Baseball History on January 29


1848 Denny McKnight

Owner of the Pittsburgh franchise and American Association president for a short time.

1853 George Meister

Spent a year with Toledo in the American Association in 1884 – but played most of a decade in the minors in the 1880s and early 1890s.

Born to German immigrants and named after his father, Meister arrived in Baltimore and then his parents relocated to Pittsburgh where his sister Maria (Mary) was born.  He must have played semi-pro ball or low level minor league ball but for the time being, there isn’t much of a record of it (I’ll keep looking).  He took over the 3B position in Toledo but couldn’t hit enough to keep his job and from that point forward, he was in the minors – mostly in Michigan and Ohio before returning home for good.

As a teen he was listed in the census as a barber, but eventually he started his own business as a cigar maker and tobacco store – he might have even gotten his own liquor license.  In later years, he was elected as a school director – despite the fact that he never married and had children.  He ran his business for at least 35 years, and maybe longer, before retiring.  He passed away from complications related to pneumonia just after Christmas in 1928.

1849 Art Allison

Journeyman of the Association days…  His brother, Doug, was on the 1869 Red Legs…  According to ML Profiles of the 1800s, he was the first player to strike out in a major league game, but reached first base because of a called strike.  Like many who would follow, lost his skill and job because he liked cheap whiskey.

1859 Bill Krieg

Minor league batting champ, went to Notre Dame, and a player who could play behind the plate, at first base, or even in the outfield.  Played in the minors until he was 42…  After that he managed another fifteen years.  Nicknamed “Stonewall”, which suggests he was a tough cookie…

1860 Bart Cantz

Part-time catcher for Philadelphia and Baltimore in the late 1880s. Batted all of .157 in 217 at bats…

1860 John Coleman

Not the guy who took his weatherman job at ABC-7 in Chicago and left to found the Weather Channel…  Played for either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh in the 1880s.  Apparently, he once was forced to enter a game following an injury – only he wasn’t wearing a uniform.  The rules were changed after that.

A story in ML Profiles of the 1800s says that he once threw a ball more than 360 feet UNDERHANDED

1885 Hack Simmons

Outfielder for Detroit, New York, and the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins – was a regular with the Highlanders in 1912.

1890 “Irish” Ed Conwell

Played one game for the Cardinals in 1911 – he struck out as a pinch hitter, then made an error in the field.  Spent his twenties playing minor league ball, playing more than 1000 games in places like Waco and Evansville.  His life was equally short as he passed away in 1926 in Chicago.  Apparently, I used to drive past his grave site as a little boy – he is buried in All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, IL.

1891 Esty Chaney

Red Sox pitcher in 1913, later Brooklyn in 1914.  The vast majority of his life would be spent on the rails, first as a fireman and then as an engineer.  Bill Nowlin wrote his biography for SABR.

1894 Otto Rettig

A Seton Hall grad, Adolph Rettig got four starts for Connie Mack in 1922, winning one.  An article on the web suggests that Rettig was rather lucky to have even gotten the chance to pitch, much less beating the St. Louis Browns in his first major league start.

1897 Pat Patterson

Full name was Willian Jennings Bryan Patterson, so he almost could be included with guys like Abraham Lincoln Bailey and Grover Cleveland Alexander.  Only played for the Giants in the 1921 season, but hit .400 in his 23 games.  Spent a good chunk of time in the Texas Leagues before getting his gig in New York and little in his minor league record suggests that he could hit any.  Must have been a heck of a fielder…

1898 Dick Burrus

Signed by Connie Mack out of the SALLY League, later pitched for the As and Boston Braves in the 1920s.

1899 “Ode” Ollie Voigt

University of Illinois grad who got six weeks with the St. Louis Browns in 1924, winning his only decision in eight appearances (one start).

1902 Elmer Eggert

Got a brief cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 1927.  He was called Mose as a player, but it was accidentally recorded as Moose in some record books, which belies his 5’9 and 160 pound frame…

A minor league infielder for a decade; never married, and spent his days after baseball as a mail carrier.  Bill Nowlin wrote his biography for SABR.

1904 Ray Hayworth

Starting catcher on the January 29th Birthday All-Star Team, Hayworth played 15 years in the majors, mostly for Detroit, but later with Brooklyn and the Giants.  Only cleared 100 games on two occasions, but was a pretty good player during the 1930s.  Brother Red also played in the majors…  His biography is part of a SABR book on the 1935 Tigers, in case you were curious.

1909 Murray “Red” Howell (later, “Porky”)

Pinch hit 11 times for the Indians in 1941, getting two hits and four walks.  The Indians signed him away from the Phillies after Howell became eligible for the Rule 5 draft.  Red spent the better part of 17 seasons in the minors playing all over the country at just about every level imaginable and for at least seven different farm systems.

1918 Bill Rigney

Giants infielder after the war years during a period of Giants greatness and turmoil, and later a manager for the Giants after they’d had enough of Leo Durocher…  Also managed the Angels and Twins.  I believe Ike Futch has a brother whose middle name was Rigney…

Nicknamed “Cricket” because he was a non-stop talker…

Guessing there are many fans who know a fair amount about the fella, but did you know that he won the 1970 AL West with the Twins?  He took over for Billy Martin and did a heck of a job.  Rigney got the Angels job when Stengel declined an offer from Gene Autry – so Rigney got the gig.  When Autry fired him in 1969, Autry got him a job as a broadcaster for the Giants, whose games were carried by an Autry owned station.

1919 Hank Edwards

An outfielder for six of the sixteen teams of the 1940s and 1950s, Edwards was a line drive hitting type who missed time with various injuries and a three year hitch in World War II.

1919 Bill ‘Ninety-Six’ Voiselle

Saul Wisnia wrote his SABR Bio – wore 96 on his jersey because he was from the tiny town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina.  That was the highest number assigned to a player until Mitch Williams and Turk Wendell wore 99 because, well, because they were Mitch Williams and Turk Wendell.

As pitcher, Big Bill was okay during the war years – a 21 game winner for the Giants in 1943 – but struggled some after the players got back.  Voiselle was declared 4F for hearing loss, which made him ineligible for military service but eligible to play ball.  Pitched inconsistent baseball for nine years in the majors, but made 500+ appearances in the minors before going home to South Carolina and playing semi-pro ball into his 40s.

1928 Jim Robertson

Yankees farmhand who was involved in one of the many huge player count trades between the Yankees and someone – this time the As.  Played in both Philadelphia and Kansas City as a catcher – not much of a hitter.  Oldest living player born on this date…

A Bradley University grad, he was a three-sport star there and Robertson Arena is named for him.

1931 Jim Baumer

An interesting baseball life – a Tulsa area kid who got a shot with the White Sox at 18 years old in 1949.  He then spent more than a decade in the minors before getting to play with the 1961 Reds for two weeks.  He wasn’t hitting, so the Reds got Don Blasingame and later made it to the World Series.

Baumer was traded to Detroit, got dispatched to the minors, and never played in the bigs again.  He didn’t give up on baseball – after five seasons in Japan, he became a scout for various organizations and even joined the front office for Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

1931 Hy Cohen

Got seven appearances with the Cubs in 1955 – injured his arm and went back to college to get a masters in education, where he would teach and coach baseball.  (Baseball Players of the 1950s)

1939 Bobby Bolin

Longtime pitcher for the Giants, Brewers, and Red Sox.  Won 88 games as a guy who could either start or relieve with reasonable efficiency.  The one season he made more than 30 starts, he added four shutouts and had a 2.89 ERA.  In 1968, when everyone had low ERAs, Bolin sat at 1.99 while winning ten games and pitching 176 innings.

1945 Dick Mills

Red Sox pitcher who got a baseball card and a cup of coffee (two relief appearances) with the Sox in 1970.  Mills is probably more known to a younger crowd as a pitching instructor and founder of website.  His son, Ryan, also got a shot in the bigs…  Died in March, 2015 of a rapidly progressive melanoma cancer.

1946 Tony Pierce

Athletics pitcher of the late 1960s.  According to his obituary, he once struck out five guys in an inning while pitching at Jordan High School. After his career ended, spent a number of years as a local coach and instructor.

1949 Jim Tyrone

I remember him as a Cubs farmhand of the 1970s who wasn’t going to take a job from Billy Williams, Rick Monday or Jose Cardenal…  Got some playing time with the As in 1977, but not enough to keep a career alive.  His brother, Wayne, also got a chance with the Cubs in 1976 and didn’t get another chance.

1950 John Fuller

Braves farmhand who got three pinch hitting appearances (and one hit) in 1974.

1951 – Sergio Ferrer

Middle infielder of the 1970s who couldn’t seem to catch a break – played for Twins and Mets, with a stop in Philadelphia (minors only) in between.  The Puerto Rican native eventually found his way to play ball in Mexico for a few years.

1960 Steve Sax

1982 Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers when any rookie that came up in LA would win the award, fairly good hitter and remarkable athlete – but may be best remembered for a throwing hitch that took over his brain for a couple of years there.  Very likeable guy – I was a fan of his for a long time – a bit of a clown and always having fun on the field.  I thought he might make a run at 2500 hits but he stopped hitting with the White Sox in 1992 and was out of baseball not long after that.

1961 – Mike Aldrete

Fairly good hitter for a few teams in the 1980s and 1990s.  He hit .325 with the Giants in 1987, and teams spent the next decade hoping he could do it again.  Instead, he hit what he usually hit – about .263 with a few line drives here and there.  Teams kept him because he could play a few positions here and there and pinch hit as needed.

1963 – Brian Meyer

Mid-round Astros pick who turned into a middle reliever for Houston as the 1980s ended…

1964 – John Habyan

Reliever for about a dozen years with a quarter of the teams in MLB between 1985 and 1996 – I remember having him on my Strat-o-matic team in college…

Made 18 starts with Baltimore when he first arrived, but soon after moved to the bullpen – and then he just moved.  Played for the Yankees, Royals, Angels, Cardinals, and Rockies before calling it a career in 1996.

1968 – Kevin Roberson

Massive power hitting prospect for the Cubs who hit 20 homers in about 300 major league at bats, but those were his only hits.

I’m kidding, of course.  He had 41 other hits – but guys who strike out in 30% of their at bats don’t always hang around.

