Happy Birthday, Leonidas Lee!

How’s this for a college summer vacation: getting to play professional baseball for your hometown team!  Living out every kid’s dream, huh?  As a teenager, Leonidas Lee spent the summer of 1877 as an emergency infielder for the St. Louis Brown Stockings of the National League, playing in four games and getting five hits in eighteen at bats.

Except of course, that wasn’t his real name.

Leonidas Pyrrhus Funkhouser was sixteen years old and had just finished his junior year at Princeton where, in addition to taking classes, he played football and baseball.  Born on 13 December 1860 to Robert Monroe Funkhouser and Sarah Johnson (Selmes) Funkhouser in St. Louis.  His father was a doctor and business man who gave all of his kids fun names.  In addition to Leonidas, there was Marie Antoinette Funkhouser, Millard Fillmore Funkhouser and Metellus Lucullus Cicero Funkhouser…  Whew!

Anyway, Funkhouser went back to Princeton and graduated that June.  He returned to St. Louis and completed a medical doctor’s degree but gave that up to be one of the more successful businessmen in Nebraska.  According to the Lincoln Courier:

“…(N)o one was so thoroughly entered into the life of the community as L. P. Funkhouser, who has been identified with Nebraska affairs since 1882, but who has been a resident of Lincoln for but a portion of the time.

“Some idea of how busy a man Mr. Funkhouser is may be gleaned from this list of official positions he holds in local corporations: Secretary and director of the Farmers & Merchants Insurance Company, cashier and director of the Farmers & Merchants Bank, vice president of the Lincoln Gas & Electric Company, director of the Lincoln Overall & Shirt Company and director of the Union Commercial Club.

“He is a thirty-third degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of the Nebraska Scientific Society, district deputy for Nebraska Elks (the highest position in the order of the state), president of the Nebraska Society of Sons of the American Revolution and a charter member of the Omaha Club.  He holds a degree of A. M. from Princeton and of M. D. from the Missouri Medical College of St. Louis.”

As to being a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, he was a descendant of Zachariah Cross, who served as a private under General Francis Marion participating as a scout and a number of skirmishes between 1778 and 1779.  Even his wife was a Daughter of the American Revolution. Caroline Lush Bishop Funkhouser was a descendant of Richard Lush, among the earliest residents of Albany and a deputy muster-master during the Revolutionary War.  In fact, Leonidas could trace his family history back to 1698 when Christopher and John Funkhouser, two Swiss-born brothers, who came to the British Colonies after a brief stop in Holland.  Starting in Virginia, his grandson, also Christopher, moved to a plot of land he named Funkhouser Hill in Kentucky that eventually became Morgantown, KY.  It’s a prominent American family…

We digress.  Leonidas and Caroline had two children, Elsie Lush and Robert Oliver.  At 61, Funkhouser was visiting family in Hendersonville, NC when he had a massive heart attack and died on 11 June 1912.

SOURCES:

“The Colleges”, The Times (Philadelphia, PA), 19 June 1878, Page 1.

“Leonidas P. Funkhouser”, The Courier (Lincon, NE), 15 March 1902, Page 8.

“Answers to Correspondents”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 04 October 1914, Page 28.

“American Ancestry: Giving the Name and Descent, in the Male Line, of Americans Whose Ancestors Settled in the United States Previous to the Declaration of Independence, A. D. 1776”, Joel Munsell’s Sons, Publishers, 1898, Pages 80 – 81.

Death Certificate: Died of a heart attack in Hendersonville, NC.  Parents were Robert M (of VA) and Sarah Johnson Selmes Funkhouser (of NYC) on 6/11/1912.  Wife, Caroline Lush (Bishop) Funkhouser

Application to the Nebraska Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Says his great grandfather, Zachariah Cross (of MD), saw his brothers march near his home and he joined the stragglers following the colonial army.  He may not have been eligible to join, but they forwarded Zachariah to a cousin, General Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, of North and South Carolina, for whom he acted as a scout.  Family history says he was involved in many thrilling adventures and was later promoted to Colonel, but when he applied for a pension on 2/8/1833 (age 72) from his home in St. Louis, he was granted a one year pension for a year’s service as a private in the NC troops during the war.

Zachariah Cross and Hetty Johnston were the parents of Robert Roland Funkhouser’s wife, Rachel.  That would be LPF’s grandfather.

According to Record 23463 in the Lineage Book of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Caroline Lush Bishop was a descendant of Richard Lush of NY, among the first settlers of Albany, and he served as deputy muster-master in 1778-1779.

