About Paul Proia

Technology Professional, Amateur Baseball Historian, Published Author, Husband, Father. I try the best I can with the limited skills God gave me.

Frank Sigafoos, Owner of a Phantom Homer

As a major league player, Frank Sigafoos was a bit snake bit.  Getting four different chances with four different teams, he never was able to get in a good groove with either Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, or Cincinnati.

Frank Sigafoos - IndianapolisAs a Tiger, Sigafoos once hit a home run off of Cuban lefty Oscar Estrada that technically didn’t happen.  It was the only game that Estrada would pitch in the majors – he came on in relief in the ninth inning of a game between the St. Louis Browns and Detroit.  With a runner on base, Sigafoos drilled a pitch far over the wall in right-centerfield.  Except that home plate umpire Bruce Campbell called a balk, nullifying the pitch, the homer, and instead of giving up two runs, Estrada’s penalty was to give up a base to the runner at second.  It would have been Sigafoos’s first, and only, homer.  Maybe it would have turned things around.  Instead, Sigafoos would have to be a star in the minor leagues.

Francis Leonard Sigafoos was born in Easton, PA on 21 March 1904 to William and Kathryn (Beltz) Sigafoos, the first of their four children – though Kathryn brought three daughters into their family from a prior marriage. William Sigafoos was a laborer in chemical works plant. After his days in high school (where he was a three sport star), Frank would work in the coal mines outside of his city.  Looking for a better life, he enrolled in Purdue University where he would play baseball there.  Returning to Philadelphia after college, Sigafoos was playing semi-professional ball when scouted by Connie Mack.  Mack signed him but then dispatched Sigafoos to Newark for the 1925 season.  After hitting .284 there as a third baseman, Mack moved him to Reading where Sigafoos would play shortstop and hit .321, earning a cup of coffee with the Athletics at the end of the 1926 season.  He’d bat .256, but in just 43 at bats.  Mack was no longer enamored with his stocky prospect (5-9, 180); he sold Sigafoos to Portland in the PCL instead.

For two years, Sigafoos hit .335 and .296.  Detroit signed him for the 1929 season, but things didn’t work out and Sigafoos returned to the PCL, this time for Los Angeles.  Hitting .305 there, Cincinnati took an interest in him.  However, after a solid spring training, Sigafoos hit .169 for the Reds and was dispatched to Indianapolis in the American Association. Indians pitcher Bob (Lefty) Logan said of Sigafoos, “He was a swell guy, one of the best, quiet and unassuming … he never bragged about himself and he had great talent.”

It was in Indianapolis that Sigafoos had his best seasons, including a 1933 season where he batted .370, with 53 doubles and had a league record 41 game hitting streak.  Sigafoos loved the city, he loved the fans, and a few years after his baseball career ended, he would return to Indianapolis for the rest of his days.

By then, Frank and his wife, Alice, had been married and living in various American baseball cities for years. He was just finishing high school when the personal secretary of the Easton mayor surprised her friends who were about to throw her a surprise shower – announcing she was getting married. That was 1923. Alice E. Weppel provided one son, Ron, after Frank’s playing days ended. In the off-seasons, Frank took a position with Citizens Gas in Indianapolis.  After spending two years in Louisville, one year as a minor league nomad – and watching his batting average fall from .341 to .253 – he retired from baseball and went to work for Citizen’s Gas all year, which he did for nearly 30 years.

Frank SigafoosAfter his retirement, the company’s recreation and athletic association endowed a scholarship in Sigafoos’s name, awarding $500 to a local high school baseball player for use in his first year of college.

While mowing his lawn, his wife found him slumped near the lawnmower.  Sigafoos died of a heart attack on April 12, 1968; his remains were cremated.









Sources:

Baseball-Reference
FindAGrave.com
Indiana Death Certificate
1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Censuses

“Frank Sigafoos Gets ‘Another’ Night,” Indianapolis Star, December 4, 1966: Section 4, Page 10.

“Tribe Infielder Crowned Champ,” Indianapolis Star, December 25, 1933: 26.

“Overman Wins Sigafoos Award,” Indianapolis Star, July 11, 1968: 45.

“Frank Sigafoos Dies; Indians’ Baseball Star,” Indianapolis Star, April 14, 1968: 1, 7.

Harry Bullion, “When is a Circuit Blow Equivalent to a Pass,” Detroit Free Press, April 22, 1929: Sports, Page 1.

“Mayor’s Stenog Weds Easton’s Star Athlete,” Allentown Morning Call, August 26, 1923: 10.

“Alice Sigafoos dies; ballplayer’s widow,” Indianapolis Star, October 30, 1985: 53

Happy Birthday, Morris Critchley – King of the Quintuple Header!

“Critchley, the man of weak legs and broad shoulders, astonished the world by batting the ball far into the left field, where it was lost in the grass, and before Manning could find it, the giant had made a home run. It was only luck, but it counted, and one man at least was supremely happy.”

“Tobin’s Trouble,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, June 2, 1879: 4.

Morris Critchley was briefly a major league pitcher with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1882, but was more famous as a pitcher in the minors during the 1870s. In the late 1870s and early 1880s there were very competitive leagues that included cities like Buffalo, Syracuse (the Stars), Rochester, Albany, Manchester, Providence and other cities in the northeast: the International Assocation and National Association being two of them. Many players who gained fame during this era all played there – Ned Hanlon, Lip Pike, Pud Galvin, Tim Keefe, Jack Glasscock, etc. – and Morris Critchley faced and was successful against all of these guys.

This image of Morris Critchley with the Hornells was found on Wikipedia Commons, and originally was provided through a link from the guys at Out of the Park Baseball. Links to the image are provided below under “Sources”.

Morris Arthur Critchley (see note below) was born on 3/26/1850 in New London, Connecticut to Michael A. and Margaret A. (Dempsey) Critchley. Both Michael and Margaret were Irish immigrants who spent their American lives in or near Hartford; Michael as a factory hand or laborer and Margaret as the home hand and laborer. Morris would spend his first two decades – and probably a good part of a third – in the Hartford area. When Morris took up professional baseball, he gained fame pitching in upstate New York, allegedly once winning five games in a single day (!) for Auburn. His most famous outing was a 17 (or 18) inning effort where he beat the Allegheny team in 1877 and allegedly injured his heart, something that was listed as a probable cause of his death many years later.

Hartford was a major league city from 1874 to 1876 and had its fill of amateur teams; it makes sense that the tall and thick Critchley would find his way to the game. His first documented professional work is with Providence in 1876. That organization moved to Auburn, New York for 1877 where Critchley’s pitching began to gain regular notice. He went 15 innings in a tie against the Rhode Islands, pitched a one-hitter and three-hitter to blank Rochester and Fall River, and even took a game from the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, an event riddled with injuries. Two Allegheny players were injured during practice, their catcher split his hand during the game, the manager was hit by a broken bat – even the umpire got hit in the face with a foul tip.

For a giant of a man, easily standing at least an inch over 6′ 0″ and likely weighing close to two hundred pounds (and more in later years), Critchley was known for his lack of speed. As a pitcher, his bread and butter was a big breaking curveball. Once, in a demonstration, he threw a ball that broke around the corner of a hotel building. He also threw an odd sort of a change up – he’d exaggerate the speed of his wind up only to toss a soft one in there. If he threw especially hard, there is no recorded proof of it.

And, he was especially slow afoot. Stories claim he was granted a courtesy runner for some games. When he hit a home run for Albany, a Buffalo paper said, “The Rochester fielders must have been drugged Saturday when they allowed big Critchley of the Albany’s to make a home run.” One time he hit a double and the Buffalo Express noted, “It generally takes a hit that other players would reach second on to get him to first, so that he must have drove the ball an immense distance to allow of his securing second.”

For 1878, Critchley signed with the Hornells where, again, he’d pitch nearly every inning. His best game was a 4 – 0 win over the Alleghenies – only a Jack Glasscock single prevented Critchley from throwing a no-hitter. Then, in a series against Buffalo, Critchley got in hot water with team directors when Critchley and his long time catcher, Ed Keenan, let a game with Buffalo get away due to inexcusable errors. Already losing 2 – 0, Buffalo’s Davy Force reached with a leadoff single and stole second. After a strikeout, a routine grounder ended with the throw to first being dropped. Buffalo pitcher Pud Galvin struck out, but since Ed Keenan didn’t catch the third strike, he had to throw the ball to first for the out. For some reason, the ball was returned to the catcher, who must have thought there were three outs. Keenan rolled the ball toward the mound, allowing Force to steal third. Critchley picked up the ball and tried to throw Force out at third – that throw sailed high and wide and Force scored the third run for Buffalo. When a late rally in the ninth produced two runs for the Hornells, the misplays by Keenan and Critchley loomed especially large.

