More Articles About Walt “Moose” Moryn

Since it was his birthday yesterday I dug around looking for other old articles about Moose Moryn and stumbled on his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, as well as a story about Dale Long and the Moose taking on three goobers on their way back to a hotel in Cincinnati.  Enjoy!

Walter J. “Moose” Moryn, Chicago Tribune, 23 July 1996, Section 2, Page 9.

Walter J. “Moose” Moryn, 70, of Carol Stream, who was a Chicago Cubs outfielder from 1956 to 1960 and a member of the National League All-Star team in 1958, died Sunday in Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. While playing left field for the Cubs on April 16, 1960, Mr. Moryn ruined the no-hit bid of San Francisco Giants pitcher Sam Jones by hitting a home run, and on May 15 of that year, he saved a no-hitter for Cubs pitcher Don Cardwell with a final-out shoestring catch. During World War II, Mr. Moryn served on an ammunition ship and was playing in an industrial league when he was recruited in 1948 by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was traded to the Cubs in 1956. Mr. Moryn had major league career batting average of .266 and hit 101 home runs. After his career with the Cubs, he also played for the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. He subsequently managed a tavern in Cicero and worked as a sporting goods manager for a department store. Survivors include his wife, Carolyn; two daughters, Michelle and Kelly; a sister; and a granddaughter…

“Rowdy-Dow! Cubs Can Really Hit”, Chicago Tribune, 01 May 1959, Section 6, Page 1.

Cincinnati, April 30 — Three young hoodlums learned early Thursday morning that the Chicago Cubs can hit.

Dale Long and Walt Moryn put to rout the attackers, who leaped from an automobile from a restaurant after Wednesday night’s game. The box score:

Long scored a one-punch knockout with a right hand and tossed his victim back into the car.

Moryn wrestled one into submission.

The third fled.

The incident was not disclosed until the Cubs came to Crosley Park for Thursday night’s game.

“The car passed us, then backed up with a roar,” Long recounted. “The three fellows jumped out and one of them hit the Moose. I took on the next one.”

“The guy hit me on the neck with a sneak punch,” said Moose. Moryn had his assaillant by the throat, according to Long.

Cab drivers in front of the hotel told Cincinnati police the trio had been racing around the downtown section, cursing people, running lights and looking for trouble.

“I didn’t want to make a big case of it,” said Long. “Police accepted the cab driver’s story of the incident and never even asked our names.”


Happy Birthday, Walt (Moose) Moryn!

Moose Moryn Baseball Card 1959.pngShort on time this morning, I thought I’d just post this article I found that details the baseball life of Moose Moryn since today is his birthday.  (Article below.)

My personal memory of Moose, who played before I was born, is this grainy footage of Moose making a game-ending catch of a sinking liner while Jack Brickhouse implores Moose to make the catch.  It saves a no-hitter thrown by Don Cardwell, who just joined the Cubs in a trade – it was Cardwell’s first start with the Cubs.  WGN would occasionally drop the clip in during a Cubs broadcast from time to time.

Here’s the video clip.


Pirates Fourth Employers of Slugger Moose Moryn

Outfielder Walter Joseph (Moose) Moryn was born April 12, 1926 at St. Paul, Minn.

A right-throwing, left-batting, 6-foot-2 1/2, 210-pounder, Moryn has blond hair and blue eyes. Of Polish ancestry he married Ruth Resnick May 18, 1959. He attended Winona Teachers College for a year and a half prior to going into organized ball — Pittsburgh is his fourth major stop.

Moose MorynHe broke into the majors in 1954 with Brooklyn and played parts of the ’54 and ’55 seasons with them before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. Walt was a fixture in the Cubs’ outfield till mid-way in the 1960 season when he was again traded to St. Louis, and it was from the Cards that the Bucs obtained him on waivers.

Following his graduation from Harding High School in St. Paul, Walt entered military service in World War II, and served three years in the U.S. Navy, stationed in the South Pacific. After his service discharge, he attended Winona Teachers College, but gave up college to enter pro ball.

He signed with the Brooklyn organization in 1948 and in his first year hit .338 in 124 games for Sheboygan in the Wisconsin State League. He played on Dodger farm clubs at Danville, Mobile, Montrea and his home town of St. Paul before making the majors for the first time in 1954. He didn’t play regularly until being traded to the Cubs in the Winter of 1955, in a multi-player deal. Moryn, along with pitcher Russ Meyer and third baseman Don Hoak (now one of his teammates again, were traded by the Dodgers to the Cubs for pitcher Don Elston, third baseman Randy Jackson and cash.

Walt, who bats to the chant of “Moose, Moose,” all over the league, lives with his wife and year-old daughter, Michelle, in Chicago in the off-season where he is a steel salesman. Probably the happiest Pirate to see Walt join the club was Bob Friend. The Moose regularly wrecked Friend during his career regardless of what club he was with. Walt carried a lifetime major league batting average of .270 into the 1961 season.

—  Warren County Observer, 13 July 1961, Page 23

(The black and white photo of Moose was included with the article.)

I checked out’s list of pitchers that faced Moose.  He hit .325 against Bob Friend (25 for 77) with just one homer but eight other extra-base hits.  He clocked Bob Miller for ten hits in fifteen at bats, including three homers – probably the one guy who couldn’t really get Moose out.  But of the regular starters he saw the most, the one guy he really liked hitting was Robin Roberts.  Moose’s line was 25 hits in 69 ABs, 6 homers (and five other XBHs) to make for a .362/.408/.710 line.  Ouch!


Happy Birthday, Jake Volz!

Jake Volz - Manchester 1902 ishAs a pitcher, Jake Volz was known to be wild and would lose control when under any amount of stress. In his personal life, he lost control of his emotions, and it cost him a year of his life as well as his first wife.

Born on 4 April 1878, Jacob Phillip Volz entered this world in San Antonio, TX. The son of Michael and Margaretha (Heimers) Volz, both Prussian immigrants who arrived in the United States around 1868. Jake was the the seventh of eight children – the first two were born in Prussia and came to the United States with the parents. The rest started arriving every two or three years between 1869 and 1880. Michael was a painter, while Margaretha had plenty to do raising eight kids.

