January 19th in Baseball History

Featured

<— JANUARY 18     JANUARY 20 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1858 Joe Straub
1862 Mac MacArthur
1865 Bill Anderson
1871 Abbie Johnson
1873 Arlie Pond
1874 Harry Atkinson
1874 Jake Boyd
1878 Jack White
1879 Jack McCallister
1885 Dolly Stark
1888 Pat Maloney
1888 Chick Gandil

Member of the Black Sox – career ended in infamy.

1895 Dan Boone
1896 Ollie Hanson
1903 Fred Lucas
1903 Merle (Lefty) Settlemire
1904 Jim Boyle
1906 Rip Radcliff
1910 Dib Williams
1910 Hugh Poland
1913 Andy Pilney
1914 Benny Culp
1914 Al Piechota
1931 Ed Sadowski
1935 Fred (Squeaky) Valentine

Fred Valentine was an outfielder with Baltimore and Washington in the 1960s – had a decent season in 1966, batting .276 with some power and 22 stolen bases, but didn’t maintain that level of production and disappeared after 1968.  Of course, by the time Valentine got regular playing time, he was in his 30s – he was a victim of the racism of the period, which limited opportunities unless he hit like Willie or Hank.

Baltimore drafted Valentine as an infielder out of Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State) having chosen baseball over football because there were no black quarterbacks in the NFL in the late 1950s.  However, the Orioles had Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio – so he moved to the outfield.

Ted Leavengood wrote an excellent biography of Valentine for the Society of American Baseball Research – give it a read.

1948 Ken Frailing

Cubs/White Sox prospect that never really panned out.

1950 Jon Matlack

Mets pitcher, and a good one, in the middle 1970s.

1949 Ramon de los Santos
1954 Rich Gale

Royals starter (and, later, other teams) during the playoff runs in 1978 and 1980, won 14 games as a rookie, then 13 more in 1980.  In 1978, despite going 14 – 8, walked 100 batters while striking out just 88…

1957 Brad Mills
1961 Ken Dowell
1962 Chris Sabo

Reds and Orioles third baseman – injuries clipped what started off as potentially a solid career.

1963 Scott Little
1964 Mark Grater
1964 Jim Morris
1965 Kevin Coffman
1966 Anthony Young

Owner of one of the longest losing streaks you might ever see – and yet he didn’t really deserve it.  A pretty good pitcher on some awful teams.

1969 Orlando Palmeiro
1970 Rick Krivda
1970 Ricky Pickett
1971 Jeff Juden
1971 Phil Nevin
1973 Chris Stynes
1974 Amaury Telemaco

I saw Telemaco pitch while he was in Class A Daytona in 1994.  He looked like he was going to be a dominating pitcher – reminded me of Joaquin Andujar with his presence on the mound.  A couple of years later, he was with the Cubs and he bounced around the majors and minors for the better part of ten years.  I rooted for him, but that apparently wasn’t helping.

1975 Fernando Seguignol
1975 Brian Mallette
1978 Wilton Veras
1979 Byung-Hyun Kim
1982 Terry Evans
1987 James Darnell
1988 Shawn Tolleson

OBITUARIES:

1900 Marty Bergen

Bergen was a catcher for Boston in the late 1890s, and a pretty good one.  He also suffered from some form of mental illness, possibly schizophrenia or manic depression.  Articles written at the time of his death talked about how he frequently left the team and suggested that he regularly felt like teammates were out to get him.  Bergen even feared his family doctor was trying to kill him.  His teammates and managers tolerated his moods because he was a great player – finally manager Frank Selee admitted that after the 1899 season he would eventually have to let his star catcher go.  Bergen’s son died while on a road trip – and an already fragile mind became intolerably so.  Bergen’s death was a complete tragedy – he used an axe to murder his wife and two remaining children then slit his own throat.

“Bergen Tragedy.” The Sporting News, 1/27/1900, Pg. 3.

1909 Dennis Casey
1917 Charlie Enwright
1922 Bob Keating
1933 Con Starkel
1933 Harry Hinchman
1938 Wild Bill Everitt

Third baseman and first baseman with Chicago in the NL during the first century of baseball, was released for his lack of power and wound up in the new American League by joining Washington in 1901.  Hit .376 in the Western League, earning a draft call from Chicago, then hit .358 as a rookie with the Colts.  A collision while running the bases ruined his throwing shoulder – but Anson’s retirement after the 1897 season meant that Everitt could move to first base and his arm would be less of a problem.  In 1898, he would set a major league record – most at bats by a first baseman without hitting a single homer.  Hit .317 in his major league career before returning to the minors as both a player and later a manager.  Owned his own grocery store and other businesses in his Denver home before being called to the great field in the sky.