Sure enough, there were those that felt like something fishy had happened and, in fact, Critchley was called out for laying down the game. After defending himself in front of team directors, Critchley was absolved of those charges. The accusation, though, made the rounds – appearing in papers like the Chicago Tribune.

Critchley pitched well enough for the rest of the season, including a shutout over Buffalo, but the Hornells disbanded, allowing Critchley to sign with Albany for $110 per month to complete the season. With Albany, he shut out Buffalo again allowing just four hits. Critchley would stay with Albany through the beginning of the 1880 season, helping Albany to take the National Association crown in 1879 as their regular pitcher.

Unfortunately, things were starting to work against Critchley – starting with an injury that resulted in a dislocated shoulder in September, 1879. Albany signed Tim Keefe, then a young prospect, to finish the 1879 season. When the 1880 season started, Keefe was seen as the better pitcher and Albany asked Critchley to take a smaller salary as the change pitcher – something that didn’t sit well with last year’s ace.

“He was offered a salary deemed commensurate with his value as a change pitcher, which he declined to accept; and he was therefore given his release… In regard to the release of Critchley from the club, it should be stated that he has recently been subjected to a medical examination, and the examining physician pronounced one of the muscles of his arm so badly strained or injured that it could not be of any service to him for some time to come. In the game at New Haven a week or more ago, his arm was so painful that at the close of seven innings he was obliged to retire. It is not likely that he will be able to pitch effectively this season.”

“Sporting Notes,” Buffalo Express, May 8, 1880: 4.

Critchley took a job with Baltimore of the National Association and immediately got revenge against Albany by beating his old teammates (and Tim Keefe), 9 – 4. He followed that with a 2 – 0 shutout over the Washington Nationals. His good fortune wouldn’t last – Washington returned the favor with a 2 – 0 win as Jack Lynch fired a no-hitter to beat Baltimore. Critchley move to Troy, then pitched for the Rochester Hop Bitters, and even pitched for Albany where he beat Boston in an exhibition, 3 – 2. That was just in June…

For 1881, Critchley took a break from pitching. He umpired a few games in Albany and began to learn the saloon trade while serving as a bartender at a saloon owned by heavyweight boxer Paddy Ryan.

Somehow Critchley got a pitching gig for 1882 – and with a new major league. The Pittsburgh Alleghenys picked up both Critchley and his catcher Ed Keenan in the maiden season of the American Association. The season didn’t start well for Critchley – he was sick and dealing with a lame arm. One game, Pittsburgh was desperate for players. Critchley played centerfield and was a substitute pitcher in a 19 – 5 exhibition loss to Cleveland. If Critchley was in the outfield, no wonder Cleveland scored so many runs… Critchley, hoped to be a regular contributor at the start of the spring, was now expected to be a change pitcher – if he could stay healthy.

In his only official MLB game for the Alleghenys, Critchley threw a 2 – 0 shutout to beat Cincinnati. Cincinnati didn’t seem to get good wood on the ball and the Allegheny fielders were on their game, too. Cincinnati faced the Alleghenys about 10 days later, winning the first game of the series, and then blew out Critchley 18 – 4 in a mid-series exhibition game. The Commercial Gazette said, “They at once opened procedings on Critchley and lit on to his slow balls and knocked him right and left.”

The Pittsburgh Press noted that the betting lines changed after the blow out loss and Critchley was again accused of laying down (if not playing in such a way as to influence betting). Pittsburgh suspended Critchley (yet used him as an umpire in exhibition games) before finally releasing Critchley and restoring Critchley’s good name in early June. A month later, Charles Comiskey gave Critchley a final chance but it didn’t work out. He was regularly beaten in the four official games he pitched for the Browns, and even lost an exhibition game to Reading.

Critchley, despite whatever accusations came his way in 1882, settled in Pittsburgh and, when he wasn’t working behind the bar, served as an umpire on and off for the next few years. For one season, he was a substitute umpire for the American Association and worked behind the plate for a few games. There was a thought he might be able to pitch for a Union Association team in 1884, but his arm never came back. In 1895, he purchased a hotel and saloon at 2818 Smallman Street from the late Aaron Agans estate. He would own that hotel until his death on March 6, 1910 – barely three weeks before his 60th birthday. Critchley is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

This seems like a good time to tell the story of his family life. Somewhere around 1868 or 1869 Morris Critchley connected with Florine (or Flora) Adella Hamlin. They married and had two children, George and Burton – Flora was still a teen when George arrived in 1870. By 1880, though, they were separated and Flora is listed in that year’s US Census as Flora Hart, as she had now taken the name of her stepfather with whom Flora was living. She must not have had much to do with the kids after a while. When Burton died of consumption in 1904, Flora is not listed in his obituary; when George died many years later, the death certificate didn’t even mention her. In the 1880s, Morris met and eventually married Margaret Dunning (born Birmingham). She was an accountant and invested some of her own money in Critchley’s hotel.

When Critchley died, Margaret’s sold the business and transferred the liquor license to John Jackal. Soon after, she completed the probate process. Critchley death, his being famous and all, made the wire copy and Flora Hart learned of Morris’s sudden demise (via heart attack) and reached out to the authorities looking to stake a claim on Critchley’s estate. Apparently they never divorced, making Morris Critchley a bigamist and costing Margaret $2100 to settle the claims by Hart. Hart then changed her name again. Beginning with the 1910 census (and 1910 Hartford city directory) she is listed as the widow Flora Critchley, a name she maintained until her death in 1938, sixteen years after the death of Margaret Critchley. Margaret passed away on December 18, 1922 and is buried near her husband in Calvary Cemetery.

Note: I could be equally convinced that Morris Arthur Critchley was actually born Michael Arthur Critchley. First – I found an 1860 US Census record that shows a Michael Critchley living with his parents, Michael and Margaret in Hartford. All three were born in Ireland per the census. Plenty of Irish kids are named for their parents, especially at that time. He’s listed as 14, but age is something that seems to change by a year or two every decade of the Census back then. In the 1870 US Census, Michael is married to Flora (Florence in the census record) – he’s now 22. If he decided to pursue a baseball career, he might have changed his name so that his dad wouldn’t be embarrassed to have a son playing a game for a career – as was done frequently in that era. In 1880, when Michael/Morris would have been pitching all over (Albany, Troy, Baltimore, etc.), George Critchley, 9, is living with a Bridget Critchley; we find out later that Bridget is Morris’s sister through her obituary in the Hartford Courant as she had taken a job as a dress maker and was living apart from her parents in 1860.

Anyway – it would also explain how Morris could easily evade Flora at a time when his baseball fame was growing in the 1870s.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference,com
FindAGrave.com (Morris)
FindAGrave.com (Margaret)
FindAGrave.com (Flora)
1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 US Census
PA Death Certificates (Morris, George, Margaret)
Naturalization Documents (Michael)
Pittsburgh City Directories

“A Wonderful Game at Providence, R. I.,” New York Herald, June 11, 1876: 7.

“A Wonderful Game at Providence, R. I.,” New York Herald, June 11, 1876: 7.

“Semi-Professional Scraps,” Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1877: 7.

“Auburn vs. Rochester,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 28, 1977: 4.

“Auburn vs. Fall River,” New York Clipper, July 28, 1877.

“Out-Door Sports,” Boston Globe, July 24, 1877: 8.

“Base Ball,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, August 11, 1877, Page 4.

“Buffalo vs. Auburn,” Buffalo Morning Express, August 14, 1877: 4.

“Diamond Dust,” Buffalo Express, September 6, 1877: 4.

“Base Ball,” Buffalo Express, June 3, 1878: 4.

“Hornells, 4; Alleghenys, 0,” Boston Journal, May 22, 1878: 4.

“Base Ball,” Buffalo Courier, June 17, 1878: 2.

“Base Ball,” Buffalo Express, June 17, 1878: 4.

“Base Ball,” Buffalo Express, June 20, 1878: 4.

“Base Ball,” Buffalo Express, June 21, 1878: 4.

“General Notes,” Chicago Tribune, June 23, 1878: 7.

“Notes,” Buffalo Express, August 24, 1878: 4.

“Notes,” Buffalo Express, August 28, 1878: 4.

“Demoralized Buffalos,” Buffalo Express, September 30, 1878: 4.

“Base Ball,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 17, 1879: 6.

“Base Ball and Other Sports,” Buffalo Express, April 26, 1879: 4.

