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.

Louis “Lord Chumley” Graff, president of the Philadelphia Commercial Exchange – and also happened to play a little baseball.

Louis Graff’s long, successful life included building upon his father’s successful grain exporting company to eventually serving two long terms as the president of the Philadelphia Commercial Exchange, getting the ear of Woodrow Wilson, and influencing the government’s role in supporting and supervising grain exportation.

And, he happened to play in one major league baseball game and a full season of minor league baseball.

Louis Graff - 1900Louis George Graff, Jr. was the sixth child born to Louis George Graff, Sr. and Martha (Bell) Graff, arriving in Philadelphia on July 25, 1866.  Louis, Sr. would have a bio worthy life himself.  Born in Saxe-Coburg – a duchy eventually swallowed into Germany, he was a childhood friend of Prince Albert, the future consort of Queen Victoria of England.  His family left Saxe-Coburg around 1833 and came to Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania.  He first moved to Pittsburgh, but soon left to work boats along the Mississippi River.  After that, he became friendly with the future mayor of New York, William Strong, who was placing dry goods franchises throughout the United States.  Graff would run stores for Strong in Massillon, Ohio.  Learning how to exchange goods, he eventually moved to Philadelphia where he started his own commission to exhange grains.  By 1886, Graff’s train cars were moving record amounts of wheat through Philadelphia to places all over the country and the world.

Two of the youngest of Louis and Martha’s seven children would have a bit more free time than the older brothers.  Joseph would take up cricket, while Louis, Jr. would take up baseball.  The younger Louis graduated from the Hastings Academy in western Philadelphia and, when he wasn’t working for his father, became a catcher for his local amateur team in Riverton, New Jersey, where his father had moved in his later years.  Louis was an athletic and smart player – especially fast – but not especially muscular or gifted with an unusually strong arm.  But – he was smart and dependable, someone you would want supporting a pitching staff.

Louis Graff - 1890It was while he was an amateur that the 1890 Syracuse Stars came to Philadelphia for a series with the Athletics.  Syracuse was short healthy catchers, so they gave Graff a chance to catch the first game of a double header on June 23, 1890.  In fact, this was the second time in 1890 that Graff was hired on an emergency basis,  He had signed to play for Altoona in May when three of Altoona’s catchers were suffering from hand injuries.

Philadelphia defeated Syracuse rather handily in both games, but it wasn’t Graff’s fault in that first game.  While a wild throw by Graff allowed two runners to score in the top of the fourth, in the bottom of the fourth Graff laced a double that scored two runners.  He had a single later in the game, and in the eighth inning, he grounded out to drive in a third run.  When the game was over, Graff sported a .400 batting average and three RBI.

He wouldn’t play another game for Syracuse.  He returned to Riverton and played in 44 games behind the plate there, getting 88 hits and leading his team in stolen bases.  In one game, Riverton beat the Philadelphia Phillies, though the National League club had given a tryout that day to a local amateur pitcher.

It was that reputation – a very good amateur in a very good baseball town – that earned the attention of Chicago Colts captain, Cap Anson.  Anson liked what he saw and heard and signed Graff to a contract for the 1891 season.  Graff joined the Colts as they headed to Denver for spring training and made the team that April.  However, he never appeared in a game for Anson’s Colts and eventually he was released at the end of the month.

“…Graff does not seem to have enough beef for the work. He is a clever fellow personally, but there is not the promising timber in him…”

“Concerning Chicago’s Colts,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, April 21, 1891: 6.

Another player who didn’t make it with the Colts that year was infielder Bob Glenalvin, who went west and captained Portland’s entry in the four-team Pacific Northwestern League.  Glenalvin brought Graff to the Gladiators, where he became the team’s regular catcher for the rest of the year.  Along the way, the nickname given to Graff in Chicago, “Lord Chumley,” was replaced by the kinder “Chappie.”  Chappie still made note that Graff was a bit aloof, having been raised in a family of consderable means – and had those mannerisms, too.  On the year, Graff hit .242 in 74 games, adding just ten doubles and a triple.  The league’s regular season ended with Portland as the pennant winner.  Then, the Gladiators continued playing games against a team from San Jose, California through the end of December.  Graff only left Portland when a brother became ill and he was asked to return home to help care for the family and his father’s business in January, 1892.  The last note about Graff’s baseball career came six months later when it was rumored that New York expressed an interest in signing the quick catcher.