(Summary adapted from David Nemec’s Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871 – 1900, Bison Books, 2011)

1957 Larry Strands
1965 James Edwards
1977 Don Hendrickson
1978 Milt Shoffner
1987 George Selkirk

Nicknamed “Twinkletoes” by Ernest Lanigan because, as a Jersey City outfielder, he learned to run on his toes… Selkirk was the guy who replaced Babe Ruth in right field for the Yankees.  He even wore his number.  Obviously, Selkirk was no Babe Ruth, but he was a regular for much of the next six full seasons.  He cleared .300 on five occasions, hitting between 11 and 21 homers in his full seasons, and twice driving in more than 100 runs.  Selkirk’s career ended as World War II was taking players out of the majors.  Even though Selkirk was Canadian, he served in the US Navy.  Selkirk returned from the war and took up coaching and eventually moved into the front office.  He was a player personnel director for Kansas City and Baltimore (at a time the Yankees made a lot of trades with both Kansas City and Baltimore…).  In 1962, he became a general manager for the Washington Senators.

I see a future writing project for me…

1991 Roy Weatherly
1997 Bert Kuczynski
2000 Manny Montejo
2000 Lynn Myers
2001 Johnny Babich
2003 Dutch Meyer
2004 Tommy Glaviano
2007 Bill LeFebvre
2013 Earl Weaver

Pitching, defense, and three-run homers.  My friend, Becky Martorano, will tell you that the same attitude that Weaver took to baseball (and umpires) appeared when he would have dinners at Don Shula’s Steak House.  She worked for Shula’s for many years and specifically remembers how few in the restaurant wanted to serve his table.

2013 Stan Musial

Not as exciting as Willie Mays but every bit as important to his team.

2013 Milt Bolling

When the two Hall of Famers passed away on the same day in 2013, few paid attention to the other guy who also died that day.

Milt Bolling was a southern born infielder mostly with the Red Sox during the 1950s.  As his career wound down – he wasn’t much of a hitter – he got to play in the same infield as his brother, Frank, in Detroit.  Milt’s career as a player ended, but for years he was an assistant to Tom Yawkey, and then an area scout based in his home of Mobile.

2016 Frank Sullivan

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

The most famous baseball related event was the Marty Bergen murder/suicide, noted above.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1931 The PCL’s Oakland Oaks traded C Ernie Lombardi to Brooklyn for C Hank DeBerry and INF Eddie Moore.  Lombardi would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.

1943 Boston releases Paul Waner.  He wasn’t done, though – Waner signed with Brooklyn and even pinch hit ten times for the Yankees before he was done in 1945.

1961 Cleveland released Don Newcombe.  He was done, sadly.

1983 Los Angeles trades Ron Cey to Chicago for Dan Cataline and Vance Lovelace.  Cey would help Chicago win the 1984 NL East.

2004 Houston signs free agent Roger Clemens.

2007 Atlanta trades Adam LaRoche and Jamie Romak to Pittsburgh for Mike Gonzalez and Brent Lillibridge.

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Baseball History for January 18th

<— JANUARY 17     JANUARY 19 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1839 Al Barker
1854 Frank Heifer
1855 Charlie Eden
1874 Zeke Wrigley
1884 Ralph Caldwell
1894 Danny Clark
1895 George Hesselbacher

george hesselbacherPenn State grad – according to his school yearbook, both a baseball and soccer player – who was given a shot with Philadelphia, but failed miserably in six appearances (four starts) in 1916 and never played another game of professional baseball again. Hesselbacher was torched for 33 runs in 26 innings (though only 21 were earned) and lost all four of his decisions. Hesselbacher served as a Lieutenant in the National Army in World War I.

George Edward was one of two sons to Charles and Helen (Apker) Hesselbacher. He married Irene Miller not long after graduating college and had two sons – George, Jr. and Richard. In later years he served as a civil engineer for Cheltenham Township. He passed to the next world on 18 February 1980.

Sources: 1900, 1930, 1940 US Census, World War I Service Files, World War II Draft Card, 1916 Penn State Yearbook, PA Marriage Indexes. Also Baseball-Reference.com.

