Baseball History for March 20th

<— MARCH 19     MARCH 21 —>


1853 Bill Stearns

Covered in MLB Profiles (Vol. 1) 1871-1900, Stearns went 13 – 64 in his career and once held the record for most losses without a win in a season (0 – 11) – 1872. Played all five years in the National Association, but never with a team of any skill (contributing to his record).

A DC native, Stearns was a Civil War vet and after his death was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

1864 Pete McShannic

Pittsburg native, played with the Allegheny squad in 1888 and got in 26 games, but wasn’t much of a hitter… His obituary says that he begain playing at 11 and actually spent more time in the bigs than his baseball record suggests.

1864 Dan Mahoney

Briefly played with Cincinnati (1892) and Washington (1895), but couldn’t keep jobs when injuries to his throwing arm limited his ability to play. His post career life was tragic – shot in the eye in 1897 and finally committed suicide six years later having guzzled carbolic acid. (MLB Profiles, Vol. 2)

1865 Mike Griffin

Fine centerfielder and leadoff man for Baltimore and Brooklyn in the 1880s and 1890s, was still a productive hitter and basestealer (just shy of 500 SB). Was on the wrong side of a management change and left the majors after 1898. Went into the brewery business with his father-in-law, but a few years later he caught pneumonia and died at 43.

1867 Emil Geiss

Lost his only start in 1887 with Cap Anson’s Colts; also played first base and second base in other games. His brother, Bill, was a major league player, too.

1870 John Buckley

Played in four games as a pitcher for the Buffalo Bisons in the Players League in 1890 – otherwise, he had several seasons in the minors for a decade.

1871 Paul Russell

Three games with the Browns in 1894; a few years in the minors after that.

1871 Joe McGinnity

A story that would require a book – hero of the early 1900s Giants, then kept pitching regularly in the Eastern League at Newark after that. A sidearmed throw that allowed him to throw a rising fastball; it gave him control. movement, and barely taxed his arm.

1875 Paddy Greene

Villanova grad; played with three teams over two seasons (1902, 1903), but didn’t leave a mark in his 24 major league games.

1879 Rube Vinson

Outfielder for Cleveland and Chicago in the first decade of the AL… According to his wikipedia page, he died falling while cleaning second story windows.

1882 Tom Stankard

Holy Cross grad; played football and baseball. Only got in two games with the Pirates in 1904, but played a decade in the minors.

1882 Harry Armbruster

Long time minor leaguer – Connie Mack gave him a shot with the 1906 Athletics, but it didn’t work out. However, he had a successful decade-long career in the minors.

1883 Pep Clark

15 games with the 1903 White Sox – batted .308 in those games. You’d think he might have gotten another chance. Anyway – he would up with Milwaukee in the American Association for the next thirteen seasons. Clark was associated with the Brewers for a long time – finished his life in Wisconsin, too.

1885 Hosea Siner

Beaneater for ten games in 1909. Got three hits in 25 trips (two walks) and was destined to a life in the low minors near his native Indiana.

1887 Walter Schmidt

Fine defensive catcher, very mobile, who earned his stripes in the PCL playing for San Francisco. The Pirates bought him after the 1915 season and he became one of the better catchers in the NL – though by the time he was a rookie, he was already 29. Still – he frequently showed up on defensive leader lists and was recognized for his strong throwing arm that cut off the running game. Played until he was nearly 40, remaining in great shape and contributing even as a back up in his last season, playing for the Cards in 1925. Returned to the PCL and played for four more seasons, including logging 108 games as a 40 year old for Seattle. Stayed in the Bay Area, passing on at his home in Modesto, CA on the Fourth of July in 1973.

1888 Les Backman

Cards pitcher in 1909 and 1910 – actually appeared to have gotten better in 1910, but was dispatched to the minors for more seasoning. In a few years, he decided he was done with baseball, went back to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (then called Rose Polytechnical) in Terre Haute to finish his engineering degree. He later signed on to work for the architectural firm of Elzner and Anderson.

Backman pitched professionally under the name of Barton as a member of the Portsmouth Cobblers in the Ohio State League in 1909, earning notice. When he signed to pitch with Robison and the St. Louis Cardinals, he had to stop playing college ball – that after setting a team record by batting .445 as a sophomore. Robison and Billie Gilbert saw Backman pitch and lose, “…but he showed so much in spite of poor support that he was bought for $3000, the price conditioned on his making good.” (“Browns Improve”, The Sporting News, 8 July 1909, Page 4.)

The Backman boys – there were three brothers – were all athletes. Lloyd played football at Cincinnati and West Virginia before becoming a building commissioner (and 32nd level Mason) in Portsmouth, Ohio. In addition to baseball, Lester captained his football team. (“Rose Poly Captain”,Indianapolis Sun, 22 Jan. 1908, Pg. 6) After college, Stanley was the assistant football coach at Cincinnati. (“Death Calls Athlete”, Portsmouth Daily Times, 3 December 1915, Page 10.)

Les Backman died November 8, 1975 in Cincinnati.

