Happy Birthday, Poll Perritt!

Perritt Ithaca Journal - 1917

Perritt in 1917 (Ithaca Journal)

Given a farcical nickname based on his last name and prominent nose, William Dayton “Poll” Perritt had a successful ten-year pitching career, pitched in a World Series, was bribed by Hal Chase, tussled with John McGraw and oil barons, and became a modestly successful Louisiana oilman.

 

William Dayton Perritt was the first child born to William Thomas Perritt, a farmer, and Hanie (Walker) Perritt on 30 August 1891 in Arcadia, Louisiana.  Hanie’s great-grandfather, Reverend Sanders Walker, was a Revolutionary War chaplain.  William Thomas Perritt was the first son of Madison Perritt, who served with Company B of the 12th Louisiana Infantry during the Civil War, and his grandfather fought in the Seminole War.[i]  William and Hanie had four children.  Hanie died in 1909; William soon married Kate Willet, an Alabama native.  William and Kate had six more children together.

Dayton played baseball on area sandlots, learning the game from his uncle, Madison Floyd Perritt, who was about seven years older than Dayton and pitched in the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues, among other stops.  Madison’s nickname was also Poll.  The first mention of Dayton Perritt came in 1908 when he was the winning pitcher for Arcadia.  Perritt had multiple interests – he sang in a quartet[ii] and was a runner, long jumper, and pole vaulter on his high school track team.[iii]

Uncle Madison got Dayton tryouts with local teams.  Perritt pitched semi-professional ball for Homer and Minden in Louisiana prior to his jump into professional baseball.[iv]  In 1912 Vicksburg of the Cotton States League signed Perritt.  That spring he faced Wild Bill Donovan in an exhibition game when the Detroit Tigers toured Mississippi during spring training.[v]

At first, Perritt was a hesitant fielder. In an early game against New Orleans the bases were loaded when the batter hit the ball to Perritt.

“At the time Perritt lacked the ability to know what to do and stood there perfectly dumbfounded.  He ought to have thrown home and shut off the runner who was forced to run, as the bags were crowded.  But he stood there gazing and dreaming until the runner crossed, and finally the New Orleans “ha ha’s” aroused him and he tossed to first in time to get the runner.”[vi]

A week later, pitching to a catcher whose last name was PARROTT, Perritt earned his first win over Jackson.[vii]  Such heady days pitching for Vicksburg would be few.  He blanked when fielding a squeeze bunt and failed to throw the ball to any base.  After that game, Vicksburg released Perritt.[viii]

Fortunately, his best outings were against Greenwood in the same league.  Greenwood lacked pitching; Perritt got a second chance.  On 20 May, he pitched both ends of a doubleheader against Vicksburg winning and losing one.[ix]  Perritt became the Joy Riders’ ace.  By late summer the Cotton States League disbanded leaving Greenwood as champions.[x]  Cardinal scout Bill Armour saw the lanky ace and convinced Perritt to come north with him to St. Louis.[xi]

On 07 September 1912, still in his first professional season of baseball, Roger Bresnahan called on the player with his own nickname to replace starter Sandy Burk.  Perritt ended the fifth inning (Poll’s first) with his first career strikeout victim: Honus Wagner.  Writers noticed Perritt looked like the left-handed Harry (Slim) Sallee, another pitcher with an alliterative handle and obvious nickname.  Both were tall and lanky with drooping shoulders – they even pitched similarly, except Perritt threw with his right hand and Sallee was a southpaw.[xii]  The next season they were roommates and became best of friends.[xiii]

Perritt closed the season beating Cincinnati by retiring the last nine batters for his first major league victory.

Miller Huggins managed the Cardinals in 1913 and gave Perritt a chance to join the rotation.  Thankfully, he was very patient.  Huggins got perhaps two good outings a month from Perritt, enough to keep his job while learning the ropes.  And Perritt had lots to learn.  He still got lost fielding the ball with men on base.

“There are a lot of things that a young pitcher must learn and learn quickly when he lands in major league company, and one of them is that with runners on the bases no pitcher should twist himself out of shape before delivering the ball, and allow an opponent to pull off a wide-open steal…  Naturally they don’t play ball in Greenwood like they do in the big leagues, so, perhaps, “Polly” will have to be excused this time for the blunder he made.”[xiv]

Lessons from Sallee and Huggins kicked in during his last three outings.  He went ten innings before losing to Philadelphia’s Pete Alexander, 2 – 0.  He next lost to Boston but allowed just two runs and five hits.  In his last start, he held the Reds to two runs on six hits and got the win.  He finished with a 5.27 ERA and a 6 – 14 record.  Still – he kept a job all season.

Then Perritt mingled with Joe Tinker, who was to manage the Chicago Whales of the Federal League, and used that to get a raise out of the Cardinals for 1914.[xv]

The 1914 Cardinals were in contention for the pennant and Perritt had a number of excellent outings from the start.  Soon, Perritt was the subject of rumors saying he would leave the Cardinals and join the Federal League.  Ennis “Rebel” Oakes managed Pittsburgh in the Federal League and, being from Lisbon, Louisiana, Oakes had known Perritt for years.[xvi]

Perritt also became the subject of poetry.  Billy Murphy wrote a poem based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and tied to Perritt’s success over the Robins.  In this poem, manager Wilbert Robinson had a “grewsome” dream.  Here’s an edited passage…

Last night while I pondered, dreary grouchy and very weary

Over Wednesday’s wretched battle far up on the seventh floor…

Open then I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a lengthy Perritt (Perritts always are a bore).

