Friday, August 24, 2012

100 Years Ago: August 24, 1912

The Minneapolis Millers retain their hold on first place in the American Association with wins 87 and 88 win of the season, sweeping the lowly Indianapolis Indians who suffer their 89th and 90th defeats in a Saturday twin bill at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis. Future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell goes the distance and strikes out seven in the first game, shutting down the Tribe on three hits. Second-baseman Ed Williams hitting lead-off gets two safeties off Waddell. The Millers play error-free in the field. Single tallies in the first and sixth innings give Minneapolis a 2-0 win, Fred Linke the losing pitcher.

Waddell takes the slab as the starter in the second game but lasts only three and one-third, faltering despite the advantage of an early two-run lead, Indianapolis scoring two in the second, one in the third and one in the fourth. Minneapolis comes back with a late picket fence, posting lone tallies in each of the last three frames to eke out a 5-4 win. Waddell is relieved first by Irv "Young Cy" Young and Ralph Comstock. A triple by first-baseman Jim Delahanty, his second of the day, is a highlight for the hosts; Indians' first-sacker Bill Keene homers for the visitors and speedy third-baseman Scotty Ingerton triples. Despite out-hitting the Millers, 10-7, Indianapolis takes the loss behind Otto Merz who limits the hosts to seven hits in ten innings. The Indians will win only two games out of 24 against Minneapolis all year.

Across the Big River in St. Paul, the sixth-place Saints are thrashed by the Louisville Colonels, 11-4, at Lexington Park. The Saints have a 4-0 lead through four, but the Colonels tie it in the fifth, then erupt for six runs off Louis LeRoy in the ninth. Joe Stansbury, the Colonels' center-fielder, has three hits in five at-bats; Bill McKechnie, also headed for the Hall of Fame, has a double and a triple in three times up. Doc Moskiman starts for Louisville before Jake Northrop comes on in the fifth and finishes, getting the win. It's Louisville's 50th victory of the season, but there's no way the Colonels are climbing out of their seventh-place hole.

Elsewhere in the American Association, the Milwaukee Brewers do the Millers a favor by knocking off second-place Columbus, 4-3, in Milwaukee, as slick spitballer Cy Slapnicka is the winner over Wilbur Cooper.

Third-place Toledo KO's the fourth-place Kansas City Blues in a battle of first-division clubs, 8-2, at Kansas City, as 23-year old Harry Krause defeats Bob "Dusty" Rhoades, 33.

Friday, August 17, 2012

100 Years Ago Today

COLUMBUS SWEEPS MINNEAPOLIS AT NICOLLET PARK!

Including the games played Aug. 17, 1912, the Minneapolis Millers and Columbus Senators were deadlocked at the top spot in the standings with a record of 81-46 as the pennant race continued in gripping fashion.

The two clubs played a doubleheader at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis that day.

In the first game, Wilbur Cooper received early support as the Senators jumped on Minneapolis spit-baller Roy Patterson as the visitors scored three in the first, one in the second and three in the third. The Millers finally got on the board in the fifth with a trio of tallies. George McQuillan relieved him in the sixth.

The Senators held on for a 7-5 victory, out-hitting the hosts, 15-12. Both teams had two errors. Bob Unglaub, the Millers' first-baseman, had a three-hit day, while the Senators' third-sacker, George Perring, had two hits in four at-bats, one of which was a home run.

Columbus bats were evident again in the second game. With John Kimball on the mound, the Millers did not score until the sixth, but that did little to narrow the scoring margin as the Senators were up 7-1, ruining the outing by Glenn Liebhardt, their former teammate that year. The final in game two: 9-2, Senators.

Columbus first-baseman Ray Miller, enjoying a splendid year at the plate in his first season in the high minors, had two home runs off Liebhardt as the Senators out-slugged Minneapolis, 14-8.

In other action, third-place Toledo handed the St. Paul their 71st loss of the year with a 10-2 thrashing in the first game of a pair at Lexington Park in St. Paul in which the hosts were out-hit, 18-4. Saints' starting pitcher lasted only three innings, but the trio of St. Paul pitchers held rookie shortstop Ray Chapman hitless in four at-bats. The Saints took revenge in the second game, eking out a 5-4 win in 12 innings in a contest which featured two stolen bases by Chapman, Toledo's rising star, who had two hits in the game. The Mud Hens are in contention with a record of 76-49.