1900, 1910 US Census

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Happy Birthday, Ken Trinkle!

While serving in Europe during World War II, Ken Trinkle would perform reconnaissance as a member of the 9th Armored Division.  “I was a scout in a reconnaissance outfit,” he started.  “We would get out in front of the infantry to report if anything was there.  If you didn’t come back, they knew there was something out there.”

Trinkle’s unit frequently found things and was instrumental in repelling the final German offensive – the Battle of the Bulge – in the final months of the war and was responsible for saving the last available bridge so that future units could cross the Rhine.

And, he was a reliever for the Giants and Phillies before and after the war.

Kenneth Wayne Trinkle was born on 15 December 1919 to Ray Russell and Audra M. (Cornwell) Trinkle in Paoli, Indiana.  Ray and Audra lived and worked on her father Herman’s farm at Stamper’s Creek.  Eventually Trinkle would build his strength wielding an axe or helping out in other ways when not in school.  As a student, Trinkle was a star baseball and basketball player for Paoli High School, he was an American Legion baseball pitcher, and he’d eventually marry his high school sweetheart, Euleva Jane Miller while in the minor leagues.

Manager Cy Morgan signed Trinkle to pitch for the Thomasville Orioles in the Georgia and Florida League in 1939 after Trinkle failed a similar tryout the previous spring.  There, his sinker caught the attention of Baltimore Oriole scouts.  With just the lone year under his belt, Trinkle was suddenly pitching in the International League.  Trinkle usually worked out of the bullpen, making 45 appearances but just four starts in 1940, and winning five of eight decisions.  He absorbed a larger role in 1941, making 43 appearances but many more starts and winning eleven games.  In 1942, he became a legitimate major league prospect with a 14 – 13 record in 1943. (It was reported as 15 wins in the contemporary papers at the time.)

Trinkle’s go to pitch was a sinker that he threw overhanded to lefthanded hitters and sidearmed to righthanded hitters.  It got groundballs but not strikeouts, and there would be days when his inability to put batters away got him bounced around some.  For the most part, though, he could eat up innings and he was able to bounce back to pitch relief on consecutive nights.  “Just so long as I pitch only an inning or so a day my arm doesn’t tighten,” Trinkle explained.  “But if I pitch more than two innings, I am not at my best the next day.”

After the 1942 season, the New York Giants purchased Trinkle from the Orioles for $20,000.  Making the team out of spring training, Trinkle made six starts and five relief appearances.  Despite a tolerable 3.74 ERA, he was dispatched to Jersey City for a little more seasoning.  Before he could make it back, though, he had registered with the U.S. Army and was learning his trade in Fort Riley, KS.  While training, he played baseball with other players such as Pete Reiser, Lonnie Frey and Joe Garagiola.

Eventually, though, he was shipped out.  Trinkle was added to the 9th Armored Division, came to the European mainland in the pre-D-Day diversions and eventually battled the Germans in Luxembourg.  One article noted that his division “…had a flaming introduction to battle in vital sectors of the front at Bastogne, St. Vith, and Echternach.”  Finally, the fighting ended in May, 1945 and battles turned to occupation and returning to peace.  For a couple of months, he was able to play ball with fellow Private Ralph Houk, which allowed him to get in limited playing shape prior to returning home at the end of 1945.

Trinkle made a league high 48 appearances, including 13 starts, for the Giants and Mel Ott in 1946 for a team that struggled to find wins.  The next season, the rubber armed Trinkle was a regular out of the bullpen.  He’d win eight games against four losses and was later determined to have earned ten saves.  When he first came back from the war, he had to take some added weight off – he had gained at least twenty pounds.  He claimed he was more prepared to pitch in 1947.

“It was not an easy job getting into the swing again last year, after so much time away from baseball,” Trinkle claimed.  “I believe my control is far better than it was in ’46, that I am much faster because I am in better shape.  I also learned a lot about the hitters last year.”  When asked what a solid reliever is worth, Trinkle responded, “I figure if they are wise enough to know (where) I can benefit them most then that’s what they’ll pay most for.”

Apparently the Giants didn’t pay the most – Trinkle held out during spring training in 1948.  Almost predictably, Trinkle’s start wasn’t as good as it could have been.  By late summer, the Giants brought Leo Durocher over to manage the team and Trinkle was a quick entrant to Leo’s doghouse.  After a particularly poor outing, he was assigned batting practice pitcher’s duty.  He finished the season with a 4 – 5 record and a career low 3.18 ERA.  However, he only fanned 20 batters in his 70+ innings.

