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.

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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.

Happy Birthday, Dario Lodigiani!

Dario Lodigiani was a good second and third baseman whose big league career was shortened by World War II, but extended for years beyond his playing days by his ability to find and hone young talent.

Dario Lodigiani Yearbook Photo 1934

Dario Lodigiani’s 1934 yearbook photo.

Born 6 June 1916 to Carlo and Antoinetta Arrigotti Lodigiani, Dario was the second of five boys – but the first of at least two professional ballplayers (brother Eddie played for Topeka in 1940).  Carlo, a baker, and Antoinetta both immigrated to the United States in 1913, settling in the North Beach section of San Francisco – near a lot of other Italian immigrants.  Dario was small and thick, but quick, agile and smart – at Galileo High School, he played soccer, football, basketball, and baseball while also serving on the principal’s cabinet.  And, he was close friends with Dominic DiMaggio, who (like his older brothers) played baseball at Galileo High School and hung out with Dario at Funston Playground, which had a fine baseball stadium at the marina.

After graduating from high school, Lodigiani played for the Langendorf Royals and in the Golden Valley League as a semi-professional second baseman.   His toughness (and hair) earned him the nickname “Dempsey” as a young ballplayer.  While playing American Legion ball for Legion Post 363 he was noticed by scout Spike Hennessey and signed to play for the Oakland Oaks of the PCL.

Dario Lodigiani 1935“Dario Lodigiani, who day by day is looking more like a big league prospect, featured the seventh inning raid with a long double…”

Murphy, Eddie. “Shellenback Hurls Tomorrow”, 17 April 1936, Pages 36, 37.

After a summer crushing the ball at a .400 clip for Vancouver, Lodigiani, still a teen, was impressive in his 1935 Oaks debut, batting .395 with a homer in 38 at bats.  When the 1936 season started, Oakland manager Billy Meyer had to make a tough decision – go with veterans Bernie Deviveiros and Ernie Leishman in the middle of the infield, or give the jobs to University of Oregon shortstop Joe Gordon and teenaged Lodigiani at second base.  Meyer went with the kids.  Early on, Lodigiani was seen as the better prospect, though Gordon soon proved to be the better player and was purchased by the Yankees at the end of the 1936 season.  Over the 1936 and 1937 seasons, he played in more than 160 games and batted .280 and .327, anchored a solid infield and became one of the more popular players on the Oaks – him and his old friend Dominic DiMaggio.  In fact, Lodi earned himself a “day” where he was feted with gifts for his fine season.  In October, it was announced that the 21-year-old kid was soon leaving to join the Philadelphia A’s and Connie Mack.  It was a trade of sorts – Mack sent five players and cash back to Oakland to acquire Lodigiani, including Jess Hill, Wilbur Conroy, and infielder Hugh Lube.  It was a great deal for Oakland, who got nine solid seasons out of two of those players, plus another $15,000.

“Dario Lodigiani, Philadelphia third baseman, was hit on the head by one of Kimberlin’s pitches in the seventh inning. He fell to the ground apparently unconscious and, after being revived, was taken to a hospital.”

“Chapman Pounds Ball!”, San Francisco Examiner, 05 May 1939, Page 18.

Lodigiani didn’t disappoint as a hitter, batting .280 in 93 games and getting on base more than 36% of the time for the 1938 Athletics, though he did Connie Mack a favor and spent a quick hitch in the Eastern League where he batted .303 down the stretch trying to help Williamsburg win the league title.  He did, however, struggle at second base and eventually moved to third base.  In May, 1939, “Lodi” was felled by a Harry Kimberlin pitch, suffering a concussion but, thankfully, no other more serious injuries.  The concussion, and certainly the incident, may have affected his play.  Lodigiani’s batting average for 1939 fell to .260 and a year later he played just one game for the Athletics but spent the rest of the season with Toronto of the International League.  Connie Mack traded Lodi to the White Sox for pitcher Jack Knott after the season ended.

“I remember Jimmy Dykes used to say (Lodigiani) played third base ‘as long as his chest held out.'” – Thornton Lee.

Holtzman, Jerome. “DiMaggio hit streak wasn’t always easy”, Billings Gazette, 26 August 1987, Page 9.

Dario Lodigiani Baltimore Sun Ad 1942His first season with the White Sox didn’t really work out.  In June, he had a shot at ending Joe DiMaggio’s streak before it got past 25 games – but Dario couldn’t handle a hot smash down the line.  It ricocheted off Lodigiani’s chest and bounced to his left.  The throw didn’t get there in time.  The scorer ruled it a single and not an error – keeping the streak alive.  In July, 1941 he broke a finger and then struggled to a .239 average.

However,  Lodi picked it up to .280 in a utility role for 1942.  That summer, Lodigiani was one of fourteen players and coaches tossed from a game against the Red Sox.  After Joe Haynes tossed a couple of pitches up and in to Ted Williams, someone – Lodi claimed it was coach Mule Haas who had a uniquely loud raspberry that he would launch from the dugout – said something that bothered umpire Red Jones.  Not knowing who was responsible for the noise (at some point it was rumored to be a ventriloquist), Jones tossed everyone but the manager, a trainer, and the bat boy.  Coach Bing Miller offered his glasses to Jones on the way to the clubhouse.