Elsewhere around the league, fourth-place Kansas City handed Louisville their 80th loss of the season, 6-1, at Kansas City's Association Park, securing their 62nd win.

Finally, the fifth-place Milwaukee Brewers won their 59th game against 65 losses by defeating last-place Indianapolis, 4-2, at Milwaukee's Athletic Park as the Suds Meisters played error-free ball.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rabbit Nill

Rabbit Nill, who played 73 games for the Toledo Mud Hens in 1909, died on this date 50 years ago. 

Nill was in the starting Toledo lineup on July 3, 1909 when the Hens opened their brand new ball park, Swayne Field, against the Columbus Senators. The contest turned into a classic, lasting longer than any previous American Association game. After Toledo tied the game at 11 apiece in the ninth, the game would not be decided until the after 18 innings were completed, as the Senators posted one run in their half of the frame. The Hens could not mount a comeback, and the final, after 18 innings and 3 hours, 35 minutes, was Columbus 12, Toledo 11.

For Nill's part, he occupied the shortstop position, wearing the collar in six at-bats (not one hit that day). On the fielding side, he was out front on a 6-4-3 double play that day.

Rest in Peace, Rabbit.

For more on Mr. Nill, go to  http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=nill--001geo

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lefty Willis died 50 years ago Today

Lefty Willis

Charles William Willis

Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 175 lb.
Born: November 4, 1905 in Leetown, West Virginia, US
Died: May 10, 1962 in Bethesda, Maryland, US (Aged 56)

Willis played for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association during the late 1920s, compiling an overall record of 6-9 during three different seasons. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Russ Miller died 50 years ago today

Russell Lewis Miller, born at Etna, Ohio on March 25, 1900, became a pitcher with the Columbus Senators of the American Association in 1930, the last year the club was known as the Senators; they were renamed the Columbus Red Birds in 1931. Miller was one of a handful of players who appeared on the very last Senators' team.

He died at Bucyrus, Ohio at the age of 62, the result of a heart attack.

As a member of the Columbus club in 1930, Miller played under Harry Leibold, a feisty and colorful manager who was a long-time veteran of the game. Miller had a respectable season that year, winning nine of 20 decisions with 147 inning of work in 43 games. The Senators landed in sixth place under Leibold that year with a record of 67-86. Miller was teammates with Emmett McCann whose suicide was reported a few weeks ago in this blog.

Miller's statistics indicate he had control problems that year, walking 59 while striking out only 23 with a 5.81 ERA. With numbers like those it's a wonder his won-loss record wasn't worse.

In 1931, Miller split the season between the Indianapolis Indians and Columbus Senators, compiling a 4-2 record while appearing in 29 games combined.

His combined minor league career consisted of seven seasons with a record of 53-45 in 191 games. He appeared in the major leagues as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1927-28 where his record was a dubious 1-13 in 35 appearances.

After baseball, Miller spent 28 years as an agricultural county agent for Crawford County, Ohio. He is buried at Glen Rest Memorial Estates in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a cemetery I have visited with my wife some years back.

Monday, April 23, 2012

HAPPY 110th ANNIVERSARY!

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the first games played in the old American Association, a league which was originally created in November 1901. On April 23, 1902, the eight new teams took the field in four American Association cities, donning new togs and creating a new baseball tradition which would last through 1952 in its original form (with exceptions).

