Happy Birthday, Jim Tray

Until someone finds a frame of microfilm that describes Jim Tray’s methods – batting or throwing – we’re left wondering if he batted left or right handed and which hand he threw with…

James Tray had a limited major league career – six games with a lowly Indianapolis Blues squad in the American Association in 1884, though articles noting his signings with various minor league teams in the 1880s never mention that.  Instead, articles mention his days with Pittsburgh in 1884 (did he get a tryout in the spring or something?) and his season with St. Paul in the Northwestern League.  With the Blues, Tray appeared at three positions (C, 1B, RF) and batted .286 (6 for 21) for a team that didn’t win 30 of its 107 games.  You’d think he might have stuck around a little longer but he didn’t.  He was released in late September after his three-week tryout.

Instead, Tray returned to his native Jackson, Michigan home and played semi-pro and minor league baseball for the rest of the 1880s throughout low level Michigan and Indiana leagues, managing one last time (that I can find) in 1890 for the hometown nine.  He spent a year everywhere – Kalamazoo, Saginaw, South Bend, Jackson, but rarely saw a second season in the same dugout.  Normally Tray earned his money behind the plate, but he’d move around as needed.  He caught Dave Foutz in St. Paul and Bob Hart in South Bend, but in later years he spent more time at first base or in the outfield.

Tray was one in a rather large Irish family.  Born 14 February 1860 to a day laborer named Michael James Tray (originally Trahee or Trehay) and Margaret Lanigan Tray, both immigrants, James was the third of eight kids evenly split between boys and girls.  At least three of the boys played ball.  William (b. 1863) was a pitcher and Eddie (b. 1865) was, like James, willing to crouch behind the plate.  Eddie also played some minor league ball, including spending time in Galveston and at least one season with brother Jim in Michigan when Jim was a player-manager.

“Manager Tray is the well-known catcher formerly of St. Paul and Pittsburgh, and from his long experience in base ball matters and an extensive knowledge of players, it is safe to say that the team that will represent Jackson in the Michigan League will be one that will do credit to the city.  Ed Tray, of last year’s Galveston club, will be signed as a catcher, and if he does not lead the leage in that position your correspondent is very mistaken; he is also a hard batter and can play almost any position in a satisfactory manner.”

– “The Jackson Club Reorganized.” The Sporting Life, 24 April 1889, Page 1.

There aren’t a ton of baseball highlights (the sports pages where Tray played were still rather limited in coverage), but there was one semi-pro game he played with brother William where Jim cranked out a pair of grand slam homers.  And, Jim must have been well respected given he was frequently a captain or manager.  Usually a gentleman on the field, a couple of articles from 1889 note that his patience was tested at least a couple of times.  That season, he was fined at least twice for kicking and one game was nearly forfeited until Tray paid his $2 fine to the umpire.  (I liked that the player was fined immediately by the umpire.)

Anyway – when his days as a player ended, Tray became a saloon keeper in Jackson.  He never married, living with family until his early death, a heart attack felling Tray on 28 July 1905.

Sources

“Northwestern League Games”, Detroit Free Press, 15 July 1884, Page 8.

“Liners”, Detroit Free Press, 17 July 1886, Page 8.

“Great Work By Tray Brothers”, Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 2 June 1887, Page 7.

“Kalamazoo Gets a Good Catcher”, Detroit Free Press, 15 June 1887, Page 2.

Galveston Daily News, 17 February 1888, Page 15.

“Base Ball.”, Nappanee News, 12 April 1888, Page 1.

Elkhart Daily Review, 22 March 1889, Page 3.

“The Jackson Club Reorganized”, The Sporting Life, 24 April 1889, Page 1.

“Michigan League. Lansing, 13; Jackson, 11”, Chicago Inter Ocean, 06 July 1889, Page 2.

“Kalamazoo Beats Jackson”, Detroit Free Press, 23 August 1889, Page 8.

“Gossip”, Detroit Free Press, 01 September 1889, Page 4.

“Saginaw, 7 – Jackson, 1”, Detroit Free Press, 27 September 1889, Page 8.

“The Michigan League.” The Sporting Life, 3 March 1890, Page 16.

Death Certificate

US Census Data, 1860, 1870, 1900

Baseball-Reference: Jim Tray

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Baseball History for February 2

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1860 Ed Halbriter
1862 Bert Dorr
1863 Ed Keas
1872 Dale Gear
1874 Charlie Frisbee
1878 Hub Hart
1878 Emil Haberer
1881 Orval Overall
1883 Bill Abstein
1884 Ray Demmitt

St. Louis Browns infielder, and later a semi-professional teammate of George Halas (below).

1886 Herb Juul
1887 Mutz Ens
1887 Walt Kuhn
1889 Ernie Wolf
1893 Cy Warmoth
1895 George Lees
1895 George Halas

Yep – that George Halas.  Before he founded the Decatur Staleys and moved them to Chicago to become the Chicago Bears, he was an outfielder with the Yankees.

1900 Frank Mack
1900 Willie Kamm
1901 Otto Miller
1907 Jerry Byrne
1908 Bobby Coombs
1908 Wes Ferrell
1920 Zeb Eaton
1922 Sheldon Jones
1923 Red Schoendienst

Cardinals infielder and outfielder (also Giants and Braves) – one of the better switch hitters in baseball history and was a coach or manager for the Cardinals for what seemed like forever (at least while I was a kid).  In truth, he was pretty much done managing in 1976, but helped out in a pinch in 1980 and 1990 as he was on the coaching staff until 1995.

I had forgotten that after his firing in 1976, he spent two years on the coaching staff of the Oakland As.

1925 Joe Szekely
1927 Fred Waters
1931 Ted Tappe
1933 Jack Reed
1937 Don Buford

I remember him best with the Orioles when the Orioles were really good.  However, it’s still a gas to see him with the White Sox uniform in his first few baseball cards.

1938 Max Alvis
1950 Dale Murray
1951 Leo Foster
1952 Warren Brusstar
1954 John Tudor

The lefthanded version of Bret Saberhagen.  Couldn’t stay healthy all the time but if he could find his way to the mound would win his start.  His best seasons in St. Louis were amazing, really, but his pitching strength worked to the strength of the Cardinals defense.  Lots of people hitting to the best fielders on the team – Ozzie, Pendleton, and the fast outfielders (Willie McGee and Vince Coleman).

1954 Puchy Delgado
1954 Rob Dressler
1956 Manny Sarmiento
1957 Craig Chamberlain
1958 Pat Tabler

Fair hitting first baseman, mostly with Cleveland, who I remember being unusually successful batting with the bases loaded.

1960 Buddy Biancalana

1985 World Series hero, but those were his best couple of weeks in his baseball life, actually.  Fine fielder, not much of a hitter, but a decent guy with a great on-air personality and therefore was able to get a lot of mileage out of his two weeks of fame.

1962 Paul Kilgus
1962 Pat Clements
1968 Scott Erickson
1972 Jared Fernandez
1972 Melvin Mora
1977 Adam Everett
1983 Ronny Cedeno
1983 Jason Vargas

LSU pitcher, then Long Beach State player…Hit a pinch hit grand slam in his first at bat at LSU.  Drafted by Marlins in 2004 in second round, made the majors in 2005, and you could tell he was cagey and smart even then.

1984 Chin-Lung Hu

You see this guy from time to time in a picture of him standing on first base (Hu’s on first) – it was funny the first time.

