Happy Birthday, Ollie O’Mara!

In lieu of a formal biography, I offer this story written about the signing of O’Mara when Brooklyn brought him back to the Superbas in 1918.

Ollie O’Mara Is Once Again A Signed and Sealed Superba

by “Rice.”

Ollie OMara in Bkln 1918Ollie O’Mara, infielder, has signed to play with the Brooklyn Superbas in 1918. Ollie is no stranger. He was a Superba in 1914, 1915, and 1916. He thought the Federal League war was still on as well as the war in Europe when it came time to signing for 1917 and was pained and shocked when his failure to come into the fold resulted in his being shunted to the Pacific Coast League. His health was bad and he was shipped to Atlanta in the Southern Association, where he flourished like the green bay tree, and by his batting and fielding at second base helped Atlanta to win the Southern Association championship.

It was his work in Atlanta that brought O’Mara back to Brooklyn. He was reclaimed from the Southern town before it was realized that the major leagues would be hit so hard by the military draft, so that it is not fair to say that Ollie gets a job merely because material is scarce. He was engaged before the scarcity arose, and Your Uncle Wilbert Robinson believes that the lad has an excellent chance to make good. If Ollie should come through this year with bells on his case would be no more remarkable than that of Gavvy Cravath of the Phillies, who was up and down and up again half a dozen times; or of Larry Cheney, the Brooklyn pitcher, who was five years making himself stick as a major leaguer.

Chance at Second Base.

O’Mara was shortstopping last year for Atlanta, and in that capacity had a fielding average of .943, which ranked him fourth among the regulars who played 50 or more games at short. He was a shortstop while with Brooklyn before, and he has always been more or less of a shortstopper, but with Brooklyn in 1918 he will probably start as a second baser.

Ollie’s future depends upon whether he will be able to play as well at Ebbets Field as he plays at other fields. Many baseball performers shine only with the support of the home town fans, while others are oppressed with the feeling at home that they must do something extraordinary every little minute to keep up their reputation with the folks who know them by their first names, and who make coarse comments upon how they part their hair. O’Mara belonged in years gone by to the latter class, but his is considerably older now than he was when he first came to Brooklyn as one of the freshest kids in captivity in 1914. If he has acquired steadiness with age he should be a great comfort to Flatbush and environs, and the reports of his doings in Atlanta are all to that effect.

Successor to Cutshaw

When Brooklyn traded George W. Cutshaw to Pittsburg the only remaining second baseman in sight was Lewis A. Malone, who had been recalled from St. Paul, but Lewis enlisted in the Aviation Corps – and more power to him! – and that left Uncle Wilbert with no choice except to make a second baseman out of O’Mara.

Ivan Olson, who succeeded O’Mara as the regular shortstop in 1916, and was better in 1917 than he had ever been in his long career, is still with us, and sho is Charles W. (Chuck) Ward , who was obtained in the Pittsburg trade and Brooklyn thus has three seasoned shortstops and no second baseman, but the dope is that O’Mara will be the man to be tried out as a successor to Cutshaw. If Ward is shifted, as he may well be, in view of Olson’s good work in 1917, he will almost certainly be the subject of experimentation at third base, where he will meet with competition from Frank O’Rourke and Hi Myers.

Somehow or other, perhaps as a result of the wish being father to the thought, the first reports about the reclaiming of O’Mara stated that he played second base for Atlanta last season, but they were wrong. The Spalding Record Book shows that he batted in 66 games for an average of .301 and fielded at short in the same number of games for .943. His batting included 12 doubles, 5 troplets, 14 sacrifices, and 11 stolen bases for 66 games, which was not bad.

Ollie has been working this winter at a civilian job in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he having married a Brooklyn girl.

Make Good on Boast.

O’Mara’s home, previous to this winter, was in Kerry Patch, St. Louis, where he was bred and born, nearly twenty-five years ago, and learned to bat and throw right handed. Old time Brooklyn ball players remember him as a red headed pest, who used to hang around the grounds of the St. Louis Cardinals and chase flies. In those days the visiting teams used to ride to the grounds in buses, something now utterly beneath the dignity of the high-priced athletes. Hitching on behind the buses and making jeering remarks about the inmates was one of the cherished traditions of the town boy, and a persistent hitcher was O’Mara. He was on the step of the Brooklyn bus one day and indulging in a particularly fine flow of comment about the visitors, when one of them firmly, and not at all gently, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dropped him upon the highway. Dusting himself off the kid yelled at the Superbas:

“Yah, yer big stiffs. I’ll be up there some day in the big league, when you guys are in the bush again!”

That prediction comes true. The incident happened more than ten years ago, and O’Mara, now a signed Superba, is up there while every man on the team of a decade back is in the bush whence he came.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 04 March 1918, Page 8.

(O’Mara wound up playing mostly at third base, with Mickey Doolin getting a lot of time at the second sack. He didn’t hit much – just .213 – and after two games in 1919, he was out of the majors and playing for Indianapolis in the AA.)

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