In time, Jacob turned to baseball – a sport that certainly was gaining traction in the late 1880s and early 1890s. When the Texas Leagues were still in flux, Jake Volz was signed to pitch for the San Antonio Missionaries (1898) and the San Antonio Bronchos (1899) and play other positions as needed. He and another professional ball player, Lou Barbour, played together as kids and would make it all the way to the highest professional leagues.

“A young local pitcher named Jake Volz was pitted against the Houston Buffaloes today and downed them hard.”

“The Buffaloes Beaten”, Houston Daily Post, 16 April 1898, Page 6.

Much of Volz’s greatest success came playing in the northeast, where he would spend seasons in Manchester, Holyoke, Bridgeport, and Hartford. He won frequently in Manchester in 1901, earning a tryout with Boston in the American League at the tail end of the season. In his first major league start, Volz was swatted around easily and often – he gave up seven hits and nine walks. Two of those hits were long homers, including one by Davy Jones that was tabbed as the longest homer at the rounds. However, while Volz allowed nine runs, Boston scored ten runs off Willie Reidy and got the win in a shortened seven inning game. (It was the second game of a double header.)

It wasn’t enough to stick – Volz returned to Manchester for 1902 and was even more successful than he had been in 1901 and eventually moved up to the American Association for the 1903 season. There, Volz got off to a decent start, earning the nickname “The Texas Terror” from a St. Paul Globe writer, but after about eight weeks started on a losing streak that didn’t let up. After first being pitched to Winnipeg, Volz eventually was traded to Indianapolis.

“Volz was not released because he was unable to win his games, as he won seven out of the first eight games he pitched, but there was a slight difference between him and some of the other St. Paul players and he was released.” – Bill Watkins, Indianapolis Manager

Indianapolis Journal, 28 July 1903, Page 6.

Volz was retained by Indianapolis and went to training camp in 1904, but he wasn’t going to stay. He had little control of his spitter or his fast ball, and was released.

“Volz has shown during the exhibition games that he has very little control of the ball, a fault that he has had for several seasons. He is also troubled with lack of nerve and is very wild when he gets himself in a hole.”

“Volz to be Released And Fisher Retained”, Indianapolis Journal, 19 April 1904, Page 8.

Once again, Volz was back in Manchester, working for Phenomenal Smith and a teammate of Moonlight Graham. He had a third great season and was drafted by the Boston Nationals at the end of the 1904 season, but his season ended on a rather odd note. He was signed by Fitchburg to pitch in a playoff series against Leominster. In his start, Volz was knocked around easily by the semi-pro hitters. However, after the game he told other players that he didn’t get what he understood would be given to him, and his talk with the club’s treasurer about the matter before the game was probably the reason why Leominster put the ball out of the lot so often.

Essentially, people believed that Volz threw the game for not getting paid.

Still, Boston kept him for the 1905 season and he made the team out of training camp. However, he said he came down with a case of rheumatism at the end of training camp and it affected him as soon as he got north with the club. Making just three appearances (two starts), he left Boston with an ERA of over 10 after giving up 12 hits and eight walks in 8.2 innings of work. By the summer, he was back in Manchester, and eventually he agreed to pitch in Iowa at the end of 1905.

“I received a visit this week from Jake Volz, a San Antonio boy who has been playing with the Sioux City team in the Western League. Volz is a comer and would undoubtedly have stuck in the major league if it had not been for a severe attack of rheumatism which put him to the bad just as he received a call from Boston. He was put into the game the day after he arrived in Beantown and strained his arm. The Sioux City team has reserved him for next year, and he will be heard from again.”

San Antonio Gazette, 14 October 1905, Page 14.

It didn’t work out in Sioux City, either. Volz filed a claim for $80 he said Sioux City management owed him.  That case was resolved in favor of the team, so Volz went back to pitching in the northeast.

In 1906, Volz was back in New England. He pitched for Holyoke in the Connecticut State League that season, and followed that with three other teams in the same league for 1907. In one game, the papers recounted that Volz got hits from both sides of the plate in the same game. What is strange about all of his time spent in New England was that he hated it and felt that pitching in the north was bad for his arm, which contributed to his failures, especially at the big league level.

“I didn’t lose any time getting out of that country when the season was over,” said Jake Volz, upon his return to his native health after having put in the season up in the Connecticut League. “A man from Texas to play in the north has a hard time of it keeping in condition. Here we are playing baseball down in Texas while they are eating snowballs in the north and when the season opens there we are in good condition and are fast while the men up there are just thawing out. The result is that we go to the bad by the time the players there get into condition, and it takes us about a month to get right again. This has been the cause of my troubles in the north.”

“A Bright Texas Star.”, San Antonio Gazette, 28 September 1907, Page 16.

In 1908, it looked like Volz was going to play in Topeka, KS, but he asked for too much money up front and would eventually sign to pitch in the south, getting a slot with Columbia in the South Atlantic League. Volz had one last decent year in the minors (though, with a 9 – 19 record, it couldn’t have been that good a season) and was signed to pitch by a desperate Cincinnati Reds club in the late summer. Used as a swing man, making four starts and relieving in three others, Volz had his longest run in the National League, finishing with a 1 – 2 record with a 3.57 ERA. However, he was still wild – 12 walks in his 22.2 innings of work.  A Reds writer called him “Silent Jake” because he didn’t really talk much to others.  He didn’t stick with the Reds in 1909 and signed with Norfolk in the Virginia League.

At about this time, he married Annie Cloud Zuercher, a divorcee with a small child. He would pitch in San Antonio for 1910, though with less and less success. Released, he signed with Waco to finish the season.

“Jake Volz, a pitcher released by San Antonio, has connected with Waco. Just another derelict added to that aggregation.”

Shelton, Horace H. “Texas League Gossip”, El Paso Herald, 03 June 1910, Page 5.