After that season, Lodi enlisted and joined the Air Force for World War II.  Private Lodigiani spent much of the war years in a support role in Hawaii and was fortunate to be allowed to manage and play for the Hickam Bombers base team during much of the war (a teammate was Ferris Fain).  When he returned in 1946, he got one more season with the Sox but was lost to the team after he first broke his arm, and then had surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow that May, and again the following spring.

In May, after working out the kinks of his elbow and getting his batting swing grooved, Lodigiani was back in an Oakland Oaks uniform.  That year, he played for Casey Stengel and along side a third DiMaggio brother.  He had played in a youth league with Joe, he played high school and minor league ball with Dom, and now Dario was a teammate of Vince DiMaggio.  And, he could help mentor a young infielder named Billy Martin.  The 1948 Oakland Oaks were loaded with old and young talent.  Joining Lodigiani and the twenty-year-old Martin were Ernie Lombardi, Nick Etten (43-155-.313), and George Metkovitch (.336 with 23 homers).  Throw in a veteran staff, and the Oaks would win the Pacific Coast League crown by two games over San Francisco.  It was the first pennant for Oakland in twenty one years.

Dario Lodigiani Yakima Manager in Seals Uni 1952

“We grieve at the announcement Dario Lodigiani is no longer to be with the Oaks. The way he hits, the way he starts double plays and the music in his name are things we should have kept.”

Ad Schuster. “Other Fellow”, Oakland Tribune, 09 June 1949, Page 40.

The 1949 Oakland team had a new manager in Charlie Dressen, and the defending champions played just .500 ball for the first two months of the season.  Dressen apparently didn’t have full support from some of the veterans – and as June began, a bunch of veteran players were suddenly placed on irrevocable waivers.  Dressen was quoted as saying “If I am going to lose, I’m going to lose my way.”  So, on the night the team celebrated raising the championship pennant, one player was sold and a few others were waived.  One of those players was the very popular Dario Lodigiani.  Lodigiani was considered a bonus player – he was signed for more than the $4000 signing limit in 1947 – and Oakland could get back a good chunk of that money by letting Lodi go.

While every team was interested in Lodi, three teams initially filed a claim.  The first was San Diego, then Hollywood, and finally Sacramento.  With the worst record of the three, Sacramento was ready to bring Lodigiani to their squad.  However, the night before the waiver claiming period expired, Sacramento won their game and San Francisco lost its game, putting Sacramento a half game ahead of the Seals in the standings.  Seals management hastily sent out a wire and filed a claim for Lodigiani minutes before the waiver period expired.  Days later, Pacific Coast League directors confirmed that Lodigiani was a Seal and he finished the season in San Francisco.  In fact, the confusion over the timing of waiver claims and records was resolved by a rule change the following month – the record at the time of the waiver expiration would be used.

Lodigiani spent two seasons as a regular with the San Francisco Seals hitting over .300 each time, but eventually he would become a manager – first for Yakima in the Western International League and then for Ventura and Capital Cities in the California League.  Ultimately, what Lodigiani wanted to do was manage a big league team, but that shot never happened.  He was a coach in Kansas City in the early 1960s for his longtime friend Joe Gordon, but never a manager.  And, he was a scout for the Cleveland Indians and then the Chicago White Sox for number of years.  In 2006, after the White Sox won the World Series, the Sox gave their longtime scout a ring.

Still – he had a fine playing career.  In addition to playing more than 400 games in the major leagues, Lodigiani played more than 1500 games in the high minors – the vast majority of them in the Pacific Coast League.

Dario Lodigiani Athletics 1939

Lodigiani’s scouting career bridged the gap between the days when it was possible to find future stars of the diamonds and preparing for the draft. “You still look for young talent. I beat the highways 30,000 miles every summer. But there is no such thing as an exclusive find because every other team is searching, too.”

He said the last shot he had at finding a gem was Gary Nolan, whom he discovered in Oroville, CA. “I was one year too late,” Lodi lamented. “I got friendly with the family. Everything was coming up roses. It was in 1965. The free agent draft was introduced. I was knocked out of the box. Cincinnati drafted Nolan.”

He appreciated the draft, though. “The draft gives the second division teams a chance to strengthen. Oakland is a case in point. When the A’s were down, they were able to draft Reggie Jackson and Rick Monday, “Lodigiani said. “In the old days, rich teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox would have outbid everyone for youngsters of their outstanding potential.”

During his lifetime of baseball scouting and coaching, he would return home to his wife, Marie Roberts, whom he married in December, 1950.  (Dario had previously married and divorced his first wife, Constance Matthews, whom he had met in high school.)  Their life included a lot of ballgames (as well as fishing, hunting, and golf), but no days with their own children.  After years living in his original family home, the Lodigiani’s eventually settled in Napa.  Asked by Jerome Holtzman if he (was) a wine connoisseur, Lodigiani laughed and said, “Oh, no, but once in a while I drink it.”

Dario Lodigiani passed away at age 91 on 10 February 2008.  By then, he had spent more than 50 years as a scout.

