Saturday, September 20, 2008
As published in the Volume 7, Number 2 edition of the American Association Almanac:
After over 70 years, there are now grave markers in place at the graves of Dan Marion and Dan Lally.
Please see the April 15 edition of this blog.
On July 30, my wife, Keitha, and I oversaw the grave marker dedication for these two pro ballplayers whose careers were outstanding and whose lives were tragic.
A fund-raising effort by the subscribers to my American Association Almanac resulted in the purchase of the granite gravestones now in place at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
My dedication address which follows was read at the graves of each player. For more information on Dan Lally and Dan Marion please see www.baseball-reference.com or you may purchase a copy of the recently released edition of the American Association Almanac through the store at www.AmericanAssociationAlmanac.com
The Dedication Address was given July 30, 2008 at Milwaukee:
On July 30, one of the warmest days in Milwaukee all summer, a
small gathering of American Association supporters, including Bob Buege, Stephanie London and Paul Tenpenny, assembled at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Milwaukee to celebrate the newly-installed grave markers for the graves of two find old ballplayers from an earlier era, Dan Marion and Dan Lally. These graves lay anonymous for over 70 years.
It was a toasty, breezy day, ideal for such an event. The grave markers were in place, paid for by a host of American Association Almanac subscribers (see below). Upon our arrival at the cemetery, my wife, Keitha Hamann, and I proceeded to cover the grave markers, which had been installed several weeks earlier, with a dignified “tent” style covering (a forest green-colored bedsheet over a tripod) so that an actual “unveiling” could take place. I prepared the following words to accompany this event:
We are assembled here this afternoon, in this unlikely setting, for a festive occasion. For those who love baseball and have a passion for baseball history, there is a sort of untold devotion to those men who played America’s game during the early days, men such as Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie and Christy Mathewson. But there were untold number of characters upon the stage of baseball during that time, people we may unduly glorify yet who we hold in high esteem decades after their deaths even, for they represent a time when things were, perhaps, more pure, more transparent, more real in a way.
When I discovered two professional, and high level, former baseball men had graves here in Milwaukee, historically a rich baseball city, it seemed incongruous that their graves should remain with no marker, a seemingly anonymous patch of turf.
I never knew Dan Lally or Dan Marion, at least not during their lifetime. But I felt as though I made some sort of contact with them while engaged in this project. In 2003 I first visited Mount Olivet Cemetery. Interestingly I worked right up the block as a teacher at public school in Milwaukee for 3 years, never once during that time ever entering this cemetery. During that visit, I discovered that Marion’s grave was unmarked. Later that year I constructed a wooden marker and placed it at the grave site on my return to Milwaukee. One year later I returned and noticed the marker was still there but that the glass was broken. But the following year I found the marker was gone and it was at that point I realized there should be a permanent marker here.
It was during my third visit to Mount Olivet that I made a specific effort to locate the grave of Dan Lally. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it happened to lie roughly 90 feet from Marion’s! Imagine, two graves of such immediate importance as far apart as home plate is from first base. Were these two somehow tied into the cosmically oriented universal family of baseball?
Last September I came to Milwaukee to see a few Brewers games and it was at that point that I resolved to determine the exact location of both the Lally and the Marion grave. With the help of one of the employees here, I roped off the graves using stakes and twine before photographing them as a way of proving the location of the graves. I then used those photographs to inform my readership that I intended to raise the money necessary to fund the installation of two permanent granite markers, one for Dan “Bud” Lally and one for Dan “Rube” Marion.
The story of Lally is a particularly poignant one. After a long “journeyman” career in baseball from 1887 through 1905 as both an outfielder and an umpire, Lally was reportedly committed to the Wisconsin Insane Asylum, now known as the County Grounds in Wauwatosa. Lally passed away in 1936 having lived to the age of 69. I have not been able to learn the particulars behind his commitment. A look at his playing record reveals that he had immense talent both as a baseball player and as a capable athlete. (He hit .400 for Minneapolis of the Western League in 1897.)
According to cemetery records, Mount Olivet Cemetery donated his grave; there is no record of a benefactor. Now, thanks to Fred and Joan Budde of Waverly, Minnesota, Lally’s grave will be marked. He will not be forgotten and his legacy will remain in tact for future generations to discuss and recall.
Now if you will accompany me over to the grave of Dan Marion:
Dan Marion’s premature demise is just plain tragic. He was a successful baseball pitcher during the deadball era. Some years after he hung up his spikes, a Milwaukee observer acknowledged that his fastball was compared with that of Walter Johnson, a highly esteemed compliment. But Johnson’s career was characterized by clean living; Marion’s was not. After marrying in a surprise ceremony while the Milwaukee Brewers were in Minneapolis in 1912, Marion had a successful season and used it as a springboard into the majors. But his success was short lived. He and his wife divorced around 1919, and he returned to the Milwaukee area to work at a roadhouse called the Maple Leaf north of town on Cedarburg Road (I believe this is now State Hwy. 57). Despite the fact that this was the era of prohibition, Marion’s alcohol problems did not abate at this time. Finally, he succumbed to the disastrous effects of alcohol upon his body, as the former star baseball hurler collapsed, penniless, outside his apartment on N. 4th Street before being taken by ambulance to the hospital. He died enroute. It was January 18, 1933.
The Brewers made it publicly known, according to a report published in The Sporting News at the time of Marion’s death, that they would rally behind Marion’s memory to spare their teammate from being buried in a potters field. But they never followed through, nor, apparently, did any of his professional friends. After all, this was the depression and cash was in short supply. Still, the circumstances lead to questions. According to cemetery records, Mount Olivet Cemetery donated his grave plot; there is no record of a benefactor.
Now, 75 years later, Marion’s grave is marked. Thanks to the subscribers of the American Association Almanac, Rube will not be forgotten. His accomplishments upon the diamond will remain for future generations to recall and explore.
Milwaukee is a rich city in so many ways. But it was made that way, in part, through the work of countles personalities such as Dan Marion and Dan Lally. Marion and Lally are no longer buried anonymously in this small patch of Cream City ground. They have been given a small measure of acknowledgment by true supporters of baseball history through this project. May the names Dan “Rube” Marion and Dan “Bud” Lally always provoke positive enthusiasm for the game of baseball, the city of Milwaukee, and the spirit of the old-time ballplayers upon whose lives the game became great.
The Almanac Extends a Gracious Thank You
to the following fans of baseball history
who donated generously to make the
Lally and Marion Gravestone Project possible:
Fred Budde, of Waverly, Minnesota
Bob Buege, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dave Chase, of Memphis, Tennessee
Michael Frank, of New York, New York
Chris Gallutia, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Don Garrison, of Sun City West, Arizona
Ted Gibson, of Farmington Hills, Michigan
Rex and Keitha Hamann, Andover, Minnesota
Lou Hernandez, of Pembroke Pines, Florida
Denver Howard, of Andrews, Indiana
Frank Kearney, of Plano, Texas
Ken Kopydlowski, of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Bill Lee, of La Feria, Texas
Jim Mogan, of Circleville, Ohio
Neil Raymond, of Toronto, Ontario
Jeanne Squires, of West Plains, Missouri
Paul Tenpenny, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin