Baseball History for February 20th

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<— FEBRUARY 19     FEBRUARY 21 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1858 Jim Toy
1862 Harry Raymond
1864 Harry Stine
1866 John Pickett
1873 Tom O’Brien
1873 Charlie Babb
1874 Pug Bennett
1874 Ike Samuels
1875 Jack Rafter
1889 Boardwalk Brown
1890 Sam Rice
1890 Dave Davenport
1890 Tink Turner
1894 Suds Sutherland
1896 Muddy Ruel
1900 Al Williamson
1912 Whitey Wistert
1913 Tommy Henrich
1917 Jack Bolling
1920 Roy Valdes
1920 Frankie Gustine
1921 Jack Robinson
1922 Jim Wilson
1922 Bill Reeder
1924 Sal Yvars
1928 Roy Face
1928 Juan Delis
1936 Wynn Hawkins
1941 Clyde Wright
1947 Tom Buskey
1957 Jesus Figueroa
1958 Brian Snyder
1959 Bill Gullickson
1963 Phil Lombardi
1965 Tony Menendez
1965 Paul Faries
1966 Derek Lilliquist
1967 Kurt Knudsen
1972 Shane Spencer
1974 Tom Fordham
1975 Leo Estrella
1975 Livan Hernandez
1975 Donzell McDonald
1980 Ryan Langerhans
1982 Jason Hirsh
1983 Jose Morales
1983 Justin Verlander
1984 Brian McCann
1985 Ryan Sweeney
1985 Vinnie Pestano
1986 Julio Borbon
1988 Spencer Patton
1991 Buck Farmer
1992 Johnny Field
1993 Jurickson Profar
1994 Luis Severino

OBITUARIES:

1903 Al Dwight
1908 Walter Terry
1909 John Hatfield
1925 John Mansella
1934 George Mappes
1944 Harry Wilhelm
1945 Charlie Heard
1949 Norm Baker
1951 Marty Shay
1954 Sadie McMahon
1957 Dixie Leverett
1959 William Pierson
1960 Dummy Leitner
1961 Otto Krueger
1963 Bill Hinchman
1971 Irv Porter
1974 Bob Christian
1984 Dale Matthewson
1985 Syl Johnson
1986 Bob Rice
1988 Bob O’Farrell
1990 Cecil Garriott
1999 Joe Rossi
1999 Buck Rogers
2001 Bill Rigney
2007 Casey Wise
2007 Bob Malloy
2013 Neil Wilson
2016 Kevin Collins
2017 Fenton Mole
2019 Joe Gibbon

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1923 Christy Mathewson and Emil Fuchs purchase the Boston Braves for about $300,000. Mathewson wouldn’t be much of an active owner, owing to his failing health.

1953 August Busch buys the Cardinals for $3.75 Million from Fred Saigh.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1936 New York purchased Sam Leslie from the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1987 Montreal sends Al Newman to the Twins for minor leaguer Mike Shade.

1996 New York signs free agent pitcher Dwight Gooden.

Happy Birthday, Stubby Magner!

Stubby Magner Cornell BaseballStubby Magner was a Cornell grad who served in World War I and played 13 games for the 1911 Highlanders.  Not only a great shortstop, he was captain of the hockey team.  Stubby was so named because he was short – listed at 5’3″ tall, he’s one of three players (Yo Yo Davalillo and Harry Chappas) listed as potentially the shortest position player in MLB history (not counting, of course, Eddie Gaedel).

Edmund Burke Magner was born to Edmund L. and Delia (Werner) Magner on 10 February 1888 in Kalamazoo, Michigan but wasn’t long for the area.  The family moved to Buffalo where Edmund’s athleticism allowed him to excel on the diamond and the ice for Lafayette High School.  The first Cornell hockey team to win a championship was one led by their diminutive center.  The Yankees took him right out of college and put him on the diamond.  Magner didn’t hit much, but he was in the middle of some action – he had four runs batted in and three runs scored despite getting only seven hits.

His baseball career didn’t last long – he was dispatched to Jersey City briefly, then spent 1912 with Rochester (a city he didn’t like) and Wilkes-Barre.  And that was about it.  While finishing his law degree, he was an assistant coach with the Cornell club where he coached the frosh players.  In time he took on a job as a lawyer for a bank in Buffalo.  World War I called him to service; Edmund Magner wound up a Lieutenant with the US Naval Reserve Force based in Florida.  Upon his discharge, he married Edith Carpenter – a Virginia native who was a few years older than Magner.

After moving to Ohio, Magner opened up his own law firm and Edith became a nurse for a nearby veteran’s hospital which, sadly, would house Edmund Magner by 1940.  He died in relative obscurity while living at that home on 06 September 1956 – his death notice escaped the local newspapers.  At some point along the way, Edith returned home to the Richmond, VA area to live nearer to her own family, where she died a few days after falling and breaking her hip on 01 January 1964.  The Magners never had children.

Sources:

1900, 1920, 1940 US Censuses
1905, 1915 New York Censuses
https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.findagrave.com/
Application for Military Headstone (1956)
VA Death Certificate (Edith Carpenter Magner, 1964)

(Photo) Cornellian, Wm. H. Hoskins Co., 1911 (Cornell Junior Class Yearbook), Pages 504, 522

“Legal Records”, Buffalo Evening News, 15 September 1920, Page 24.

“‘Stubby’ Manger To Wear Skeeter Spangles”, Buffalo Courier, 19 September 1911, Page 9.

“Cornell Navy Now In Action”, Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 22 January 1911, Page 10.

“‘Stubby’ Magner Assistant Coach”, Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 23 March 1913, Page 42.

“About Tiny Magner, Who Gets There by ‘Scrappin'”, Washington Herald, 14 August 1911, Page 8.

 

Happy Birthday, Whitey Guese!

Whitey Guese - Detroit Free Press 1899“Guese is a strapping big youngster who hasn’t been a voter long, and another thing is that his is a man of the best of habits…

…When it is considered that Guese has only been off the sand lots one year it is evident that he is a twirler of more than ordinary promise…”

“Guese A Coming Star”, Detroit Free Press, 02 April 1899, Page 8.  (Photo, at left, too…)

Whitey Guese was a giant of a man, more than six feet tall and rarely less than 200 pounds – one assumes 220 or even 240 in his later years – who was signed by the Cincinnati Reds when the owner of a minor league team in Indianapolis decided to fold his team in 1901.  He got his nickname for his neatly combed shock of blond hair he’d pile under his hat.

Theodore Guese, had he chosen to be a fighter, would have been called the Wapakoneta Giant.  He arrived in nearby New Bremen, Ohio to Frederick Wilhelm and Mary Helman (formerly Depenbrock) Guese on 24 January 1872.  Frederick, a Prussian born laborer, sired twelve kids born to two wives (Wilhelmine Solms Guese traveled to the United States with Wilhelm in 1861).  Soon after arriving in the United States, Frederick Wilhelm joined the Union Army in 1862 and served with the 19th Ohio Volunteers for the duration of the war, fighting in places like Shiloh, Nashville, and northern Georgia and Alabama until the Civil War ended.  At some point after the war the Guese parents divorced and Frederick Wilhelm next married Mary Helman, a widow.  Theodore would be his second child of five with Mary.  Soon after, the family moved to Wapakoneta, Ohio where Guese would spend the bulk of his life.