1896 Babe Twombly
1896 Bill McGowan
1898 John Woods
1899 Eddie Moore
1903 Nolen Richardson
1904 Len Koenecke
1911 Pinky May
1926 Bob Scherbarth
1931 Laurin Pepper
1932 Mike Fornieles
1936 Chuck Cottier
1938 Curt Flood
1941 Mickey McGuire
1942 Dick Estelle
1944 Carl Morton
1945 Tom Harrison
1945 Rich Severson
1946 Billy Grabarkewitz
1950 Marv Lane
1950 Bill Sharp
1954 Scott McGregor
1955 Dave Geisel
1960 Gibson Alba
1961 John Bohnet
1963 Bill Sampen
1964 Brady Anderson
1969 Kevin McGehee
1970 Mike Bertotti
1972 Mike Lieberthal
1972 Keith Glauber
1977 Franklin Nunez
1978 Brian Falkenborg
1979 Wandy Rodriguez
1981 Brandon Fahey
1984 Justin Thomas
1988 Luis Jimenez
1989 Michael Pineda
1990 Brett Lawrie

OBITUARIES:

1899 Billy Arnold
1905 Fergy Malone
1911 Dick Scott
1912 John Russ
1929 Mike Scanlon
1933 Dan Marion
1939 Cliff Heathcote
1945 Mike Fitzgerald
1945 Gene Lansing
1946 Reeve McKay
1946 Dave Wright
1955 Phil Morrison
1961 Gene Woodburn
1969 Ray Kennedy
1970 Jack Richardson
1974 Pete Appleton
1982 Jackie Tobin
1982 Bob Barrett
1984 Leo Kiely
1989 Buzz Clarkson
1991 Herb Harris
2008 Al Montreuil
2011 Al Grunwald
2011 George Crowe

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1969 Ted Williams signs to manage the Washington Senators, taking them to an 86 – 76 record in his first season.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1901 New York sends Jack Doyle to the Chicago Orphans for John Ganzel, Ned Garvin, and Sammy Strang.

1947 Pittsburgh purchases Hank Greenberg from Detroit for $75,000.

1971 Pittsburgh signs amateur free agent outfielder Tony Armas.

1973 Boston signs free agent DH (to be) Orlando Cepeda.

2012 Texas signs Japanese free agent pitcher Yu Darvish.

Baseball History for January 17th

<— JANUARY 16     JANUARY 18 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1853 John Samuel “Holly” Hollingshead

Member of the Olympic of Washington club prior to joining the three entries Washington made in the National Association between 1872 and 1875. A fair hitter, he played second base and centerfield. Hollingshead is also listed as the manager for Washington briefly in 1875 and with the Washington franchise in the American Association in 1884.

US Census and Washington DC data show he was born to John Samuel and Mary Margaret Hollingshead, and like his father he would be a clerk for most of his adult life. He married Mary Windsor, who passed away in 1879, and later married Katherine Lee in 1894, and she had a daugther by a previous marriage. Hollingshead died 06 October 1926 and is buried in a family plot near his first wife in DC.

1858 Jim Roxburgh
1861 Milt Scott
1867 Bob Glenalvin
1873 Frank Aloyvisious “Kohly” Miller
1878 Harry Bay
1882 John Jonas “Doc” Kerr
1882 Harry Pattee
1886 Cad Coles
1888 Pete Johns
1889 Louis Santop
1889 Ollie Welf
1892 Roy Grover
1893 Luke Glavenich
1896 Harry Hanson
1899 Tripp Sigman
1905 Ray Cunningham
1908 Les Willis
1911 Hank Leiber
1915 Lum Harris
1915 Mayo Smith
1917 John Samuel “Jocko” Thompson
1920 Jay Heard
1922 Jack Merson
1925 Hank Schmulbach
1931 Don Zimmer
1933 Jay Porter
1935 Dick Brown
1944 Denny Doyle
1952 Pete LaCock
1952 Darrell Porter
1953 Mark Littell
1954 Jerry Turner
1959 T. R. Bryden
1960 Chili Davis
1964 Jeff Tabaka
1971 Tyler Houston
1972 Walt McKeel
1975 Scott Mullen
1975 Brad Fullmer
1977 Rob Bell
1978 Mark Malaska
1980 T. J. Bohn
1980 Mike Rabelo
1985 Chad Beck
1985 Jai Miller
1985 Emmanuel Burriss
1987 Tanner Scheppers
1987 Jeff Beliveau
1987 Cody Decker
1989 Taylor Jordan
1989 Blake Beavan
1989 Dario Alvarez
1990 Frank Garces
1991 Trevor Bauer

OBITUARIES:

