Happy Birthday, Rags Faircloth!

Rags FairclothBorn 19 August 1892, Rags Faircloth parlayed a stint with the Great Lakes Naval Station baseball squad into a short major league career when he returned from service in World War I.

James Lamar Faircloth was born in Kenton, TN to James H. and Myrtle (Jones) Faircloth, who had just gotten married in late 1890.  Faircloth was a bright and athletic kid who went to college, graduating from Mississippi A & M (now Mississippi State University) with a focus on electrical engineering.  While there, he pitched well enough to earn a shot with Jackson (MS) of the Cotton States League.

“Friends of Rags Faircloth, signed to pitch for the Jackson team this season, expect him in the city today or tomorrow. Faircloth is a youngster with a record, but withal one of the most modest ball players it is ever one’s fortune to meet. He made an almost perfect score last season in the number of games won but is not vaunting himself on that account. His admirers here are expecting great things of this young man the approaching season.”

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS), 15 March 1913, Page 8.

After a season in the south, Faircloth, already known as Rags in college, was signed to pitch for the Topeka Jayhawks, who couldn’t give him enough action, so he was optioned twice – once to Keokuk and later to Muscatine, both Iowa teams in the Central Association.  (Muscatine released a guy named Yokohoma Nelson to make room for the prospect.)  Declared a free agent, Faircloth signed to pitch in Waco, TX, but then secured his release and wound up spending time in Oklahoma for a couple of seasons.  (The photo included here was found in a Waco Newspaper.)  In that second season with McAlester of the Western Association (mostly Oklahoma teams), he won more than thirty decisions – about 75 percent of his games – with the pennant winner.

“Faircloth is a mighty sweet pitcher when he is in good condition and has any interest in the game. He’s the kind the fans enjoy watching. In good form his main asset is control and a pitcher with good control needs little else.”

“Faircloth May Join Indians”, Waterloo Courier, 27 March 1915, Page 10.

With the United States making an entrance into World War I in Europe, Faircloth signed for duty with the Navy.  While training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago, Faircloth became the alternate pitcher – backing up Red Faber and also a teammate of George Halas – for a team that was among the best naval clubs in the country.  Eventually, Yeoman, 3rd Class Faircloth was added to the roster of a mine sweeper in a war zone and he finished two years before being discharged in February, 1919.

Fortunately, he made an impression pitching for the Navy in 1918 and Faircloth was signed to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies once he returned to the states.  He made two relief appearances in May, allowing two runs on five hits in two innings of work, and was sent to Hartford for more work.  Hartford sold Rags to Binghamton in the International League – which didn’t work any better – and by 1920, Faircloth was working for Westinghouse in New Jersey and playing semi-pro ball.  The nickname, Rags, could have applied to his arm – he wasn’t a good pitcher for his semi-pro team either.  His obituary said his arm was injured by 1920, costing him his career.

His baseball career over, he married Helena Caroline Scheuerman in 1922 and worked with Westinghouse or their affiliates for the next thirty years (mostly in New Jersey and Detroit), becoming both an Elk and a Mason.  When emphysema started affecting his lungs, he retired to Tuscon, AZ where he scouted Arizona and Southern California for the St. Louis Browns.  Soon after, though, he would die of complications related to his lung disease on 05 October 1953; he was 61.  James and Helena had no children – in his obituary, the only listed survivors were his wife (who lived until 1972) and an aunt, Mrs. Henry Hasseler.


US Census (1920, 1930, 1940)
US Military Registration for WWII
AZ Death Record
Military Headstone Application.

“A. and M. Whitewashes Mississippi College”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 21 April 1911, Page 11.

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS), 15 March 1913, Page 8.

“Personnel of Jackson Cotton State Team”, Pensacola News Journal, 14 April 1913, Page 6.

“Jake’s Junk.”, Topeka State Journal, 13 February 1914, Page 3.

“Kaws Get Brilliant Young Shortstop”, Topeka Daily Capital, 03 July 1914, Page 3.

“Faircloth sold to Muscatine”, Daily Gate City, 12 August 1914, Page 6.

“‘Rags’ Faircloth is Declared Free”, Daily Gate City, 30 November 1914, Page 8.

“‘Rags’ Faircloth, Topeka Pitcher, is Signed by Navs”, Waco Morning News, 7 February 1915, Page 13.

“Faircloth has ‘Grippe'”, Waco Morning News, 08 March 1915, Page 6.

“Faircloth May Join Indians”, Waterloo Courier, 27 March 1915, Page 10.

“‘Rags’ Faircloth a Top Notch Pitcher”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 07 September 1917, Page 5.

“Faircloth Wins One Hit Victory for Great Lakes”, Chicago Tribune, 22 July 1918, Page 8.

“Players Off to Sea.”, Oshkosh Northwestern, 10 October 1918, Page 5.

“Faircloth Offered a Job With Cardinals, If Baseball Resumes”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 23 October 1918, Page 20.

“Westinghouse Romps Off With League Victory, 13 – 4”, Bridgewater Courier-News, 31 May 1921, Page 12.

“J. L. Faircloth Funeral Set”, Tuscon Daily Citizen, 07 October 1953, Page 36.

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