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my hotel door,

On a photograph of Rucker, hanging o ‘er my hotel door.

Perched and sat – and nothing more.

‘Perritt,’ cried I, ‘thing of evil, Perritt you’re a pitching devil;’

Whether Huggins sent or Britton cast thee here ashore.

Desolate, yet still undaunted, will you leave us, disenchanted,

Our poor team by hoodoo haunted, tell me quickly, I implore.

Are we going to win today?  Tell me for I’m getting sore.”

Quoth Poll Perritt: “Never more.”[xvii]

Murphy, Billy. “The Perritt.”, St. Louis Star, 23 July 1914, Page 11.

Perritt got along with most people, but was generally quiet.  He was closest to his younger brother, Henry, and his road roommate (and doppelganger), Slim Sallee.  During the season, Sallee and Perritt were inseparable.  Sallee talked pitching with Perritt and Perritt took his advice.  According to a Cardinals scribe, Perritt and Sallee “…take their strolls together, read together, eat together, and sleep together.”[xviii]  In the offseason, Dayton and Henry worked at a bank in Louisiana.  Perritt loved cars – he drove a Metz roadster… quickly.  But, for the most part, he didn’t make waves.

Except when it came to his contracts.  The Cardinals offered Perritt a three-year deal at $4,000 per year but Perritt didn’t sign.  So, the Cardinals privately told people he was drinking and complained about Perritt’s play or effort.[xix]  Oakes made progress with Perritt, and though Perritt claimed he would be loyal to the Cardinals[xx], Poll jumped the team the very day he received a $600 bonus check from the Cardinals for their third place finish.  Immediately Cardinals President Schuyler Britton stopped payment on his check.  Perritt and Britton met and had a heated exchange.

“…Polly demanded in firm, but menacing language to know why payment had been stopped on his $600 bonus check.

“’Because,’ explained Britton, ‘you failed to fulfill your contract by jumping to the Federal League.  You signed a contract with the Cardinals which contained a reserve clause.  You jumped that reserve and thereby broke the contract.  For that reason I don’t propose to pay you a $600 bonus.’

“Polly left the office with threats that he would sue for his money, as he figured he earned it.  Polly intends to postpone his trip to Louisiana until he realizes on the check.  He expects to file suit soon, and has communicated this fact to Britton, whose only replay was, ‘Sue to your heart’s content.’”[xxi]

“Perritt Holds Conference With Owner Britton”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 October 1914, Sports Section, Page 2.Perritt hired a lawyer and filed a claim with the National Commission.[xxii]

Miller Huggins wasn’t going to lose his pitcher without a fight.  Huggins “traded” Sallee’s rights to the Giants, who made Sallee a better offer than what Oakes offered.  McGraw offered to trade a player back to the Cardinals once he signed Sallee to a valid contract.[xxiii][xxiv]

When Oakes heard that, he met Perritt at a café in St. Louis.  Perritt turned combative with his friend.  He knocked Oakes out of his chair “and sent him sprawling into the aisle…”[xxv]  McGraw signed Sallee to a three-year deal and covered the $600 bonus.

“Pitcher ‘Poll’ Perritt has purchased a new $5,000 automobile.  Perritt has disposed of the little $500 chug-chug cart in which he was content to spin about town during the past year.  This is but another proof of what the Federal League has done for the poor, down-trodden ball players.”[xxvi]

“Kenneth Mooney, Acting President Of Cards While Mr. Britton Is Away”, St. Louis Star and Times, 19 January 1915, Page 8.

Perritt’s case showed that organized baseball’s reserve clause was a sham according to the Federal League, which was in the process of filing a lawsuit against the other major leagues for violating anti-trust laws.

“Perritt’s contract with the St. Louis Cardinals expired last fall and he signed with the Pittsburgh Federals, receiving $2,000 in advance money.  Organized baseball contended that Perritt was held by an option clause in his 1914 contract with the Cardinals.  Organized baseball had so much faith in the option clause that it authorized John McGraw to travel through several States in the South to round up Perritt and sign him to a new St. Louis contract.  Later a scout for the New York Club got Perritt’s signature on a contract for three years.

“Viewing it without bias, does not the course pursued by organized baseball constitute an admission of the fact that it had no legal hold on the pitcher?  Had Perritt been the property of the Cardinals the easiest course would be that of taking legal action to retain the player.  The fact that an affidavit by Perritt was filed in the Federal’s suit against organized baseball should not be lost sight of.”[xxvii]

“No O. B. Players Jumped Contract In Joining Feds”, Buffalo Times, 07 March 1915, Page 71.

McGraw and Huggins spent the spring arguing about their “trade” for Perritt.  Huggins wanted Bob Bescher; McGraw countered with Walter Holke, Fred Snodgrass, or Fred Merkle.  No Giant player wanted to play in St. Louis.[xxviii]  Bescher wanted a raise if he got traded and he wanted the Cardinals to pay him whatever bonus Giants players received for winning the pennant.[xxix]  Bescher relented and joined the Cardinals for 1915.