In Philadelphia, new owners wanted to make a splash and set about to acquire as much talent as possible during the winter meetings.  Prior to the 1949 season one of the many new faces to the Phillies was Ken Trinkle.  When Jim Konstanty was added, manager Eddie Sawyer thought he could turn Trinkle into a starter – even though he hadn’t started a game since early in the 1946 season.  “All Trinkle will have to learn is to pace himself so he doesn’t tire,” Sawyer said.  “He has everything else: a fine fastball that sinks and a good curve.  He knows when and where to pull the string and he is strong.  He has a rubber arm.”

It didn’t work out as well for Trinkle as the Phillies would have liked – he became an extra arm splitting two decisions in 40 relief appearances and had a 4.00 ERA, the highest of his career.  After spring training in 1950, he was moved to Toronto in the International League – so he missed out on being an active member of the Whiz Kids, even though he was in the team picture.  Trinkle never returned to the majors – he moved from Toronto to Baltimore and finally Louisville in 1952 – his career had pretty much gone full circle.  His major league totals were 21 wins, 29 losses, a 3.74 ERA, just 130 strikeouts and 208 walks in 435.1 innings.

There was nothing left to do but return home to Paoli and take care of his family.  Ken and Jane had two sons, Kenneth David and Steven Dane. At some point, he opened a package store in downtown Paoli.  He was at his store on 10 May 1976, just 55 years old, when he suffered a massive heart attack and died before the ambulance could get him to the hospital.

SOURCES:

“Infielders Wright and Mueninghoff Due Here Tonight; McKenzie and Swoboda Expected Tomorrow”, Thomasville Times, 23 March 1939, Page 6.

Bornscheuer, Warren. “Nest of Oriole Leader Feathered Through ’43”, The Sporting News, 29 August 1940, Page 3.

Trader, Jr., Hugh. “Six Major League Clubs Eyeing Oriole Flanigan”, The Sporting News, 3 September 1942, Page 2.

Trader, Jr., Hugh. “Baltimore Will Get $20,000 if Trinkle Twinkles as Giant”, The Sporting News, 22 October 1942, Page 14.

“Diamond Dust”, The Sporting News, 5 November 1942, Page 7.

“Wave-Flung Giants Make Waiver Deal”, The Sporting News, 17 June 1943, Page 2.

King, Joe. “Sprinkles by Trinkle Put Out Blazes for Giants”, The Sporting News, 4 June 1947, Page 5.

“Post Trinkle First Giants in Durocher’s Doghouse”, The Sporting News, 18 August 1948, Page 14.

Baumgartner, Stan. “Phillies New Wrinkle for Trinkle – Turning Ex-Reliever Into Starter”, The Sporting News, 20 April 1949, Page 24.

“Trinkle Relieves in Six Straight Games for Leafs”, The Sporting News, 24 May 1950, Page 30.

“Monday’s Sudden Heart Attack Ends Life of Ken Trickle”, Paoli Republic, 11 May 1976.

U.S. Army Registration – 1943
U.S. Census 1920, 1930, 1940

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Baseball History on December 15

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1860 Abner Powell
1863 Bill Van Dyke
1868 George Hemming
1878 Walt Slagle
1882 Nig Clarke
1884 Joe Nealon
1888 Mike Prendergast
1902 Frank Watt
1906 Tom Kane
1910 George Stumpf
1919 Ken Trinkle

Ken Trinkle survived the Battle of the Bulge to lead the NL in appearances in 1946 and 1947 for the Giants.  He wasn’t a strikeout guy – he threw a sinker changing the arm angle depending on the hitter (overhand to lefties, sidearmed to righties) that got him groundball outs.  For a while, it worked.  When it didn’t he returned to his farm in Paoli, IN.

1920 Eddie Robinson
1923 Bill Bonness
1929 Ray Herbert
1930 Haywood Sullivan
1931 Sammy Esposito
1944 Jim Leyland
1944 Stan Bahnsen
1945 Gil Blanco
1946 Art Howe
1947 Ken Crosby
1948 Doug Rau
1950 Chuck Hockenbery
1950 Mike Proly
1951 Jimmy Sexton
1952 Bud Bulling
1967 Mo Vaughn
1970 Robert Ellis
1970 Rick Helling
1971 Hector Ramirez
1975 Edgard Clemente
1976 Aaron Miles
1978 Michael Wuertz
1979 Kevin Cameron
1981 Andy Gonzalez
1981 Luis Montanez
1984 Cole Garner
1984 James Houser
1986 Nick Buss
1987 Scott Copeland
1988 Ryan Pressly
1991 Kyle Crockett