1972 – Julio Mosquera

Panama born catcher who spent forever in the minors and played for Toronto in 1996, 1997 and then Milwaukee for a game in 2005.

1972 – Morgan Burkhart

Undrafted Central Missouri grad and construction worker who fought his way to the bigs with the Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, and got a cup of coffee with Kansas City in 2003.  Had a nice little run with the Sox in 2000, hitting .288 with four homers in 25 games.  Spent time playing all over the world and according to his Wikipedia page has more than 250 professional homers.  Now a minor league batting instructor…

1973 Brian Edmonson

Middle reliever for the Braves and Marlins at the end of the last century…

1973 Jason Schmidt

I miss the guy – tough guy starter with the Pirates and Giants (also Atlanta and the Dodgers).  I saw him in one of his last minor league appearances pitching for Albuquergue and hoping to keep his career going – it stopped soon after.

Won 130 games in his career with a 3.96 ERA, with his two best seasons coming with the Giants in 2003/2004 where he went 17 – 5 and 18 – 7.  Helped put the Giants in the playoffs in 2002 and 2003, where he won three of five starts, including a complete game three-hit shutout in 2003.

1975 Miguel Ojeda

Mexican native catcher in the Padres chain, later played with Seattle, Colorado, and Texas.  Didn’t get a lot of time in the bigs, but his career stats (15 – 72 – .224 in 486 big league at bats) makes you think of his fellow birthday boy below (see Hank Conger).

1979 Lance Niekro

Son of Joe, Lance was first baseman for the Giants a decade ago (has it been that long?)…  Now the head coach for his alma mater, Florida Southern University.

1986 Jair Jurrjens

Curacao native who has turned into a pretty good pitcher, albeit one with a bit of an injury history…  Played for the Netherlands in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  Originally signed by the Tigers, scooped up by the Braves where he became a front line starter for about four years.  Since wouding a wing, he has hit the road, pitching for Baltimore and Colorado – though he spent 2015 pitching in the minors.  I’ll root for his return, but I fear whatever we see going forward may be in smaller chunks.

1987 Alex Avila

One time Tigers catcher who once batted .295 with 19 homers and 82 RBI but hasn’t really approached that level of play since, leading to his landing with the White Sox.

1988 Hank Conger

Serviceable journeyman catcher who came up with the Angels and then started adding stickers to his suitcase – Houston and now Tampa Bay.  Has a good reputation behind the plate, and while he has a little pop in his bat, his batting average tends to hang around .220.


1895 Tony Suck
1910 Marty Barrett
1915 George Baker
1934 Bill Schenck
1935 Ed Murphy
1936 Joe Delahanty
1937 George Fisher
1946 Ed Merrill
1947 Del Gainer
1963 Win Ballou
1963 Lee Meadows
1966 Homer Summa
1970 Miguel Fuentes
1972 Heinie Stafford
1975 Steve White
1976 Milt Galatzer
1976 Harry Otis
1977 Hod Ford
1979 Andy Harrington
1980 Charlie Bates
2007 Art Fowler


1958 Maybe we wish nobody had been there…  Roy Campanella was driving home from his liquor store when his car struck a telephone poll, breaking the catcher’s neck.  Campanella survives, but is paralyzed.


1930 New York purchases outfielder Ken Williams from the Boston Red Sox.  And yet, not one jinx mentioned…

1943 Washington sends Bill Zuber and cash to the Yankees for Milo Candini and Jerry Priddy.

1966 In the January amateur draft, Atlanta drafts Tom Seaver – but the pick was voided.

1971 St. Louis sends Nelson Briles and Vic Davalillo to the Pirates for Matty Alou and George Brunet.

2007 Tampa Bay signs Carlos Pena to a free agent deal.  Pena rewards the Rays by hitting .282 with 46 homers and 121 RBI.

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Happy Birthday, Bob Moose!

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bob Moose arrived and departed this earth on October 9th.  Born in Export, PA in 1947, Moose was taken in the 18th round by the Pirates right out of Franklin Regional High School.  His dad, Bob Moose, Sr., was a bus driver in Pittsburgh. A multiple sport star in high school, Moose said he wasn’t a huge baseball fan – he didn’t collect baseball cards or worship players – but he really just loved to play baseball.

bob-moose-1972-toppsMoose owned the low level minors.  He went 8 – 2 with a 1.95 ERA in rookie ball with Salem in the Appalachian League.  In fact, his only two losses came in back to back games when Wytheville outfielder Rick Hense hit two game winning homers off him the last week of July.  Moose then covered three levels in two years by going 21 – 8 with five teams in 1966 and 1967.  Among his best outings was a one-hitter over Montgomery – an infield single by Paul Pavelko breaking up the no-hitter in the seventh.  Moving up to Columbus, he opened with a fifteen strikeout performance – his curveball the key to his success.  Moose’s success led to a cup of coffee with the Pirates in September, 1967.  Even there, Moose continued winning – getting two starts and winning his only decision.

After the season, he married his high school sweetheart, Alberta Buriscoe, at St. Mary’s Church in Export and then honeymooned in Florida in advance of spring training.  Sure enough, the confident Moose made the Pirates roster in the bullpen.  Moose, who had grown up just a short ride from Forbes Field, completed a promise he made a friend while watching the Opening Day game in 1965.  “Our high school principal said we could be excused from classes if we had tickets for the Pirate opener,” Moose said.  He told his buddy that afternoon that one day he’d be wearing a Pirates uniform.  Three years after paying to watch the opener, he was getting paid to watch the opener.  Solid work in the pen led to Moose getting a shot at the rotation.  He earned his first win in 1968 by carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Astros before finishing with a two-hitter.  Going 23 outs before giving up a hit was the longest any pitcher went in the history of Forbes Field before giving up a hit.

Not every start in 1968 went that smoothly – he struck out Richie Allen the first seven times he faced him, but when Allen broke the streak, he homered.  And, toward the end of his rookie season, Moose was caught using pine tar on his throwing hand.  Facing the Cardinals, gave up two runs in first.  Then, he fanned four straight batters.  Manager Red Schoendienst asked umpire Chris Pelekoudas to check Moose’s hand in the third inning after Orlando Cepeda fanned.  “Why he had so much pine tar on his right hand, his fingers stuck together once,” Schoendienst said with a laugh.  “Pelekoudas threw a new ball to Moose once.  When Moose threw it to the batter, the ball looked like somebody had used a paint brush.”

Moose denied it – said it was dirt.  Pirates manager Larry Shepard said he was in the on deck circle in the second inning and took the rag with pine tar and rubbed it all over his right hand.  “He never should have used it, and I don’t know why he did.”  Curt Flood, in describing Moose’s right hand, said, “Why, it looked just like mine.”

Still, it was a fine rookie year.  Throwing 170.2 innings and showing solid control (just 41 walks), Moose went 8 – 12 with a respectable 2.74 ERA (in the year of the pitcher, though), then came back in 1969 to lead the NL in winning percentage (.824) with his 14 – 3 mark.  That year, Moose made 19 starts, threw six complete games, and finished 16 other games in relief.

Asked to explain Moose’s success at such a young age, his road roommate, Gary Kolb, said he was a old 21 and remembered everything about a batter he faced.  His pitching coach, Vern Law, said he was unshakable.  “The thing about Moose,” said Law,” is that nothing bothers him.  Watch him before a game that he is starting.  He isn’t a bit keyed up.  He takes everything in stride.  Some fellows can’t do that when they are over 30.”

He was still a kid, though.  Moose admitted his favorite meal was Mac and Cheese.  “I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner,” he said.

The highlight of his 1969 season was a September no-hitter over the Mets in Shea Stadium.  The day before, his wife watched a doubleheader while seated behind Dustin Hoffman.  Alberta came back the next day and saw her hubby pitch a no-hitter – after the game, Moose told his wife she was going home that night with a real celebrity.  In blanking the Mets, Moose Walked three and fanned six.  In the ninth inning, he went to a full count on pinch hitter Rod Gaspar and then deliberately walked him so as not to allow a hit.  Got next the next three, though, after walking Gaspar.  The last batter was Art Shamsky, who weakly grounded to Dave Cash at second.  The Mets hit him a little, getting four line drives.  However, three were hit right at fielders and the fourth required a Roberto Clemente leaping grab of a Wayne Garrett shot in deep right, right in front of the wall.

Moose would miss time nearly every season – he’d go on a two week stint with the US Marine Reserves.  In 1970, it was the first two weeks of the year and when he came back he was nursing a sore elbow and never seemed to be completely healthy all season – like most of the Pirates staff.  Still, he rebounded to help key a Pirates team that would win the division in 1970.

He was aggressive – with good control and a willingness to throw inside.  He hit Vada Pinson, putting Pinson on the DL with a hairline fracture in his leg.  He broke the finger of Bill Singer who had squared away to bunt.  And, in 1971, he was fined for throwing at Ralph Garr.  On the other hand, a note said that he disliked taking phone calls on road trips – his house was broken into at least twice during the 1971 season – once, robbers took virtually everything of value, including his hunting guns.

The season ended well, though.  On his birthday, he pitched in relief in the first game of the World Series against Baltimore, he lost once in relief and gave a strong effort in game six as a starter only to have the game lost in extra innings.  Thankfully teammate Steve Blass was on his game in game seven, and the Pirates won the World Series.  Bruce Kison was scheduled to get married the next day – broadcaster Bob Prince arranged a helicopter that took Kison and Moose, the best man, quickly to the airport and to the site of the wedding.

In 1972, Moose had a typical successful season – double digit wins, pitching through various ailments and always keeping his team in games.  As the season ended, though, Moose was needed in the bullpen.  In the final game of the 1972 National League Championship Series, he was called on to pitch against the Reds.  Steve Blass was pulled after giving up a homer to Cesar Geronimo.  Then, Dave Giusti gave up a homer to Bench in the ninth to tie the score, and back-to-back hits to George Foster and Denis Menke.  Enter Moose. A long sacrifice fly by Geronimo got Foster to third.  One out later, Hal McRae was batting when one of Moose’s curveballs bounced in front of the plate and skipped by Manny Sanguillen.  Foster raced home from third and the game, and series, was over.

“For about 10 minutes after the game,” Moose said, “the pitch disturbed me.  Then I realized it was just part of the game.”