“League and National,” Buffalo Express, June 3, 1879: 4.

“Later Baseball Notes,” New York Clipper, October 4, 1879.

“Providence vs. Albany,” New York Clipper, October 11, 1879.

“Sporting,” Fall River Daily Herald, May 7, 1880: 1.

“Sporting Notes,” Buffalo Express, May 8, 1880: 4.

“Baltimores, 9; Albanys, 4,” Boston Globe, May 15, 1880: 1.

“Baltimores, 2; Nationals, 0,” Boston Globe, May 18, 1880: 1.

“Nationals, 2; Baltimores, 0,” Boston Globe, May 25, 1880: 1.

“Albany vs. Troy,” New York Clipper, June 19, 1880.

“Base Ball Yesterday,” Watertown Daily Times, June 4, 1880: 3.

“Sporting Matters,” Boston Globe, June 22, 1880: 4.

“Doings of the Sports,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 18, 1880: 4.

“Base Ball Notes,” New York Tribune, July 19, 1880: 2.

“Contests and Pastimes,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 6, 1881: 4.

“They Lost It,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 13, 1882: 2.

“Base Ball Matters,” Buffalo Express, April 14, 1882: 4.

“Cleveland’s Picnic,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 28, 1882: 6.

“The Best Yet,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 9, 1882: 4.

“They Started Well,” Cincinnati Enquirer, May 12, 1882: 5.

“That Amateur Club,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 18, 1882: 4.

“A Pair of Pitchers,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 19, 1882: 4.

“Expulsions From the Allegheny Club,” Philadelphia Times, May 19, 1982: 4.

“Base Ball,” Pittsburgh Post, May 31, 1882: 4.

“Diamond Dust,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 3, 1882: 8.

“Notes,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 8, 1882: 8.

“Base Ball,” Pittsburgh Post, July 12, 1882: 4.

“The Sporting World,” Philadelphia Times, July 22, 1882: 3.

“The Active Victorious,” Reading Times, July 25, 1882: 1.

Mexico (MO) Weekly Ledger, September 6, 1883: 4.

“The National Game,” Dayton Herald, June 5, 1883: 3.

“Sporting Sundries,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 21, 1883: 7.

“Base Ball Notes,” Wilkes-Barre Record, May 14, 1884: 3.

“Pittsburg’s Club,” The Sporting Life, April 22, 1885: 4.

“Diamond Chips,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 25, 1885: 11.

“Games Played April 28,” The Sporting Life, May 6, 1885: 3.

The Sporting Life, July 7, 1886: 3.

“In the Criminal Court,” Pittsburgh Post, September 4, 1895: 4.

Buffalo Enquirer, May 19, 1899: 4.

“Conspiracy Alleged Against Card Players,” Pittsburgh Press, April 29, 1903: 3.

“Burton H. Critchley,” Pittsburgh Press, June 14, 1904: 5.

“Meet some of Auburn’s earliest baseball players,” Auburn Citizen, November 24, 2013: C4.

“Old Baseball Star Dies of Heart Disease,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, March 7, 1910: 1.

“Pitcher Dies of 1877 Injury,” Munster Times, March 08, 1910: 3.

Legal Notice, Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, September 8, 1910: 13.

“Court Surcharges Widow with $2100,” Pittsburgh Press, May 24, 1911: 17.

“Mrs. Florine H. Critchley,” Harford Courant, January 9, 1938: 14.

H. Franklin Andrews, “A Genealogy of Capt. Giles Hamlin of Middletown, Connecticut, 1664-1900,” Author Published, Exira Iowa, 1900: 271.

Photo Links:

Wikipedia Commons Image Link
OOTP Image Link

The Brief Life of Will Collver

W. J. Collver, a Detroit ball player, has signed to play with the Zanesville Club, of the Ohio League, the coming season. Collver is a sturdy young fellow of good habits, a good fielder and batter, and will prove an acquisition to the Zanesvilles.

“Sporting Notes,” Detroit Free Press, February 1, 1887: 7.

Will Collver only played in a single game, the second game of a Fourth of July doubleheader between Boston and Detroit in 1885. His life was equally brief.

William J. Colver was the second child of three born to Francis (Frank) Taylor Collver and Mary Elizabeth (Bartlett) Collver on March 21, 1867 in Clyde, Ohio. Mary raised the three children while Frank worked as a salesman, telegrapher, and travel agent during Will’s days with his parents. Prior to their marriage, Frank served with Company K of the 65th New York Infantry, which saw action at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Appomattox among other battles. Mary was a Daughter of the American Revolution, through Samuel Bartlett of Massachusetts and Maine. After their wedding Frank and Mary moved some, from Ohio to Indiana, and it included a stop in Detroit.

It was in Detroit where Will Collver became a ballplayer, playing for the Cass Club. And, it was in Detroit where he became, for one day, a right fielder for Boston in 1885. Boston was in town and playing a doubleheader when they lost their catcher during the first game. Mert Hackett broke a finger reaching for a wild pitch – Boston used a bunch of catchers in 1885 – and with injuries piling up Guerden Whitely was pressed into duty as a catcher, requiring Boston to hastily find a right fielder. The guy they found, likely in the stands among the 2,500 to 3,000 people at Recreation Park on this holiday, was the eighteen-year-old Will Collver.

Collver’s day was uneventful – he struck out once and went hitless in four at bats. He did not catch a fly or throw anyone out; he was error-free for the game. Any Detroit hits into right field were taken and the ball returned without incident. Detroit won the second game to complete the sweep for the day and Collver returned to being a semi-professional ballplayer.

In 1887, he signed to play with Zanesville serving as a shortstop and alternate pitcher. There, his speed and power led to home runs and complaints from a neighboring landowner who grew tired of Collver launching baseballs into a chicken coop beyond the outfield wall. After being released at the end of the summer, Collver was picked up to play for Kalamazoo when their shortstop, Billy Otterson, was sold to Brooklyn. He didn’t play many games for Kalamazoo, but Collver doubled, homered, and collected four hits in a win over Sandusky. For 1888 he signed a contract to play in Hutchinson, Kansas.

When not playing ball, Collver earned his pay as a brakeman for a local railcar – but not for long. In March of 1888 he required a minor operation. What today might be routine was not for Collver – he fell ill and feverish following the surgery and his demise could not be prevented.

“He submitted to a very unimportant operation at St. Mary’s Hospital on Saturday, and taking a chill, died after all threatened bad results of the operation itself had passed away.”

Detroit Free Press, April 2, 1888: 3.

Collver passed to the next league just three days after his twenty-first birthday on March 24, 1888. His Cass Club teammates attended his funeral, and then Collver’s remains were returned to Clyde, Ohio and buried in McPherson Cemetery there.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Baseball-Reference calls him Bill Collver, so for me to use Will – I should have a reason. One newspaper reference I saw called him Will; most used William or Wm. Both of his Census records call him William or Willie. I’m not saying that people might not have called him Bill, but I can prove Will and can’t prove Bill. So Will it is.

FindAGrave.com (Will Colver)
FindAGrave.com (Frank Colver)

1870, 1880 US Census
Ohio Marriage Records
Detroit City Directory – 1886
North American Family Histories, 1500 – 2000

“Morning Game,” Detroit Free Press, July 5, 1885, Page 7.

“A Fielding Record,” Zanesville Daily Times Recorder, May 21, 1887: 1.

“Yesterday’s Ball Playing,” Zanesville Daily Times Recorder, June 8, 1887: 1.

“Otterson Joins the Brooklyns; Collver Signs With Kalamazoo,” Detroit Free Press, September 1, 1887: 2.

“Kalamazoo Issues a Drubbing to Sandusky,” Detroit Free Press, September 4, 1887: 6.

“Shockingly Sudden,” Detroit Free Press, March 26, 1888: 4.

Happy Birthday, Eddie Hogan!

Eddie Hogan, at the time a semi-professional pitcher with the St. Louis Reds, pitched in one game for the St. Louis Browns on 05 July 1882 and lost, 7 – 4.  The Louisville Courier-Journal mentions him in the box but nothing else – which is more than the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…  The Post-Dispatch called him “Williams.”  Hogan threw an eight inning complete game, fanned four without giving up a walk, and allowed ten hits, but the Post-Dispatch noted that the team (including Hogan, who made two errors) let Hogan down in the field.

Hogan got a second shot at major league baseball when he was given a contract with Baltimore in the Union Association.  He was among many, however, who didn’t play, “…Manager Henderson attempted to make bench cleaners and general house workman of them…,” so he returned home instead.