OBITUARIES:

1892 John Shetzline
1914 Thomas Long
1915 Tony Murphy
1921 Joe Weber
1932 Bill Bishop
1940 Billy Hamilton
1944 Jim Chatterton
1945 Tom Hess
1949 Frank Hershey
1953 Ed Barrow
1958 Harry Heitmann
1961 Dummy Hoy
1964 Paul Wachtel
1965 Dick Newsome
1968 Jim McLaughlin
1975 Buster Chatham
1979 Stan Hack
1981 Tom Glass
1981 Jack Wisner
1984 George Tomer
1990 Bill Otis
1992 Dick Mulligan
1998 Johnny Riddle
1999 Eddie Kazak
2000 Bubba Floyd
2002 Dick Stuart
2003 Garvin Hamner
2010 Bob Feller
2011 Andy Carey

Looking at the list, that’s a lot of historically significant players dying on 12/15…

YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT!!!

1896 Charles Hinton demonstrates the first pitching machine.  The Princeton Professor’s contraption looks like a rifle of sorts…

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1900 New York sends washed up Amos Rusie, who didn’t want to play for New York anyway, to Cincinnati for Christy Mathewson.

1905 Chicago sends four players and cash to Brooklyn for Jimmy Sheckard.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh sends three players to Boston for Vic Willis.

1912 Joe Tinker and two others are sent to Cincinnati for Red Corriden and four others…

1920 New York sends Del Pratt, Muddy Ruhl, Hank Thormahlen, and Sammy Vick to Boston for Waite Hoyt, Wally Schang, Harry Harper, and Mike McNally.

1948 Brooklyn sends Pistol Pete Reiser to Boston for Mike McCormick and Nanny Fernandez.

1964 Los Angeles sends Frank Howard, Ken McMullen, Pete Richart, and Phil Ortega (and later Dick Nen) to the Senators for Claude Osteen, John Kennedy, and $100,000.

1967 Pittsburgh sends Woodie Fryman, Don Money, Bill Laxton and Harold Clem to Philadelphia for Jim Bunning.

Meanwhile, the White Sox send Tommy Agee and Al Weis to the Mets for Tommy Davis, Billy Wynne, Jack Fisher, and Buddy Booker.

1997 Florida sends Kevin Brown to the Padres for Derrek Lee, Rafael Medina, and Steve Hoff.

2003 Baltimore took Jose Bautista from the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft.

Free Agent Signings!

1980 Dave Winfield (Yankees)
1990 Jack Clark (Boston), Bob Welch (Oakland)
1992 Wade Boggs (Yankees)
2012 Josh Hamilton (Angels)
2015 Jason Heyward (Cubs)

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Happy Birthday, Oscar Purner

Oscar Purner’s major league baseball career lasted just one day.  He pitched the last two innings of a game for Washington on 2 September 1895, a loss to Louisville in the first game of a double header.  According to a box score, he allowed three runs on four hits, in part due to giving up a homer, and walked three batters.

Oscar E. Purner was born to John and Sophia Purner on 9 December 1872 in Washington DC.  His father was a gardener from Bavaria and his mother was also from Germany.  Oscar was the last of six kids, the six varying in ages from 29 to 7 in the 1880 census.  As a young adult, he was a clerk or a huckster – someone who peddled small goods door-to-door or at a corner cart.  At some point he started playing semi-professional baseball locally.  A record exists of his pitching for the Mile Limits Blue Stockings not long after his one-game tryout with the Senators.

Purner’s baseball life was generally uninteresting, but his real life has a few interesting nuggets.  He was walking the streets with a friend, John Voulke, when Voulke bumped into Samuel Williams rather abruptly and got into a fight with Williams.  Williams stabbed Voulke in the midsection, but didn’t kill him.  Purner helped get his friend to a hospital and was able to help arrest and identify Williams.

At some point, Purner joined the local fire department and also joined the Sons of Jonadab, Spartan Council No. 5,  a secret temperance society where he eventually became an officer.  He also changed careers several times, becoming a butcher at the end of the 1890s before deciding to join the US Army during the Spanish American War.  Purner served through at least three enlistments, his last tour ended in Fort Sam Houston in Texas where he was a member of the U.S. Cavalry until about 1912.

By then Purner was living near San Antonio when he got involved in an entanglement with a woman that turned ugly.  He left Texas for Arizona where he took a job as a smelter man for the Copper Queen company outside of Bisbee.  He also changed his name to George Berner.