Theodore was one of three Guese boys who played amateur and low level minor league baseball.  His brothers, Adolph (Blackie) and Otto (Red) played on the same Wapak amateur team that played different teams in both Ohio and Indiana.  Initially a first baseman or catcher, Theodore’s throwing arm was strong so he was moved to the mound.  A right handed pitcher throwing from the side, he would win twelve of fourteen decisions in the 1897 season with a crisp rising fastball and a curve that was good enough to fool players in the minors.  This earned Guese a shot with New Castle in the Interstate League for the 1898 season.

Now called The Wapakoneta Wonder or The Wapakoneta Big Boy, Guese rounded into a solid (thick!) and dependable pitcher.  He won 18 of his last 24 decisions to finish at 23 – 14 on the season, and was a pretty good hitter, too.  Pittsburgh got wind of him and signed him – but the Pirates of 1899 were loaded with good young pitching and Guese was farmed out to Detroit, where he would pitch for manager George Stallings.  Stallings didn’t give Guese much of a look, though, and he was released.  A team in Fort Wayne needed an arm and gave Guese a job.

“He is a big fellow, possessing a physique like Amos Rusie and the speed of a Rusie. He was known in the Interstate League as the ‘cannonball’ twirler because of his great speed… He has a faculty of sending them over the plate around a batter’s neck, so that his delivery is hard to solve…”

“He is a glutton for work and can go in the box three or four times a week without weakening…”

“Watkins Drafts Guese”, Indianapolis Journal, 04 February 1900, Page 6.

There, Guese would win 25 games, striking out 116 batters while walking just 89, and adding a .291 batting average with three homers as an occasional first baseman and pinch hitter.  Such heady numbers and his hard not to miss size earned him a promotion of sorts and he signed with Indianapolis for 1900.  Off to a slow start, he was farmed to Youngstown for a few months and returned to Indianapolis for the 1901 season.  Now, he was the ace of the Indianapolis staff.  And, while Indianapolis was a competitive team, it was not fiscally viable – and in early July Indianapolis quit the Western Association.  Many of the players followed the manager to a franchise location in Matthews, Indiana.  A few players were released.  George Hogriever was rumored to be heading to the Athletics.  A handful were scooped up by a struggling Cincinnati Reds team looking for pitching help.

Guese’s first start for the Reds was on 13 July 1901 against Brooklyn and it could have gone better.  He lost, 9 – 8, but his team behind him didn’t help much – the winning run was a ninth inning homer by Bill Dahlen.  His former Indianapolis teammate, Archie Stimmel, had equal difficulty getting major league hitters out.

Guese and Stimmel, who were sent to Cincinnati when the Indianapolis club disbanded, are not making good with the big leaguers. Guese attempted to officiate in two games and was knocked out of the box both times. In yesterday’s game at St. Louis Stimmel was hit ten times in seven innings and the Cardinals scored almost at will. They got tired running the bases.

“Gossip Of The Game.”, Dayton Daily News, 22 July 1901, Page 3.

Guese has not made a brilliant record as pitcher in the National League. He has plenty of speed but no really first class curves or head work.

“Base Ball Notes.”, News-Democrat (Uhrichville Dennison, OH), 23 July 1901, Page 1.

Stimmel got rocked by Chicago, but Guese pitched seven innings of two-run ball in relief.  That earned Guese one more shot against St. Louis on 9 August 1901 – a team that had feasted on Stimmel and Guese a few weeks earlier.

“If the Cardinals had no pitcher but Guese to face all the season they would not only win the pennant in a canter, but they would roll up the fattest batting averages in the history of the game. Guess made his second attempt to throw the St. Louis team down to-day, and again he made a disastrous failure. When Theodore took his position on the rubber the St. Louis players cheered…”

“Guese Was Roughly Used.”, St. Louis Daily Globe, 10 August 1901, Page 7.

Near the end of August, the Reds traveled to Wapakoneta to play an exhibition game.  Guese was allowed to pitch against his Reds teammates.  They held a reception, the Reds won, 9 – 0, and then Bid McPhee handed Guese his walking papers.  Guese wouldn’t sign with another club for the remainder of the season and he stayed home with family and his amateur baseball friends.

“The case of Theodore Guese is a peculiar one. Built like Sandow, that twirler of heroic mold seemingly has a heart like a canary…

“…[Guese] can tear them through the air with the speed of a cyclone blowing through Kansas.

” ‘There isn’t anything in the pitcher’s repertory,”\’ remarked William Henry Watkins the other day, ‘that Guese does not possess. All that he lacks is self-confidence, and without that no man will hold down a front pew in base-ball.’ “

(Sandow is Eugene Sandow, a famous body builder of the era…)

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 30 November 1901, Page 10.

Whitey Guese - Arkansas Democrat 1905

“Whitey Guese, who was with the Reds for a short time, will pitch for Little Rock in the Southern League again this year. He has the reputation of being the slowest fielding pitcher in the business.”

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 25 April 1903, Page 11.

Guese’s major league career was over, but at 30 years old, Guese became one of the better minor league pitchers of the south.  He first signed with Little Rock in 1902, where he would play for the next four seasons – twice winning 19 games.  It was in Little Rock where Guese and his wife, Clementina Muma, had their daughter Louceil, on 10 September 1903.  Unfortunately, their happy days were few – Louceil would pass away two months after her birth.  And, Clementina’s life was short, too.  Theodore was listed as a widow in the 1920 US Census.

From a baseball standpoint, Guese would find some satisfaction.  He’d frequently pitch well, winning one game with an 11th inning clout to beat Nashville, 1 – 0.  Guese drove the ball over the centerfielder’s head, reached third on his own (rather slowly) and then scored on a throwing error.  In 1906, he was sold to New Orleans but continued to pitch well.  He faced the World Champion Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game during the 1907 spring training and beat Ed Walsh, 1 – 0, while scattering just three hits.  He also threw three innings of hitless relief against the Philadelphia Athletics in an exhibition game in 1908.  He finished the decade with two seasons in Montgomery – all nine years in the Southern Association he finished the season with a winning record.  He asked for his release for personal reasons in 1910 and it was granted.

Whitey Guese - Montgomery Advertiser 1909After 1910, though, he pitched up north.  At first he was signed to pitch for Syracuse – only to be one of two players arrested for playing in an exhibition game on a Sunday.  Syracuse sold Guese to Grand Falls of the Northwest Montana League, and while Guese claimed he would report for two straight years, he never pitched there.

Instead, Guese returned home to Wapakoneta.  For a couple of years he pitched with local teams.  He worked as a deputy for the county sheriff’s office, and he was a laborer.  He lived with his brother, Adolph, who was also a widow.  They would hunt when not working.  Guese was even invited to participate in old-timer games in Cincinnati.  Eventually, though, the former giant would slow down.  He was moved to a county home and passed away after an extended illness on 08 April 1951.