Returning home was the right decision.  A decade later, Louis, Sr. passed away and Louis, Jr. took over the top job.  Continuing to build the Graff & Co. business and his own reputation, Graff became an influential member of the Philadelphia Commercial Exchange.  He eventually become a director, a vice president, and then voted president of the Commercial Exchange in 1911.  He served for a number of years in that role, providing smooth leadership to the Exchange, and guidence to the government during the war years.  He would encourage Woodrow Wilson to put banking operators in London to deal with currency and grain exchanges and then asked the government to provide oversight to all exports so that neutral European countries couldn’t resell US grain to Germany during the first World War.

Louis Graff - 1938When the Great Depression hit, Graff was pulled out of retirement to again lead the Commercial Exchange during the 1930s.  He wouldn’t completely retire until the the 1940s.  Like his father, he worked until he was approaching 75 years old – fit and in good health.

Soon after his professional baseball days were over, Graff married Nellie Horner.  They had two daughters, Catherine and Lillian, and a son, Walter.  Nellie passed away of a pelvic malignancy in 1949.  Louis Graff would live almost six more years.  In early April he fell and broke his hip.  After surgery to repair the hip, Graff caught pneumonia and passed away in the same Lower Merion (PA) hospital as his wife.  He died on April 16, 1955, and was buried in George Washington Memorial Cemetery in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Notes and Sources:

1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950 US Censuses
PA Death Certificates
PA Marriage Index
Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal) church records (accessed via Ancestry.com – like everything listed above this…)

FindaGrave.com (includes image uploaded by Gordon Brett Echols)
Baseball-Reference.com 

“Grain and Produce,” Philadelphia Times, December 11, 1886: 7.
“A New Battery Signed,” Altoona Tribune, May 10, 1890: 1.
“Riverton Downs the Phillies,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 6, 1890: 3.
“The League Team Complete,” Chicago Tribune, November 1, 1890: 6.
“Strength of the Clubs,” Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1891: 43.
“Concerning Chicago’s Colts,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, April 21, 1891: 6.
“Baseball Notes,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 4, 1891: 3.
“Baseball Notes,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 10, 1891: 3.
“Tacoma is Disgusted,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 11, 1891: 3.
“The Flag is Won,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 5, 1891: 3.
“Gossip of Baseball,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 18, 1892: 3.
“Gossip of Baseball,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 4, 1892: 3.
“A Close Game at Riverton,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 1892: 3.
“Louis G. Graff, Jr.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 11, 1900: Ad Section, Page 14. (Image)
“Louis G, Graff Dies Suddenly At His Home,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 30, 1901: 3.
“Hope to Adjust Grain Shipments,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 6, 1914: 5.
“Approves Control of Grain Exports,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 6, 1917: 2.
“Louis G. Graff, Exporter, Dies,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 18, 1955: 10.

Baseball Bio Find: Frank Bahret

Frank Bahret was at the top of today’s death list – having died on March 30, 1888. I noticed that he didn’t have a birthdate – just a year, 1858 – when I tried to find information on him with an Ancestry.com search.

Anyway, I was able to find a few things about Mr. Bahret that helps fill out his life story – including his birthdate.

Franklin Fletcher Bahret was born on September 12, 1858 to Jacob and Frederika (Dietz) Bahret in Poughkeepsie, New York.  Jacob and Frederika came to the United States from Baden-Wurttemburg, in the southern part of Germany.  This was a large family – in the 1860 US Census, you have ten children living with Jacob and Frederika, with ages ranging from 20 to 1 and three more children were born in the next decade.  Jacob is listed as a merchant tailor in the 1860 US Census. His son, also Jacob, continued that tradition after the father’s death in 1865, operating his shop in a building he owned on Main Street in downtown Poughkeepsie.  J. J. Bahret and Company was frequently seen in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle advertising clothing for men and children – school uniforms and the like.