It was there where Purner/Berner fell ill in 1915 and after a short illness, he passed away on December 4, 1915. When friends went through his few belongings, they found a few military items.

The Bisbee Daily Review reported: “Berner passed away following a brief illness, and among his effects were discovered credentials showing that he had served in the army.  News of his death spreading, Colonel Krigbaum, machine gun company, Twenty-second infantry, called at the undertaking establishment and identified the dead man, not as Berner as he had been known here, but as Oscar E. Purner, who, he said, had formerly been a business man in the San Antonio, Tex., later serving in the Third U. S. Cavalry.  Purner had left San Antonio, he said, and changed his name to Berner when he became involved in trouble over a woman in San Antonio.”

The local undertaker reached out to the sheriff in San Antonio, who saw a picture of the deceased and confirmed that he believed he was Oscar Purner and gave him the name of his sister who was still living in Washington D.C.

Mary Purner Baker received a letter and photo, confirmed that the body was that of her brother, and then asked that Purner’s body be preserved because apparently she had taken out a rather large insurance policy on Oscar upon his joining the military back in 1900.

When things were close to resolution, the Bisbee Daily Review noted this: “Berner, or Purner, was known as a man of rather taciturn disposition and was never heard to talk much about himself or his past.  But for the visit of Corporal Krigbaum and the startling information he gave concerning the dead man, it is quite probable that the corpse would now be interred and the sister have kept paying the life insurance premiums indefinitely, not knowing that her brother had passed away.”

Sources:

“Election of Officers”, Evening Star (Washington D.C.), 02 January 1894, Page 8.

Woolley, John G. and Johnson, William E. “Temperance Progress of the Century”, Linscott Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1905, Page 114.

“Game Stopped by Rain”, Evening Star, 06 May 1896, Page 10.

“Rain Stopped the Game”, Washington Times, 06 May 1896, Page 3.

“Alleged Murderous Blow”, Evening Star (Washington D.C.), 20 March 1899, Page 10.

“Fire Chief Belt Shakes The Tree”, Washington Times, 23 June 1904, Page 10.

“Mystery Surrounds Identity of Former Douglas Soldier”, Bisbee Daily Review, 18 December 1915, Page 4.

Bisbee Daily Review, 22 January 1916, Page 6.

“Locates Man’s Sister”, San Antonio Light, 9 December 1915, Page 7.

1880, 1900 US Census

1891, 1892, 1895, 1900 Washington DC City Directories

1900, 1908, 1911 US Army Registration Forms

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Baseball History for December 8

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1843 Mase Graffen

Samuel Mason (Mase) Graffen was the first manager of the first professional baseball team in St. Louis – the original Brown Stockings that played in the final season of the National Association and the first season of the National League in 1876.

1853 Steve Libby
1856 Jack Rowe
1868 Jocko Halligan
1869 Kid Camp
1870 William Lackey
1874 Joe Connor
1877 Bill Thomas
1879 Jimmy Austin
1879 Jack Thoney
1883 Charlie Wacker
1887 Eddie Dent
1890 John McGraw
1892 Ellis Johnson
1894 Razor Ledbetter
1900 Mose Solomon
1907 Bill Beckmann
1918 Sam Zoldak
1925 Hank Thompson
1937 Jim Pagliaroni
1940 Brant Alyea
1941 Ed Brinkman
1946 Alan Foster
1956 Alan Wirth
1960 John Mizerock
1965 Jeff Grotewold
1965 John Orton
1967 Tom McGraw
1968 Mike Mussina
1971 Garvin Alston
1972 Jolbert Cabrera
1973 Jeff DaVanon
1975 Brian Barkley
1976 Rontrez Johnson
1976 Reed Johnson
1976 Jose Leon
1978 Vernon Wells
1981 Kory Casto
1982 Alfredo Aceves
1985 Josh Donaldson
1985 Robbie Weinhardt
1986 Jordan Norberto
1987 Kyle Drabek
1987 Alex Torres
1987 Zach McAllister

OBITUARIES:

1907 Washington Fulmer
1908 Frank Griffith
1909 Bill Hogg
1931 Jack Bellman
1932 Bill Gray
1935 Baldy Louden
1945 Henry Fournier
1948 Pelham Ballenger
1951 Bobby Lowe
1955 Buck Washer
1958 Tris Speaker
1958 Bernie Friberg
1961 Lou Koupal
1961 Coonie Blank
1963 Red Worthington
1965 Dutch Sterrett
1966 Bill Bolden
1968 Benn Karr
1974 Bert Niehoff
1975 Fred Blackwell
1975 Johnny Couch
1977 Art Ewoldt
1979 Del Young
1981 Bill Windle
1985 Dave Madison
1985 Bill Wambsganss
1986 Pip Koehler
1993 Bob Barnes
1999 Wally Hebert
2006 Jose Uribe
2014 Russ Kemmerer
2014 Buddy Hicks
2015 Gus Gil

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!