SOURCES:

1920, 1930 US Census
WWII Draft Cards
The June 1934 Telescope (Galileo High School Yearbook), Pages 18, 44 (also photo)
California Marriage Index
Baseball Questionnaires, 1953 and 1954
FindAGrave.com
Baseball-Reference.com

“Oaks Sign S.F. Boy”, San Francisco Examiner, 14 January 1935, Page 19.

Nealon, James J. “New Parkside Ball Diamond Attracts Fans”, San Francisco Examiner,  18 June 1935, Page 22.

Preston, Bob. “S. F. Boy Stars In Northwest”, San Francisco Examiner, 30 July 1935, Page 21. (Also Photo.)

“Ponders Gamble”, Oakland Tribune, 09 April 1936, Page 28.

Borba, Henry. “Oak Mystery: Lodigiani Is Spark of Club”, San Francisco Examiner, 22 July 1937, Page 24.

Murphy, Eddie. “Dario Lodigiani Cracks Homer, Double At ‘Night’ as Oaks Lose in Tenth, 5 to 3”, Oakland Tribune (Sports Section), 04 September 1937, Page 14.

“Dario Lodigiani Gets Call to Athletics”, Petaluma Argus-Courier, 25 October 1937, Page 4.

Murphy,  Eddie. “Lodigiani Goes To A’s For Hill, Four Others”, Oakland Tribune, 05 November 1937, Page 26.

“Chapman Pounds Ball!”, San Francisco Examiner, 05 May 1939, Page 18.  (Also photo)

“Athletics Get Knott For Dario Lodigiani”, Passaic Herald-News, 17 December 1940, Page 20.

“Dario Lodigiani Sweetheart of School Days”, Santa Ana Register, 15 April 1941, Page 13.

“Chicago White Sox Lose Dario Lodigiani”, 10 July 1941, Page 8.

(Ad) Baltimore Evening Sun, 28 April 1942, Page 22.

“Baseball Lineups”, Honolulu Advertiser, 09 March 1945, Page 1.

“Takes Treatment”, San Bernadino County Sun, 23 February 1947, Page 22.

“Lodigiani Divorced”, Oakland Tribune, 25 March 1947, Page 18.

Byrne, Emmons. “Wholesale Acorn Shake-Up Reported”, Oakland Tribune, 08 June 1949, Page 30.

Ad Schuster. “Other Fellow”, Oakland Tribune, 09 June 1949, Page 40.

“Directors Rule Lodigiani To Play For Seals”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 14 June 1949, Page 11.

“Waiver Rule Eased by PCL”, San Mateo Times, 12 July 1949, Page 11.

Baskett, Bob. “Connie Mack Gave Lodi Chance in the Minors”, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 30 March 1952, Page 19.  (Also photo)

McLeod, George. “Leek Aims To Pay Off On $50,000”, Tucson Daily Citizen, 17 March 1959, Page 15.

“Baseball’s Scouting Era Over”, San Francisco Examiner, 15 March 1970, Page 51.

Corona, Al. “Lodigiani recalls Yankees’ Gordon”, San Francisco Examiner, 24 May 1978, Page AA-6.

Holtzman, Jerome. “DiMaggio hit streak wasn’t always easy”, Billings Gazette, 26 August 1987, Page 9.

Holtzman, Jerome. “His memories of Luke fill the old park”, Chicago Tribune, 26 August 1990, Page 47.

“Joltin’ Joe’s 56-Game Hitting Streak”, Hackensack Record, 10 June 1991, Page 34.

Travers, Steven. “Little Professor is the real pride of San Francisco”, San Francisco Examiner, 08 March 2001, Pages B1, B4.

“Shine On”, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 05 May 2006, Page B1.

Branch, John. “Years later, still thumb kind of myth”, 09 July 2006, Page 3 – 3.

Delcos, John. “Cork-gate, version 2003, places stigma on Sosa”, Morris County Daily Record, 08 June 2003, Page B3.

Happy Birthday, Claral Gillenwater!

As suggested by his SABR biographer, Bill Lamb, the writers in the various cities never seemed to get Claral Gillenwater’s first name right.  At various times, he was called Claude, Claire, and other odder names – like Al or Alton.  Not once – until his obituary – was he called Claral in the newspaper.

Claral Lewis Gillenwater was born on 20 May 1900 to Robert and Nellie (Albright) Gillenwater in Sims, Indiana.  He was the second child, trailing his sister Ora by three years.  His mother later died during childbirth (septic shock and internal hemorrhaging) and his father remarried and moved to Ohio.  Over the next seven years, he and his next wife, Myrtle McCammon Gillenwater died in 1919, and then he and Stella Shoemaker married and had three more kids.  And he paid for all of this as the owner of a family barbershop.

Claral left school around the eighth grade and learned the family trade – he became a barber.  On the side, he played baseball and became a locally famous pitcher.  The tall, thin kid with light brown hair and blue eyes earned a tryout with Columbus in the American Association and, while he didn’t stick, he did get a job pitching for Peoria in 1920.  When not pitching league games, he’d occasionally make starts in exhibition games against the Decatur Staleys, featuring outfielder and football legend George Halas (name dropping on his behalf).  He then showed off his improving skills with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, finishing the 1921 season and then playing winter ball.  He moved to Saginaw in 1922 and Nashville and then the Greenville Spinners in 1923.   By mid-summer, he was pitching for Muskegon.