SOURCES:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Theodore Guese)
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Father)
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Louceil Guese)

1880, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Censuses
Ohio Births and Christenings Index

“Sport.”, Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, 21 January 1898, Page 3.

“Base Ball Gossip”, Dayton Daily News, 04 October 1898, Page 3.

“Guese A Coming Star”, Detroit Free Press, 02 April 1899, Page 8. (Also Picture)

“Shorty Fuller Here.”, Dayton Daily News, 13 April 1899, Page 3.

“Watkins Drafts Guese”, Indianapolis Journal, 04 February 1900, Page 6.

“Glasscock with Ft. Wayne”, Mansfield News-Journal, 26 February 1900, Page 6.

“Notes.”, Mansfield News-Journal, 26 July 1900, Page 6.

“Watkins Quits Western Association”, Dayton Herald, 12 July 1901, Page 6.

“The Diamond.”, Marietta Daily Leader, 14 July 1901, Page 8.

“Whitey”, Lima News, 19 July 1901, Page 5.

“Gossip Of The Game.”, Dayton Daily News, 22 July 1901, Page 3.

“Base Ball Notes.”, News-Democrat (Uhrichville Dennison, OH), 23 July 1901, Page 1.

Box Score and Notes, Dayton Daily News, 31 July 1901, Page 3.

“At Cincinnati.”, Dayton Daily News, 10 August 1901, Page 3.

“Guese Was Roughly Used.”, St. Louis Daily Globe, 10 August 1901, Page 7.

“Baseball Notes.” Topeka State Journal, 12 August 1901, Page 2.

Delphos Daily Herald, 24 August 1901, Page 1.

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 27 August 1901, Page 3.

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 30 November 1901, Page 10.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 February 1902, Page 10.

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 25 April 1903, Page 11.

“Miss Guess Is Our New Mascot”, Arkansas Democrat, 11 September 1903, Page 5.

“11 Players on Little Rock Team”, Daily Arkansas Gazette, 20 September 1904, Page 6.

“Guese Won Great Game”, Arkansas Democrat, 28 May 1905, Page 2. (Also photo)

“Frank Secures Guese”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 01 March 1906, Page 13.

“Pelican Pitcher Wins; White Sox Shut Out”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 23 March 1907, Page 12.

“New Orleans Wins From Athletics”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 March 1908, Page 26.

Photo of Guese, Montomery Advertiser, 20 July 1909, Page 9.

“Guese Obtains Release From Montgomery, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 09 July 1910, Page 7.

“Diamond Glints.”, Tuscaloosa News, 27 July 1910, Page 1.

“Stars Return Contracts To Manager Ashenback”, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 16 January 1911, Page 12.

“Sheriff Arrests Two Twinklers”, Binghamton Press, 25 April 1911, Page 11.

“Pitcher Guese Sold.”, Buffalo Times, 24 June 1911, Page 6.

“Guese’s Contract Eliminates Doubt”, Great Falls Tribune, 29 February 1912, Page 6.

“Diamond Dust”,Salt Lake Telegram, 13 May 1912, Page 9.

“Houtz and Guese Targets For Fans In Sunday Game”, Lima News, 15 August 1913, Page 4.

“Botkins to Play Here Sunday”, Lima News, 30 June 1915, Page 10.

“Will Exhibit ‘Wild Animal’ in Auglaize”, Dayton Daily News, 06 May 1928, Page 13 (Sports).

Ryder, Jack. “Double-Headers Piling Up For Redlegs”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 August 1931, Pages 11, 12.

“Theodore Guese”, Dayton Daily News, 10 April 1951, Page 3.

“Famed Ball Player Buried Today at Wapakoneta”, New Bremen Sun, 12 April 1951.

Happy Birthday, Walt Goldsby!

A promising outfielder at the time there were three major leagues,  but couldn’t make it work.  His baseball career, marriage, and post-baseball career all ended badly – but not nearly as badly as his life.

Goldsby, who played a short time last season in the St. Louis Reserve and Virginia teams, is one of the most intelligent and competent of ball tossers, and is now drawing a salary of 160 per month in a railroad office at Evansville, Ind.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, 07 November 1884, Page 5.

Walton Hugh Goldsby arrived during the American Civil War in Marion, Louisiana on 31 December 1861.  His father, Miles Walton Goldsby, was a Confederate doctor for Company S in their Medical Staff Infantry Regiment, having been trained as a surgeon in Louisiana.  Dettie Dudgeon was born in Ireland, came to the United States in her childhood, and from her late teens on was a school teacher.  Miles and Dettie would marry and have two children, but Miles never met his second son, Thomas Boykin Goldsby,  Miles died in May, 1865, a few months before Boykin was born.

Walt was gifted athletically and drawn to baseball.  His mother moved to Arkansas with the two boys, and Walt eventually continued to St. Louis where he played amateur baseball and marched with an organization known as the Tredway Rifles, where Walt was listed as a private.  In 1883, Goldsby joined a team in Evansville – a team with a reputation for the ugly treatment of umpires.

Again, the Evansville distinguished themselves by a disgraceful exhibition of kicking on the umpiring until spectators were disgusted and yelled for them to go home.

“The National Game.”, Dayton Herald, 13 September 1883, Page 2.

Still, Goldsby distinguished himself as a player and more than one team expressed an interest with him.  In fact, after Chris Von der Ahe acquired Goldsby, Pittsburgh president Denny McKnight told Von der Ahe how much he wanted him.

President McKnight, who was here during the early part of the week, said to Mr. Von der Ahe: “I am sorry you took Goldsby, for I wanted him to take Mike Mansell’s place. I would rather have him than the man you let go, and he will about be playing your left field next season.” There seems to be a general impression, amongst all who know him, that Goldsby is one of the coming generation of players. I sincerely hope so, for it is encouraging to bring out new talent.

“Ixion’s Epiotle.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01 December 1883, Page 6.

In 1884 Goldsby was added to the St. Louis Reserves after spending time training with the St. Louis Browns.  The Reserves was a professional team of backups to the regular Browns.  Von der Ahe took the extra players he owned and liked and put these kids together to play exhibitions and other games with the many local baseball organizations in and around St. Louis.  However, running a second team cost money – and after a couple of months Von der Ahe disbanded the Reserves, but he kept a few players.  Goldsby was one of the three young players kept, and he was soon dispatched to replace Harry Wheeler.

Goldbsy, the excellent left fielder of the St. Louis club, left for the East last evening, and will join the St. Louis Browns in New York, playing there tomorrow in their opening series with the Mets. He will be a great addition to the outfield and undoubtedly to their batting strength, being a better man at the stick than several of the men now on the team. Harry Wheeler has been called home and will probably report here to-day or to-morrow morning.

“Off for the East.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 May 1884, Page 8.