Perritt Buffalo Enquirer - 1917

Perritt in 1917 (Buffalo Journal)

Perritt couldn’t have made a worse first impression with the Giants.  Each of his first three starts were worse than the previous one.  Then, before the 01 May 1915 game with Philadelphia, he was shagging flies when he collided with Phillies third baseman Bobby Byrne – head hitting head.  Perritt suffered a broken nose, cuts near both eyes, and three teeth were knocked out.[xxx]

 

Perritt took the mound just twelve days later to beat the Reds for his first win.[xxxi]  That was his lone highlight, however, and the Giants fell to last place.  McGraw grew feisty.  He allegedly offered to send Perritt back to St. Louis for nothing if Huggins would take on Perritt’s three-year, nearly $20,000 contract.[xxxii]  Perritt finally found his form in June.  In July, he got revenge against the Cards by winning game one of a doubleheader in relief and then shut them out in the second game.[xxxiii]  The Giants made it back to .500 before a rash of doubleheaders wore out the team.  The Giants returned to last place and Perritt finished 12 – 18; his 12 wins were second behind his new brother-in-law, Jeff Tesreau.

Tesreau and his wife, Helena, invited Perritt to their home for dinners.  Occasionally, Helena invited her sister, Florence Blake, to join them.  Later, Dayton took Florence out for rides in his car and they frequently exchanged letters.  Jerome Beatty wrote “…When the Giants were on the road Poll’s morning rush to look over the mail was so impulsive that in a St. Louis hotel it was said he almost killed a suspender salesman who was so unfortunate as to stand between Poll and a letter.”[xxxiv]  That October, Perritt pitched his Giants to a win over the Lincoln Negro Giants in an exhibition, then drove to the Church of the Annunciation and married Florence.[xxxv]

Perritt suffered one more baseball loss in 1915 – his 1914 bonus claim.  The National Commission ruled against Perritt saying he couldn’t ask for a supplementary portion of a contract he himself had breached (meaning the reserve clause) by not staying with the Cardinals.[xxxvi]

1916 started differently for Perritt.  McGraw didn’t use Perritt much – there were other options and Perritt was rarely good in the cold days of April and early May.  When given his chance, Perritt won four straight decisions in May.  And the Giants, which opened the season 2 – 13, got hot with him.  New York won seventeen straight games to close on first place Brooklyn.  Perritt helped out his superstitious teammates.

“An interesting sight to the New York fans will be the daily trip of Poll Perritt from the bench to the club house with the little leather bag containing the balls.  He started that on the first day of the Western journey, and every time he takes the game in a bag to the club house” the Giants have managed to win.  The players have grown so much faith in this lucky move that Poll is forced to do the stunt every afternoon.  On two occasions the lanky pitcher forgot his duty until the last minute, and the Giants came within an ace of losing.”[xxxvii]

Bulger, Bozeman.  “Giants Are Home Again After Most Successful Trip Any Club Ever Had”, New York Evening World, 02 June 1916, Page 15.

Then, the Giants signed another St. Louis pitcher – Slim Sallee.

Perritt was edgier in July until he learned his first daughter, Florence Rose, was born and everybody was healthy and happy.  That same day, the Giants traded Christy Mathewson to the Reds where Matty became a manager, which meant regular duty for Perritt the rest of the season.[xxxviii]  Poll won eight of his last eleven decisions.

Two wins came on 09 September when Perritt won both ends of a doubleheader to beat the Phillies, winning 3 – 1 in the opener and 3 – 0 in game two.  Brooklyn moved into first place, dropping the Phillies into second.[xxxix]  On a roll the Giants won 26 games (and one tie) to roar into third place with only a four game series left with first place Brooklyn.

On 02 October, Brooklyn held a half-game lead over the Phillies, who finished with a series against Boston.  Wilbert Robinson, John McGraw’s best friend in baseball, managed the Robins.  In prior years, teams alleged McGraw got help from former players and teammates who now managed other teams and allegedly lost games to help the Giants win pennants.  Would McGraw return the favor to Robinson?  In the first game of their series, McGraw started relative newcomer Ferdie Schupp, who won the ERA crown with a 0.90 ERA in 140 innings.  Schupp was good, but Art Fletcher stumbled fielding a grounder by Jake Daubert allowing Daubert to reach.  Daubert took off for second and the catcher’s throw got to second base in time – but Buck Herzog dropped the throw.  Zack Wheat singled and the Robins held on to win.[xl]

Meanwhile, Boston wouldn’t sit down for the Phillies.  Two Boston players suffered broken arms when hit by pitches thrown by Philadelphia pitchers.[xli]  The Braves and Phillies split a double header, extending the Robins lead to a full game.

The next day, the Giants – who were brilliant in games heading into this series – played the ugliest game possible.  Despite sloppy base running, the Giants held a 4 – 1 lead, but pitcher Rube Benton couldn’t hold it and almost immediately was pulled in favor of Perritt.