That was 2007 – the Dodgers signed the Taiwanese slugger, but he didn’t stick – after four years and many trips up and down to and from the minors, the Mets gave him a shot in 2011.  Out of American baseball since 2012.

1985 Scott Maine

University of Miami grad, drafted by Arizona in 2007, but went to the Cubs for Aaron Heilman prior to making the majors.  The Cubs gave him shots in three different seasons (2010 – 2012) but never stuck.  The Indians gave him nine games in 2012 and he got bombed in six innings.  Since then, he’s been on three major league and two minor league programs without getting his career on track.

1988 Travis Snider

First round pick of Toronto in 2006. Long ball hitter with a reputation for needing a platoon partner; also a bit of a free swinger…  Moved to Pittsburgh, signed with Baltimore and wound up back with the Pirates.  Starts 2016 with a minor league deal and a spring training invitation with the Royals.

1988 Brad Peacock

A local for me – grew up in Palm Beach, FL.  Drafted by Nationals in 2006, worked his way through the minors before getting quick look in 2011.  Traded to Oakland, then sent to Astros in Jed Lowrie trade prior to spring training in 2013.  Made the rotation for parts of 2013 and 2014.  Had surgery on his hip in 2014; then only made one start in 2015 before needing surgery to remove bone spurs in his back…

1989 Logan Darnell
1990 Daniel Winkler
1991 Matt Boyd
1993 Adrian Houser

OBITUARIES:

1918 Jack Crooks
1920 Frank Quinn
1929 Mike Walsh
1929 Thorny Hawkes
1941 Ambrose McGann
1950 John Butler
1951 Bill Sowders
1953 Mike Dejan
1961 Red Holt
1963 Emil Planeta
1969 Ray Schmandt
1972 Dick Burrus
1978 Archie Wise
1980 Jack Rothrock
1981 Al Van Camp
1997 Art Merewether
2002 Andy Hansen
2015 Dave Bergman

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1876 The National League is official – featuring teams in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

1936 Baseball announces that the first five members of its Hall of Fame will be Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1943 Boston signs Al Simmons.  Simmons was pretty much done – but he tried, I guess.  It was during the war years and there wasn’t much talent left.

1999 San Diego sends Mark Sweeney and Greg Vaughn to the Reds for Reggie Sanders, Damian Jackson and Josh Harris.

2005 Chicago sends Sammy Sosa (and a bunch of money to cover the contract) to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston, Jr., Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers.

2008 Minnesota sends ace Johan Santana to the Mets for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra.

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Baseball History for February 1

BIRTH ANNOUCEMENTS:

1858 Lew Brown

Baseball nomad of the 1870s and 1880s, kicked out of the game for consumption and insubordination in 1882.  Mostly caught, but played some first base and appeared in two games as a pitcher.

Baseball Profiles tells a remarkable story about the guy.  Brown was a pretty good baseball player – a tough catcher who was among the last to play without any gear.  He boxed John L. Sullivan and was friendly with other boxers despite coming from a family of wealth.  Brown made the majors and caught 100 games in a season before turning 20.  He was very
popular in Boston, as you can imagine, and once even appeared as a wrestler on stage.

His arm got weak as he gained weight – by the age of 30, he was pretty portly.  Brown once got in a fight at his bar in late 1889.  To break up the fight, Joe Goss’s widow hit him across the legs with an iron pipe and shattered his knee cap.  (Goss was once a heavyweight champ himself.)  Told he would have to have his leg amputated, he went bananas and died – his body buried in the same grave as Joe Goss.

1867 Pete Wood

Ontario born pitcher for Buffalo and Philadelphia in the 1880s.  Brother Fred also played briefly with Buffalo – they were both teens.  Short career – left baseball to become a doctor in both Canada and Montana.

1874 Harry Bemis

Handsome Harry Bemis was fine catcher for the Cleveland Indians in the first decade of the American League.  Kind of a smallish guy (5′ 6″ – 155), but tough as nails.  Ty Cobb once ran him over in a play at the plate, so Bemis beat the tar out of Cobb by smacking him upside the head with the ball until the umpire dragged him away…

1875 Billy Sullivan

Longtime catcher for the White Sox at the founding of the American League, though originally spent two years with the Boston in the National League.  Played in more than 1000 games, but with stats you might not notice…  (Batted .213, for example, with 21 career homers.)

His son, Billy Jr., was a catcher, too (Detroit), and they were the first father/son combination to appear in the World Series.

Trey Strecker wrote the SABR bio of this early AL defensive standout.

1882 Joe Harris

Red Sox pitcher from 1905 and 1907…  Went 2 – 21 in 1906.  Threw 20 straight innings of shutout ball against Jack Coombs during the 1906 pennant race before losing in the 24th inning…  Brought back after going 2 – 21, and lost seven straight decisions.  Returned to his native Melrose, Mass to become a firefighter for the next 30 years.

Bill Nowlin wrote his SABR Bio

1884 Joe Connolly

Outfielder with the Boston Braves between 1913 and 1916.  A legend in Rhode Island, and a pretty good major leaguer.

SABR Bio by Dennis Auger:

1884 Jim Kelly (Robert John Taggert)

Pirates utility outfielder in 1914, also a Federal League outfielder in 1915, and came back to play well for the Boston Braves in 1918.  Used Joe Kelly in his early baseball days, but changed to his real name for the 1918 season… Played semi-professional baseball into his 60s(!).

I encourage you to read his SABR Bio written by Bill Lamb – fascinating.

1890 Earle Mack

Son of Connie, brother of Roy…  Went to Niagara U. and Notre Dame, played five games for his dad.  Spent many years in baseball as a coach, scout, and later owner.  The Connie Mack who was a senator was his nephew…

1892 Tom McGuire

Chicago native who pitched in 1914 with the Federal League Whales, and one game with the Black Sox in 1919.

1892 Oland “Dixie” McArthur

Alabama native…  Pitched an inning with the Pirates in 1914.  It was the last inning of a July 10 game against the Phillies.

1894 Walt Golvin

Cubs first baseman for a week in 1922.  Batted twice, made two outs, but drove in a run.

1894 Rube Parnham

James Parnham pitched briefly with Connie Mack in 1916 and 1917, but gained his fame as an ace for the Baltimore Orioles in the International League.  Won 33 games, with 28 complete games, for the 1923 IL pennant winners.  His reputation for being a bit dimwitted earned him the Rube nickname…  Went 167 – 102 in the minors…

1898 Bud Messenger

The pride of Grand Blanc, MI, made two starts and won two decisions with the 1924 Cleveland Indians.  Won 178 games in the minors, much of it with Atlanta and New Orleans in the Southern Association.

1903 Carl Reynolds

LaRue, TX native who had a fine career in the 1920s and 1930s with the White Sox, Senators, Browns, Red Sox, Senators (again), and finally with the Cubs.  Hit .302 over 13 seasons, including a 1930 season where he hit .359 with 22 homers and 104 RBI (and 18 triples in spacious Comiskey Park).  Finished with 107 triples and 80 homers in his career…

Played all over the outfield, but his strong throwing arm usually meant he was playing in right…

1908 Vince Barton

Cubs outfielder in the early 1930s, but couldn’t hit .240 when everyone was hitting .300.  From Edmonton, Canada…

1910 Dutch Lieber

Connie Mack gave him a couple of chances with the 1935 and 1936 teams.  Wasn’t horrible in 1935, pitching to a 3.09 ERA in 18 appearances, but he was overmatched in 1936.  Was a reasonably successful pitcher in the PCL for the 1930s, mostly with the Mission Reds.