Pitcher Claude Gillenwater, leading hurler of the local Michigan-Ontario League team, has been purchased by the Chicago Americans and will report to the White Sox tomorrow, it was announced today. The purchase price is said to have been $5,000.”

“Sox Purchase Young Pitcher”, Chicago Tribune, 16 August 1923, Page 13.

He made his debut appearance with the White Sox against Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees.  It didn’t go well…

(Gillenwater) was greeted in the fourth with a single, two triples, and a two bagger. In the sixth, the Yanks started on another rampage, and after the first three men and notched doubles, (Kid) Gleason decided it was time to yank the Muskegon, Mich., kid.”

“Yanks Bingle As Sox Bungle; Sad Figures Are 16 – 5”, Chicago Tribune, 21 August 1923, Page 13.

However, at least one writer thought he might have a future.

“If Claude’s service in the upper strata of baseball circles is as long as his handle he ought to draw pay from the White Sox management far into the future.”

“Tigers Tighten Hold on Third”, Battle Creek Enquirer, 04 September 1923, Page 13.

Anyway – Gillenwater was given a second chance against the Boston Red Sox.  In this game, Gillenwater was brilliant and he pitched a four-hit shutout.

“He is a side-arm twirler and starts his ball rather low. It was evident that his peculiar delivery would be to his advantage, as his style differs from the majority of pitchers. Gillenwater delivers the ball much after the manner of Howard Ehmke, who it so happened was the Boston pitcher that day… He has a fairly good fast ball… He also had on tap a fairly good curve.”

“Billy Evans Says-“, Battle Creek Enquirer, 04 September 1923, Page 13.

Glaral Gillenwater - TSN 1928Unfortunately, his three other appearances – two starts and one relief outing – were more like his first one – and his stay with the White Sox was short.  Gillenwater became a minor league nomad, but never making a whole lot of headway back to the majors.  The next spring, he was pitching for Norfolk.  In 1925, it was Terre Haute and a year later, he played for Ollie Pickering and the Quincy Reds.  In 1927, he had a fine season with the Wheeling Stogies – good enough to get his picture in The Sporting News.  While he stayed in a Wheeling a second season, his days of professional baseball were few – he’d head back closer to home and play some semi-professional ball before spending the rest of his working days as a barber.

During the depression, the Claral Gillenwater lived with his mother-in-law while working as the proprietor of a barber shop in Saginaw, MI. He and his wife, the former Rachel Phillips, had a daughter, Gloria.

Glaral Gillenwater - Cropped from 1954“Funeral Services for Mr. Claral L. Gillenwater, 77, of Chula Vista Trailer Park, Ruskin, who passed away in a Bradenton hospital Sunday, will be held from the Lewers & Shannon Funeral Home Chapel Wednesday afternoon… Survived by his wife Rachael Gillenwater, Ruskin; 1 daughter Mrs. Gloria Walsh; 1 brother John Gillenwater, and 1 sister Mrs. John Nevins…”

“GILLENWATER (Obit)”, Tampa Times, 28 February 1978, Page 5.

Gillenwater passed to the next league on 27 February 1978 in Bradenton, FL, leaving behind a wife, sister, brother, and daughter.

Sources

1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
Indiana Death Records
Michigan Marriage Records, 1922.

SABR Biography by Bill Lamb
Baseball-Reference.com
FindAGrave.com

Image of Gillenwater fishing cropped from photo uploaded to Ancestry.com and found here:

https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/23820383/person/1435752118/media/cc185ee5-e794-4476-9d73-120579eed22a?_phsrc=RJg274&_phstart=successSource

“Peoria Buys Player”, Decatur Herald, 29 February 1920, Page 9.

Bertz, George. “Seals Play Beavers And Increase Lead”, 26 September 1921, Page 10.

“Bees Trounce Seals In Fast Diamond Event”, 26 April 1922, Page 10.

Bousdog, Ray. “Judd in Rare Form Saturday, Aces Lose 7 – 3”, Port Huron Times Herald, 17 July 1922, Page 9.

“Pirates Hit Snag in Southern Town, But Nose Out Game”, Pittsburgh Daily Post, 11 April 1923, Page 9.

Heads to Greenville Spinners for 04 May 1923, Page 12.

“Spinners Lose Opening Game To Spartans, 5 to 2”, Greenville News, 04 May 1923, Page 12.

“Sox Purchase Young Pitcher”, Chicago Tribune, 16 August 1923, Page 13.

“Yanks Bingle As Sox Bungle; Sad Figures Are 16 – 5”, Chicago Tribune, 21 August 1923, Page 13.

“Tigers Tighten Hold on Third”, Battle Creek Enquirer, 04 September 1923, Page 13.

“Billy Evans Says-“, Battle Creek Enquirer, 04 September 1923, Page 13.

“What Former Sally Leaguers Are Doing In Other Fields”, Greenville News, 07 May 1924, Page 6.

