2.

“Two Players Released.”, Nebraska State Journal, 30 April 1914, Page 3.

“Sporting Talk”, Lead Daily Call, 27 June 1914, Page 8.

“Six Players Traded.”, Boston Globe, 12 August 1914, Page 7.

“Honeymooning Apart.”, Bridgewater Courier-News, 06 January 1915, Page 7.

“Peploski To Help Fordham.”, New York Sun, 20 March 1915, Page 11.

“Manufacturers League to Take in Rahway and P. Amboy Next Year”, Central New Jersey Home News, 17 July 1915, Page 10.

“Mack Seeks Peploski”, Washington Herald, 16 September 1915, Page 8.

“Third Sacker For Silk Sox”, Passaic Daily Herald, 23 May 1917, Page 8.

“Family Likes Pepper”, Central New Jersey Home News, 14 September 1946, Page 2.

Levine, Al. “In search of baseball’s past”, Atlanta Constitution, 22 June 1993, Page F-7.

“Mrs. Frank O’Brien”, Bridgewater Courier-News, 01 July 1963, Page 38.

“Mrs. Joseph Pepper”, Bridgewater Courier-News, 05 January 1976, Page 4.

Obit: Joseph Pepper, New York Daily News, 22 July 1972, Page 10.

Happy Birthday, Buzz Wetzel!

 

Charles Wetzel from Scranton Tribune 10 Aug 1927 pg 14

Ed Wetzel, Athletics pitcher as he appeared in the Scranton Tribune in 1927

“Wetzel exhibited his right hand to show a portion (of his thumb) missing down to his first joint and a mangled first finger.  He suffered the accident when he chopped off a portion of his finger hacking trees last winter.

“‘I thought my baseball career was over,’ Wetzel said, ‘but it turned out that this year I’ve won twenty-one and lost five, three of these by one run.  I had to learn to grip the ball a new way and suddenly I found myself tossing curves and using a change of pace I never had before.'”

“Connie Mack Signs Sand Lot ‘Wonder'”, Allentown Morning Call, 24 July 1927, Page 12.

Buzz Wetzel’s baseball career is amazing, really, considering the collection of tragedies, errors in judgment, and other events in a five-decade life that took a young orphan from a Cherokee Indian reservation to a spot on the Philadelphia Athletics.

Charles Edward Wetzel, Jr. was born 25 August 1894 to Charles Edward Wetzel, Sr. and Orlena (Petty) Wetzel in the town of Jay, a Cherokee Indian reservation town on the eastern edge of the Oklahoma Territory.  Young Ed Wetzel was a grandchild of the Trail of Tears and 1/32nd Cherokee Indian (one source suggested 3/64ths).  His paternal grandmother, Martha (McDonald) Wetzel, had Cherokee blood and had been born in Georgia before her family was forced to relocate to the Oklahoma Territory.  Within months of Ed’s birth, however, Martha and her husband, Daniel King Wetzel, would have to raise their four grandchildren when both Charles Sr. and Orlena both succumbed to typhoid fever.

A childhood accident – his brother accidentally chopped off a chunk of his right thumb leaving Ed with only half of his original digit – would be the first of two significant injuries to his throwing hand during his life.  Despite this, he learned the game of baseball and found that he was able to throw the ball with considerable velocity.  Armed with a fastball and a seventh grade education, Ed Wetzel would play semi-professional baseball in Bixby, Oklahoma – now a bedroom suburb of Tulsa – and once was allowed to pitch for the Haskell Indian College team in an exhibition game.

By now, he was already married.  Charles Wetzel married Anna Grace Douglas, also part Cherokee, and they had a son, James.  Both events occurred in 1914 – which, based on the timing of the birth and marriage dates, suggested that their wedding may have been hastily arranged.  After working on farms in Oklahoma, Charles and Grace moved to Arkansas where he was a mechanic and later a fireman when not pitching or playing first base.  The Wetzels bounced back and forth between Arkansas and Oklahoma for the first several years of their marriage.

“Ed Wetzel, who was with the Miners during the closing two weeks of the last campaign, evidently had a head start on some of the boys. He cut loose with a fast ball that landed in the receiver’s mitt with a bang that would tumble the walls of Jericho.”

“Vanguard of Miner Squad Starts Training at Miami”, Joplin Globe, 15 March 1921, Page 6.

They were living in Bixby in 1920 when someone arranged for Ed to get a tryout with the Joplin Miners of the Western League.  He would spend spring training in Miami, OK learning the art of pitching alongside another future major leaguer, Oscar Roettger, but only Roettger would stay.  Wetzel was dispatched to Fort Smith of the Western Association.  As that league wouldn’t begin games until June, Wetzel returned to Bixby where he could work and pitch until the season began.

