John Abadie was a Philadelphia native who played baseball with the Centennials and Brooklyn Atlantics in the National Association in 1875, which is how he made it into your baseball encyclopedias. And, until Hank Aaron was added to the baseball record books in 1954, Abadie would have been listed first in the encyclopedia, if not first in your hearts…
John Victor Abadie was the oldest son (of five children) of Victor and Mary Abadie, born November 4, 1870 in Philadelphia. Victor was of French descent, Mary was listed as being born in Ireland per a later census record. Having grown up in a baseball town, John Abadie was first listed as a member of an organized team in 1873, when he was the first baseman for the Eastons. By 1875 he had signed with the Centennial Base Ball Club, a Philadelphia based team that joined the National Association. The team lasted but fourteen professional games, losing all but two, and Abadie was listed as one of the team’s weak spots. “Abadie as a ‘sure catch’ is a poor success. There are boys of 12 in amateur clubs far superior at this point. However, yesterday being but his second game with the Centennials, he may do better.”
Abadie appeared in 11 of the 14 Centennial games and must have played somewhat better. Good enough that when the Centennials disbanded, the Brooklyn Atlantics picked Abadie up to play a single game with them on June 10, 1875 when the Atlantics were in Philadelphia and needed an able body. The Philadelphia Times said Abadie “played first finely for them.” However, it wasn’t fine enough to keep a job. Abadie stayed home in Philadelphia, played amateur baseball for a few clubs in Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre, and was out of baseball circles by 1880.
Instead, Abadie found work as a laborer. Around 1900, he was a partner with a company handling horses for a local inn in Northampton, NJ. It’s a bit difficult to piece together Abadie’s family life. In the 1880 US Census, he is living in Philadelphia with a wife, Kate (possibly Kate Cook), and two daughters, Jane (4) and Mary (2). By then, their first child, Victor, had already died of typhoid in 1878. In fact, he notes a family illness as a reason for leaving the Wilkes-Barre base ball club in 1877 – it could have been that of his mother, who died that September, or his son who died a few months after that. In the 1900 US Census, he’s listed as married for three years, and a marriage record can be found for John and a Mattie A. Brown, who got hitched in Camden in October 1896. However, they weren’t living together in the 1900 US Census record and she’s not listed in Abadie’s obituary five years later.
Abadie died in Pemberton, New Jersey of carcinoma found in his stomach and liver on May 17, 1905. His obituary only noted that the funeral would begin at the home of his younger brother, Alfred. No other names of spouses or children would be listed. He was buried in St. Denis Cemetery in Havertown, PA.
Baseball-Reference.com lists his full name as John V. Abadie, which is what is shown on his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’m working under the assumption that the V stands for Victor as he’s the first son born to Victor and John’s first son by wife Kate was named Victor.
You can almost write Wysong’s biography with four articles.
“Harlan Wysong, little son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Wysong, was severely burned in the face last week by an explosion of coal oil, which he was pouring on a fire.”
The Wilmington Journal, 21 Feb 1912, Page 2.
Reds prospect in the 1930s, Harlan Wysong went 1 – 3 from 1930 to 1932, but walked 34 guys while striking out 11. Apparently, his arm went bad in 1932, so he returned home and played semi-pro baseball as a first baseman for a few years.
“Wysong’s Pitching Arm is Treated”, Wilmington News-Journal, 27 July 1935, Page 2.
“Common Pleas Judge Frank M. Clevenger granted Eva Wysong a divorce on the grounds of neglect. Custody of their two children was awarded to Mrs. Wysong and he was enjoined from interfering with the plaintiff, but is to have the right to visit the children. He was instructed to pay $10 per week for support of the children.”
“Granted Divorce”, Wilmington (OH) News-Journal, 25 April 1946, Page 2.
Wysong was in poor health for years, but it took a bad turn in the summer of 1951. He was hospitalized for a few weeks and then death called. He was just 46 years old when he passed on. Apparently he was temperamental, and frequently displayed an uncontrollable temper. “…His admiring fans all chipped in to buy him a fine leather traveling bag. They presented it to him with appropriate ceremony before a game and the temperamental Biff gave it an unappreciative kick under the player’s bench and remarked something about not being able to pitch with ‘a thing like that.'”
“Death of Biff Wysong Sets Off Reminiscing About Baseball Here”, Washington Court House Record-Herald, 9 August 1951, Page 17.
Harlan Wysong’s life seems so unhappy – and short. So, instead of stopping here at with these four snippets, let’s fill in some of perhaps the happier stuff, too.