“Terre Haute Bunches Hits and Ruins Springfield’s Opening Day Program”, Decatur Herald, 13 May 1925, page 17.

“Commodores Split Double Header With Quincy, 9-10, 10-0.”, Decatur Herald, 12 July 1926, Page 4.

“He Had Good Year in Good Company”, The Sporting News, 26 January 1928, Page 8.

Box Score, Pittsburgh Press, 06 May 1928, Page 55.

“GILLENWATER (Obit)”, Tampa Times, 28 February 1978, Page 5.

“Obituaries”, Sporting News, 01 Apriil 1978, Page 61.

Happy Birthday, Alex Voss!

Alex Voss was a major league pitcher if you consider the Union Association a major league – he pitched and played the outfield and first base for Washington and Kansas City in that league in 1884.

Zachariah Alexander Voss arrived on 16 May, but historical data and baseball records don’t agree on the year.  The record books say 1858, but the historical record in the US Census data suggests he was born in 1855 – so he may have changed his age to look younger as a ballplayer.  Anyway, Alex was the son of John and Susan (Fletcher) Voss, who lived on a farm in Roswell, GA – Alex was the fourth of seven children.  His dad later served with in the Cobb County Legion Cavalry and was one of many Confederate soldiers who were captured and imprisoned in late 1864.  John’s time as a prisoner of war was short, though – he took an oath to lay down his arms and was released in October of that year.

Voss abandoned his farm and took his family to the Cincinnati, Ohio area, which was a great place to learn baseball after the war ended.  By his late teens and early twenties, Alex Voss was a member of very good amateur and semi-professional clubs – and, like his father, took up carpentry and painting.  When not playing (or umpiring) baseball, he earned his pay with the brush.  He lost a little time in both gigs in 1876, though, when he accidentally mishandled a pistol and shot himself in his left hand.  Thankfully it wasn’t his pitching hand – and Voss was able to continue doing the two things he loved most.

“The Daytons have three batteries lying on the shelf waiting repairs, and Aleck Voss was put in the box to manipulate the points, and did like a phenomenal. His ability as a ball tosser has increased one hundred percent.”

“Had to Work”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 04 August 1883, Page 2.

Voss’s work with a club in Dayton earned Voss an opportunity with the newly formed Washington Nationals with of the Union Association.  At first, Voss played mostly first base but in time Voss earned a shot as a regular pitcher.  Washington wasn’t very good, but over time the team improved their play and their playing field.

When the Nationals enlarged the right field of their grounds the position of the diamond was somewhat changed and in this change the home plate, after several games had been played, sank somewhat below the surface of the ground. This, of course, had to be remedied and when it was taken up preparatory to making it set straight Alex. Voss planted a horseshoe underneath its smooth surface. Wonder if this has anything to do with the late success of the Nationals? Next thing in order will be to put a horseshoe under each base bag.

“The Situation of Affairs at the Nations Capital.”, The Sporting Life, 16 July 1884, Page 4.

As the summer came to a close, he was moved to the Kansas City entry in the UA, where he lost his only six decisions to finish the year with just five wins and twenty losses on the mound.  Voss didn’t hit well, either – batting .176 and dragging down the team averages for both teams.  Alex finished the fall playing amateur baseball and working as a firefighter in Dayton.

Voss spent the next seasons in Nashville, Memphis and (briefly) in Savannah of the Southern League.  As 1886 closed, he was pitching and living in Denver and stayed there for the 1887 season.  However, his family took very ill and his wife, Lucy, begged him to come home.

The Journal is in receipt of a letter from Alex Voss, who was reported as having jumped his contract with Denver, denying that such was the case. He states that when the club was in Lincoln he received a letter from his wife calling him home on account of her illness and the serious illness of their little boy. Manager McClintock did not wish to have him leave, and said that if he went he would be obliged to pay his own railroad fare. Voss wishes to have his friends in Lincoln understand that he would not be guilty of such a foolish trick as jumping a club.

“Notes”, Nebraska State Journal, 20 September 1887, Page 2.

He would lose two of his children and two years of his baseball career – and quite likely a bit of his ability to cope with life.  No longer painting, he took a job driving a local street car and began to drink.  His reputation as a player got him a position on a Hamilton amateur team and eventually a chance to play professionally one more time in 1890.

“Alex Voss, the big manager of the McKeesport Tri-State League ball club, reported here today, and was banqueted to-night at the Hotel Jerome by the baseball association. During the evening Torreyson was presented with a gold medal for the best batting record. Voss is 29 years of age, stands 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 170 pounds and is regarded as one of the best all-around players in the country.”

“Banqueted Voss”, Pittsburgh Dispatch, 21 March 1890, Page 6.

His job didn’t last long, however – he was fired in May as manager and not retained as a first baseman.  A year later, the papers noted that Voss claimed to have reformed his ways and was trying to play again for 1891.