1992 Dr. Bobby Brown, the former Yankee, is elected president of the American League.

2008 Joe Gordon is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1899 Louisville’s Barney Dreyfuss, having obtained ownership of the Pirates, transfers pretty much his entire team – including Rube Waddell, Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Tommy Leach and others – to the Pirates.  Four Pirates are sent to the Colonels, including Jack Chesbro, and summarily sold to the highest bidder – part of the National League’s decision to contract from twelve to eight teams.

1914 The White Sox purchase infielder Eddie Collins from the Philadelphia A’s.  Connie Mack, fearing Collins would be taken by a Federal League team, chose to sell him instead.

1947 Brooklyn sends Hal Gregg, Vic Lombardi and Dixie Walker to the Pirates for Billy Cox, Preacher Roe, and Gene Mauch.

1961 Your New York Mets, just getting started acquiring players, buys Richie Ashburn from the Cubs.

1975 San Francisco sends Pete Falcone to the Cardinals for Ken Reitz.

1976 In a trade first announced on Hollywood Squares (not really), the Chicago Cubs sent Pete LaCock to the Royals, who sent a player to be named later to the Mets (Sheldon Mallory), and the Mets sent Jim Dwyer to the Cubs.

1977 St. Louis sent Al Hrabosky to the Royals for Mark Littell and Buck Martinez.  And, the Cubs sent Jerry Morales and Steve Swisher to the Cardinals for Hector Cruz and Dave Rader.

The really crazy deal, though, was a four-team swap between the Braves, Mets, Rangers, and Pirates.  Willie Montanez moved from Atlanta to New York, Texas sent three players to the Braves, including Tommy Boggs and Adrian Devine, Texas moved Tom Grieve and Ken Henderson to the Mets, Texas sent Bert Blyleven to Pittsburgh, who returned them Al Oliver and Nelson Norman.  The Mets sent Jon Matlack to Texas, and sent John Milner to the Pirates.

1978 Texas sends Toby Harrah to Cleveland for Buddy Bell.

Jesse Orosco moved from Minnesota to the Mets as the player to be named later in the Jerry Koosman deal.

1980 Toronto swiped George (Jorge) Bell from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft.  Later, San Diego took Alan Wiggins from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft.

1981 The Cubs sent Mike Krukow to the Phillies for Keith Moreland, Dan Larson, and Dickie Noles.

1983 Kansas City acquired Steve Balboni from the Yankees in a four player deal.

1986 Baltimore sends Dennis Martinez to the Expos – two players to be named later also swapped in the deal…

1987 Chicago sends Lee Smith to the Red Sox for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi.  (I’d like that one back.)

1991 San Diego moves Bip Robers and a plus one to Cincinnati for Randy Myers.

2005 The White Sox send Aaron Rowand, a minor leaguer, and prospect Gio Gonzalez to the Philles for Jim Thome.

Florida steals Dan Uggla from Arizona in the Rule 5 Draft.

2009 Detroit sends Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks.  The Yankees send Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers, Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, and Arizona sends Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers.

2015 Chicago sends Starlin Castro to the Yankees for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan.

Famous Free Agent Signings?

1988 Bruce Hurst (San Diego)

1992 David Cone (Kansas City), Barry Bonds (San Francisco)

2006 Mike Piazza (Oakland)

2009 Chone Figgins (Seattle)

2011 Albert Pujols and C. J. Wilson (LAA)

2015 Zack Greinke (Arizona)

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Happy Birthday, Mase Graffen

Mase Graffen managed the 1876 St. Louis Browns winning 39 of 56 games (according to Baseball-Reference.com) in the initial season of the National League.  Seven years later the Philadelphia native was gone – having passed away in New Mexico.

Samuel Mason Graffen was born to Robert and Eliza Graffen on 8 December 1843, and baptized six months later at the Church of the Evangelist, his family’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia.  He was born into a rather large family – the sixth of seven children.  His father, Robert, was a real estate agent having recently arrived in the US from Ireland, while his mother had been born in the Philadelphia area.  Graffen was reasonably well educated, having attended the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania during the Civil War.  For a time in the 1870s, he was a clerk in his father’s company.  Graffen likely played both baseball (Major League Baseball Profiles says he was a member of Philadelphia’s Olympic Base Ball club) and cricket – there are cricket scores in local newspapers with Graffen’s name in the box score.