Franklin remained in school through at least 1880 and took up the growing sport of baseball, where he played on the amateur Poughkeepsie Browns.  At least two of his brothers were also active local players – a story about a junior team featuring two of the Bahret brothers appears in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle in 1876 and his younger brother, Frederick, is listed with a local team in The Sporting Life in 1886. By 1884, Bahret was a “…well known base ball player of this city, and who has a good record… ” In 1884, Bahret was signed to play the outfield for by the Baltimore Monumentals in the Union Association.  His contract called for a salary of $1000 for the year, but he wouldn’t collect the full salary.  He managed to play in just two games, going hitless in eight at bats with a game each in center and right field, before he was released in late April.

With that, Bahret returned home to Poughkeepsie.  As he did before he left for a chance at baseball stardom, Frank worked as a clerk in the family business.  However, his time on the earth, like his baseball career, was unfortunately brief.  Before Frank turned 30, he had died.  1888 was a rough year for the family as three Bahret brothers died that year. Frank Bahret was buried in the family plot in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.  It’s the family grave marker that tells us Frank’s birthdate.

Notes:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindaGrave.com
1860, 1870, 1880 US Census
1865, 1875 New York Census

“The Junior Base Ball Match,” Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, September 15, 1876: 3.

“A $50,000 Blaze,” Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, March 4, 1881: 3.

“Games Played on Saturday,” Baltimore Sun, April 28, 1884: 6.

“Base Ball Notes,” Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, January 25, 1884: 3.

“Released,” Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, May 7, 1884: 3.

“Base Ball – The Knights of the Club Laid Out,” Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, September 8, 1884: 3.

“Notes and Comments,” The Sporting Life, April 7, 1886: 3.

 

Silly Baseball Memory

This takes me back – Casey and I at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

Casey got two foul balls before we sat down.  (Both were foul balls that cleared the stadium as we walked up to get our tickets.)

I have one of the two – I asked if I could have one as a memory of our seeing the game together.  Then I asked him to sign it.  He said, “I would, dad, but I don’t know how to spell Dan Uggla.”

Casey at Jupiter

“Old Reliable” Andy Allison

“[Allison] opened the contest by sending a ball over Cuthbert’s head for three bases.”

“Eckford vs. Athletic,” Times Union, September 17, 1869: 3.

Andy Allison was a member of the Eckford Base Ball Club in the late 1860s and early 1870s. For one year, the Eckford club paid the $10 fee to join the National Assocation – so Allison has a stat line for the 1872 season in your baseball encyclopedia.

Andrew Kent Allison was born in 1848 (or possibly late 1847) to James and Jane Allison – arriving in one of the five New York boroughs, but soon after the family had moved to Brooklyn.  A Scottish immigrant (like his wife) James was a laborer, spending many years in the Brooklyn shipyards.  Andrew was the second of at least six children.

By the time Allison became an adult, he had been apprenticed in two things – printing and baseball.  He appears in newspapers as the leadoff hitter and first baseman for the Eckfords – one assumes that he may have played for some of the other amateur teams of the area before joining the Eckford club and serving as a board member.  His reputation was strong enough that other clubs used Allison as an umpire.  And, an 1872 article referred to Allison as “Old Reliable.”

As mentioned, the Eckford were at least a semi-professional operation but in 1872 they were playing with the professionals.  The Eckford lost eleven straight games in the early summer.  A number of the National Association teams folded and the Eckford were able to add players from two other teams.  In their final 18 games, the Eckford won three – two of them against their long time rivals, the Atlantics.  And with that, the Eckford returned to their amateur roots.  Allison stayed on, playing and umpring games as they were created.  For his major league career – if you want to call it that – Allison appeared in 22 league games, getting just 15 hits, scoring nine times and driving in ten runs.  Two of his hits were doubles.  His final batting average was a rather weak .163.

Allison was involved in local Republican politics in later years, but his social life caught up with him – alcoholism contributed to his death by heart paralysis on March 21, 1897.  He was no more than 49 years old.  He left behind a wife, Elizabeth (Reynolds), and four children.  His remains lie in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Sources:

1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 US Censuses
NY State Death Certificate
1855, 1875, 1892 NY State Census

“Eckford vs. Athletic,” Times Union, September 17, 1869: 3.

“Notes,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 16, 1871: 3.

“The Eckford Base Ball Club,” Times Union, April 3, 1872: 4.

The Short MLB Career and Life of Elliot Bigelow

“Bigelow’s smacks rank among the hardest hit in Andrews field history and he is feared by every pitcher in the league.”