No longer famous and still coping with family issues – Voss and his wife Lucy Seifert would eventually have five children with three surviving into adulthood – the drinking returned and he became abusive toward his wife.  Lucy called on the Cincinnati police to help her as Voss would alternate between a tolerable and an intolerable person.  The case required two judges as the one initially assigned to the court case backed out because he was personally familiar with Voss’s behavior and couldn’t be partial.  By 1900 he was arrested for drunken behavior and the courts threw Voss into a Cincinnati work house.  Six years later, on 31 August 1906, the pain Voss felt – and created – ended in a Cincinnati hospital.

SOURCES:

Baseball-reference.com
FindAGrave – Alex Voss
FindAGrave – Lucy Seifert Voss
FindAGrave – John A. Voss

GA Marriage Index
US Civil War Prisoner of War Records
1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900 US Census

Nemec, David (editor). Major League Baseball Profiles – 1871 to 1900, Volume 1, University of Nebraska Press, 2011, Pages 193 -194

“Brevities”, Cincinnati Daily Star, 26 June 1876, Page 4.

“Orange Blossoms”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 02 May 1878, Page 8.

“Base-ball.”, Cincinnati Daily Star, 19 August 1878, Page 4.

“Had to Work”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 04 August 1883, Page 2.

“From Porkopolis”, The Sporting Life, 26 March 1884, Page 3.

“The Situation of Affairs at the Nations Capital.”, The Sporting Life, 16 July 1884, Page 4.

“Base Ball.”, Dayton Herald, 26 September 1884, Page 3.

“Notes and Comments.”, The Sporting Life, 05 November 1884, Page 5.

“The Diamond.”, The Nashville Tennessean, 11 January 1886, Page 5.

“Nashville and Memphis Try Their Strength To-Day”, Nashville Tennessean, 18 March 1886, Page 4.

“About Base Ball”, St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, 16 December 1886, Page 3.

“Base Ball.”, Nashville Tennessean, 14 February 1887, Page 8.

“Base Ball Brevities”, Nashville Tennessean, 25 July 1887, Page 4.

“Notes”, Nebraska State Journal, 20 September 1887, Page 2.

“Notes and Comments”, The Sporting Life, 30 January 1889, Page 3.

“The Hamilton Club’s Organization and Team.”, The Sporting Life, 08 May 1889, Page 1.

“Banqueted Voss”, Pittsburgh Dispatch, 21 March 1890, Page 6.

“McKeesport Club’s Movements”, Pittsburgh Dispatch, 10 May 1890, Page 6.

“Voss Leaves the Club”, Pittsburgh Dispatch, 11 May 1890, Page 7.

“Personal News and Gossip”, The Sporting Life, 07 February 1891, Page 3.

“Baseball Caught on the Fly”, The Sporting News, 24 March 1900, Page 5.

“On the Downward Path.”, Williamsburg Star 27 April 1900, Page 4.

Happy Birthday, Count Gedney!

“The mystery of Alfred W. Gedney’s life was buried with him here yesterday. The old-time ball player, who never used a glove, died at the age of 76 last Friday. He was a member of the champion Philadelphia baseball team, which was the first American outfit to tour Europe, but for the past 25 years he absolutely shunned professional ball and never saw a game.

“In 1890 Gedney played the outfield for the Hackensack team, and since then had occasionally practiced with local teams when his day’s work as an accountant was done. He always was grimly silent on his professional baseball career.”

“Former Star Dies in Baseball Mystic”, New Castle (PA) Herald, 27 March 1922, Page 11.

Let’s see if we can’t tell some of the stories that Alfred Gedney wasn’t willing to share.

Count GedneyAlfred William Gedney hails from one of America’s first arriving British imports.  His lineage goes back to John Gedney, who left Yarmouth, England in 1636.  John’s son, Bartholomew, is famous for being a magistrate in the Salem witch trials.  Fast forward two centuries, and Alfred was born on 06 May 1849 to William Henry and Eliza Forman (Purdy) Gedney – Eliza was William’s second wife (Jane Osterman was the first, and she and her daughter, also Jane, died much too young).  William was connected; an architect and builder in New York’s 9th Ward, he served as a dutiful Republican, friendly with Thurlow Weed and President Chester Alan Arthur.  Alfred was the second of five children, four of whom lived to adulthood.

Playing the evolving game of baseball on the lots of New York City, Alfred was an active member of the amateur clubs of his city.  In 1869, as a member of the Empire club, he was awarded a ceremonial bat for being the best hitter at an event held at the Elysian Fields.  By 1870, he was on the Unions of Morrisania, and a year later Alfred landed on the Eckfords, a top semi-professional club that played a number of games against the first National Association clubs, winning several contests.

“It is rumored that the match on Saturday will wind up the Haymakers as a club hailing from Troy, as they have not received any salary for some time…” 

“The Troy Club.”, Boston Globe, 22 July 1872, Page 8.

Gedney was a fine outfielder with a pretty solid arm and joined the Troy Haymakers for the 1872 season.  As a reserve outfielder, Gedney played really well – even though by midsummer he was no longer getting paid.  When Troy disbanded, many of the players finished the season with the Brooklyn Eckfords, which jumped from being a good amateur team to being a member of the National Association.  Gedney never played with the same team two seasons in a row.  In 1873 he was an outfielder with the New York Mutuals.  A season later, he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics and was one of the ten players who made a tour of England playing baseball exhibitions against Boston’s championship team.  In 1875, Gedney went back to the New York Mutuals, possibly to be closer to home.  By the end of that season, he had taken on his own business – he’d be an accountant for the rest of his days – and was twice called upon to pitch.  In fact, Gedney won his only start.