Perritt got little help, too.  Players dropped the ball or delayed making throws.  At some point, Perritt started contributing to the sloppy play with a horribly bad throw, a REALLY wild pitch, and taking long wind ups with runners on base.  Perritt’s biggest blunder came after getting a base hit.  With McGraw coaching third base, Perritt inexplicably stopped halfway between second and third on George Burns’ single to right.  Perritt was thrown out by a mile.[xlii]

If McGraw intended to throw another game to his friend, he certainly didn’t expect to see it happen like this.  A successful sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second turned into a 1 – 3 – 6 – 8 – 2 double play when the runner on second, Dave Robertson, continued to third base – which was already occupied.  McGraw got angriest with Perritt, screaming obscenities and leaving the field after Perritt allowed a runner to steal a base.  He claimed his team quit on him.

“That stuff was too much for me.  I do not believe that any of my players favored Brooklyn, but they simply refused to obey my orders and fooled in a listless manner.  When Perritt wound up with a man on base allowing the runner to steal second I lost my patience and left the bench.  I have worked too hard this year to stand around and watch playing like that and I refuse to be connected with it.  I am through for the year.”[xliii]

“Too Much For McGraw”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 04 October 1916, Page 14.

The Phillies didn’t help themselves.  In a second doubleheader, they lost both games to Boston.  With two games left for both teams, the Phillies now trailed by 2.5 games and Brooklyn claimed the pennant.

Something stunk, and it wasn’t just the way the Giants played.  People accused Perritt of laying down.  “If there is any implication that I helped to lose the game you can give it the lie for me,” said Perritt.  “That game cost me the $100 I had bet that I would win 20 games.  I was out to win.”  (Papers showed Perritt had a 19 – 10 record, though official statistics had him with 18).[xliv]

McGraw’s calling out his players for quitting angered his players and especially Wilbert Robinson.  Wilbert said, “McGraw’s assertions are very unsportsmanlike.  He knows very well that the Dodgers have defeated them in a majority of the games in which they have met this season, and that when they came over here Monday they encountered the best team in the league and it is only natural that the best team should win again…”[xlv]

League administrators held an informal meeting at dinner that night and exonerated the Giants, saying the league would take no action.[xlvi]  Grantland Rice best summarized the problem in his next column.

“The criticism goes against the Giants, who by their listless attitude at such an important section of the stretch dealt baseball a hard blow, in that it gave any number of critics the opening they had been looking for to charge the Giants with friendliness toward the Brooklyn camp.”

“In a frame-up or an understood arrangement the affair would have been handled with greater care.  In this case the entire smear was open to public inspection.  No attempt was made to cover anything up…  The Giants, or rather the most of them, made no effort to conceal the fact that they were not interested in the game to the slightest degree.  Whether this was due to a big letdown from the recent record drive or from friendliness to Robby, or from a lack of desire to get out and hustle, is a phase of the situation that no one can tell.”

“This, of course, was strictly unfair to Philadelphia.  The Giants should have realized this, and no matter how badly stale they might have felt the effort at least should have been made to play the game and play it to the final out…”

“…It was a most unfortunate ending to one of the greatest races the National League has ever had.  It was unfortunate for Brooklyn, who had no part in the plot; unfortunate for the Giants, who lost any number of friends, and unfortunate for baseball, a sport that has been built up on the theory that all connected with it shall play the game and play it out.”[xlvii]

Rice, Grantland. “Listless Work of Giants Justly Angers McGraw And Spoils the Finish of Great Pennant Race”, New York Tribune, 04 October 1916, Page 16.

Poll Perritt - NY Daily News 1920

Perritt in 1920 (NY Daily News)

With the long winning streak to close the season, the Giants were favored to win the pennant in 1917. Perritt began the season as he had in previous years.  McGraw didn’t use him much in the first few weeks.  And, he missed time with an illness in early June.[xlviii]

 

Then, for almost four months, Perritt was brilliant.  His ERA from June 14th through the end of the 1917 season was 1.47.  Perritt finished 17 – 7 with a 1.87 ERA – second on the team in ERA, third in wins.  As predicted, the Giants won the pennant and faced the White Sox in the World Series.  Because the Sox featured so many good left handed batters – like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Collins – Perritt saw little action.  The Giants gave all starts to southpaws Ferdie Schupp, Slim Sallee, and Rube Benton.  Perritt pitched three times in relief as the White Sox dispatched the Giants in six games.

Perritt reached his peak – a pretty good pitcher, very good on his best days – and relatively durable for the last five seasons.  Yet some in the New York press complained he should have been better – almost blaming his southern heritage for his failings.

“The great trouble with Perritt heretofore has been failure to look upon his profession in all the seriousness characteristic of genius.  Poll is a big, good-natured boy, willing to get along with the world as easily as possible.  It would be wrong to accuse him of laziness just because he was born and raised in Arcadia, La., where the sun scorches out ambition and the hookworm runs rampant.”

“He is lean and lanky, almost to cadaverous.  He stands 6 feet 2 inches, but weighs slightly more than 170 pounds in condition.  He has not the beef to stand up under rough usage in hot weather.

