Happy Birthday, “Crese” Heismann!

The son of German immigrants – his accent likely turning his name, Chris to Crese – Crese Heismann was a left-handed thrower who was one of many fresh arms signed by the American League and assigned to the Baltimore franchise to help it finish the 1902 season.

Christian Ernst (later Ernest) Charles Heismann arrived on 16 April 1880 to August Ernst and Mary (Roettger) Heismann, a farmer who lived on the fringes of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Chris was the oldest of six kids, five of them boys (and another one, Edwin, also a ballplayer).  In time, Christian would work on that farm before his live left arm gave him a chance to be a pitcher.

“No team this season has been able to take the measure of the Shamrocks, who lay claim to possessing the fastest left-handed twirler in this part of the country in Chris Heisman… His work will be watched with interest by minor league managers.”

“Prout and Ward.”, Topeka State Journal, 29 August 1901, Page 2.

Heismann worked his way through to the Shamrocks of Cincinnati, one of the strongest semi-professional teams in the state where he earned a reputation for a lively fastball.  By the end of the 1901 season, Heismann was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and given a chance to show his stuff during the end of a down season.

“Had the Red squad seconded the able efforts of “Crese” Heisman, the second game would have gone on the tab as a Cincinnati win, for the lad from Groesbeck pitched in magnificent form. He held the mighty swatsmen from Quakerdom down like a veteran who knew their weaknesses…

“Heisman’s Great Work”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 01 October 1901, Page 4.

Heismann remained with the Reds in 1902, but wasn’t around long – even though he won two of three decisions.  He landed with Evansville, but that minor league team ran into financial difficulty, so he was eventually released in early July.  At that time, the Baltimore Orioles franchise of the American League was being demolished by owner/manager John McGraw, who sold his shares in the club to John T. Brush, owner of the National League’s New York Giants and stole a number of players for the Giants and Reds.  Desperate for any live arms, Heismann was signed to pitch for Baltimore and he made three more starts for the remnants of the Orioles, losing all three decisions.

“We have the best pitcher in the state, and he is Manager “Chris” Heisman of the Sally league” – Darlington News.

The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, SC), 22 May 1907, Page 3.

At that point, Heismann became a bit of a minor league nomad.  He pitched in Butte, Montana in 1903, then he headed to the south.  According to Baseball-Reference, Heismann pitched in places like Columbia, Savannah, and Roanoke before returning to his native Cincinnati, where he became a successful grocer.

“Chris Heisman, the former left-handed pitcher of the Reds, has, like Bid McPhee, quit the professional ranks for good. He may play with some K. I. O. League club this summer, but as must of his time will be taken up supplying the Fairview Heights people with groceries it is hardly likely the Saturday Afternoon League will secure the clever southpaw’s services. Chris has three brothers in the grocery business with him, but Ed is the only other ball player in the lot. Ed played short for College Hill last season and pitched for Manager Ripley’s Rushville team, winning most of his games.”

“Baseball Gossip.”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 02 February 1908, Page 8.

In 1910, Heismann married Ida Louise Riemeier.  They had a son, Carl, in 1916.  Five years later, a second child died just two days after birth.  Carl died just after his 23rd birthday in a car accident in Albuquerque, NM.  At the time, he was the youngest salesperson on the road for Procter and Gamble.  Ida and Chris spent the rest of their years owning grocery stores in Ohio and, for a brief period after the death of their second child, in Indiana.  Chris passed to the next league on 19 November 1951 in Cincinnati, OH.


1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Censuses
Ohio County Marriage Records

“Amateur Baseball Gossip”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 28 July 1901, Page 14.

“Prout and Ward.”, Topeka State Journal, 29 August 1901, Page 2.

“Philadelphia 10, Cincinnati 2.”, St. Joseph Gazette-Herald, 01 October 1901, Page 8.

“Heisman’s Great Work”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 01 October 1901, Page 4.

“Evansville Players Released.”, Indianapolis Journal, 08 July 1902, Page 6.

The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, SC), 22 May 1907, Page 3.

“Baseball Gossip.”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 02 February 1908, Page 8.

Also, Butte (MT) Miner box scores in 1903.

“Carl Heismann.”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 26 April 1939, Page 17.

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