I’m a fan of Jackie, the Baseball Bloggess. She’s an Orioles fan from what I gather and interested in Virginia Cavalier baseball, too. Jackie is also into yoga, which must give her time to reflect on things as needed. She’s a good researcher and puts together interesting and well-written stories about the people and things she thinks about – usually related to baseball in some way. If you read my blog, which is admittedly a bit dry (I’m working on it) you might better enjoy hers.
As a blog follower, I get occasional emails letting me know about her new posts. So, one click later (here: https://thebaseballbloggess.com/2020/07/11/one-inning/) I am reading about the very brief baseball life of baseball pitcher Bill Chambers, who threw one inning for Roger Bresnahan and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1910. This is a really short summary – but essentially Jackie thinks about Chambers having thrown a single inning in the big leagues at about 21 years old and wonders if Chambers thinks about that inning for the rest of his life.
I decided to figure out what the rest of his life is.
William Christian Chambers was born to Joseph and Annie (Lough) on 05 September 1888 in Cameron, West Virginia. Joseph is a carpenter and Annie has the really tough job of raising ten kids (William Christian is number five) as they make their way eventually to Wheeling, WV.
Chambers stopped going to school after the eighth grade and must have taken jobs to help pay the family bills. In 1910, for example, the oldest son is a cotton weaver and living at home. Along the way, Chambers learns that he has some pitching skill and winds up having a solid season as a pitcher for Fairmount in the West Virginia-Pennsylvania League during the spring and early summer of 1910. He earns the notice of a Cardinal scout and Roger Bresnahan decides to give the kid a shot. On 11 July 1910, he is brought in to pitch in relief of Red Corridon to start the seventh inning. He faces four Boston Doves batters, giving up one hit and making a throwing error on a play at the plate that allows the seventh run of the game. It’s an important run – the Cardinals lost, 9 – 6.
Bresnahan was not impressed and released Chambers.
What makes putting the rest of the story together is that for the rest of Chambers’ life, he goes by Chris or Christian, and maybe even Charles. It’s never William or Bill.
We can guess this because the St. Louis Star announced the arrival of Fairmount pitcher C. C. Chambers. And, with rare exception, all of the US Census data for Chambers never references the William anymore. The only time you see William (or Bill) is in the baseball encyclopedias (like, say, Baseball-Reference.com). The times an official record references Mr. Chambers – like, say, his Indiana death record or applications for Social Security benefits, you see a William Christian. Otherwise, it’s Christian (and once Charles).
Anyway – Chambers is signed by Fort Wayne, who then farms him to Flint in the Central Michigan League. Chambers is pretty good there for a middling team and recalled to Fort Wayne to finish the season. He had at least one good outing – a shutout – and was brought back for the 1911 spring practices. Unfortunately, Chambers couldn’t get his arm going – he was held back to deal with arm soreness and then loaned to other teams in Michigan. Eventually he returned to Fort Wayne and, needing a job, took a position as a blacksmith for Western Gas (and played semi-pro baseball).
Chambers would marry Mary Grosselle of Defiance, OH in 1916 and they would have a pair of daughters (Iileen Helen and Patricia Jean). In time, Chambers would move to the Hillman China company where he would serve as a packer. In 1962, he came down with a viral pneumonia, which was exacerbated by adult onset issues with asthma and emphysema. He would die in his adopted home of Fort Wayne on 27 March 1962. Mary would outlive her husband by 24 years.
1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
Indiana Marriage, Birth, and Death Records
World War I, World War II Registration Cards
“Bresnahan’s New Twirler,” St. Louis Star, 11 July 1910, Page 7.
“Chambers Farmed.,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 28 July 1910, Page 6.
“Manager Casey and Local Crowd Off For Wheeling Today,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Page 6.
“Navin Has Nothing Now,” Fort Wayne Daily News, 16 May 1911, Page 3.
“Two Leaders in City Shop League Are Defeated”, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 30 July 1911, Page 25.