“Hefty Attack Nicklin’s Aim With Lookouts,” Chattanooga Times, March 24, 1926: 10.

Elliot Bigelow was once listed as a 26 year old prospect (26?) in 1929, one of five players the Boston Red Sox acquired from Washington for Buddy Myer prior to the 1929 season.

Elliot Bigelow - Red SoxElliot Allardice (Gilly) Bigelow was born October 13, 1897 in Tarpon Springs, FL to William Howard Bigelow and Margaret Barclay-Allardice. He was the third of three children born to the horticulturalist and his wife.  William drowned when his sailboat capsized in a storm when Elliot was three and the three children would be raised by Margaret and her second husband, John Hill. Hill was a fruit farmer in the Tampa area.

Elliot spent his high school days playing baseball for Tarpon Springs as a pitcher and outfielder and also spent a short time at a prep school in Mount Herman, Massachusetts (both parents can trace their lineage back several generations to New England).  As with many young athletes, he also played basketball when not playing baseball.  He and his brother John, a pitcher and third baseman, would help form and manage a local town team for Tarpon Springs in 1919.  The next year, he would sign his first pro contract.

For six years, Bigelow was mostly buried in the low minors, despite hitting well over .300 in five straight seasons with St. Petersburg of the Florida State League (and a brief 17-game run with Macon in the South Atlantic League).  He landed in Chattanooga of the Southern Association for the 1925 and 1926 seasons where he would bat .349 and .370 with good numbers of doubles and triples.  He was known as a friendly and “a prince of a fellow,” but infielders generally backed up when Bigelow was a the plate because he was certain to crush a liner or hard grounder their way.

At this point, Washington became interested in Bigelow and gave him a tryout prior to the 1927 season, but instead farmed him back to Birmingham in the Southern Association where Bigelow hit even better than before.

Elliot BigelowBigelow hit .395 in the Southern Association in 1928, following up on a season in which he hit .361 and led the league in homers with 19.  Both seasons were with Birmingham.  The left handed hitter and thrower had developed into a thick (5-11, 185) line drive hitter with fairly good power – and yet was still in the minors ten years after his pro debut.  Despite ten years of gaudy batting statistics, three things were keeping him out of the majors – his actual age (by 1929, he was a 32 year old prospect – not 26), his lack of foot speed (he wasn’t the most mobile of outfielders) and his poor throwing arm, the result of a broken arm as a youngster.  Another story said he injured his arm while pitching in high school.

Regardless, Bigelow wasn’t going to stay in Birmingham or get a second shot with the Senators.  He was moved to Boston as part of the trade that sent Buddy Myer to Washington.  Bigelow’s 1929 season with the Boston Red Sox was his only season in the bigs, appearing in 100 games, batting .284 with little power, but a decent .357 OBP.  However, in those days batting .284 with little power was not quite up to league averages – and his age (and arm and range) being what it was, Bigelow was dispatched back to the minors.  He would spend two years in Chattanooga and a year in Knoxville, most always among the league leaders in batting average and still hitting more than his share of doubles (he led the league in 1931 with 48).  In his twelve year minor league career, he had nearly 2,000 hits and a career batting average of .349; he hit .359 in his seven years in the Southern Assocation.

Elliot Bigelow returned home after the 1932 season, never to play professionally again. Instead he likely went to work for this stepfather’s citrus farm. Bigelow, always good with a sailboat, took up fishing frequently just like his father.  He never married.  Bigelow died August 10, 1933 of cerebral meningitis at his mother’s Tampa home, a few days after surgery had been performed to address an infected ear.

He is buried in Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs.

Notes:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindaGrave.com – Elliott
FindaGrave.com – William
World War 1 Registration Card

“Tarpon Springs Base Ball Club Was Organized at the Board of Trade Rooms Saturday Night,” Tarpon Springs Evening Leader, March 10, 1919: 1.

George Kirksey, “Bill Carrigan Start Season With Gang of Minor League Stars,” Johnson City Chronicle, February 12, 1929: 4.

Charles H. Miller, “Bigelow Has Best Batting Average in Southern Past 10 Years,” Memphis Commercial Appeal, January 6, 1928: 19.