“He is of the wiry, whipcordy type, with long arms and fitting physical development of the torso. (He) is possessed of wonderful speed and an exceptional curve ball to supplement it.  With such a curve Walter Johnson would be unhittable.”[xlix]

MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

Having won a pennant, many of the Giants looked for a raise.  One, naturally, was Poll Perritt.  He was among the last to sign his contract for 1918.

It was a rough year for the Giants.  Perritt was the only starter to regularly pitch the war-shortened 1918 season.  Perritt started the year like an ace, winning twelve of fourteen decisions and throwing four shutouts by Independence Day.  But something changed on July 4th.  He went into a seven-week slump where his ERA was double that of the previous three months.  He might have been overworked while everyone else was unavailable.  The Giants season went much the same way – starting the season 18 – 2 and then playing .500 ball until the Cubs took the pennant.  Perritt finished the season at 18 – 13 pitching 233 innings though the team played essentially 75% of a full season.

As the 1918 summer wound down, Cincinnati came into town and played the Giants in a doubleheader on 17 July.  While Perritt started tossing a ball around, Reds first baseman Hal Chase stopped by with a proposition.  He asked Perritt which game of the doubleheader he would be pitching.  Chase added, “I wish you’d tip me off, because if I know which game you will pitch and can connect with a certain party before game time, you will have nothing to fear.”[l]  (Later, it was suggested that Chase offered Perritt $800 to throw the game.[li])  Perritt told McGraw about it and said he was so bothered by it he should have punched Chase.[lii]   Later, in his official affidavit, Perritt added that he told McGraw it was about time players got together and got Chase out of the game for good.[liii]  As for his pitching, Perritt was especially miffed when his wild pitch allowed what turned into the winning run in the fifth inning of a 2 – 1 loss to the Reds.[liv]

Three weeks later, Hal Chase was suspended by Reds manager Christy Mathewson for “indifferent playing.”[lv]  Chase took up his suspension to the National Commission and a hearing was held in New York.  However, many of the players who were to be witnesses at the hearing failed to attend.  Mathewson was in Europe fighting for the Allies.  McGraw was out of town and Perritt was busy in Louisiana with his new job.[lvi]  When League President John Heydler handed down his decision, “…it is nowhere established that the accused was interested in any pool or wager that caused any game of ball to result otherwise than on its merits…,” he decided there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Chase.[lvii]

McGraw, later quoted as saying he thought the case against Chase was weak even though he testified against him[lviii], signed Chase to play for the Giants in 1919.[lix]

That offseason, Dayton and Henry Perritt became oilmen, investing money into nearby land and oil derricks.  Poll reached out to current and former teammates to encourage them to invest in Louisiana oil country – including Rebel Oakes and one-time Federal League team owner Harry Sinclair[lx], who became a major oil producer in the area.  Poll Perritt became W. D. Perritt, a director for the Bird Brothers Oil Company.[lxi]

Perritt Oil Ad - Shreveport Journal 1918

Perritt saw he could acquire wealth in a way he couldn’t with the Giants.  And McGraw, with whom he had an occasionally contentious relationship, signed the very player who offered Perritt a bribe in 1918.  So he turned down his 1919 New York Giants contract.[lxii]  Instead, Perritt signed leases on thousands of acres of land and started sinking wells.[lxiii]  Perritt didn’t avoid baseball – he ran the semi-professional team in Homer and pitched a few frames.[lxiv]  Eventually he decided he needed a regular paycheck and in May, while trying to find other investors in his oil company, he visited McGraw in New York City and signed a Giants contract.[lxv]

Having missed spring training, Perritt couldn’t get into playing shape and lost the break on his curveball.[lxvi]  Later, he claimed his forearm was sore trying to get in shape too quickly and though he tried visiting an osteopath it didn’t work.[lxvii]  In August, he was allowed to leave the team to pitch semi-pro games in hopes he would regain his form.  As a member of the Treat ‘Em Rough semi-pro team Perritt once faced Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants – featuring Oscar Charleston, Bingo DeMoss, Cristobal Torriente and others – and lost both games of a double header.[lxviii]

Perritt and Treat Em Rough Team - Shreveport Journal 1920

Perritt (in Giants uniform) with Rube Benton, Carl Mays, Guy Empey, Jeff Tesreau, and Jimmie Clinton – Shreveport Journal, 1920.

After the season, he fought with his Giants teammates for money.  When post-season bonuses were paid, Giants players didn’t vote Perritt a share.  Perritt – who never ducked a chance to make more cash – threatened to go to the National Commission for his share.  He instead compromised with his teammates and took a half share, though he had pitched only nineteen innings for the Giants in 1919.[lxix]

Perritt went back to his oil business, occasionally pitching semi-professional baseball in the summer of 1920.  The Giants allowed Poll to sign with San Antonio in the Texas League; if Perritt pitched well they could recall his rights.  Perritt won two decisions then joined the Giants in late August, making only eight appearances.[lxx]  He even joined the Giants when they made a tour of Cuba that October[lxxi] and agreed to join the Giants in spring training for 1921.[lxxii]

Poll Perritt - Minneapolis 1921

Perritt’s 1921 season was his last.  The Giants released Perritt in May.[lxxiii]  The Detroit Tigers signed Perritt – he was released in early July.[lxxiv]  Ty Cobb recommended Perritt to the Minneapolis Millers[lxxv], but he wasn’t in shape so the Millers sent Perritt to St. Joseph, where Perritt would quickly dominate the Western Association and then return to the Millers to finish the season.  Perritt was, at best, tolerably effective in the American Association and his career ended.  Perritt left with a bang – in his last game with St. Joseph he homered during a ninth inning winning rally.[lxxvi]  When he rejoined Minneapolis, he hit an inside the park homer over the head of St. Paul’s Bruno Haas.[lxxvii]

Perritt finished his career with a 92 – 78 record, 543 strikeouts in 1456.2 innings, and a perfect 1.000 batting average in two at bats during the 1917 World Series.

