Baseball History for February 21st

<— FEBRUARY 20     FEBRUARY 22 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1850 Zachary Hamner Taylor

Baseball-Reference.com lists his birthday here – his gravestone lists February in 1855, but no specific date in February…  Taylor played in thirteen games for Baltimore near the end of the 1874 season – his only foray into major league baseball was his four or five weeks in the National Association.  He batted .250 with three RBI and three runs scored – but no extra base hits.  Taylor’s parents, Robert and Isabella (Trayne or Train) came to the United States in late 1827 from Glasgow, Scotland on the Brig Czar and spent some time in South Carolina where they had their first son.  Then they moved to Washington DC and had eight other children.  The last child was Zachary – born while the more famous Zachary Taylor was president.  He appears in three US Censuses after his baseball days, all showing him as a clerk or salesman at a different type of store.  He also was living with some combination of brothers and sisters.  When he passed on 21 November 1917, the short obituary in the Baltimore Sun noted his late parents but no spouse or children.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Zachary)
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Isabella)

1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 US Censuses
Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Charleston, 1820-1829
Obit, Balimore Sun, 22 November 1917, Page 6.

1867 Jouett Meekin

152 wins as a pitcher tops the birthday boys… Comes from a family of riverboat pilots; had about a seven year run as a top flight pitcher.  Apparently had a pretty good fastball, and a willingness to pitch inside.  His SABR bio was written by David Nemec.

1870 Bill Duzen

In saying that the local amateur wasn’t totally responsible for losing 16 – 9 to Philadelphia, the Buffalo Commercial noted, “Duzen certainly should not be judged by what he did yesterday, though he was hit hard. He has a good delivery, the necessary speed, most of the curves, and apparently a good, cool head. With cultivation Duzen might make a valuable man, and he should be given another chance.”  Duzen was hit around some by Philadelphia in his first start with Buffalo in the Players League.  They gave him a second chance and he was wild in losing an 8 – 3 decision to New York in the second game of a double header a week later.  And with that, Duzen was back to playing amateur ball in his home town of Buffalo.

Duzen took his first and last breaths in Buffalo…  Born to William J. and Elizabeth Duzen (Elizabeth may have been born Elizabeth Black and married into Elizabeth Schwartz, but I can’t make those connections certain just yet) – he was the third of six children born to the machinist and his wife.  After his baseball days, Duzen became a Buffalo police officer and served until his 70s in one capacity or another.  He married Ida Spitler in 1892 and they had four children.  Duzen died on March 11, 1944.

1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
NY Death Records, NY Marriage Index
Baseball-Reference.com
FindAGrave.com

“A Buffalo Amateur,” Buffalo Commercial, September 23, 1890: 10.
“A Slugging Match,” Buffalo Courier, September 23, 1890: 8.
Box Score, New York Sun, September 28, 1890: 5.

1875 Luther “Dummy” Taylor

David Anderson wrote his bio for SABR, building it and expanding on work done by Sean Lahman for a deadball era book.  A Kansas native, Luther Taylor was a remarkable individual, gregarious and social despite his hearing loss.  Many members of the Giants learned sign language, which made things easier for him and his teammates – so different from how Billy Hoy was treated on various teams.  Taylor might be worth a 50,000 word biography.

1876 Silent John Titus

Had a decade with the Phillies (1903-1912), then two seasons with Boston (there’s an overlap in 1912 – both teams).  He was mobile afield and on the bases; patient and keen at the plate (though with little real power), befitting a quiet and distinguished gentleman  For a while, the Phillies had a string of good right fielders.  Titus replaced Elmer Flick, and Gavvy Cravath took over for Titus.  Anyway, he was among the last of the handlebar mustached guys (until Fingers, anyway).

“”He had a toothpick in his mouth from batting practice until the last putout of each game… Noted for his conservatism in dress, Titus always wore a blue serge suit and a derby, winter and summer, off the playing field.”

Titus spent time in the Spanish American War, learned baseball while in basic training, and came out of the war ready to play.  A broken ankle in 1911 took away some of his mobility, a beaning in 1914 nearly killed him (Bill Burns hit him on the temple, cracking his skull – he not only survived but finished two seasons).  A year later, he was out of baseball.  Soon after, he married Ethyl Stone – she was twenty years younger than he was.  A stroke left him paralyzed in the fall of 1942; Titus went completely silent on January 8, 1943.