Almost immediately, Ed Wetzel became “Thumbless Ed” – that name was used in newspaper articles for the next several years.  And, he became one of the better starters on the staff that would lose a seven game playoff series to Chickasha, the league pennant winners.  Among his better efforts was a shutout in game six that forced a seventh and deciding game.  Noticed for his incomplete hand and his pitching prowess, Joplin recalled Wetzel to pitch in a Western League game.  And, Joplin pitched Wetzel to the Cincinnati Reds, who put in a claim for the now twenty-five year old pitcher.

“Wetzel has but part of his thumb on his pitching hand, but has a good curve ball in spite of the fact…”

“Signed Contract of Ed Wetzel Arrives”, Joplin Globe, 25 January 1922, Page 8.

Wetzel signed with Joplin for 1922, but he wouldn’t pitch there.  Joplin’s franchise was sold to Denver.  That team was awful, barely winning a third of its games through July before finishing with a record of 59 – 97.  Wetzel, however, was wonderful.  He’d walk a lot of batters (120 in 236 innings – more than his 88 strikeouts), but his record was 12 – 13.  The next season, however, Wetzel wasn’t in good shape.  Between a sore arm and various illnesses, he hardly pitched in 1923.  The next year, he nearly signed with the Fort Smith Twins again but finally landed with Wichita Falls in the Texas League.  Still not pitching well, his contract was sold to the Springfield Midgets of the Western League.

Eventually, he was released and found work in Des Moines, Iowa and pitched semi-pro ball.  He even beat his former Springfield teammates in an exhibition game.  So, Springfield took him back.  His second stint with Springfield was equally poor.

“‘Thumbless’ Wetzel has proven a failure on the mound. He has had plenty of chances to show his wares with the Midgets, but to date has failed to turn in but one victory, that being the first game he pitched, when the Midgets spotted him 16 runs.”

“Rain Prevents Topeka Clash”, Springfield Missouri Republican, 21 June 1924, Page 5.

Wetzel hit a home run – an inside the park shot – in a loss to Hutchinson, but that was his last good moment with the Springfield Midgets.  He would next sign to pitch for Des Moines in the Western League, but that didn’t go well either.

“‘Thumbless Ed’ Wetzel, who started for Des Moines had his ‘home run’ ball working nicely. (Tony) Lazzeri socked for the circuit in the second…”

“Much Long Distant Hitting Features Lincoln’s Ten Inning Victory”, Nebraska State Journal, 3 September 1924, Page 3.

Wetzel’s contract called for a bonus at the end of the season, but if he didn’t receive that bonus he would become a free agent.   Baseball-Reference.com suggests his record for 1924 was 4 – 19 and it could have been even worse than that.  Still – there were teams desperate for pitching and Omaha would give Wetzel a chance in 1925.   That didn’t work out – he was released and returned to Des Moines, which was his new home.  He would pitch well in semi-professional leagues, get one more shot with Des Moines – which was a disaster – and return to the semi-pro Des Moines Elks.  Not every team in Des Moines appreciated that the Elks got a professional pitcher to help finish the season, but Wetzel was allowed to pitch and the Elks would win the city championship.

Charles Wetzel from Des Moines Tribune in 1925

The Des Moines Elks in 1925; Ed Wetzel is second from the left.

Somewhere around this time, unhappy with his baseball life and unhappy with his home life, Ed Wetzel decided to leave and move to Ohio.  He found work there doing carpentry and pitching for Massillon in a semi-pro league there.  After the 1926 season, Wetzel was chopping or cutting wood when he ripped into the index finger of his throwing hand.  That finger was shredded some, anchored as best as possible by doctors, and left him with half of a thumb and a mostly immobile pointer finger, misshapen by injury.

Now 32 years old and with a mangled hand, Wetzel thought his baseball life was over.  And, given his poor performances in lower level minor leagues over the previous five years, it probably should have been.  Ed picked up a baseball and started throwing.  What he found was that if he gripped the ball with his outer three fingers and released it over his first finger, he got a lot more spin.  Suddenly, he had a legitimate curve and a change up to go with his fastball, which wasn’t as fast as it used to be, but was still pretty good.

Pitching for Massillon in 1927, Wetzel got a new nickname.  He was occasionally called Buzz because he was being confused with Henry “Buzz” Wetzel, a former minor league infielder who happened to manage for Muskogee in Oklahoma and now returned to Ohio where he was a very successful minor league manager and eventually a minor league director for the Cleveland Indians.  (Later on, a third Buzz Wetzel would appear.  Damon Wetzel was a fine football player who played with the Chicago Bears and later was the general manager who hired Hugo Bezdek to coach the Cleveland Rams in the NFL.)  Ed must have appreciated being called something other than Thumbless Ed.

Wetzel’s pitching went from pretty good to very good, first earning the notice of scouts and then the attention of Earl Mack, Connie Mack’s son.  He was a little bit Albert “Chief” Bender and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.

“He’s a great young pitcher,” said Connie Mack, introducing the youngster. “He’s been in the big league before and was only a fair performer until an accident to his right hand gave him a peculiar curve which has made him one of the best hurlers our scouts have ever picked up. My scouts tell me he’s as good as some of our high salaried pitchers.

“My son Earl really got him for the A’s. Wetzel was the only pitcher who could defeat a famous colored team around Pittsburgh and the manager got in touch with Earl to look him over…”

“Connie Mack Signs Sand Lot ‘Wonder'”, Allentown Morning Call, 24 July 1927, Page 12.

Mack told writers that Wetzel was twenty nine even though he was approaching 33 years old.  Wetzel was named the starter for a game against the Detroit Tigers on 25 July 1927.  Seven Hall of Famers appeared in this game – Wetzel would pitch to Mickey Cochrane while facing Heinie Manush, Charlie Gehringer, and Harry Heilmann.  Ty Cobb played center field that day for the Athletics as Al Simmons was benched with a groin injury, moving Zack Wheat to left field.  (Curtis Wheat, also nicknamed Buck but no relation to Zack, was briefly Ed Wetzel’s catcher in Des Moines in 1924.)   Eddie Collins would pinch hit in the ninth and help tie the score.  (In addition to Simmons, another Hall of Famer, Lefty Grove, sat on the bench.)  By then, however, Wetzel was already out of the game.

Wetzel started off a bit rocky, giving up three runs in the first inning.  When the last wheel fell off in the fourth inning, he was removed for Jing Johnson.  Still – the Athletics scored one run in five different innings, the last in the ninth to tie it.  Rube Walberg pitched into the thirteenth inning and got the win when Jimmy Dykes homered on the first pitch of the Athletics half of that inning.  Wetzel’s line was 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits, four walks, and five runs – four of them earned.  Wetzel batted once, singling and scoring a run.

Three days later, Wetzel came on in relief of Eddie Rommel and pitched a scoreless inning against the Tigers, though he walked a batter.  A short while later, Mack returned Wetzel to Massillon, who finished the season winning a semi-pro pennant.

The week spent with the Athletics in 1927 gave Wetzel a new professional career.  Invited to pitch by Portland, he made the Pacific Coast League team in spring training.  However, his 1928 season with Portland lasted just two weeks.  Released, he landed with the Oakland Oaks and in his first start there, beat the San Francisco Seals.  Unfortunately, the first impression didn’t last and was replaced by a second impression – that of a drinking man.

“Loss of ball games is not all that Manager Ivan Howard has to worry about these days. Just when he believed his pitching problems had been solved through the signing of Pitcher Charlie Wetzel, a Portland Beaver castoff, along comes Mr. Wetzel to report an attack of ‘flu.’ The pitcher has not shown up at the Oakland ball park all week and investigation proved that he was suffering with a new kind of “flu.” The failure of the pitcher to keep in condition will mean his release within the next couple of days.

“Del Howard, business manager of the Oaks, said yesterday that Wetzel has the makings of a great pitcher, but with a team losing almost daily it is no time to fool around with a fellow who will not keep his mind on the game. The Oaks gave Wetzel a bonus and transportation to bring his wife out here from the east and now they are about to give him transportation elsewhere.”

Murphy, Eddie. “Charlie Wetzel to Draw Release From Oakland Ball Club”, Oakland Tribune, 05 May 1928, Page 10.

The pitcher with at least nine baseball lives wasn’t finished, though.  Another player fell injured and Oakland was forced to keep Wetzel around.  He pitched well for ten innings in a thirteen inning victory over Seattle.  He’d pitch a lot of long relief.  However, his time ran out in mid-July.

“Charlie (Buz) Wetzel, Oak pitcher who was released early in the season and then taken on again when he promised Manager Ivan Howard that he would not break training rules, is once again a free agent. The Oaks handed him his release yesterday afternoon when he failed to arrive at the ball park in time for the usual practice before the game. Wetzel’s team-mates regret he has been released, as he was popular among them, but the Oaks cannot afford to take chances during the second half.”

“Oaks Drop Wetzel, Sign Western Leaguer”, Oakland Tribune, 18 July 1928, Page 14.

Begging manager Ossie Vitt for a job, the Hollywood Stars took on Wetzel for the final weeks of the season and pitched well enough to stay on the next season.  He stayed in shape by pitching for semi-pro teams throughout the winter.  The Stars got off to a slow start, but they all roared down the stretch to win the second half crown and then topped the Missions in the post season to win the Pacific Coast League pennant.  Wetzel, now 35, finished with 18 wins, earning a bonus.

Charles Wetzel and Frank Schellenback in Oakland Tribune in 1930 - AP Wire Photo

Wetzel (L) and Frank Shellenback, Hollywood pitchers as they appeared in the Oakland Tribune in 1930.