Was it Poll or Pol Perritt?  Modern encyclopedias (and online versions, like Baseball-Reference.com) use Pol.  However, for most of his early years it was spelled with two Ls.  For much of his New York days he was Poll – though it alternated with Pol some.  Sometimes they needed space for the typesetter…  Since Poll was more frequently used during his playing days, we use Poll here.

W. D. Perritt’s oil baron life reads like episodes of a modern television drama. He acquired land leases and drilled for oil.[lxxviii] Some wells spilled out several barrels of oil each day.  In bad years, he was sued to pay debts.  Once, he got in a fight with a neighbor, Paul Miller, because Miller built a fence to keep Perritt’s daughters from stomping over Miller’s vegetable garden.[lxxix]

In 1934, the pitcher known for being a “temperamental cuss”[lxxx] fought with his good friend Dick Sebastian over a loan.  Perritt entered Sebastian’s hotel room where Sebastian had been enjoying dinner with two female friends.  When they started quarreling over money, Sebastian pulled out a .22 caliber pistol and shot Perritt in the hip.  That didn’t stop Perritt – they continued to brawl and when police arrived, Perritt was on top of Sebastian.[lxxxi]

Both daughters, Florence and Helen, moved to New York and stayed in the northeast.  Florence, the wife, died while visiting Florence, the daughter, in Massachusetts in 1944.[lxxxii] Daughter Florence went to business school and took a job with Continental Can, where she’d meet her husband.  Florence passed away in 2008.[lxxxiii]  Helen became a social worker before passing away in 1987.[lxxxiv]  Perritt’s brother, Henry Walker Perritt, remained in the oil industry (and active in local politics) until he passed in 1990.[lxxxv]  William Thomas Perritt outlived his first son, dying in 1955.[lxxxvi]

William Dayton Perritt fell ill in 1947 and died in Shreveport, Louisiana on 15 October 1947.[lxxxvii]

SOURCES:

Baseball-Reference.com

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=perrit001wil

Retrosheet.com

https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/P/Pperrp101.htm

(Also, related linked pages that display his daily details or team game logs)

FindaGrave.com

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22394/pol-perritt  (William Dayton Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70881989/william-thomas-perritt  (William Thomas Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70881904/hanie-perritt  (Haney Walker Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/48861294/henry-clay-walker  (Henry Clay Walker)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90940710/kate-perritt  (Kate Willet Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70881455/madison-perritt  (Madison Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115099349  (William Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115099274/jane-perritt  (Jane Loyd Perritt)

1830 – 1880, 1900 – 1940 US Censuses

Louisiana and New York Marriage Indexes

1920 US Passport Application

Military Headstone Application

Social Security Application

World War II Draft Registration Card

Louisiana Death Index

Biography of Madison and Amanda Perritt, transcribed from Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, Southern Publishing Company, Chicago and Nashville) and posted to Ancestry.com on 10 February 2016 by Walt Perro.

Newspaper Image Sources:

Picture of Perritt. Ithaca Journal, 27 September 1917, Page 8.

Picture of Perritt. Buffalo Enquirer, 22 September 1917, Page 10.

Picture of Perritt. Buffalo Enquirer, 15 January 1918, Page 11.

(Ad) “Claiborne Oil Field”, Shreveport Times, 25 January 1919, Page 10.

Picture of Treat Em Rough Members: Rube Benton, Carl Mays, Guy Empey, Perritt, Jeff Tesreau, and Jimmie Clinton.  Shreveport Journal, 25 February 1920, Page 16.

“Pol Perritt, New Miller, in Many Moods”, Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, 24 July 1921, Sports Section, Page 2.

Picture of Perritt – New York Daily News, 04 September 1920, Page 16.

END NOTES:

[i] “Pioneer Citizen Drops Dead At His Home”, Shreveport Times, 10 July 1919, (no page given).

[ii] “Sextette of Towns”, Shreveport Journal, 14 April 1909, Page 8.

[iii] “High School Field Exercises Today”, Shreveport Times, 16 April 1909, Page 6.

[iv] MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

[v] “Vix. Makes Good Showing in Clash With Tigers”, Vicksburg Evening Post, 01 April 1912, Page 5.

[vi] “Pels Romped On Hill Bills”, Vicksburg Evening Post, 13 April 1912, Page 3.

[vii] “Jackson Beaten By Vicksburg Team”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 20 April 1912, Page 10.

[viii] “Perritt and Hooks Canned”, Vicksburg Evening Post, 26 April 1912, Page 3.

[ix] “Double Bill Split on Greenwood Lot”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 21 May 1912, Page 10.