1915 Woody Abernathy

Giants pitcher just after World War II…  First name was Virgil – Woody was short for his middle name, Woodrow.

1917 Elmer Burkart

Temple grad who got a few opportunities to pitch with the Phillies in the late 1930s.  Minor league record was 48 – 77.  Ouch.

1919 Norm Brown

Lost two years to World War II; pitched briefly for Connie Mack but spent the bulk of his 15 year baseball life in the minors.  Won 21 games for Lincoln in the Western League at 34 years old…

1921 Dave Madison

LSU grad who pitched for three AL teams in the early 1950s.  Missed time while fighting in Korea.  After his career ended, he spent a number of years as a minor league manager and scout for the Yankees.

1930 Chuck Churn

Answer to the trivia question: What Dodger pitcher got the win when Elroy Face got his only loss while going 18 – 1 in 1959?  Got three years in the majors, but spent 18 years in the minors, pitching in 548 contests…

1931 Riverboat Bob Smith

Lefty pitcher for the Red Sox, Cubs, and Indians in 1958 and 1959, signed by the Red Sox out of that evil university that bolted the Big 12 to join its confederacy brethren of the SEC (Mizzou).  Tolerable for the Sox in 1958, but traded to the Cubs for Chuck Tanner.  Made one appearance and gave up something like 29 runs (not really, it was 6 runs in 2/3 of an inning), so he was traded to Cleveland for Randy Jackson.  Spent the better part of 13 years in the minors…

1934 Bob Conley

Made two starts with the Phillies in 1958, a local minor league star with the Miami Marlins of the International League…

1943 Ron Woods

Fourth or fifth outfielder for the Yankees, Tigers, and Expos.  Signed Straight Outta Compton (High School) by the Pirates…  I’m betting a few members of this group remember him – as a kid he showed some power and batting skills – and then they changed the strike zone.  He couldn’t hit consistently in the majors, which led to his getting traded every couple of years.  When his major league career ended, he played for Chunichi in Japan…

1944 Paul Blair

Three fourths of the earth is covered by water – the rest is covered by Paul Blair.

Eight time gold glove winner, played a year with the Mets as an amateur in the minors and was drafted by Baltimore in 1962. Pretty good hitter, too – except for 1968 – but struggled some after getting his nose broken by a Ken Tatum pitch in 1970.  Helped the Orioles win two World Series and appear in several other playoff series.

After his career ended, he coached in college (Fordham, Coppin State) and in various capacities for the Astros, Orioles, and independent leagues.  Died of a heart attack in 2013.

1944 Hal King

Power hitting catcher who played for Houston, Atlanta, Texas, and Cincinnati from 1967 to 1974.  Undrafted out of high school and never went to college – but the Angels found out about him and signed him three years later.  Once hit 30 homers with Asheville in the Carolina League in 1967, leading to his first call to the big leagues.

Productive hitter but prone to slumps, which kept him from playing regularly.  Patient hitter, too – though his career batting average was .221, he got on base in nearly a third of his plate appearances.

Played in the Mexican Leagues following the 1974 season…

1947 Danny Thompson

Oklahoma State grad signed by the Twins.  Traded with Bert Blyleven to Texas in 1976.  Found to have Leukemia in 1973, but continued to play shortstop – pinch hit in October 1976, and died ten weeks later due to complications following surgery on his spleen at the Mayo Clinic.

1947 Jim McKee

Otterbein College alum who pitched for the Pirates in 1972 and 1973.  Sent back to the minors in 1974, didn’t pitch too badly, but wasn’t going to get a job…  Became a teacher and athletics coach; collapsed and died suddenly in 2002.

1950 Don Castle

Movie star of the 1930s and 1940s, including the western Stampede…

Oops wrong guy.

Southern Miss grad drafted by the Washington Senators in the first round in 1968.  (Taken two slots ahead of Greg Luzinski, nine spots ahead of Gary Matthews, and behind Foli, Munson, and Valentine…)  Made it to the bigs with the Rangers in 1973, where he would bat 13 times and get four hits as a DH/PH.  Couldn’t get out of AAA after that and retired after the 1978 season.

1955 Ernie Camacho

First round pick of the As out of Salinas, CA, alternated between decent and struggling seasons – need to look at baseball cards to see why.  Most of the time, he was a reliever for the Indians, sometimes as a closer (45 career saves), but he played for five other teams…

1955 Mark Souza

First round pick of the Royals in 1974, took six years and three teams before landing a cup of coffee with the As in 1980.  Returned to the minors, he retired soon after.

1956 Geoff Combe

18 appearances for the Reds in 1980 and 1981, credited with a lone win.

1957 Tom Wieghaus

Chicago Heights native who caught briefly (very briefly) for the Expos and Astros.  Hitless in 13 plate appearances, but he got a sacrifice fly for a lone RBI in 1984.

1960 Cecilio Guante

Pirates reliever involved in the Doug Drabek trade (he went to the Yankees).  His 1987 season in New York was a disaster and was shipped to Texas where he pitched decent enough for two years.  Out of baseball after 1990.

1966 Darrin Chapin

Cleveland State grad who spent a decade in the minors, but got a couple of looks with the Yankees (1991) and Phillies (1992).

1966 Eduardo Zambrano

Venezuelan utility player for the Cubs in 1993-1994.  Not a horrible player, but not destined for stardom, either.  Boston signed him in 1985, took several years to figure things out but earned a shot with the Cubs after hitting .303 at AAA Iowa.  Out of the majors in 1995 and out of baseball before the century ended.

1967 Tim Naehring

Boston infielder of the mid-1990s whose career was just getting rolling when a shoulder injury derailed him and ended his career at 30.  Now with the Yankees front office.

1967 Juan Guerrero

Infielder out of San Pedro de Macoris, infielder for the 1992 Houston Astros, batting .200 in about 140 at bats.

1968 Kent Mercker

Reds broadcaster, gutsy pitcher who came back from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2000.  Threw a combined no-hitter in 1991, and his own no-no in 1994.

Answer to the trivia question: Who is the last Atlanta Brave to throw a no-hitter?

After six seasons with the Braves, he became a baseball nomad, eventually playing for nine total teams – and making four different stops with the Reds.

1970 Joe Vitko

Mets draft pick in 1989, got to the majors in 1992 and made one start for New York.  Tall dude – 6′ 8″ – must have gotten hurt after that because he was done the next year and couldn’t do the job in 1994 for AA Binghamton.

1970 Edwin Hurtado

Venezuelan reliever for the Mariners and Blue Jays, but got smacked around enough to regularly lose jobs…

1972 Rich Becker

Third round pick of the Twins in 1990, got to the big leagues by 1993 and impressed early.  Regular centerfielder through 1997 and then roamed the league rather the field, playing for the Mets, Orioles, Brewers, A’s and Tigers.  Was actually a productive hitter in 1996 and 1997, but his bat left him as a Met and he became a fourth outfielder.  Not sure why, but his career ended in 2000.

1976 Phil Norton

Cub draft pick out of Texarkana College…  Pitched for the Cubs and Reds between 2000 and 2004; the only time he stayed a while was with the Reds in 2004 when he made 69 appearances and couldn’t get his ERA under 5.00…

1978 Erick Almonte

Dominican infielder for the Yankees who replaced Derek Jeter briefly in the 2003 season.  Spent most of the next decade in the minors, though got a callup for the Brewers in 2011.

Brother Hector played for the Marlins, Red Sox, and Expos.