His brother, Charles, was a well respected journalist who helped develop baseball interest in Philadelphia.

By 1875, however, Graffen had left his Philadelphia brethren to help form the St. Louis Base Ball Association.  Starting with $20,000 in capital stock, the association was housed in the back of Graffen’s cigar and baseball goods store, which included a fine reading room fully furnished with files of all the major sporting papers.  Among the players the Association was able to assemble were Thomas Miller, Lip Pike, Dickey Pearce, and George Bradley.  Taking his players to a gymnasium for fitness and practicing, he’s among the first to introduce off-season and preseason training to baseball.

The St. Louis club completed a successful season in the final year of the National Association, and when the National League was formed the Brown Stockings were a charter member of the National League. Virtually the entire roster was maintained from the old Association to the new League.  Graffen, who was more of a business manager in 1875, was treated like the field manager in 1876.

Graffen was considered a very good (and shrewd) manager.  He maintained good control of his team and his temperament was “…generous and sympathetic to an unusual degree.”  Some of this was because he came from a “a remarkably talented and brilliant family, and his personal qualities were such as to draw and attract all men to him.”  However, at the time of his being fired, a Chicago Tribune scribe wrote, “Now that Mr. Graffen has been shipped, the question naturally comes to every person acquainted with the game.  What was he ever engaged for?  He was a clever writer of untruthful letters, but otherwise nil.”

That seems rather harsh.  In the same paper, St. Louis is listed in second place having won 32 of 50 contests with just ten games to play.  (For what it’s worth, Chicago may have had the best record, but St. Louis won six of ten matches between the two teams and four of five in an informal post-season series.)  Graffen’s replacement was George McManus.  A year later – with McManus at the helm – the team was kicked out of the National League for its role in fixing games.

Out of baseball, Graffen started a business called The Headquarters, but that failed – so he became a railroad man frequently traveling throughout the Midwest, West, and Mexico.  At least for a short time, he settled in Keokuk, Iowa – he is listed as a founding member of the Keokuk Rowing Club in 1878, with the lead boat named for him.  In the 1880 census, he is listed as an accountant for a railroad office in Sedalia, MO, married to Matilda and with three boys (Charles, Paul, and George). On the road, Graffen caught pneumonia in Colorado and passed away a few days later on 18 November 1883 in Silver City, NM.  He’s buried in Keokuk, Iowa.

Sources:

“Cricket – Germantown Second Eleven vs. Philadelphia Second Eleven”, Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 May 1870, Page 2.

“Our Professionals.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 January 1875,  Page 4.

“Baseball. Conference At Louisville.”, Chicago Tribune, 19 December, 1875, Page 13.

“Baseball Notes”, Chicago Tribune, 14 September 1876, Page 5.

“Racy Reading”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3 August 1878, Page 5.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 15 November 1883, Page 5.

“Death of Mase Graffen.”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 14 November 1883, Page 4.

Nemec, David (Editor/Compiler). “Samuel Mason (Mase) Graffen”, Major League Baseball Profiles, Volume 2, University of Nebraska Press (2011), Page 126.

Philadelphia City Directories, 1871 to 1875.

Agricultural College of Pennsylvania Records, 1864.

US Census Data, 1850, 1870, 1880.

Philadelphia Church Records – Church of the Evangelist, Philadelphia, PA.

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Happy Birthday, Grover Gilmore

Grover Gilmore, born 1 November 1888, was a Chicago native who got a shot to play in Kansas City when the Federal League got rolling, but never appeared in a National League or American League game.  In his two seasons with the Packers, he hit .286 and stole more than 40 bases – he could have been a marginal fourth outfielder somewhere when the Federal League closed shop.  Instead, Gilmore returned to the minors and eventually took a job as a traveling salesman.

grover-gillmore-on-the-west-ends-1910

Gilmore’s Semipro West Ends club.  Grover is at the bottom right.