1917 Pat McCauley
1923 John Meister
1932 Mark Stewart
1945 Rube Ward
1945 Roy Radebaugh
1950 Roy Sanders
1950 Jewel Ens
1952 Solly Salisbury
1957 Tom Stanton
1957 Carl Sawyer
1961 Bud Tinning
1964 John Grimes
1967 Charlie Maloney
1970 Alex Mustaikis
1976 Ed Kinsella
1977 Ernie Wingard
1981 Owen Kahn
1987 Ed Busch
1991 Marv Breuer
1992 Red Durrett
1993 Nick Polly
1995 John Hall
2004 Hersh Freeman
2004 Harry Brecheen
2006 Seth Morehead
2006 Bob Repass
2008 John McHale
2011 Perry Currin

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1888 Kansas City joins the American Association, replacing the New York Metropolitans. What’s left of that New York team is purchased by Baltimore.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1895 Pittsburgh sends Red Ehret and $3,000 to St. Louis for pitcher Pink Hawley.

1970 January Secondary Draft Day!!! First round selections include: Chris Chambliss (New York), Chris Speier (San Francisco), Rick Burleson (Boston), Pete LaCock (Chicago Cubs), and later Doug DeCinces (Baltimore, 3rd), Bill Madlock (Washington, 5th).

1984 January Secondary Draft Day!!! First round selections include Tim Belcher (Yankees), Damon Berryhill (Chicago Cubs), and later Jay Buhner (Pirates, 2nd).

1992 Oakland signs free agent pitcher Ron Darling.

Happy Birthday, Showboat Fisher!

showboat fisherGeorge Fisher was a minor league version of Riggs Stephenson with Babe Ruth’s stance – a remarkable hitting outfielder with good speed and little ability to make plays in the field, especially near the outfield wall.

Fisher made his mark after a couple of crazy good seasons in the minors. He hit .378 for Miller in the South Dakota League in 1920, then had back to back seasons over .350 with St. Joseph in the Western League. After hitting .365 with New Haven in the Eastern League, Clark Griffith gave Fisher a shot with the Senators. Fisher didn’t totally impress with the bat as he had just 15 hits in 64 at bats over 28 games. And he wasn’t much of a glove man. Fisher was with Washington at the beginning of the 1924 season, but was “traded” back to Minneapolis for Carl East, only to have East jump the Senators. Clark Griffith tried to get Fisher back, but the owners of Minneapolis appealed to Judge Landis and Fisher was allowed to stay with the Millers.

George’s only season as a major league regular, well – close – was with the 1930 Cardinals when he appeared in 92 games as a corner outfielder and pinch hitter. He hit a stunning .374 with 8 homers and 61 RBI in 254 at bats. He played once more with the St. Louis Browns in 1932, appearing in 18 games mostly as a pinch hitter and getting four hits in twenty-two at bats.

He spent the bulk of his career in the high minors, where he hit about .340 over a 15 year period (1919 to 1933) playing in towns like Minneapolis, St. Joseph, Buffalo, Rochester, Milwaukee, and the Little Rock and Nashville in the Southern Association. He regularly hit over .350 and didn’t hit under .300 except in his brief MLB stints and his final year in Milwaukee where he hit .216 in limited play – at 34 years old.

George Aloys Fisher was born 16 January 1899 in Wesley, Iowa but was raised in St. Anna, MN. He learned to play ball on his farm and with local town teams in Stearns County, MN. When the Millers first gave him a look, he took five turns as a pitcher and played in the outfield.

showboat fisher as a millerFisher said he got the nickname “Showboat” in 1930 because he had a style all of his own. “I had a fancy batting stance. And when I’d come up to the plate, I’d take my time. I’d look around, see who was playing out there.” And, because the Gashouse Gang all had nicknames. In later years, as the Designated Hitter became the norm, Fisher always said that with his poor fielding, the DH was a position he wished he could have played when he was in his prime.

As for his stance, Fisher said his stance and swing was a lot like Babe Ruth’s – feet close together and his hands near his belt.

“George has shown two great weaknesses during his stay with the Millers. First, he never learned how to play the right field fence. Second, he paid a little more attention to his batting average than he did to the team standings,” wrote Charles Johnson of the Minneapolis Star.

“Although a heavy hitter, Fisher was none too sure as a fielder and lacked the aggressiveness and baseball intelligence that (Mike) Kelley demands of his players,” added George Barton of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

After his season with the 1930 Cardinals, St. Louis ownership sent him back to the minors because they had three other outfielders making less than the $6,000 Fisher made in 1930.

As his playing days wound down, Fisher bought a bar he called the Fisher’s Club on Middle Spunk Lake just west of St. Cloud, MN. There he added a dance floor and had free fish dinners on Fridays – fish usually caught by his kids. During the winters, he sold insurance.