Lewie Little,”The Sport Crucible,” Nashville Banner, April 5, 1929: 17.

“Ex-Lookout Dead,” Chattanooga Daily Times, August 11, 1933: 12.

“Elliot Bigelow, Former Member of the Saints Ball Club, Will Be Buried At Tarpon Springs This Afternoon,” St. Petersburg Times, August 13, 1933: 9.

“Bigelow Rights Are Attended By Hundreds,” St. Petersburg Times, August 14, 1933: 6.

The First Bill Doran Played for Cleveland

I was looking through players who died on March 9th and stumbled on the name Bill Doran, who passed away in 1978.  I remembered the more recent Bill Doran, who was a talented second baseman with the Astros and Reds in the 1980s and 1990s. So this a the quick story about the first Bill Doran.

Bill Doran 1William James Doran was a California kid, born June 14, 1898 in San Francisco, and went to St. Mary’s College in Oakland where he was a captain from his perch at third base from his sophomore year on.  Prior to that, he had served his time in the US Navy during World War I.  In the spring of 1922, he made a handshake deal with Charley Pick, manager of the Sacramento Solons, after an exhibition spring training game between the Solons and St. Mary’s.  However, a scout for Cleveland saw Doran and convinced the Indians to sign Doran that May when college classes ended.

Spending most of the summer with Cleveland, it wasn’t until July before he got in the game as a pinch runner.  Naturally, the rookie got caught in a rundown after making the turn near third base and he was retired in a run down.  Another month passed before he got to replace Larry Gardner at 3B late in the second game of a double header.  He walked in his only appearance.  Then, he appeared in a third game – got a single and grounded out – so a .667 OBP.  He hadn’t made it, really, but he played in three MLB games.

In the middle of August, he was dispatched to Chattanooga for some seasoning, only Sacramento put in a claim for him based on that handshake deal.  Things never really worked out for Doran, though he had some decent seasons in the minors between 1923 and 1930, including a quick stint managing for Wichita at the end of one season.  In the end, he spent more time playing and later managing locally with semipro teams.

Doran moved to the LA area in his later years, working for the Los Angeles Angels at the ballpark and marrying Phyllida Sahm, a schoolteacher and noted sailor, in 1952. They had no children together.  His Los Angeles Times obituary noted that he wouldn’t have a ceremony; FindaGrave.com says his ashes were not buried.

There was a Bill Doran who was a really, really good handball player in Southern California.  Wonder if it was this Bill Doran.

Notes:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindaGrave.com
World War II Registration Cards
California Marriage Licenses

Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, and Cleveland Plain Dealer articles (sorry – should be more detailed…  Will do that later.)

Arizona Diamondbacks Season Preview

I haven’t done a season preview in a while – they take a lot of time to assemble and think through. However, I started loading all this data and decided to take a shot at a team that interested me for 2023, and the next thing you know… Here goes.

2022 Season:

Record: 74-88 (4th, NL West)
Runs Scored: 702 (9th in NL)
Runs Allowed: 740 (11th in NL)
Expected W-L: 77-85

Defensive Efficiency: .707 (4th in NL)
DP Efficiency: 6.02% (11th in NL)
Factors: The infield was responsible for 58% of the outs, the lowest ratio of infield vs. outfield outs in the league. That meant they weren’t going to get a lot of double play balls to the infielders and it showed up in the rate of baserunners removed.

100 Run Improvement Goal:

Can they score more runs?

They can if some of the young guys get to play more and produce.

First, they need way more production at SS. Nick Ahmed’s best season won’t cut it. Propsect Jordan Lawlar can’t get here soon enough. Ahmed is better than Geraldo Perdomo, though. There should be a minor improvement here.

Daulton Varsho (RF-C) generated offense – but not necessarily more than Lourdes Gurriel, for whom Varsho was traded. You’d wish that Varsho was a better catcher – he makes more mistakes than Carson Kelly, though is arm appears to be stronger. If Gabriel Moreno works out at catcher, though, the trade of Varsho to Toronto might at least not be a loss (Moreno was also part of the Varsho/Gurriel deal). I think Moreno could generate at least 40 more runs of offense improvement by himself, as Carson Kelly didn’t light it up with his bat.