After playing for a Chicago semipro team called the West Ends and sponsored by Bernard J. Coans, Gilmore was initially signed by the White Sox in 1910 and farmed out to the Denver Grizzlies in the Western League for the last month of the season.  After a solid spring training, the Sox again sent him for a full season of tutoring in Denver where he hit .299 with a fair mix of doubles, triples and homers for the Western League champs.  At the end of the 1911 season, the Sox recalled Gilmore, who was being treated as a fine young prospect with good hitting and bunting skills for a kid who could play most any position on the field – though usually in the outfield. And, he was fast…  Gilmore tied a record by running from home to first in 3-1/5 seconds during field day events before the Western League All Star Game in Lincoln.  And, he finished the season with 54 stolen bases.

Despite the hype, the Sox never put Gilmore in a game.

grover-gilmore-at-spring-training-with-white-sox-in-1911

Gilmore at spring training with the White Sox in 1911.

Instead of starting with the Sox in 1912, Gilmore was likely on his way to spending another season in the minors – either in Denver or Des Moines.  Somehow he was farmed to former ChiSox star Frank Isbell, who was managing in Des Moines.  However, Gilmore balked at the low salary, so he held out briefly before being sold to Buffalo in the International League.  At first, he was a fourth outfielder and pinch hitter.  Then, he got to start some, but he had a rough patch, including an 0 – 8 in a 19 inning game.  At that point, he was sold to the last place San Francisco Seals of the PCL.  That lasted about four weeks – ending with perhaps the worst day he could imagine.

On the train to the morning game, he was robbed of a diamond pin, gold watch, a fob, and $40 in cash – and between the morning and afternoon games, he was told by manager Cal Ewing he was being released back to Buffalo.  Gilmore said of the robbery that he could handle losing most of the stuff – but he really wanted the fob back since it was presented to him by President William Howard Taft as part of a celebration for winning the Western League pennant.  The story made national news wires – and the pickpocket must have gotten a change of heart.  Keeping the cash and the diamond pin, the fob and watch were shipped back to Gilmore in an unmarked package and then forwarded to Gilmore’s new Buffalo residence.

Buffalo had little use for him, though, so Gilmore was kindly allowed to return to Denver to finish the season. When playing, the speedy Gilmore improved his hitting – batting .319 in 1912 and moving up to .335 with 41 extra base hits and 30 stolen bases in 1913.  The 1913 season was also an odd one – the Denver franchise reorganized – the higher priced players were released and Gilmore returned briefly to Chicago to play semi-pro baseball until he could get a contract he liked.

Most winters, Gilmore returned to Chicago and worked as a mail carrier in the off-season.  He would take a quick break in the middle of the season and return home to keep his government service rating.  However, the rules changed in 1914 – and Gilmore instead signed a multiple year deal with the newly formed Federal League, playing center field with the Kansas City Packers. It was enough of a raise that he didn’t miss his postal work.

grover-gilmore-denver-grizzlies-1911

The 1914 season went rather smoothly, but the 1915 season started out with the thought that Kansas City would be moved to Newark.  By early April, the team hadn’t moved and was going to be fighting with the American Association’s Kansas City Blues for the attention of local baseball fans.  The KawFeds died – Gilmore’s contract went into limbo, and for 1916, Gilmore would be looking for work.

After signing with St. Paul and he soon headed back to Sioux City of the Western League.  He quit baseball to be a traveling salesman but would play for teams as needed on holidays or on vacation.  Returning home after one such excursion, he caught Typhoid Fever in the fall of 1919 and it quickly took his life that November.  He had just turned 31.

References:

“Promotion For 4 Semi-Pros”, Chicago Tribune, 21 August 1910, Page 2.

“Diamond Dope”, The Lincoln (NE) Evening News, 12 September 1910, Page 6.

“All Stars Won Field Day Game”, Topeka Daily Capital, 15 September 1911, Page 2.

“The World of Sport”, The Lincoln Evening News, 10 February 1912, Page 8.

“In the Radiator League”, Topeka Daily Capital, 20 February 1912, Page 2.

“Sports”, Lincoln Daily News, 22 June 1912, Page 3.

“Bingles and Bounders”, The San Francisco Call, 22 July 1912, Page 11.

“Couldn’t Rob Gilmore”, Coffeyville (KS) Daily Journal, 25 July 1912, Page 2.

“Semipro Teams To Start Season Today”, Chicago Inter Ocean, 6 April 1913, Page 29.

“Hendrix Stops Fed Winning Streak”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 24 July 1914, Page 18.

“Grover Gilmore is Dead”, The Des Moines Register, 26 November 1919, Page 10.

“Baseball Player Dies”, Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock), 26 November 1919, Page 12.

Grover Gilmore’s Register Page on Baseball Reference.com

Photo of Gilmore from Chicago Inter Ocean 3/26/1911, Page 26.

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