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.

Happy Birthday, James “Chief” Roseman!

About 60 major league players were born on the Fourth of July but only James John Roseman both arrived and left this world on July 4th.

James John Roseman was the second child of three born to Thomas and Catharine Roseman, a pair of Irish immigrants who came to the United States in the years prior to the Civil War.  James arrived on 04 July 1856 and learned to play the game on the lots of his native Brooklyn.  He first played in local leagues and before his 20th birthday he had traveled to Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1875.  There, the stocky but athletic Roseman was forced into mound duty.  According to the Buffalo Commercial, “He was in poor condition, having had little practice, and being eager to be effective, he began to drive the ball in with all his might. As he attempted to deliver the third ball his arm broke above the elbow, and the ball dropped to the ground.”

Roseman missed the rest of 1875 and all of 1876 but returned to play for Auburn (NY).  There, among teammates at a bar, he was decked by first baseman and captain William Tobin.  Roseman chose to avoid fighting the team captain and went outside.  However, he was goaded into fighting Tobin.  Roseman went back into the hotel and challenged Tobin to a fight.  So, the two willing combatants moved to an empty lot and held a boxing match.  They toed the scratch and, again, Tobin bloodied Roseman’s face.  Roseman leaned in, though, charged Tobin and got him into a headlock.  After landing several punches to Tobin’s head he then tripped him and landed on Tobin’s midsection.  The two came up for the second round and it went nearly the same as the first – Roseman took a punch, then he put Tobin in a headlock and pummeled him about the head and upper body.  Once again, Roseman took Tobin down and people were surprised that Tobin was able to toe the scratch for a third round.  However, the third round never got started – the police broke up the match and both combatants paid a $10 fine to the local judge.

Let’s return to baseball.

After two seasons playing on Brooklyn and New York semi-pro teams, Roseman was signed to play for Troy’s National League entry in 1882.  There, in addition to playing a fine center field, Roseman got in a row with pitcher Jack Lynch.  The rookie held his own on the field and in the barrooms, but Troy didn’t survive past the season.  The New York Metropolitans were formed in the American Association and Roseman landed as their center fielder.  Roseman was a mobile and willing fielder and his batting average increased some, though he sacrificed some power.  Roseman, however, was just getting started.  In 1884, Roseman was a key performer on a Metropolitan team that won the American Association.  He repeated his strong season in 1885, but the Mets would never be that good again.  At the end of that season, the Metropolitans were sold to Erastus Wiman, who moved the Metropolitans to a park on Staten Island.  And, Brooklyn’s Charles Byrne wanted to eliminate local competition in the American Association.  He tried to get the Metropolitans removed from the Association and he made offers to Dave Orr and James Roseman, two of the best players on the Mets roster.

Byrne’s efforts failed and Roseman returned to a Metropolitans team, signing a $3,000 contract to play on a team that was even worse than the 1885 team.  All but Dave Orr fell off in their batting – though Roseman remained a popular and moderately productive player.  Instead, Roseman became the subject of trade rumors throughout the off-season.  Eventually, Roseman was sold for $750 to the Philadelphia Athletics and agreed to a $2,000 contract with a $500 services contract for 1887.

Within two weeks of the season starting, Roseman spent the night in Baltimore with friends and earned the wrath of the Athletics who didn’t appreciate Roseman’s night on the town.  He was suspended for a month and fined $100.  Roseman’s batting average failed to return to his 1884-85 peak and the Athletics released him in mid-June.  The Metropolitans, who were now barely able to win a third of their games, brought back their popular outfielder.  Roseman couldn’t help – and by this time he was considerably heavier.  The Mets let Roseman go – Roseman finally signed to play with Brooklyn for about a week – he played in just one game for his hometown team.

Roseman played a season with Albany, a minor league organization, and he started asking for chances to play again.  His opportunity came in 1890 when the Players League opened for play and teams were scrambling for able bodies to fill roles.  Chris Von der Ahe signed the older, rounder Chief Roseman – even let him run the club for a few weeks – and Roseman hit about .341.  He was released, briefly played for Louisville, and then went home to Brooklyn.

One story that made the rounds while Roseman was a manager involved how he dealt with Chris Von der Ahe’s trying to play scout when he owned the Browns.  Apparently, Von der Ahe was trying to sign players on the cheap and he signed a catcher named Adams for $40 a month plus room and board… So Roseman got him a loosely fitting uniform and sent him out to warm up. Seeing that the kid wasn’t that good during the pre-game warm up, Roseman put Adams behind the plate for the first pitch. Then, he told the kid to wear his glove on the wrong hand when playing back, but when he moved up close behind the plate, he could put his glove on the correct hand – claiming that this was a Freemason signal for some of the teammates. Roseman also told the catcher to wear his mask backwards when playing back. Elton Chamberlain fired the first pitch to Adams – and it was the only pitch Adams faced.  He was removed immediately – and Roseman told Von der Ahe to let him pick the players on the team.

My favorite story told about Von der Ahe and Roseman, though, had to do with Jack Stivetts.  There were a number of Italian saloons near the ballpark and players had a reputation for visiting the bars and drinking.  Von der Ahe noticed that Stivetts wasn’t around for the morning practice and asked Roseman if Stivetts had been out drinking.

“No, sir,” said Roseman. “Jack hasn’t been well for two days. He’s at home now with lumbago.” Lumbago was a term for pain in the lower back.

Von der Ahe thought Lumbago was the name of one of the Italian saloon owners and he told Roseman to fine Stivetts $10 for his being absent.

“One of Chris’s Breaks.”, Nashville Banner, 27 February 1897, Page 9.

When not playing baseball, Roseman owned and operated a gaming hall and bar.  Roseman enjoyed this life – he was known for his willingness to drink.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle once wrote that it was probably a good idea that Brooklyn hadn’t signed Roseman in 1886.  “Though the team would have been strengthened by the addition of Orr, it would not have been by placing Roseman in it, as his playing skill is offset by objectionable ways.”

Throw in the fights early in his career, and Roseman was a lively guy.  He was also well-liked.  O. P. Caylor followed Roseman in 1887 and said that he was just the best person – worked hard, was kind, and easy to talk to.  So how did an Irish immigrant get the nickname Chief?  Because the boisterous outfielder would let out war-whoops in the field, sometimes adding, “Stick your chest out!” loud enough for all to hear.  Other players might join in the war cries – leading to the Mets briefly being called “the Indians” in various papers while Rosemen was with New York.

Roseman’s days with his bar ended around 1899.  By then, Roseman had been married to Sarah J. Smith for about 20 years.  They had five children and lived a more normal life after Roseman started working for the City of New York, spending 34 years working in the Sewer Department.  After Sarah’s death, he married Sarah Clancey Hoar – his second wife of Irish heritage.  He outlived both wives and two of his children.  Roseman finally passed to the next league on 04 July 1938 – entering and exiting the world via Brooklyn.

 

SOURCES:

Baseball-Reference.com

1860, 1900, 1910, 1930 US Censuses

New York Marriage Indexes

“Sports And Pastimes.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 June 1881, Page 1.

“Base-Ball.”, New York Times, 27 August 1881, Page 8.

“Notes.”, Buffalo Commercial 09 June 1882, Page 3.

“Sporting Notes.”, Buffalo Commercial, 26 March 1883, Page 3.

“Lynch Licked.”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 30 June 1884, Page 8.

“Our League Pets’ Departure.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 05 May 1885, Page 5.

“Pittsburgs, 13; Metropolitans, 4.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 12 May 1885, Page 4.

“To Stand By Mr. Wiman”, New York Times, 13 December 1885, Page 10.

“The Base-Ball Muddle.”, Marion County Herald, 01 January 1886, Page 2.

“Sports And Pastimes.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 31 Jamuary 1886, Page 11.

“Base Ball Gossip.”, Buffalo Times, 22 March 1886, Page 2.

“Sports And Pastimes.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 11 September 1886, Page 1.

“Base Ball.”, The Sporting News, 11 December 1886, Pages 2, 3.

“Diamond Dust.”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 09 December 1886, Page 5.

“From The Bat Bag”, Democrat and Chronicle, 30 January 1887, Page 7.

“Philadelphia Times, 06 February 1887, Page 11.

“Base Ball News.”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 03 March 1887, Page 2.

“Sporting News.”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 April 1887, Page 3.

“Base Ball Notes.”, Pittsburgh Daily Post, 25 April 1887, Page 6.

“Diamond Sparks.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 02 May 1887, Page 8.

“Athletic Players Released.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 16 June 1887, Page 8.

Brooklyn Standard Union, 16 June 1887, Page 4.

“Mets, 7; Athletics, 4.”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 19 June 1887, Page 11.

“Closely Contested.”, Brooklyn Citizen, 26 June 1887, Page 2.

“Diamond Dust.”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 29 August 1887, Page 3.

Brooklyn Daily Times, 10 September 1887, Page 4.

“The National Game.”, Brooklyn Daily Times, 03 October 1887, Page 1.

Caylor, O.P. “Caylor’s Comment.”, The Sporting Life, 05 October 1887, Page 4.

“Fifteenth Ward Democratic Club.”, Brooklyn Times Union, 06 October 1887, Page 2.

“A Memorable Battle.”, The Sporting Life, 16 November 1887, Page 2.

“Notes And Comments.”, The Sporting Life, 18 July 1888, Page 5.

“Not So Easy.”, Buffalo Morning Express, 24 July 1888, Page 5.

“Notes and Comments.”, The Sporting Life, 06 February 1889, Page 2.

“Notes and Gossip.”, The Sporting Life, 10 May 1890, Page 4.

“Notes and Gossip.”, The Sporting Life, 09 August 1890, Page 4.

“Sure To Win It.”, The Sporting Life, 16 August 1890, Page 8.

“Louisville Lines.”, The Sporting Life, 20 September 1890, Page 8.

“Editorial Views, News, Comment.”, The Sporting Life, 28 May 1892, Page 2.

“Sporting”, Buffalo Enquirer, 08 April 1896, Page 8.

“One of Chris’s Breaks.”, Nashville Banner, 27 February 1897, Page 9.

“May Open At Eastern Park.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 02 April 1897, Page 4.

“Baseball Talk.” Buffalo Courier, 14 November 1898, Page 3.

Kelly, Walter C. “The Wild World of Sport”, Buffalo Courier, 09 March 1903, Page 9.

“How It Was Done.” Buffalo Times, 04 April 1905, Page 8.

“James Roseman, Ex-Ball Player”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 05 July 1938, Page 11.

Baseball History for July 4th

<— JULY 03     JULY 05 —>

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1847 Levin Jones
1852 Jerry Turbidy
1853 Bill Sullivan
1856 James John (Chief) Roseman
1858 Chris Fulmer
1859 Mickey Welch
1861 Louie Heilbroner
1863 Jim McTamany
1864 Fred Donovan
1865 Frank Millard
1880 Edward Ottis (Pinky) Swander
1880 George Mullin
1884 Jack Warhop
1884 Lou Manske
1886 William Jennings (Duke) Kenworthy
1890 Milt Reed
1891 Jacob Frank (Stump) Edington
1898 Bobby Murray
1900 James Lavoisier (Dot) Fulghum
1900 Wes Kingdon
1904 Ed Cotter
1904 Mel Ingram
1917 Mike Palagyi
1922 Loren Bain
1928 Chuck Tanner
1929 Werner Joseph (Babe) Birrer
1929 Bill Tremel
1929 Bill Tuttle
1930 George Steinbrenner
1931 Bobby Malkmus
1937 Gordon Seyfried
1942 Hal Lanier
1944 Fred Rico
1946 Joe Henderson
1947 Jim Minshall
1947 Jim Nelson
1948 Ed Armbrister
1948 Wayne Nordhagen
1954 Jim Beattie
1954 Dan Larson
1962 Johnny Abrego
1963 Jose Oquendo
1967 Vinny Castilla
1971 Brendan Donnelly
1973 Jay Canizaro
1974 Jeff Harris
1979 Amauri Sanit
1981 Francisco Cruceta
1983 Sergio Santos
1985 Jared Hughes
1989 Jabari Blash
1990 Matt Dermody
1992 Zac Curtis
1992 Mike Ford

OBITUARIES:

1892 Frank Millard
1907 Connie McGeehan
1911 Jimmy Mathison
1922 John Pickett
1925 George Derby
1938 Chief Roseman
1947 Jeff Sweeney
1960 Frank Parkinson
1961 Jake Hehl
1962 Abe Kruger
1966 Jesse Purnell
1969 Lew Drill
1973 Walter Schmidt
1974 Jack Compton
1978 Joe Vance
1980 Jack Martin
1984 Doyt Morris
1986 Oscar Roettger
1993 Walter Stephenson
1994 Tex Hoyle
1994 Cal Cooper
2006 Chet Hajduk
2008 Julio Gotay
2011 Wes Covington
2014 Earl Robinson
2017 Gene Conley

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1905 Rube Waddell and Cy Young pitch into the 20th inning before the Athletics score two to break the tie, 4 – 2.