Here are the results of the games from the first day of American Association play:

At Columbus, Ohio
Site: Neil Park

Minneapolis Millers....0
Columbus Senators.....5

Winning pitcher: Wiley Dunham
Losing pitcher: Ted Corbett

Synopsis: While both teams had only three hits apiece, the Millers committed eight errors. According to Sporting Life: "Both pitchers were in great form, and batting honors were even. The locals, however, gave Dunham superb support, while the fielding behind Corbett was very ragged. Not a Minneapolis runner reached third, and only one got as far as second."
                                        

At Indianapolis, Indiana
Site: East Washington Street Park

Milwaukee Brewers....4
Indianapolis Indians....5

Winning Pitcher: Win Kellum
Losing Pitcher: Claude Elliott

Synopsis: Milwaukee held the advantage throughout the game until the Indians' eighth when they scored three runs. As reported in Sporting Life, "Over 3,500 people attended the opening game of the American Association campaign. Indianapolis pulled out a victory in the eighth on clean hitting and a couple of gifts. Elliott went in the air and Altrock could not save the game. Kellum pitched strong ball and won his game on stick work." In fact, Kellum had three hits in four at-bats to aid in his own cause, including a double. The Brewers had a home run from lead-off man Bill Hallman, their left-fielder. The Indians committed five errors, while the Brewers muffed two plays.

Ironically, Hallman died on April 23, 1950.
                                       

At Louisville, Kentucky
Site: Eclipse Park

Kansas City Blues.....16
Louisville Colonels.....6

Winning Pitcher: Wilbert "Barney" Wolfe
Losing Pitcher: Ed "Davy" Dunkle

Synopsis: The visiting Kansas City Blues knocked the air out of Louisville's Opening Day sails by putting a snowman up in the first frame off starter Dunkle. The Colonels scored three in their half and after one full frame the score was 8-3, Kansas City. But the Blues had a penchant for scoring that day, and after three innings, the advantage continued to grow to a 12-4 lead. In the sixth, the Blues added four more, and by that time the Colonels pretty much had the life sucked out of them. On the day, the Blues had 14 hits to Louisville's ten. Left-fielder Elmer "Mike" Smith homered for the Blues for his only hit of the day. Attendance: 5,000
                                       

At Toledo, Ohio
Site: Armory Park

St. Paul Saints............7
Toledo Mud Hens......8

Winning Pitcher: Homer Mock
Losing Pitcher: Charlie Chech

Red Kleinow's walk-off home run in the 11th inning secured the victory for Mock and the Mud Hens in this dramatic opening contest. St. Paul opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the opening frame, then tacked on another in the second and another pair in the third. The Hens, down 5-0, struck back in the third and made it a 5-4 game. Toledo caught up with two runs in the ninth inning, sending the game into extras in front of a crowd of 1,500. Kleinow's long-ball was his third hit in five at-bats that day. St. Paul out-flubbed the Hens, 4-2 in a game which required two hours, thirty minutes to execute, the longest tilt of the afternoon.

That was 110 years ago today in the American Association!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hank Gehring Died 100 Years Ago Today


Hank Gehring, pitcher

Minneapolis: 1906
St. Paul: 1908-11

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the early death of Henry “Hank” Gehring, the son of Swiss immigrants who grew up in the Dayton’s Bluff area of St. Paul, Minnesota. He died April 18, 1912 at a hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. He was only 31 years of age.

Gehring was a St. Paul community icon as a baseball professional in the late 1890s and early 1900s as he climbed the ladder of success until reaching the pinnacle as a member of the American League’s Washington Senators in 1907, the year Walter “Big Train” Johnson got his start in the big leagues with the same team. The two would most certainly have sat together on the same bench or even warmed each other up along the sidelines.

Born January 24, 1881 at St. Paul, Gehring first year in organized baseball came in 1901 at the age of 20 when he appeared with the St. Paul Saints of the Western League in four games. He finished his short stint with a record of two wins and two losses. The following season he found himself a member of the Winnipeg Maroons of the Northern League, and his career was off and running. Compiling a record of 10-8 in 18 games, Gehring helped push the Maroons to the league championship in 1902 during a shortened season.

Gehring’s first season in the American Association came after a walapaloosa year with the Wichita Jobbers of the Western Association when he posted 32 wins against only five losses (.865) in 37 games and a total of 323 innings of work. He was picked up by the Minneapolis Millers for the 1906 season when he appeared in 31 games and finished the season with a record of 12-13.