In 1930, Wetzel was more of a swing man for the Stars – he’d appear in 44 games starting and relieving as necessary.  He had a winning record again, 13 – 11, though his ERA was 5.58 and he still walked a few more batters than he struck out.  He was liked by his teammates – he stuck up for players on his team who had been beaned, was fun to have around the clubhouse, and at this point, he could pitch without much practice right from the start of the season (pitching winter ball surely helped keep him in shape).

It’s no surprise to learn that Wetzel is in early shape for Buzz has one of those rubber arms. All he has to do is take off his sweater and he’s ready…

“Sheiks Like Carlsbad”, Los Angeles Times, 27 February 1931, Part II, Page 12.

Unfortunately, Wetzel still liked an occasional beverage and once in a while it would get him in trouble.  He was suspended during spring training in 1931 and put on probation.  He must have shown up unprepared in July as Vitt left Wetzel in the game where Portland trounced the “peevish” pitcher, winning 18 – 8 and getting 24 hits.  Soon after that, Wetzel was arrested for reckless driving and liquor possession – someone notified the police that he was driving from curb to curb on a local road – and was released.

In 1932, still with a few baseball lives left, Wetzel signed with the Los Angeles Angels, who released him after six weeks.  Next he pitched for Seattle briefly before returning to the Los Angeles area to pitch semi-pro baseball.  Remarkably, his career wasn’t over.  He was signed by Hollywood after a good spring training where he became the fifth starter/long reliever for the Stars.  He appeared in 42 games and went 14 – 10 for the 1933 Pacific Coast League champions.

His arm wasn’t as good in 1934, though.  After a few relief appearances with Seattle, a ninth baseball life ending just before his 40th birthday, Wetzel’s professional career was finally over.

By now, Ed Wetzel had remarried.  He met the Iowa-born Hattie May Birdsall in Des Moines.  Hattie was a widow whose first husband died months after their wedding in 1915.  She appears with Ed in the 1930 census and they would live in Los Angeles until about 1938 when Ed was hired as a carpenter for an asbestos mining company in Arizona.  After a few years, he would take a position helping with the expansion project at Fort Huachuca, which was preparing for World War II.  By then, however, he already had a blood infection and a couple of months later pneumonia would take the 46-year-old Wetzel’s life on 07 March 1941.

Wetzel left behind his wife, Hattie, who ran off to Ohio with Ed around 1926.  Hattie would return to Los Angeles and live in the area near her stepson until her death in 1956.  James Edwin Wetzel, Ed’s son, left this world in 1971.  His mom, Anna Grace Douglas Ray would outlive them all, taking her final breath in 1981.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Retrosheet.org

1896 Cherokee Census
1900 US Census
1910 US Census
1920 US Census
1930 US Census
1940 US Census

World War I Registration Card

Arizona Death Records

Iowa Birth Records

Iowa Marriage Records

Social Security Death Index

Findagrave.com – Charles Wetzel, Jr.
Findagrave.com – Charles Wetzel, Sr.
Findagrave.com – Orlena Wetzel (1)
Findagrave.com – Orlena Wetzel (2)
Findagrave.com – Martha Wetzel
Findagrave.com – Anna Grace Douglas Ray
Findagrave.com – James Edwin Wetzel

Wikipedia.com – Damon Wetzel

Family records provided to Ancestry.com by (User Name = Kitty Acres)…

“Two Stars Join Mets; Three Men Released”, Muskogee Daily Phoenix, 15 April 1916, Page 2.

“Manager Wetzell Arrives in Town”, Muskogee Daily Phoenix, 04 March 1917, Page 8.

“Mets and Twins Stage Burlesque”, Muskogee Daily Phoenix, 15 June 1917, Page 8.

“Buzz Wetzel Severs His Connections With ‘Mets'”, Tulsa Daily World, 13 August 1917, Page 2.

“Bixby Vs. Jenks.”, Bixby Bulletin, 23 May 1919, Page 1.

“Bixby Wins Game”, Bixby Bulletin, 28 May 1920, Page 1.

“O.P. & R. Defeats Bixby”, 25 June 1920, Page 1.

“Taken Up.”, Bixby Bulletin, 23 July 1920, Page 8.

“24 Miners Given Training Orders”, Joplin Globe, 23 February 1921, Page 4.

“Miners Assembling for Spring Training”, Joplin Globe, 13 March 1921, Page 10.

“Vanguard of Miner Squad Starts Training at Miami”, Joplin Globe, 15 March 1921, Page 6.

“Thumb-Nail Sketch of Miner Squad Prepared by The Globe for Fans”, Joplin Globe, 20 March 1921, Page 11.

“Weather Halts Two Games With Giants Here; Blues To Open Series Wednesday”, Joplin Globe, 29 March 1921, Page 6.