For 1911, he would be pitching for Victoria in the West Texas League. His time there wouldn’t last long either. He came home on a break to find his wife with another man. Angry, he found a gun and returned home. When Annie and her son, Henry, got to the front yard there was a short confrontation and then the gun was fired.

A charge of murder was filed this morning against Jake Volz, who last night shot and killed his wife after finding her in the company of another man. Volz is a base ball player of national reputation.

“Charge of Murder Against Jake Volz”, Waxahachie Daily Light, 20 May 1911, Page 1.

Jake Volz shot and killed Annie Volz while she was holding the five-year-old Henry’s hand.

Volz was taken to jail. Henry was given to Annie’s parents, though his father William successfully sued to eventually get custody of his son.

“The after-effects on the shock of Jacob P. Volz, charged with killing his wife, is said by jailers to be having a serious effect on the prisoner. They say that he weeps and sobs until late in the night and has hardly slept since he has been confined. He has refused to take nourishment in any quantities since he was placed in jail. His cell is being carefully watched. The grand jury, which meets Monday, will investigate the case. No attempt has been made by Volz to have bail fixed.”

“After-Effects on Volz”, Galveston Daily News, 24 May 1911, Page 7.

“Jacob Volz, the ball pitcher, who is in the County Jail charged with the murder of his wife, May 19, filed application yesterday for a writ of habeas corpus to be released on bail.  The hearing is set for Saturday in the Thirty-seventh district court. Volz has been in jail ever since the killing.”

“Pitcher Volz Asks for Bail.”, Austin American-Statesman, 14 June 1911, Page 9.

By fall, after nearly three months in jail, Volz was released on $5,000 bond and his lawyers announced how they planned to plea.

Case of Jake Volz, Charged With Murder, Set for Oct. 9.

“San Antonio, Tex., Sept. 24 – A plea of insanity will be advanced in the case of Jake Volz, baseball player, charged with the murder of his wife, May 19 last, which is set for trial Oct. 9. Volz’s counsel, Carlos Bee, in preparing the defense, has arranged a series of interrogations which will be propounded to Christian Volz, uncle of the defendant, who resides in Germany, as to whether or not insanity had existed in his family.

“Jake Volz shot his wife when he found her in company with another man on the night he returned from Victoria, where he had been playing ball. Volz has been in jail ever since the killing.”

“Insanity Will Be The Plea”, Austin American-Statesman, 25 September 1911, Page 6.

After delays, a jury was finally selected in January, 1912 and the case was tried in March.  After just one day of deliberations, the jury returned with a verdict: not guilty by reason of insanity.

Free to resume his life, Volz took a job as an engineer for a candy company where he stayed more than forty years. In his final days, he was employed as a fireman there. He would marry a second time, Elsie Boehm took his hand in marriage, and they would have a son, Jacob Phillip Volz, Jr., in 1917. However, a second tragedy occurred – the younger Jake had a heart condition and would die in 1932.

In 1957, Volz would have both of his legs amputated and he spent the next two years confined to his bed. However, an old friend, Lou Barbour returned to San Antonio and learned of Volz’s condition. Barbour was active in the baseball player’s association and he was able to quickly arrange for a wheelchair to be provided to the family. Additionally, he reached out to Win Clark, who was running the association. Clark knew Volz well – they were teammates and, in later years, Clark managed Volz before Volz returned to San Antonio. And, like Volz, Clark was a double amputee. Clark was able to arrange a small pension for Volz, which supplemented his social security payments.

Volz passed away in his native San Antonio on 11 August 1962 of a stroke (the death certificate reads “cerebro vascular accident”). Elsie survived that by another 23 years, passing away in 1985.

“Jake Volz, one of the first San Antonio baseball players to make it to the major leagues, died Saturday night at his home here at 934 W. Kings Highway. He was 84.

“Volz was a sensation in the minors before the turn of the century and he enjoyed good seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati, and Boston Braves.

“Funeral Arrangements are being handled by the Zizik-Kearns-Downing Funeral Home.”

“Jake Volz Dies at 84”, San Antonio Express and News, 12 August 1962, Page 39.


Find A Grave

US Census (1880, 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940)

TX Death Records

WWII Registration

“The Buffaloes Beaten”, Houston Daily Post, 16 April 1898, Page 6.

“News and Comment.”, Sporting Life, 14 January 1899, Page 5.

“Outlaw’s Race Is At An End”, Pittsburgh Press, 29 September 1901, Page 20.

“On The Diamond.”, Portsmouth Herald, 18 July 1902, Page 4.

“Questions Answered.”, Sporting Life, 11 April 1903, Page 14.

“Volz and Marcan Are Released”, St. Paul Globe, 05 May 1903, Page 5.

Mac, Billy. “Saints Continue Batting Streak and Take First Place, St. Paul Globe, 24 July 1903, Page 5.

Indianapolis Journal, 28 July 1903, Page 6.

“Volz to be Released And Fisher Retained”, Indianapolis Journal, 19 April 1904, Page 8.

“Hoosier Castoff Is Drafted by National”, Indianapolis Star, 14 September 1904, Page 7.

“Baseball Notes.”, Fitchburg Sentinel, 27 September 1904, Page 2.

San Antonio Gazette, 14 October 1905, Page 14.

“No Change in the Foul Strike Rule”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 February 1906, Page

Burlington Free Press, 31 August 1906, Page 3

“San Antonio Boys Shine on the Diamond”, San Antonio Gazette, 01 September 1906, Page 3.

“A Bright Texas Star.”, San Antonio Gazette, 28 September 1907, Page 16.

“Manager Stabbed by Indian Player”, Washington Times, 20 July 1908, Page 1.

“Brief Baseball Bits”, Pittsburgh Press, 14 August 1908, Page 16.

“Few Clubs Will Be Weakened By the Freak Curve Being Ruled From Game”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 30 August 1908, Page 23.

“South Atlantic News.”, Sporting Life, 14 November 1908, Page 2.