Hank’s best season in the American Association came as a member of his hometown St. Paul Saints in 1910 when he won 18 games, lost 20 in a combined 54 games. His 343 innings of work that year was among the league leaders--in fact, he ranked second behind Milwaukee stalwart Stoney McGlynn who compiled 392 innings as a pitcher for the Brewers.

The 1911 season would be Gehring’s last year pitching for his hometown Saints. He attended spring camp with the Kansas City Blues in 1912, but he never traveled with the team for exhibition games on account of his health. Finally, in mid-April of 1912, he was became so ill at his hotel room that he had to be taken to the hospital in Kansas City. He died of Bright’s disease during the early morning hours of April 12, 1912.

A pedestal containing a planter marked “Gehring” is situated on his grave plot at Forest Hill Cemetery in St. Paul where a small gathering of people will meet today to commemorate his death and reflect upon his career in baseball.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Emmett McCann Killed Himself 75 years ago Today

Emmett McCann, second-baseman/first-baseman

Louisville Colonels: 1923
Columbus Senators: 1926-30
Indianapolis Indians: 1931-32
St. Paul Saints: 1933

Today is the 75th anniversary of the tragic suicide of an American Association standout. Emmett McCann killed himself on April 15, 1937 at the age of 35 in Philadelphia, Pennsyvania, his home town. He reportedly shot himself at the Karakung Golf Course at Cobbs Creek Park, according to Baseball Necrology. He had been ill for some time, according to reports.

McCann was 21 years of age when he first joined the ranks of the American Association as a member of the Louisville Colonels in 1923, according to baseball-reference.com. A second-baseman throughout the first half of his 15-year minor league career, McCann became a first-baseman with the Columbus Senators in 1928. He also managed the Indianapolis Indians as a player-manager from 1931-32 and the St. Paul Saints in 1933 when he appeared in 14 games as a second baseman.

McCann’s best season in the Association came as a Senator in 1930 when he batted .335 in 617 at-bats. That year he hit four home runs, nine triples and 37 doubles, ranking ninth in the league.

His cumulative minor league batting average stood at .307 in his 15 seasons, posting a .309 mark in service to Class AA clubs, including his four American Association clubs. He was also an adept base stealer, committing 23 swipes in 1926 to lead Columbus, and again at the top of the heap for the Senators with 28 steals in 1930, leading the club that year as well.

May we recall Robert Emmett McCann as a tragic figure in baseball on the 75th anniversary of his death.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tom "Cyclops" Sunkel, authored no-hitter

Tom “Cyclops” Sunkel, pitcher

1940 Columbus Red Birds
1945-46 St. Paul Saints

A belated commemoration: Thomas Jacob “Cyclops” Sunkel died ten years ago on April 6, 2002 at the age of 89 in his hometown of Paris, Illinois.

Sunkel’s American Association career began with the Columbus Red Birds in 1940 when he won 13 against seven losses. The native of Paris, IL was blind in one eye, hence his nickname.

The southpaw nearly equalled his performance in 1940 with a 13-8 record in 1945 as a member of the St. Paul Saints, bringing distinction to his fine record by leading the American Association with 134 strikeouts in 170 innings of work. He started 28 games, completing eight and threw one shutout. In 1946 he went 6-6 with St. Paul. On September 12, 1946, Sunkel threw a no-hitter against the Louisville Colonels at Louisville, as the Saints won, 3-0.

Beginning his career in 1934, Sunkel made it to the Big Show in 1937 when he appeared in nine games with the St. Louis Cardinals. He finished his time in the Bigs with a 1-3 season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943.

Sunkel wrapped up his career in pro ball managing the Paris (Ill.) Lakers of the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League (D) from 1951-54, guiding them to an overall 293-199 (.596) record.

A park in Paris is named after Sunkel and is located adjacent to the St. Mary’s Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ray Jacobs died 60 years ago today

Ray Jacobs, shortstop

1928 Minneapolis Millers
1928 Toledo Mud Hens

Raymond Frederick Jacobs was born January 2, 1902 at Salt Lake City, Utah and died 60 years ago today as the result of an automobile accident in Los Angeles. He was only 50 years old at the time of his death.

Jacobs began his career in pro ball with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in 1923 at the age of 21, appearing in only 15 games but smacking the cover off the ball at a .356 clip. He spent the next four full seasons with Los Angeles.