Goldsby didn’t get many opportunities to play – and there is the likelihood that he had a three-hit game that, because the wire copy failed to note he had replaced Arlie Latham in the lineup that day, was credited to Latham and not Goldsby.  After five games, he was moved to Washington’s American Association franchise – only for that team to run into money problems a few weeks later.  In August, he joined his third American Association team – a team in Richmond, VA.  That team didn’t have a home park, though, and wound up playing their final games on the road.  Within a few weeks of landing there, he would be released and playing in Evansville again.  For the 1884 season, he would appear in 22 games, bat .262 in less than 90 plate appearances – all but one of his 22 hits would be singles.

When in Evansville, he would take a job with a railroad company – his jobs after his baseball career were all in the railroad industry – until he found a baseball job for 1885.  Goldsby landed in Atlanta and played well enough, batting .291 with a good mix of extra base hits.  In 1886, his rights were signed by Washington in the National League, but he played in just six games and was moved again – this time he would become the player-manager for Nashville.  There, he would bat over .300 in 86 games, frequently as the lead off hitter.  The baseball nomad would head to Topeka for 1887, and then headed south to Birmingham for 1888 where, among those he would manage, would be a future major league manager – pitcher Joe Cantillon.

One thing that followed the teams that Goldsby played on was kicking – and Goldsby was a well-trained kicker himself.  In one game against Memphis, players restrained Goldsby when he threatened to hit the umpire with his bat.  He probably kicked when teams in the association ran into financial difficulties.  Charleston, for example, was barely paying bills.  New Orleans was being courted by the Texas League and eventually left the association.  Birmingham chose to disband.

Goldsby wasn’t done as a baseball player – Baltimore gave him a few games in 1888, but he didn’t stick in the American Association either.  According to Baseball-Reference, he wandered back to Evansville.  At some point, he must have settled in Memphis.  He plays one more time in the Southern Association in 1892, where he also married Margaret Earley.  They would have one son, Miles Earley Goldsby, in 1894 – but they wouldn’t have a long life together.  In 1900, Margaret was living with her parents – Miles was there, but Walton was not.

Instead, Walton had a series of jobs with various railroad companies.  No longer in Tennessee, he would become a repair man in St. Louis.  Nothing would stick, however, and he found himself at the Campbell House in Dallas.  I’m guessing he would spend the holidays alone.  One imagines his reactions to affronts in the baseball world also occurred in his domestic life – and in early 1914 Walton Hugh Goldsby found himself alone and despondent.

So, he penned his thoughts; he took a bath.  He neatly arranged his room and belongings.

After two days of deliberate preparation and careful planning, Walton H. Goldsby, a railroad man, “ended it all” by shooting off the top of his head, in a room at the Campbell House Sunday morning at 3 o’clock.

In a letter which he wrote Friday, Goldsby declared he intended to take his life because he was “a failure in every way” and could not find work.

Before firing the fatal shot he paid his hotel bill, took a bath, and neatly packed his clothes in a trunk. The man evidently shot himself shortly after taking a bath. He was garbed only in a bath robe when found dead.

Seldom, say the police, does a despondent man make such deliberate plans to kill himself as did Goldsby.

Goldsby leaves a divorced wife, who lives in Memphis; a brother in England, Ark., and a son in Harrisburg, Ark. According to the letter, he formerly played professional baseball in St. Louis. In his trousers was found $2.70.

“NO PLACE FOR HIM.”

The letter, dated Friday, reads:

“I have decided that there is no place in this world that wants or needs me, and if I have the nerve will end it all as far as I am concerned Friday night. I do not think all my friends and relatives have treated me properly, but I forgive them, and may God have mercy and that they may prosper. I won’t mention any names, but if they ever see this statement will know I mean them.

“I will try again tomorrow to find employment, but have little hope of success. My life has been a failure in every way. I am not a Christian and looks like I can not be one. I have had hard luck in various ways nearly all my life.

“In the first place, while playing baseball in St. Louis, I did as all young men do – * * * A few years later I married in Memphis. – – –

“I did for her the best I could, but that was not enough to suit her, so she secured a divorce. – –

“However, with the above mentioned things, and various other reasons, is no excuse for the action I think I will take. I am a coward and I know it, and may God help me:

“I will pay my hotel bill tomorrow and will owe them nothing. Please have what I leave expressed to Miles Early Goldsby at Harrisburg, Ark. He is my son.

“I am, yours respectfully,

“Walton H. Goldsby.

“P.S. – Be sure and see that my son receives the watch I have in my room, as well as everything else. I have a small balance in the Mechanics National Bank in St. Louis. Do with my body as you like or wire my brother, T. B. Goldsby, at England, Ark. I know that all will say that I am crazy to do such a thing, but will say I may be, but if I am I have been so all my life.”

Officials talked with Goldsby’s brother this morning. He has not decided whether or not to bury his brother here. In the meantime the remains are being held by the Wieland Undertaking Co. – Dallas News.

“Walton H. Goldsby Suicides”, The Gazette (Farmersville, LA), 04 February 1914, Page 4.

Goldsby pulled the trigger on 11 January 1914.  His brother, Boykin, buried Walton in Dallas.

Goldsby would have been proud of his son, Miles.  Miles went to military school, despite being blind in one eye he would serve as a lieutenant in the Arkansas Reserves during World War I, and live a long and prosperous life.

Sources

https://www.baseball-reference.com
https://www.findagrave.com/  (Walton)
https://www.findagrave.com (Miles)

1860, 1880, 1900, 1910 US Censuses
Texas Death Certificate

Dettie Goldsby’s Geneology Page on Ancestry.com, maintained by Deborah Price.

“The National Game.”, Dayton Herald, 20 August 1883, Page 2.

“The National Game.”, Dayton Herald, 13 September 1883, Page 2.

“Getting in Trim.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 November 1883, Page 5.

“Ixion’s Epiotle.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01 December 1883, Page 6.

“Off for the East.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 May 1884, Page 8.

“Wound Up.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 03 June 1884, Page 9.

“A Chat With the Browns’ President”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 June 1884, Page 5.

“Sports and Pastimes.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 06 July 1884, Page 9.

“Base Ball.”, Washington Evening Star, 26 July 1884, Page 3.

“Diamond Chips.”, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 28 July 1884, Page 5.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, 07 November 1884, Page 5.

“The Louisville Club.”, Atlanta Constitution, 19 March 1885, Page 2.

“Montgomery Badly Beaten.”, Atlanta Constitution, 07 April 1885, Page 5.

“The Game in Savannah.”, Atlanta Consititution, 24 May 1885, Page 7.

“Base Ball.”, Times-Picayune, 26 February 1886, Page 2.

“Base Ball.”, Nashville Tennessean, 31 May 1886, Page 4.

“Rain Again”, Nashville Tennessean, 24 July 1886, Page 5.

“On the Fly.”, Boston Daily Globe, 11 September 1886, Page 5.

“BASEBALL.”, Times-Picayune, 18 December 1886, Page 2.

“The Birmingham Team.”, Times-Picayune, 15 December 1887, Page 3.

“Memphis Rallies”, Times-Picayune, 03 June 1888, Page 2.