Robert Edward Hogan was born 06 April 1862 (or, quite possibly 1860 – keep reading) to Edward and Hannah Hogan, both Irish immigrants, in St. Louis.  Robert Edward appears to be the last of at least eight kids born to the clerk and very busy housewife.  When not playing ball, Hogan is listed as commercial traveler, a tobacco salesman, and finally – after moving to Yucaipa, California, the manager of a hotel.  He married Hanora (frequently listed as just Nora) Hogan around the time he was playing ball.  They had twin daughters, Nora and Margaret (Maud) in 1884, and a daughter named Gertrude in 1890 or 1891.  Hogan passed to the next league on 22 January 1932 in Yucaipa.  As to his age at death, the baseball encyclopedias list him as being born in 1862, but other documents, starting with his gravestone and including the 1860, 1870, and 1880 US Censuses suggest he was born in 1860. (He couldn’t have been born in 1862 and appeared in the 1860 US Census, you know,) So, he was either 69 or 71 at the time of his death.

Sources:

1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Censuses
Baseball-Reference.com
FindaGrave.com
Birth Registers, Missouri

“Sporting.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 05 July 1882, Page 8.

“Sporting.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 06 July 1882, Page 8.

“Sporting.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 24 July 1882, Page 8.

“Freezing Out.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 07 May 1884, Page 8.

“Obituary: Robert E. Hogan”, St. Louis Post- Dispatch, 24 January 1932, Page 40.

From Baseball To Box Offices: Rivington Bisland

Rivington bisland - 1911 Pirates PhotoRivington Bisland, the baseball player, was most known for coming back from a brutal injury to play major league baseball.  However, his most prominent contribution to sports was likely being the box office manager for the biggest boxing promotor of his day, Mike Jacobs.

Rivington Martin Bisland was born February 17, 1890 to Alfred Rivington and Henrietta (Wood) Bisland in New York City.  While there were claims that Bisland hailed from an especially wealthy family, Alfred Bisland was a butcher with six kids (Rivington was #4) – some of whom brought their own husbands and children to live with Alfred and Henrietta in their house north of the city.  Rivington was the first to finish high school in his family and he learned to play baseball on the sandlots of his city.

“This year Rivington Bisland of New York City was given a trial and proved a veritable “find.” He was signed as an infielder and played the opening game at third, proving the star fielder of the game.

“Banner Crowds for Pottsville Players,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1909: 18.

While still a teen, Bisland signed to play with Pottsville for the 1909 season, and despite that team already having experienced outfielders, Bisland proved good enough to make the roster.  Unfortunately, the Atlantic League folded within three months – Bisland was quickly signed by Harrisburg of the Tri-State League.  Before he got his feet wet there, though, Pittsburgh President Barney Dreyfuss got wind of the young speedster and signed Bisland to a contract with the Pirates, and then optioned Bisland to Wheeling where he became their starting right fielder before moving to third base.

Bisland returned to Wheeling for the beginning of the 1910 season.  On July 18, playing in a game against Ft. Wayne, Bisland’s career nearly ended.  Ft. Wayne’s Grover Reddin took a chance and tried to advance to third base, but the throw got there in time.  Reddin slid into Bisland’s left ankle and gashed the rookie infielder’s ankle and foot, spilling blood all over and requiring at least ten stitches on the field before they took Bisland to a local hospital to have doctors get a look at the ugly mess that was his ankle.  Players and Bisland’s manager, Bill Phillipps, said it was the worst spiking that any of them had ever seen.

The doctors who saw Risland’s injury tried different operations to stop the bleeding and connect loose tendons, and at some point they were convinced that gangrene was about to set in.  To prevent further problems they thought it was in Bisland’s best interest to have the foot amputated.  Doctors took Bisland to the operating room and knocked him out.  However, a nurse interfered with the surgery.  She claimed that, as a teen, surgeons couldn’t remove his foot unless they got approval from Bisland’s father.  Eventually the doctors agreed not to remove the foot and cleaned up the mess as best as possible.  Bisland stayed hospitalized for five weeks.

While he was there, Dreyfuss visited with Bisland and payed all of his expenses.  He told Bisland, who was distraught about the extent of his injury, that he had a place on the roster next spring so long as he was healthy.  So Bisland did just that – when allowed, he returned home and did various exercises (mixed with rest) to heal and recover.  He suffered a few setbacks, though – one while attending automobile races in New York City, another a month or so before spring training.  Dreyfuss saw that Bisland was making the effort to come back – so he offered to cover the expenses of seeing Bonesetter Reese in Youngstown, Ohio.

“Despite the handicap resulting from an injury to his foot last season, Bisland covers a large amount of ground. His throwing, like Carey’s, is fast and sure. Bisland, it seems, must be counted as a possibility for the outfield unless Clarke soon makes up his mind that he will be well enough fortified with Carey and Bates.

“..He swings his club nervously and watches the pitcher like a hawk. His a good waiter and makes the pitcher pitch. When he swings he hits hard and he seems to place his hits well.”

“Bisland Going Good in Pittsburg Outfield,” Dayton Herald, March 31, 1911, Page 20.

Whatever Reese did worked – Bisland was able to attend spring training with the Pirates in 1911.  He impressed manager Fred Clarke enough to keep him through most of the spring, even moving Bisland to the outfield as it would be easier on Bisland’s ankle than playing third base.  Unfortunately, another rookie outfielder beat Bisland out for the last spot in the outfield: Max Carey.  Bisland was optioned to Indianapolis, who then optioned him to Youngstown of the Ohio and Pennsylvania League.  In August, the Pirates, not wishing to expose their young prospects to other teams, recalled Bisland (and other players, such as Urban Faber) back to Pittsburgh for the last six weeks of the season.  Bisland may have been on the Pittsburgh roster, but he never saw action.

For 1912, he was returned to Springfield, where he batted .287 with a little more power, before being recalled again to the Pirates to close out the season.  This time, he actually got a chance to play.  On September 13 he pinch hit for Marty O’Toole, bounced out, and never played for the Pirates again.

Bisland was thought to have a shot at the Pirates roster in 1913, but he was sold to Atlanta in the Southern League instead.  Bisland moved to shortstop, and after a couple of so-so months, he really broke out.  Over a 47 game stretch, he hit .384 and fielded .981 – a remarkable run of consistent hitting and error free fielding – that helped the Atlanta Crackers to the 1913 pennant.  The Browns took a chance on the young shortstop and brought him up to the majors where Bisland appeared in twelve games for the last place Browns.  He didn’t help, though – getting just six hits in his 47 plate appearances.

rivington bisland - 1914 Browns team photo

When the 1913 season ended, there were rumors that Bisland would sign with a Federal League team – first in Pittsburgh, then in Indianapolis where his Wheeling manager, Bill Phillipps, now was signed to manage.  Neither of those rumors came to fruition.  Bisland was brought back for spring training with the Browns in 1914.  The Browns had no spot for him, though – he was waived in April but Cleveland had a need for temporary help as Ray Chapman was hurt.  So, Cleveland put in a claim and eventually purchased Bisland.  Bisland got six hits for Cleveland, but over 18 games and 64 plate appearances.  With Cleveland struggling and Bisland barely hitting .100, he was benched and then sold back to Atlanta.

Rivington bisland - 1913 Atlanta PhotoBisland spent 1914 and 1915 with the Crackers, but never put together a stretch as good as his 1913 summer.  He was sold to Chattanooga for 1916, but never played owing to a salary dispute.  Chattanooga wanted to pay Bisland, who hit only .229 in Atlanta, $225 per month, which was $25 less than the books showed he was paid in 1915 (the Southern League had a salary cap).  However, Bisland was the field captain, and claimed to have received $100 more on the side from Atlanta management.  Kid Elberfeld, who managed Chattanooga, wanted nothing to do with managing a player who was taking that kind of a pay cut – and the two sides argued for two months as to what a player like Bisland was worth.

Bisland was now married, too, having met and married Margaret Cecilia Hague.  Bisland had other ways to make money.  In his off-seasons, he worked ticket sales for the Drury Lane Theatre in New York – he even sang in an opera there in winter of 1913-14.  He could continue to work in New York theatre if things didn’t work out – and they didn’t.  By the summer of 1916, Chattanooga grew tired of his threats to quit and go home to his wife and stopped trying to sign him.

Back in New York, Bisland left the Drury Lane Theatre for the Princess Theatre, an off-Broadway location near 39th Street.  After having two sons together, Bruce and Richard, Margaret left New York and lived alone in Pittsburgh, where she first worked as a hair dresser and then later as a seamstress.  Then Bisland left the box offices of the theatre to work box offices for Mike Jacobs.