He made it 95 years before passing away on 15 May 1994 in St. Cloud, MN. Fisher died of complications following hip surgery. He had spent the previous two years in a nursing home, but was a consummate outdoorsman and golfed regularly until he was 92.

Sources:

Johnson, Charles. “Lowdown on Sports”, Minneapolis Star, 14 February 1927, Page 10.

Barton, George A. “Fisher Released to Indians Under Option”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 08 July 1926, Page 20.

Held, Rob. “‘Showboat’ Fisher should have been designated hitter”, St. Cloud Daily Times, 19 July 1973, Page 22.

“‘Showboat’ remembers ‘The Babe'”, St. Cloud Times, 05 June 1987, Page 19.

Chanen, David. “George (Showboat) Fisher dies; played in the 1930 World Series”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 18 May 1994, Page 6B.

Baseball History for January 16th

<— JANUARY 15     JANUARY 17 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1855 Jimmy Macullar
1858 Art Whitney
1863 Lem Hunter
1870 Jimmy Collins
1877 Lou Bruce
1878 Jim Murray
1885 Joe Kutina
1886 Allie Moulton
1888 Brad Kocher
1889 Ray Jansen
1890 Erskine Mayer
1891 Ferdie Schupp
1891 Marv Goodwin
1892 Fred Bratschi
1894 Edward George “Moxie” Divis
1895 Lou Guisto
1899 George Aloys “Showboat” Fisher
1900 Joe Rabbitt
1902 Joe Connell
1902 Horace Levering “Pip” Koehler
1904 Jo-Jo Morrissey
1907 Baxter Byerly “Buck” Jordan
1908 Johnny Watson
1910 Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean
1911 Hank McDonald
1917 Bob Ramazzotti
1920 Ray Poole
1920 Roy Talcott
1923 Dick Sipek
1924 Earl Hazwell “Junior” Wooten
1934 Jim Owens
1937 Moe Morhardt
1938 Ron Herbel
1940 Rod Miller
1940 Bob Baird
1941 Joe Bonikowski
1944 Gene Stone
1953 Dennis DeBarr
1954 Dave Stapleton
1957 Steve Balboni
1957 Marty Castillo
1959 Kevin Buckley
1966 Jack McDowell
1970 Ron Villone
1975 Lee Gardner
1977 Colter Bean
1978 Alfredo Amezaga
1979 Jack Cust
1980 Albert Pujols
1980 Brooks Conrad
1981 Mitch Stetter
1983 Eider Torres
1984 Matt Maloney
1985 Jeff Manship
1985 Junior Guerra
1986 Reid Brignac
1986 Mark Trumbo
1987 Zelous Wheeler

OBITUARIES:

1907 Jake Evans
1913 Tom Dolan
1917 Charlie Geggus
1925 George Bignell
1928 Claude Rossman
1934 Wiley Dunham
1938 Earl Clark
1938 Joe Sommer
1950 Rudy Hulswitt
1951 Pid Purdy
1954 Clay Perry
1954 Fred Payne
1963 Tommy Thompson
1964 Howard Baker
1965 Jimmy Williams
1968 Liz Funk
1976 Chick Autry
1977 Baby Doll Jacobson
1985 Ken Chase
1988 Dutch Kemner
1989 Frank Trechock
1990 Earl Naylor
2003 Phil McCullough
2006 Willie Smith
2009 Craig Stimac

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1886 The Washington Nationals are admitted into the National League. This version of Washington baseball lasted just four seasons.

1964 The American League votes to prevent Charlie Finley from moving the Kansas City Athletics to Louisville.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1986 New York sends Billy Beane, Bill Latham, and Joe Klink to the Twins for Tim Teufel and Pat Crosby.

2013 Three Team Deal! Oakland sends A. J. Cole, Blake Treinen and Ian Krol (in March) to Washington. Seattle sent John Jason to Oakland. Washington sent Mike Morse to Seattle.

Not a big day for blockbuster trades…

Baseball History for January 15th

<— JANUARY 14     JANUARY 16 –>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1856 Charlie Baker

Harvard shortstop who played in 15 games for Chicago of the Union Association. He also umpired a few National League games in 1884. He died on his birthday in 1937 (See Obituaries, below…)

1858 Mike Mansell

There were three Mansell brothers, all of whom played in the same outfield for Albany in 1881. Mike was the best of the three brothers, very fast and a good outfielder, though not quite a top flight hitter. He spent two years in the NL, then three years in the American Association.