“Has Twenty Men”, Wichita Beacon, 06 January 1909, Page 7.

“Breezy Baseball Gossip”, Topeka State Journal, 29 March 1909, Page 2.

“Shreveport, 8; San Antonio, 5”, Austin American-Statesman, 19 April 1910, Page 3.

Shelton, Horace H. “Texas League Gossip”, El Paso Herald, 03 June 1910, Page 5.

“Charge of Murder Against Jake Volz”, Waxahachie Daily Light, 20 May 1911, Page 1.

“Baseball Player Slays Wife”, Weekly Caucasian (Shreveport), 25 May 1911, Page 8.

“After-Effects on volz”, Galveston Daily News, 24 May 1911, Page 7.

“Father Is Awarded the Custody of his Child”, El Paso Herald, 08 June 1911, Page 5.

“Pitcher Volz Asks for Bail.”, Austin American-Statesman, 14 June 1911, Page 9.

“Affirms 16 Convictions”, Austin American-Statesman, 10 October 1911, Page 4.

“Insanity Will Be The Plea”, Austin American-Statesman, 25 September 1911, Page 6.

“Volz Trial Today”, Galveston Daily News, 09 October 1911, Page 4.

“Case of Jake P. Volz”, Galveston Daily News, 30 January 1912, Page 4.

“Jake P. Volz Found Not Guilty”, Galveston Daily News, 31 March 1912, Page 16.

Bryant, Don. “Point Blank”, Lincoln Star, 27 June 1958, Page 17.

“Jake Volz Dies at 84”, San Antonio Express and News, 12 August 1962, Page 39.



Happy Birthday, Hot Rod Kanehl!

“I always felt he was the spirit of the Mets and that they would try to keep him around, because he made the other players feel that spirit.” – Ken MacKenzie

“He played the game with such delight, and there was always that smile on his face, the same smile you see in the stands at Shea Stadium, and you felt there had to be a place in baseball for the Rod Kanehls, who come along all too seldom.” – Dick Young

* * * * *

Rod Kanehl - Nashville 1961Roderick Edwin “Hot Rod” Kanehl was born on April Fools’ Day 1934 in Wichita but grew up in Springfield, MO. He graduated from Springfield High School and went to Drury University in Springfield, too. The Yankees got wind of his superior defensive skills at seven different positions, signed him as an amateur free agent, and sent him to McAlester, OK for the 1954 season. He hit well enough, .313, in rookie ball, so he was allowed to move up the chain.

What caught notice, however, was his ripped pants. On the first day of spring training, a ball was hit over the fence at Miller Huggins field. Kanehl, playing center, jumped the fence to go get it. “I was way out in centerfield and the ball went under the fence. I hurredly climbed over it to get the ball before some kids got to it.” That’s when Stengel noticed nim. “Mr. Stengel was way off in the corner of the dugout talking to some writers. I don’t see how he could have seen me, but he did. In getting back, I tore my pants. So, I have to saddle back to the clubhouse.”

In 1955, it was Monroe in C Level ball where he was teammates with Mickey Mantle’s twin brothers Roy and Ray. Midway through the 1956 season, he was in B level Winston-Salem. He opened 1957 playing B level ball in Peoria and played in Hattiesburg. Moved to Dallas, he hit .295 and led the Texas League in stolen bases with 28 in 1958. That gave him a ticket to spring training with the Yankees in 1959. He didn’t make it – and after a season hitting .230 with Houston and Richmond at the AAA level, he became a bit of a minor league nomad, but never gave up. As he told one writer, “Somebody’s going to stumble on to me someday.”

He spent time at Nashville, Dallas-Fort Worth and Amarillo in 1960 before he was drafted out of the minors by the New York Mets organization. The Mets wouldn’t be ready for play until 1962, so Kanehl spent 1961 in Nashville doing everything for that team. In one game with Nashville Ed Stogoski, the second string catcher, was warming up a pitcher when he was called on to pinch hit. So, Kanehl “vaulted off the bench, rushed down the leftfield line, and took over Stogoski’s job of warming up a relief pitcher.”

Rod explained his hustle this way. “It’s a job to me. If I didn’t get paid enough I would not play baseball. Since I do get paid, I want to do the best job I can. Don’t you like to do the best you can in your work?”

Kanehl’s minor league run lasted a long time – but he got the chance to play in the majors because of expansion. First, the American League added the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels. The next year, in 1962, the National League added the Houston Astros and the New York Mets.

He finished the 1961 season in Nashville with a .304 average and 72 RBI, but it wasn’t enough to earn a ticket to spring training with the Mets in 1962. However his energy did. His hustle got Casey Stengel’s attention back in 1954. In fact, at every spring training, Casey would remind writers (and Kanehl) about how Rod tore his pants going over a fence on the first day in camp. Now, the Mets were being run by Stengel. Stengel was happy to have his “scavenger” on the Mets – and Casey made a “noisy, public fight to keep him” even though “the verdict was that Kanehl, despite his versatility and hustle, couldn’t hit major league pitching.”

Stengel won. Within two months, the guy that “…looks awkward at the plate [was] leading all the Mets in batting with 14 hits in 37 times at bat for a .378 average. He looks crude in the field, but so far he’s filled in at first, second, third, short, left, and right field.”

Most of the time, Kanehl played second base even though the thought he was more naturally suited for centerfield. “When I was at Dallas in 1958,” Kanehl remembered, “my manager was Davey Williams who used to play second for the Giants. He worked with me at second base for a while, but the owner of the club didn’t like me playing the infield.” The position stuck, though. He said his arm was strong enough to play the left side of the infield because “…when I was younger I had a really strong arm, and I’d throw the ball into the grandstand a lot.” He didn’t have that problem at second base. And he wasn’t afraid to deal with the pivot on double plays.

Kanehl kept his job on the Mets through the 1963 and 1964 seasons, though his batting average fell a few points each year (in truth, he was a light hitting singles hitter with some speed and really good game awareness). His hustle and versatility kept him on the team through some lean seasons.