Alberta worried that he might not be the same, even though his whole life he had always taken things in stride.  Two hours after the game, he got to the hotel.  “The moment I saw him,” Alberta said, “I knew he hadn’t changed.”  In fact, in his first start of the 1973 season, he fired a shutout to beat the Cubs.  Moose handled his bad moment just fine.

Let’s take a break here to give you some Bob Moose trivia.  On August 23, 1972, Moose drew a walk off of Giants pitcher Jim Barr.  He was the last batter to reach base for a while.  Barr set the major league record (since broken) by retiring the next 41 batters he faced.  And, Moose served up Willie McCovey’s 400th homer.

Moose wasn’t always healthy – he had arm issues (elbow, shoulder – once getting a cortisone shot that helped him recover), and he had an operation after the 1973 season to repair a sore knee.  And, he started to adjust his pitching style – early in his career he worked very quickly.  As he got older, he relaxed more – some coaches thought he was taking too much time on the mound.

In 1974, His start to the season was horrific – trying to pitch through pain left him with a 7.57 ERA and a 1 – 5 mark in six starts and a relief appearance.  Throwing in the bullpen that May (after a bad start), he returned to find the problem.

“Take a look at my arm,” Moose told trainer Tony Bartirome.

Bartirome looked at the arm and immediately sent for a doctor.  Moose’s arm was twice its normal size and was discolored.  Moose developed a blood clot that prevented blood from flowing into the arm.

Moose was operated on the next day.  Moose was suffering from a blood clot near his collarbone that required surgery to remove the clot, but cost him a rib.  He still wasn’t out of the woods, though.  Blood was collecting in his lungs.  A few weeks later, he underwent surgery again.

“I’ve been told that the second operation could have become serious if there had been complications,” Moose said.

That winter, he pitched in the Florida Instructional League to get ready for spring training.  “My arm feels better than it did before the operations,” he told reporters.  “The doctor removed layers of scar tissue near the shoulder and my arm feels loose.  I’m not blaming the poor pitching on my arm, but I know that today the arm has a looseness that it hasn’t had for some time.  My ball was moving good in Florida.”

He came back as a reliever in 1975.  Not happy with the limited work, he angrily slammed his thumb in a door following a relief appearance.  After a DL stint, the Pirates asked Moose to go to the minors to get his command back.  At first Moose asked to be traded but decided against it because he liked playing for Pittsburgh.  Because he was a five year veteran, the Pirates needed his permission to go back to minors.  Moose pitched well enough, but was not brought back until after September first, making him ineligible for playoffs.  However, down the stretch Moose pitched well – he got a win in relief, and tossed a three-hitter over Phillies.

bob-moose-1976-toppsNo longer a starter, Moose decided to stay with Pirates and compliment Dave Giusti in the bullpen.  Along with being close to home, he liked that the Pirates were almost always in the playoffs – which meant postseason bonus money.  The Pirates started moving pitchers for other players in the off-season, including sending Ken Brett to New York.  Moose felt his strong finish meant that Brett was sent to the Yankees, and not him.

At issue, though, was the fact that he wouldn’t feel strong the day or two after he pitched.  So, he worked on his fitness for the 1976 season and earned ten saves through the first four months of the season.  He even hit his first homer against Atlanta that June – he got it in the ninth inning against his old teammate and friend, Bruce Dal Canton.  As the year progressed, though, he lost his job to newcomer, Kent Tekulve.  Moose was still valuable, but instead of being the third or fourth starter, or one of the key pitchers out of the bullpen, he finished the 1976 season as pitching depth.  He was likely going to be traded and was nearly included in the trade that sent Richie Zisk to the White Sox.

Not long after the season ended, the team gathered for a golf fundraiser hosted by Bill Mazeroski near Martin’s Ferry, Ohio.  It was Moose’s 29th birthday and Moose was driving back from the hotel to a restaurant to meet his teammates for a party.  Along the way he picked up two women whose car had broken down.  The road on which he traveled was narrow and twisting – and wet from rain.  Driving too quickly for conditions, he lost control of his car and slammed into an oncoming vehicle.  The two women and the other driver were injured but survived.  Moose did not, and he passed away when he should have been celebrating his birthday.  He left behind his wife, Alberta, and a daughter, April, who was now five.

Pirate teammates got together to help the Moose family and create a memorial of sorts for their teammate.  Spearheaded by Al Oliver, the team arranged fundraising events, including basketball games against players on the Steelers, with the goal is to fund April’s education and to establish a scholarship at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pa., where Moose was a student-athlete.

Oliver was always impressed with Moose.  “He always took things in stride,” Oliver said.  “When I was down maybe for not hitting, Moose would find a way to talk to me.  I appreciated that.”  He also appreciated his toughness.  “Moose didn’t go into hiding after that pitch (in 1972 against the Reds).  He walked off the field with his head high.  Later in the clubhouse, he didn’t hide from reporters.  He answered every question and he didn’t alibi.  He was a pro.”

Jim Rooker, possibly his best friend on the team, asked to change number from 19 to Moose’s number 38 starting in 1977.

Having pitched ten years in the majors Moose finished with a 76 – 71 career record, adding 19 saves and seven postseason appearances.  In more than 1300 innings, he walked fewer than 400 batters, and allowed just 75 homers.  Willie Stargell was the leader of the team, but Moose provided much of the toughness and grit that the Pirates showed in the early 1970s when Pittsburgh ruled the NL East.


Bob Moose Page: Retrosheet.Org

This includes his career Record, some game details as required.

“Moose Top Relief Ace”, The Sporting News, 31 July 1965, Page 41.

“Hense Homers Win Two”, The Sporting News, 7 August 1965, Page 40.

“Bucs and Giants Each Put 8 Kids on Topps Stars”, The Sporting News, 6 December 1965, Page 38.

“Moose Misses Chance”, The Sporting News, 15 July 1967, Page 47.

“Moose Whiffs 15”, The Sporting News, 26 August 1967, Page 32.

Biederman, Les. “Corsairs’ Trio Will Earn $300,000”, The Sporting News, 3 February 1968.

Biederman, Les. “Moose, Patek Lining Up for Buc Bouquets”, The Sporting News, 6 July 1968, Page 13.

“Two Near Perfectos at Forbes Field”, The Sporting News, 6 July 1968, Page 13.

“Richie Whiffs 7 Times – Then Makes Moose Pay”, The Sporting News, 28 July 1968, Page 17.

Biederman, Les. “Moose Brought Down By Pine Tar Charge”, The Sporting News, 11 September 1968, Page 25.

Biederman, Les. “Bucs’ Shepard Counts Up His Blessings”, The Sporting News, 23 November 1968, Page 46.

Russo, Neal. “Bing Smiling Through Tears As Bird Boat Takes On Water”, The Sporting News, 17 May 1969, Page 15.

Feeney, Charley. “Moose Just Kid, Acts Like Vet”, The Sporting News, 20 September 1969, Page 19.

Feeney, Charley. “Moose Just Kid, Acts Like Vet”, The Sporting News, 4 October 1969, Page 5.

Feeney, Charley. “Moose May Be Leader Corsairs Need”, The Sporting News, 27 June 1970, Page 5.

Feeney, Charley. “Stargell’s Swat Spree Marks End of Bat Nap”, The Sporting News, 15 August 1970, Page 9.

“Singer on LA Hospital List With Broken Finger”, The Sporting News, 29 August 1970, Page 13.

Feeney, Charley. “Walker Hopes to Prevent Buccos From Walking Plank”, The Sporting News, 4 September 1971, Page 5.

“Kison Gets Assist to Wedding With Assist From Prince”, The Sporting News, 30 October 1971, Page 16.

Feeney, Charley. “Moose Carries No Scars From Wild Pitch”, The Sporting News, 25 November 1972, Page 50.

Feeney, Charley. “‘Even Hair Curlers Rear Ugly Head in Bucs’ Domestic Life”, The Sporting News, 1 September 1973, Pages 14, 18

“Caught on the Fly”, The Sporting News, 20 October 1973, Page 28.

Feeney, Charley. “Buc Hurlers Get an Able Tutor: Osborn”, The Sporting News, 24 November 1971, Page 38.

“N.L. Flashes”, The Sporting News, 15 June 1974, Page 22.

Feeney, Charley. “Bucs’ Camp to Be Comeback Center”, The Sporting News, 30 November 1974, Page 45.

Feeney, Charley. “Bucs’ Bob Moose Certain Arm Misery is Behind Him”, The Sporting News, 4 January 1975, Page 39.

Feeney, Charley. “Moose Wins Bucs’ Reprieve on Fast Finish”, The Sporting News, 18 October 1975, Page 20, 24.

Feeney, Charley. “Start and Relieve – Bucs’ Scheme for Moose”, The Sporting News, 27 March 1976, Page 37.

“Obituaries”, The Sporting News, 23 October 1976, Page 70.

Dozer, Richard. “Chisox Sowed Zisk Trade Seeds in September”, The Sporting News, 1 January 1977, Page 45.

Feeney, Charley. “Pirate Scholarship to Keep Moose Memory Green”, The Sporting News, 8 January 1977, Page 36.

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Alexander Bennett (Ben) Sanders

On this day (Aug. 22) in 1892, Ben Sanders threw a no-hitter to beat Baltimore.

So who was Ben Sanders?

Alexander Bennett Sanders was a husky right handed pitcher with what was a corkscrew delivery that would frequently spin him around such that his back was facing the batter after a pitch.  A strong hitter and able runner, one writer claimed he had but one fault, “…that he handles himself a trifle awkwardly.  It is believed, however, the abolition of the bunt will make this defect amount to little.”  (The bunt, of course, was never outlawed.)

Ben Sanders

Photo of Ben Sanders taken by Gilbert and Bacon of Philadelphia and is part of the A. G. Spaulding Collection at the New York Public Library

It must have been efficient, though.  According to an article in Sporting Life, Sanders set the record for fewest pitches in a game with 68 in a win over the St. Louis Browns in 1891.