Jacobs was a boxing promoter who learned his trade helping Tex Rickard’s promotions in the 1920s and early 1930s.  In the 1930s, Jacobs convinced Detroit’s Joe Louis to let him promote his fights.  He just needed someone with box office management experience to join his new sports promotion company, Twentieth Century Sport Club.  So, he hired Bisland around 1936, and Bisland gladly moved into Jacob’s offices located in the Brill Building.  For at least twenty five years, Bisland collected the six figure (or higher) box office moneys for championship fights from Louis-Braddock in 1937 through the Floyd Patterson-Ingomar Johansson fights in 1959 and 1960.

During the war years, Risland met and married Vera Gallino, a woman thirty-four years younger than he. After he retired from sports promotions, the two moved to Austria. Bisland passed to the next league in Salzburg on January 11, 1973, dying of plasmocytoma – essentially cancerous tumors that grow in the plasma found in bone marrow or other soft tissue. His ashes were spread at the Kommunalfriedhof (cemetery) in Salzburg. Vera’s ashes were spread there after she died in Vienna on January 10, 2006.

By the way, a Rivington Bruce Bisland III is an Esports and video game promoter these days. His grandfather, Rivington Bruce Bisland, is the ballplayer Rivington Martin Bisland’s son.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com
Retrosheet.org
FindAGrave.com

1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
NY Birth Certificate
NY Marriage Index and License
CT Marriage Index
Social Security Application and Claims
World War I Draft Registration Card
World War II Draft Registration Card
US Report of Death of American Citizen Abroad

“One More Man and Pottsville’s Ready,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 1909: 18.

“Banner Crowds for Pottsville Players,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1909: 18.

“Benefits Tri-State,” York Dispatch, July 20, 1909: 5.

Davis, Ralph S. “Davis’ Dope,” Pittsburgh Press, July 29, 1909: 16.

“Odd Names in Baseball,” Hancock Democrat, September 2, 1909: 8.

“Bisland Has a Rich Dad,” Dayton Herald, September 16, 1909: 8.

“Spiking May End Bisland’s Diamond Career; Phillipps Gets a Third Sacker Here,” Dayton Herald, July 19, 1910: 6.

“Rivington Bisland, Wheeling Star, May Not Play Again,” East Liverpool Evening Review, October 11, 1910: 6.

“Bisland is Seventeenth Man Signed,” Pittsburgh Press, January 23, 1911: 2.

“Bisland Injured Again,” South Bend Tribune, January 31, 1911: 9.

“Rivalry Rampant Among Slabbists,” Pittsburgh Press, March 12, 1911, Page 18.

“Little Bits of Baseball,” Pittsburgh Press, March 15, 1911: 14.

“Bisland Going Good in Pittsburg Outfield,” Dayton Herald, March 31, 1911, Page 20.

“Burke Gets Riv Bisland,” Dayton Herald, April 4, 1911: 10.

“Plucky Nurse Saved Career For Bisland,” Evansville Press, April 5, 1911: 4.

“Five Players Are Recalled By Pirate Management,” Pittsburgh Post, August 17, 1911: 9. Also photo…

“Springfield Receives Castoffs of Pirates,” South Bend Tribune, January 31, 1912: 10.

“Big Squad Taken On Last Journey to Eastern Lots,” Pittsburgh Post, September 10, 1912: 13.

“Pirates Possess Real Opera Star in Riv. Bisland,” Pittsburgh Press, January 16, 1913: 14.

“Death of Player Recalls Old Days,” Pittsburgh Press, January 19, 1913: 17.

Jemison, Dick. “Rivington Bisland Greatest Southern League Shortstop,” Atlanta Constitution, August 31, 1913: 10A. (Also Photo)

Troy, Jack. “All in the Game,” Atlanta Constitution, July 28, 1938: 16, 18.

“Notes of the Game,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 10, 1913: 6.

“Bisland Signs With Federals,”The Baltimore Sun, November 2, 1913: 13.

“Baseball Chatter,” Sheboygan Press, December 6, 1913: 3.

“Rickey Has Many Youths,” Chattanooga Daily Times, December 12, 1913: 10.

“Base Ball Briefs,” Washington Evening Star, April 13, 1914: 15.

“Indians Buy New Infielder From St. Louis Americans,” Indianapolis News, Aprl 15, 1914: 10.

“Rivington Bisland To Be Benched,” Nashville Banner, June 4, 1914: 11.

“Risland Will Be Atlanta Field Leader,” Knoxville Sentinel, March 22, 1915: 12.

“Bisland Spiked; Out For Season,” Atlanta Constitution, August 28, 1915: 8.

“Atlanta Paid Me $350 Salary Per Month Last Year,” Birmingham News, February 8, 1916: 13.

“Open Series With Barons,” Chattanooga Daily Times, June 5, 1916: 8.

“Henrietta Bisland,” Brooklyn Times Union, December 18, 1934: 10A.

Runyon, Damon. “Runyon’s Ramblings,” Lancaster New Era, August 22, 1936: 8.

“Braddock-Louis Gate to Reach Million Dollars,” Wilkes-Barre Evening News, May 31, 1937: 10.

Ward, Gene. “Floyd-Ingy Ticket Sale Spurts,” New York Daily News, June 12, 1959: 58.

McQueen, Red. “Hoomalimali,” Honolulu Advertiser, June 7, 1960: 8.

What Might Have Been: Art Rico

Art Rico was an athletic marvel playing catcher for the Boston Braves who tragically lost his life before his “very bright future” could arrive.

Art Rico - 1917 Boston Globe

Arthur Raymundus (Ramon) Francis Rico was born on July 23, 1895 to Antonio and Margarita (Monahan) Rico, the third of four children born to the Spanish immigrant tobacco dealer and his Scottish immigrant wife. Antonio Rico came to the United States around 1877, more than a decade after Margarita arrived, but they met, married, and lived in the Boston area. The children were all born in Boston and lived a rather well-to-do life – as the family had a live-in servant by the time the fourth child was born.

Arthur was a tall and thick kid, granted great natural strength and speed. After completing high school at English High, he enrolled at the Huntington School, a finishing school for boys. There, he was an accomplished athlete in track, wrestling, baseball, and football. In 1914 and 1915, he won hurdles races, set local records in the shot put (48′ 1-3/4″), captured wrestling matches in the heavyweight division, scored six touchdowns from his fullback position in a game against Mechanics Arts High School, and was batting third and catching for the baseball team.

Rico, right, after a meet with his Huntington School teammates in 1915. (Boston Globe)

Before he finished classes in finishing school, he was recruited by George Stallings, the manager of the Boston Braves, to become a third string catcher and learn while watching and practicing with the professionals.

“Arthur Rico of the Huntington School of Boston is a youngster whom he hopes to develop into a catcher. Johnny Evers, who watched Rico work yesterday, also thinks the youngster has a wonderful whip and that some day he will make a great backstop. Rico is a bright fellow and a good boy. He is just the kind of material that Stallings or any other manager would be glad to work on, and if he shows up well during his tryout he will be signed.”

“Stallings Thinks He May Make A Real Catcher Out of Young Rico, Boston Boy,” Boston Globe, March 8, 1916: 9.

In 1916, Stallings invited Rico to spring training and Rico earned a job on the roster, earning $175 each month for going to practice and sitting on the bench. If he ever got into a game, his salary would jump to $300 per month – which happened at the end of July. Both regular catchers, Hank Gowdy and Walt Tragesser, went down with injuries necessitating that Rico put on the gear. He finished a game behind the plate on July 31, 1916 against the Cardinals. Stallings obtained Earl Blackburn from Providence to take the regular role for the short term, but for at least one day, Art Rico had to catch a major league game.

That was August 2, 1916. Rico was challenged in the first inning, but he threw out Tom Long who tried to steal, ending the inning. Dick Rudolph pitched a great game, holding St. Louis without a run and allowing just four hits. No other base runner dared challenge Rico and when Boston pushed a run across in the eleventh inning, the Braves won, 1 – 0. Blackburn arrived, Rico got two more shots to give Blackburn an inning or two off behind the plate but never batted again that season for Boston. He’d go hitless in four games and four at bats, though he did execute a sacrifice once. Rico was optioned to Providence while Blackburn stayed in Boston so that Rico could get regular work there.

Art Rico - Boston NL 1916

“Rico is a stocky boy, but very fast. He is a splendid thrower and a good batsman. He is studying the game all the time and must improve with experience. All these good points, added to the fact that he is more than ordinarily intelligent, of exceptional character, and of an engaging personality, will make his future look very bright.”