1868 John “Jock” Menefee
1872 Bill Fox
1880 Ed Kinsella
1881 Jess Orndorff

Orndorff was born in Chicago, played a handful of games at catcher for Boston (NL) in 1907 before catching for years in the PCL (one story says he was beaned and nearly died), and for a guy who had such a short major league career he sure lasted in the game a long time.  Moving to the west coast, he opened and operated one of the more successful summer baseball camps and was the owner/manager of a team of old-timers who would tour the country and do baseball exhibitions.  When he died on 28 September 1960, he was remembered for being one of the founders of the Association of the Professional Ball Players of America.  Probably deserves a full biography here…

1885 Grover Lowdermilk
1891 Ray Chapman

One assumes you know about him being on the wrong end of a Carl Mays pitch and being the only player to die from being hit by a pitched ball. Chapman was an amazingly good shortstop and was probably on his way to the Hall of Fame had he not be felled by that pitch. For an excellent biography, find the book “The Pitch That Killed” that tells the story of Chapman and Mays.

1891 Leo Townsend
1897 Joe Genewich
1903 Tom Oliver
1915 Dick Culler
1917 Johnny Rucker
1920 Steve Gromek

steve gromek and larry dobyLong time pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and later the Detroit Tigers. Won 123 games as a frequent starter (but usually a swing man). Went 19 – 9 in 1945, and was the winner of Game 4 of the 1948 World Series – the last time the Indians were the champions.  (The photo you see here shows Gromek and Larry Doby, whose two-run homer combined to beat the Braves and Johnny Sain.)  Went 18 – 16 with Detroit in 1954, and followed that with a 13 – 10 mark before time caught up with his fastball.

And he only threw a fastball – his side-armed delivery didn’t allow the Indians pitching coaches to teach him a new pitch. Thankfully, that fastball was plenty fast and good enough. He also worked plenty fast. “I can’t see much sense waiting around and scuffing up dirt and stuff if you like to work fast like I do,” Gromak once told reporters. “I like to throw. Once, when I was with Cleveland, I threw 79 pitches in an hour and 19 minutes. That was a real fast game.”

Gromek was playing shortstop at Class D Mansfield in 1939 when he blew out his left shoulder swinging a bat. (He could swing a bat – he was batting .315 at the time.) Unable to field, the team took a flyer at making the strong thrower a pitcher in 1940 and it worked. He went 18 – 2 over his first two seasons and was called to the big leagues in 1941.

The Hammtramck, MI native and former bowling alley proprietor passed away on 12 March 2002.

Spencer, Jon. “Brave grew to be Tribe member”, Mansfield News-Journal, 15 August 2001, Pages 1B and 4B.

“Fans Get Home To Dinner When Tigers Use Gromek”, Escanaba Daily Press, 08 May 1954, Page 14.

1932 Georges Maranda
1933 Bobby Durnbaugh
1937 Bob Sadowski
1943 Mike Marshall

Remarkably durable reliever who owns the single season record for most games pitched in both leagues, and won the 1974 NL Cy Young award, in part, because he pitched over 200 innings in relief for the Dodgers.

1946 Tom Robson
1947 Gerry Schoen
1947 Tony Solaita
1949 Luis Alvarado
1949 Bobby Grich

Andy Finch and I like to argue over which second baseman was better: Willie Randolph or Frank White, but the truth is that it was Grich.  Durable, dependable, intelligent, and just a whale of a hitter and fielder.

1954 George Cappuzzello
1956 Jerry Narron
1956 Rance Mulliniks
1956 Don Cooper
1960 Curt Brown
1961 Joe Lansford
1963 William Brennan
1964 Jeff Banister
1967 Bill Wertz
1969 Delino DeShields
1973 Wayne Gomes
1974 Ray King
1975 Edwin Diaz
1979 Ben Howard
1980 Matt Holliday
1980 JD Closser
1982 Melvin Dorta
1982 Armando Galarraga

Famously lost a perfect game to a blown call at first base on the 27th batter, then got the next out to complete the no-hitter.  His handling of the incident – a call that gets overturned had replay existed then – showed a professionalism and humility that earned a lot of respect from many people.