Kanehl is the answer to a handful of Mets trivia questions. For example, who was the first Met to hit a grand slam? Kanehl hit his against the Cards (and Bobby Shantz) in the old Polo Grounds on 6 July 1962. He also served as Marv Throneberry’s roommate, and was the last guy to get a pinch hit at the Polo Grounds.

Kanehl held out in 1964 and was able to work out a raise to $12,000. In 1965, though, Kanehl wasn’t happy with his contract. He was not just getting a cut in pay (from $12,000 per year to $8,500) but he wasn’t even invited to spring training. He was going to be sent down to AAA Buffalo prior to spring training and work out there.

So, he quit the game he loved so much and took up concrete and construction as a full time career in Springfield, MO. He had a family to care for and he had his pride. “I figure I rated at least an invitation to the Mets’ camp, and then if they wanted to ship me out to Buffalo, at least they’d have done it big league. When they didn’t ask me to camp, I realized I was in the wrong business.”

In addition to his concrete business, Kanehl worked as a safety engineer. For a few years, he played on a ridiculously talented semi-pro team called the Wichita Dreamliners, who won the National Baseball Congress tournament in 1965.

He married Shirley Toler and they had four kids, Phillip, Dave, Leslie, and Thomas. Leslie was named for Leslie Turner, who provided a home for the Kanehl family and became a close friend of the family when he played in Hattiesburg, MS in 1957. Rod and Shirley divorced after twenty years, and he remarried two other times.

Kanehl died 14 December 2004 following a heart attack he suffered days prior. He was living in Palm Springs, California at the time, retired but occasionally working as a caddie.

* * * * *

The Mets opened the 1965 season without Kanehl, and the fans noticed. A banner hung from the second deck in left field that said: “The Mets Look Odd Without Hot Rod.”



Baseball Reference – Rod Kanehl

SABR Bio (David E. Skelton) – It’s a well written piece.

(Newspaper Articles)

Young, Dick. “Young Ideas”, New York Daily News, 16 April 1965, Page 53.

Williams, F. M. “The Sports Showcase: Baseball Needs More Gardners and Kanehls”, Nashville Tennessean, 22 August 1961, Page 14.

“Rod Kanehl”, Indiana Gazette, 30 December 2004, Page 4.

Napier, Regiel. “Napier’s Sports Nosings”, Hattiesburg American, 30 August 1966, Page 9.

Mahnken, Don. “Talkin’ Sports”, Springfield Daily News, 3 November 1960, Page 21.

Reichler, Joe. “Ex-Vol Rod Kanehl Latest Stengel Pet”, Nashville Tennessean, 05 June 1962.

“Mets Turn Mean Image to Cards”, Terre Haute Star, 07 July 1962, Page 8.

Ellison, Jack. “Sports Downbeat”, Tampa Bay Times, 24 February 1958, Pages 1C and 3C.

“Hustle Gains Kanehl Role”, Baltimore Sun, 31 August 1962, Page 19.


The Union Association – Is it a Major League?

The last couple of research articles I have done (or attempted, anyway) wound up including a number of players who played in the Union Association.  Guys like Tom Evers, who got a one game shot with Baltimore in 1882 and wound up playing a full season with the Washington Nationals in the UA and never saw action in the majors again.  Another example is Ed Cushman, who pitched for the Creamers when Milwaukee was somehow added (invited?) to the Union Association in its dying days.

The Union Association lasted but one year, 1884, but if you look around you can see pieces of it in 1883 and 1885.

The first time I remember seeing anyone challenge whether or not the Union Association should be considered a major league was in the revised version of the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (2001) where James breaks down the Union Association by comparing the level of talent in that league compared with other more recent minor leagues of the next century – the 1884 Union Association vs. the 1960 International League, or the 1926 Pacific Coast League.  Then, he proceeds to compare the 1884 Union Association against eight general standards that one could apply to major leagues in general.

After re-reading this for probably the fifth time, I decided to see if I could write the counter argument as to why the Union Association was considered a major league (James figures that it was an error in judgment some 100 years ago by the first baseball encyclopedia editor, Ernest Lanigan), and try to decide if it’s reasonable to see the Association as a major league after all.

  1. Stability.  James argues that because the Union Association had teams fold mid-season, and the Pacific League did not, therefore it’s not a major league.
  2. Competitiveness.  James would tell you a major league would have a good pennant race (St. Louis which had, by far, the most talent, outpaced the UA by a lot, beating Cincinnati by more than 20 games).
  3. Quality Players.  Good high level minor league teams in the 1900s, especially by the 1920s, had a lot of major league talent.  The UA, by contrast, did not.
  4. Size of cities.  The PCL had bigger cities than a few of those in the UA.
  5. Ballparks.  James assumes correctly that the PCL had better ballparks in the 1920s that the teams of the 1880s.
  6. Attendance.  Crowds of the 1920s in the PCL were larger than those in the UA in 1884.
  7. Media Coverage.  The PCL in the 1920s had a ton of local newspaper coverage.
  8. A Structure to Attract Talent.  Modern baseball had better scouting.

My first argument to counter all of this starts with the fact that the Union Association was formed in 1884.  The National League had only started eight years earlier out of the ashes of a flailing National Association.  The American Association started only a couple of years earlier and died less than a decade later (as a major league – it would reform as a high minor league and then argue for years it was practically another major league).   In 1890, the best players weren’t in the NL or the AA – they were in the Players League that lasted all of one season. The American League grew out of a successful minor league operation at the end of the 1890s in part because the National League was unstable and had serious management issues including one ownership group owning multiple teams, a third major league started and failed in the 1900s (without ever getting off the ground) and the Federal League came and went in three seasons by 1916.  What, exactly, was stable about professional baseball in the 1880s?

Let’s compare the 1884 Union Association against something a little closer to their era.  Instead of picking on the Pacific Coast League, which by 1926 had been around for more than 20 years expanding from the California League in 1903 and had the examples of (and less competition from) the 50 year old National League and 25 year old American League to go by, you could compare the 1884 UA against a new National League.  You might even be able to compare them against a one year old Federal League.