“The Southern League Situation”, Times-Picayune, 05 July 1888, Page 2.

“Walton H. Goldsby Suicides”, The Gazette (Farmersville, LA), 04 February 1914, Page 4.

Obituary – Rynie Wolters (1917)

Veteran Hurler is Dead



Wolters Pitched Baseball’s First Shutout Game.



Was Star Twirler in the 60s


Pioneered in National Pastime When Professional Leagues Were Unknown – Was Member of Famous Irvington and Mutual Teams

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Rynie Wolters in a team photo of the 1870 New York Mutuals.  The photo is part of the Albert Spaulding Collection in the New York Public Library.  Wolters is seated, second from the right.

“Rynie” Wolters, whose reputation as a baseball pitcher nearly half a century ago was almost as great as was Christy Mathewson’s in later years, died Friday at his home at No. 181 Pennsylvania avenue, Newark. He was 74 years old.

Reinder Albertis Wolters came to America from Holland when 4 years old. When a boy he became a member of the famous Irvington team, which, in the ’60s, was one of the crack clubs in the country, ranking with the Mutuals, of New York, Atlantics, of Brooklyn, and the Red Stockings, of Cincinnati. The late Charlie Sweasy and Andy Leonard, in later years bright illuminaries of the baseball firmament, were teammates of Wolters.

From the Irvingtons Wolters went to the Mutuals, known also as the “Green Sox,” the first team to represent the metropolis, and pitched for that team against the Reds, to whom Sweasey and Leonard had then graduated. On July 16, 1870, while pitching for the Mutuals in this city (NYC), Wolters shut out Chicago, 9 to 0, which is believed to be the first shutout on record.

After retiring from the diamond in the early ’70s, Wolters entered the commission house of his brother, Christian Wolters, in Newark. Ten days ago he was attacked with dropsy, which caused his death. He leaves a wife, four sons, and three daughters.

“Veteran Hurler is Dead”, Sioux City Journal, 07 January 1917, Page 13.

Image:

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Mutuals of New York, M. Nelson, Martin, Swandell, Eggler, E. Mills, Hatfield, Walton, Peterson” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1870 – 1919. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c26a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Happy Birthday, Harry Berthrong!

Berthrong in later yearsHarry Berthrong had a pretty amazing and varied life – some small part of it as a baseball player.  At the time of his retirement, he was likely the longest serving US civil servant (certainly among the oldest); at the time of his death he was the oldest living major league baseball player.

Henry Washburn Berthrong was born 01 January 1844, the first of five children born to Linus Percival and Mary (McPherson) Berthrong in Mumford, New York, a town not too far from Rochester.  Linus was a partner in a mercantile store and also a blacksmith while Mary was tasked with family management.  Linus died before Henry hit his teens, the victim of his gun accidentally going off while on a duck hunt and shooting him in the arm.  Linus was brought home where doctors thought his best chance to survive was amputating his arm – and the amputation process killed him.

Henry can trace his ancestry back a long way.  Abisha Washburn, his great-great grandfather, helped mold cannon during the Revolutionary War and may have actually served in the Continental Army.  Go back a few more generations in that Washburn line and you can find a John Washborne who made his way from England to the Plymouth settlement in 1635, bringing his family along a few years later.

As a child, Henry showed an aptitude for drawing and studied art with the owner of the Fraunberger studio in Rochester.  He also studied the art of making wood cuts for printing.  His studies would have to wait, however.  In 1861, the Civil War began, and in 1862 Henry Berthrong joined the 140th New York Volunteers, went to the front in September of that year, and joined the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac – initially as a musician.  Over time, he would perform other roles, especially when his regiment would guard occupied areas around the District.

While with the 140th, he would draw constantly, focusing on portraits of generals – Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Meade and others.  He and another soldier would take shoe pegs and nail his penciled portraits to the top log of his tent.  On the side, Henry was also a bit of a prankster – all in good fun.  Another soldier, B. S. Blake, said, “Almost from the start his genial disposition, full of youthful spirit, and his humorous pranks made him well known throughout the regiment…”

One time, he was furloughed and stopped in Washington DC prior to catching a train to Rochester.  Then, a fan of artwork appeared – as Berthrong told a writer for the Boston Globe on the 100th anniversary of his fan’s birthday.

“…I was on a furlough and passing through Washington on my way to my home, Rochester, N. Y., and while I was wandering around I finally pulled up and sat down on one of those iron settees between the White House and the war department. Taking a pad and pencil I began to make a sketch of the White House and just about the time I had it nearly completed someone came and stood directly in front of me. I looked up from my work, and there stood the great form of President Lincoln. I confess I was somewhat startled. I wore a zouave uniform, and, of course, the President knew I was a soldier.

“In his very kind manner he said to me: “What are you doing, young man?” I replied that I was trying to make a sketch of the White House. He said, ‘Let me see it,’ and taking it in his hand began comparing it with the original. He then said: ‘Do you know that you have a talent in drawing? Have you ever taken lessons?’ I told him that I had been studying to be an engraver on wood, but enlisted before I had completed my full course.

“He then said: ‘What are you going to do and where are you going?’ I told him I was on a furlough and intended taking the evening train for my home. ‘How long a furlough have you,’ Lincoln asked. I replied that I had two weeks. ‘That is short to go to Rochester and return to your regiment. You come with me.’

“We walked on to the war department and on the way he asked me about my home, who and how many were in my family, what was the number of my regiment, how many battles I had been in and many other questions. Reaching the adjutant general’s office he said to Col. Samuel Breck, assistant adjutant general, ‘This young man has but two weeks’ furlough. I would like you to extend it two weeks longer.’

“We then walked to the 17th street door. Mr. Lincoln had been holding my sketch in his hand all this time and as we parted he said, ‘I would like this sketch, it interests me.’ I said, Mr. Lincoln, I am delighted to give it to you and shall always consider it an honor to have had such a privilege.

“He then said: ‘Please put your name and regiment at the bottom, also the date.’ I did so and handed it back to him. We shook hands and he wished me a pleasant voyage to my home and a safe return to my regiment.

According to the Globe article, “Mr. Berthrong met the President at a reception at the White House just after the war, and stepping up to him asked the President if he remembered him, and then told Mr. Lincoln that he was the young man who made the sketch of the White House and told him the time. Mr. Lincoln remembered the affair very well, he said, and they had another short chat…”

“Made Sketch For Him – H. W. Berthrong, Arlington.”, Boston Globe, 12 February 1909, Page 13.

Bertrong painted a large painting of Lincoln which stayed in the family, despite large offers from Lincoln’s son.  He also would paint Grant’s portrait in the days just before Grant passed away, something Grant’s children claimed was the best painting of the general and president ever done.

Returning from the war meant getting a job – and he took a job as a clerk in the War Department.  And, he got married – the first time was to Anne Thompson, who was perhaps 14 years old when they first discussed getting married (a marriage license record exists from December, 1864), and 15 years old when a marriage license was granted in October, 1865.  They would have one child, a daughter named May, but as Berthrong’s career in civil service changed, Anne would stay in DC while Berthrong moved on.