He was born in Catharpin, Virginia just weeks before the end of the Civil War.  According to a baseball scribe who grew up with him, he described Sanders as a big fellow who built up endurance playing in the heat of Virginia summers playing for the Catharpin nine around 1885.  “[Sanders] …only threw the out-curve at the time, but was a terror in the box, and the fellow who could make a two-base hit [off him] was considered a prominent figure in the community…”  He added, “It’s hard to find a better gentleman on the diamond…”

Sanders was first noticed by the big league managers while pitching in Altoona, PA.  Signed to pitch for Philadelphia, he would win 19 games both seasons with the Phillies in 1888 and 1889.  In his rookie season, he threw a league leading eight shutouts.

Like many, he jumped to the Player’s League in 1890 and won 19 more games there in 40 starts.  The Player’s League folded after that one season, though, making Sanders a free agent.  The Phillies thought they would get Sanders back for 1891, but he was now finishing a civil engineering degree at Vanderbilt (as well as playing football and baseball – amateur athletics not being as well defined then).  Instead, Sanders held out for the best deal and then pitched the rest of the 1891 season with the Philadelphia Athletics in the American Association, getting paid at least $5000 for a partial season, which made him the highest paid pitcher (per month, I am guessing) in the game.  He went 11 – 5 in his 18 starts.

Back in school for the 1891 – 1892 school session, he graduated in June and then made 31 starts for a poor 1892 Louisville team, finishing 12 – 19 but throwing a no-hitter against Baltimore.  A contemporary article in the Louisville Courier-Journal says that the previous game had been a one hitter (not a no-hitter) vs. Baltimore, and he followed it with another one-hitter against Boston (Quinn – 4th inning ground single to left).  His one hit in two starts would be the record beaten by Vander Meer nearly 50 years later.  When the season was over, Sanders took a job with a prestigious engineering firm and retired from baseball.

After 1892, he was done but never gone.  Every year Louisville asked him to come back and pitch and kept him on their reserve list for at least five seasons and even offered him a player-manager role in 1897 (!).  Most of the time the owner of the Louisville Colonels tried to convince Sanders to put an end to his civil engineering business and Sanders considered going, provided it didn’t materially affect his current business.  He claimed that he could still pitch if called upon, and he would need extraordinary inducements (not necessarily money) to make a comeback.  (Sunday starts only?  Train rides back to wherever his current clients needed him?)  Regardless, Sanders was a favorite in Louisville for his “…earnest play and the gentlemanly bearing which characterizes him at all times.”

According to articles written while Louisville was still begging Sanders to play, he was among the engineers in charge of building the Chicago West Side Elevated Railway, invested in property in Louisville, and was involved in the engineering of the water works system of Morgantown, PA.

He remained an engineer in Tennessee until his death in Memphis in 1930.


“Out of Baseball”, Sporting Life, 30 May 1891, Page 9.

“It Suits Louisville”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 1 Feb. 1892, Page 8.

“Only One Missing.”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 26 March 1892, Page 7.

“Brave College Boys.”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 2 April 1892, Page 8.

“Hurrah For Sanders”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 27 August 1892, Page 8.

“Editorial Views, News, Comment”, The Sporting Life, 17 September 1892, Page 2.

“Has Given Up Ball Playing For Good”, The Sporting Life, 18 Feb. 1893, Page 4.

McKee, Jr., Sam. “Louisville Lines”, The Sporting Life, 23 December 1893, Page 3.

Saunders, John J. “Will The Prodigal Return”, The Sporting Life, 1 February 1896, Page 3.

Richter, Francis. “Ben Sanders in Luck”, The Sporting Life, 6 April 1895, Page 7.

Saunders, John J. “Louisville Lines”, The Sporting Life, 2 January 1897, Page 2.

“Remarkable Performances”, The Sporting Life, 27 January 1912, Page 5.

Nemec, David, Major League Baseball Profiles 1871 – 1900, Vol. 1, University of Nebraska Press, 2011, Pages 161, 162.

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Happy Birthday, Champ Summers!

John (Champ) Summers was an outfielder with the Cubs when I was a kid watching baseball games on WGN from my home in Buffalo Grove, IL.  The Cubs got Summers when Charlie Finley wanted a real baseball player to be the 25th man on the roster and grew tired of Herb Washington, the designated runner.  So, he sent the Cubs Summers for a speedy outfielder named Matt Alexander.

Anyway – I remember a few things about Summers.  I can remember a pinch-hit grand slam he hit against Houston in 1974, and I remember him getting to play once because Jose Cardenal got in a fight with a cop at O’Hare Airport – the officer was giving Cardenal’s wife a hard time because she was parked illegally waiting to pick up Cardenal when the Cubs returned from some road trip…  I digress.

The Cubs couldn’t use him – he was packaged to Cincinnati, which had more great outfielders than Chicago.  He was traded to Detroit where he had two pretty good years as a DH and part time outfielder or first baseman.  Then, he stopped getting at bats.  Traded again to San Francisco, he was a pinch hitter until his shoulder gave out.  He finished his career in 1984 with the Padres – he struck out in the 1984 World Series against his old team, Detroit.

After several years selling cars and as a batting instructor, Summers retired to Ocala, FL to play golf.  Cancer in his kidneys took Summers from us in 2012, but one assumes he’s playing in a better league now.

What follows is an article about Champ written when he was lying about his age and trying to make the Cubs that appeared in The Sporting News in 1976.

Cubs Have a Champ Who Hopes To Prove He’s Special

Nobody was more anxious for spring training to begin than John (Champ) Summers, a Cubs’ utility outfielder who had a least three things to prove before the first week of April:

(1) That a lefthanded hitter can tear up lefthanded pitching, (2) that a guy who never played baseball until he was 22 can make it in the big leagues, and (3) that there’s as much money to be made in the majors as Summers made in Mexico this winter.

Summers is a “kid” of 27.  Something he’s never lost is enthusiasm because, as he puts it, “baseball is still new to me.”

Less than five years ago, he was undertaking this brand new sport at Southern Illinois (Edwardsville), determined to make ends meet by getting some scholarship money for a free ride he’d run to its limit in basketball.

A few years earlier, as a senior high school tennis star in Madison, Ill., the Champ had worked out with a fledgling named Jimmy Connors from nearby Belleville.  Connors, then 13, “hit everything back to me,” Summers recalled.

At Edwardsville, fresh from two years in the paratroopers, including duty in Vietnam, Summers took a shot at college baseball.  One of those who watched him was George Bradley, who then scouted for the A’s and now serves the Phils.

“I don’t think Charlie Finley wanted to sign me too badly, but George told him I had the rough edges of a pro,” Summers recalled while waiting for the owners to flash the green light for spring training.

“Now I’d like to prove that George Bradley was right.”

Summers, late start and all, has five years of pro ball behind him.  They’ve been good eyars, including .308 at Burlington (Midwest) in 1972 and .333 at Tuscon (Pacific Coast) in ’73.

Obtained by the Cubs last April, Champ had 21 hits in 91 times up, most of them as a pinch hitter, his first full campaign in the majors.  But, he hardly saw a southpaw pitcher, so in Mexico this winter he tried to destroy the theory that he couldn’t hit lefties.

Summers played for Culiacan, and at the halfway point in the season was hitting .352, good enough to lead the Mexican Pacific League and also to make the all-star team.

“Three out of four starters were lefthanded,” he pointed out.  Are you listening, Jim Marshall?

Culiacan, which was going nowhere, finished fifth, and Summers said “they stopped giving me anything to hit because they didn’t have to.” He wound up hitting over .280 but in the midst of a late slump was offered a $1,000 bonus by the club if he’d forget his desire to go home and finish the season.

The Champ agreed, but was released anyway to make way for another player who was supposed to help Culiacan make the playoffs.

Then Mazatlan, managed by Russ Nixon, snapped him up, offering him $2,000 to finish the season there.  Mazatlan, which as the rights to Summers next winter, got only five games out of him but Champ’s wife Barbara already is making plans for next winter.

“That’s a resort area, and I’m not staying in Arizona next year; I’m going, too,” she said, adding that their daughter would be enrolled in a private school there.

The brief Mazatlan episode didn’t end Champ’s four months of winter ball.  Navajoa drafted him for the playoffs and he hit over .500 in seven games against six southpaw starters before Obregon finally won and also took the Caribbean Series, a fact which Summers says should improve the reputation of Mexican baseball. “They just haven’t respected Mexican baseball as they should,” he insisted.

He might have added that neither the Cubs nor the A’s have respected Champ Summers to the degree that he hopes to achieve.  One top major league scout whom he chose not to identify told Summers’ wife at a game in the Mexican playoffs.

“Your husband hits lefthanded pitching better than any lefthanded hitter I’ve seen.  If the Cubs can’t use him, we can.”

The Cubs can use him, but not very much, apparently.  He played only 18 games in their outfield last year, pinch hit the rest of the time.  And the road will be tough once more again because Jose Cardenal, Jerry Morales, and Rick Monday form an outfield that can be upset only by trade.  Furthermore, Joe Wallis is the fair-haired newcomer who will get the biggest play.

But the Champ is champing at the bit.  He says he wants to play in half the exhibitions.  Winter ball has left him in great shape.  He can’t afford a spring delay.

As Barbara put it, “I hope they start playing ball pretty soon.  Ball player’s wives aren’t used to being cooped up with husbands morning, noon and night.”

Dozier, Richard. “Cubs Have a Champ Who Hopes To Prove He’s Special”, The Sporting News, 13 March 1976, Page 34.

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Happy Birthday, Lou Skizas!

Usually, I try to do as much research as is possible for a given player (and much can be done online – more than ever before) when writing these biographies.  In this case, I found a great article that summarizes a young Lou Skizas – who was born on 2 June 1932.

Lou was a Yankees prospect, then traded to the As in 1956 – where he would have a pretty good season (well, about 60% of the season) and finish second to Luis Aparicio for the Rookie of the Year award.  His batting fell off after that, though, which led to his being traded to Detroit and then the White Sox, and by 1960 he was through.  He had, however, gone back to finish college and would return to the University of Illinois where he would teach and coach baseball.

I’ll one day go back and revisit this story another day.  Until then, enjoy this article from the archives of The Sporting News.  This dates back to the summer of 1955 when Skizas was likely at his peak in the minors.

Skizas, Bears’ Fidgety Slugger, Gives Flingers Fits With His Hits

Frank Haraway

It’s really a jumpy situation whenever Lou Skizas of the Denver Bears comes to the plate.