1920, 1930 US Census
PA Death Records
Baseball-Reference.com
FindAGrave.com

“Silent John Titus Dies at 66; Phils Fielder from 1903 to 1912,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 10, 1943: 36

“Jack Titus Had ‘It’ and How,” Mount Carmel Item, January 23, 1943: 6, 7.

“Pitched Ball Almost Fatal to John Titus,” Minneapolis Tribune, April 26, 1914: 7.

1879 Ed Smith
1880 William “Lucky” Wright
1880 Joe Hughes
1881 Sam Fletcher
1886 Alex Remneas
1890 George Beck
1893 Norman Plitt
1893 Marsh “Cap” Williams
1896 Turkey Gross
1896 Dick McCabe
1903 Tom Yawkey
1907 Snipe Hansen
1914 Milt Gray
1924 Lloyd “Red” Hittle
1936 Ted Savage
1940 Doug Gallagher
1942 Fred Newman
1943 Jack Billingham
1943 Joe Foy
1945 Tom Shopay
1947 Charlie Walters
1947 Terry Ley
1948 Bill Slayback
1953 Rick Lysander
1958 Alan Trammell

MVP of the birthdate…

1961 Joel Skinner

Decent catcher – son of Bob…

1963 Jim Olander
1965 Oscar Azocar
1971 Jeff Schmidt
1975 Brandon Berger
1977 Chad Hutchinson
1978 Rene Reyes
1981 Adam Greenberg
1982 Edwin Bellorin
1983 Franklin Gutierrez
1988 Tyler Lyons
1990 Brad Goldbert
1991 Devon Travis

West Palm Beach area kid (Wellington) making good with the Blue Jays.

1992 Ryan Merritt
1992 Ian Miller
1993 Jesus Reyes
1994 Sam Hilliard
1995 CD Pelham

Christian Devont’a Pelham was a Rangers farm hand who got a shot with Texas in 2018.  Hasn’t always been successful in the minors, but he has a big arm.  The Cubs brought him to spring training in 2020 – but that season was bucked by the pandemic.  Losing a year in 2020 couldn’t have helped his career any.

1995 Kodi Whitley

Cardinal prospect who made four appearances in 2020.  Whitley was 27th round pick in 2017 out of Mount Olive College.  He made quick work of the minors with his upper 90s (touches 100) fastball and control.

OBITUARIES:

1901 Dennis Driscoll
1914 Farmer Vaughn
1918 Joe Fogarty
1927 Ike Rockenfield
1932 John Peters

Nicknames included Big Pete and Shotgun

1934 Jim Roxburgh
1934 Doc Adkins
1938 George Merritt
1940 John Taber
1941 Frank “Fiddler” Corridon
1944 Jack Enzenroth
1945 Paul Revere “Shorty” Radford
1946 Bill Cunningham
1948 Irv “Stubby” Ray
1953 Buck Freeman
1969 Honest Eddie Murphy
1970 Tom “Scoops” Carey
1970 Joe Shaute
1972 Phil Hensiek
1973 Gilly Campbell
1975 Steve “Flip” Filipowicz
1978 Slicker Parks
1982 Ray Shearer
1989 Chet Ross
1999 Vinegar Bend Mizell
1999 George Gill
2002 Bill Faul
2003 Rusty Peters
2006 Mark Freeman
2007 Sherman “Roadblock” Jones
2010 George “Bo” Strickland
2014 Hector Maestri
2014 Eddie O’Brien

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1968 The first Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed by owners and players. The minimum salary is set at $10,000…

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1904 The Tigers sold ancient catcher Deacon McGuire to the Highlanders. The 1904 Highlanders, with McGuire as a frequent catcher (he appeared in over 100 games, 97 behind the plate though 40 years old), just missed winning the AL Pennant.

1923 The Indians released Stuffy McInnis. The Hall of Fame first baseman had hit .305 for Cleveland in 1922, but had other plans. He later signed with the Boston Braves of the NL, where he would hit .315 with 95 RBI and 37 sacrifice hits…

1953 Proving ANYBODY could be traded one year too soon, the Dodgers sold Tommy Lasorda to the St. Louis Browns.

1957 The Giants signed amateur free agent Manny Mota. Mota would play one year with the Giants in 1962 before being traded…

1991 The Yankees sign the perptually haunted Steve Howe. Howe hadn’t pitched in the majors since 1987 with Texas. Howe’s first year in NY was a success – finishing with a 1.68 ERA in 48.1 innings.

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