  1. Stability.  In 1876, the National League had eight teams in mostly “major league” cities because they had the advantage of starting with established organizations and people with some history of running baseball programs.  Even still, the second place team was the Hartford Blues.  That team was gone by 1878.  In fact, in 1877, the National League was no longer eight teams.  It was six.  And, it no longer included New York or Philadelphia.  A year after that, you had Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Providence as half of the league’s members.  Cities came in and out of the league for the better part of six full seasons.  If the UA was not considered stable, neither was the original National League.
  2. Competitive?  In 1876 the Philadelphia Athletics, a well organized team with a long history, finished 14 – 45 – 1.  And they finished seventh in the NL – Cincinnati was 9 – 56.  Because the National League had the remnants of the National Association, there was a better distribution of winning records at the top, but there were still vast differences in the level of play from top to bottom in the league.  Besides – everyone was beating Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
  3. Quality Players.  The UA had to start somewhere – so they scraped up all the guys who could play some but didn’t already have other jobs.  The fact that in 1884, with no organization at all, they could find a number of guys who could play in the other major leagues (before or after playing in the UA) is probably a good sign and not a bad one.  The 1920s Pacific Coast League was stacked with talent – but they had longer to produce and own that talent.  The UA got one shot.  However, the 1876 National League had a lot of bottom feeder players, too.  They had scores of players who would get a shot and not pan out.  The leagues were just getting started then.  Players came from everywhere.
  4. Size of Cities.  Most of the cities in the UA were major league cities at that time.  If you don’t believe me, let’s compare the cities of the UA in 1884 with, say, the National Association in 1874-75 or the National League from 1878 to 1884.  The UA had teams in St. Louis, Washington, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Paul – as well as Altoona, PA and Wilmington, DE.  The National Association had teams in Keokuk, New Haven, and Hartford for 1875.  Keokuk?  The National League, being unstable at the time, had teams in Hartford, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee in 1878, added Syracuse and Troy in 1879, swapped out a couple of others to add Buffalo and Worcester in 1880.  The National League wasn’t in major league cities within five years of starting.
  5. Ballparks.  By 1910 you started seeing permanent structures for baseball.  In the 1880s, that still wasn’t the case.  So, comparing the UA of 1884 with the PCL of 1926 isn’t close to a fair fight.  What was so much better about the ballpark in Milwaukee (NL) in 1878 since the same location was used for the UA in 1884.
  6. Attendance.  There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the top UA teams and the top NL teams in attendance.  Milwaukee drew better crowds as a Northwestern Association team in 1884 than many NL teams.
  7. Media Coverage.  It’s unfair to compare the coverage of the 1880s with that of the 1920s, but what is TRUE is that major league city newspapers included coverage of the Union Association games at the same level as other major league games (NL or American Association).
  8. Structure to Attract Talent.  The Union Association had the same structure to attract talent in 1884 as did any of the other leagues in 1884. None.

Ultimately, James is disparaging the Union Association because it doesn’t hold up with established minor leagues that had been running at least 25 years and had the general acceptance and support (and examples) of the major leagues that had remained in business.  The UA didn’t hold up because the strength of ownership and financial backing of that league was incorporated into the National League.  So, the UA was allowed to die.

The Federal League operated in some major league cities, and some really good minor league cities – like Buffalo, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Indianapolis.  And, except for Wrigley Field, nothing really stuck around from the Federal League after it folded.  The Union Association gave us the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.  So, if you want to include the National Association as a major league because it includes so many people and players that continued into the flailing and newborn National League, you have to do the same thing with the Union Association.  It was a precursor to two successful major league franchises.  Yes – there were a lot of players who didn’t have full National League (or American Association) careers – but you could make the same argument for any number of players who made it to the Federal League but didn’t have full major league careers outside of their time with the Feds.  Or some of those players who filled out rosters in 1890.

If Ernest Lanigan made an error by including the Union Association as a major league, I don’t see it.  I see someone who was looking at the history of the National League teams and saw a precursor to the two National League franchises in St. Louis and Cincinnati the same way that the National Association was a precursor to the National League franchises in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.   That is a totally fair and reasonable argument.

Perhaps James was lost on the word association of the word “association”.  Every “Association” that was once considered a major league is no longer a major league.  And that works against the Union Association.  Had it been called the Union League, would he have made the same argument?

Happy Birthday, Ed Cushman!

The Union Association only lasted but one season, the summer of 1884, and his team only played 13 games in that association, but in his first start for the Milwaukee Creamers against the Washington Nationals on 28 September, Ed Cushman threw a no-hitter.

Edgar Leander Cushman was born 27 March 1852 to Leander and Mary (Birdsill) Cushman while they lived in Eaglesville, Ohio.  He was the second of five kids that the shoemaker and housewife had in their Ohio and New York based family (they moved some).

“The record of yesterday’s game indicates that the new pitcher, Cushman, may prove an acquisition. Nine hits in thirteen innings – about a game and a half – is not a bad record for a new man’s first league game. Cushman is a base ball enthusiast, who has played with the Erie clubs for the past six or eight years, and has always been rated there a first rate general player, good both at the bat and in the field. He is a big fellow, and a man of good character, correct habits, and quiet manners. He has been a freight conductor on the Lake Shore road for several years.”

“Diamond Notes”, Buffalo Morning Express, 07 July 1883, Page 4.

“…(T)he Bisons produced a left-hander also, one Cushman, a gentleman of the “grasshopper Jim” style of architecture. He is a puzzler. He sends in a rather indolent ball, by a not at all tortuous route, that looks as if it could be flattened by a tyro. But it cannot. The Detroit batters utterly failed to find it, even when they struck at it, but, in general, they let it go by unheeded, and looked surprised when the umpire called strikes…”

“Sporting Matters.”, Detroit Free Press, 07 July 1883, Page 1.