In 1928 he began his brief American Association interlude, spending 25 games with the Toledo Mud Hens during which he batted .322 before heading up to Minneapolis where he appeared in 15 games and played second base. His composite batting average for the two teams was .333 with a .511 slugging percentage.

Jacobs returned to the Angels in 1929 and continued his hot hitting ways, posting a mark of .332 at the plate in 591 at-bats.

By the time his career was over, Jacobs appeared in 20 seasons as an active player, batting .291 with 233 home runs, most of them in the Pacific Coast League. He managed during his final six of those twenty seasons.

Jacobs was killed in an accident when failed to negotiate a curve in his automobile as he headed down the Santa Ana Freeway, according to Baseball Necrology. A strange way for a man so athletic his entire life to die, indeed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Earl Howard died 75 years ago today

Earl Nycum Howard, pitcher

Milwaukee Brewers: 1918-20; 1925


Earl Nycum Howard, who died 75 years ago today, left this earth much too early, at the age of 40 as the result of pneumonia, according to Baseball Necrology. The same source indicates Howard was a US Army veteran of World War I.

Born June 25, 1896 at Everett, Pennsylvania, Howard’s three seasons in the American Association were each spent with one team: the Milwaukee Brewers.

His first three season with Milwaukee were from 1918-20, a particularly rough time for the club. Howard was 2-2 in eight games in 1918, posted a 12-20 record in 44 games in 1919, then went 2-7 in 11 games in 1920. He returned to appear in four games with the Brewers in 1925 at the age of 29 when he won one game, lost none.

Howard’s last of 10 seasons in organized ball was spent with the Newark Bears of the International League in 1928 when he put two wins on the board against three losses.

I count myself as fortunate to be in possession of a game-used bat which once belonged to Earl Howard.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dick Harley, an early Louisville Colonel, 60 years ago today

Dick Harley, outfielder-first baseman

1908 Louisville Colonels

Harley was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 25, 1872 and died at Philadelphia on April 3, 1952, sixty years ago today at the age of 79.

In his only season in the American Association, Harley batted .227 as a member of the Louisville Colonels, appearing in 65 games as an outfielder, 15 as a first baseman. Even at the lusty age of 35, Harley stole 19 bases in his 80 games with Louisville; it was his last season in organized ball. In 1900 as a member of the Detroit Tigers of the minor league American League, he’d stolen 47 bases at the age of 27.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dib Williams, Columbus Red Bird

Edwin Dibrell Williams, born January 19, 1910 at Greenbrier, Arkansas, passed away 20 years ago today at Searcy, Arkansas at the age of 82.

Williams performed as a second-baseman virtually his entire minor league career, but in 1942 the Columbus Red Birds stationed the 32-year-old at first-base where he appeared in 72 games, showing a very assured approach to defense as reflected by his .995 fielding percentage. He batted .264 with 72 hits in 85 games.

For the following few years Williams was performing for a different team, the US Army during World War II, returning to baseball at the Class A level in 1946.

He is buried at Thorn Cemetery in Greenbrier, Arkansas.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ken Silvestri, catcher

Ken Silvestri, catcher

St. Paul Saints: 1938-39
Kansas City Blues: 1947, 1954

b. May 3, 1916 @ Chicago, Illinois
d. March 31, 1992 @ Tallahassee, Florida

Today we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passing of Kenneth Joseph “Hawk” Silvestri.

Silvestri’s career in pro ball began with the Rayne (Louisiana) Rice Birds (D) in 1936. He joined the American Association as a member of the St. Paul Saints during in 1938 when he helped lead the club to the league championship at the age of 22. He batted .272 for the Saints that year, appearing in 114 games with 95 games as catcher to his credit.

In 1939 Silvestri appeared in 60 games with the Saints, 44 as catcher, batting .271.

At the age of 31, he was a Kansas City Blue as a catcher in 44 games for the New York Yankee farm team, 83 games all tolled.

In his final American Association season with Blues, Silvestri batted .241 in 1954, again taking the role of catcher in 24 games in 48 games total.