The compact righthanded slugger is known as “The Nervous Greek” for his ants-in-the-pants mannerisms around home plate.  And the things Louis does with the bat, once he gets settled, are certainly hard on a pitcher’s nerves.

With only a short time to go in the American Association race, Skizas looks like a cinch to win two of three coveted slugging titles, and he might have made the grade on all three had not injury forced him out of the lineup for three stretches during the season.

Skizas’ batting average of .353 through games of August 17 topped the circuit, and with an edge of 13 points over his nearest rival he should become the champion.  He had 99 runs batted in with 21 games left on the Denver schedule and was tied with his teammate, Marv Throneberry, for the league’s RBI lead.

Out for Week With Injury

However, Throneberry had played in every one of Denver’s 133 games to that point while Skizas had participated in only 104.  Nine of the games in Skizas’ 104 total were only pinch hit appearances, making his RBI average all the more impressive.

He had a chance for the home run crown, too, until a groin injury knocked him out of the lineup for ten days, August 6 – 15, when his bat was in the midst of one of its hottest streaks of the season.  Unless he enjoys a phenomenal homer barrage in the closing games, he will not be able to raise his total of 21 round-trippers sufficiently to nail down that title.

Barring further injury, Skizas will pass the 400 at-bats needed to qualify for the batting championship should he wind up with the highest average.

Skizas’ first injury occurred when he caught a fly ball on the end of the ring finger on his glove hand and went out of the regular lineup for two weeks early in the season.  Twice he was sidelined with groin injuries, costing him nearly two additional weeks.

Skizas is unusual among hard swingers as he seldom strikes out.  He whiffed only 29 times in those first 104 games.  Neither did he walk much, drawing only 35 free tickets in the same stretch.  Louie goes up to the plate with only one thing in mind – to hit the ball as quickly and as hard as he can.  Many of his walks were intentional.

One night during a critical spot in an extra-inning game in Denver, the opposing manager jerked his southpaw pitcher and brought in a righthander.  That brought chuckles from the press box occupants.

“Louie doesn’t know which side a pitcher throws from anyway,” quipped one of them.

Skizas hit the ball out of the park to bring the Bears a victory.  Sure enough, when being interviewed in the clubhouse after the game, he grinned: “I always could hit those lefthanders.”  He apparently hadn’t been aware of the pitching change.

Asked what he hit, Skizas shot back: “How do I know what I hit?  I just see the ball and if I like it, I swing.”

Goes Through Plate Ritual

Skizas’ batting box mannerisms are both unusual and provoking.  His first act upon arriving is to drop the bat and cover it with dirt.  Then comes the wiping off process, accomplished by drawing the bat between his pants legs.

Next, a fond kiss on the fat end of the flail and Louis is ready for business – almost anyway.

There remains the little matter of reaching into his right hip pocket at least three times before the pitcher delivers the ball.  No one knows just what he’s reaching for.  Some say it is a Greek religious medal.  Skizas won’t say.

His stance is unique, too.  His left heel is held off the ground while his weight is solidly on the back leg.  The left heel never touches the ground until the moment of bat impact on the ball.  The unusual stance has enabled him to whip the sometimes troublesome problem of keeping his weight on the back foot.

What about his other qualities besides hitting?  He is an average fielder, average thrower has better than average speed and is a hard battler, using spectacular head-first belly-slides.

Haraway, Frank. “Skizas, Bears’ Fidgety Slugger, Gives Flingers Fits With His Hits”, The Sporting News, 24 August 1955, Page 29.

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Happy Birthday, Wimpy Quinn!

Playing out of position, a whim of his manager, Wellington “Wimpy” Quinn headed out to the mound for his major league debut to face the bottom of the Boston Braves order.  He was predictably wild, but it would be hard to tell if he was unusually nervous.  Walking the lead-off hitter and hitting the second batter, Quinn settled down and got six of the next seven hitters out – including aging Hall of Famer Paul Waner.  And so began the end of Wimpy Quinn’s chances of being a major league first baseman.

Wimpy Quinn - Mgr Bakersfield

Wellington “Wimpy” Quinn

Wellington Hunt Quinn was born in Birmingham, Alabama to Allena (Hunt) and William Quinn on 14 May 1918.  Allena was from Alabama, but William was from New Jersey – and one figures that there might be a great story there lost to history explaining how the Yankee landed a southern belle…  William eventually took his family west, settling in Portland.

Wellington Quinn was doomed to be nicknamed Wimpy by his friends.  During his youth, the Popeye cartoon strip was hitting its stride and the burger-eating character J. Wellington Wimpy was a frequent visitor in the popular comic.  Articles covering his semi-pro teams prior to attending college already called him Wimpy, and for years afterward, writers penned J. Wellington Quinn in their articles even though his name was Wellington Hunt.  Quinn never minded, though – he was tall, blonde, handsome, and confident.

By the time Quinn graduated from Grant High School, he was already a local baseball legend – and he was scooped up by the University of Oregon to play both baseball and basketball.  In the winters, he was a backup guard to Ford Mullen.  The two were infielders during the springs and summers.  Quinn played semi-pro baseball for the Eugene Townies, Ballin Finance, the Hop Golds, and a state championship contender sponsored by Reliable Shoe where he played third base next to shortstop Johnny Pesky from nearby Lincoln High School.

Wellington Quinn - 1937 Oregon Yearbook Basketball Team

The frosh basketball team at Oregon in 1937 – Quinn is in the top row second from the left.

Oregon was loaded with talent on both the court and diamond – winning the first ever NCAA Basketball Championship and then the Pacific Coast Conference North Division baseball crown.  Joe Gordon had also come from Oregon and now it was a baseball hot bed – four Webfoot players on that 1939 team would get professional contracts.  Three signed with the Detroit Tigers – seniors Bob Hardy and Busher Brown, and junior Ford Mullen.  (Going with the comic strip nickname theme, Mullen’s nickname in the majors would be “Moon.”)

The fourth was seen as a hitter but a defensive liability – and that was Wimpy Quinn.  Only days after teammates elected Quinn captain for the 1940 Oregon Ducks baseball team, he signed a contract to play third base for the Vancouver Capilanos replacing an injured Wayne McCue.  Giving up his final season of eligibility, Quinn made an immediate impact by homering in his first two games, and then twice more in his fourth game.  He wound up on the Western International League All-Star team and finished the season with a .330 batting average, 21 homers, 30 doubles, and 88 RBI in just 94 games.  Along the way, he set a league record by hitting in 30 straight games.

He also made 44 errors – which prompted a position switch.  In 1940, Wimpy would be a first baseman.

Nearing the end of the season, the Chicago Cubs took an interest in Quinn and offered Vancouver $5,000 for Quinn’s rights.  The deal called for $2,500 to be paid immediately, and another $2,500 once Quinn made the majors.  However, the league president didn’t like that there was no fixed arrangement for the second payment; the deal was nixed.  The Cubs, who had a working arrangement with the Los Angeles Angels, simply changed the deal – Los Angeles signed Quinn from Vancouver instead.

The Angels liked Quinn but chose to see how Quinn would do as a first baseman – and the Cubs weren’t planning on using Quinn in the infield unless he was on the hill.  Cubs manager Jimmy Wilson had done this once before with success.  Plucking a middling third baseman from the Phillies, Wilson helped develop Bucky Walters into a successful and competent major league starting pitcher for the Reds.  Wilson saw Quinn in training camp throwing the ball around the diamond and pulled Quinn over for a chat.  “Okay kid,” Wilson told him.  “You can plan on putting that first baseman’s mitt in mothballs soon.  You’re going to be a pitcher.”

Wellington Quinn Beta Theta Pi President

Beta Theta Pi President Wellington Quinn

Not right away.  Los Angeles had Ripper Collins, so they optioned Quinn back to Vancouver to play first base and learn to pitch a little.  Quinn had pitched before, but not a lot – he was a relief pitcher on rare occasions in high school, college, and semi-pro teams but his main job was to mash.  Quinn would be doubly successful – batting .342 with 27 homers, 39 doubles, 15 triples, and driving in 150 runs in 140 games.  Along the way he met Edna Templeman and they married that August.  In the off-season, he finished his college degree – and was president of his fraternity.

Los Angeles wasn’t ready to make Quinn a pitcher, despite the wishes of Jimmy Wilson, and in spring training prior to the 1941 season, Quinn was given a chance to win the first base job for the Angels.  Batting around .400 for the spring, and displaying a knack around the bag for reaching all kinds of wayward throws, Quinn earned the job.  However, for the first time ever, Quinn started slowly.  Los Angeles pulled Phil Weintraub out of retirement and sold Quinn to the Cubs.  That one slump was just the excuse Wilson needed to start making Quinn a full-time pitcher.

Arriving in Chicago, Quinn was put under the wing of recently retired Dizzy Dean, as well as other Cub flingers like Claude Passeau and Bill Lee.  After six weeks of training, Quinn gave up two runs on a hit in two innings against Boston and was dispatched to Madison, WI for regular work.

Quinn did his best – but he wasn’t very good.  He finished his tour with Madison by going 1 – 4, walking 56 batters in 63 innings, and allowing 55 runs to score.  However, he helped out in other ways.  As a pinch hitter and occasional outfielder, he pounded Three-I pitching to the tune of a .361 batting average and slugging nearly .600.

When called back to the Cubs in September, you’d think someone would have let him play first base or right field or something.  Instead, he made two more appearances on the hill.  Wimpy was swatted around once, and pitched two scoreless innings in his last appearance on September 25, 1941.  He struck out the last two batters he’d face – Chuck Aleno (swinging) and Ray Starr (looking).  Wilson broke out slow motion film and showed how Quinn had made changes and improved his control, then expected him to focus on his mechanics and come back ready to pitch in 1942.

Eugene Register-Guard scribe Dick Strite wrote, “Wimpy is slightly under weight after the long summer campaign, weighing in at 180 pounds.  But with his wife a very attractive little brunette at the cook stove, Wimpy predicts he will soon be carrying 190 pounds or better on his 6 foot 2 big-boned frame…”

Sent back to Madison, and presumably with a few more pounds on his frame, Quinn improved to 7 – 7, pitched 126 innings – but his 101 walks and 6.29 ERA proved only that the Cubs had wasted two years of Quinn’s professional hitting development on some failed experiment to see if Jimmy Wilson could recreate his success with Bucky Walters.