Cushman didn’t get a professional baseball gig until he was 31 years old – Buffalo in the National League gave him a shot and he got off to a good start but wasn’t really ready for major league baseball in 1883.  He finished the season with Toledo in the Northwest Association where he helped Toledo win that pennant, then took a job pitching for the Milwaukee Creamers in that same league for 1884.  The association included a number of teams from various towns throughout the Midwest, including Grand Rapids, Bay City, Quincy, Saginaw, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Fort Wayne, Muskegon, St. Paul, and Stillwater.

Milwaukee invested a good chunk of money in their team and new pitcher and while Cushman was winning nearly every start, he wasn’t pitching that frequently.  He’d often end up with a sore arm and would only pitch once a week.

“The directors feel that, under the circumstances, Cushman should have pitched in yesterday’s game, and after a consultation together, wired Manager McKee to place Cushman in the box and to strain every nerve to take the third game from the Bay Citys.”

(He didn’t, and a new pitcher, named Murphy, won the game anyway.)

“Still the directors think that Cushman should appear oftener, and when it is considered that, including traveling expenses and board, he has received an average of $150 for each game in which he has played, he appears to be too expensive a luxury to be long sustained. Cushman’s salary is $2,100 for the season, and his board paid while away from home, and the directors are unanimous in the opinion that he ought to play oftener than once a week. It is but fair to Cushman to state that he has expressed a willingness to pitch every game if he was able, and his rare appearances are due to his sore arm. It is probable, however, that he will appear oftener in the future.”

“Not Satisfied With Cushman”, St. Paul Globe, 24 May 1884, Page 4.

Cushman’s only loss was a 30 – 5 crushing on Decoration Day to a very good Grand Rapids team.  Cushman left that game trailing 5 – 4 due to a sore arm.  Not long after this game, he requested and received a two week leave of absence.  When he came back, his arm was up to the task and he rattled off a winning streak that didn’t end for the remainder of the season.

Unfortunately for the Creamers, many of the other teams in the league folded by the end of the summer and would not show up for advertised games.  The league reorganized to just a four-team league in August, only for Minneapolis to fold three weeks later.  It was at this point, the Creamers joined the Union Association where they would win eight of thirteen league games – Cushman was 4 – 0, allowing only ten hits in his 36 innings of work, striking out 47 batters.

Naturally, this made Cushman somewhat of a star prospect and he signed to pitch with the Philadelphia Athletics in the American Association.  As with Buffalo in 1883, Cushman opened up the year pitching great – he would beat the New York Metropolitans on opening day, allowing five hits and striking out ten.

“Cushman is every inch a pitcher, but outside the box his movements are very awkward. His style resembles that of Radbourn and he seems to have the ability to change his pace at will and to curve a ball in all possible ways.”

“Base Ball.”, Philadelphia Times, 07 April 1885, Page 3.

He wasn’t much of a hitter and, already an older guy, he wasn’t the fastest of runners.  However, after one good month in Philadelphia he had a couple of bad months and was released.  One of the challenges Cushman faced was that he threw with a higher arm slot than the American Association rules allowed.  If you threw the ball and it was released above the shoulder, the pitch would be called a balk.

“Philadelphia, June 16. – Manager Gifford, of the Metropolitan Club, has secured Cushman, formerly of the Athletics, as a change pitcher. Since Cushman was released by the Athletics, he has refused a number of tempting offers. He is a first-class player, and the new pitching rule will benefit his delivery to some extent. His poor success in this city was attributed to the restricted style of delivery. Cushman is a high-arm pitcher, and now that the pitching rules of the American Association have been changed it is thought by good critics that he will prove very effective.”

“A New Pitcher for the Mets”, New York Times, 17 June 1885 Page 2.

The New York Metropolitans signed Cushner in mid-summer 1885.  He finished well enough and the Metropolitans retained him for the 1886 season.  Unfortunately, New York wasn’t very good in 1886, finishing seventh in an eight-team league.  Cushman, though, wasn’t the source.  In his 38 starts, he went 17 – 21.  The rest of the team, though, went 36 – 61.  Cushman continued with New York for 1887, though he did make a couple of starts for Milwaukee at the end of that year.

“[Cushman] was received with a roar of applause when he stepped in the diamond, for Cush always was a favorite with Milwaukeeans.”

“Des Moines 9, Milwaukee 3.” The Des Moines Register, 19 June 1888, Page 8.

At this point, Cushman became a bit of a baseball nomad.  He’d pitch for Des Moines in the Western Association, Toledo for their International League and American Association entries (losing part of one year to a broken wrist – the awkward fielding pitcher was hit by a line drive), Rochester, Erie, Rock Island-Moline, and finally finishing in Erie making four appearances as a 41 year old pitcher in 1893.

“The Rock Island-Molines were most awfully scorched at Rockford Wednesday when the Forest City club dallied with them to the extent of 16 to 0. On receipt of the news, the management attired itself in sack cloth and ashes, and immediately wired the captain to release Pitchers Cushman and Fielders Dale and Hoffman.”

“In General”, Davenport Daily Times, 15 July 1892, Page 4.

Cushman had good moments and bad during this period.  He threw his second professional no-hitter while with Toledo in 1889, blanking Rochester.  This was when Toledo was in the International League.  When his career was over, his major league record stood at 62 – 81, having pitched in parts of six major league seasons – all of them in his 30s.

“Handsome Ed Cushman looks as big as ever.  He looks well and says he never felt better in his life. Marriage seems to have agreed with him.”

“Base Hits”, Sporting Life, 25 March 1893, Page 13.

Cushman married Emma Swalley sometime in 1885; their life together lasted thirty years but included no children.  He spent some time as a conductor for the New York Central railroad before settling in Erie permanently.  The Cushmans operated a billiard room and a restaurant in Erie until Cushman’s death on 26 September 1915.  He passed in his sleep at home of intestinal carcinoma.  Emma survived another twenty years before her death in 1936.