1991 Matt Duffy
1992 Alexander “Chi Chi” Gonzalez

OBITUARIES:

1889 Lew Brown
1913 Icicle Reeder
1924 Pat Friel
1937 Eddie Foster
1937 Charlie Baker
1947 Jimmy Sheckard
1952 Ben Houser
1953 Carl East
1961 Joe Price
1964 Ed Henderson
1964 Bob Larmore
1966 Walt Walsh
1966 Stover McIlwain
1970 Bill Leard
1986 Fred Thomas
1988 George Hennessey
1991 Lyle Judy
1992 Charlie Gassaway
1999 Oscar Georgy
2004 Gus Suhr
2004 Jim Devlin
2011 Roy Hartsfield
2013 Bill Glynn

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1942 FDR writes to Judge Landis, “I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going.” FDR also encouraged more night games so workers could see the games.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1888 Pittsburgh purchased Billy Sunday from Chicago for about $2,000.

1926 Cincinnati purchased first baseman Wally Pipp from the Yankees.

1944 The Cubs signed amateur free agent Roy Smalley.

1965 New York sent George Altman to the Cubs for Billy Cowan.

1973 Cleveland signed amateur free agent Pedro Guerrero.

1990 After a year in Japan, Cecil Fielder signs with the Tigers… That worked out well for everybody!

2002 Los Angeles traded Gary Sheffield to the Braves for Brian Jordan, Odalis Perez, and Andrew Brown.

2018 Pittsburgh sent Andrew McCutchen and cash to San Francisco for Kyle Crick, Brian Reynolds, and some international slot cash.

Happy Birthday, Lev Shreve!

leven shreveA member of an historic family in Louisville, Leven Shreve was a pitcher of note in the 1880s.  Born 14 January 1865, Leven Lawrence was the sixth child of Charles and Sally Benbridge, and the Shreve family can trace its roots back to Maryland in the days prior to the American Revolution.

Lev got his start with the Lees in late 1886 – a note about his playing against a New Orleans squad said “Shreve is not a ‘phenomenal pitcher’, but he is a good man to have in a nine and will improve upon acquaintance.” By this time in the Southern League, he already had an offer to pitch for Baltimore for 1887. His major league time includes a tryout with Baltimore where he won three of four decisions before being sent to Indianapolis for the rest of that season (going 5 – 9). He had has fullest season with Indianapolis in 1888 where he went 11 – 24 in his 35 starts, throwing 297.67 innings (all but one game was a complete game). He didn’t last long with Indianapolis in 1889, but was picked up by Detroit and helped them win a pennant. Articles show that he was still pitching as late as 1890 for Minneapolis before returning home to Kentucky to play semi-professional ball.

“Dick Buckley caught Shreve in Indianapolis before Rusie’s debut, and he says Shreve was a wonder. Buckley used to say that slow drop went part way and then stopped. The heavy batters would wrench their backs hitting at it and left-handers would hit their feet chopping at the low ones. Once Shreve struck out nine New Yorks in succession.”

“Little Boy Blue”, Detroit Free Press, 15 May 1897, Page 6.

“Lev Shreve is playing ball again. He isn’t going to ask Hughie Jennings for a job, but he is back-stopping for his 11-year-old son, and neighbors who were wont to watch Lev pitch in the days of his prime say the boy has more speed now than his father ever had.

Shreve was a great pitcher in his day. He was let go by the Baltimore team in 1887 and joined Indianapolis. The team he stacked up against was the old Detroit world’s champion outfit. He let them down with three hits, struck out the whole side and performed a few stunts that sent his name bounding along the telegraph wires. Shreve pitched for Indianapolis next year until he retired with a broken hand.

In 1889 the Detroit International league team was right at the bottom of the ladder and the late George W. Burnham announced that he was the Moses of the occasion. The directors were willing to take any chance at that stage, so they sent Burnham to Indianapolis and he came back with Shreve. They reached here in the morning, and early in the afternoon Lev bought an extra package of cigarettes and went to Recreation park. He donned his uniform, tossed a few rainbow drops to Jake Wells and said he was ready. Just then Burnham marched in wearing a white plug hat and leading a little German band.

That afternoon Shreve’s slow drops alternated with strains of the banders and Detroit won the first game in weeks. Shreve won eight without losing, the other pitchers got into shape, the players were on their toes, and along in midsummer the Detroits were leading the parade.

Shreve has been in business many years and lives in this city, although he is a Kentuckian by birth.

Detroit Free Press, 31 March 1909, Page 4.

Leven’s grandfather, also a Leven, and his great uncle Thomas were the first two people to have bathtubs installed in their Louisville homes in 1856.

Tarvin, A. H. “Finger Bowls and Bathtubs”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 29 May 1949, Page 64.

Leven Lawrence Shreve, 77, former Louisvillian, retired Ford Motor Company executive, and one-time major league ball player, died at 9 a.m. Saturday at his Grosse Point, Mich. home.