Wait – we forgot something!!!  I write biographies about baseball players…

Berthrong was a speedy and graceful athlete.  He was a member of a Potomac River rowing team that won a national championship.  And, he took up baseball, which he may have learned while in the army.  Almost immediately upon settling in Washington, Berthrong became a catcher and outfielder with the two best clubs in the capital city.  He’d spend time with the Nationals and the Olympics.  He was likely the fastest professional baseball player of the post-Civil War years.

“Berthrong was a wonderful outfielder in his day, and I once saw him when both the right and left fielders had been disabled by injury cover all three fields and never miss a fly, moving from side to side, according to his judgement of the batter, and sizing things up right every time.”

“They Die Hard.”, Buffalo Enquirer, 17 August 1896, Page 8.

Lots of players claim to be fast – Berthrong could prove it, and did so in a letter to Tim Murnane of the Boston Globe.

“I have received so many inquiries by mail and individually as to my exact time in running the bases that I take the liberty of writing you the facts.

“The time was made in Washington, July 9, 1868, and was taken by five stop watches, where several men contested. From home plate to home plate in 14-1/4 seconds.

“One incident of this trial has never been spoken of. John Morrissey, the great sporting man of that time, wagered a wine supper with a friend that I could not run the bases inside of 15 seconds, and he was one of the parties who held the watch.

“He paid the debt, and 12 of us sat down to supper one week afterward. I ran 100 yards on the white lot at Washington without special training in 10 seconds flat. John Morrissey then offered to back me to run any man in the world 100 yards for $10,000. I ran 26 races at that distance and was never defeated.”

“That Curved Ball.”, Boston Globe, 21 April 1895, Page 29.

When the Washington Nationals joined the National Association in 1871, Berthrong was an outfielder and backup catcher to Doug Allison.  That was his only season as a major leaguer, though.  His job was sending him west.  Henry went to Carson City, Nevada where he would help the government set up a new branch of the United States Mint.  While there, he and a few friends started one of, if not the first, baseball club in Nevada –  the Silver Stars.

Berthrong moved to Boston after returning from Carson City – and he soon married a well connected lady a bit closer to his own age named Hannah Boutwell, the niece of Secretary of the Treasury George S. Boutwell – who was also a former governor of Massachusetts.  By this time, Berthrong was the appraiser of merchandise at the Boston Customhouse.  He would do that into the mid 1880s, but something else was calling him.

As you can imagine, it was his painting skills.  As a portrait artist, he was in demand.  So, in 1883, he decided to open a studio – and his wife, Hannah, took over his job in the Customhouse.  Berthrong would become nationally famous for his portraits of presidential candidates of both parties.  In fact, Berthrong claimed to be the only man in America who worked both sides of the aisle.  One order came from Mark Hanna, who asked for 600 portraits of William McKinley – each one being about eight feet by six feet in size.  Check out this painting he did of Benjamin Harrison.

Berthrong at Work

In time, as Henry and Hannah created more children (they’d have five, but one died as a toddler), they needed more dependable income.  Henry returned to the Custom House.  He took a brief break from Boston when he was dispatched to Cuba to set up a U.S. Customhouse there.  Then he returned – and while he worked at the Customhouse, Hannah became a translator and linguist.

For a while, the Boston Customhouse was the tallest building in Boston.  On the 25th floor, more than 300 feet into the air, there was an observation balcony where people could look out over the Hub.   In 1915, John M. Durick committed suicide by jumping from the observation balcony, falling nearly 400 feet to his death.

“To none was the shock greater than to Henry W. Berthrong, a Customhouse employee, who stood on the edge of the steps leading to State St. and was within two or three feet of the man’s body when it struck beside him on the pavement. The fright with which the event struck into Berthrong’s heart and the sight of the suicide’s body almost caused him to collapse in his tracks. Had Berthrong been struck by Durick’s body, he would undoubtedly have been killed, it is thought…”

“…Henry W. Berthrong, an aged clerk, 30 years ago a famous ball player and artist, who had come to the door to get the air for a moment, jumped as if a bomb had been set off beside him. The shock attending the sudden drop of the man, apparently from nowhere, was severe, and for some minutes afterward Mr. Berthrong found it almost impossible to recover his composure and speak about the accident.

“When he was able to talk of it, he declared that the man had fallen less than three feet from him, so near, indeed, that the body almost grazed him in passing. For a moment he was dazed with surprise until he realized the meaning of the sight before him, when he was very nearly overcome with emotion.”

“Man Leaps From 25th Story of Customhouse”, Boston Globe, 10 September 1915, Page 1.

Berthrong continued at the Customhouse until he turned 80 years old, retiring in 1924 after more than 50 years in the military or civil service.  And, Hannah and Henry would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in style.  On the side, he would participate in Grand Army of the Republic benefits, performing the violin in an orchestra (see photo below – Berthrong is in front at the far right) and occasionally performing dance routines.  He was a life long Mason, and an honorary member of the Elks.

Berthrong in Orchestra

In 1927, Hannah passed on, and Berthrong would soon follow.  When he fell ill for the last time, he was moved from his home to a veteran’s home in Chelsea, MA.  Newspapers reported that the oldest living major league ballplayer was near death.  Al Reach had previously held that spot, but had died in January.  Three months later, Berthrong would pass to the next league on 24 April 1928.

SOURCES:

www.baseball-reference.com
1865 New York Census
1850, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Census
Rochester City Directory, 1851
District of Columbia Marriage Records
Massachusetts Marriage Records
US Civil War Soldier Records
www.findagrave.com – Henry Berthrong
www.findagrave.com – Linus Percival Berthrong
www.findagrave.com – Abisha Washburn
www.findagrave.com – John Washborne

Library of Congress Image – Berthrong and Benjamin Harrison

“Brevities.”, Reno Weekly Gazette and Stockman, 20 June 1895, Page 1.

Chadwick, Henry. Letter to the New York Star, reprinted by the Washington Evening Star, “The Old Nationals”, Washington Evening Star, 24 October 1895, Page 10.

“They Die Hard.”, Buffalo Enquirer, 17 August 1896, Page 8.

“Grand Army Minstrels.”, Boston Globe, 07 January 1897, Page 12.

“Diamond Dust.”, Wilmington Sun, 18 November 1898, Page 3.

M. “Off On A Tangent.”, Carson Daily Appeal, 10 June 1876, Page 2.

“That Curved Ball.”, Boston Globe, 21 April 1895, Page 29.

National Republican, 03 November 1882, Page 4.

“Made Sketch For Him – H. W. Berthrong, Arlington.”, Boston Globe, 12 February 1909, Page 13.

“Man Leaps From 25th Story of Customhouse”, Boston Globe, 10 September 1915, Page 1.

“Funeral Friday of Henry W. Berthrong”, Boston Globe, 25 April 1928, Page 32. (Also picture)

Image of Arlington Orchestra, Boston Globe, 26 April 1904, Page 3.