“Stallings Thinks He May Make A Real Catcher Out of Young Rico, Boston Boy,” Boston Globe, March 8, 1916: 9.

Rico returned with the Braves in 1917, but he wouldn’t stay long. In May he was optioned to Springfield, but came back to Boston to close out the season, pinch hitting, getting a couple of starts behind the plate, and even playing the outfield on two occasions. Rico got four hits in fourteen at bats. He might have been in line for even more work in 1918, but with World War I calling on players to fight or work for the war effort, Rico took a job in a US Navy shipyard in Cambridge. There, along with Jack Barry, Rabbit Maranville, Ernie Shore, Herb Pennock and other players, he would get to play several local exhibitions under the watchful eye of Barry, who would be managing the Naval Yard baseball club. The baseball part ended quickly – many of those working in the naval yard were dispatched to Europe by the summer. Rico served in Europe on the USS Georgia until the end of the war.

As 1918 ended, Rico returned to prepare for the 1919 season. First, he chose to have minor surgery to fix a broken nose and remove his tonsils. While at the Eye and Ear Infirmary, Rico came down with pain in his stomach – he had an acute appendicitis attack (it likely burst) and the resulting infection caused peritonitis to kick in. Moved to Massachusetts General Hospital, doctors performed surgery, but it didn’t work. Rico died on January 3, 1919 and was buried in Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was just 23 years old.

The Boston Globe wrote, “News of his death will come as a shock to the thousands who knew him personally, and other thousands who have seen him perform in school athletics at English High and Huntington School…” beneath a headline that read, “One of Baseball’s Finest Lads, an Athlete of the Type All Love and Respect…” Weeks later, his friends helped create a memorial trophy in Rico’s name – an award first given to the winner of the Army-Navy track meet, but then later given to the winner of the annual Boston Athletic Association schoolboy meet.

Notes:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindAGrave.com
Retrosheet.org

Massachusetts Birth Records
Massachusetts Roman Catholic Sacramental Records
1900, 1910 US Census
World War I Registration Card

“Marling Five-Time Winner,” Boston Globe, December 19, 1914: 9. (Includes photo)

“Rico Gives Boston Y.M.C.A. New Shotput Record,” Boston Globe, February 2, 1915: 5.

“Huntington Wins From Cambridge Latin, 8 to 7,” Boston Globe, May 21, 1915: 8.

“Walkover for Huntington,” Boston Globe, October 20, 1915: 6.

“Stallings Thinks He May Make A Real Catcher Out of Young Rico, Boston Boy,” Boston Globe, March 8, 1916: 9.

“Miami’s Fans Pick Winners,” Miami Herald, April 16, 1916: 12.

“Maranville To Talk Over Terms,” Boston Globe, January 28, 1917: 17.

Also, photo “Arthur Rico, Boston Boy of Major League Quality,” Boston Globe, January 28, 1917: 17.

“Rico Released By Braves On Conditions to Springfield,” Boston Globe, May 15, 1917: 7.

“Sporting Notes,” Norwich Bulletin, February 2, 1918: 3.

“Boston Navy Yard Has Real Ball Club,” Washington Herald, March 4, 1918: 8.

“Art Rico, Braves Catcher, Dies After Operation, Buffalo Courier, January 8, 1919: 10.

“Arthur Rico, Brilliant Young Catcher of the Braves, Dead,” Boston Globe, January 4, 1919: 5.

“Trophy in Memory of Late Arthur Rico of the Braves,” Boston Globe, January 29, 1919: 4.

The Boston Braves team photo was uploaded to Ancestry.com – it would appear to be from a Spaulding Guide or similar.

Happy Birthday, Andy Spognardi!

Andy SpognardiAndy Spognardi, had he stuck around long enough, could have eventually earned the nickname “Doc.”  Instead, the young Boston College captain turned Red Sox infielder chose to leave baseball, finish his medical studies, and make a career out of being a family doctor.

Andrea Ettore Spognardi was born October 18, 1908 in Boston to Dominicangelo and Clotilde (Martella) Spognardi – the last of four children.  Only three were born in Boston.  Dominic and Clotilde came to the United States in 1900 and 1902, respectively, taking their oldest daughter with them on the second trip.  Dominic was born in Pescolanciano, Italy, married Clotilde, and then the cabinet maker and his wife left Naples to make their way in the United States for the rest of their lives.

Andy Spognardi - Boston Globe 1931Andrea was anglicized to Andrew and then Andy as he made his way through high school.  After graduating from Hyde Park High, he enrolled at Boston College.  There, the flashy shortstop earned national attention for his play – and the captainship of his college nine.  His summers were spent playing amateur ball with Roslindale, a local Boston area nine.  While in school, he was courted by at least three teams, finally agreeing to sign with the Red Sox in 1932.

With Boston, he played in 17 games between September 2, 1932 and September 25, 1932, batting .294 and finishing the season with a four-game hitting streak. He got his first hit in the eighth inning of his third major league game, slamming a single off of Washington’s Firpo Marberry on September 5, having entered the game as a replacement for Rabbit Warstler an inning earlier. Certainly Spognardi was in line for an opportunity in 1933 – the 1932 Red Sox finished in last place and Spognardi had proved he could play in the majors.

However, Spognardi had other options. He enrolled at Tufts University to earn his medical degree. And, he couldn’t leave classes early for spring training. So, he asked the Red Sox if he could skip spring training and join the team in June when his classes ended. G.M. Bob Quinn said, “I would want Spognardi to do whatever he thinks will be best for him, but I told him that he could not be of any use to us if he waited until June, although I would get him a job at that time if he decided to stay with his studies.”

Andy Spognardi - Yearbook mainSpognardi chose to finish school and become a doctor.  Before starting a family practice of his own in the Boston area, he played amateur ball in Roslindale and briefly played minor league ball for Jersey City.  And, his medical training helped on at least one occasion when dealing with players injured during games in which he played.  However, he focused his attention on medicine soon after and built his private practice for the next five-plus decades before retiring in 1988.  He married Mary Christine O’Donnell in 1940 and they lived a very long life together.  Spognardi lived just hours past the beginning of the next century, passing away at 91 on January 1, 2000 in his home in Dedham, Massachusetts.  He was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Notes:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindAGrave.com
Retrosheet.org

1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
Massachusetts Social Security Records
Massachusetts Naturalization Records
Massachusetts Death Index

Photos from 1932 Boston College Sub Turri Yearbook.

Monahan, A. J. “B.C. Hangs Defeat on the Crusaders,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1929: 17.

Photo, Boston Globe, July 31, 1931: 17.

“Spognardi Leaves With Sox Tomorrow,” Boston Globe, August 31, 1932: 20.

“Baseball or Medicine – Andy Spognardi Must Pick One,” Madison Capital Times, January 18, 1933: 11.

“Andy Spognardi Signs With Jersey City,” Boston Globe, August 17, 1933: 17.

“Jim Shea Hurls One-Hit 5-0 Win,” Boston Globe, August 20, 1935: 20.

Clotilde C. (Martella) Spognardi – per her obit in Boston Globe, December 24, 1952: 16.

“Andrew E. Spognardi,” Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, January 14, 2000: 5A.

The Sad Death of Fred Waterman

Fred Waterman’s claim to fame is that he played third base for the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, a team made famous because it toured the country playing all the best amateur, semi-professional, and (let’s face it) professional teams without losing a single game all year.

Frederick A. Waterman was a New York City kid, born in 1845 to William and Jane Waterman – Fred was the fifth of nine kids. While Jane raised a baseball roster, William worked as a cartman and later as a foreman, which hopefully paid him more money…

By 1865, Waterman had already moved from fairly good local baseball clubs to the best of the semi-professional clubs in New York City. He spent much of 1865 with the Empire Club of New York, then landing on the Mutuals by 1866. Soon after, he was heading west and playing for Cincinnati. In 1868, he was so good as a hitter that he was cited by the New York Clipper as being the best hitting third baseman in the game. The Red Stockings would go undefeated in 1869 and continue undefeated into 1870 before finally losing to the Atlantics of Brooklyn after more than 90 straight victories.

1869 Cincinnati Red Legs

A few losses in the late summer of 1870 led to the disbanding of the Red Stockings – half the team following Harry Wright to Boston, the other half headed to Washington D.C. It’s possible that the Wright Brothers (Harry and George, and not Orville and Wilbur) kept only the players who were more temperate. For example, one story claimed the Red Stockings lost a game to Chicago in 1870 in part because Waterman met with “friends” and got drunk prior to a game on September 7, 1870. Waterman made two errors in the fourth inning that cost a run for sure, the Chicago Tribune noting, “Duffy to first, and Meyerle second on a grounder slobbered on by Waterman…” However, Waterman also scored two of Cincinnati’s six runs, made a couple of fine plays in the field and hustled on the bases. He hit the ball well, too, making only two outs and one of those on a well handled play in the field. (Harry Wright, Doug Allison and Andy Leonard combined for thirteen outs in the game batting in the 4 – 5 – 6 spots in the order behind Waterman, who batted third.)