1908 Giants pitcher Hooks Wiltse loses his perfect game when he hits George McQuillan with a pitch with two outs in the ninth. The Giants scored in the tenth to win, 1 – 0, and Wiltse completed the extra innings no-hitter.

1912 Tigers ace George Mullin sends the holiday crowd home happy as he no-hits the Browns to win 7 – 0 (and adds three hits of his own).

1932 Bill Dickey is suspended 30 days for breaking the jaw of White Sox outfielder Carl Reynolds with a single punch. Reynolds collided with Dickey trying to score and Dickey wasn’t happy, so he decked Reynolds. Dickey was suspended for a month and fined $1,000.

1939 Lou Gehrig Day in NYC – includes the famous “Luckiest man on the face of the earth…” speech.

That same day, Jim Tabor hit a pair of grand slams against the Athletics.

1984 Dave Righetti no-hits the Red Sox, 4 – 0.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1946 The Braves signed amateur infielder Alvin Dark.

1961 Milwaukee purchases Johnny Antonelli from Cleveland.

2002 Seattle signs amateur free agent pitcher Felix Hernandez.

Happy Birthday, Walter Plock!

The tallest and probably the handsomest first baseman in the league is Walter Plock. Then, too, Plock is one of the best men in the south on the initial bag. He fills the position well and has good batting ability. Plock comes from Philadelphia and has spent many an hour waiting for the day he could imitate Harry Wright.

“Those Pelican Boys”, Atlanta Constitution, 26 June 1892, Page 7.

Walter Plock was a tall outfielder and first baseman whose major league career and life both ended with horrific violence.

Arriving on 02 July 1869, Walter S. Plock was the first of two children born to Henry and Emma (Ottinger) Pluck.  Pluck likely became Plock when Walter took up baseball in his hometown of Philadelphia.  Henry’s life was also violent and short – he served in at least two different infantry companies during the Civil War, signing up in April, 1861 and being sent home less than two years later.  He had limits as to what he could physically handle – Henry had a heart condition that eventually disabled him by his fortieth birthday.  His failing condition forced him into a disabled veteran’s home in Hampton, VA where he would die from a self-inflicted wound in 1895.  That very heart condition was passed to his daughter, Mary, who died at 32 of a heart attack.

Plock was a tall and agile man, listed at 6′ 3″ and he played at between 170 and 180 pounds.  In his early days he was an outfielder, but by the time he turned 25 he had become a mobile first baseman.  Mobile also referred to his baseball career.  A cursory glance at his page on Baseball-Reference.com shows that between 1889 and 1895 Plock played for at least fourteen different minor league teams from New Orleans to Indianapolis to Hartford and New Haven and many points in between.  The reason he didn’t stick?  As big and fast as he was, he was an inconsistent hitter.

In 1891, the Philadelphia Phillies were a mess – the Inquirer called them “Harry Wright’s Hospital Team.”  At least four of his stars were injured and he was giving all kinds of players tryouts to survive the season.  On August 21st, he plucked two players off of Hartford, which had recently disbanded, and put them in the lineup.  One was shortstop Harry Morelock, and the other was Walter Plock, who played in center field.  Plock singled twice and scored the lone Philadelphia run – though his hits were “of the scratch order.”  Still – two hits.  He got the start again on August 22nd.

When Plock faced New York pitcher Amos Rusie in the third inning, Rusie let a “Hoosier Thunderbolt” fly – right at Plock’s face.

“Plock received a terrible thump in the face by a pitched ball, and although he pluckily treated the mishap with indifference, he will have cause to remember the shot for some time to come.  It was thought at first that his jaw was broken…”  The same article noted, “It was really wonderful he wasn’t seriously hurt.”

“Keefe Pitched And Beat New York”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 August 1891, Page 3.

Plock was the second player hit by a Rusie pitch that had to leave the game that day – and Philadelphia would take advantage of Rusie’s wildness to win.

However, Plock wasn’t taken on the subsequent road trip.  After a fine season in New Orleans, Wright called Plock back for spring training in 1893 but it didn’t work out.  Plock went back to his life as a baseball nomad until about 1895 before settling down as a police officer in Philadelphia.  He married Estella Parker in 1898 and two years later, Plock got an offer to join his cousin, John Simmers, to work for the Pennsylvania Steel Company.  So, in April he moved to Richmond, Virginia where Simmers and his team were building a bridge for the Richmond, Petersburg and Carolina Railroad.

One of Simmers’ crew had a bad dream – and maybe he saw something that he didn’t like.  Dennis Sullivan got a bad feeling about the traveler crane lifting girders that were heavier than the crane itself and quit his job.  The next morning, 28 April 1900, Simmers asked Plock to change positions and take Sullivan’s job.  Walter kissed his wife, Estella, farewell – she took a train back to Harrisburg to prepare to move to Richmond permanently – and he went to the job site where the bridge was being built.

After lunch, disaster struck.  The foreman, John W. Carroll, called out to “slack the boom” and seconds later the boom trembled.  Engineer Harry Albright saw the crane tip and called out to his crew to jump to their safety.  However, two men holding the boom lines failed to heed his warning.  As Albright jumped some 13 feet onto a wood pile to save his own life, Walter S. Plock and three other men were crushed by the weight of the nearly nine ton crane.

The injuries of the men killed were horrific and gruesome.  Plock not only suffered broken legs and crushing injuries to his head and shoulders, he was burned to death by the steam escaping the crane’s boiler which fell adjacent to him.  Albright and Simmers were able to reach Plock before he died.  Albright noted that when they got to him, “Plock was gasping for breath, but his heart was beating strong.  I put my hand inside his shirt, but his body was so hot I could not bear it.”

Plock died about two hours after being pulled from the rubble.

A strange fatality seemed to be that of Plock. He had just gone to work for the first time yesterday morning at his new position, having succeeded Dennis Sullivan, who quit work the night before. Mr. Sullivan made a remark Friday night that he “had better quit while he could.” Yesterday afternoon Sullivan said he was thankful that he quit when he did, as Plock’s fate would have been likely his.

“Three Men Killed Instantly. Another Was Badly Injured.” Richmond Times, 29 April 1900, Pages 1, 6.

A coroner’s jury absolved the company from responsibility saying that the crew did what they could to be safe and that the accident was just that – an accident.  Days later William Benn, husband of Plock’s sister, Mary, came to Richmond and brought Plock home to his family.  Plock was buried in Mount Peace Cemetery in Philadelphia.

SOURCES:

Baseball-Reference.com
FindaGrave.com (Walter Plock)

Pennsylvania Death Certificates (Mary Pluck Benn)

Registry, Disabled Soldier Homes, Hampton, VA.
US Burial Registers, National Cemeteries
US National Cemetery Interment Forms

Pennsylvania Marriage Certificates

1850, 1870, 1880 US Census

1893, 1895, 1896, 1899 Philadelphia City Directories

“Middle States League Umpires.”, Philadelphia Times, 26 April 1889, Page 2.

“Sporting Notes.” Reading Times. 10 February 1890, Page 1.

“Tim Hurst Held The Whip.”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 August 1891, Page 3.

“Keefe Pitched And Beat New York”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 August 1891, Page 3.

“Those Pelican Boys”, Atlanta Constitution, 26 June 1892, Page 7.

“On The Diamond.”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 March 1893, Page 3.

“Notes of the Game.” Harrisburg Telegraph, 10 May 1893, Page 1.

“Game Tomorrow.”, Akron Daily Democrat, 18 May 1893, Page 1.

“As We Expected.”, Camden Post, 17 May 1893, Page 1.

“The World of Sport”, Minneapolis Star, 29 January 1894, Page 3.

“Western League Season.”, Indianapolis News, 24 April 1894, Page 5.

“Three Men Killed Instantly. Another Was Badly Injured.” Richmond Times, 29 April 1900, Pages 1, 6.

“Men Killed By Crane.”, Harrisburg Daily Independent, 30 April 1900, Page 1.

“Everett Dies Of His Injuries”, Richmond Times, 01 May 1900, Page 6.

Happy Birthday, Charles L. Daniels!

Charles Daniels was a Boston area pitcher who earned a fairly good local reputation and was given a brief trial with the 1884 Boston Union club.

Charles L. Daniels was born to John and Lucinda T. (Barry) Daniels in Roxbury, MA on 01 July 1861.  Charles was the last of five children – the first three girls and the last two boys.  The Daniels left Roxbury for Boston where John would work as a machinist.

Charles L. Daniels of Jamaica Plain had an excellent record as pitcher of the Manchesters last season, New Hampshire’s best club.

“Base Ball.”, Boston Globe, 23 March 1884, Page 4.

Boston was a hotbed for baseball in the decades following the Civil War – certainly there were any number of new clubs springing up in the area for an athletic chap like Charles to play.  Eventually, he landed a paying job with Manchester in New Hampshire and had a fine season for them in 1883.  When the Union Association opened in 1884, Boston had an entry and manager Tim Murnane invited him to work out with the Boston Unions.  When the season started, Charles had earned a chance to be the second starter behind Tommy Bond.  The Boston Globe wrote, “…(James) McKeever will be Daniels’ catcher. This battery works together beautifully, and only needs the experience which hard-played and exciting games give.”

Daniels got his first chance to pitch in the second game of the season on 18 April 1884.  He fanned 11 batters, but errors behind him didn’t help.  A ninth inning rally fell a run short and Boston lost to the Keystones, 7 – 6, in Philadelphia.  Six days later, Daniels took the mound again.  This time, his fielders didn’t help him keep leads and Washington scored a run with two outs in the ninth to beat the Boston Unions, 7 – 6.  This time, Daniels fanned just two batters and walked one.

Daniels professional baseball days were numbered.  He played right field in the last game of the series against Washington on 26 April 1884 – he caught one fly, made one error, and got two hits in five trips.  The Unions returned home to their new stadium at Dartmouth Street near the railroad tracks (I have no idea where, though) – but one player would never play there.  Charles Daniels was quietly released.

Daniels returned home and took a job as a machinist for the rest of his days, just like his father.  And he lived in the family home the rest of his life.  He never moved; he never married.  For the last couple of decades he also took care of his sister Elizabeth, who lived with him.  On 09 February 1938, Charles L. Daniels left this world for the next one.  Like his release, his death didn’t make the newspapers.

Happy Birthday, Poll Perritt!

Perritt Ithaca Journal - 1917

Perritt in 1917 (Ithaca Journal)

Given a farcical nickname based on his last name and prominent nose, William Dayton “Poll” Perritt had a successful ten-year pitching career, pitched in a World Series, was bribed by Hal Chase, tussled with John McGraw and oil barons, and became a modestly successful Louisiana oilman.

 

William Dayton Perritt was the first child born to William Thomas Perritt, a farmer, and Hanie (Walker) Perritt on 30 August 1891 in Arcadia, Louisiana.  Hanie’s great-grandfather, Reverend Sanders Walker, was a Revolutionary War chaplain.  William Thomas Perritt was the first son of Madison Perritt, who served with Company B of the 12th Louisiana Infantry during the Civil War, and his grandfather fought in the Seminole War.[i]  William and Hanie had four children.  Hanie died in 1909; William soon married Kate Willet, an Alabama native.  William and Kate had six more children together.

Dayton played baseball on area sandlots, learning the game from his uncle, Madison Floyd Perritt, who was about seven years older than Dayton and pitched in the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues, among other stops.  Madison’s nickname was also Poll.  The first mention of Dayton Perritt came in 1908 when he was the winning pitcher for Arcadia.  Perritt had multiple interests – he sang in a quartet[ii] and was a runner, long jumper, and pole vaulter on his high school track team.[iii]

Uncle Madison got Dayton tryouts with local teams.  Perritt pitched semi-professional ball for Homer and Minden in Louisiana prior to his jump into professional baseball.[iv]  In 1912 Vicksburg of the Cotton States League signed Perritt.  That spring he faced Wild Bill Donovan in an exhibition game when the Detroit Tigers toured Mississippi during spring training.[v]

At first, Perritt was a hesitant fielder. In an early game against New Orleans the bases were loaded when the batter hit the ball to Perritt.