“Bixby Twirlers Win First Three Games.”, Bixby Bulletin, 22 April 1921, Page 1.

“Crown Petroleum Ball Team of Bixby”, Bixby Bulletin, 20 May 1921, Page 1.

“Chickasha Forges Ahead By Taking Third Game, 7 – 0”, Daily Arkansas Gazette, 23 September 1921, Page 8.

“Cincinnati Buys Wetzel”, Daily Arkansas Gazette, 11 September 1921, Page 15.

“Fort Smith Wins, 4 to 0: Game Today Decides Flag”, Daily Arkansas Gazette, 27 September 1921, Page 10.

“Signed Contract of Ed Wetzel Arrives”, Joplin Globe, 25 January 1922, Page 8.

“Rosenberg Leaves For St. Louis For Players”, Joplin Globe, 26 January 1922, Page 6.

Bixby Bulletin, 03 March 1922, Page 3.

“First Denver Player Reports For Practice”, Sioux City Journal, 13 March 1922, Page 7.

“Sioux City Is Defeated in Exhibition Contest by Denver Club”, Sioux City Jounal, 25 March 1922, Page 16.

“Trailing Bears Won From Chesty Saints”, St. Joseph News-Press, 06 May 1922, Page 10.

“Grizzlies Pound Gregory Hard to Trim Wichita”, Wichita Daily Eagle, 14 July 1922, Page 8.

“Weekly Happenings of Local Interest”, Bixby Bulletin, 04 August 1922, Page 4.

“Bixby Boy With Denver”, 20 April 1923, Page 1.

Sioux City Journal, 03 September 1923, Page 3.

“Wetzel May Again Play With Twins”, Springfield Leader and Press, 13 January 1924, Page 8.

“Aid From Cubs Puts Spudders in Flag Chase”, Houston Post, 13 April 1924, Page 20.

“Steers Pound Spudders For Many Bingles”, Houston Post, 21 April 1924, Page 8.

“Midgets Start To Change Their Club”, Joplin Globe, 10 May 1924, Page 8.

“‘Thumbless’ Wetzel May Join Local Club”, Springfield Missouri Republican, 10 May 1924, Page 5.

“Sevastopol Victor Over City Railway”, Des Moines Register, 12 May 1924, Page 8.

“‘Thumbless’ Wetzel Tames Former Mates”, Springfield Missouri Republican, 16 May 1924, Page 7.

“Wetzel Fails To Stage Comeback And Midgets Lose, 7 to 2”, Springfield Missouri Republican, 20 June 1924, Page 5.

“Rain Prevents Topeka Clash”, Springfield Missouri Republican, 21 June 1924, Page 5.

“Midgets Divide Double Bill With Shockers”, Springfield Missouri Republican, 03 July 1924, Page 7.

“Ed Wetzel Is Signed by Des Moines Club”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, 15 July 1924, Page 11.

“Ed Wetzel And Wilson Puzzle Kansas Hitters”, Des Moines Register, 17 July 1924, page 11.

“Boosters, With Terrible Ball Club, Continue to Get Their Daily Beatings”, Des Moines Tribune, 31 July 1924, Page 19.

“Much Long Distant Hitting Features Lincoln’s Ten Inning Victory”, Nebraska State Journal, 3 September 1924, Page 3.

“Wetzel Signed By Omaha Buffaloes”, Nebraska State Journal, 11 January 1925, Page 7.

“Hutton’s Fine Pitching Is Too Much For Omaha Club”, Des Moines Tribune, 12 May 1925, Page 14.

Western League stats from the Lincoln Star, 14 June 1925, Page 14.

“Elks Defeat Newton In Hurler’s Battle”, Des Moines Tribune, 22 June 1925, Page 16.

“Elks Beat Southern Surety and Lead in City League”, Des Moines Tribune, 27 June 1925, Page 18.

“Demons Are Walloped In Third Game At Omaha, 13 to 8”, Des Moines Tribune, 02 July 1925, Page 18.

“Faeth to Join Locals; Release Pitcher Wetzel”, Des Moines Register, 07 July 1925, Page 9.

“Demons Play at Home Today”, Des Moines Tribune, 11 July 1925, Page 8.

“Surety Questions Officers’ Rights In Semipro Loop”, Des Moines Register, 13 August 1925, Page 11.

“Ed Wetzel of Elks Declared Eligible”, Des Moines Register, 19 August 1925, Page 15.

“Double Triumph Gives Elks City League Pennant”, Des Moines Register, 08 September 1925, Page 10.

Photo – Elks Team, 1925. Des Moines Tribune, 19 September 1925, Page 3.

“Regulars and Massillon Agathons to Play for Championship of Loops”, Coshocton Tribune, 27 September 1927, Page 3.