“Gedney now stepped up to the plate and all waited breathlessly, bets being freely made that the Mutuals would win. Presently Gedney hit a magnificent ball to right field, far over Addy’s head, which carried him to third, and Hicks trotted in easily and the game was tied. There stood Gedney on third and only one man out, and the Philadelphia backers began to turn from the field – well, they might, for the next ball was badly muffed by Fulmer and Gedney made the winning run.”

“A Field Day.”, Philadelphia Times, 18 May 1875, Page 4.

Likely no longer interested in the travel requirements, his batting average – usually a bit below average (his career mark was .251 with few walks and a token number of extra base hits – he usually batted near the bottom of the lineup) fell to .206.  At this point, Gedney returned to the New York City amateur ranks, playing with the Arlingtons, called “…one of the bona-fide first-class amateur clubs of the country” by the New York Herald.  Eventually he moved to Hackensack, New Jersey with his wife, Elizabeth Blanck, whom he married in 1881.  They had no children.  After an illness, Gedney passed with his baseball secrets to the next league on 26 March 1922.

One of those secrets was the source of his nickname.  He had a teammate – Count Sensenderfer – in Philadelphia.  Sensenderfer had the air of an aristocrat, which explained his nickname.  Gedney really WAS an aristocrat.  A reasonably thorough search through digitized newspapers of his playing days never turned up an instance in which Gedney was called “Count”.  And, he had to deal with the problems of being wealthy…  In 1882, he got involved with his in-laws to help extricate his father-in-law from a young woman who convinced the older (and smitten) Mr. Blanck to marry her.  It came with a price, but one the families seemed willing to pay after trying to use questionable legal tactics and a little muscle to kick the woman out of the family estate.

SOURCES:

1855 New York Census
1820, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900,  1910, 1920 US Censuses
US Passport Application, 1874
NY Marriage Index
FindAGrave.com – Alfred
FindAGrave.com – William
FindAGrave.com – Caleb
Baseball-Reference.com
Retrosheet.org
Rootsweb.com
Wikipedia
Ebay

“Base Ball – Election of Officers.”, New York Times, 11 April 1866, Page 2.

“A Grand Match At Paterson.”, Brooklyn Union, 25 November 1868, Page 4.

“Opening By The Empire Club.”, 27 April 1869, Page 6.

“Mutual vs. Atlantic.”, New York Herald, 20 October 1869, Page 5.

“Base Ball Matters.”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 May 1870, Page 8.

“Baseball – Eckford vs. Union of Morrisania.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23 June 1870, Page 3.

“The Eckfords Getting Ready”, New York Sun, 01 April 1871, Page 1.

“Athletic Versus Eckford.”, 16 May 1871, Page 4.

“White Stockings Vs. Eckfords”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 May 1871, Page 6.

“Defeat of the Haymakers by the Eckfords.”, Brooklyn Union, 10 August 1871, Page 2.

“Baseball – The Great Game Between Harry Wright’s Boston Nine and the Eckfords”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 11 August 1871, Page 2.

“Baseball”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 03 August 1871, Page 2.

“The New Haymaker Nine.”, Chicago Tribune, 04 December 1871, Page 4.

“The Troy Club”, Chicago Tribune, 14 April 1872, Page 8.

“The Troy Club.”, Boston Globe, 22 July 1872, Page 8.

“Sport and Pastimes.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 03 August 1872, Page 3.

“Base Ball.”, Chicago Tribune, 25 November 1872, Page 8.

“Next Year’s Great Nines”, Chicago Tribune, 10 November 1873, Page 3.

“A Trans-Atlantic Tour by the Athletic and Boston Clubs”, Fremont Weekly Journal, 30 January 1874, Page 1.

“Base Ball.”, New York Times, 27 December 1874, Page 5.

“A Field Day.”, Philadelphia Times, 18 May 1875, Page 4.

“Base Ball.”, Hartford Courant, 20 August 1875, Page 2.

“Base-Ball.”, Chicago Tribune, 27 February 1876, Page 9.

“No Fool Like An Old One”, New York Times, 25 August 1882, Page 5.

“Former Star Dies in Baseball Mystic”, New Castle Herald, 27 March 1922, Page 11.

Happy Birthday, Fred Schemanske!

Fred Schemanske in 1925

In this Indianapolis staged photo, Schemanske is flanked by Sumpter Clarke and Mully DeLoof.

Fred Schemanske, a big right-handed pitcher, actually made his debut as a pinch hitter – drawing a walk with the bases loaded in what was part of a seven run, ninth inning rally that allowed the Washington Senators to steal a game from the team of his hometown, the Detroit Tigers, 9 – 8.