“After an illness of more than four months, Edgar L. Cushman, an uncle of H. F. Swalley, of this city, and once famous as a baseball pitcher, died at his home in Erie, Saturday night. Mr. Cushman, during the last year of his baseball career, pitched for the Erie aggregation in the old Eastern League. In that year, 1893, Erie won the pennant. Before this Mr. Cushman had made a name for himself in the baseball annals of the country. He was the mainstay of the Metropolitans of New York, then a member of the American Association; the New York Nationals, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Toledo, Milwaukee, and Rochester. He also pitched for the Des Moines club of the Western Association for some time. Since he left baseball, Mr. Cushman was engaged for a time as conductor on the New York Central railroad. Later he conducted a restaurant at Eighth and State streets, Erie. He was a member of the Elks, Masons, Shriners, Knights of Pythias and Royal Arcanum. He is survived by his widow, a daughter of the late Christian Swalley, Mr. and Mrs. Swalley left today for Erie to attend the funeral.”

The Kane Republican, 27 September 1915, Page 2.


Death Certificates
1855 NY Census
1860, 1870, 1900, 1910 US Censuses

Baseball Reference – Ed Cushman Page

Find A Grave

Nemec, David. Major League Baseball Profiles, Volume 1, Pages 41 – 42.

“The Ball Tossers.” Buffalo Evening Telegraph, 08 April 1884, Page 4.
“Notes”, St. Paul Globe, 09 June 1884, Page 6.
“Northwestern League Re-Organized”, St. Paul Globe, 15 August 1884, Page 4.
“Milwaukee to Disband.” St. Paul Globe, 05 September 1884, Page 4.
“Milwaukee Champions.”, Milwaukee Journal, 29 September 1884, Page 1.
“Oh, What A Roast!”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 19 June 1889, Page 7.
“Baseball Chatter”, Pittsburgh Post, 10 December 1893, Page 6.

The Day Frank Larkin Tried to Kill His Wife

I came across this article while looking for information about Edgar Cushman.  The article ends with a brief description of Larkin’s career (including the fact that he played under the name Terry Larkin), but the main part of the article is pretty crazy.  I found it in the Buffalo Commercial, but it was reprinting a story it got on the wire from the New York Sun.


A Base-Ball Player’s Attempts at Murder and Suicide.


(New York Sun)

Frank Larkin, a member of the Baltimore base ball club, shot his wife, Margaret, yesterday afternoon in Williamsburgh, and when policeman Timothy Phelan was forcing an entrance into hsi room he shot him also. Then he cut his own throat. Larkin lived in the second story of the tenement 230 North Eighth street. His father and mother occupy apartments in the same house. The ball merely furrowed the policeman’s cheek, but the wounds Larkin inflicted on his wife and himself are considered dangerous. He shot his wife in the mouth, the ball causing a compound fracture of the jaw. Larkin has been on a spree for five weeks. Last Saturday night he chased his father from the house, threatening to shoot him. His father, fearing he would put his threat into execution, caused his arrest. Phelen, the same policeman whom he shot, arrested him. He was locked up all night in the Fourth-street police station, but he was discharged from custody the next day, his father refusing to press the complaint.

Phelen met Larkin yesterday morning and counselled him to stop drinking. Larkin promised he would, as he intended to start for Baltimore at four o’clock in the afternoon.

“I don’t know what made me worry about the fellow,” said Phelan last evening, “but I had a dread that he would do something, and I kept a watch over him. I would have liked to get a pretext to arrest him, but I could get none. During the afternoon I heard that he had followed his wife to a friend’s house and ordered her home at the point of a revolver, saying that he would shoot her if she did not go home. As soon as I heard that I went to his house, and hearing voices, I sent word to the station for help. Michael Kennedy came. While we were standing at the door and I was explaining to him why I sent for him, we were startled by two pistol shots. We rushed upstairs. As I tried to open the door a ball came through it. This was followed by three others, the last one striking me in the cheek. Then we got a sofa which was in the hall, and used it as a battering-ram. As the door fell in I saw Larkin drop to the floor, covered in blood. He held this razor in his hand. Kennedy bent over him while I went to Mrs. Larkin, who was leaning against a window. Her clothing was discolored with blood. Almost every article in the room was overturned, broken and bloody. The poor woman, when she saw me, said, ‘Oh, I thought he killed you.’ She then told me that after he had driven her home he locked the door and quarrelled {sic} with her. Finally he shot her, and then he stood over her with the pistol. ‘I dared not move,’ she said,’because if he had thought me alive he would have shot again.’

“At this time he heard us at the door , and turning from his wife, discharged the remaining four shots that were in his revolver at us. When he had done so he took the razor from his pocket, and, just as we pushed the door in, drew it across his throat. I supported him to the police station, where his and my wounds were dressed.”

Policeman Kennedy remained with Mrs. Larkin. A physician residing in the neighborhood extracted the ball and dressed her wound. Larkin, when his wounds were dressed, was placed in an ambulance, and his wife was placed in it at his side. They were taken to St. Cathrerine’s Hospital.

Larkin and his wife were dispossessed from their rooms on Monday for non-payment of rent, but he carried his goods back into the place. This ejectment irritated the already rum-crazed man. His wife, to whom he has been married only a short time, bears an excellent character. A week ago Larkin threatened to shoot a storekeeper. Other persons with whom he quarrelled {sic} while on his spree say that he flourished a pistol and threatened to use it.

Larkin is one of the best known ball-players in America. He is often called Terry Larkin. At one time he pitched for the Chicago club; but he was forced to retire, as his arm gave out. In 1881 he played with the Atlantic club of Brooklyn. Last season he played a fine game with the Metropolitan club of this city. When manager Barnie of last year’s Atlantic club took charge of the Baltimore club for this season, Larkin was the first man to be engaged, but he has not yet played with the club. It is laid to his absence that the club has lost so many games this season. Larkin wrote Mr. Barnie recently that he would join the club in time to open the championship season, which will begin next week.

The Buffalo Commercial, 26 April 1883, Page 2.