According to a note in Wikipedia, was the first major leaguer to be placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list in 2011.  Use that for trivia and impress your friends.

1978 Dusty Bergman

Lefty reliever out of Hawaii-Manoa, made a lone appearance for the Angels in 2004 and has a career ERA of 13.50.  Pitched for two years professionally in Germany, but now coaches baseball in Arizona.

1980 Hector Luna

Undrafted free agent; spent five years in the minors before getting a shot with the Cards in 2004 – and homered in his first at bat.  Has a lot of stickers on his suitcase – the last three years has played in Japan.

1982 Jean Machi

Signed out of Venezuela by the Phillies, spent forever in the minors before the Giants pulled him out of AAA in 2012.  Had a couple of good years, but struggled in 2015 and was moved to the Red Sox.  Signed a minor league deal with the Cubs for this season.

1983 Dane De La Rosa

Drafted by Texas in 2001 but went back to college…  Yankees drafted in out of juco in 2002. De La Rosa made the tour of the low and independent minors for nearly a decade before landing as a reliever for the Rays in 2011 – 2012.  Pitched well for the Angels in 2013, but had a rough start to 2014 and was out of baseball mid-season 2015..

1985 Elian Herrera

Dominican utility player, signed by the Dodgers in 2006, made the big leagues in 2012.  Claimed by the Brewers after the 2013 season, once had five hits in a game while batting in the eighth spot…  Non-tendered for this season, the Dodgers invited him to spring training in February.

Bit of a free swinger, but he gets hits and can drive the ball.

1985 Colin Curtis

Yankees draft pick out of Arizona State; briefly made the show in 2010.  Beat testicular cancer as a teen, but couldn’t beat a shoulder injury in 2011, and out of baseball after 2012.

1986 Justin Sellers

Son of Jeff Sellers, drafted out of Cal State-Fullerton by Oakland…  In a couple of years he was hustled to Chicago, who turned him over to Los Angeles.  Got to the majors in 2011 where he became a utility infielder, played briefly as needed for the Dodgers for a few years but didn’t hit.  Got sold to Cleveland and did much the same thing.

Currently looking for a gig.

1986 Kristopher Negron

Red Sox draft pick in 2006; took six years to sneak into the bigs with the Reds mostly as a utility player (can play every position except catch).  After a decent year in 2014, struggled to a .140 batting average in 2015.  Now looking to latch on with the Cubs.

1987 Joe Mahoney

Orioles draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Richmond, took a while to make it to the bigs.  Got a couple of shots in 2012 and 2013, but never stuck – eight career hits, but one was a homer.  Retired after the 2013 season.

1987 Austin Jackson

Remember when he was a budding star for the Tigers?  Traded to Seattle in 2014, and was a stretch run addition for the Cubs in 2015.  Whatever power he used to have in 2012 (55 extra base hits) seems to be gone; can still run some, but not as well as he used to (who can, really?)…  Could still start for a lot of teams, but likely a fourth outfielder if he stays with the Cubs.

1988 Brett Anderson

Former Oakland starter, was the #4 starter for the Dodgers after a season with the Rockies but struggled in three starts in 2016…  Hoping to stick with the Cubs in 2017.  Stillwater, OK native because his dad was the head coach for OSU.

After a 30 start rookie season, has started to collect injuries – elbow (including Tommy John surgery), oblique, broken foot, broken finger, herniated disc surgery, blisters…

Very hard to run on, picks off someone every sixth start.

1990 Stolmy Pimentel

First major leaguer named Stolmy.  Signed by Boston out of the Dominican Republic when just 16 years old, moved around some before landing with Pittsburgh and making the bigs in 2013.  Traded to Texas for the 2015 season, signed with the Mets, but finished last season playing in Mexico.  Fastball/Slider/Change guy, gets a few Ks and isn’t crazy wild, which will work for a few innings…

1991 Darnell Sweeney

Florida native, attended UCF after graduating from American Senior HS.  Drafted by the Marlins out of high school, but chose the college route, and then taken by the Dodgers in 2012. He sure does move around some…  Two high schools, two franchises, five positions on the field – I wonder if he can stand still!

Pretty quick – once had 16 triples in a season (2013) and has 134 minor league stolen bases – though he sure gets caught a lot.  Was part of the trade that sent Chase Utley from Philadelphia to the Dodgers – the Phillies got Sweeney and pitcher John Richy.  Got a taste of the bigs with the Phillies in 2015 (Cesar Hernandez got hurt) and wasn’t horrible.  His first major league hit was a pinch hit homer off of Marlins pitcher Justin Nicolino.  He didn’t stick and spent 2016 in AAA Lehigh Valley and struggled to hit (.233, a little less power, 100 Ks in 400 ABs).  When the season was over, he was traded back to Los Angeles along with Darin Ruf for infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick.

OBITUARIES:

1890 George Trenwith
1902 Bill Sharsig
1912 Jim Doyle
1914 Sam Weaver
1928 Hughie Jennings
1929 Walt Wilmot
1945 Tubby Spencer
1946 Dad Hale
1948 Jim McCormick
1954 Norman Plitt
1958 Mysterious Walker
1969 Razor Ledbetter
1973 Lou Bevil
1974 Claude Berry
1978 Jack Saltzgaver
1979 Milt Byrnes
1980 Fred Walters
1980 Greg Mulleavy
1982 Ed Edelen
1988 Red Phillips
1999 Paul Calvert
2001 Sam Harshaney
2006 Jake Wade
2007 Ray Berres
2012 Herb Adams

YOU SHOULLD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1914 The Giants and White Sox, making a world tour to promote our national pasttime, stop to play baseball in the Saharan Desert in Egypt.  Everybody wins – except the game ends in the tie, 3 – 3.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1913 Jim Thorpe signs with the New York Giants.

1954 New York trades Bobby Thomson and Sam Calderone to Milwaukee for Johnny Antonelli, Billy Klaus, Don Liddle, and Ebba St. Claire.  (I need to learn about that name…)

1969 First round picks of the January (Secondary) Amateur Draft include:

1) Derrel Thomas (Houston)
17) Ross Grimsley (Cincinnati)
19) Al Hrabosky (St. Louis)

Lee Lacy (2nd Round) and Steve Stone (4th Round) were taken later.

1985 St. Louis acquires Jack Clark from the Giants for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Gary Rajsich, and Jose Uribe.  And yet it seems fair.

1999 New York sends Mike Lowell to the Marlins for Ed Yarnall, Mark Johnson, and Todd Noel.  It was a STEAL for the Fish.

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Happy Birthday, George Halas!

Papa Bear George Halas is most famous for being the original head coach and eventually owner of the Chicago Bears, which he owned and/or coached from 1920 to his death in 1983.

However, Halas was not just a great football coach and owner – or, for that matter, a great football player, and he was that, too.  He was also a first class outfielder that once so impressed the manager of the Yankees that he was added to the big league roster without having to serve an apprenticeship in the minors.  And, he was a letter winning college basketball player.

George Stanley Halas was born 2 February 1895 to Frank and Barbara Halas.  Both Frank and Barbara had been born in what used to be Bohemia (and later was part of Austria-Hungary and finally Czechoslovakia).  Frank was a grocer and Barbara handled raising four kids – Frank, Jr., Lilly, Walter, and George.  The last two were very successful athletes – both Walter and George played all sports while students at Crane Technical High School and later at the University of Illinois.