Waterman joined the Olympics of Washington – he’d play with them in 1871 and 1872, until the Olympics folded. Waterman played for a club in Evansville, then returned to Washington DC to play with the Washington Blue Legs for the 1873 season. After missing a season – and trying to form a new “Olympic” club in Cincinnati – he played with Chicago in 1875. He hit .300 with some power and a willingness to take a free pass each year he was in the Association, though he became more error prone (ten errors in five games with Chicago) toward the end of his run. Still – Waterman was well-respected – he was asked to umpire games, including Association games from time to time. In fact, five years after his last Association game, Waterman was listed as a National League umpire for games played in Cincinnati.

Here’s a picture of the 1871 Olympics. Waterman is #4 at the left. His teammates from Cincinnati here include Charlie Sweasy (#5) and Doug Allison (#9) and Asa Brainard (#10). (Most of the rest of the Red Stockings landed in Boston – the ones George and Harry Wright liked anyway.)

Olympics of Washington - Berthrong at top right

Waterman wasn’t finished as a player – just as a major leaguer. In 1876, he played with the Tauntons. The next year, he was listed playing in Canada with the London Tecumsehs, though I found a team photo from that season and Waterman isn’t in there… He was rumored to join an amateur team in Rockford, IL in 1878, just months after he required surgery to remove a bullet from his left shoulder. He was cleaning his revolver when the cartridge fired, sending a bullet his way. He kept playing, too, taking a position with a team in Nebraska for 1879.

Ida WatermanWaterman was briefly married in the early 1880s. His wife, the former Ida Shaw, filed for a divorce from Fred in the Common Pleas Court in 1884. An article found in the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1892 included a note where Ida Waterman claimed to be Waterman’s widow – except, of course, that Waterman wasn’t yet dead then. Ida Shaw was the daughter of a furniture manufacturer who took up acting when she turned 30 and used Ida Waterman as her stage name. She appeared in at least 29 films and numerous stage productions, acting alongside Maude Adams, Mary Pickford (that’s Ida at left with Ms. Pickford above) and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Ida Shaw (Waterman) Francouer passed away in 1941.

Waterman was gainfully employed (baseball and otherwise) through his baseball career (he once owned a cigar shop that advertised in the local Cincinnati papers during his playing days there). He also developed an interest in politics. In 1870, he considered running for a city councilman slot in Cincinnati. In 1873 Waterman tried to run for a Washington DC position in the 14th legislative district there as a Republican – as a newcomer, he needed additional documentation to prove he lived there full time. Years later, back in Cincinnati, Waterman was an alternate member of the 19th ward Republican executive committee. In 1880, after his baseball career was over, he was hired (and fired – cutbacks) as a Cincinnati police officer. Then, Waterman worked in the Cincinnati freight depot of the Dayton Short Line. By 1884, he was a watchman at a local Cincinnati park.

At some point Waterman fell off the map in the decades that followed his baseball fame. One source said he worked “odd jobs” – I found a city directory where he was listed as a bricklayer in 1894, and there’s an article from 1895 showing that former teammate Doug Allison checked in on Waterman while Fred was tending bar at a 5th Street liquor emporium in Washington DC. A year later, he must have been in bad shape. The Harry Wright Veteran Association tried to organize a benefit for Fred Waterman through a game played at Redland Field. When he died following an operation on December 16, 1899 he was destitute and his body nearly became a ward of the city. According to a city health department record, the cause of death was tuberculosis pyo-pneumothorax – tuberculosis with additional complications.

“The man who helped George and Harry Wright make baseball history died a wreck and friendless. His body is at an undertaker’s shop, and unless funds are forthcoming the city will bury him.”

“Money Needed to Bury Waterman,” Boston Globe, December 19, 1899: 8.

A number of old friends and fans pitched in and a funeral was held at Wesleyan Cemetery in Cincinnati.. Some modern locals, supported by the Reds, though have upgraded his resting place, giving him a gravestone and remembering his role in creating one of the first great professional teams before there were major leagues.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindAGrave.com
IMDB.com (Ida Waterman)
1850, 1860, 1870 US Census
1894 Cincinnati City Directory
New York Marriage Records

“The Empire Club in Philadelphia,” New York Clipper, September 2, 1865: 2.

“Tour of the Mutual Club,” New York Clipper, September 7, 1867: 5.

“The Tour of the ‘Red Stockings,'” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 10, 1869: 8.

Advertisement – Fred Waterman & Co., Cincinnati Enquirer, November 17, 1869: 5.

“Baseball Gossip,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 28, 1870: 2.

“White Above the Red,” Chicago Tribune, September 8, 1870: 4.

“Base Ball,” Washington Evening Star, December 2, 1870: 2.

“District Politics,” Daily National Republican, October 10, 1873: 4.

Cincinnati Enquirer, August 1, 1874: 8.

“Scooped,” Cincinnati Enquirer, September 10, 1875: 8.

“Prospects in Canada,” Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1877: 7.

“A Shoulder Shot,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 16, 1878: 8.

Buffalo Commercial, July 13, 1878: 3.

“Base Ball Notes,” Buffalo Sunday Morning News, June 15, 1879: 3.

“Base Ball,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 30, 1879: 3.

“Base Ball,” Buffalo Commercial, February 23, 1880: 3.

“The National Game,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 26, 1880: 4.

“The League,” Buffalo Courier, February 27, 1880: 2.

“The Official Ax,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 22, 1881: 8.

“Today’s Battle,” Cincinnati Enquirer, September 6, 1881: 5.

“County Clerk’s Office – New Suits,” Cincinnati Enquirer, February 24, 1884: 15.

“The World of Sport,” Dunkirk Evening Observer, July 19, 1884: 4.

“Notes,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 29, 1884: 10.

“Here and There,” Cincinnati Enquirer, January 28, 1892: 12.

O. P. Caylor, “A Peril to Baseball,” The Lima News, September 30, 1893: 3.

“Orioles Are Very Happy,” Washington Evening Times, September 24, 1895: 3.

Cincinnati Enquirer, April 14, 1896: 2.

“Once a Base Ball Hero,” Lexington Daily Leader, December 20, 1899: 7.

“Services Held For Actress,” Cincinnati Enquirer, May 24, 1941: 17.

“Fred Waterman,” SABR BioProject written by Charles Faber, (https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/fred-waterman), Retrieved on December 17, 2020.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Red Stockings of Cincinnati, 1869. C. Hurley, Sub.; G. Wright, S.S.; Mcvey, R .F. ; Leonard, L. F.; Sweasy, 2nd B.; Waterman, 3rd B.; H. Wright, C. F.; Brainard, P.; Gould, 1st B.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 17, 2020. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c3af-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Olympics of Washington, D.C., A. J. Leonald, l. f., G. W. Hall, c. f., H. W. Berthrong, r. f. , F. A. Waterman, 3b., C. J. Sweasy, 2b., E. Mill, 1b., D. W. Force, s. s., Asa Brainard, p., H. F. Borroughs, D. L. Allison, c., J. W.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 17, 2020. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c2c4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Image of Ida Waterman, FamousFix.com. Image uploaded by user CBoothe877. https://www.famousfix.com/post/esmeralda-mary-pickford-103293419/p288484?view=large accessed December 19, 2020.