Frederick George Schemanske was the son of Gotfried and Augusta (Dorsch) Schemanske, born on 28 April 1903, and one of seven children. Gotfried repaired railroad cars, having arrived from Germany in the 1880s; his wife would arrive shortly after. Fred was born in the Woodmere,  Michigan – a rural area eventually swallowed up by Detroit.  After finishing his second year of high school, the husky Schemanske took up playing baseball on the sandlots of the area.  It was there another Michigan ballplayer, Clarke (Pinky) Pittenger – then playing for the Red Sox – who recommended that a team in Hamilton, Ontario give the young right-handed pitcher a shot for the 1922 season.

“Fred was anything but a tame little duck and between wild pitches that manager Bill Kelly snared only after stopping the game and securing a motorcycle, the side was retired without further damage.”

“Fred Schemanske May Be Making Impression Down South But He Failed Here”, Port Huron Times-Herald, 31 March 1923, Page 15.

Schemanske didn’t stick in Hamilton, but took up a job pitching for Port Huron, Michigan instead.  A year later, he received a tryout with the Detroit Tigers.

“Cobb is unusually sweet on Fred Schemanske, a Polish youth from Detroit, who promises to become another Covaleskie. In his game against Augusta last week, Schemanske allowed but one hit in four innings and won the favor of the Georgia Peach.”

“Cobb Likes Young Hurlers”, San Bernadino Sun, 02 April 1923, Page 13.

Schemanske didn’t land with the Tigers for 1923 despite having a few good outings (and not being Polish).  Cobb released him and Schemanske found his way to Evansville where he apparently pitched well enough to earn a second shot at major league action.  The Senators used him as a pinch hitter once, and then – in the last game of the season – he pitched the final inning of a loss to the Philadelphia Athletics.  He allowed three hits and three runs.  The Senators didn’t keep him around for 1924.

Fred SchemanskeInstead, Schemanske pitched for Omaha in 1924 and then Indianapolis for 1925.  Schemanske would alternate between starting and relieving games for both teams, but never made an enviable record as a pitcher.  Despite that, Schemanske – now called Buck – was a holdout.  He settled and joined Indianapolis for spring training but came down with a stomach ailment that eventually required surgery and he missed out on the entire 1926 season.  He made a comeback in 1927 with Indianapolis, but it wasn’t good enough to stay in the high minors, so he was sent to Quincy, which was a farm team of the Indians.

“The hero of this contest, who should go down in Quincy’s hall of fame, was Fred Schemanske, big newcomer from Indianapolis who turned the Commies back without a run until two were down in the ninth. Schemanske was invincible with men on bases, 12 Commodores being left on the sacks, while he helped win his own game with a double that scored three runs in the second inning.”

Sink, Bob. “Quincy Trounces Commodores 11-2; Decatur Finally Scores in Ninth”, Decatur Evening Herald, 21 May 1928, Page 7.

He didn’t have enough heroic games – Schemanske was sold to Beaumont in the Texas League for the 1929 season, but left the team after spring training and returned home to Detroit.  He took a position as a press operator – and spent his nights and weekends in the 1930s becoming a competent bowler.  In fact, Schemanske rolled a record 738 series for the Cadillac House League (279, 244, 215) in 1932, breaking the old league record by 13 pins.  He appears infrequently in the papers as a tournament bowler for much of the 1930s.

In 1939, he married Beatrice Menard, a Detroit area clerk – it was her second marriage. Their marriage lasted the rest of his life, but included no children.  As with his first breath, he took his final breath in Detroit on 18 February 1960.  His obituary notes that his passing occurred “suddenly.”

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Retrosheet.org

FindAGrave.com

1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census.

Michigan Marriage License

“Hamilton Looks For Good Year in M. O. League”, Port Huron Times-Herald, 13 April 1922, Page 11.

“Fred Schemanske May Be Making Impression Down South But He Failed Here”, Port Huron Times-Herald, 31 March 1923, Page 15.

“Cobb Likes Young Hurlers”, San Bernadino Sun, 02 April 1923, Page 13.

“Senators Win 9-8 by 7-Run Rally in 9th”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 September 1923, Page 20.

“Indians to Start Limbering Up at Plant City Today”, Indianapolis Star, 03 March 1925, Page 16.

Photo from Indianapolis News, 14 April 1925, Page 28.

Photo… Shows nickname to be “Buck”…  “No Longer A Holdout”, Indianapolis Star, 26 March 1926, Page 17.

“Open Three-Tilt Series Today at Oklahoma City”, Indianapolis Star, 09 April 1926, Pages 14, 15.

“Pirates Release Two To Indians”, Indianapolis News, 23 November 1926, Page 31.

Patton, W. Blaine. “Highlights Gleaned From Sportland”, Indianapolis Star, 28 November 1926, Page 37.

Sink, Bob. “Quincy Trounces Commodores 11-2; Decatur Finally Scores in Ninth”, Decatur Evening Herald, 21 May 1928, Page 7.

“Texas Leaguers Announce Rosters”, Austin American-Statesman, 24 February 1929, Page 11.

“Hard Hitting Matches Hurling of Burrell”, Detroit Free Press, 09 September 1929, Page 18.

“Series Record is Shattered”, Detroit Free Press, 13 February 1932, Page 15.

“Obituary: Schemanske, Frederick G.”, Detroit Free Press, 21 February 1960, Page 29.