“1000 Catasauqua School Children See Athletics Defeat Detroit, 6-5”, Allentown Morning Call, 26 July 1927, Page 18.

“Detroit Jolts Mackmen in Series Final, 5 to 2”, Lancaster News Journal, 29 July 1927, Page 16.

“Mack Signs Wetzel; To Use Him Tuesday”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 24 July 1927, Page 27.

“Connie Mack Signs Sand Lot ‘Wonder'”, Allentown Morning Call, 24 July 1927, Page 12.

Image of Ed Wetzel from Scranton Tribune, 10 September 1927, Page 14.

“Agathons Triumph Over Athletics, 10 – 3”, Akron Beacon Journal, 31 August 1927, Page 19.

“Ducks Work in Orange County”, Los Angeles Times, 21 February 1928, Page 44.

“Seraphs Wallop Portland in Opener, 11 to 5”, Los Angeles Times, 04 April 1928, Section Three, Pages 1 – 2.

“Oaks Sign Wetzel, Portland Castoff”, San Francisco Examiner, 17 April 1928, Page 31.

“Oaks Stop Smead Jolly and Defeat Seals”, Oakland Tribune, 20 April 1928, Page 38.

Murphy, Eddie. “New Talent Makes Good for San Francisco Seals”, Oakland Tribune, 20 April 1928, Page 37.

Murphy, Eddie. “Charlie Wetzel to Draw Release From Oakland Ball Club”, Oakland Tribune, 05 May 1928, Page 10.

Murphy, Eddie. “Lary’s Injury Halts Oaks’ Pruning”, Oakland Tribune, 08 May 1928, Page 26.

“Oaks Divide Double Bill With Indians”, Los Angeles Times, 21 May 1928, Page 14.

“Oaks Drop Wetzel, Sign Western Leaguer”, Oakland Tribune, 18 July 1928, Page 14.

“Wetzel Hurls Star Triumph”, Los Angeles Times, 06 September 1928, Pages 9, 11.

“P. E. Team To Play Santa Fe”, San Bernadino County Sun, 22 November 1928, Page 15.

“Rally Brings Win to Solons”, Los Angeles Times, 27 March 1929, Section Three, Pages 1, 3.

Photo of Buzz Wetzel from Oakland Tribune, 06 May 1929, Page 23.

“Oaks Defeat Stars In The Sixteenth”, Oakland Tribune, 09 May 1929, Page 38.

“Foul Tips”, Los Angeles Times, 10 August 1929, Page 9.

“Stiff Finger Aids In Throwing Curves”, Oakland Tribune, 23 August 1929, Page 41.

“Hollywood Wins Coast League Flag Over Missions in Playoff”, Bend Bulletin, 14 October 1929, Page 2.

“Cokes to Play Doubleheader”, San Bernadino County Sun, 08 December 1929, Page 19.

“Beavers Take Edge In Series Against Stars”, Medford Mail Tribune, 05 May 1930, Page 5.

“Coast League Pitching Records for Season 1930”, Oakland Tribune, 14 December 1930, Page B-3.

“Sheiks Like Carlsbad”, Los Angeles Times, 27 February 1931, Part II, Page 12.

“In Coast League’s Workouts”, Klamath News, 27 March 1931, Page 6.

“Beavers Plaster Hollywood 18 – 8”, Corvallis Gazette-Times, 23 July 1931, Page 4.

“Stars Get Pitcher From N. Y. Yankees”, San Bernadino County Sun, 01 August 1931, Page 20.

“Wetzel Gets Release”, Spokane Spokesman-Review, 24 September 1931, Page 15.

“Sports Tabloids”, Bend Bulletin, 24 September 1931, Page 2.

“Driving Charge Causes Jailing of Ball Player”, 19 January 1932, Page 10.

“Hollywood Stars Look Out From Top”, Bakersfield Californian, 20 May 1932, Page 17.

“Acme Brews Open Series Today Against Pasadena Merchants”, San Bernadino County Sun, 14 August 1932, Page 15.

Ray, Bob. “Wetzel Twirls Cripples to 7-4 Win Over Acorns”, Los Angeles Times, 01 June 1933, Section II Page 1.

“Buzz Wetzel Given Release By Stars”, Fresno Bee, 09 July 1933, Section C, Page 1.

“Buzz Wetzel Dies of Blood Infection”, Oakland Tribune, 10 March 1941, Page 12.

“‘Buzz’ Wetzel, Ex-Coast Pitcher, Dead”, Santa Ana Register, 10 March 1941, Page 7.

Abilene Reporter-News, 13 March 1941

“Henry ‘Buzz’ Wetzel, 79, Is Dead; Former Baseball Team Operator”, Zanesville Times Recorder, 06 April 1961, Page 1.

 

In Search Of… Oscar Charleston’s Gravesite!