(Frank, Jr. was later a postmaster rising quickly through the postal ranks and his wife, Mary, would become the president of the woman’s auxiliary of National Federation of Postal Employees, working nationally to improve the pay for postal workers all over the country.)

Of the two younger sons, George was likely the better athlete.  Walter was a fine baseball player, a strong pitcher who would pitch at the collegiate level, spend a couple of seasons in the low minors and in Chicago area semi-professional leagues, and eventually get into coaching at the high school and college level.  In fact, Walter would eventually become a baseball and basketball coach at Notre Dame, and spent some of his fall time as an assistant football coach for Knute Rockne.

George, though, was an excellent player in three sports.  As a baseball player, he was remarkably aggressive and fast.  He could play any position on the field, though he rarely pitched or caught as his athleticism usually meant he was in the middle of the infield or the outfield.  He played end and fullback at the University of Illinois, and walked onto the college basketball team and was so good defensively that he not only lettered in basketball, but he was voted captain as a junior.

As a freshman in Crane Tech, the high school indoor baseball team lost its best pitcher, Walter Halas, when Walter played in a game that included a professional player, though that player (Charlie Bird) was actually paid to be an umpire and not a player…  Anyway, Halas took on some relief pitching duties, played shortstop and outfielder, and led Crane Tech to the county championship in 1910.  They repeated the trick in 1912, going undefeated (by then Walter was a member of the Illini) for the season.

Halas at Crane Tech.png

The 1910 Champion Crane Tech High School Indoor Baseball team.  George Halas is in the bottom row, second from the left.  His brother Walter isn’t pictured as he was kicked off the team for appearing in a game with a paid professional player in a church league game.

George was not just an aggressive player – he was TOUGH.  Football was as savage as you can imagine and the limited padding of the days (and lack of hard helmets and face masks) led to frequent serious injuries.  As a freshman at Illinois, Halas joined quarterback Potsy Clark as members of “The Order of the Broken Jaw” society – though Halas broke his jaw in two places.  In later seasons, he would break his collarbone and a cheekbone playing football.

However, he shined equally brightly on the diamond.  In 1916, Halas led his team by batting .312 and didn’t make a single error in the field.  Illinois won the Big Nine baseball championship in consecutive seasons, creating a Midwestern baseball dynasty.  Meanwhile, he was helping the basketball team become a powerhouse in the conference.  Writers praised his effort: “Halas, without previous experience, has developed rapidly into a reliable guard,” wrote a Decatur Daily Review scribe. “Halas incidentally bids fair to be one of the greatest all round athletes in Illinois history, as he has won his letter in baseball and is certain to win a place on (Bob) Zuppke’s eleven this fall.”

In 1917, he would lead the baseball nine from the lead-off spot, adding a two homer game to beat the University of Chicago, and later that fall he would shift from right halfback to right end and wind up catching a key bomb for a touchdown to beat Purdue. In between, he would register for the draft by claiming he was the sole provider for his mom (Frank, Sr. had passed away) and would be using his engineering degree working for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad (eventually merged into the Burlington Northern).  This managed to stave off his service work for half a year – he finished school and joined the navy and was put into the public works department at the Great Lakes Naval Academy.

Of course, Halas was training to be in the navy – even though he had spent two years in college in cadet training.  Meanwhile, though, the Great Lakes Naval Academy was also the finest athletic program in the military.  His baseball team featured Red Faber and his football team included All Americans Hugh Blacklock (Michigan) and Paddy Driscoll (Northwestern).  Driscoll himself was a multi-sport athlete.  When not playing quarterback for Northwestern, he found himself signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1917 and spending some time in the Pacific Coast League.  After former Yale footballer Bo Olcott was fired as the coach of the football team, Driscoll and Halas took over training the eleven and turned them into the nation’s championship military football team.  The Great Lakes eleven finished the season playing in the Rose Bowl (the fifth Rose Bowl featured military teams, considering that we just concluded the first World War), with Halas earning the game’s Most Valuable Player award.  (As an aside, Driscoll and Halas were both removed from that team briefly during the early practices for falling behind in their studies.)

Playing in Chicago for the Great Lakes nine, Halas was courted by both the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians.  However, his former baseball coach at Illinois, George Huff, told him to hold out for the best offer.  And that offer came from a team that needed a new right fielder, the New York Yankees.

As 1919 started, there are a number of articles announcing Halas’s signing, but few praised him as much as that of umpire Billy Evans who gushed about Halas’s skills.

“I am inclined to think that when the New York Americans take the field for the opening game of the 1919 season, Halas will be in center field.  Only lack of experience will keep him from landing the job, because he has remarkable ability to all departments.

“Halas is a graduate of [the] University of Illinois.  That means Halas has a pretty good idea of how baseball should be played, because no college coach knows more baseball than George Huff, or knows better how to reach his players.”

“He is fast and a daring slider.  He hits the dirt much after the style of Jack Murray, for years with the New York Giants.  He hits the turf hard and at full speed, and on reaching the bag is instantly on his feet.” – Evans, Billy. “Watch George Halas Perform As Yankee, Tip by Billy Evans”, Chicago Tribune, 04 February 1919, Page 18.

Halas was a rugged six foot tall and weighed about 180 pounds in fighting trim.  He was frighteningly fast – Ty Cobb without the mean spirit.  Not only could he run, he could throw…

“When (Wally) Pipp had done enough, Huggins sent George Halas, the collegian gob athletic start, to the first corner, and the youngster shot the ball around the infield so fast that he had the other infielders yelling for help.” – New York Times, 26 March 1919.

And, he could hit for power…

“Halas is an outfielder by choice, but can also play first base and has the habit of hitting the ball out of the park…”  – Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune, 28 March 1919.

And he hit from both sides of the plate.

“The debate is still on as to which side Halas should bat from.  He seems to be ambidextrous in this regard, switching from port to starboard with baffling ease and celerity.  Miller Huggins is of the opinion that it would be best for him to keep his club on the starboard side.  Right now, though, he seems to be doing pretty well from either side.” – W.O. McGeehan, New York Tribune, 03 April 1919.

halas-in-wire-copy-photo-1919

A wire copy photo of Halas during spring training in 1919 with the Yankees.

Unfortunately, after making such a big splash and being installed as the team’s leadoff hitter, Halas injured his leg or hip (it was called a Charley Horse) by stretching a double into a triple and missed most of the last two or three weeks of camp.  When he finally was healthy enough to play, he lost the timing of his bat.  He made four starts – got one hit in each of the first two starts, then went 0 – 5 against Walter Johnson (heck, the whole team managed two hits in twelve innings) and then was collared in four at bats with three strikeouts in the fourth start.  The rookie was likely pressing.

Taken out of the lineup, he was given two shots to pinch run and in both cases was picked off by the pitcher right after entering the game.  After mid-May, you didn’t see Halas in the lineup except as an occasional defensive replacement, pinch hitter, or pinch runner.  He still had just two hits in twenty-two at bats when he was optioned to St. Paul for outfielder Al Wickland in July.

Halas spent the last two months of the season with St. Paul, batting .274 in 39 games with a modicum of power.  Still, the Yankees kept him on their restricted list heading into 1920 – even after they signed another outfielder, Babe Ruth, from the Red Sox.  Ruth didn’t replace Halas (Sammy Vick did), but since nobody had played well enough in right field all season, Ruth was needed to do what Halas, Vick and a few other failed to do.  That being said, Halas was still in the Yankee’s plans.  The hope was that Halas would come back and get better with another year of training.

