Happy Birthday, David Skeels!

David Skeels was an Addy, Washington native (and Native American) who attended Gonzaga and played college baseball one season there in 1909. He pitched in one game for the Tigers in 1910 after a season playing minor league ball in Western Canada.  As you can imagine, any nicknames assigned to him included his heritage, most frequently being called “Chief”.


Speaking of Dave Skeels, the former Western Canada League twirler, the Detroit News says:

“Dave Skeels, who pitched his first game as a Tiger yesterday, was the victim of a hard batting bee by the Naps. The Tigers managed to win, 9 – 8, because Eddie Summers came to the rescue and pitched remarkable ball for three innings.

“Skeels has a good curve and lots of speed. He needs a lot of experience, but since he is only 19 he has plenty of time to get that. He should be a good pitcher some day.”

Winnipeg Tribune, 20 September 1910, Page 6.

He was sold back to Seattle by the Tigers the following spring but lasted but one season before his arm left him.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Skeels was a good switch hitter who played the outfield when not pitching and was a fast runner, too.  Skeels considered trying out as an outfielder on the off chance his arm didn’t recover.  At one time, he held the Northwestern League record for strikeouts with 15. He also fanned 21 in the second game of a double header, a game that lasted eleven innings (he had 16 after nine).

David Lloyd Skeels was born on December 29, 1891 to George Henry and Annie Elizabeth (Stensgar) Skeels (later O’Brien) in Addy, Washington. His father didn’t live long enough to see his son go to college or play professional ball.  When Dave registered for the World War I draft, he was working as a tanner on his Colville Registration and noted that he was 25% Native American.  He married Hilda Pearson (her parents came over from Sweden), and they had four kids (Loraine, Evaline, Louisa and George Lloyd). Skeels died on December 2, 1926 in a Tuberculosis sanitarium.


“Davie Skeels Needs More Experience”, Winnipeg Tribune, 20 September 1910, Page 6.

“Big Dell’s Record League’s Best”, Missoulian (Missoula, MT), 20 May 1913, Page 3.

“Pitcher Skeels Comes Near Equaling A World’s Record”, Winnipeg Tribune, 23 May 1910.

“Dave Skeels”, Detroit Free Press, 08 September 1910, Page 9.

“Skeels In Shape; Signs With Giants”, Vancouver Daily World, 05 February 1912, Page 14.

“Former Big League Ball Player Dies”, San Francisco Examiner, 04 December 1926, Page 31.


1920 US Census
World War I Registration Card


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s