Happy Birthday, Tom Pratt!

Tom Pratt was an important figure in the early history of Philadelphia baseball as a player, umpire, and owner.

Pratt pitched and later played third base on the original Philadelphia Athletic team with guys like Al Reach, John Fisler and Count Sensenderfer when he returned from duty in the Civil War. For a brief period in the late 1860s, Pratt was a fine pitcher for the Atlantics of Brooklyn. After rejoining the Athletics in 1870, Pratt moved to the Olympics, a semi-pro club that occasionally played games with the Athletics, who were now members of the National Association. Pratt also had a stake in the Philadelphia Athletics of the National League, contributing $2,000 of the original $15,000 to incorporate the team.

Apparently, the Athletics needed him for one game in 1871, so Pratt played first base in a single National Association game on 18 October. He got two hits and scored twice, driving in one, in six at bats.

He was also occasionally called upon to be an umpire in various pre-MLB games, National Association games, and later was appointed a National League umpire in 1886. And, in 1884, Pratt was the owner of Philadelphia Keystones of the Union Association.  That team went 21 – 46 before going belly up.

Thomas Jefferson Pratt was born 26 January 1844 in Chelsea, MA to Abraham (or Alanson) Sylvester Pratt and Adalade Barbarick. Abraham was a salesman of sorts who died of consumption a few years after Thomas was born. Thomas was the second of four children. His brother, Lysander, was also an amateur pitcher in Philadelphia. Sometime after becoming a widow, Adalade married Daniel MacKenzie, but that didn’t last and she married a third time to Edward Jessup and they added a son, Halton. Looking for a change of fortune, the family moved to Philadelphia.

In 1869, Thomas married Georgeine Olivia Eugard, and they had three daughters and three sons, with one (Walter) dying at the age of three. Georgeine was a Daughter of the American Revolution, tracing her family back to Jacob Reed, who was a major and lieutenant colonel in the Philadelphia county militia during the Revolutionary War. Pratt himself did a tour with a Pennsylvania division during the Civil War. After Pratt’s career was over, he worked as a foreman in a whiting factory. He also took time to appear in “Old Timer Games” with his former teammates. Pratt passed to the next league on 28 September 1908, the victim of heart disease.

Philadelphia, Pa., September 29. Thomas J. Pratt, one of the pioneers in organized base ball, died at his home in this city yesterday. He was one of the pitchers of the original Athletics, joining them in 1867, and afterwards pitched for the Atlantics, of Brooklyn, being one of the first to throw a curve ball. Later he became interested with Reach and Rogers in organizing the old Philadelphia Club. He withdrew in 1884 to invest his money in the Keystone Club, of the outlaw Union Association, organized by Henry V. Lucas, of St. Louis, to fight the Reserve Rule. That league collapsed in one season .and thereafter Mr. Pratt devoted himself to private business. Mr. Pratt was born in Worcester, Mass., sixty-eight years ago.

“A Veteran Dead.”, Sporting Life, 03 October 1908, Page 2.

Sources:

1910 US Census
1900 US Census
1880 US Census
1870 US Census
1850 US Census
North America: Family Histories
PA Death Certificate
FindaGrave.com
US Civil War Draft Registration Records

Baseball-Reference.com

“The Athletic Vanquished”, Philadephia Evening Telegraph, 23 June 1870, Page 6.

“Base Ball”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 02 September 1872, Page 2.

“Twelve Days and Then ?”, Reading Times, 24 March 1884, Page 1.

“Base Ball Notes.”, Philadelphia Times, 28 March 1886, Page 2.

“Legal Side of Ball Situation”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 01 April 1901, Page 6.

“Philadelphia Points.”, Sporting Life, 17 January 1903, Page 3.

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