Instead, Halas did what he always did when baseball season ended.  He played football.  He signed with the Hammond Crackerjacks – he was an end, Paddy Driscoll was the QB, and the line was loaded with various players from Midwest colleges – and they were likely the best professional football team in America, except – perhaps – for a couple of squads who played in the Ohio Football Association.  Though the team claimed to be from Hammond, Indiana, the Hammonds played football in the baseball park where the Chicago Cubs played baseball.

When that season ended, Halas took a job with the Staley Manufacturing company – a starch plant owned by A. E. Staley in Decatur, Illinois.  Staley was a HUGE sports junkie and his factory ran a number of semi-pro sports teams in all sports: basketball, football, baseball, and more.  At first, Halas worked during the day and played baseball in the late afternoons and weekends.

george-halas-decatur-staley-outfielder

Halas taking cuts during practice with the Decatur Staleys

This was no ordinary industrial league team.  At second base was former Browns second baseman Ray Demmitt.  Bobby Veach, like Halas, had a brother named Walter.  Walter Veach was a minor league catcher now playing for the Staleys.  The other ten players who played regularly all served time in various minor league levels.  The manager would one day find his name in the Hall of Fame: Iron Man Joe McGinnity.  Once in a while, Joe would pitch.  Just not very often.  And, for opening day they convinced a congressman and son of a former president to toss out the first pitch – William McKinley.

The Staleys rolled up win after win – and the best player on the team, by far, was George Halas.  He led the team in batting at .328 – Demmitt was 35 points behind him.  The leader in doubles?  Homers?  Stolen Bases?  Yeah – Halas.  The Yankees wanted him back but Halas declined.  He had a great job, was being paid to play baseball, and could roll right into football or basketball season.

When the football season started in 1920, the Staleys landed perhaps two of the biggest coups imaginable.  First, Halas convinced his old friend Paddy Driscoll to take a job with the Staley company.  Then, knowing how skilled his team was – and with the financial backing of A. E. Staley – Halas, now the team’s head coach, and team/company secretary Morgan O’Brien were invited to Canton, Ohio by none other than Jim Thorpe to join with other professional football teams to form the American Professional Football Association.

george-halas-decatur-staley-end

Staley Right End, Coach, and Owner George Halas

This was the ground floor of what would eventually become the most powerful sports organization in the country – the National Football League.  Halas’s one-time industrial football team would be the kings of the western professional football teams, but couldn’t quite get past Akron from the east.  Akron would be the first “NFL” champion.

As winter turned to spring, Halas was invited to meet with the Yankees, but Halas was no longer interested.  Staley put Halas in charge of all the sports run through Staley’s Decatur starch company.  Halas played another season of baseball and then turned his attention to the football team in the fall.  This time, though, the Staleys looked to expand.  Instead of Decatur, the Staleys – who had moved a few football games in 1920 to Cubs Park – moved to Chicago permanently.  A year later, Staley’s business fortunes required him to cut back on the sport programs and he gave Halas the independent reins of the football team.  In 1921, the Chicago Staleys were renamed the Bears – Halas was already playing in Cubs Park and he figured he could piggyback some on the Cubs fame and name.

And, being an owner, a coach, and a player, Halas no longer had time to play baseball.  That part of his career was now over.

 

 

SOURCES:

Web:

Retrosheet:
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/H/Phalag101.htm

Baseball Reference:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=halas-001geo

Personal:

US CENSUS DATA (1900, 1910, 1930, 1940)

World War I Draft Registration

Newspaper Articles:

“Crane Sure of First Place”, Chicago Tribune, 22 February 1910, Page 14.

“Another Chance for Halas”, Chicago Tribune, 22 March 1910, Page 14.

“Pitcher Halas Fails to Secure His Reinstatement”, Chicago Tribune, 23 March 1910, Page 14.

Prep. “Crane Retains Baseball Title”, Chicago Tribune, 07 April 1911, Page 20.

“Clean Slate for Crane Team”, Chicago Tribune, 08 March 1912, Page 9.

The Day Book (Chicago, IL), 08 November 1915, Page 11.

“Spirit is Missing at the U. of I.”, The Daily Review (Decatur, IL), 12 June 1916, Page 5.

“Three I Reserve List Is Issued”, The Daily Review (Decatur, IL), 09 October 1916, Page 5.

“Woods Twins Say Farewell”, Decatur Daily Review, 19 March 1917, Page 5.

“Illinois 8; Chicago, 4”, Chicago Tribune, 13 May 1917, Page 1.

“Zuppke Switches Lineup”, Indianapolis Star, 23 October 1917, Page 12.

“Purdue Falls When Illini Push Attack in Final Period”, Chicago Tribune, 28 October, 1917, Page 1.

“Postal Clerks Ask 25 Per Cent Increase in Pay”, Chicago Tribune, 26 November 1917, Page 3.

“Illini Star Joins Navy”, St. Louis Star and Times, 03 January 1918, Page 13.

“Illinois Wonder Enters Service”, The Decatur Herald, 04 January 1918, Page 4.

“Proceedings of Congress and Committees in Brief”, Washington Post, 22 February 1918 Page 6.

“Great Lakes Team Wins Ball Game”, Decatur Daily News, 26 July 1918, Page 5.

“Blacklock to be on Jackie Eleven”, Lansing State Journal, 13 August 1918, Page 10.

“Two Star Players are Lost by Jackies”, Lima (OH) News,  16 August 1918, Page 12.

“Today’s Casualty List”, Washington Herald, 28 August 1918, Page 3.

“Great Lakes Provides Two Players for Yanks”, Washington Times, 14 December 1918, Page 10.

Evans, Billy. “Watch George Halas Perform As Yankee, Tip by Billy Evans”, Chicago Tribune, 04 February 1919, Page 18.

“Yankees Have Grabbed Star in Halas, Says George Huff”, New York Tribune, 15 February, Page 19.

“Davenport High One of String Teams of State”, Des Moines Register, 3 March 1919, Page 6.

“Leonard Has Day to Sign Contract”, New York Times, 26 March 1919, Page 12.

“Halas and O’Doul Win Meal Tickets With The New York Yanks”, Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune, 28 March 1919, Page 14.

“Halas Looms Up in Yankees’ Practice and May Top Season’s Batting Order”, New York Times, 31 March 1919, Page 14.

McGeehan, W. O. “Yankees Turn Tables On Dodgers by Shutting Out Uncle Robbie’s Men”, New York Tribune, 02 April 1919, Page 17.

McGeehan, W. O. “Duffy Lewis Latest Victim of Charley Horse Epidemic”, New York Tribune, 03 April 1919, Page 17.

“Yankees Have Only One Man in Hospital”, Anniston (AL) Star, 07 April 1919, Page 6.

“Nary a Tally Crosses Plate For the Robins”, New York Tribune, 15 April 1919, Page 23.

“Sammy Vick Grabs Place in N.Y. Lineup”, Oregon Daily Journal, 11 May 1919, Page 20.

Harrisburg Evening News, 13 June 1919, Page 21.

“Two Major Players Released”, The Pittsburg (KS) Sun, 12 July 1919, Page 8.

“Pro Eleven Highly Paid”, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 01 October 1919, Page 8.

Macbeth, W. J. “Al Wickland, ‘Red’ Smith, and George Halas Released”, New York Tribune, 25 February 1920, Page 10.

“Halas Will Not Report”, Des Moines Register, 22 March 1920, Page 4.

Chicago Tribune, 23 March, 1920, Page 15.