Quinn, in limited at bats, hit .388 for Madison.  Giving up on Quinn the pitcher, Quinn the hitter was allowed to head back to the Los Angeles Angels and play first base.

Quinn played the whole season for Los Angeles – 157 games – but for some reason he stopped hitting in the last two months.  A solid season ended with a thud – he’d bat just .236 with 11 homers and 30 doubles.  His 80 RBI would be third behind veteran Charley English and young prospect Andy Pafko.  Lefty O’Doul provided a good scouting report.  “That kid is a marvel tending that sack,” Lefty said. “He is gifted with an unusually long reach and comes up with everything thrown in his direction.  At bat, he has looked bad on low balls, but he has lots of power.”

Quinn took up his part for the war effort in the off-season, working in a shipyard.  He wasn’t alone – a number of west coast ballplayers took similar jobs.  Those jobs also paid better than many baseball salaries.  When the 1944 season began, Quinn chose to remain in the dockyards building boats for the Navy.  Charlie English did the same – and both wound up suspended by the Angels for insubordination.  Offers to keep their wartime jobs and play in only home games were dismissed by Angels President Don Stewart.


Wartime Shipbuilders - Wimpy Quinn and others

Wartime shipbuilders at lunch.  Wimpy Quinn is at left; Vern Stephens is holding court in the center.  Lou Novikoff is the smiling man in plaid at the right.

Within weeks, though, Quinn was inducted into the service and joined the Marines.  Private Quinn helped with the closing year of the war, and with efforts to maintain and then shut down structures in the Pacific.  He also played baseball with the troops.  Billy Herman, who managed Quinn on a Navy team in Hawaii, proclaimed him ready for the majors after hitting .366 in a military league.  Harry Hughes, a military manager compared him to George “High Pockets” Kelly.

The Angels took Quinn back and made him a first baseman for the 1946 season.  By May, though, Quinn started showing signs of an illness – he played very little after mid-summer, and would miss the entire 1947 season.  It wasn’t announced at the time what kept Quinn out of the game, but papers noted that the illness was something serious that Quinn had first contracted while a member of the Marines.

Healthier in 1948, Quinn got himself in shape and was signed to play for Pocatello in 1948.  A month later, though, he would be back in California – the Idaho club sold Quinn to Fresno in the California State League.  By the end of the season, Quinn’s bat was showing signs of life.  when not playing baseball, Quinn managed a small ranch in Topanga Canyon, CA.

In 1949, Quinn was one of the four veterans on the Bakersfield Indians – California State League rules called for a limited number of veteran players to help show the ropes to fifteen or twenty kids, most of them under the age of 21.  Quinn, now passing his 31st birthday, was mentoring players like pitcher Don Mossi, and pounding the baseball against the kid pitchers.  Playing every inning of the 139 games, Quinn hit a pair of grand slams in the final week, including the game winner in the pennant clinching game.  His .343 batting average was among the league leaders, as was his league record 298 total bases.

Wimpy Quinn - Mgr Bakersfield

Wellington Quinn, 1949.

Temporarily loaned to San Diego, he spent a week there before signing to play with Tacoma in the Western International League in 1950, batting .315, and in one Sporting News Note (24 January 1951), he set a league record with a ten RBI game.  In 1951, he returned to Bakersfield to manage and play first base – but survived just the one season on a team he guided to a record some 30 games below .500.  While there, he participated in the first ever triple play in Bakersfield history.  With the bases loaded, San Jose pitcher Stan McWilliams grounded to pitcher Mike Gazella, who fired to catcher Joe Borich, and then Borich fired to Quinn.  However, San Jose’s Ed Sobczak kept going around third trying to trick Quinn, and Quinn returned a throw to Borich to get the third out.  The Cleveland Indians ended their association with Bakersfield at the end of 1951 and with that, Quinn’s baseball career was over.

Let’s try to give you a picture of the fine first baseman.  As a young man, he was tall, 6-foot-2, and fit with a long mop of blond hair usually combed and slicked back.  He had long arms and could just about fall into full splits to stretch out for throws.  He could run some when younger – as he got older and filled out, he was a bit thicker, but still trim.  He played ball between 180 and 190 pounds.  His arm was very good – he had a major league fastball and was able to throw well from the outfield when asked to play there.  He carried with him an easy personality and confidence.  One writer found him sincere and serious, but not melodramatic, and was focused on his baseball career.  He had one odd habit – if he went into a slump he’d saw off the end of bats.  Sometimes, he’d saw off his bats, and apparently once in a while he sawed off those of his teammates.  Otherwise, he was genial and displayed a natural sense of leadership.

Quinn returned to his Topanga Canyon ranch, but something else returned – illness.  Walt Little noted at the time of his passing, “Very few Bakersfield Indians knew at the time, but ‘Wimpy’ Quinn, who was a big factor in the local club’s only pennant team and who managed the nine in 1951, suffered from cancer.”  Just 36 years old,  Wellington Hunt Quinn passed to the next league on 1 September 1954 under the care of the staff at Sawtelle Veteran’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

In addition to his wife, Edna, Quinn left behind a son, Jack, and two daughters, Jill and Judy.  In that way, Wellington was like his father.  Allena Hunt Quinn was a widow when Wellington was in high school.  Edna Templeman Quinn was a widow with an eleven-year-old son, and two daughters aged seven and six.  Long lives were not in Quinn’s genes.  Jack Hunt Quinn passed away two months before his 60th birthday in October, 2003.  Julia (Jill) Hunt Quinn married Raymond Jones in July, 1969 barely one month after her sister, Judy Yvonne Quinn died – Judy was not yet 21.  Jill lived but 55 years, passing away in 2002.



Online Public Records (through

Social Security Death Records for Wellington Hunt Quinn, Jack Hunt Quinn, Julia Hunt Quinn, Judy Yvonne Quinn.

1930 United States Census

1940 United States Census


“Townies to Meet Bend Elks Sunday For Second Clash”, Eugene Register-Guard, 30 June 1935, Page 10.

“Ballin Finance To Play Albany Here Wednesday Night”, Albany Democrat-Herald, 13 August 1935, Page 6.

“Hop Golds Open Season in Bend”, Bend Bulletin, 19 May 1936, Page 2.

“Frosh Cage Team Takes Road Trip”, Eugene Register-Guard, 12 February 1937, Page 12.

“Rooks Overcome Frosh 43 – 40; Thrilling Game”, Eugene Register-Guard, 28 February 1937, Page 10.

“Frosh and Rook Nines To Clash”, Eugene Register-Guard, 7 May 1937, Page 18.

“Rooks Hand Frosh Double Beating”, Eugene Register-Guard, 16 May 1937, Page 9.

“First Northwest Semi-Pro Playoff Opens Tonight”, Oregon Statesman, 22 July 1937, Page 7.

Daily Capital Journal, 16 May, 1939, Page 6

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Strite, Dick. “High Climber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 13 June 1939, Page 8.

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Frizzell, Pat. “High Climber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 13 August 1939, Page 10.

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“Ban Put on Vancouver Deal Because of Indefinite Terms”, The Sporting News, 14 September 1939, Page 5.

Strite, Dick. “High Climber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 29 October 1939, Page 12.

“Los Angeles Slices Off Some More White Meat”, The Sporting News, 23 November 1939, Page 5.

Fowler, Gail. “Oregon U. Popular With Scouts Since Gordon Went Up”, Galveston Daily News, 17 February 1940, Page 6.

“Youthful Angels Fly Into Favor With Statz”, The Sporting News, 6 March 1941, Page 11.

Ray, Bob. “Weintraub Changes His Mind And Clubs”, The Sporting News, 24 April 1941, Page 12.

Ray, Bob. “Angels Take on Wally Berger In Effort to Balance Attack”, The Sporting News, 15 May 1941, Page 3.

Casserly, Hank.”Hank Casserly Says”, Madison Capital Times, 11 June 1941, Page 17.

Sheer, Harry. “J. Wellington Quinn, Blues ‘Swift’ Hurler, From Cubs’ Rookie List, Is Here To Learn Mound Tactics”, Madison Capital Times, 12 June 1941, Page 19-20.

Burns, Ed. “Chisox Tighten Race But It’s For Rivals”, The Sporting News, 12 June 1941, Page 6.

Strite, Dick. “Highclimber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 6 July 1941, Page 6.

Millard, Howard. “Quinn Yanked in Fifth, But Wins in Debut As Blues Nip Decatur, 8 – 5.” Madison Capital Times, 19 June 1941, Page 21.

Strite, Dick. “Highclimber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 12 October 1941, Page 6.

Old, John B. “Why Cubs Are Not Winning – ‘First Team With Angels’ — O’Doul”, The Sporting News, 24 June 1943, Page 3.

Old, John B. “Latin Touch for Angels from ‘South of Border'”, The Sporting News, 4 May 1944, Page 24.

“Service Dept.”, Denton Record-Chronicle, 18 July 1945, Page 6.

“Bartell’s All-Stars Win”, The Sporting News, 26 July 1945, Page 11.

“Quinn Hawaiian Slugger”, The Sporting News, 21 February 1946, Page

Strite, Dick. “Highclimber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 29 June 1947, Page 21.

Strite, Dick. “Highclimber”, Eugene Register-Guard, 9 November 1947, Page 23.

“Quinn Will Play For Pocatello”, Odgen Standard-Examiner, 22 April 1948, Page 19.

“Pocatello Shifts Two Ball Players”, Nevada State Journal (Reno), 8 May 1948, Page 9.

“Meet Two of Your Indians”, Bakersfield Californian, 13 April 1949, Page 31.

“Indians in Wild Celebration Following Flag Clinching Game”, Bakersfield Californian, 6 September 1949, Page 51.

“Batters Set New Records in Cal Loop”, Bakersfield Californian, 02 November, 1949, Page 32.

Little, Walt. “Little Quotes”, Bakersfield Californian, 30 August 1950, Page 25.

Little, Walt. “Wimpy Quinn to Manage Tribe”, Bakersfield Californian, 11 January 1951, Page 27.