“At the time Perritt lacked the ability to know what to do and stood there perfectly dumbfounded.  He ought to have thrown home and shut off the runner who was forced to run, as the bags were crowded.  But he stood there gazing and dreaming until the runner crossed, and finally the New Orleans “ha ha’s” aroused him and he tossed to first in time to get the runner.”[vi]

A week later, pitching to a catcher whose last name was PARROTT, Perritt earned his first win over Jackson.[vii]  Such heady days pitching for Vicksburg would be few.  He blanked when fielding a squeeze bunt and failed to throw the ball to any base.  After that game, Vicksburg released Perritt.[viii]

Fortunately, his best outings were against Greenwood in the same league.  Greenwood lacked pitching; Perritt got a second chance.  On 20 May, he pitched both ends of a doubleheader against Vicksburg winning and losing one.[ix]  Perritt became the Joy Riders’ ace.  By late summer the Cotton States League disbanded leaving Greenwood as champions.[x]  Cardinal scout Bill Armour saw the lanky ace and convinced Perritt to come north with him to St. Louis.[xi]

On 07 September 1912, still in his first professional season of baseball, Roger Bresnahan called on the player with his own nickname to replace starter Sandy Burk.  Perritt ended the fifth inning (Poll’s first) with his first career strikeout victim: Honus Wagner.  Writers noticed Perritt looked like the left-handed Harry (Slim) Sallee, another pitcher with an alliterative handle and obvious nickname.  Both were tall and lanky with drooping shoulders – they even pitched similarly, except Perritt threw with his right hand and Sallee was a southpaw.[xii]  The next season they were roommates and became best of friends.[xiii]

Perritt closed the season beating Cincinnati by retiring the last nine batters for his first major league victory.

Miller Huggins managed the Cardinals in 1913 and gave Perritt a chance to join the rotation.  Thankfully, he was very patient.  Huggins got perhaps two good outings a month from Perritt, enough to keep his job while learning the ropes.  And Perritt had lots to learn.  He still got lost fielding the ball with men on base.

“There are a lot of things that a young pitcher must learn and learn quickly when he lands in major league company, and one of them is that with runners on the bases no pitcher should twist himself out of shape before delivering the ball, and allow an opponent to pull off a wide-open steal…  Naturally they don’t play ball in Greenwood like they do in the big leagues, so, perhaps, “Polly” will have to be excused this time for the blunder he made.”[xiv]

Lessons from Sallee and Huggins kicked in during his last three outings.  He went ten innings before losing to Philadelphia’s Pete Alexander, 2 – 0.  He next lost to Boston but allowed just two runs and five hits.  In his last start, he held the Reds to two runs on six hits and got the win.  He finished with a 5.27 ERA and a 6 – 14 record.  Still – he kept a job all season.

Then Perritt mingled with Joe Tinker, who was to manage the Chicago Whales of the Federal League, and used that to get a raise out of the Cardinals for 1914.[xv]

The 1914 Cardinals were in contention for the pennant and Perritt had a number of excellent outings from the start.  Soon, Perritt was the subject of rumors saying he would leave the Cardinals and join the Federal League.  Ennis “Rebel” Oakes managed Pittsburgh in the Federal League and, being from Lisbon, Louisiana, Oakes had known Perritt for years.[xvi]

Perritt also became the subject of poetry.  Billy Murphy wrote a poem based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and tied to Perritt’s success over the Robins.  In this poem, manager Wilbert Robinson had a “grewsome” dream.  Here’s an edited passage…

Last night while I pondered, dreary grouchy and very weary

Over Wednesday’s wretched battle far up on the seventh floor…

Open then I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a lengthy Perritt (Perritts always are a bore).

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my hotel door,

On a photograph of Rucker, hanging o ‘er my hotel door.

Perched and sat – and nothing more.

‘Perritt,’ cried I, ‘thing of evil, Perritt you’re a pitching devil;’

Whether Huggins sent or Britton cast thee here ashore.

Desolate, yet still undaunted, will you leave us, disenchanted,

Our poor team by hoodoo haunted, tell me quickly, I implore.

Are we going to win today?  Tell me for I’m getting sore.”

Quoth Poll Perritt: “Never more.”[xvii]

Murphy, Billy. “The Perritt.”, St. Louis Star, 23 July 1914, Page 11.

Perritt got along with most people, but was generally quiet.  He was closest to his younger brother, Henry, and his road roommate (and doppelganger), Slim Sallee.  During the season, Sallee and Perritt were inseparable.  Sallee talked pitching with Perritt and Perritt took his advice.  According to a Cardinals scribe, Perritt and Sallee “…take their strolls together, read together, eat together, and sleep together.”[xviii]  In the offseason, Dayton and Henry worked at a bank in Louisiana.  Perritt loved cars – he drove a Metz roadster… quickly.  But, for the most part, he didn’t make waves.

Except when it came to his contracts.  The Cardinals offered Perritt a three-year deal at $4,000 per year but Perritt didn’t sign.  So, the Cardinals privately told people he was drinking and complained about Perritt’s play or effort.[xix]  Oakes made progress with Perritt, and though Perritt claimed he would be loyal to the Cardinals[xx], Poll jumped the team the very day he received a $600 bonus check from the Cardinals for their third place finish.  Immediately Cardinals President Schuyler Britton stopped payment on his check.  Perritt and Britton met and had a heated exchange.

“…Polly demanded in firm, but menacing language to know why payment had been stopped on his $600 bonus check.

“’Because,’ explained Britton, ‘you failed to fulfill your contract by jumping to the Federal League.  You signed a contract with the Cardinals which contained a reserve clause.  You jumped that reserve and thereby broke the contract.  For that reason I don’t propose to pay you a $600 bonus.’

“Polly left the office with threats that he would sue for his money, as he figured he earned it.  Polly intends to postpone his trip to Louisiana until he realizes on the check.  He expects to file suit soon, and has communicated this fact to Britton, whose only replay was, ‘Sue to your heart’s content.’”[xxi]

“Perritt Holds Conference With Owner Britton”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 October 1914, Sports Section, Page 2.Perritt hired a lawyer and filed a claim with the National Commission.[xxii]

Miller Huggins wasn’t going to lose his pitcher without a fight.  Huggins “traded” Sallee’s rights to the Giants, who made Sallee a better offer than what Oakes offered.  McGraw offered to trade a player back to the Cardinals once he signed Sallee to a valid contract.[xxiii][xxiv]

When Oakes heard that, he met Perritt at a café in St. Louis.  Perritt turned combative with his friend.  He knocked Oakes out of his chair “and sent him sprawling into the aisle…”[xxv]  McGraw signed Sallee to a three-year deal and covered the $600 bonus.

“Pitcher ‘Poll’ Perritt has purchased a new $5,000 automobile.  Perritt has disposed of the little $500 chug-chug cart in which he was content to spin about town during the past year.  This is but another proof of what the Federal League has done for the poor, down-trodden ball players.”[xxvi]

“Kenneth Mooney, Acting President Of Cards While Mr. Britton Is Away”, St. Louis Star and Times, 19 January 1915, Page 8.

Perritt’s case showed that organized baseball’s reserve clause was a sham according to the Federal League, which was in the process of filing a lawsuit against the other major leagues for violating anti-trust laws.

“Perritt’s contract with the St. Louis Cardinals expired last fall and he signed with the Pittsburgh Federals, receiving $2,000 in advance money.  Organized baseball contended that Perritt was held by an option clause in his 1914 contract with the Cardinals.  Organized baseball had so much faith in the option clause that it authorized John McGraw to travel through several States in the South to round up Perritt and sign him to a new St. Louis contract.  Later a scout for the New York Club got Perritt’s signature on a contract for three years.

“Viewing it without bias, does not the course pursued by organized baseball constitute an admission of the fact that it had no legal hold on the pitcher?  Had Perritt been the property of the Cardinals the easiest course would be that of taking legal action to retain the player.  The fact that an affidavit by Perritt was filed in the Federal’s suit against organized baseball should not be lost sight of.”[xxvii]

“No O. B. Players Jumped Contract In Joining Feds”, Buffalo Times, 07 March 1915, Page 71.

McGraw and Huggins spent the spring arguing about their “trade” for Perritt.  Huggins wanted Bob Bescher; McGraw countered with Walter Holke, Fred Snodgrass, or Fred Merkle.  No Giant player wanted to play in St. Louis.[xxviii]  Bescher wanted a raise if he got traded and he wanted the Cardinals to pay him whatever bonus Giants players received for winning the pennant.[xxix]  Bescher relented and joined the Cardinals for 1915.

Perritt Buffalo Enquirer - 1917

Perritt in 1917 (Buffalo Journal)

Perritt couldn’t have made a worse first impression with the Giants.  Each of his first three starts were worse than the previous one.  Then, before the 01 May 1915 game with Philadelphia, he was shagging flies when he collided with Phillies third baseman Bobby Byrne – head hitting head.  Perritt suffered a broken nose, cuts near both eyes, and three teeth were knocked out.[xxx]

 

Perritt took the mound just twelve days later to beat the Reds for his first win.[xxxi]  That was his lone highlight, however, and the Giants fell to last place.  McGraw grew feisty.  He allegedly offered to send Perritt back to St. Louis for nothing if Huggins would take on Perritt’s three-year, nearly $20,000 contract.[xxxii]  Perritt finally found his form in June.  In July, he got revenge against the Cards by winning game one of a doubleheader in relief and then shut them out in the second game.[xxxiii]  The Giants made it back to .500 before a rash of doubleheaders wore out the team.  The Giants returned to last place and Perritt finished 12 – 18; his 12 wins were second behind his new brother-in-law, Jeff Tesreau.

Tesreau and his wife, Helena, invited Perritt to their home for dinners.  Occasionally, Helena invited her sister, Florence Blake, to join them.  Later, Dayton took Florence out for rides in his car and they frequently exchanged letters.  Jerome Beatty wrote “…When the Giants were on the road Poll’s morning rush to look over the mail was so impulsive that in a St. Louis hotel it was said he almost killed a suspender salesman who was so unfortunate as to stand between Poll and a letter.”[xxxiv]  That October, Perritt pitched his Giants to a win over the Lincoln Negro Giants in an exhibition, then drove to the Church of the Annunciation and married Florence.[xxxv]

Perritt suffered one more baseball loss in 1915 – his 1914 bonus claim.  The National Commission ruled against Perritt saying he couldn’t ask for a supplementary portion of a contract he himself had breached (meaning the reserve clause) by not staying with the Cardinals.[xxxvi]

1916 started differently for Perritt.  McGraw didn’t use Perritt much – there were other options and Perritt was rarely good in the cold days of April and early May.  When given his chance, Perritt won four straight decisions in May.  And the Giants, which opened the season 2 – 13, got hot with him.  New York won seventeen straight games to close on first place Brooklyn.  Perritt helped out his superstitious teammates.

“An interesting sight to the New York fans will be the daily trip of Poll Perritt from the bench to the club house with the little leather bag containing the balls.  He started that on the first day of the Western journey, and every time he takes the game in a bag to the club house” the Giants have managed to win.  The players have grown so much faith in this lucky move that Poll is forced to do the stunt every afternoon.  On two occasions the lanky pitcher forgot his duty until the last minute, and the Giants came within an ace of losing.”[xxxvii]

Bulger, Bozeman.  “Giants Are Home Again After Most Successful Trip Any Club Ever Had”, New York Evening World, 02 June 1916, Page 15.

Then, the Giants signed another St. Louis pitcher – Slim Sallee.

Perritt was edgier in July until he learned his first daughter, Florence Rose, was born and everybody was healthy and happy.  That same day, the Giants traded Christy Mathewson to the Reds where Matty became a manager, which meant regular duty for Perritt the rest of the season.[xxxviii]  Poll won eight of his last eleven decisions.

Two wins came on 09 September when Perritt won both ends of a doubleheader to beat the Phillies, winning 3 – 1 in the opener and 3 – 0 in game two.  Brooklyn moved into first place, dropping the Phillies into second.[xxxix]  On a roll the Giants won 26 games (and one tie) to roar into third place with only a four game series left with first place Brooklyn.

On 02 October, Brooklyn held a half-game lead over the Phillies, who finished with a series against Boston.  Wilbert Robinson, John McGraw’s best friend in baseball, managed the Robins.  In prior years, teams alleged McGraw got help from former players and teammates who now managed other teams and allegedly lost games to help the Giants win pennants.  Would McGraw return the favor to Robinson?  In the first game of their series, McGraw started relative newcomer Ferdie Schupp, who won the ERA crown with a 0.90 ERA in 140 innings.  Schupp was good, but Art Fletcher stumbled fielding a grounder by Jake Daubert allowing Daubert to reach.  Daubert took off for second and the catcher’s throw got to second base in time – but Buck Herzog dropped the throw.  Zack Wheat singled and the Robins held on to win.[xl]

Meanwhile, Boston wouldn’t sit down for the Phillies.  Two Boston players suffered broken arms when hit by pitches thrown by Philadelphia pitchers.[xli]  The Braves and Phillies split a double header, extending the Robins lead to a full game.

The next day, the Giants – who were brilliant in games heading into this series – played the ugliest game possible.  Despite sloppy base running, the Giants held a 4 – 1 lead, but pitcher Rube Benton couldn’t hold it and almost immediately was pulled in favor of Perritt.