The Decatur Herald, 25 March 1920, Page 4.

“Starch Workers Have Class Aggregation”, Decatur Herald, 04 April 1920, Page 8.

“Staley Scouts After Players”, Decatur Herald, 23 May 1920, Page 9.

“Staleys Sign Paddie Driscoll For Eleven”, Decatur Daily Review, 26 July 1920, Page 5.

“Driscoll to Play With Staley Eleven”, Decatur Herald, 26 July 1920, Page 6.

“Walter Meinert Takes Big Jump”, Decatur Daily Review, 15 August 1920, Page 7.

“Halas Chosen Coach for Notre Dame Nine”, Muncie Star Press, 15 August 1920, Page 12.

“Two Star Tackles Are Secured For Staleys”, Decatur Daily Review, 26 August 1920, Page 5.

“Strong Grid League Plan”, Decatur Herald, 17 September 1920, Page 4.

“Staleys Enter Grid League”, Decatur Herald, 19 September 1920, Page 4.

“Halas Recalled”, Decatur Herald, 21 October 1920, Page 4.

“Starch Workers Win from Fast Rockford Grid Team 29 to 0”, Decatur Herald, 01 November 1920, Page 4.

Photo of Halas in Staley’s Uniform – Minneapolis Star Tribune, 14 November 1920, Page 35.

“Capt. Halas Closes Contract for Clash Sunday In Cub Park”, Decatur Herald, 30 November 1920, Page 4.

“George Halas In Full Charge”, Decatur Herald, 17 February 1921, Page 4.

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Happy Birthday, Link Wasem!

One of the shorter cups of coffee in baseball history belongs to Link Wasem, a catcher with the 1937 Boston Bees.  Wasem appeared in two games – the first was a home game in which the Bees lost 13 – 1 and he gave starting catcher Al Lopez a break for two innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter (what – they didn’t let him bat?).  Not quite three weeks later, Wasem relieved Lopez during an 11 – 1 loss to the Cubs in Chicago, but was allowed his lone major league plate appearance after giving Lopez the last two innings off in that game, too.

Lincoln William Wasem was born on 30 January 1911 in Birmingham, Ohio to William and Amelia (Latteman) Wasem. (A military form suggests his real birthplace was Henrietta, OH in Lorain county.) William was a machinist, Amelia had her hands full with a large family. Link was the third of eight kids – six of them boys – who all played various sports. In high school, Link wrestled, and played baseball and basketball with his brother, Don – they were both forwards on various teams in the area. In 1932, the two played in the Northeastern Ohio District basketball tournament. Don was also a fine pitcher – he pitched for Ohio State University. Link was a catcher and the two would dominate local semi-pro teams. In later years, the Birmingham Fire nine featured five members of the Wasem family and played exhibition and semi-professional games in the Sandusky, Ohio area.

1936-wakeman-red-caps-link-wasem

The Norfolk (OH) Reflector included this photo of the Wakeman Red Caps from what was thought to be the 1936 season.  Don and Link Wasem are the first two players (from the left) in the front row.

While catching for the Wakeman Red Caps (and working as a lineman for the local telephone company) Wasem got a trial with the Springfield Cardinals of the Western League in 1933 based on his improving receivership and knack for pegging runners on the bases (and batting nearly .500). However, he wouldn’t stay. Springfield had excess players and a possible rival (“good for business”) team was trying to get organized in nearby Joplin. Joplin Miners Manager Runt Marr was offered a handful of players to consider and he chose Wasem.

At first, Wasem rode the pine as a veteran catcher, Don Benn, saw most of the action. At times, he’d back up other players – being mobile, he would play the outfield and even shortstop if needed. Financial problems led to Benn’s release and Wasem saw action in 86 games and batted .292. Called “the best improved player in the league,” Wasem was named the second string All-Star catcher in the Western League. Scout Jack Dempsey said that “…within three years Link Wasem, Miner catcher, will be in the major leagues.” At the end of the season, he was purchased by Buffalo and in due time was being schooled in the finer points of catching by Ray Schalk.

Buffalo optioned Wasem to Wilkes-Barre when a Bisons player was injured and replaced by Wilkes-Barre Barons star Johnny Stats. Within weeks, Wasem made fans by being willing to play the outfield, and by rapping a pair of homers in a loss to the Hazleton Moutaineers. Toward the end of the season, Wasem was recalled to catch for Buffalo.

After a season as a backup catcher for the Bisons, Wasem returned to Wilkes-Barre for 1936 and was a slugging sensation as both a catcher and left fielder for the Barons. That year, he batted .322 with 12 homers – many of them game breakers and one of them off a centerfield sign in Hazelton’s Artillery Field that earned him a suit and a slew of breakfasts. His fine 1936 season got the attention of major league scouts and he signed with the Boston Bees.

Wasem stayed with the Bees following spring training in 1937 and played catcher in the intercity series between the Bees and Red Sox. In May, he saw action in two games, getting four innings behind the plate and one at bat – he made the last out in an 11 – 1 loss to the Cubs in Wrigley field by flying out to centerfielder Joe Marty (Charlie Root got the complete game win). Before long, he was dispatched to Scranton in the NY-PENN league. Immediately, Scranton started playing well with Wasem in the lineup. “He keeps his head in the game,” wrote Joe Policoff of the Scranton Republican,” and he knows what the game is about.”

In late July, Wasem was involved in a collision at the plate when Big Alex Mustaikis, a pitcher for the Hazleton Red Sox, slid into Wasem in an attempt to score He was injured, but only briefly – Mustaikis was out much longer with a knee injury. Wasem completed a fine season and even received Most Valuable Player votes from league scribes.

In 1938, Wasem found himself sold by the Bees to the Hollywood Stars in the Pacific Coast League. However, that winter Wasem had landed a steady job with decent pay in Germantown, PA. So, Wasem decided to hang up the mask and passed on the opportunity to play in California. He’d get there eventually – living in South Laguna Beach in his retirement years.

Wasem served two years during World War II, the second year in foreign service. He married Marguerite Eleanor Rickers on 24 August 1935. She was a Physical and Occupational Therapist in hospitals throughout Pennsylvania, and they had one daughter, Joyce. He passed to the next league on 6 March 1979 in South Laguna, CA. His wife, Eleanor – also born in 1911 – missed by a few months of seeing her 100th birthday.
Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Retrosheet.org

1920 US Census, 1930 US Census

PA Veteran Compensation Application (1 April 1950).

“Wakeman Loses to Birmingham”, 07 January 1930, Sandusky Register, Page 8.

“Joppa and Wakeman To Clash on Sunday”, 07 January 1930, Sandusky Register, Page 8.

“Link Wasem To Play With Springfield Team”, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, 18 February 1933, Page 8.

“Wasem Gets Trial in Western League”, 07 April 1933, Sandusky Register, Page 12.

“Notes of the Game”, Joplin Globe, 13 July 1933, Page 6.

Wittich, Porter. “The Globe Trotter”, Joplin Globe, 30 July 1933, Page 10.

Wittich, Porter. “The Globe Trotter”, Joplin Globe, 13 August 1933, Page 10.

“Link Wasem Sold By Runt Marr to Buffalo Bisons”, Joplin News, 16 November Page 2.

“Baron Rookie Catcher Gives Pilot’s Thrill”, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre), 25 May 1934, Page 16.

“Barons’ New Catcher Here”, Wilkes-Barre Record, 26 May 1934, Page 19.