Armed with the address of the cemetery courtesy of the book Baseball Roadmap and an article we found online by Greg Doyel, Andy Finch and I headed to the Floral Park Cemetery in Indianapolis hoping to pay our respects to Baseball Hall of Famer, Oscar Charleston.

Doyel’s writings were kind of helpful – he explains how he got there and drops a couple of hints in there.  He lists a couple of nearby graves that helped us narrow things down, but to be honest – he led us down a rabbit hole in a different article about finding Mordecai Brown’s historical marker (it’s not on Adams Road, as his article suggests).  And, he doesn’t tell you exactly where it is.  (Still a nice article.)  That led to an extended walk through the cemetery.  We eventually found Charleston’s grave site, but Andy and I figured we might not be the only ones who might want to stop and pay our respects, so we’ll help you out and save you a little search time.

Floral Park Cemetery - Google Map View

  1. Floral Park Cemetery is easy enough to find.  The office is just off Holt Road and Cossell Road at the northwest corner of the cemetery
  2. So far as we can tell, there are only two ways into the cemetery and both are on Cossell Road.
  3. Based on the location information on FindAGrave.com you are looking for the Maple Lawn section.

You can’t find that section.  There are no markings for it.

The first hint from Doyel’s writings is to find an area with hardly any trees in the back of the cemetery, where those who are buried there are likely to have been people with fewer means than those in the more tree-lined areas.  And, there are hardly any markers that are above ground – most of them are at ground level (and covered with grass clippings or mud).

There are two areas that fit this bill more than others – and both are in the southern corners.  The one to the southwest (and we checked) is mostly kids, toddlers and babies.  The one to the southeast, though, is where we found Oscar.

So – once you are in the cemetery, head east until you find the mausoleums.  Then, follow that road south.  Along the way, before you make the hard right turn, you’ll see a small marker that reads “K 8” in front of a smallish tree with red hints in the summer leaves.

Floral Park Cemetery - Google Map View

If you look along the ground, you should be able to make out what looks to be a cement line that starts near the tree by the marker toward another tree standing more or less by itself along that line.  The cement line separates this area in half (you might see the number 4 scratched into it).  With your eyes (and legs), follow that line to the small maple tree standing there.  Close to it, unlike most of the other markers in this section, you will see a brighter white grave stone sticking out of the ground about three or four inches.  You can’t really miss it.  In fact, if you zoom in on the southeast corner of the Google map, you can clearly see the white marker by the smallish, lonely maple tree that is along that cement line that separates the section in half.

Floral Park Cemetery - Google Map View - Close Up

The really white marker is just below that tree that is along the cement line running right along the center of this section of the cemetery.

Oscar Charleston’s grave is the one immediately to the left (as you are facing the markers).  On the picture above, it’s the marker right below the brighter white one just below the small maple tree in the middle of the picture.

Charleston Grave Marker

So – enter the cemetery.  Drive toward the mausoleums on the eastern edge of the main cemetery.  Then, head south.  Look for the K-8 sign.  Park the car, walk straight along the marked line from the K-8 sign to the small maple tree where you will see a bright white marker.  That’s not Oscar’s marker, but his is right next to it.

Happy hunting!

Happy Birthday, Walker Buehler!

Walker Buehler Topps 2018 RC

Buehler’s Topps Rookie Card (2018) taken from my collection…

Walker Buehler, now (2019) in his third season in the major leagues, is a hard throwing right handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Born 28 July 1994 to Tony and Karen Buehler in Lexington, KY, Walker (named after his mother’s maiden name) moved to the mound because the scrawny kid couldn’t hit for any power.  His grandfather, Dave Walker, taught him to pitch much like Justin Verlander, and he was effective with that delivery – over the years adding five more pitches to complement his fastball.  Eventually he gained size and strength and looked to be a possible first round pick out of Henry Clay High School, but fell to the 12th round.  He chose, instead, to head to Vanderbilt where he developed a strength training regimen that allowed him to build to a 98 MPH fastball.  He struggled his junior year, though, which allowed him to fall to the Dodgers in the 2015 draft.  The struggle turned out to be an elbow injury, which required Tommy John surgery after the draft.

Buehler needed a year to recover, but by the end of the 2017 season he was in the majors and in 2018 became a regular member of the rotation and arguably as good as anyone in that rotation (including a late-prime Clayton Kershaw, who remains as valuable a pitcher as ever, though he misses a few starts each year to various injuries).

Sources:

Verducci, Tom. “Buehler? Buehler?”, Sports Illustrated, 12 August 2019, Pages 30 to 38.

(Really?  That’s the best headline you guys could come up with?  No originality.)