Perritt got little help, too.  Players dropped the ball or delayed making throws.  At some point, Perritt started contributing to the sloppy play with a horribly bad throw, a REALLY wild pitch, and taking long wind ups with runners on base.  Perritt’s biggest blunder came after getting a base hit.  With McGraw coaching third base, Perritt inexplicably stopped halfway between second and third on George Burns’ single to right.  Perritt was thrown out by a mile.[xlii]

If McGraw intended to throw another game to his friend, he certainly didn’t expect to see it happen like this.  A successful sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second turned into a 1 – 3 – 6 – 8 – 2 double play when the runner on second, Dave Robertson, continued to third base – which was already occupied.  McGraw got angriest with Perritt, screaming obscenities and leaving the field after Perritt allowed a runner to steal a base.  He claimed his team quit on him.

“That stuff was too much for me.  I do not believe that any of my players favored Brooklyn, but they simply refused to obey my orders and fooled in a listless manner.  When Perritt wound up with a man on base allowing the runner to steal second I lost my patience and left the bench.  I have worked too hard this year to stand around and watch playing like that and I refuse to be connected with it.  I am through for the year.”[xliii]

“Too Much For McGraw”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 04 October 1916, Page 14.

The Phillies didn’t help themselves.  In a second doubleheader, they lost both games to Boston.  With two games left for both teams, the Phillies now trailed by 2.5 games and Brooklyn claimed the pennant.

Something stunk, and it wasn’t just the way the Giants played.  People accused Perritt of laying down.  “If there is any implication that I helped to lose the game you can give it the lie for me,” said Perritt.  “That game cost me the $100 I had bet that I would win 20 games.  I was out to win.”  (Papers showed Perritt had a 19 – 10 record, though official statistics had him with 18).[xliv]

McGraw’s calling out his players for quitting angered his players and especially Wilbert Robinson.  Wilbert said, “McGraw’s assertions are very unsportsmanlike.  He knows very well that the Dodgers have defeated them in a majority of the games in which they have met this season, and that when they came over here Monday they encountered the best team in the league and it is only natural that the best team should win again…”[xlv]

League administrators held an informal meeting at dinner that night and exonerated the Giants, saying the league would take no action.[xlvi]  Grantland Rice best summarized the problem in his next column.

“The criticism goes against the Giants, who by their listless attitude at such an important section of the stretch dealt baseball a hard blow, in that it gave any number of critics the opening they had been looking for to charge the Giants with friendliness toward the Brooklyn camp.”

“In a frame-up or an understood arrangement the affair would have been handled with greater care.  In this case the entire smear was open to public inspection.  No attempt was made to cover anything up…  The Giants, or rather the most of them, made no effort to conceal the fact that they were not interested in the game to the slightest degree.  Whether this was due to a big letdown from the recent record drive or from friendliness to Robby, or from a lack of desire to get out and hustle, is a phase of the situation that no one can tell.”

“This, of course, was strictly unfair to Philadelphia.  The Giants should have realized this, and no matter how badly stale they might have felt the effort at least should have been made to play the game and play it to the final out…”

“…It was a most unfortunate ending to one of the greatest races the National League has ever had.  It was unfortunate for Brooklyn, who had no part in the plot; unfortunate for the Giants, who lost any number of friends, and unfortunate for baseball, a sport that has been built up on the theory that all connected with it shall play the game and play it out.”[xlvii]

Rice, Grantland. “Listless Work of Giants Justly Angers McGraw And Spoils the Finish of Great Pennant Race”, New York Tribune, 04 October 1916, Page 16.

Poll Perritt - NY Daily News 1920

Perritt in 1920 (NY Daily News)

With the long winning streak to close the season, the Giants were favored to win the pennant in 1917. Perritt began the season as he had in previous years.  McGraw didn’t use him much in the first few weeks.  And, he missed time with an illness in early June.[xlviii]

 

Then, for almost four months, Perritt was brilliant.  His ERA from June 14th through the end of the 1917 season was 1.47.  Perritt finished 17 – 7 with a 1.87 ERA – second on the team in ERA, third in wins.  As predicted, the Giants won the pennant and faced the White Sox in the World Series.  Because the Sox featured so many good left handed batters – like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Collins – Perritt saw little action.  The Giants gave all starts to southpaws Ferdie Schupp, Slim Sallee, and Rube Benton.  Perritt pitched three times in relief as the White Sox dispatched the Giants in six games.

Perritt reached his peak – a pretty good pitcher, very good on his best days – and relatively durable for the last five seasons.  Yet some in the New York press complained he should have been better – almost blaming his southern heritage for his failings.

“The great trouble with Perritt heretofore has been failure to look upon his profession in all the seriousness characteristic of genius.  Poll is a big, good-natured boy, willing to get along with the world as easily as possible.  It would be wrong to accuse him of laziness just because he was born and raised in Arcadia, La., where the sun scorches out ambition and the hookworm runs rampant.”

“He is lean and lanky, almost to cadaverous.  He stands 6 feet 2 inches, but weighs slightly more than 170 pounds in condition.  He has not the beef to stand up under rough usage in hot weather.

“He is of the wiry, whipcordy type, with long arms and fitting physical development of the torso. (He) is possessed of wonderful speed and an exceptional curve ball to supplement it.  With such a curve Walter Johnson would be unhittable.”[xlix]

MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

Having won a pennant, many of the Giants looked for a raise.  One, naturally, was Poll Perritt.  He was among the last to sign his contract for 1918.

It was a rough year for the Giants.  Perritt was the only starter to regularly pitch the war-shortened 1918 season.  Perritt started the year like an ace, winning twelve of fourteen decisions and throwing four shutouts by Independence Day.  But something changed on July 4th.  He went into a seven-week slump where his ERA was double that of the previous three months.  He might have been overworked while everyone else was unavailable.  The Giants season went much the same way – starting the season 18 – 2 and then playing .500 ball until the Cubs took the pennant.  Perritt finished the season at 18 – 13 pitching 233 innings though the team played essentially 75% of a full season.

As the 1918 summer wound down, Cincinnati came into town and played the Giants in a doubleheader on 17 July.  While Perritt started tossing a ball around, Reds first baseman Hal Chase stopped by with a proposition.  He asked Perritt which game of the doubleheader he would be pitching.  Chase added, “I wish you’d tip me off, because if I know which game you will pitch and can connect with a certain party before game time, you will have nothing to fear.”[l]  (Later, it was suggested that Chase offered Perritt $800 to throw the game.[li])  Perritt told McGraw about it and said he was so bothered by it he should have punched Chase.[lii]   Later, in his official affidavit, Perritt added that he told McGraw it was about time players got together and got Chase out of the game for good.[liii]  As for his pitching, Perritt was especially miffed when his wild pitch allowed what turned into the winning run in the fifth inning of a 2 – 1 loss to the Reds.[liv]

Three weeks later, Hal Chase was suspended by Reds manager Christy Mathewson for “indifferent playing.”[lv]  Chase took up his suspension to the National Commission and a hearing was held in New York.  However, many of the players who were to be witnesses at the hearing failed to attend.  Mathewson was in Europe fighting for the Allies.  McGraw was out of town and Perritt was busy in Louisiana with his new job.[lvi]  When League President John Heydler handed down his decision, “…it is nowhere established that the accused was interested in any pool or wager that caused any game of ball to result otherwise than on its merits…,” he decided there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Chase.[lvii]

McGraw, later quoted as saying he thought the case against Chase was weak even though he testified against him[lviii], signed Chase to play for the Giants in 1919.[lix]

That offseason, Dayton and Henry Perritt became oilmen, investing money into nearby land and oil derricks.  Poll reached out to current and former teammates to encourage them to invest in Louisiana oil country – including Rebel Oakes and one-time Federal League team owner Harry Sinclair[lx], who became a major oil producer in the area.  Poll Perritt became W. D. Perritt, a director for the Bird Brothers Oil Company.[lxi]

Perritt Oil Ad - Shreveport Journal 1918

Perritt saw he could acquire wealth in a way he couldn’t with the Giants.  And McGraw, with whom he had an occasionally contentious relationship, signed the very player who offered Perritt a bribe in 1918.  So he turned down his 1919 New York Giants contract.[lxii]  Instead, Perritt signed leases on thousands of acres of land and started sinking wells.[lxiii]  Perritt didn’t avoid baseball – he ran the semi-professional team in Homer and pitched a few frames.[lxiv]  Eventually he decided he needed a regular paycheck and in May, while trying to find other investors in his oil company, he visited McGraw in New York City and signed a Giants contract.[lxv]

Having missed spring training, Perritt couldn’t get into playing shape and lost the break on his curveball.[lxvi]  Later, he claimed his forearm was sore trying to get in shape too quickly and though he tried visiting an osteopath it didn’t work.[lxvii]  In August, he was allowed to leave the team to pitch semi-pro games in hopes he would regain his form.  As a member of the Treat ‘Em Rough semi-pro team Perritt once faced Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants – featuring Oscar Charleston, Bingo DeMoss, Cristobal Torriente and others – and lost both games of a double header.[lxviii]

Perritt and Treat Em Rough Team - Shreveport Journal 1920

Perritt (in Giants uniform) with Rube Benton, Carl Mays, Guy Empey, Jeff Tesreau, and Jimmie Clinton – Shreveport Journal, 1920.

After the season, he fought with his Giants teammates for money.  When post-season bonuses were paid, Giants players didn’t vote Perritt a share.  Perritt – who never ducked a chance to make more cash – threatened to go to the National Commission for his share.  He instead compromised with his teammates and took a half share, though he had pitched only nineteen innings for the Giants in 1919.[lxix]

Perritt went back to his oil business, occasionally pitching semi-professional baseball in the summer of 1920.  The Giants allowed Poll to sign with San Antonio in the Texas League; if Perritt pitched well they could recall his rights.  Perritt won two decisions then joined the Giants in late August, making only eight appearances.[lxx]  He even joined the Giants when they made a tour of Cuba that October[lxxi] and agreed to join the Giants in spring training for 1921.[lxxii]

Poll Perritt - Minneapolis 1921

Perritt’s 1921 season was his last.  The Giants released Perritt in May.[lxxiii]  The Detroit Tigers signed Perritt – he was released in early July.[lxxiv]  Ty Cobb recommended Perritt to the Minneapolis Millers[lxxv], but he wasn’t in shape so the Millers sent Perritt to St. Joseph, where Perritt would quickly dominate the Western Association and then return to the Millers to finish the season.  Perritt was, at best, tolerably effective in the American Association and his career ended.  Perritt left with a bang – in his last game with St. Joseph he homered during a ninth inning winning rally.[lxxvi]  When he rejoined Minneapolis, he hit an inside the park homer over the head of St. Paul’s Bruno Haas.[lxxvii]

Perritt finished his career with a 92 – 78 record, 543 strikeouts in 1456.2 innings, and a perfect 1.000 batting average in two at bats during the 1917 World Series.

Was it Poll or Pol Perritt?  Modern encyclopedias (and online versions, like Baseball-Reference.com) use Pol.  However, for most of his early years it was spelled with two Ls.  For much of his New York days he was Poll – though it alternated with Pol some.  Sometimes they needed space for the typesetter…  Since Poll was more frequently used during his playing days, we use Poll here.

W. D. Perritt’s oil baron life reads like episodes of a modern television drama. He acquired land leases and drilled for oil.[lxxviii] Some wells spilled out several barrels of oil each day.  In bad years, he was sued to pay debts.  Once, he got in a fight with a neighbor, Paul Miller, because Miller built a fence to keep Perritt’s daughters from stomping over Miller’s vegetable garden.[lxxix]

In 1934, the pitcher known for being a “temperamental cuss”[lxxx] fought with his good friend Dick Sebastian over a loan.  Perritt entered Sebastian’s hotel room where Sebastian had been enjoying dinner with two female friends.  When they started quarreling over money, Sebastian pulled out a .22 caliber pistol and shot Perritt in the hip.  That didn’t stop Perritt – they continued to brawl and when police arrived, Perritt was on top of Sebastian.[lxxxi]

Both daughters, Florence and Helen, moved to New York and stayed in the northeast.  Florence, the wife, died while visiting Florence, the daughter, in Massachusetts in 1944.[lxxxii] Daughter Florence went to business school and took a job with Continental Can, where she’d meet her husband.  Florence passed away in 2008.[lxxxiii]  Helen became a social worker before passing away in 1987.[lxxxiv]  Perritt’s brother, Henry Walker Perritt, remained in the oil industry (and active in local politics) until he passed in 1990.[lxxxv]  William Thomas Perritt outlived his first son, dying in 1955.[lxxxvi]

William Dayton Perritt fell ill in 1947 and died in Shreveport, Louisiana on 15 October 1947.[lxxxvii]

SOURCES:

Baseball-Reference.com

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=perrit001wil

Retrosheet.com

https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/P/Pperrp101.htm

(Also, related linked pages that display his daily details or team game logs)

FindaGrave.com

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22394/pol-perritt  (William Dayton Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70881989/william-thomas-perritt  (William Thomas Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70881904/hanie-perritt  (Haney Walker Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/48861294/henry-clay-walker  (Henry Clay Walker)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90940710/kate-perritt  (Kate Willet Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70881455/madison-perritt  (Madison Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115099349  (William Perritt)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115099274/jane-perritt  (Jane Loyd Perritt)

1830 – 1880, 1900 – 1940 US Censuses

Louisiana and New York Marriage Indexes

1920 US Passport Application

Military Headstone Application

Social Security Application

World War II Draft Registration Card

Louisiana Death Index

Biography of Madison and Amanda Perritt, transcribed from Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, Southern Publishing Company, Chicago and Nashville) and posted to Ancestry.com on 10 February 2016 by Walt Perro.