1890 Mellie Wolfgang

White Sox pitcher of little note for five seasons in the 1910s, but gone before things got REALLY bad… Wolfgang wasn’t a bad sixth starter for a couple of years there…

1891 Joe Boehling

Richmond native plucked out of the Richmond semi-pro leagues… Apparently, the sporting editor of a DC paper saw him pitch and sent a tip to Clark Griffith. Griffith sent Boehling to Chattanooga and then Worcester, where he was 14 – 8 in the New England League. In 1913, he started his career with eleven straight victories – nine of them starts – before he finally lost to the Browns in mid July. (Sheridan, Hal. “Rise of Senators’ Southpaw Equals Mushroom Growth”, Canton Daily News, 9 August 1913, Page 6.)

He suffered a knee injury in August, 1914 taking him out of the game and requiring surgery in the off-season. (“Joseph Boehling”, Sporting Life, 19 December 1914, Page 1.) He also had to change his throwing motion – umpires said his motion was unfair to baserunners, leading to frequent balks (a record setting six in 1915). The change in his motion affected his control – he allowed “…more free passes than all the sporting editors of the country have issued in 13 years.” (John J. Ward, “Who’s Who on the Diamond”, Baseball Digest, 1917, Volume 19 Issue 5, Pages, 502-503, 531-532.)

In mid-1916, the Indians took a chance at upgrading the team mid-season and sent outfielder Elmer Smith and infielder Joe Leonard to the Nationals for Boehling and outfielder Danny Moeller. Boehling, who had previous success against the two Sox clubs, failed to earn the necessary wins down the stretch and Cleveland faded to the second division in September. (Ed Bang. “Cleveland in Critical Mood”, Sporting Life, 30 September 1916, Page 6.) By 1917, poor performances and getting on the wrong side of the manager led to being sold to Toronto in the Eastern League, but the deal with never finalized. (“Joe Boehling Goes to Minors”, The Free Lance – Richmond, VA, 31 July 1917.)

He listed his employer as the Cleveland Indians when he filed with the draft board for World War I, but his baseball obit says he retired for two seasons before trying (unsuccessfully) to pitch for Cleveland in 1920. In 1918, for example, he was back on the Richmond Battle Axe semi-pro team again. (“Back With Amateurs”, The Milwaukee Journal, Page 51.)

At his peak, the tall and strong lefty had a decent fastball and a sneaky change of pace.

A merchant in the seed and feed business in Richmond after his playing days, married Gertrude Stumpf after returning to Virginia. Died falling off his second story porch – must have been a heck of a fall as he crushed his ribs, at the age of 50, on September 8, 1941. (“Necrology”, The Sporting News, 18 September 1941, Page 14.)

1893 Johnny Butler
1894 Bill Stellbauer
1907 Vern Kennedy
1911 Charlie Moss
1912 Clyde Shoun
1915 Stan Spence
1921 Bill Peterman
1925 Al Widmar
1927 Jim Willis
1928 Jake Crawford
1931 Hank Izquierdo
1933 George Altman
1936 Jim Golden
1937 Kenny Kuhn
1941 Pat Corrales
1943 Steve Dillon
1944 Bob Taylor
1944 Steve Blateric
1948 Chuck Seelbach
1951 Terry McDermott
1952 Rick Langford

Called out as a spitballer by his catcher, Jim Essian.

1952 Greg Terlecky
1954 Steve McCatty

Jim Essian called him out as a spitballer, too.

1954 Paul Mirabella
1960 Mike Young
1963 Dana Williams
1963 Rick Parker
1965 Chris Hoiles
1966 Blas Minor
1970 Will Brunson
1971 Manny Alexander
1972 Jason McDonald
1977 Joe Fontenot
1978 Mike Bynum
1979 Wilfredo Rodriguez
1985 Jonny Venters

Looked like a future relief ace and then his wing blew up. Hope he makes it all the way back. (In 2019 Paul writes, “He did!!!”)

1989 Todd Cunningham
1990 Brad Hand


1933 Dan Burke
1934 Herm Doscher
1935 Bill Holbert
1938 Bob Fothergill
1943 Heinie Wagner
1947 Mike Mowrey
1951 Roscoe Coughlin
1952 Harry Bay
1953 John Brackenridge
1956 Ed Smith
1957 Ezra Midkiff
1958 Gene Dale
1962 John Black
1966 Johnny Morrison
1968 Clyde Shoun
1969 Jim Clark
1970 Jack Flater
1981 Gee Walker
1984 Stan Coveleski
1996 Jim Pendleton
1999 Paul Toth
2001 Luis Alvarado
2012 Mel Parnell
2015 Harley Hisner
2019 Randy Jackson
2020 Bob Stephenson


1934 Babe Didrickson pitches for the Philadelphia A’s in the first inning of a spring training game against Brooklyn. She walks one, but retires three batters without allowing a run.


1937 Homestead gets Josh Gibson and Judy Johnson from the Pittsburgh Crawfords for $25,000 and a couple of lesser lights. (

1954 Milwaukee trades Dave Cole and cash to Chicago for SS Roy Smalley. This, of course, made room on the Cubs for Ernie Banks…

1980 Seattle signs free agent Lenny Randle.

1993 New York (NL) signs undrafted free agent Octavio Dotel.

2006 Boston sends Bronson Arroyo to Cincinnati for Wily Mo Pena.

2009 Houston signs Pudge Rodriguez


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