Harlan Wysong arrived on April 13, 1905 to Edward and Eveline Wright (Jones) Wysong in Clarksville, OH. Harland was the fourth of five children born to the homemaker and cannery engineer. He completed a year of high school and began work – but didn’t avoid schools. He pitched for Wilmington College for at least a year. As a pitcher there, he stopped the University of Dayton’s 21 game winning streak. According to the Wilmington News-Journal, locals could recognize the tall but sturdy pitcher. “He’s big, tall, strong, and the picture of an athlete. He has cheeks that get red as the contest gets hotter and his ears turn even more red.”
From his teens, Harlan was a top amateur and minor league pitcher and a crack hitter who played the outfield and first base when not on the mound. After making his way through the nearby town teams in Clinton and Clarksville (The Clarksville Coca-Colas), the Washington Court House Athletics, as well as the Auger Bit Company’s team, the left hander was signed to pitch for Peoria in the Three-I League. From there, he landed in the Central Ohio League with Washington and pitched well enough (9-3, 103Ks in 105.2 innings at one point) to be recruited to pitch for Columbus in the American Association. He wasn’t just a good low level pitcher – he was hitting 100 points better than his team. That was 1928.
Anyway – Columbus recognized that he had control issues with his fast ball, and they released him to Erie of the Central League for the 1929 season. A year later, Wysong returned to Columbus where he won nine of 21 decisions. Cincinnati gave Wysong his first major league start on August 10, but the Phillies clocked him for five runs on six hits and three walks in just 2.1 innings, so Wysong was returned to Columbus. Wysong became a true prospect with a spring training in 1931 that included many fine appearances against major league teams. Reds outfielder Bob Meusel said, “Wysong showed me a better fast ball than Lefty Grove owns.” All Wysong had to do was learn to control his pitches.
That didn’t happen. The Reds kept him as the last pitcher on the staff for 1931 – but the season was a disaster for Wysong. Starting two games and relieving ten more, Wysong had more walks than innings pitched, had an ERA near 8.00 and lost both starts without ever getting out of the second inning. Stories came out that Wysong wasn’t ambitious enough – teammates claimed he needed to get mad and that the Reds manager was trying to find a player who could get under Wysong’s skin and use his anger to get him to pitch better.
For whatever reason, manager Dan Howley remained optimistic that Wysong would become a star pitcher. According to the Wausau Daily Herald, “Wysong stands 6 feet 4 inches. When he whips down the ball at the speed of which he is capable, the sphere is just a blur on the landscape. In the mood, he has control enough to baffle any batsman – so Howley says – but he hasn’t shown it yet.”
Wysong returned for 1932, had a solid spring training (despite Wysong’s claims of a sore arm), and was kept again as the last ditch pitcher. After a few slightly tolerable outings, Wysong was called on to pitch in an extra innings contest with the Braves on May 7, 1932. In the 12th, Wysong allowed three runs, but the Reds answered with four runs – the last driven in by Ernie Lombardi’s triple (!) to give the Reds the win. It was Wysong’s only winning decision (against three losses) and his last major league appearance. Cincinnati traded Wysong to Rochester for pitcher Benny Frey. Before long, Wysong, who tried to pitch through pain, had shuffled through three minor league stops (Rochester, Columbus, Houston). When the season ended, he went to Terre Haute to see a specialist to treat a lame arm.
Wysong spent spring training with Houston in 1933 (despite the soreness he pitched well enough – five wins in six decisions – at the end of 1932), but his arm didn’t come around. Dispatched to two minor league teams (Elmira got him, then sent him within days to Springfield in the Mississippi Valley League), Wysong’s arm didn’t allow him to pitch. Before long, Wysong was playing amateur baseball, but at first base instead of as a pitcher. He remained a hard hitting first baseman through at least 1940 playing in various local leagues in central Ohio.
Harlan married Eva Mulford in 1930; they had two sons, Gordon and Gary. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1946. By then, Wysong was a laborer in road construction and later ran a mill at a General Motors plant. In July, 1951, Wysong was admitted to McClellan Hospital in Xenia; it couldn’t have been good as his ex-wife even checked on him. Cirrhosis of the liver took Wysong on August 7, 1951. He was just 46.
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.
As 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.
After 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rivington 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 paid 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. He is 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.
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.
Bisland 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.
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.
Art Rico was an athletic marvel playing catcher for the Boston Braves who tragically lost his life before his “very bright future” could arrive.
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.
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.
“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.
Andy 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.
Andrea 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.”
Spognardi 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.
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.
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.)
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.
Waterman 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.
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