Newspaper Image Sources:

Picture of Perritt. Ithaca Journal, 27 September 1917, Page 8.

Picture of Perritt. Buffalo Enquirer, 22 September 1917, Page 10.

Picture of Perritt. Buffalo Enquirer, 15 January 1918, Page 11.

(Ad) “Claiborne Oil Field”, Shreveport Times, 25 January 1919, Page 10.

Picture of Treat Em Rough Members: Rube Benton, Carl Mays, Guy Empey, Perritt, Jeff Tesreau, and Jimmie Clinton.  Shreveport Journal, 25 February 1920, Page 16.

“Pol Perritt, New Miller, in Many Moods”, Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, 24 July 1921, Sports Section, Page 2.

Picture of Perritt – New York Daily News, 04 September 1920, Page 16.

END NOTES:

[i] “Pioneer Citizen Drops Dead At His Home”, Shreveport Times, 10 July 1919, (no page given).

[ii] “Sextette of Towns”, Shreveport Journal, 14 April 1909, Page 8.

[iii] “High School Field Exercises Today”, Shreveport Times, 16 April 1909, Page 6.

[iv] MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

[v] “Vix. Makes Good Showing in Clash With Tigers”, Vicksburg Evening Post, 01 April 1912, Page 5.

[vi] “Pels Romped On Hill Bills”, Vicksburg Evening Post, 13 April 1912, Page 3.

[vii] “Jackson Beaten By Vicksburg Team”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 20 April 1912, Page 10.

[viii] “Perritt and Hooks Canned”, Vicksburg Evening Post, 26 April 1912, Page 3.

[ix] “Double Bill Split on Greenwood Lot”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 21 May 1912, Page 10.

[x] “Cotton States Closes”, Natchez Democrat, 29 August 1912, Page 2.

[xi] “‘Come Back’ Rally Again Helps Cardinals Rout Ambitious Reds”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01 October 1912, Page 15.

[xii] Murphy, Billy.  “Perritt One Pitcher Who Has Never Received Credit For Brilliant Work In Box”, St. Louis Star and Times, 21 August 1914, Page 7.

[xiii] “Sallee Comes to Town to Visit Polly Perritt”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 28 January 1914, Page 7.

[xiv] “Hunt Tosses One Away By His Wildness, 6 – 1”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 20 April 1913, Sports Section Page 1.

[xv] “Cardinals Beat Feds to Pitcher Perritt”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 27 January 1914, Page 6.

[xvi] “Cards Continue Conquest of East by Toppling Phillies; ‘Poll’ Perritt Plucks Plum”, St. Louis Star, 17 June 1914, Page 9.

[xvii] Murphy, Billy. “The Perritt.”, St. Louis Star, 23 July 1914, Page 11.

[xviii] M’Skimming, Dent. “Cincy Games Are Important”, St. Louis Star, 12 September 1914, Page 6.

[xix] “Perritt Says Row With Britton Led To Fed Jump.”, Buffalo Enquirer, 06 March 1915, Page 8.

[xx] M’Skimming, Dent. “Perritt Is Loyal To Cards”, St. Louis Star, 14 September 1914, Page 6.

[xxi] “Perritt Holds Conference With Owner Britton”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 October 1914, Sports Section, Page 2.

[xxii] O’Connor, W. J. “Feds Seeking To Wreck Cardinals And Herzog’s Reds”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 15 October 1914, Page 23.

[xxiii] “Cards’ Side of Perritt Deal; Waits on Decision of Judge’ Wingo Trade Is in Same Situation”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 03 March 1915, Page 14.

[xxiv] “Ray Caldwell Ready To Return To The Yankees; Wingo Admits ‘Back Flop'”, Buffalo Courier, 07 January 1915, Page 12.

[xxv] Pierce, Harry F. “Perritt And Oakes Battle In A Cafe; Pitcher May Jump”, St. Louis Star, 02 January 1915, Page 7.

[xxvi] “Kenneth Mooney, Acting President Of Cards While Mr. Britton Is Away”, St. Louis Star, 19 January 1915, Page 8.

[xxvii] “No O. B. Plauyers Jumped Contract In Joining Feds”, Buffalo Times, 07 March 1915, Page 71.

[xxviii] Pierce, Harry F. “Hub Perdue Obeys ‘Hug’s’ Orders and Indians Tie Game”, St. Louis Star, 15 March 1915, Page 11.

[xxix] Linck, J. V. “Giant Expected to Play in Spring Series Sunday”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 26 March 1915, Page 10.

[xxx] “Alexander Too Much For Crippled Giants”, New York Tribune, 02 May 1915, Page 13.

[xxxi] Broun, Heywood.  “Poll Perritt Takes Lesson From Matty”, New York Tribune, 14 May 1915, Page 14.

[xxxii] “Sports Of All Sorts”, Binghamton Press, 29 May 1915, Page 15.

[xxxiii] “Cardinals Drop Two To Giants”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 18 July 1915, Sporting Section Page 1.

[xxxiv] Beatty, Jerome. “Cupid Signs Up Poll Perritt In Hymen’s League”, New York Tribune, 19 October 1915, Page 13.

[xxxv] “‘Polly’ Perritt Weds Tesreau’s Sister-in-Law”, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 19 October 1915, Page 10.

[xxxvi] O’Connor, W. J. “Austin’s Future May Give Jones Anxious Moments”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 28 January 1916, Page 18.

[xxxvii] Bulger, Bozeman.  “Giants Are Home Again After Most Successful Trip Any Club Ever Had”, New York Evening World, 02 June 1916, Page 15.

[xxxviii] “Mathewson Is Now Manager Of Reds”, New York Times, 21 July 1916, Page 6.

[xxxix] “Poll Perritt Pitches Two Games and Wins”, New York Tribune, 10 September 1916, Sports Section Page 1.

[xl] “O’Neill, Frank. “Robin’s Victory Over Giants Gains Ground on Threatening Phillies”, New York Tribune, 03 October 1916, Page 14.

[xli] “Stallings Says It Is Do Or Die For Braves In Series With Phils”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 02 October 1916, Page 14.

[xlii] O’Neill, Frank. “Dodgers Rout Giants in Crucial Battle”, New York Tribune, 04 October 1916, Page 16.  Also, “Superbas Capture National Pennant”, New York Times, 04 October 1916, Page 12.

[xliii] “Too Much For McGraw”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 04 October 1916, Page 14.

[xliv] “Brooklyn Wins National League Flag; Giants Are Accused Of Lying Down”, Binghamton Press, 04 October 1916, Page 13.

[xlv] “M’Graw Accuses His Men Of Quitting”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 04 October 1916, Page 14.

[xlvi] “Commission Fails To Take Action On Giants ‘Lay Down’, Philadelphia Inquirer, 05 October 1916, Page 12.

[xlvii] Rice, Grantland. “Listless Work of Giants Justly Angers McGraw And Spoils the Finish of Great Pennant Race”, New York Tribune, 04 October 1916, Page 16.

[xlviii] O’Connor, W. J. “Giants Again Rough-Riding Over Umpires and Players”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 04 June 1917, Page 20.

[xlix] MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

[l] “Karpe’s Comment on Sport Topics”, Buffalo Evening News, 24 August 1918, Page 14.

[li] “Sports Chatter”, Buffalo Times, 30 Jamuary 1919, Page 16.

[lii] “Double-Header Briefs”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 August 1918, Page 8.

[liii] “Double-Header Briefs”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 August 1918, Page 8. And, “Chase Accused In Affidavits”, New York Times, 04 October 1920, Page 8.

[liv] “‘Red’ Causey Steers Giants To Victory”, New York Tribune, 18 July 1918.

[lv] Erry, J. “Only Natural Mathewson And Chase Should Come To Parting of the Ways”, Dayton Daily News, 08 August 1918, Page 16.

[lvi] “Heydler Reserves Decision In Case”, 31 January 1919, Page 12.

[lvii] Macbeth, W. J. “Star Among First Baseman Not Guilty”, New York Tribune, 06 February 1919, Page 17.

[lviii] Rice, Thomas S. “Daubert For Reds Would Suit Nicely”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 31 January 1919, Section 1, Page 2.

[lix] Lieb, Frederick G. “Date For Hearing In Chase Case Set”, New York Sun, 22 January 1919, Page 13.

[lx] Poll Perritt A Holdout”, Buffalo Courier,  03 March 1919, Page 8.

[lxi] “‘Poll’ Perritt Takes Place on ‘Oil’ Mound”, Shreveport Times, 22 September 1918, Page 12.

[lxii] “‘Pol’ Perritt Turns Down 1919 Contract With New York Team”, Shreveport Journal, 10 February 1919, Page 5.

[lxiii] Mike O’Neil Doing Stunts In Oil Business Out West”, Elmira Star-Gazette, 29 March 1919, Page 8.

[lxiv] “Oilers Stave Off Shut-Out”, Shreveport Journal, 07 April 1919, Sports Section, Page 1.

[lxv] “Perritt Signs Contract”, Shreveport Journal, 22 May 1919, Page 7.

[lxvi] “Schupp and Perritt Are Not Reliable”, Ithaca Journal, 15 July 1919, Page 8.

[lxvii] Daniel. “High Lights and Shadows In All Sphere Of Sport”, New York Sun, Page 15.

[lxviii] “American Giants Victors.”, New York Sun, 25 August 1919, Page 14.

[lxix] “Yanks To Fight For Series Coin”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 29 October 1919, Page 26.

[lxx] “Giants Exercise Options On Fifteen Players”, New York Tribune, 18 August 1920, Page 10.

[lxxi] “Thirteen Giants Going On Exhibition Trip To Cuba”, Buffalo Courier, 12 October 1920, Page 9.

[lxxii] “Pol Perritt to Train With Giants in Spring”, Shreveport Times, 25 November 1920, Page 8.

[lxxiii] “Giants Release Perritt”, New York Tribune, 04 June 1921, Page 10.

[lxxiv] “Athletes Idle Saturday; Two Games Monday”, Detroit Free Press, 10 July 1921, Sports Section, Page 1.

[lxxv] “Miller Owners Sign ‘Pol’ Perritt, Former Star Pitcher of New York Giants”, Minnesota Daily Star, 13 July 1921, Page 6.

[lxxvi] “Yips Make Clean Sweep Of Series”, St. Joseph Gazette, 07 September 1921, Page 7.

[lxxvii] Arnold, Earl. “Five Pitchers Fail to Stop Saintly Foes”, Minneapolis Tribune, 19 September 1921, Page 10.

[lxxviii] “Moffitt Will Put Down Well”, Shreveport Times, 18 February 1927, Page 18.

[lxxix] “Former Giant Pitcher Fined $50 for Assault”, Shreveport Journal, 02 May 1928, Page 6.

[lxxx] MacBeth, W. J. “Perritt on Edge For Big Series With White Sox”, New York Tribune, 16 September 1917, Sporting Section, Page 4.

[lxxxi] “Two Oil Men Face Charges As Sequel To Fight At Hotel”, 28 August 1934, Pages 1, 8.

[lxxxii] “Mrs. ‘Poll’ Perritt Rites Held in New York”, Shreveport Journal, 10 July 1944, Page 13.

[lxxxiii] “Obituary: Florence Perritt Hawkins”, Shreveport Times, 2008.

[lxxxiv] “Obituary: Helen Perritt Miller”, Shreveport Times, 12 July 1987, Page 22.

[lxxxv] “Obituaries: Henry Walker Perritt”, Shreveport Times, 26 february 1990, Page 6.

[lxxxvi] “Services in Arcadia For Father of Oilman”, Shreveport Journal, 20 April 1955, Page C5.

[lxxxvii] “W. D. (Pol) Perritt Dies Wednesday”, Shreveport Journal, 16 October 1947, Page 1.

Happy Birthday, Stubby Magner!

Stubby Magner Cornell BaseballStubby Magner was a Cornell grad who served in World War I and played 13 games for the 1911 Highlanders.  Not only a great shortstop, he was captain of the hockey team.  Stubby was so named because he was short – listed at 5’3″ tall, he’s one of three players (Yo Yo Davalillo and Harry Chappas) listed as potentially the shortest position player in MLB history (not counting, of course, Eddie Gaedel).