“Triple Play Can’t Bring Indian Win”, Bakersfield Californian, 13 August 1951, Page 22.

“Tribe 3rd Best Defensive Club in Loop; Borich Slips”, Bakersfield Californian, 17 August 1951, Page 26.

“Wimpy Quinn Looms As Manager of Tacoma Nine”, Bakersfield Californian, 3 October 1951, Page 27.

“Quinn, Tribe Set Records”, Bakersfield Californian, 7 November 1951, Page 34.

“Wimpy Quinn, Former Cub Star, Dies at 36”, Oxnard Press Courier, 2 September 1954, Page 18.

“Funeral Services for Quinn Set”, Bakersfield Californian, 2 September 1954, page 50.

Little, Walt. “Little Quotes”, Bakersfield Californian, 2 September 1954, Page 63.

“Obituary”, The Sporting News, 8 September 1954, Page 32.


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Happy Birthday, Snipe Conley

The surprising answer to the trivia question, “Who was the last player to legally use the spitball in a professional game?” is this man – a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and quite possibly the greatest pitcher in Texas League history, James “Snipe” Conley.

Snipe Conley at 49 for DallasJames Michael Patrick Conley arrived on April 25, 1892 in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, the son of Rose and Michael Conley.  Michael worked as a switch man for the local railroad, while his wife was a homemaker for a bustling Irish family.  James was the second child and first son, following Katherine (Katie), who was three years older, and then followed by Thomas (1894), Margaret (1898), and Rose – a love child who arrived in 1907.  Not necessarily well off, James Conley left school one year into high school to help the family, working for the railroad, a shoe factory, and a car shop.

Pennsylvania was baseball country – teams were scattered in towns all over the state – and the mobile and gifted thrower was easily able to find games.  He joined a company team and became their regular pitcher and eventually earned a job with the Bloomer Girl’s traveling baseball team.  A Shenandoah newspaper remembered Conley playing for the Shenandoah Daisies in 1911 and 1912 and another source suggested that he played for the York White Roses in the Tri State League in 1912.  Frank Menke wrote that he pitched for Pottsville, PA and received a tryout with Connie Mack in 1913.  In 1914, signed with the Baltimore Terrapins in the Federal League and learned the ropes as a swingman for manager Otto Knabe.

It was in that first spring training that Conley got the nickname that would stay with him forever:

When Conley joined the Terrapins last spring in the training camp the players took him “snipe hunting.”  The trick is old and hoary, but Conley didn’t know anything about it. The gang took Conley ten miles into the country in an automobile.  Then they stationed him in a lonely valley with a lantern and a bag.

“Hold the bag until we go out and round up some snipe,” they told Conley.  “When we find some we’ll chase them right to you.  Catch them in the bag.”

The other players disappeared into the darkness, went up the road, got into the automobile and sped back to the hotel arriving there at midnight.

“Where have you been?” asked Manager Otto Knabe.

“We took Conley snipe hunting.”

Knabe ordered his players to go back and get Conley.  They refused.  Then Knabe hired a machine and after a two hour search found Conley walking up a lonely road carrying his lantern.  It was then close to 4 a. m.  Conley had tired of waiting for the snipes to run into his bag and was starting back for the hotel afoot – a ten mile jaunt.

— Menke, Frank G. “Great Jokesters Are Big League Players”, The Kane Republican, 12 April 1915, Page 7.

Snipe Conley Drawing - 1917

A drawing of Conley that appeared in a few newspapers in 1917.  Note that they couldn’t remember that his first name was really James.  More people knew him as Snipe.

Snipe Conley had a fine first season for the Terrapins.  Appearing in 35 games, making eleven starts, Conley made progress throughout the season.  He lost two starts in late May and early June, but pitched his way out of the bullpen to earn a month in the rotation in July and August.  On July 24, he threw a five-hit shutout to beat St. Louis.  He threw a second shutout at Indianapolis in the second game of a doubleheader on August 8, then won three days later, though he needed relief help to finish the game.  When the season was over, Conley finished with a 4 – 6 record, four complete games, and a growing reputation.

The following spring, Conley was expected to be a star.  One writer called him the kid with the “Million Dollar Arm” and the best looking kid to appear on the baseball horizon since Pete Alexander.  In addition to decent speed, he threw a fine assortment of curves – with the help of a spitball taught to him by one-time Orioles pitcher John Picus.

Unfortunately, dreams of being the next Alexander ended after Conley slipped on the icy grounds before the season started – landing directly on his throwing shoulder.  He could hardly lift his arm and had to learn to pitch side armed.  It took a month to get his ERA under 10.00, and he frequently worked out of the bullpen in June and July hoping to get on track.  It never really happened, though – he would win his last decision, a complete game win at Kansas City, but he lost his other decision.  In 24 games, he finished with a 4.29 ERA and soon was released.  The Federal League was nearly dead – Conley was free to figure out how to rebuild his career.

Conley took an offer to leave the northeast and move to Dallas where he signed with the Giants (they would have several nicknames during the next decade) in the Texas League.  At first, still only able to throw side armed, Conley still managed to win 15 games.  In 1917, Conley’s arm was fully healthy and his spitball – which broke in different directions based on whether he threw over the top or off to the side – was unhittable.

After losing the opener, Conley started winning everywhere he went.  On June 10, Conley won his fourteenth straight game beating Shreveport, 7 – 3.  This set the Texas League record, breaking a mark set by former St. Louis Brown, now Houston hurler, Dode Criss.  News of the record breaking win started regular visits from National and American League scouts who wanted to see what had happened to the one time Terrapin.

Conley kept winning though.  His seventeenth straight win was a no-hitter over Fort Worth, a perennial title winner.  The lone base runner walked and was caught stealing.  For his part, Conley fanned nine Panthers.  Dallas got an offer to sell Conley to the Phillies, but turned it down hoping to win the pennant.  On Snipe Conley Day in Waco, Conley tied Rube Marquard’s professional record of 19 consecutive victories by taking the opener, 5 – 4, in ten innings.

Now, a poem about Conley hit the wire services.

A promising busher named Conley,
Has won 19 games in a row.
Which means that some major league magnate
will buy him for oodles of dough.

In Texas they say he’s a wonder,
They never get through boosting “Snipe;”
But won’t it be tough on the magnate
Who buys “Snipe” before he is ripe?

The streak ended there, but the interest in Conley didn’t.  Dallas won the Texas League crown, and Conley set a league record with 27 wins – a record that would be equaled once but never beaten.  He led the league in winning percentage, threw over 300 innings in his 50 appearances, and had an ERA of 1.92.  He led the league with 171 strikeouts and walked just 87 batters.

Conley was also a crack fielder, and batted .309 – the only batter to clear .300 for Dallas.  And they were shots – he had sixteen extra base hits out of his 39 clean hits.

Snipe Conley Fleischmanns Yeast Ad - 1926

Conley was famous enough to appear in an advertisement for Fleischmann’s Yeast in 1926.

Cincinnati won the bidding war – they got Conley’s rights but Conley, who had made a fair salary in the Federal League initially held out for more money.  When the Reds visited Texas on the way to spring training, Christy Mathewson convinced Conley to leave his small farm and pitch for the Reds.

His days with the Reds were not very successful – though in his last outing, he entered the game in the eighth inning and pitched out of a bases loaded jam without allowing a run and earned the win in relief when the Reds pounded out a ninth inning win.  Cincinnati wanted to farm Conley out to Toronto or Milwaukee but Conley convinced him to let him return to his adopted Dallas home.

Over the next several seasons, Conley became perhaps the most famous baseball player in Texas.  In 1919, he won both ends of a doubleheader over Waco, taking both games by a 3 – 0 score.  But his most famous moment during his prime seasons occurred during a game against Wichita Falls.  Tired of missing the big bending spitball, someone dipped a baseball or two in creosote so that when Snipe licked the ball, whatever was on it might keep Conley from licking it again.  Conley got blisters on his lip and his tongue swelled and in the fourth inning, he had to leave the game.

“That is the dirtiest deal I have ever been the victim of in my ten years of professional baseball experience,” Conley said.  “There is one sportsman on the Wichita Falls club, but I won’t mention his name.  He came to me after the game and said: ‘Conley, I don’t want you to think I am mixed up in this thing.'”

Manager Jim Galloway filed a protest with the league, who inspected the balls and concluded that creosote was, indeed, on the baseballs though it couldn’t specifically say who had done it.  Walter Salm, manager of Wichita Falls, claimed it was rubbing off bats, but the lack of a clear denial left the league to declare the game forfeited to Dallas.

Conley loved teaching, too.  In the off-seasons he began serving as a pitching instructor for Southern Methodist University.

Snipe Conley - Seven Balls

Snipe proving that he can hold more balls in his hand than Dazzy Vance.

By 1925, Conley was no longer the best pitcher on the staff – but he was the longest tenured player and had a great reputation with the owners and fans.  He was put in charge of Dallas in mid season and nearly took the Texas League crown.  In 1926, now no longer a player manager, he guided Dallas to its first title since his 27 win season in 1917.  Such heady days were few.  Injuries and his own sickness, causing him to miss nearly two weeks of action, contributed to a slow start – and despite being just a few weeks into the season, Conley was fired.

Not sure what to do, Conley actually game back and pitched for the 1927 Dallas Steers – the very team that fired him.  The next season, he tried his hand managing in Jackson, Mississippi but that didn’t work out.  In July of 1928, he signed to manage and pitch in Midland, Texas.

The right offer came, however, a year later.  He moved to western Texas and took a job with the Big Lake Oil Company.  Working the fields during the day, at night he was a sports director and manager.  Bill Parker wrote:

“Conley is athletic director for a Texon oil firm.  His semi-pro baseball team is one of the best.  It is composed of former major and minor league stars who had rather have substantial year-round jobs than play baseball for a living.

“Snipe also manages the firm’s volleyball, soccer, and soft ball teams and promotes the firm’s weekly boxing and wrestling matches.  He has a son in junior high school.  Conley, bronzed by the West Texas wind and sun, doesn’t look a day older than when he was winning 19 consecutive games – a feat that still stands as a Texas League record…”

Over the next decade, the Texon Oilers baseball team would win the Permian Basin League nine times in ten years.  Occasionally, he would come out and pitch – like this game in Abilene:

“Creaking old Snipe Conley, one of the pitching masters of the Texas League while with Dallas, slid off his managerial bench at Texon the other day and strode to the mound.