Baseball History for December 14th

<— DEC 13 DEC 15 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1849 Ollie Caylor
1861 Ren Wylie
1863 Henry Gruber
1870 Deacon Van Buren
1873 John Anderson
1879 Jack Calhoun
1882 Ralph Edwards
1886 Maury Uhler
1889 Lefty Tyler
1891 Al Tedrow
1892 Rudy Kallio
1894 James Edwards
1894 Stan Baumgartner
1896 Charlie Hargreaves
1897 Syl Simon
1898 Maurice Archdeacon
1899 Bob Lawrence
1900 Harry Wilke
1901 Les Bell
1903 Jim Moore
1905 Bob Weiland
1908 Terry Lyons
1909 Jim Walkup
1913 Eddie Smith
1914 Rusty Peters
1915 Paul Erickson
1921 Bobby Adams
1923 Paul LaPalme
1925 Sam Jones
1929 Carl Linhart
1929 Pete Whisenant
1933 Jerry Schoonmaker
1938 Ken Hunt
1942 Jim Roland
1943 Jerry May
1945 Greg Goossen
1948 Ralph Garcia
1949 Bill Buckner
1961 Jeff Robinson
1964 Mitch Lyden
1965 Ken Hill
1965 Craig Biggio
1969 Scott Hatteberg
1969 Dave Nilsson
1971 Eric Ludwick
1972 Marcus Jensen
1974 Billy Koch
1975 Rodrigo Lopez
1977 Dan Wright
1977 Doug DeVore
1977 Rodrigo Rosario
1978 Dave Gassner
1981 Angel Guzman
1981 Shaun Marcum
1982 Josh Fields
1984 Chris Heisey
1988 Matt Grace
1989 Donn Roach
1990 Mike Ohlman
1991 Adam Frazier
1993 Taylor Ward
1994 Ryan McMahon

OBITUARIES:

1899 Harry Dooms
1900 Jim Devlin
1915 Danny Murphy
1924 Chappie McFarland
1926 Tom Needham
1926 George Myers
1930 Al Hubbard
1931 Al Schulz
1941 George Gillpatrick
1944 Jouett Meekin
1945 Connie Murphy
1946 Tom Dowse
1952 Frank Hansford
1962 Bob Katz
1962 Champ Osteen
1962 Dan Woodman
1970 Herman Hill
1970 Walt Tragesser
1979 Vinnie Smith
1980 Elston Howard
1985 Roger Maris

Lympathic cancer…

1991 Larry Ciaffone
1993 Jerry Scala
1997 Frank Baumholtz
2002 Hank Arft
2004 Rod Kanehl
2004 Danny Doyle
2005 Stew Bowers
2007 Cuddles Marshall
2008 Nick Willhite
2017 Frank Lary

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

2014 Commissioner Rob Manfred denies Pete Rose’s application to be reinstated into the good graces of baseball.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1917 Boston sends $60,000, Vean Gregg, Pinch Thomas and Merlin Kopp to the Athletics for Wally Schang, Bullet Joe Bush, and Amos Strunk.

1927 Washington purchased George Sisler from the Browns for $25,000.

1932 Washington sends Sam West, Carl Reynolds and Lloyd Brown (and cash) to the Browns for Goose Goslin, Fred Schulte, and Lefty Stewart.

1948 Cleveland sends Eddie Robinson, Ed Klieman and Joe Haynes to the Senators for Early Wynn and Mickey Vernon.

1954 Brooklyn signs amateur pitcher (and now “Bonus Baby”) Sandy Koufax.

1960 Expansion Draft!!!

Eli Grba was the first pick, taken by the Angels from the Yankees. Washington took Bobby Shantz from the Yankees, too.

1977 Texas sends John Poloni (who?) to the Red Sox for Fergie Jenkins.

1982 San Francisco sends Joe Morgan and Al Holland to the Phillies for Mike Krukow, Mark Davis, and C. L. Penigar.

1998 St. Louis sends Braden Looper, Pablo Ozuna and Armando Almanza to the Marlins for Edgar Renteria.

2017 Fire Sale!!! The Marlins, having already unloaded Giancarlo Stanton, send Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals for Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen, and Daniel Castano.

Baseball History for December 12th

<— DEC 11 DEC 13 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1854 Emanuel Sebastian (Redleg) Snyder
1860 Jim Brown
1864 John Francis (Phenomenal) Smith
1871 Oscar Woehrlin
1872 Eddie O’Meara
1874 Thomas Frank (Tully) Sparks
1876 Joe Rickert
1887 Jacob (Bugs) Reisigl
1891 Tom Daly
1893 Les Hennessy
1899 Allie Watt
1901 Bill Moore
1902 Paul Louis (Pee-Wee) Wanninger
1904 Ray Boggs
1908 Herman Earl (Flea) Clifton
1913 Bill Webb
1917 Clyde Kluttz
1917 Bob Carpenter
1921 Bill Howerton
1930 Raul Sanchez
1937 Pedro Gonzalez
1940 Tom Brown
1941 Allan Lewis
1943 Derrell Griffith
1945 Ralph Garr
1950 Gorman Thomas
1956 Steve Farr
1964 Alonzo Powell
1970 Mike Buddie
1974 Julius Matos
1975 Carlos Hernandez
1977 Orlando Hudson
1979 Garrett Atkins
1981 Shane Costa
1982 Ervin Santana
1988 Juan Diaz
1988 Mike Kickham
1992 Luis Castillo
1992 Jose Osuna

OBITUARIES:

1895 Harry Fuller

Fuller, who played in just one game in 1891 – a shortened one at that as it was the second game of a doubleheader, died of consumption if you believe the Cincinnati Enquirer, or typhoid fever if you believe what someone posted on his FindAGrave.com page. He had just turned 33.

“Base Ball,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 14, 1897: 2.

1912 Jim Green

My friend and fellow Jayhawk Sam Gazdziak says he died from cirrhosis of the liver (on Green’s FindAGrave.com page), so I’ll go with that.

1926 Ed Sixsmith

Acute indigestion caused, in part, by chronic gastritis per his death certificate.

1929 Dick Buckley
1932 Jim Long
1937 Rube Benton
1944 Ed Pinnance
1956 Bill Malarkey
1957 George Daly
1963 Myles Thomas
1966 Herman Young
1970 Doug Taitt
1971 Bill Kellogg
1971 George Dunlop
1975 Julie Wera
1979 Nick Dumovich
1983 Jim Weaver
1984 Gene Layden
1986 Johnny Wyrostek
1991 Ken Keltner
1992 Rube Walker
1995 Mike Modak
1996 George Jumonville
1998 Denny Galehouse
2000 Red Barkley
2006 Irv Hall
2011 Randy Stein
2013 Jim Burton
2014 Herb Plews
2018 Billy MacLeod

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!

1930 Baseball’s rules committee decides that a ball that lands in play and bounces into the stands is a ground rule double and not a home run as previously done.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

Another solid day for trades…

1903 The Cardinals send Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and Jack O’Neill to the Cubs for Larry McLean and Jack Taylor.

1908 St. Louis sends Bugs Raymond, Admiral Schlei and Red Murray to the Giants for Roger Bresnahan.

1913 The Giants send Buck Herzog (and Grover Hartley) to the Reds for Bob Bescher. Herzog would become the next manager of the Reds.

1924 Washignton sends Carr Smith and By Speece to the Indians for what is left of Stan Coveleski’s career.

For what it’s worth, Coveleski wasn’t done. As a 35 year old pitcher, he went 20 – 5 with a league leading 2.84 ERA in 1925 as the Senators won the pennant. He had a 14 – 11 season in 1926, then ran out of gas.

1932 New York sends Freddie Lindstron to the Pirates and Chick Fullis to the Phillies. Pittsburgh sends Glenn Spencer to the Giants and Gus Dugas to the Phillies, and the Phillies sent Kiddo Davis to the Giants. Hey, if Freddie Lindstrom was a Hall of Fame player, how on earth does a team him packing for spare change at the age of 27?

1933 Philadelphia sells Lefty Grove, Max Bishop and Rube Walberg to the Red Sox for $125,000, Bob Kline and Rabbit Warstler. Then Philadelphia sold Mickey Cochrane to Detroit for $100,000 and Johnny Pasek.

1935 The Reds purchase Johnny Vander Meer from the Braves.

1941 Pittsburgh trades Arky Vaughan to the Dodgers for Babe Phelps, Luke Hamlin, Pete Coscarart and Jimmy Wasdell.

1968 The Royals traded Hoyt Wilhelm to the Angels for Ed Kirkpatrick and Dennis Paepke.

1975 Detroit sends Mickey Lolich and Billy Baldwin to the Tigers for Rusty Staub and Bill Laxton.

Also, the White Sox send Ken Henderson, Dick Ruthvan, and Dan Osborn to the Braves for Ralph Garr and Larvell (Sugar Bear) Blanks.

1980 Texas sends Richie Zisk, Ken Clay, Jerry Don Gleaton, Rick Auerbach, Brian Allard, and Steve Finch to the Mariners for Rick Honeycutt, Willie Horton, Mario Mendoza, Leon Roberts, and Larry Cox.

Also, St. Louis sends Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich to the Brewers for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano, and Lary Sorensen.

1984 St. Louis sends George Hendrick and Steve Barnard to the Pirates for John Tudor and Brian Harper.

2007 Baltimore sends Miguel Tejada to the Astros for Matt Albers, Luke Scott, Mike Costanzo, Troy Patton, and Dennis Sarfate.