Edmund Burke Magner was born to Edmund L. and Delia (Werner) Magner on 10 February 1888 in Kalamazoo, Michigan but wasn’t long for the area.  The family moved to Buffalo where Edmund’s athleticism allowed him to excel on the diamond and the ice for Lafayette High School.  The first Cornell hockey team to win a championship was one led by their diminutive center.  The Yankees took him right out of college and put him on the diamond.  Magner didn’t hit much, but he was in the middle of some action – he had four runs batted in and three runs scored despite getting only seven hits.

His baseball career didn’t last long – he was dispatched to Jersey City briefly, then spent 1912 with Rochester (a city he didn’t like) and Wilkes-Barre.  And that was about it.  While finishing his law degree, he was an assistant coach with the Cornell club where he coached the frosh players.  In time he took on a job as a lawyer for a bank in Buffalo.  World War I called him to service; Edmund Magner wound up a Lieutenant with the US Naval Reserve Force based in Florida.  Upon his discharge, he married Edith Carpenter – a Virginia native who was a few years older than Magner.

After moving to Ohio, Magner opened up his own law firm and Edith became a nurse for a nearby veteran’s hospital which, sadly, would house Edmund Magner by 1940.  He died in relative obscurity while living at that home on 06 September 1956 – his death notice escaped the local newspapers.  At some point along the way, Edith returned home to the Richmond, VA area to live nearer to her own family, where she died a few days after falling and breaking her hip on 01 January 1964.  The Magners never had children.

Sources:

1900, 1920, 1940 US Censuses
1905, 1915 New York Censuses
https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.findagrave.com/
Application for Military Headstone (1956)
VA Death Certificate (Edith Carpenter Magner, 1964)

(Photo) Cornellian, Wm. H. Hoskins Co., 1911 (Cornell Junior Class Yearbook), Pages 504, 522

“Legal Records”, Buffalo Evening News, 15 September 1920, Page 24.

“‘Stubby’ Manger To Wear Skeeter Spangles”, Buffalo Courier, 19 September 1911, Page 9.

“Cornell Navy Now In Action”, Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 22 January 1911, Page 10.

“‘Stubby’ Magner Assistant Coach”, Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 23 March 1913, Page 42.

“About Tiny Magner, Who Gets There by ‘Scrappin'”, Washington Herald, 14 August 1911, Page 8.

 

Happy Birthday, Whitey Guese!

Whitey Guese - Detroit Free Press 1899“Guese is a strapping big youngster who hasn’t been a voter long, and another thing is that his is a man of the best of habits…

…When it is considered that Guese has only been off the sand lots one year it is evident that he is a twirler of more than ordinary promise…”

“Guese A Coming Star”, Detroit Free Press, 02 April 1899, Page 8.  (Photo, at left, too…)

Whitey Guese was a giant of a man, more than six feet tall and rarely less than 200 pounds – one assumes 220 or even 240 in his later years – who was signed by the Cincinnati Reds when the owner of a minor league team in Indianapolis decided to fold his team in 1901.  He got his nickname for his neatly combed shock of blond hair he’d pile under his hat.

Theodore Guese, had he chosen to be a fighter, would have been called the Wapakoneta Giant.  He arrived in nearby New Bremen, Ohio to Frederick Wilhelm and Mary Helman (formerly Depenbrock) Guese on 24 January 1872.  Frederick, a Prussian born laborer, sired twelve kids born to two wives (Wilhelmine Solms Guese traveled to the United States with Wilhelm in 1861).  Soon after arriving in the United States, Frederick Wilhelm joined the Union Army in 1862 and served with the 19th Ohio Volunteers for the duration of the war, fighting in places like Shiloh, Nashville, and northern Georgia and Alabama until the Civil War ended.  At some point after the war the Guese parents divorced and Frederick Wilhelm next married Mary Helman, a widow.  Theodore would be his second child of five with Mary.  Soon after, the family moved to Wapakoneta, Ohio where Guese would spend the bulk of his life.

Theodore was one of three Guese boys who played amateur and low level minor league baseball.  His brothers, Adolph (Blackie) and Otto (Red) played on the same Wapak amateur team that played different teams in both Ohio and Indiana.  Initially a first baseman or catcher, Theodore’s throwing arm was strong so he was moved to the mound.  A right handed pitcher throwing from the side, he would win twelve of fourteen decisions in the 1897 season with a crisp rising fastball and a curve that was good enough to fool players in the minors.  This earned Guese a shot with New Castle in the Interstate League for the 1898 season.

Now called The Wapakoneta Wonder or The Wapakoneta Big Boy, Guese rounded into a solid (thick!) and dependable pitcher.  He won 18 of his last 24 decisions to finish at 23 – 14 on the season, and was a pretty good hitter, too.  Pittsburgh got wind of him and signed him – but the Pirates of 1899 were loaded with good young pitching and Guese was farmed out to Detroit, where he would pitch for manager George Stallings.  Stallings didn’t give Guese much of a look, though, and he was released.  A team in Fort Wayne needed an arm and gave Guese a job.

“He is a big fellow, possessing a physique like Amos Rusie and the speed of a Rusie. He was known in the Interstate League as the ‘cannonball’ twirler because of his great speed… He has a faculty of sending them over the plate around a batter’s neck, so that his delivery is hard to solve…”

“He is a glutton for work and can go in the box three or four times a week without weakening…”

“Watkins Drafts Guese”, Indianapolis Journal, 04 February 1900, Page 6.

There, Guese would win 25 games, striking out 116 batters while walking just 89, and adding a .291 batting average with three homers as an occasional first baseman and pinch hitter.  Such heady numbers and his hard not to miss size earned him a promotion of sorts and he signed with Indianapolis for 1900.  Off to a slow start, he was farmed to Youngstown for a few months and returned to Indianapolis for the 1901 season.  Now, he was the ace of the Indianapolis staff.  And, while Indianapolis was a competitive team, it was not fiscally viable – and in early July Indianapolis quit the Western Association.  Many of the players followed the manager to a franchise location in Matthews, Indiana.  A few players were released.  George Hogriever was rumored to be heading to the Athletics.  A handful were scooped up by a struggling Cincinnati Reds team looking for pitching help.

Guese’s first start for the Reds was on 13 July 1901 against Brooklyn and it could have gone better.  He lost, 9 – 8, but his team behind him didn’t help much – the winning run was a ninth inning homer by Bill Dahlen.  His former Indianapolis teammate, Archie Stimmel, had equal difficulty getting major league hitters out.

Guese and Stimmel, who were sent to Cincinnati when the Indianapolis club disbanded, are not making good with the big leaguers. Guese attempted to officiate in two games and was knocked out of the box both times. In yesterday’s game at St. Louis Stimmel was hit ten times in seven innings and the Cardinals scored almost at will. They got tired running the bases.

“Gossip Of The Game.”, Dayton Daily News, 22 July 1901, Page 3.

Guese has not made a brilliant record as pitcher in the National League. He has plenty of speed but no really first class curves or head work.

“Base Ball Notes.”, News-Democrat (Uhrichville Dennison, OH), 23 July 1901, Page 1.

Stimmel got rocked by Chicago, but Guese pitched seven innings of two-run ball in relief.  That earned Guese one more shot against St. Louis on 9 August 1901 – a team that had feasted on Stimmel and Guese a few weeks earlier.

“If the Cardinals had no pitcher but Guese to face all the season they would not only win the pennant in a canter, but they would roll up the fattest batting averages in the history of the game. Guess made his second attempt to throw the St. Louis team down to-day, and again he made a disastrous failure. When Theodore took his position on the rubber the St. Louis players cheered…”

“Guese Was Roughly Used.”, St. Louis Daily Globe, 10 August 1901, Page 7.

Near the end of August, the Reds traveled to Wapakoneta to play an exhibition game.  Guese was allowed to pitch against his Reds teammates.  They held a reception, the Reds won, 9 – 0, and then Bid McPhee handed Guese his walking papers.  Guese wouldn’t sign with another club for the remainder of the season and he stayed home with family and his amateur baseball friends.

“The case of Theodore Guese is a peculiar one. Built like Sandow, that twirler of heroic mold seemingly has a heart like a canary…

“…[Guese] can tear them through the air with the speed of a cyclone blowing through Kansas.

” ‘There isn’t anything in the pitcher’s repertory,”\’ remarked William Henry Watkins the other day, ‘that Guese does not possess. All that he lacks is self-confidence, and without that no man will hold down a front pew in base-ball.’ “

(Sandow is Eugene Sandow, a famous body builder of the era…)

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 30 November 1901, Page 10.

Whitey Guese - Arkansas Democrat 1905

“Whitey Guese, who was with the Reds for a short time, will pitch for Little Rock in the Southern League again this year. He has the reputation of being the slowest fielding pitcher in the business.”

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 25 April 1903, Page 11.

Guese’s major league career was over, but at 30 years old, Guese became one of the better minor league pitchers of the south.  He first signed with Little Rock in 1902, where he would play for the next four seasons – twice winning 19 games.  It was in Little Rock where Guese and his wife, Clementina Muma, had their daughter Louceil, on 10 September 1903.  Unfortunately, their happy days were few – Louceil would pass away two months after her birth.  And, Clementina’s life was short, too.  Theodore was listed as a widow in the 1920 US Census.

From a baseball standpoint, Guese would find some satisfaction.  He’d frequently pitch well, winning one game with an 11th inning clout to beat Nashville, 1 – 0.  Guese drove the ball over the centerfielder’s head, reached third on his own (rather slowly) and then scored on a throwing error.  In 1906, he was sold to New Orleans but continued to pitch well.  He faced the World Champion Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game during the 1907 spring training and beat Ed Walsh, 1 – 0, while scattering just three hits.  He also threw three innings of hitless relief against the Philadelphia Athletics in an exhibition game in 1908.  He finished the decade with two seasons in Montgomery – all nine years in the Southern Association he finished the season with a winning record.  He asked for his release for personal reasons in 1910 and it was granted.

Whitey Guese - Montgomery Advertiser 1909After 1910, though, he pitched up north.  At first he was signed to pitch for Syracuse – only to be one of two players arrested for playing in an exhibition game on a Sunday.  Syracuse sold Guese to Grand Falls of the Northwest Montana League, and while Guese claimed he would report for two straight years, he never pitched there.

Instead, Guese returned home to Wapakoneta.  For a couple of years he pitched with local teams.  He worked as a deputy for the county sheriff’s office, and he was a laborer.  He lived with his brother, Adolph, who was also a widow.  They would hunt when not working.  Guese was even invited to participate in old-timer games in Cincinnati.  Eventually, though, the former giant would slow down.  He was moved to a county home and passed away after an extended illness on 08 April 1951.

SOURCES:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Theodore Guese)
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Father)
https://www.findagrave.com/ (Louceil Guese)

1880, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Censuses
Ohio Births and Christenings Index

“Sport.”, Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, 21 January 1898, Page 3.

“Base Ball Gossip”, Dayton Daily News, 04 October 1898, Page 3.

“Guese A Coming Star”, Detroit Free Press, 02 April 1899, Page 8. (Also Picture)

“Shorty Fuller Here.”, Dayton Daily News, 13 April 1899, Page 3.

“Watkins Drafts Guese”, Indianapolis Journal, 04 February 1900, Page 6.

“Glasscock with Ft. Wayne”, Mansfield News-Journal, 26 February 1900, Page 6.

“Notes.”, Mansfield News-Journal, 26 July 1900, Page 6.

“Watkins Quits Western Association”, Dayton Herald, 12 July 1901, Page 6.

“The Diamond.”, Marietta Daily Leader, 14 July 1901, Page 8.

“Whitey”, Lima News, 19 July 1901, Page 5.

“Gossip Of The Game.”, Dayton Daily News, 22 July 1901, Page 3.

“Base Ball Notes.”, News-Democrat (Uhrichville Dennison, OH), 23 July 1901, Page 1.

Box Score and Notes, Dayton Daily News, 31 July 1901, Page 3.

“At Cincinnati.”, Dayton Daily News, 10 August 1901, Page 3.

“Guese Was Roughly Used.”, St. Louis Daily Globe, 10 August 1901, Page 7.

“Baseball Notes.” Topeka State Journal, 12 August 1901, Page 2.

Delphos Daily Herald, 24 August 1901, Page 1.

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 27 August 1901, Page 3.

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 30 November 1901, Page 10.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 February 1902, Page 10.

“Notes of the Diamond”, Mansfield News-Journal, 25 April 1903, Page 11.

“Miss Guess Is Our New Mascot”, Arkansas Democrat, 11 September 1903, Page 5.

“11 Players on Little Rock Team”, Daily Arkansas Gazette, 20 September 1904, Page 6.

“Guese Won Great Game”, Arkansas Democrat, 28 May 1905, Page 2. (Also photo)

“Frank Secures Guese”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 01 March 1906, Page 13.

“Pelican Pitcher Wins; White Sox Shut Out”, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 23 March 1907, Page 12.

