The Brief Career and Long Life of George Winkelman

“Winkelman distingquished himself to-day by his pitching, general all around playing, and a winning hit in the tenth inning, which would the victory for [Minneapolis].”

“Score Minneapolis,” St. Paul Globe, May 9, 1888: 5.

George WinkelmanGeorge Edward Winkelman was born on February 18, 1865 to George and Elizabeth, the first of eight children (seven boys!) born to the baker and homemaker.  As a kid, he sold the Washington Star newspaper – paying a penny and a half for each paper he sold to readers for three cents.  He attended Georgetown University and played amateur ball in the capital city.  His time with the amateur Rifle Base Ball Club helped earn Winkelman some local credit, which landed him a chance to play with the Washington Nationals of the National League in 1886.

Winkelman, a lefty, was given one start on August 2nd against Kansas City at Washington’s Swampoodle Park.  The rookie pitcher was pulled after six innings when he gave up six runs (and the lead) in his final frame.  Winkelman allowed seven earned runs and four unearned runs and took the loss.  He also got a hit in five tries, but committed four errors from his position on the mound and his three innings in right field.

Starting in 1887, he took regular turns on the mound with Minneapolis and Milwaukee in the Western Association.  In addition to being a decent pitcher, Winkelman could also hit.  In the game referenced in the introduction, Winkelman batted sixth in the Minneapolis batting order.  And, when not pitching, he was an able outfielder. In early 1889, he purchased his release from Milwaukee for $200 so he could move east, signing with Hartford and Lebanon in the Atlantic Association in 1889 and 1890. After that, he played in amateur leagues around the Washington DC area – his birthplace, his college home, and his adult home.

After his career ended, Winkelman became a postal carrier, eventually becoming the president of the Washington DC chapter of the National Letter Carriers Association. He would also pitch for the postal carrier team for a few years.  In later years, Winkelman worked at Griffith Stadium, minding the employee gate at the ballpark until his wife passed away.  Winkelman first met Clark Griffith when Griffith was a teenaged pitcher in Milwaukee and they became roommates.  Winkelman and Griffith remained friends for the remainder of their lives.

George married Nellie Hunt and they had two daughters, Marie and Nellie.  The second Nellie got sick in her early twenties and passed away in 1918.   His wife passed in 1947 and for some time he moved to Detroit to live with his oldest daughter.  However, he returned to Washington in the 1950s after Marie passed away.  Winkelman remained an active and vital man until his death at 95 years old on 19 May 1960. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington.

(To think that a man who was born before the end of the Civil War would live to see the Pioneer 5 spacecraft send signals back to Earth on its way to Venus.  Pretty crazy!)


1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Censuses (Also source of photo uploaded to that site by Gordon Brett Echols.)

“The Nationals Defeated,” National Republican, April 11, 1885: 1.

“Terrific Struggle Between the Tailenders,” Detroit Free Press, August 3, 1886: 8.

“Base Ball Matters,” Meriden (CT) Daily Journal, March 23, 1889: 6.

“Milwaukee is Mad,” St. Paul Globe, March 24, 1889: 1.

“City and District,” Washington Evening Star, 22 March 1890, Page 11.

“Department League: City Post Office,” Washington Evening Star, 27 April 1895, Page 13.

“Letter Carriers Enjoy Chesapeake Beach Trip,” Washington Evening Star, 21 June 1912, Page 10.

“Miss Nellie Winkelman Dies,” Washington Evening Star, 29 March 1918, Page 14.

Francis E. Stann, “Ball Park Sentiment,” Evening Star (Magazine), June 22, 1947: 14.

“Remember,” Evening Star, August 19, 1951: C-4.

“Griffith Teammate Feted by Friends on 93d Birthday,” Evening Star, February 22, 1958: 11.

Obit, Evening Star, May 21, 1960: 6.

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