John Abadie was a Philadelphia native who played baseball with the Centennials and Brooklyn Atlantics in the National Association in 1875, which is how he made it into your baseball encyclopedias. And, until Hank Aaron was added to the baseball record books in 1954, Abadie would have been listed first in the encyclopedia, if not first in your hearts…
John Victor Abadie was the oldest son (of five children) of Victor and Mary Abadie, born November 4, 1870 in Philadelphia. Victor was of French descent, Mary was listed as being born in Ireland per a later census record. Having grown up in a baseball town, John Abadie was first listed as a member of an organized team in 1873, when he was the first baseman for the Eastons. By 1875 he had signed with the Centennial Base Ball Club, a Philadelphia based team that joined the National Association. The team lasted but fourteen professional games, losing all but two, and Abadie was listed as one of the team’s weak spots. “Abadie as a ‘sure catch’ is a poor success. There are boys of 12 in amateur clubs far superior at this point. However, yesterday being but his second game with the Centennials, he may do better.”
Abadie appeared in 11 of the 14 Centennial games and must have played somewhat better. Good enough that when the Centennials disbanded, the Brooklyn Atlantics picked Abadie up to play a single game with them on June 10, 1875 when the Atlantics were in Philadelphia and needed an able body. The Philadelphia Times said Abadie “played first finely for them.” However, it wasn’t fine enough to keep a job. Abadie stayed home in Philadelphia, played amateur baseball for a few clubs in Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre, and was out of baseball circles by 1880.
Instead, Abadie found work as a laborer. Around 1900, he was a partner with a company handling horses for a local inn in Northampton, NJ. It’s a bit difficult to piece together Abadie’s family life. In the 1880 US Census, he is living in Philadelphia with a wife, Kate (possibly Kate Cook), and two daughters, Jane (4) and Mary (2). By then, their first child, Victor, had already died of typhoid in 1878. In fact, he notes a family illness as a reason for leaving the Wilkes-Barre base ball club in 1877 – it could have been that of his mother, who died that September, or his son who died a few months after that. In the 1900 US Census, he’s listed as married for three years, and a marriage record can be found for John and a Mattie A. Brown, who got hitched in Camden in October 1896. However, they weren’t living together in the 1900 US Census record and she’s not listed in Abadie’s obituary five years later.
Abadie died in Pemberton, New Jersey of carcinoma found in his stomach and liver on May 17, 1905. His obituary only noted that the funeral would begin at the home of his younger brother, Alfred. No other names of spouses or children would be listed. He was buried in St. Denis Cemetery in Havertown, PA.
Baseball-Reference.com lists his full name as John V. Abadie, which is what is shown on his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’m working under the assumption that the V stands for Victor as he’s the first son born to Victor and John’s first son by wife Kate was named Victor.
1870, 1880, 1900 US Census
New York Death Index
Philadelphia Church Records
Pennsylvania Death Records
Philadelphia City Directories
“Sports and Pastimes,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 13, 1873: 3.
“Amusements,” Harrisburg Telegraph, August 5, 1874: 3.
“Base Ball,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 27, 1875: 2.
“Base Ball Notes,” Philadelphia Times, May 21, 1877: 4.
“Special Meeting of the B. B. Club,” Wilkes-Barre Times, May 29, 1877: 2.
“Sporting News,” Buffalo Commercial, March 22, 1879: 3.
“A Victory for the Atlantic,” Philadelphia Times, May 2, 1879: 1.
“Abadie (Obit),” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 19, 1905: 7.