Mr. Shreve, a descendant of T. T. Shreve and L. L. Shreve, early Louisville commission merchants, had lived at Detroit forty-five years. He retired fifteen years ago. A half-century ago he played baseball with the Detroit and Indianapolis teams.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Mitchell Shreve; a son, Maj. C. Upton Shreve III, 54th Battalion, Fort Callan, San Diego, Calif.; a brother, Charles U. Shreve, Long Island, N. Y., and a granddaughter…”

“Retired Ford Official, Leven L. Shreve, Dies”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 09 November 1942, Page 16.

Other sources:

“It Was Listless.”, St. Paul Globe, 18 June 1890, Page 5.

“Base Ball.”, Frankfort Roundabout, 25 June 1892, Page 5

“A Slugging Match”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11 October 1886, Page 2.

“Around the Bases.”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11 October 1886, Page 2.

Nemec, David (Ed.). Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume 1, Pages 169-170.

Image of a Leven Shreve baseball card had been shared on Ancestry.com.

1880 US Census

Michigan Death Records

Sons of American Revolution Application

Baseball History for January 14th

<— JANUARY 13     JANUARY 15 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1856 Charles Joseph “Curry” Foley
1867 Bill Kling
1867 Lev Shreve
1868 John Newell
1871 Art Madison
1876 Bill Wolff
1880 Paddy Livingston
1882 Frederick Joseph “Cy” Alberts
1885 John Grover “Nig” Perrine
1891 John Shovlin
1893 Billy Meyer
1894 Art Decatur
1898 Dick Wheeler
1899 Ralph Miller
1902 Smead Jolley
1903 Russ Scarritt
1911 Hank Gornicki
1915 Bob Joyce
1922 Hank Biasatti
1923 Ken Johnson
1930 Pete Daley
1937 Wilfred Charles “Sonny” Siebert
1939 Tim Talton
1942 Dave Campbell
1942 Billy Parker
1943 Ron Clark
1943 Dave Marshall
1951 Derrel Thomas
1952 Terry Forster
1952 Wayne Gross
1954 Danny Boone
1957 Tony Brizzolara
1959 Jeff Keener
1960 Ross Jones
1961 Joe Redfield
1962 Gary Green
1967 Paul Fletcher
1970 Steve Cooke
1973 Troy Brohawn
1973 Rod Myers
1974 Mike Frank
1976 Pat Daneker
1984 Mike Pelfrey
1984 Erick Aybar
1987 Logan Forsythe
1990 J. R. Graham
1991 Stephen Piscotty
1991 Aaron Altherr

OBITUARIES:

1892 Silver Flint
1895 Ed Silch
1908 Henry Krug
1908 Sim Bullas
1909 Togie Pittinger
1913 Hal O’Hagan
1920 William Hyndman
1928 Al Reach
1929 Fred Hayner
1931 Hardy Richardson
1935 Irv Young
1937 Ed Trumbull
1945 Ted Blankenship
1948 Art Benedict
1950 Bill Thomas
1952 Rube Sellers
1953 Charlie Small
1959 John Ganzel
1961 John Cavanaugh
1962 Pep Young
1962 Les Mann
1965 Ellis Johnson
1965 Bill Hopper
1966 Tacks Neuer
1968 Bill Black
1970 Johnny Murphy

Murphy was a Yankee pitcher, but was the general manager of the Miracle Mets and was barely three months removed from watching that victory when he had a heart attack.

1974 Lloyd Brown
1974 Jay Partridge
1994 Sam Vico
2001 Joe Zapustas
2006 Bubba Morton
2008 Don Cardwell
2009 Mike Derrick

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1954 Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe elope… The marriage lasted just 274 days.

1976 Ted Turner purchases the Atlanta Braves for $12 million.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1940 A bunch of Detroit Tigers, including Johnny Sain, are granted free agency when commissioner Judge Landis ruled that 91 players on the Tigers roster or in the farm system had been restricted unfairly by the team. In addition to the release of 91 players, nearly $50,000 was handed out to fourteen players in additional compensation.

1963 The White Sox send Luis Aparicio and Al Smith to the Orioles for Hoyt Wilhelm, Ron Hansen, Pete Ward, and Dave Nicholson.

1964 Pittsburgh signs amateur free agent pitcher Dock Ellis.

1986 First round picks for the January secondary draft included: Moises Alou (Pittsburgh), Kevin Brown (Atlanta), and later Curt Schilling (Boston – 2nd round).

2008 Toronto sent Troy Glaus to the Cardinals for Scott Rolen.