[x] “Cotton States Closes”, Natchez Democrat, 29 August 1912, Page 2.

[xi] “‘Come Back’ Rally Again Helps Cardinals Rout Ambitious Reds”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01 October 1912, Page 15.

[xii] Murphy, Billy.  “Perritt One Pitcher Who Has Never Received Credit For Brilliant Work In Box”, St. Louis Star and Times, 21 August 1914, Page 7.

[xiii] “Sallee Comes to Town to Visit Polly Perritt”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 28 January 1914, Page 7.

[xiv] “Hunt Tosses One Away By His Wildness, 6 – 1”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 20 April 1913, Sports Section Page 1.

[xv] “Cardinals Beat Feds to Pitcher Perritt”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 27 January 1914, Page 6.

[xvi] “Cards Continue Conquest of East by Toppling Phillies; ‘Poll’ Perritt Plucks Plum”, St. Louis Star, 17 June 1914, Page 9.

[xvii] Murphy, Billy. “The Perritt.”, St. Louis Star, 23 July 1914, Page 11.

[xviii] M’Skimming, Dent. “Cincy Games Are Important”, St. Louis Star, 12 September 1914, Page 6.

[xix] “Perritt Says Row With Britton Led To Fed Jump.”, Buffalo Enquirer, 06 March 1915, Page 8.

[xx] M’Skimming, Dent. “Perritt Is Loyal To Cards”, St. Louis Star, 14 September 1914, Page 6.

[xxi] “Perritt Holds Conference With Owner Britton”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 October 1914, Sports Section, Page 2.

[xxii] O’Connor, W. J. “Feds Seeking To Wreck Cardinals And Herzog’s Reds”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 15 October 1914, Page 23.

[xxiii] “Cards’ Side of Perritt Deal; Waits on Decision of Judge’ Wingo Trade Is in Same Situation”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 03 March 1915, Page 14.

[xxiv] “Ray Caldwell Ready To Return To The Yankees; Wingo Admits ‘Back Flop'”, Buffalo Courier, 07 January 1915, Page 12.

[xxv] Pierce, Harry F. “Perritt And Oakes Battle In A Cafe; Pitcher May Jump”, St. Louis Star, 02 January 1915, Page 7.

[xxvi] “Kenneth Mooney, Acting President Of Cards While Mr. Britton Is Away”, St. Louis Star, 19 January 1915, Page 8.

[xxvii] “No O. B. Plauyers Jumped Contract In Joining Feds”, Buffalo Times, 07 March 1915, Page 71.

[xxviii] Pierce, Harry F. “Hub Perdue Obeys ‘Hug’s’ Orders and Indians Tie Game”, St. Louis Star, 15 March 1915, Page 11.

[xxix] Linck, J. V. “Giant Expected to Play in Spring Series Sunday”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 26 March 1915, Page 10.

[xxx] “Alexander Too Much For Crippled Giants”, New York Tribune, 02 May 1915, Page 13.

[xxxi] Broun, Heywood.  “Poll Perritt Takes Lesson From Matty”, New York Tribune, 14 May 1915, Page 14.

[xxxii] “Sports Of All Sorts”, Binghamton Press, 29 May 1915, Page 15.

[xxxiii] “Cardinals Drop Two To Giants”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 18 July 1915, Sporting Section Page 1.

[xxxiv] Beatty, Jerome. “Cupid Signs Up Poll Perritt In Hymen’s League”, New York Tribune, 19 October 1915, Page 13.

[xxxv] “‘Polly’ Perritt Weds Tesreau’s Sister-in-Law”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 19 October 1915, Page 10.

[xxxvi] O’Connor, W. J. “Austin’s Future May Give Jones Anxious Moments”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 28 January 1916, Page 18.

[xxxvii] Bulger, Bozeman.  “Giants Are Home Again After Most Successful Trip Any Club Ever Had”, New York Evening World, 02 June 1916, Page 15.

[xxxviii] “Mathewson Is Now Manager Of Reds”, New York Times, 21 July 1916, Page 6.

[xxxix] “Poll Perritt Pitches Two Games and Wins”, New York Tribune, 10 September 1916, Sports Section Page 1.

[xl] “O’Neill, Frank. “Robin’s Victory Over Giants Gains Ground on Threatening Phillies”, New York Tribune, 03 October 1916, Page 14.

[xli] “Stallings Says It Is Do Or Die For Braves In Series With Phils”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 02 October 1916, Page 14.

[xlii] O’Neill, Frank. “Dodgers Rout Giants in Crucial Battle”, New York Tribune, 04 October 1916, Page 16.  Also, “Superbas Capture National Pennant”, New York Times, 04 October 1916, Page 12.

[xliii] “Too Much For McGraw”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 04 October 1916, Page 14.

[xliv] “Brooklyn Wins National League Flag; Giants Are Accused Of Lying Down”, Binghamton Press, 04 October 1916, Page 13.

[xlv] “M’Graw Accuses His Men Of Quitting”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 04 October 1916, Page 14.

[xlvi] “Commission Fails To Take Action On Giants ‘Lay Down’, Philadelphia Inquirer, 05 October 1916, Page 12.