A full year of Corbin Carroll in the outfield (CF-LF) might be fun, too. Is he that much better than David Peralta? Maybe a few runs. Maybe not. Jake McCarthy (OF) and Josh Rojas (INF) need to play more, Christian Walker (1B) needs to do that again…

If Alek Thomas (CF) could improve, too – bat, say, .260 and draw a few more walks, that would add another 15 runs. His minor league numbers suggest he should be able to bat better than he did last year. If not, Carroll will take his job and Thomas will become a fourth outfielder.

Josh Rojas (INF) might be a better hitter than the league average Ketal Marte (2B), but where does he play? Rojas played both second and third base well, and he’s an above average hitter based on last year’s stats. Adding Evan Longoria is a decent fall back at third, but I’m not sure I’d want to play him at third base unless Rojas was at second. Geraldo Perdomo proved to be competent at shortstop, but you can’t have a SS that bats less than .200 in the lineup.

Can the pitching improve?

Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly were great and very good (respectively) leading the rotation last year. And, four starters made regular turns, which is good. (Sort of) The biggest problem was with Madison Bumgarner, who cost the team nearly 30 runs. After a fine career, he needs a rebirth to continue in MLB. If Zach Davies is the swing man and not the fourth starter, that would help, too. I’m not totally sold on Humberto Castellanos and Tommy Henry, so finding three starters who could pitch at least league average would help. 20 good starts from rookie Ryne Nelson and 15 good starts from rookie Drey Jameson would benefit Arizona immensely.

They also had a bullpen that was generally below average. Joe Mantiply was pretty good, Kyle Nelson was decent and Caleb Smith would help more if he threw more strikes. But the bulk of their bullpen (heck, about 85% of the pitchers) were below average, including the closer, Mark Melancon. That would need to change. I don’t see where Arizona made moves to address this.

So, there is room to improve if the rookies join the rotation and hang in there, but not more than, say, 20 runs. I don’t see an impact pitching change on the horizon.

(I will say, however, if all these kids put together a solid offense, then it’s on the executive team to go buy some immediate pitching help because that would make Arizona a playoff contender for sure.)

Can the defense improve?

They were pretty awsome in 2022, actually – by my count saving their pitchers more than 60 runs thanks to an outfield of Peralta (when he was there), Thomas, and Varsho. I think McCarthy will play more and Gurriel will play some – and that’s probably a step back. Corbin Carroll is a great outfielder, but not necessarily better than Peralta was.

On the infield, getting Evan Longoria isn’t going to move the needle defensively. Walker (1B) Marte (2B), Rojas (2B-3B), Perdomo (SS), Ahmed (SS) – all good defenders.

Realistically, the defense might fall back some, but not too much. Even if it was 25 runs worse than last year, the pitchers will have no room to complain too much.

Down on the Farm?

A.J. Vukovich might be a hitter. He reached AA Amarillo and wasn’t overmatched as a big (6’5″ 210 lb.) 20 year old. I just don’t know that he has a position. And he strikes out a lot. Thankfully the DH is in the NL now… Drey Jameson was impressive pitching in AA, too. It’s not easy to be a minor league pitcher for the Diamondbacks – Reno and Amarillo are murderous.

Jordan Lawlar is a 20 year old SS with a good reputation but is a year or so away, unless Arizona decides to give things a whirl.

This year we should get to see Druw Jones, son of Andruw Jones, which should be fun for minor league fans. By 2024, he could be a major leaguer.

Prediction:

I think the Diamondbacks should play anywhere between .500 ball (more offense, a shade better pitching offset by slightly worse defense) and .470 ball – which puts them at right about 79 wins. They will be fun to watch – mostly young players with skills – but frustrating when the pitchers don’t keep leads. And, they play in a tough division, so a division title would be tough with the Dodgers and Padres ahead of them. Still, don’t be surprised if they finish a strong third in the NL West.

One alternate possibility exists, though. What if Arizona gets off to a good start – six to eight games above .500 heading into July. The tempation will exist to supplement the pitching staff for the stretch run. Suddenly, Druw Jones is peddled for an arm or two and the Diamondbacks make the playoffs. Conjecture, sure, but that would be a possible scenario.

Happy Birthday, Alonzo Hicks!

Alonzo Hicks was an Indiana, Pennsylvania outfielder who got a tryout with the Homestead Grays in 1947, but failed to stick.