Baseball-Reference.com

 

Baseball History for July 3rd

<– JULY 02     JULY 04 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1861 William McLaughlin
1869 Nig Cuppy
1881 Fred Olmstead
1881 Cliff Curtis
1882 Bill Tozer
1882 Tom Tennant
1885 Jack Dalton
1886 Mike Balenti
1888 Wese Callahan
1891 Joe Houser
1892 Bunny Brief
1893 Dickey Kerr
1896 Curt Walker
1897 Chet Nichols
1897 Heinie Sand
1900 Joe Brown
1904 Luke Hamlin
1914 Buddy Rosar
1920 Al Montgomery
1920 Paul O’Dea
1922 Howie Schultz
1922 Art Fowler
1930 Al Pilarcik
1930 Jim Westlake
1931 Ed Roebuck
1940 Coco Laboy
1940 Cesar Tovar
1941 Casey Cox
1948 Phil Meeler
1950 Rob Ellis
1952 Ryan Kurosaki
1952 John Verhoeven
1953 Frank Tanana
1955 Matt Keough
1955 Jeff Rineer
1956 Larry Whisenton
1957 Danny Heep
1959 Kurt Kepshire
1960 Jack Daugherty
1963 Don August
1964 Warren Newson
1965 Greg Vaughn
1966 Moises Alou
1968 Mike Farmer
1975 Christian Parker
1978 Juan Rivera
1980 John Koronka
1981 Dan Meyer
1982 Logan Kensing
1983 Edinson Volquez
1985 Greg Reynolds
1986 Tommy Hunter
1987 Zach Putnam
1987 Casey Coleman
1990 Brandon Maurer

OBITUARIES:

1891 John Cassidy
1924 Ed Householder
1929 Bill McClellan
1936 Bill Niles
1940 John Stafford
1941 Tom McCreery
1944 Pete McBride
1944 Charlie Reynolds
1948 Charles Witherow
1950 Ed Donalds
1951 Hugh Casey
1952 Fred Tenney
1957 Dolf Luque
1958 Paul Smith
1959 Red Barnes
1960 Bill Killefer
1962 Jimmy Walsh
1965 Hank Robinson
1968 Pat Simmons
1969 Hunky Shaw
1969 Harry Spratt
1972 Leroy Herrmann
1975 Ed Johnson
1981 George Knothe
1982 Spence Harris
1986 Bill McCahan
1992 George Staller
1993 Don Drysdale
1997 Rufe Gentry
2002 Earl Francis

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1912 Rube Marquard won his 19th consecutive game to start the season by beating Brooklyn. The Giant lefty would win only seven more decisions the rest of the way.

1936 Ted Williams gets a single for his first professional hit; then stays in to pitch relief for San Diego of the PCL.

1965 Frank Thomas, who just hit a pinch hit homer, is waived by the Phillies after a confrontation with Dick Allen.

1968 Reds Pitcher Tony Cloninger hits a pair of grand slams and drives in nine runs in a 17 – 3 win over the Giants.

1968 Luis Tiant fans 19 in a 10-inning complete game win over the Twins. The Indians won, 1 – 0.

1970 Angels pitcher Clyde Wright fires a no-hitter to beat the A’s, 4 – 0.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1951 The Yankees sign amateur Johnny Blanchard.

1989 Montreal signs amateur pitcher Antonio Alfonseca.

1999 Chicago signs amateur pitcher Carlos Marmol.

2008 Texas signed amateur Odubel Herrera.

Happy Birthday, Frank Norton!

Frank Prescott Norton appeared in one game, batted once, and struck out for the Washington Olympics in May, 1871.  Norton was born in New York on 09 June 1845 to S. S. and Violet Norton, was an amateur baseball player for a number of years, then later was a surveyor, a sports bar owner, and involved in real estate before passing away in August, 1920.  Around 1872, he married Louisa Smith but I haven’t found that they had any children.

Norton’s claim to fame, according to Nemec’s Major League Baseball Profiles (Vol 2, Page 326), is that Norton was the first pinch hitter, entering the Olympic’s opening day game because Doug Allison’s thumb was injured; the Olympics asked Boston for the approval to make the switch.  The Chicago Tribune combined two takes on the game into one article on 06 May 1871 (page 4) – and it doesn’t read as if he was a pinch hitter in the description.  The newspaper makes it sound like he was a defensive replacement owing to Allison’s spraining or splitting his thumb and left out the part about Norton batting in the seventh frame.

Based on the game description of the seventh inning, Norton would have batted in the eighth inning – Allison was already replaced. If it happened earlier, Norton would have batted more than once.

Not only did he strike out – Norton made an error in the field on his only chance, too.  Boston came back to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Sources:

FindAGrave,com
Baseball-Reference.com
1850, 1900, 1910 US Census
North Carolina Death Certificate (Louise Norton)

“The Sporting World.”, Chicago Tribune, 06 May 1871, Page 4.

Nemec, David (Editor). Major League Baseball Profiles 1871-1900 (Vol. 2), University of Nebraska Press, 2011, Page 326.