[xlvii] Rice, Grantland. “Listless Work of Giants Justly Angers McGraw And Spoils the Finish of Great Pennant Race”, New York Tribune, 04 October 1916, Page 16.

[xlviii] O’Connor, W. J. “Giants Again Rough-Riding Over Umpires and Players”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 04 June 1917, Page 20.

[xlix] MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

[l] “Karpe’s Comment on Sport Topics”, Buffalo Evening News, 24 August 1918, Page 14.

[li] “Sports Chatter”, Buffalo Times, 30 Jamuary 1919, Page 16.

[lii] “Double-Header Briefs”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 August 1918, Page 8.

[liii] “Double-Header Briefs”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 August 1918, Page 8. And, “Chase Accused In Affidavits”, New York Times, 04 October 1920, Page 8.

[liv] “‘Red’ Causey Steers Giants To Victory”, New York Tribune, 18 July 1918.

[lv] Erry, J. “Only Natural Mathewson And Chase Should Come To Parting of the Ways”, Dayton Daily News, 08 August 1918, Page 16.

[lvi] “Heydler Reserves Decision In Case”, 31 January 1919, Page 12.

[lvii] Macbeth, W. J. “Star Among First Baseman Not Guilty”, New York Tribune, 06 February 1919, Page 17.

[lviii] Rice, Thomas S. “Daubert For Reds Would Suit Nicely”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 31 January 1919, Section 1, Page 2.

[lix] Lieb, Frederick G. “Date For Hearing In Chase Case Set”, New York Sun, 22 January 1919, Page 13.

[lx] Poll Perritt A Holdout”, Buffalo Courier,  03 March 1919, Page 8.

[lxi] “‘Poll’ Perritt Takes Place on ‘Oil’ Mound”, Shreveport Times, 22 September 1918, Page 12.

[lxii] “‘Pol’ Perritt Turns Down 1919 Contract With New York Team”, Shreveport Journal, 10 February 1919, Page 5.

[lxiii] Mike O’Neil Doing Stunts In Oil Business Out West”, Elmira Star-Gazette, 29 March 1919, Page 8.

[lxiv] “Oilers Stave Off Shut-Out”, Shreveport Journal, 07 April 1919, Sports Section, Page 1.

[lxv] “Perritt Signs Contract”, Shreveport Journal, 22 May 1919, Page 7.

[lxvi] “Schupp and Perritt Are Not Reliable”, Ithaca Journal, 15 July 1919, Page 8.

[lxvii] Daniel. “High Lights and Shadows In All Sphere Of Sport”, New York Sun, Page 15.

[lxviii] “American Giants Victors.”, New York Sun, 25 August 1919, Page 14.

[lxix] “Yanks To Fight For Series Coin”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 29 October 1919, Page 26.

[lxx] “Giants Exercise Options On Fifteen Players”, New York Tribune, 18 August 1920, Page 10.

[lxxi] “Thirteen Giants Going On Exhibition Trip To Cuba”, Buffalo Courier, 12 October 1920, Page 9.

[lxxii] “Pol Perritt to Train With Giants in Spring”, Shreveport Times, 25 November 1920, Page 8.

[lxxiii] “Giants Release Perritt”, New York Tribune, 04 June 1921, Page 10.

[lxxiv] “Athletes Idle Saturday; Two Games Monday”, Detroit Free Press, 10 July 1921, Sports Section, Page 1.

[lxxv] “Miller Owners Sign ‘Pol’ Perritt, Former Star Pitcher of New York Giants”, Minnesota Daily Star, 13 July 1921, Page 6.

[lxxvi] “Yips Make Clean Sweep Of Series”, St. Joseph Gazette, 07 September 1921, Page 7.

[lxxvii] Arnold, Earl. “Five Pitchers Fail to Stop Saintly Foes”, Minneapolis Tribune, 19 September 1921, Page 10.

[lxxviii] “Moffitt Will Put Down Well”, Shreveport Times, 18 February 1927, Page 18.

[lxxix] “Former Giant Pitcher Fined $50 for Assault”, Shreveport Journal, 02 May 1928, Page 6.

[lxxx] MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

[lxxxi] “Two Oil Men Face Charges As Sequel To Fight At Hotel”, 28 August 1934, Pages 1, 8.

[lxxxii] “Mrs. ‘Poll’ Perritt Rites Held in New York”, Shreveport Journal, 10 July 1944, Page 13.

[lxxxiii] “Obituary: Florence Perritt Hawkins”, Shreveport Times, 2008.

[lxxxiv] “Obituary: Helen Perritt Miller”, Shreveport Times, 12 July 1987, Page 22.

[lxxxv] “Obituaries: Henry Walker Perritt”, Shreveport Times, 26 february 1990, Page 6.

[lxxxvi] “Services in Arcadia For Father of Oilman”, Shreveport Journal, 20 April 1955, Page C5.

[lxxxvii] “W. D. (Pol) Perritt Dies Wednesday”, Shreveport Journal, 16 October 1947, Page 1.

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Poll Perritt!

  1. Pingback: Baseball History for October 15th! | Mighty Casey Baseball

  2. Pingback: Baseball History for August 30th | Mighty Casey Baseball

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