Happy Birthday, Red Causey!

Causey was a member of the New York Giants staff when John McGraw had solid control of the National League from the late teens and early twenties.

Born and raised near Georgetown, Florida on August 11, 1893, Cecil Algerton (Red) Causey was signed to pitch in the minor leagues of the south after spending time playing sports in his local Florida leagues.  He first pitched in the South Atlantic League with Savannah, then Portsmouth, and then Waco in the Texas League.  If nothing else, Causey spent plenty of time with winners – in his first season with Savannah in 1914, he went 18 – 11 and helped Savannah win the first half season (they played split seasons then) and, despite a slower second half, won the league championship in a postseason playoff.

After winning 19 of 29 decisions with Waco in 1916, the New York Giants signed Causey but sent him to Rochester of the International League for another season of seasoning before giving him his first taste of the majors in 1918.  There, as a frequent starter, Causey went 11 – 6 and finished second on the Giants in innings behind Poll Perritt.  Other teammates included Hall of Famers Ross Youngs and Larry Doyle, outfielder George Burns, and utility outfielder Jim Thorpe.

The 1919 team also finished second despite thoughts that the Giants would walk away with the pennant.  Hal Chase arrived and both Chase and Heinie Zimmerman messed with the team chemistry.  Causey’s slow start and falling to the back of the rotation gave McGraw a reason to try someone else when the Giants failed to meet McGraw’s expections – so McGraw traded Causey, three other players and cash for Boston Braves pitcher Art Nehf.  Causey left a team that finished second to join a team that finished 25 games under .500 and nearly 40 games behind the world champion Cincinnati Reds.

Nicknamed “Red” because of his hair, Causey was frequently cited in news articles with his full name because, well, Cecil Algerton is a heck of a handle.  The papers usually typed it as Cecil Algernon, but what the hey – it was cool.  Causey stood about 6′ 0″ tall, but if he weighed 160 pounds, it was a lot.  One Chicago Tribune scribe mentioned that he was six feet tall, but about ten and a half inches wide.

Causey was signed by Philadelphia in 1920 where he started 26 games, completing 11, but finished just 7 – 14.  The Phillies were also bottom feeders and Causey’s lack of a strikeout pitch doomed him to little success.  In 1921 the Phillies included Causey in a trade back to the Giants.  Causey was a member of the 1921 and 1922 World Series teams but didn’t see action.

With what appeared to be a lame arm, the Giants loaned Causey to Indianapolis in the American Association, but Causey was no more successful there than he had been with the Giants – where McGraw usually used Causey as a mop up reliever.  Signed with Baltimore for the 1924 season, Causey didn’t make the team and returned to New York – where he became a police officer.

After his retirement, Causey returned to Florida, settling in the Tampa area.  Diabetes eventually gave him significant trouble and his right leg was amputated in hopes of stemming its advancement – but two days later, he died on November 11, 1960 in Avon Park, Florida.

(Information gleaned from articles in The Sporting News between 1914 and 1925, as well as his baseball obituary in TSN on 11/22/1960, Retrosheet.Org, Baseball-Reference.com, and one mention in “The Original Curse” by Sean Deveney.  It’s on page 93…  If I ever get to the library, I’ll modify this and supplement it with information gleaned from the NY Times and other papers…)


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