“New Orleans Wins From Athletics”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 March 1908, Page 26.

Photo of Guese, Montomery Advertiser, 20 July 1909, Page 9.

“Guese Obtains Release From Montgomery, New Orleans Times-Democrat, 09 July 1910, Page 7.

“Diamond Glints.”, Tuscaloosa News, 27 July 1910, Page 1.

“Stars Return Contracts To Manager Ashenback”, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 16 January 1911, Page 12.

“Sheriff Arrests Two Twinklers”, Binghamton Press, 25 April 1911, Page 11.

“Pitcher Guese Sold.”, Buffalo Times, 24 June 1911, Page 6.

“Guese’s Contract Eliminates Doubt”, Great Falls Tribune, 29 February 1912, Page 6.

“Diamond Dust”,Salt Lake Telegram, 13 May 1912, Page 9.

“Houtz and Guese Targets For Fans In Sunday Game”, Lima News, 15 August 1913, Page 4.

“Botkins to Play Here Sunday”, Lima News, 30 June 1915, Page 10.

“Will Exhibit ‘Wild Animal’ in Auglaize”, Dayton Daily News, 06 May 1928, Page 13 (Sports).

Ryder, Jack. “Double-Headers Piling Up For Redlegs”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 August 1931, Pages 11, 12.

“Theodore Guese”, Dayton Daily News, 10 April 1951, Page 3.

“Famed Ball Player Buried Today at Wapakoneta”, New Bremen Sun, 12 April 1951.

Happy Birthday, Walt Goldsby!

A promising outfielder at the time there were three major leagues,  but couldn’t make it work.  His baseball career, marriage, and post-baseball career all ended badly – but not nearly as badly as his life.

Goldsby, who played a short time last season in the St. Louis Reserve and Virginia teams, is one of the most intelligent and competent of ball tossers, and is now drawing a salary of 160 per month in a railroad office at Evansville, Ind.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, 07 November 1884, Page 5.

Walton Hugh Goldsby arrived during the American Civil War in Marion, Louisiana on 31 December 1861.  His father, Miles Walton Goldsby, was a Confederate doctor for Company S in their Medical Staff Infantry Regiment, having been trained as a surgeon in Louisiana.  Dettie Dudgeon was born in Ireland, came to the United States in her childhood, and from her late teens on was a school teacher.  Miles and Dettie would marry and have two children, but Miles never met his second son, Thomas Boykin Goldsby,  Miles died in May, 1865, a few months before Boykin was born.

Walt was gifted athletically and drawn to baseball.  His mother moved to Arkansas with the two boys, and Walt eventually continued to St. Louis where he played amateur baseball and marched with an organization known as the Tredway Rifles, where Walt was listed as a private.  In 1883, Goldsby joined a team in Evansville – a team with a reputation for the ugly treatment of umpires.

Again, the Evansville distinguished themselves by a disgraceful exhibition of kicking on the umpiring until spectators were disgusted and yelled for them to go home.

“The National Game.”, Dayton Herald, 13 September 1883, Page 2.

Still, Goldsby distinguished himself as a player and more than one team expressed an interest with him.  In fact, after Chris Von der Ahe acquired Goldsby, Pittsburgh president Denny McKnight told Von der Ahe how much he wanted him.

President McKnight, who was here during the early part of the week, said to Mr. Von der Ahe: “I am sorry you took Goldsby, for I wanted him to take Mike Mansell’s place. I would rather have him than the man you let go, and he will about be playing your left field next season.” There seems to be a general impression, amongst all who know him, that Goldsby is one of the coming generation of players. I sincerely hope so, for it is encouraging to bring out new talent.

“Ixion’s Epiotle.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01 December 1883, Page 6.

In 1884 Goldsby was added to the St. Louis Reserves after spending time training with the St. Louis Browns.  The Reserves was a professional team of backups to the regular Browns.  Von der Ahe took the extra players he owned and liked and put these kids together to play exhibitions and other games with the many local baseball organizations in and around St. Louis.  However, running a second team cost money – and after a couple of months Von der Ahe disbanded the Reserves, but he kept a few players.  Goldsby was one of the three young players kept, and he was soon dispatched to replace Harry Wheeler.

Goldbsy, the excellent left fielder of the St. Louis club, left for the East last evening, and will join the St. Louis Browns in New York, playing there tomorrow in their opening series with the Mets. He will be a great addition to the outfield and undoubtedly to their batting strength, being a better man at the stick than several of the men now on the team. Harry Wheeler has been called home and will probably report here to-day or to-morrow morning.

“Off for the East.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 May 1884, Page 8.

Goldsby didn’t get many opportunities to play – and there is the likelihood that he had a three-hit game that, because the wire copy failed to note he had replaced Arlie Latham in the lineup that day, was credited to Latham and not Goldsby.  After five games, he was moved to Washington’s American Association franchise – only for that team to run into money problems a few weeks later.  In August, he joined his third American Association team – a team in Richmond, VA.  That team didn’t have a home park, though, and wound up playing their final games on the road.  Within a few weeks of landing there, he would be released and playing in Evansville again.  For the 1884 season, he would appear in 22 games, bat .262 in less than 90 plate appearances – all but one of his 22 hits would be singles.

When in Evansville, he would take a job with a railroad company – his jobs after his baseball career were all in the railroad industry – until he found a baseball job for 1885.  Goldsby landed in Atlanta and played well enough, batting .291 with a good mix of extra base hits.  In 1886, his rights were signed by Washington in the National League, but he played in just six games and was moved again – this time he would become the player-manager for Nashville.  There, he would bat over .300 in 86 games, frequently as the lead off hitter.  The baseball nomad would head to Topeka for 1887, and then headed south to Birmingham for 1888 where, among those he would manage, would be a future major league manager – pitcher Joe Cantillon.

One thing that followed the teams that Goldsby played on was kicking – and Goldsby was a well-trained kicker himself.  In one game against Memphis, players restrained Goldsby when he threatened to hit the umpire with his bat.  He probably kicked when teams in the association ran into financial difficulties.  Charleston, for example, was barely paying bills.  New Orleans was being courted by the Texas League and eventually left the association.  Birmingham chose to disband.

Goldsby wasn’t done as a baseball player – Baltimore gave him a few games in 1888, but he didn’t stick in the American Association either.  According to Baseball-Reference, he wandered back to Evansville.  At some point, he must have settled in Memphis.  He plays one more time in the Southern Association in 1892, where he also married Margaret Earley.  They would have one son, Miles Earley Goldsby, in 1894 – but they wouldn’t have a long life together.  In 1900, Margaret was living with her parents – Miles was there, but Walton was not.

Instead, Walton had a series of jobs with various railroad companies.  No longer in Tennessee, he would become a repair man in St. Louis.  Nothing would stick, however, and he found himself at the Campbell House in Dallas.  I’m guessing he would spend the holidays alone.  One imagines his reactions to affronts in the baseball world also occurred in his domestic life – and in early 1914 Walton Hugh Goldsby found himself alone and despondent.

So, he penned his thoughts; he took a bath.  He neatly arranged his room and belongings.

After two days of deliberate preparation and careful planning, Walton H. Goldsby, a railroad man, “ended it all” by shooting off the top of his head, in a room at the Campbell House Sunday morning at 3 o’clock.

In a letter which he wrote Friday, Goldsby declared he intended to take his life because he was “a failure in every way” and could not find work.

Before firing the fatal shot he paid his hotel bill, took a bath, and neatly packed his clothes in a trunk. The man evidently shot himself shortly after taking a bath. He was garbed only in a bath robe when found dead.

Seldom, say the police, does a despondent man make such deliberate plans to kill himself as did Goldsby.

Goldsby leaves a divorced wife, who lives in Memphis; a brother in England, Ark., and a son in Harrisburg, Ark. According to the letter, he formerly played professional baseball in St. Louis. In his trousers was found $2.70.

“NO PLACE FOR HIM.”

The letter, dated Friday, reads:

“I have decided that there is no place in this world that wants or needs me, and if I have the nerve will end it all as far as I am concerned Friday night. I do not think all my friends and relatives have treated me properly, but I forgive them, and may God have mercy and that they may prosper. I won’t mention any names, but if they ever see this statement will know I mean them.

“I will try again tomorrow to find employment, but have little hope of success. My life has been a failure in every way. I am not a Christian and looks like I can not be one. I have had hard luck in various ways nearly all my life.

“In the first place, while playing baseball in St. Louis, I did as all young men do – * * * A few years later I married in Memphis. – – –

“I did for her the best I could, but that was not enough to suit her, so she secured a divorce. – –

“However, with the above mentioned things, and various other reasons, is no excuse for the action I think I will take. I am a coward and I know it, and may God help me:

“I will pay my hotel bill tomorrow and will owe them nothing. Please have what I leave expressed to Miles Early Goldsby at Harrisburg, Ark. He is my son.

“I am, yours respectfully,

“Walton H. Goldsby.

“P.S. – Be sure and see that my son receives the watch I have in my room, as well as everything else. I have a small balance in the Mechanics National Bank in St. Louis. Do with my body as you like or wire my brother, T. B. Goldsby, at England, Ark. I know that all will say that I am crazy to do such a thing, but will say I may be, but if I am I have been so all my life.”

Officials talked with Goldsby’s brother this morning. He has not decided whether or not to bury his brother here. In the meantime the remains are being held by the Wieland Undertaking Co. – Dallas News.

“Walton H. Goldsby Suicides”, The Gazette (Farmersville, LA), 04 February 1914, Page 4.

Goldsby pulled the trigger on 11 January 1914.  His brother, Boykin, buried Walton in Dallas.

Goldsby would have been proud of his son, Miles.  Miles went to military school, despite being blind in one eye he would serve as a lieutenant in the Arkansas Reserves during World War I, and live a long and prosperous life.

Sources

https://www.baseball-reference.com
https://www.findagrave.com/  (Walton)
https://www.findagrave.com (Miles)

1860, 1880, 1900, 1910 US Censuses
Texas Death Certificate

Dettie Goldsby’s Geneology Page on Ancestry.com, maintained by Deborah Price.

“The National Game.”, Dayton Herald, 20 August 1883, Page 2.

“The National Game.”, Dayton Herald, 13 September 1883, Page 2.

“Getting in Trim.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 November 1883, Page 5.

“Ixion’s Epiotle.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01 December 1883, Page 6.

“Off for the East.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 May 1884, Page 8.

“Wound Up.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 03 June 1884, Page 9.

“A Chat With the Browns’ President”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 June 1884, Page 5.

“Sports and Pastimes.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 06 July 1884, Page 9.

“Base Ball.”, Washington Evening Star, 26 July 1884, Page 3.

“Diamond Chips.”, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 28 July 1884, Page 5.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, 07 November 1884, Page 5.

“The Louisville Club.”, Atlanta Constitution, 19 March 1885, Page 2.

“Montgomery Badly Beaten.”, Atlanta Constitution, 07 April 1885, Page 5.

“The Game in Savannah.”, Atlanta Consititution, 24 May 1885, Page 7.

“Base Ball.”, Times-Picayune, 26 February 1886, Page 2.

“Base Ball.”, Nashville Tennessean, 31 May 1886, Page 4.

“Rain Again”, Nashville Tennessean, 24 July 1886, Page 5.

“On the Fly.”, Boston Daily Globe, 11 September 1886, Page 5.

“BASEBALL.”, Times-Picayune, 18 December 1886, Page 2.

“The Birmingham Team.”, Times-Picayune, 15 December 1887, Page 3.

“Memphis Rallies”, Times-Picayune, 03 June 1888, Page 2.

“The Southern League Situation”, Times-Picayune, 05 July 1888, Page 2.

“Walton H. Goldsby Suicides”, The Gazette (Farmersville, LA), 04 February 1914, Page 4.

Obituary – Rynie Wolters (1917)

Veteran Hurler is Dead



Wolters Pitched Baseball’s First Shutout Game.



Was Star Twirler in the 60s


Pioneered in National Pastime When Professional Leagues Were Unknown – Was Member of Famous Irvington and Mutual Teams

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-c26a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.q

Rynie Wolters in a team photo of the 1870 New York Mutuals.  The photo is part of the Albert Spaulding Collection in the New York Public Library.  Wolters is seated, second from the right.

“Rynie” Wolters, whose reputation as a baseball pitcher nearly half a century ago was almost as great as was Christy Mathewson’s in later years, died Friday at his home at No. 181 Pennsylvania avenue, Newark. He was 74 years old.

Reinder Albertis Wolters came to America from Holland when 4 years old. When a boy he became a member of the famous Irvington team, which, in the ’60s, was one of the crack clubs in the country, ranking with the Mutuals, of New York, Atlantics, of Brooklyn, and the Red Stockings, of Cincinnati. The late Charlie Sweasy and Andy Leonard, in later years bright illuminaries of the baseball firmament, were teammates of Wolters.