“Two Retire From Customs Service”, Boston Globe, 21 August 1924, Page 7.

“Rochester Boy Made Portraits of Famed Men”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 20 June 1922, Page 23.

“Ends 50 Years’ Work With Government”, Brattleboro Reformer, 21 August 1924, Page 1.

“Baseball Star of ’65 Sinking”, New York Daily News, 15 April 1928, Page 10.

Baseball History for December 10th

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1852 Frank Bliss
1854 Dick Phelan
1862 Bob Black
1866 Frank Shugart
1866 John Sowders
1868 Neil Stynes
1879 Charlie Shields
1880 Robert Albert (Pat) Newnam
1882 Edmund Joseph (Cotton) Minahan
1883 Jim Stephens
1883 Art Griggs
1883 George Henry (Jerry) Upp
1887 Jim Baskette
1888 Ed Kelly
1888 Stan Gray
1889 Grover Baichley
1889 Jimmy Johnston
1889 Troy Puckett
1894 James Christopher (Ike) Caveney
1896 Herrick Smith (Spoke) Emery
1897 Arthur Joseph (Jocko) Conlon
1897 Tim Griesenbeck
1899 Verdo Elmore
1899 Herman Charles (Jake) Hehl
1900 Roy Carlyle
1906 Francis Joseph (Bots) Nekola
1908 Earl Cook
1909 Floyd Giebell
1910 John Pretzel Pezzullo
1917 Andy Tomasic
1922 Gordie Mueller
1926 Leo Cristante
1931 Rudy Hernandez
1931 Bob Roselli
1932 Ed Donnelly
1936 Jack Feller
1936 Howard Rodney (Doc) Edwards
1939 Bob Priddy
1940 Weldon Bowlin
1943 Dalton Jones
1944 Steve Renko
1946 Bobby Fenwick
1947 Ted Martinez
1956 Darrell Woodard
1960 Paul Assenmacher
1960 Jeff Bettendorf
1963 Rick Wrona
1963 Luis Polonia
1963 Doug Henry
1963 Gil Reyes
1966 Norberto Martin
1966 Mel Rojas
1969 Pat Ahearne
1969 Jon Zuber
1975 Joe Mays
1977 Dan Wheeler
1981 Victor Diaz
1983 Brandon Jones
1984 Gregorio Petit
1986 Pedro Florimon
1986 Matt Clark
1990 Wil Myers
1992 Carlos Rodon

OBITUARIES:

1908 Wild Bill Widner
1918 Lester Dole
1919 Tom Colcolough
1931 Tex Covington
1937 Joe Battin
1946 Walter Johnson
1946 Walter Moser
1953 Harry Armbruster
1957 Hal Kleine
1958 Cozy Dolan
1959 Joe Harris
1961 Bert Maxwell
1963 Carl Fischer
1969 Jack Tobin
1969 Mike Cunningham
1970 Marshall Renfroe
1970 Johnny Mostil
1973 Joe Riggert
1976 Danny Thompson
1976 Vic Keen
1980 Rosy Ryan
1981 Bob Joyce
1981 Freddy Leach
1982 Charlie Wheatley
1987 Whitey Moore
1991 Ed Murphy
1992 Babe Phelps
2000 Willard Nixon
2002 Mike Kosman
2002 Earl Henry
2002 Homer Spragins
2003 Don Wheeler
2008 Sal Yvars
2013 Pete Naton
2013 Don Lund

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1918 John Heydler is named president of the National League, again. He had briefly served after Harry Pulliam died in 1909.

1919 The National League bans the spitball, though it allows for a grandfather clause. This would be adopted by the American League the next year.

1972 The American League votes to adopt the Designated Hitter on a three year trial.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1897 Washington sends Gene DeMontreville, Dan McGann, and Doc McJames to the Orioles for Doc Amole, Jack Doyle, and Heinie Reitz.

1923 Philadelphia spends $20,000 wisely, purchasing Max Bishop from Balimore.

1935 Detroit purchases Al Simmons from the White Sox for $75,000 – and Boston sends two players and $150,000 to the Athletics for Jimmie Foxx and Johnny Marcum.

1969 Minnesota sends Dean Chance, Bob Miller, Graig Nettles and Ted Uhlander to the Indians for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams.

1971 New York sends Nolan Ryan, Leroy Stanton, Frank Estrada and Don Rose to the Angels for Jim Fregosi.

1973 Baltimore signs amateur free agent pitcher Dennis Martinez.

1975 Philadelphia sends Dick Ruthven, Alan Bannister, and Roy Thomas to the White Sox for Jim Kaat and Mike Buskey.

1976 Pittsburgh sends Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez to the White Sox for Terry Forster and Rich Gossage.

1980 California sends Carney Lansford, Mark Clear and Rick Miller to the Red Sox for Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson.

1981 San Diego sends Ozzie Smith and Steve Mura to the Cardinnals for Sixto Lezcano and Garry Templeton (and each later swapped a player in February to complete the deal).

1984 Montreal sent Gary Carter to the Mets for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans.

1985 St. Louis sends Joaquin Andujar to the Athletics for Tim Conroy and Mike Heath.

Also, the White Sox drafted Bobby Bonilla in the Rule 5 Draft.

Happy Birthday, Gene Markland!

“I’ve never had any reason to worry about being picked on All-Star teams or anything of that sort. I just worry about being the worst.”

Horrigan, Jack. “Gene Markland Rated Better Than Most Major Infielders”, Dunkirk Evening Observer, 25 August 1949, Page 16.

Gene Markland - Buffalo 1949Cleneth Eugene Markland was the son of Notra Raymond and Eva (McCoy) Markland, born on 26 December 1919 in Detroit, MI.  Gene was their third child, all boys. Ray was a painter and decorator for a construction company.

Initially signed by Detroit after a celebrated high school career (basketball, baseball) at Highland Park High School Markland was a star playing semi-pro baseball with the Class A Karp team near Detroit when the local team took notice.  After Detroit signed Markland, his community held a dance in his honor to help raise money to defray his moving expenses as the Tigers were sending Markland to Beaumont, TX. Among those who came to the dance were Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogsell, Jo Jo White, Bing Miller, and his scout – A.J. (Wish) Eagan.

“The Detroit Tigers signed me originally and I always felt I could be of some help to them. When they got L. D. (Dutch) Meyer to play second base for them, I always wondered why they never gave me a chance instead.”

In 1940, with hundreds of players under Tiger control, Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis cut loose a bunch of minor leaguers controlled by Detroit, allowing Markland to become a minor league free agent in January, 1940.  He got offers from nine clubs (major and minor) after spending the year with Henderson in the East Texas League.  He would sign with Detroit again and was dispatched back to the minors.  But, for whatever reason – likely the fact that he was a smallish 5′-10″ and 150 pound infielder – he never seemed to catch many breaks.  Sent to Buffalo, he was quickly demoted to Winston-Salem of the Piedmont League.  He earned a promotion to Springfield in the Eastern League and then Buffalo of the International League.

