Happy Birthday, Dorsey Riddlemoser!

Dorsey Riddlemoser had a very brief major league career, making a single relief appearance on August 22, 1899 for the Washington Senators.  This was when the Senators were in their final season in the National League.  At that point, owner and National League President Nick Young knew the fate of Washington’s team – they were going to be contracted, along with the Cleveland Spiders and possibly two other teams (eventually, Baltimore and Louisville were also closed out).  In his outing, the right-handed Riddlemoser got shelled – giving up seven hits, four runs, and a couple of walks in two innings of work.

Riddlemoser was born 25 March 1875 to Lewis Washington and Alice (Stup) Riddlemoser, the last of six children. Lewis was a machinist and Alice was busy raising four boys and two girls.  Dorsey played sandlot and semi-pro ball in his hometown of Frederick, MD as early as 1892.  Baseball-Reference.com says that his first taste of professional baseball when he tried out with Reading of the Atlantic League, then signing with Williamsport in the Central Pennsylvania League in 1897.  He next pitched with Winchester of Cumberland Valley League in 1898, then Parkersburg (WV) in the Ohio and West Virginia League in 1899.  When not playing baseball, Riddlemoser worked as an assistant fireman and with the Union Foundry and Stove Works plant starting in his teens. 

Riddlemoser had built a pretty good local reputation as a pitcher when Washington decided to give him a shot.  In the first game of a doubleheader Baltimore clocked the Washington starter, Dan McFarlan, for nine runs – and then got hit with a throw.  Dick Padden was firing home on a double steal when his throw hit McFarlan in the back of the head – they weren’t standing very far apart when this happened.  Riddlemoser came on in relief and got at least one person out to finish the fourth inning, based on the description in the Baltimore Sun and Washington Times, so he had to have pitched 2.1 or 2.2 innings rather than the two innings he is credited with in the record books.  He pitched a relatively clean inning in the fifth, but was rocked for four runs in the sixth.  Buck Freeman, the right fielder, came on to pitch the rest of the game.  And with that, Riddlemoser’s MLB career ended.

It may not have worked out with Washington, but Riddlemoser was busy pitching in the minors, first signing with Newport News in 1901, then hooking up with Allentown, PA.  There, he would pitch for at least one full season – in one game he faced a fellow Frederick pitcher named Dorsey Robinson who pitched for the Cuban X Giants.  The X Giants won…  A year later, he pitched on a semi-pro team that was happy to have him because he was also a competent outfielder and hitter.  In 1903 he was pitching for Meridan in the Connecticut State League, and when the season was over he was actively trying to create a baseball league in various cities in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

When his days as a player were over, Riddlemoser returned to his hometown.  He took a position with the Hagerstown and Frederick Railroad.  Dorsey also became an active member of the Democratic Party.  He was frequently selected to be a delegate to various conventions – and the party rewarded him with various city appointments, the last being a twelve year run as the janitor for City Hall from 1931 to 1943.

Riddlemoser was a late bloomer as regards his family life.  He married Ruth Talmadge Biggs in 1925 – he was 50 at the time – and they soon had a son, Dorsey, and daughter, Alice.  Dorsey, Jr., graduated high school in 1943 and immediately entered the U.S. Navy where he was regularly promoted, making it to Sergeant and serving as a tail gunner on a B-29 Superfortress.  That plane flew a number of missions against Japanese locations in the South Pacific, but ran out of luck in May or June, 1945 while flying a mission over Tinian in the Marianas.  The younger Dorsey’s grave is with his fellow airmen in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

As for the original Dorsey Lee Riddlemoser, he carried on in retirement, saddened by the loss of his son, until his death in Frederick, Maryland on May 11, 1954.  He is buried next to his wife, Ruth, at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, who died on her 81st birthday in July, 1970.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com
Retrosheet.org
1880, 1900, 1920, 1930 US Census
FindaGrave.com
World War I Registration Card
Maryland Marriage Records

“The Sick,” Frederick Daily News, August 20, 1892: 8.

“The Uniteds,” Frederick Daily News, January 3, 1894: 3.

“The Senators Lose Two,” Washington Times, August 23, 1899: 6.

“The Orioles All Sick,” Baltimore Sun, August 23, 1899: 6.

“Baseball Briefs,” Baltimore Sun, April 7, 1900: 6.

“Signed a Star,” Allentown Leader, April 2, 1901: 6.

“Another Penn Park Pitcher,” York Gazette, April 24, 1902: 1.

“Still Taking of Base Ball League,” Chambersburg Public Opinion, November 24, 1903: 1.

“Fifty Years Ago,” Frederick Daily News, April 15, 1942: 4.

“Fifty Years Ago,” Frederick Daily News, March 27, 1947: 4.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s