The future slugger was born to Alonzo and Rubie Lee (Vaughns) Hicks in Clarksburg, WV on March 7, 1922. Alonzo and Rubie both hailed from Alabama, but left the south for better work opportunities in the coal mines near Charleston, WV and later Ernest, Pennsylvania. They had one son, Willie, before leaving Alabama around 1920, then two others (George, Alonzo) shortly after landing in West Virginia. Alonzo was the youngest.

Their dad quit school around the age of eight, but the three boys finished an eighth grade education in West Virginia before taking jobs in the mines or, as in the case of Alonzo, as laborers in the groceries and warehouses of the area. When World War II started, Alonzo enlisted, joining the US Navy in January, 1943 and serving through the end of 1945, finishing as a Steward’s Mate, First Class Petty Officer when he finished his tour.

Alonzo Hicks

After the war, the muscular built Hicks started playing regularly for the local semi-pro baseball teams in Ernest and later Indiana, Pennsylvania.  The left handed hitter spent most of his time in left field.  In 1946, he led Ernest to a County League crown, and a year later he was an all-star in the Rochester and Pittsburgh League.  One year, the slugging left fielder received the most all-star votes from area baseball fans.  With two exceptions, Hicks played ball in Indiana through 1955.  In 1947, he appeared in at least one game for the Homestead Grays.  And, in 1950 he played for a team in Ontario, Canada where he batted .380, finishing second in the race for a batting crown.  Along the way, he picked up the nicknames of Sunny and, when he played for Heilwood, “The Heilwood Hurricane.”

Soon after he returned from the war, Hicks married Rose Bud (Jones) Hicks. They had at least four children, including a son that died as a infant.

Hicks passed away on November 10, 1998 in Erie, Pennsylvania and is buried in a veterans cemetery there.

Sources:

1910, 1930, 1940, 1950 US Censuses
PA Veterans Compensation Application, 1950.
WWII Registration Card

Baseball-Reference.com
FindaGrave.com (Alonzo)
FindaGrave.com (Rose Bud Hicks)

“County Fans All-Star Team Selected; Play Lucerne Sun.,” Indiana Gazette, September 26, 1947: 12.

“Iron Horse Hurls Three Hitter Against Ernest,” Indiana Gazette, June 17, 1948: 24.

“R & P Baseball League Lifts Lid Saturday,” Indiana Gazette, May 13, 1948: 20.

Photo: Indiana Gazette, September 9, 1948: 20.

Named after a president, meet Zachary Taylor!

Arriving in Baltimore on February 21, 1850, his parents, Robert and Isabella (Trayne or Train) named their last child after the sitting president, Zachary Taylor, while giving him the middle name of Hamner.  And, it’s a good thing he was born then, a few months later and he might have been named Millard Fillmore Taylor… Taylor’s parents came to the United States in late 1827 from Glasgow, Scotland on the Brig Czar, landing in Charleston, and spent some time in South Carolina where they had their first son.  Then they moved to Maryland and had eight other children.  The last child was Zachary.

Taylor played in thirteen games at first base for the Baltimore Canaries near the end of the 1874 season when Charlie Gould and Pop Snyder went down to injury.  In fact, his only foray into major league baseball was his four or five weeks in the National Association.  He batted .250 with three RBI and three runs scored.  The Baltimore papers of the day didn’t provide the kinds of baseball coverage found in many other cities, so it’s hard to say if Taylor played on specific amateur clubs of the city, though it’s obviously very likely he played semi-professional ball on some of the better clubs since he was signed by the Canaries, Taylor’s local team.

Taylor appears in three US Censuses after his baseball days, all showing him as a clerk or salesman at a different type of store.  He also was living with some combination of brothers and sisters.  When he passed on 21 November 1917, the short obituary in the Baltimore Sun noted his late parents but no spouse or children.  He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore near his parents.

Sources:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Zachary)
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Isabella)

1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 US Censuses
Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Charleston, 1820-1829
Obit, Balimore Sun, 22 November 1917, Page 6.
Box scores in the New York Clipper, 1874.

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!)

Sources:

1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Censuses
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Also source of photo uploaded to that site by Gordon Brett Echols.)
https://www.baseball-reference.com

“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.