In January, 1942, he was playing basketball when he fell and broke his left forearm. It didn’t heal correctly, so it was re-broken in June. Not only did he miss the 1942 baseball season, the injury earned him a deferment from the army for 1942.  When healthy enough to serve, Markland served at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin for three years after enlisting in 1943.  While there, he was captain of baseball team and played basketball and softball.  Private First Class Markland spent time training soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion, and may have also served as a guard for the camp, which would house POWs and others thought to be potentially dangerous aliens.

Returning from his Army stint, the Tigers claimed him and shipped him back to Buffalo – who then sold his rights to Dallas for $100.  The Tigers then sold his rights to the Boston Braves in late 1947 after Markland had a pretty good season, though without much power, in Dallas.

“…Markland’s early baseball experiences have almost made a fatalist out of him in regard to his baseball career. Up until 1947, the blonde, blue-eyed, Detroit native spent more time on train platforms than he did on diamond infields.

“‘It seemed that every time I was getting my feet on the ground, the club I was with would receive a farm system player and I’d be out.”

Horrigan, Jack. “Gene Markland Rated Better Than Most Major Infielders”, Dunkirk Evening Observer, 25 August 1949, Page 16.

The White Sox took him in the Rule 5 draft in 1948 and dispatched Markland to Milwaukee – where something changed.  Though he was slightly built, Markland developed power as he got older (a quick bat allowed him to pull the ball hard down the lines) – and a very good eye (and willingness to take pitches).  With Milwaukee in 1948, Markland hit 20 homers, drew 96 walks, and scored 120 runs in 147 games. The White Sox decided he should get a shot with the parent club, but he got a sore arm in spring training and it wiped out his chance to play there. He was again sold to Buffalo – the club that once sold off Markland for $100.

At Buffalo, Markland had his best minor league season, becoming a leading candidate for the MVP of the International League.  The veteran leadoff man played second and third base, homered 25 times, batting .305, and drew 155 walks – scoring 142 runs in 151 games.  Connie Mack signed an agreement to make Buffalo its top minor league affiliate and then signed Markland and pitcher Bob Hooper to play for the Athletics.

Like with the Sox spring training, he got off to a slow start. He was more than adequate in the field, but wasn’t hitting. Still – for the first time ever, Markland made a big league roster.  In his first game, April 25th, he was a late inning replacement at second base. He singled off Vic Raschi of the Yankees in his first MLB at bat. Given a start on May 4th, he drew three walks and scored a run. However, he went hitless in his next two games with a sacrifice bunt in each game. The Athletics had to make a decision, though, on which player to keep as a utility infielder for the rest of the season and it came down to either Markland or Kermit Wahl – and the club chose Wahl.  Markland would hit .298 in Buffalo with a little less power, but drew 111 walks and was was a productive player for the Bisons in 1950.

Markland was drafted by Yankees after the 1950 season because the Yankees were likely losing Billy Martin to the Army.  When he went to spring training his roommate was Mickey Mantle, who was making the jump from Class C ball to the big leagues. Markland, who had spent the bulk of his post-war career in AAA, would be Mantle’s first big league roommate. Markland appeared in about 30 games and was batting over .300 in the spring and thought he had a job, but Billy Martin came back from the service and Stengel told Markland he had to go.  He was dispatched to Kansas City, then moved to Syracuse.  Then he called it a career.

Markland missed his chance – and missed out on something else that major leaguers with long careers got: a pension.

“Baseball offers no incentive, no security for this type of player,” Markland said of the top level minor league players. In addition to the prestige, money, better food and housing, they want “…the security that a five-or-ten year player in the big leagues has for later years.”

No plan existed for long-time minor leaguers – and because of that, they give up earlier and get jobs. “There are many fine minor league players who deserve some sort of security from the game to which they’ve devoted the best years of their lives. Take two fellows close by, Woody Smith and Satchel Paige of the Miami Marlins. Ball players of their caliber, who could make the big league grade and never got the opportunity because of one reason or another, certainly deserve some sort of gratuity.”

Markland added, “Naturally the minor league teams can’t afford such a plan. But it seems that the major league clubs, who hold these players’ contracts, could establish some sort of a pension outlay for them.

“What do most players who have spent four or five years in Triple-A and have been unable to crack the big leagues? They have to quit and look for employment that will give them an income for life. During a player’s career it’s practically impossible for him to play ball and hold another job at the same time. Who would hire a fellow who can only devote five months a year to a job?”

Schabo, Joe. “High Minor League Players Lack Security – Markland”, Fort Lauderdale News, 20 July 1958, Page 4C.

Markland, who spent a number of spring trainings in the Sunshine State, retired to Florida and opened the Sunrise Bait and Tackle Shop in Fort Lauderdale. He later joined the Loyal Order of the Moose in Sebastian, FL and was a resident of Barefoot Bay after selling off his shop.  When he passed to the next league on 15 June 1999, he left behind his wife, Dorothy (Lundy), whom he married in 1943, and two sons, Donald and Dennis.

Sources:

www.baseball-reference.com

www.retrosheet.org

encyclopedia.densho.org

www.findagrave.com

1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
Michigan Marriage Records
WWII Draft Registration
Social Security Death Records

“Gene Markland Goes To Tigers”, Columbus Evening Republican, 18 January 1939, Page 5.

“Gene Markland Gets Offers for 1940 from Nine Clubs”, Detroit Free Press, 29 January 1940, Page 15.

Vaughn, Doug. “On the Rebound”, Windsor Star, 19 January 1942, Page 20.

“International News”, Baltimore Evening Sun, 18 June 1942, Page 37.

Carter, Joe R. “Raspberries and Cream”, Shreveport Times, 19 December 1942, Page 8.

Hall, Halsey. “Ryan Banks on Cubans as Millers Open Season Against Soldiers Today”, Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, 08 April 1945, Page 7.

“McCoy Has Sluggers”, La Crosse Tribune, 04 September 1945, Page 8.

Reichler, Joe. “Third Sackers Short But Sweet”, Decatur Daily, 28 January 1949, Page 10.

“Gene Markland Sent to Buffalo”, Shreveport Times, 18 April 1949, Page 15.

Horrigan, Jack. “Gene Markland Rated Better Than Most Major Infielders”, Dunkirk Evening Observer, 25 August 1949, Page 16.

“Buffalo Bisons Sign Pact with Athletics”, Bridgewater Courier-News, 11 October 1949, Page 33.

Gene Markland Photo (Buffalo), Montreal Gazette, 07 July 1950, Page 14.

“N.Y. Yankees Draft Gene Markland of Buffalo Bisons”, Port Huron Times-Herald, 18 November 1950, Page 8.

Richman, Milton. “Ex-Eastern Gene Markland Hopeful Chance With Yanks ‘Real Thing'”, Scrantonian Tribune, 19 November 1950, Page 48.

Schabo, Joe. “High Minor League Players Lack Security – Markland”, Fort Lauderdale News, 20 July 1958, Page 4C.

“Gene Markland (Obit)”, Florida Today, 17 June 1999, Page 5B.