From the Irvingtons Wolters went to the Mutuals, known also as the “Green Sox,” the first team to represent the metropolis, and pitched for that team against the Reds, to whom Sweasey and Leonard had then graduated. On July 16, 1870, while pitching for the Mutuals in this city (NYC), Wolters shut out Chicago, 9 to 0, which is believed to be the first shutout on record.

After retiring from the diamond in the early ’70s, Wolters entered the commission house of his brother, Christian Wolters, in Newark. Ten days ago he was attacked with dropsy, which caused his death. He leaves a wife, four sons, and three daughters.

“Veteran Hurler is Dead”, Sioux City Journal, 07 January 1917, Page 13.

Image:

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Mutuals of New York, M. Nelson, Martin, Swandell, Eggler, E. Mills, Hatfield, Walton, Peterson” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1870 – 1919. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c26a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Happy Birthday, Harry Berthrong!

Berthrong in later yearsHarry Berthrong had a pretty amazing and varied life – some small part of it as a baseball player.  At the time of his retirement, he was likely the longest serving US civil servant (certainly among the oldest); at the time of his death he was the oldest living major league baseball player.

Henry Washburn Berthrong was born 01 January 1844, the first of five children born to Linus Percival and Mary (McPherson) Berthrong in Mumford, New York, a town not too far from Rochester.  Linus was a partner in a mercantile store and also a blacksmith while Mary was tasked with family management.  Linus died before Henry hit his teens, the victim of his gun accidentally going off while on a duck hunt and shooting him in the arm.  Linus was brought home where doctors thought his best chance to survive was amputating his arm – and the amputation process killed him.

Henry can trace his ancestry back a long way.  Abisha Washburn, his great-great grandfather, helped mold cannon during the Revolutionary War and may have actually served in the Continental Army.  Go back a few more generations in that Washburn line and you can find a John Washborne who made his way from England to the Plymouth settlement in 1635, bringing his family along a few years later.

As a child, Henry showed an aptitude for drawing and studied art with the owner of the Fraunberger studio in Rochester.  He also studied the art of making wood cuts for printing.  His studies would have to wait, however.  In 1861, the Civil War began, and in 1862 Henry Berthrong joined the 140th New York Volunteers, went to the front in September of that year, and joined the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac – initially as a musician.  Over time, he would perform other roles, especially when his regiment would guard occupied areas around the District.

While with the 140th, he would draw constantly, focusing on portraits of generals – Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Meade and others.  He and another soldier would take shoe pegs and nail his penciled portraits to the top log of his tent.  On the side, Henry was also a bit of a prankster – all in good fun.  Another soldier, B. S. Blake, said, “Almost from the start his genial disposition, full of youthful spirit, and his humorous pranks made him well known throughout the regiment…”

One time, he was furloughed and stopped in Washington DC prior to catching a train to Rochester.  Then, a fan of artwork appeared – as Berthrong told a writer for the Boston Globe on the 100th anniversary of his fan’s birthday.

“…I was on a furlough and passing through Washington on my way to my home, Rochester, N. Y., and while I was wandering around I finally pulled up and sat down on one of those iron settees between the White House and the war department. Taking a pad and pencil I began to make a sketch of the White House and just about the time I had it nearly completed someone came and stood directly in front of me. I looked up from my work, and there stood the great form of President Lincoln. I confess I was somewhat startled. I wore a zouave uniform, and, of course, the President knew I was a soldier.

“In his very kind manner he said to me: “What are you doing, young man?” I replied that I was trying to make a sketch of the White House. He said, ‘Let me see it,’ and taking it in his hand began comparing it with the original. He then said: ‘Do you know that you have a talent in drawing? Have you ever taken lessons?’ I told him that I had been studying to be an engraver on wood, but enlisted before I had completed my full course.

“He then said: ‘What are you going to do and where are you going?’ I told him I was on a furlough and intended taking the evening train for my home. ‘How long a furlough have you,’ Lincoln asked. I replied that I had two weeks. ‘That is short to go to Rochester and return to your regiment. You come with me.’

“We walked on to the war department and on the way he asked me about my home, who and how many were in my family, what was the number of my regiment, how many battles I had been in and many other questions. Reaching the adjutant general’s office he said to Col. Samuel Breck, assistant adjutant general, ‘This young man has but two weeks’ furlough. I would like you to extend it two weeks longer.’

“We then walked to the 17th street door. Mr. Lincoln had been holding my sketch in his hand all this time and as we parted he said, ‘I would like this sketch, it interests me.’ I said, Mr. Lincoln, I am delighted to give it to you and shall always consider it an honor to have had such a privilege.

“He then said: ‘Please put your name and regiment at the bottom, also the date.’ I did so and handed it back to him. We shook hands and he wished me a pleasant voyage to my home and a safe return to my regiment.

According to the Globe article, “Mr. Berthrong met the President at a reception at the White House just after the war, and stepping up to him asked the President if he remembered him, and then told Mr. Lincoln that he was the young man who made the sketch of the White House and told him the time. Mr. Lincoln remembered the affair very well, he said, and they had another short chat…”

“Made Sketch For Him – H. W. Berthrong, Arlington.”, Boston Globe, 12 February 1909, Page 13.

Bertrong painted a large painting of Lincoln which stayed in the family, despite large offers from Lincoln’s son.  He also would paint Grant’s portrait in the days just before Grant passed away, something Grant’s children claimed was the best painting of the general and president ever done.

Returning from the war meant getting a job – and he took a job as a clerk in the War Department.  And, he got married – the first time was to Anne Thompson, who was perhaps 14 years old when they first discussed getting married (a marriage license record exists from December, 1864), and 15 years old when a marriage license was granted in October, 1865.  They would have one child, a daughter named May, but as Berthrong’s career in civil service changed, Anne would stay in DC while Berthrong moved on.

Wait – we forgot something!!!  I write biographies about baseball players…

Berthrong was a speedy and graceful athlete.  He was a member of a Potomac River rowing team that won a national championship.  And, he took up baseball, which he may have learned while in the army.  Almost immediately upon settling in Washington, Berthrong became a catcher and outfielder with the two best clubs in the capital city.  He’d spend time with the Nationals and the Olympics.  He was likely the fastest professional baseball player of the post-Civil War years.

“Berthrong was a wonderful outfielder in his day, and I once saw him when both the right and left fielders had been disabled by injury cover all three fields and never miss a fly, moving from side to side, according to his judgement of the batter, and sizing things up right every time.”

“They Die Hard.”, Buffalo Enquirer, 17 August 1896, Page 8.

Lots of players claim to be fast – Berthrong could prove it, and did so in a letter to Tim Murnane of the Boston Globe.

“I have received so many inquiries by mail and individually as to my exact time in running the bases that I take the liberty of writing you the facts.

“The time was made in Washington, July 9, 1868, and was taken by five stop watches, where several men contested. From home plate to home plate in 14-1/4 seconds.

“One incident of this trial has never been spoken of. John Morrissey, the great sporting man of that time, wagered a wine supper with a friend that I could not run the bases inside of 15 seconds, and he was one of the parties who held the watch.

“He paid the debt, and 12 of us sat down to supper one week afterward. I ran 100 yards on the white lot at Washington without special training in 10 seconds flat. John Morrissey then offered to back me to run any man in the world 100 yards for $10,000. I ran 26 races at that distance and was never defeated.”

“That Curved Ball.”, Boston Globe, 21 April 1895, Page 29.

When the Washington Nationals joined the National Association in 1871, Berthrong was an outfielder and backup catcher to Doug Allison.  That was his only season as a major leaguer, though.  His job was sending him west.  Henry went to Carson City, Nevada where he would help the government set up a new branch of the United States Mint.  While there, he and a few friends started one of, if not the first, baseball club in Nevada –  the Silver Stars.

Berthrong moved to Boston after returning from Carson City – and he soon married a well connected lady a bit closer to his own age named Hannah Boutwell, the niece of Secretary of the Treasury George S. Boutwell – who was also a former governor of Massachusetts.  By this time, Berthrong was the appraiser of merchandise at the Boston Customhouse.  He would do that into the mid 1880s, but something else was calling him.

As you can imagine, it was his painting skills.  As a portrait artist, he was in demand.  So, in 1883, he decided to open a studio – and his wife, Hannah, took over his job in the Customhouse.  Berthrong would become nationally famous for his portraits of presidential candidates of both parties.  In fact, Berthrong claimed to be the only man in America who worked both sides of the aisle.  One order came from Mark Hanna, who asked for 600 portraits of William McKinley – each one being about eight feet by six feet in size.  Check out this painting he did of Benjamin Harrison.

Berthrong at Work

In time, as Henry and Hannah created more children (they’d have five, but one died as a toddler), they needed more dependable income.  Henry returned to the Custom House.  He took a brief break from Boston when he was dispatched to Cuba to set up a U.S. Customhouse there.  Then he returned – and while he worked at the Customhouse, Hannah became a translator and linguist.

For a while, the Boston Customhouse was the tallest building in Boston.  On the 25th floor, more than 300 feet into the air, there was an observation balcony where people could look out over the Hub.   In 1915, John M. Durick committed suicide by jumping from the observation balcony, falling nearly 400 feet to his death.

“To none was the shock greater than to Henry W. Berthrong, a Customhouse employee, who stood on the edge of the steps leading to State St. and was within two or three feet of the man’s body when it struck beside him on the pavement. The fright with which the event struck into Berthrong’s heart and the sight of the suicide’s body almost caused him to collapse in his tracks. Had Berthrong been struck by Durick’s body, he would undoubtedly have been killed, it is thought…”

“…Henry W. Berthrong, an aged clerk, 30 years ago a famous ball player and artist, who had come to the door to get the air for a moment, jumped as if a bomb had been set off beside him. The shock attending the sudden drop of the man, apparently from nowhere, was severe, and for some minutes afterward Mr. Berthrong found it almost impossible to recover his composure and speak about the accident.

“When he was able to talk of it, he declared that the man had fallen less than three feet from him, so near, indeed, that the body almost grazed him in passing. For a moment he was dazed with surprise until he realized the meaning of the sight before him, when he was very nearly overcome with emotion.”

“Man Leaps From 25th Story of Customhouse”, Boston Globe, 10 September 1915, Page 1.

Berthrong continued at the Customhouse until he turned 80 years old, retiring in 1924 after more than 50 years in the military or civil service.  And, Hannah and Henry would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in style.  On the side, he would participate in Grand Army of the Republic benefits, performing the violin in an orchestra (see photo below – Berthrong is in front at the far right) and occasionally performing dance routines.  He was a life long Mason, and an honorary member of the Elks.

Berthrong in Orchestra

In 1927, Hannah passed on, and Berthrong would soon follow.  When he fell ill for the last time, he was moved from his home to a veteran’s home in Chelsea, MA.  Newspapers reported that the oldest living major league ballplayer was near death.  Al Reach had previously held that spot, but had died in January.  Three months later, Berthrong would pass to the next league on 24 April 1928.

SOURCES:

www.baseball-reference.com
1865 New York Census
1850, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Census
Rochester City Directory, 1851
District of Columbia Marriage Records
Massachusetts Marriage Records
US Civil War Soldier Records
www.findagrave.com – Henry Berthrong
www.findagrave.com – Linus Percival Berthrong
www.findagrave.com – Abisha Washburn
www.findagrave.com – John Washborne

Library of Congress Image – Berthrong and Benjamin Harrison

“Brevities.”, Reno Weekly Gazette and Stockman, 20 June 1895, Page 1.

Chadwick, Henry. Letter to the New York Star, reprinted by the Washington Evening Star, “The Old Nationals”, Washington Evening Star, 24 October 1895, Page 10.

“They Die Hard.”, Buffalo Enquirer, 17 August 1896, Page 8.

“Grand Army Minstrels.”, Boston Globe, 07 January 1897, Page 12.

“Diamond Dust.”, Wilmington Sun, 18 November 1898, Page 3.

M. “Off On A Tangent.”, Carson Daily Appeal, 10 June 1876, Page 2.

“That Curved Ball.”, Boston Globe, 21 April 1895, Page 29.

National Republican, 03 November 1882, Page 4.

“Made Sketch For Him – H. W. Berthrong, Arlington.”, Boston Globe, 12 February 1909, Page 13.

“Man Leaps From 25th Story of Customhouse”, Boston Globe, 10 September 1915, Page 1.

“Funeral Friday of Henry W. Berthrong”, Boston Globe, 25 April 1928, Page 32. (Also picture)

Image of Arlington Orchestra, Boston Globe, 26 April 1904, Page 3.

“Two Retire From Customs Service”, Boston Globe, 21 August 1924, Page 7.

“Rochester Boy Made Portraits of Famed Men”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 20 June 1922, Page 23.

“Ends 50 Years’ Work With Government”, Brattleboro Reformer, 21 August 1924, Page 1.

“Baseball Star of ’65 Sinking”, New York Daily News, 15 April 1928, Page 10.