“His Texon Oilers were in trouble in the Abilene game.  Runners stood at second and third, one man was out.  The Sniper fogged one down the middle and an Abilenian, with evil intent, bunted to the old man.

“But Snipe rushed over, caught the bunt in mid-air, scurried back to third for an unassisted double play.  The game ended – and Snipe went back into retirement.”

— McKnight, Felix R. “Tech Mentor Sounds Alarm”, Amarillo Daily News, 23 August 1940, Page 10.

Conley pitched a lot – batting practice, occasional games, and a handful of old-timers games where he showed he still had steam on the fastball and movement in his spitter.  He still felt bitter that his career was ended before he was ready to say it was over. Asked if he still wanted to play, Conley responded, “Do I have a yearning to return to professional ball?  My answer is that I have made four different applications for the job at Dallas.”

Eventually, George Schepps, president of Dallas, gave him that chance.  After a tryout, Schepps realized he might actually be more than just a stunt.  “… (H)e is in condition to pitch right now,” Schepps said.  “Say, in 1939 I used him in an old-timers game and the opposing players begged me to take him out because he was throwing too hard.”

In 1941 – now 49 years old – weighing the same as he did in 1927 though with a bit more gray in the hair, Snipe Conley took the hill against the San Antonio Missions.  He was classified as a rookie because he hadn’t pitched in the Texas League (or at A level minor league ball) in more than two seasons.  More importantly, though, he was STILL grandfathered as able to throw his spitball as he was on the Texas League spitball list in 1925 when the pitch was outlawed in the league for all new pitchers.  That makes Conley the last player to legally throw a spitball in a professional game.

The Ada Evening News Reported:

“Baseball’s oldest rookie finished with his arm limp but it failed to dim the luster of the most unusual comeback in Texas League history.

“When Conley pitched for Dallas last night the batters were fellows who were going to grammar school when he set the present league record of 19 straight victories.

“But Snipe was just as crafty, just as speedy and just as effective – that is, for eight innings.  In the ninth, he faltered.  The San Antonio Missions combed his offerings for five hits and five runs.  He managed to finish with an 11 – 6 victory but the end didn’t come any too soon.

“‘I just gave out,’ he explained as he sat in the dugout while his mates rubbed his arm with arnica.  ‘But a couple more nights like this and I’ll be ready to go nine innings.  You know, it’s been 13 years since I pitched the route.’

“Three thousand fans turned out to see Conley in his comeback.  There would have been more but too many figured that while Snipe still had the heart the arm and legs wouldn’t last… Conley was a little crestfallen over the finish but the fans were not.  If pitching nine innings doesn’t sap the aging right arm autographing likely will.”

Snipe Conley at 49 for Dallas

Snipe Conley at 49.

He made a second appearance – topping another ancient spitballer, Oscar Tuero, who was making a comeback.  Tuero lasted two thirds of an inning – Conley pitched into the fifth but ran out of gas.  Dallas won, 10 – 4, but Conley knew he wasn’t going to be able to pitch regularly at that level – he didn’t have the legs or the accuracy anymore.

As he aged, Conley never stopped defending the spitball that made him famous.  He claimed that the shine ball and emery ball were undependable and wild, but the spitball was easily controlled.  A sidearm delivery meant the ball would break like a curve, and an overhand version dropped like a sinker.  As for control – he regularly led his league in the fewest walks per nine innings pitched.

His wife of more than 25 years, Rosebud Stuart Conley, passed away on 7 April 1942.  Their son, John Quinn “Snipe” Conley, Jr.,. pitched in the low minors after graduating from Texas A&M.  Like his dad, he was an outfielder, infielder, and pitcher.  He just didn’t have the skills the original Snipe Conley had.

Conley remarried – he and Mary Lee Reese stayed on a farm near Texon until his retirement and would pitch in old-timer games into his 60s.  Briefly living in Arizona after his retirement in 1957, the Conleys soon returned to Texas where they lived their remaining days in Robert Lee.  In the 1970s, Conley was regularly included but overlooked in voting for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, but he was finally inducted at the end of 1973.  Finally, Snipe put the glove away for the last time and passed to the next league on 7 January 1978.



Baseball Reference – Snipe Conley  (retrieved 19 May 2016)

Retrosheet – Snipe Conley

Handbook of Texas Online, Jane Spraggins Wilson, “Conley, James Michael Patrick [Snipe],” accessed May 19, 2016,

Schuylkill County Baseball History

Historical Data:

1900 Census Data

1910 Census Data

1920 Census Data

1930 Census Data

1940 Census Data

World War 1 Draft Registration Form

World War 2 Draft Registration Form

Newspaper Articles:

Goss, Ralston.  “Hoosiers Triumph With Moseley On Mount”, Indianapolis Star, 29 July 1914, Page 4.

Menke, Frank G. “Great Jokesters Are Big League Players”, The Kane Republican, 12 April 1915, Page 7.

Menke, Frank G. “Menke Visits Baltimore Feds”, The Kingston Daily Freeman, 20 Mar 1915, Page 8.

Guy, Richard.  “Local Boys Are Headed For Dallas”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1 Feb 1916, Page 10.

“Conley Sets Mark”, Washington Times, 11 June 1917, Page 7.

“Big League Scouts Are Looking Conley Over”, The Salina Daily Union, 20 June 1917, Page 4.

“Conley In Spotlight”, Washington Times, 25 June 1917, Page 10.

“Snipe Conley Makes Nineteen Straight Wins”, Washington Times, 9 July 1917, Page 10.

Pittsburgh Press, 11 July 1917, Page 28.

“Young Texas Leaguer Equals Marquard’s 19-Game Record — Now After World Title”, The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pa), 11 July 1917, Page 5.

“Conley, New Redleg, Was Sensation This Year in Texas League”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 September 1917, Page 7.

“Cressona Will Use Star Hurler Against Locals”, Reading Times, 13 October 1917, Page 13.

“Heard Here And There In the World of Sports”, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 10 March 1918, Page 8.

“Prefers Baseball to Farm”, El Paso Herald, 19 April 1918, Page 10.

“Sport Salad By Gene”, Waco News-Tribune, 15 March 1919, Page 7.

Ryder, Jack. “Conley Fails To Get Revenge.”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 7 April 1919, Page 10.

Mount Carmel Item, 15 November 1919, Page 2

“Protest Game and Claim That Ball Was Doctored”, Wichita Daily Times (Wichita Falls, TX), 13 August 1922, Page 1.

Larkin, Paul W. “Spudders Come From Behind and Vanquish Peacocks in Fourth”, Wichita Daily Times, 13 August 1922, Page 8.

Harbert, Bryant. “Sportitorials”, Corsicana Daily Sun, 19 August 1922.

“John Snipe Conley Base Ball Pitcher Spent Friday Here”, The Courier-Gazette (McKinney, TX), 29 September 1923, Page 5.

“One National and One Texas League Player To Aid in Coaching Ponies”, Corsicana Daily Sun, 18 Feb 1924, Page 9.

“Conley’s Homer Wins”, Waco News-Tribune, 21 May 1925, Page 9.

“New Leadership Wins for Steers”, El Paso Herald, 19 June 1925, Page 10

“Victory Over Fort Worth Gives Texas Metropolis First Flag in Ten Years”, The (Bryan) Eagle, 9 September 1926.

“Conley, Dallas Boss, Outdazzles Dazzy”, The (Zanesville) Times Recorder, 17 September 1926, Page 15.

“Snipe Conley Retired As Manager of Steers”, Galveston Daily News, 6 July 1927, Page 6.

“Conley Released”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 3 July 1928, Page 11.

Moore, Paul. “Sport Notes”, Corsicana Daily Sun, 20 July 1928, Page 10.

Parker, Bill. “Sports Horn”, Denton Record-Chronicle, 30 December 1933, Page 5.

“About Snipe Conley”, Abilene Morning Reporter, 26 August 1934, Page 30.

“Champ Series Slated”, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX), 30 August 1939, Page 7.

“Veteran Snipe Conley Yearns For Another Go In Organized Baseball”, San Antonio Express, 16 February 1940, Page 12.

Ratliff, Harold V. “‘Snipe’ Conley Preparing Oilers for Another Season”, Valley Morning Star (Harlington, TX), 16 February 1940, Page 12.

McKnight, Felix R. “Tech Mentor Sounds Alarm”, Amarillo Daily News, 23 August 1940, Page 10.

“Snipe Conley, Finished Once, Pitches Again”, Ada Evening News, 26 June 1941, Page 6.

Ratliff, Harold V. “Snipe Conley, Now 49, In Comeback With Rebs”, San Antonio Light, 11 June 1941, Page 13.

Ratliff, Harold V. “Snipe Conley To Make Second Start Dallas Rebs Sunday”, Corsicana Daily Sun, 24 July 1941, Page 8.

Ratliff, Harold V. “Comeback Trail Hard; Failed Last Night By Technicality”, Corsicana Daily Sun, 28 July 1941, Page 7.

“Death Claims Wife of ‘Snipe Conley'”, Lubbock Morning Avalanche, 8 April 1942, Page 7.

Moore, Paul. “Sport Notes”, Corsicana Daily Sun, 27 November 1946, Page 7.

“Conley Can Still Pitch a Baseball”, Abilene Reporter-News, 5 October 1949, Page 7.

Gammon, Spec. “Now-Defunct Oilers Captured 2 Titles During 8-Year Tenure”, Odessa American, 21 April 1955, Page 18.

“Texas League Great Retires From Business”, Nashville Tennessean, 5 Feb 1957, Page 15.

“Snipe Conley Down to Hurl”, San Antonio Light, 31 July 1958, Page 17.

Duncan, Arnott. “Babe Ruth Banter – Pro and Con”, Arizona Republic, 17 September 1961, Page 40.

“New Members Join Hall of Fame”, The Odessa American, 1 January 1974, Page 19.

“60 Years Ago – 1917”, Shenandoah Evening Herald, 20 July 1977, Page 4.

“James Patrick (Snipe) Conley”, The Sporting News, 28 January 1978, Page 40.

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