McCormick, Jerry. “Chicago Outfielder Balks on Joining Barons’s Club”, Wilkes-Barre Record13 June 1934, Page 13.

Miller, Milton. “Et Ceteras and Post Scripts”, Wilkes-Barre Record, 24 June 1936, Page 21.

Miller, Milton. “Buffalo Exercises 24-Hour Recall Option on Catcher Link Wasem”, Wilkes-Barre Record, 12 August 1936, Page 19.

Loftus, William. “Evening Chatter”, Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 25 June 1937, Page 17.

“Link Wasem Sold to Hollywood Club”, Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 20 January 1938, Page 13.

“Sport Gossip”, Norwalk Reflector-Herald, 26 May 1938, Page 6.

Davies, Russ. “Rustling Thru Sports”, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, 27 February 1939, Page 9.

Photo of 1936 Wakeman Red Caps published in the Norwalk Reflector on 29 July 1972.

Obituary for M. Eleanor Rickers Wasem.

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Baseball History for January 5th

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1855 George Newell
1861 John McGlone
1864 Bob Caruthers
1865 Ban Johnson
1870 Bill Dahlen
1875 Izzy Hoffman
1877 William Matthews
1879 Zaza Harvey
1880 Newt Hunter
1880 Dutch Jordan
1880 Jim Byrnes
1885 Art Fletcher
1888 Rube Foster
1890 Gene Madden
1890 Benny Kauff
1892 Chuck Wortman
1897 Art Delaney
1898 Riggs Stephenson
1899 Bill Hunnefield
1899 Bob Kinsella
1901 Luke Sewell
1908 Regis Leheny
1911 Ted Petoskey
1914 Jack Salveson
1914 Joe Grace
1918 Jack Kramer
1924 Fred Marsh
1928 Bob Oldis
1935 Earl Battey
1936 Daryl Robertson
1936 Bud Bloomfield
1942 Wally Wolf
1944 Tom Kelley
1944 Charlie Vinson
1947 Sandy Vance
1948 Bill Laxton
1948 Charlie Hough
1951 Bob Reece
1953 Jim Gantner
1954 John Littlefield
1957 Bob Dernier
1958 Ron Kittle
1959 Milt Thompson
1961 John Russell
1961 Henry Cotto
1961 Roger Samuelse F
1962 Danny Jackson
1963 Jeff Fassero
1963 John Davis
1965 Juan Nieves
1966 Steve Shifflett
1967 Chris Nabholz
1971 Jason Bates
1973 Ramon Tatis
1973 Fred Rath
1974 Damon Minor
1974 Ryan Minor
1974 Mark Redman
1976 Kevin Witt
1977 Eric Junge
1979 Ruben Quevedo
1981 Andy Cavazos
1982 Nori Aoki
1986 J. P. Arencibia
1989 Eduardo Escobar
1990 Jose Iglesias
1990 C. J. Cron
1992 A. J. Cole

OBITUARIES:

1936 Will Sawyer
1937 Ben Beville
1940 Charlie Kelly
1945 Bill Hobbs
1949 Ralph Edwards
1953 Pete Lapan
1953 Mike Cantwell
1954 Rabbit Maranville
1960 Clay Van Alstyne
1961 Fred Luderus
1962 Frank Snyder
1963 Rogers Hornsby
1965 Frank Manush
1969 Larry Pratt
1969 Tiny Osborne
1975 Don Wilson
1976 Ed Sperber
1976 Gene Elliott
1978 Snipe Conley
1979 George Washburn
1982 Neal Baker
1987 Dale Mitchell
1990 Bobby Balcena
1994 Jack Brittin
1996 Elmer Singleton
1997 Emil Roy
2004 Tug McGraw
2006 Rod Dedeaux
2014 Jerry Coleman
2016 Jay Ritchie

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1934 Fire destroys the left and centerfield grandstand and bleachers at Fenway Park – but the Sox were able to get the areas rebuilt in time for opening day.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

The end of the line for two players – Herb Pennock (1934) and Travis Jackson (1937) – two longtime New York stars were released.

1946 New York purchases Walker Cooper from the Cardinals for $175,000.

1946 Seattle agrees to send Earl Torgeson to the Boston Braves for two future players (TOny York, Bill Ramsey).

1983 In the trade that rhymes, Cincinnati sends Mike Vail to San Francisco for Rich Gale.

1984 The Yankees sign free agent pitcher Phil Niekro and the Cubs signed infielder/pinch hitter Richie Hebner.

1994 New York sends Vince Coleman to the Royals to reacquire Kevin McReynolds.

2001 New York signs amateur free agent Robinson Cano.

2001 Texas signs free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.

2016 Cleveland signs free agent hitter Mike Napoli.

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Baseball History on January 4th

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1847 Jimmy Williams
1856 Al Dwight
1858 Henry Oxley
1861 Rex Smith
1869 Tommy Corcoran
1877 Bob Spade
1883 Eddie Zimmerman
1884 Al Bridwell
1887 Klondike Smith
1888 Rex DeVogt
1890 Ossie Vitt
1892 Charlie Miller
1902 Ted Odenwald
1903 Alex Metzler
1906 Blondy Ryan
1908 George Selkirk
1911 Izzy Leon
1912 Joe Mack
1914 Herman Franks
1920 Walter Ockey
1925 Tom Gorman
1929 Corky Valentine
1930 Don McMahon
1933 Ramon Monzant
1940 Bart Shirley
1943 Larry Yellen
1944 Charlie Manuel
1944 Tito Fuentes
1947 Ken Reynolds
1949 Dennis Saunders
1960 Paul Gibson
1962 Jay Tibbs
1963 Trey Hillman
1963 Daryl Boston
1965 Kevin Wickander
1967 Clint Zavaras
1967 Ted Wood
1971 Chris Michalak
1976 Ted Lilly
1977 Brian O’Connor
1977 Walter Silva
1978 Chris Gissell
1978 Willie Martinez
1981 Jailen Peguero
1982 Jason Bourgeois
1984 John Raynor
1985 Scott Sizemore
1989 Kevin Pillar
1990 Raisel Iglesias
1992 Michael Lorenzen
1992 Kris Bryant

OBITUARIES

1893 Jim Halpin
1896 Tom Foley
1898 Charlie Byrne
1924 John Peters
1931 Roger Connor
1933 Hal Deviney
1938 Frank Sexton
1942 Herold Juul
1943 Jack Rafter
1948 Biff Schlitzer
1949 Joe Evers
1963 Sam Covington
1967 Estel Crabtree
1970 Brad Springer
1978 Joe Dawson
1979 Bobby Murray
1980 Foster Edwards
1986 Dave Morey
1987 Tony Rensa
1990 Bonnie Hollingsworth
1991 Eric Rodin
1994 Billy Sullivan
1995 Harry Gumbert
1995 Ralph Onis
2000 John Milner
2002 Adrian Zabala
2005 Jack Sanford
2008 Bill Ramsey
2014 Gabe Gabler
2015 Stu Miller

YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT!!!

1898 Charles Ebbets takes over as president of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms following the death of Charles Byrne.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1902 Bill Dinneen jumps from Boston’s NL franchise to the AL franchise.

1918 The Cubs send Larry Doyle, Art Wilson and cash to the Braves for Lefty Tyler.

1988 Minnesota signs free agent catcher Brian Harper, while St. Louis signs free agent first baseman/third baseman Bob Horner.

1993 The White Sox ink free agent outfielder Ellis Burks.

2010 Boston signs free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.

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