Silvestri served in the US Army during World War II, earning three Bronze Battle Stars, according to Baseball Necrology. He was active in baseball as a player, coach, manager and scout.

He died at the age of 75 and is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mutt Williams died 50 years ago today

Mutt Williams, pitcher

Minneapolis Millers: 1915-16
St. Paul Saints: 1923

b. July 31, 1892 @ Ozark, Arkansas
d. March 30, 1962 @ Fayetteville, Arkansas

Today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Mutt Williams who died after a protracted illness. He was a veteran of World War I, serving from 1917-18.

David Carter “Mutt” (or D. C.) Williams had something special going on when he first joined the American Association as a member of the Minneapolis Millers in 1915 at the age of 22. Appearing in 64 games, Williams posted a record of 29 wins, 16 losses with an ERA of 2.53 in 440.2 innings of work (nearly an all-time league record). He struck out 180 batters, just a shade away from the league lead which was held by St. Paul’s Bob Steele who whiffed 183.

Williams led the league in wins, games, innings, hits allowed (392), and bases on balls (164). But perhaps more importantly, the right-hander was a major factor in pushing the Millers to their fourth championship in 1915, their first since 1912.

As a Miller in 1916 he went 15-15 in 43 games.

He was a large man by the standards of the day, at 6’3”, 195 lbs.

Williams was a “Twin Cities Turncoat,” a label which applies to players who spent time with both the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints. His lone season in St. Paul in 1923 was a blip on his professional radar screen, but he was probably thrilled to to make it back to the double-A level, even though he appeared in only one game, which he lost.

All tolled, Williams had a professional career in baseball which extended from 1913-27, including a pair of seasons with the American League’s Washington Senators from 1913-14 in which he appeared in a combined six games.

His star shone in the minors where he spent 13 seasons, winning 163 games against 133 losses (.551), appearing in 433 games.

But he will remembered, first and foremost, for his performance in 1915 as a member of the Minneapolis Millers.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Otto "Moonie" Miller died tragically 50 years ago today

Otto “Moonie” Miller, catcher

1924 Indianapolis Indians

b. June 1, 1889 @ Minden, Nebraska
d. March 29, 1962 @ Brooklyn, New York

Lowell Otto “Moonie” Miller waited until he was 35 years old before joining the ranks of the American Association as a member of the Indianapolis Indians, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t busy.

Miller began his pro career in 1908 at the age of 19, and after a disappointing year in 1909 with Duluth of the Minnesota-Wisconsin League (D), he could easily have hung up his cleats and gone back to Nebraska. Instead, he was drafted by the Brooklyn Superbas of the National League on Sept. 1 of 1909. He must have taken the bid to play in the majors very seriously, because he won an assignment to play for Brooklyn in 1910. For 13 seasons without fail, “Moonie” donned the tools of ignorance for Brooklyn, who became the Dodgers in 1911 (then the Superbas again in 1913, then the Robins from 1914-22) for his entire career with the exception of three games he played at first base. He left on a good note in 1922 at the age of 33, hitting .261 in 59 games.

After one year with the Atlanta Crackers (A), he joined Indianapolis (AA) in 1924 at the age of 35, appearing in 43 games, playing catcher in 19 of them, and batting .267 under Donie Bush (see blog entry for March 28). The Indians fell short of the flag by a mere three games.

Miller had big shoes to fill as the back-up backstop for the Tribe in 1924. Ernie Krueger, their regular man behind the plate, batted .339 that year to lead the club, which must be some sort of record for American Association catchers. It was Miller’s final season in pro ball.

Today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Otto “Moonie” Miller’s departure from this life. He left in the most ignominious of manners. According to Baseball Necrology, Miller died “when he plunged from an office on the fourth floor of a building where he had undergone eye surgery two days earlier.” Whether it was an accident or a suicide is something of a question, but it was certainly a strange and tragic twist in the life of a career ball player.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Donie Bush, Baseball Man Extraordinaire

Donie Bush, shortstop

Indianapolis Indians: 1908, 1926

As Manager:

Indianapolis Indians: 1924-26, 1943
Minneapolis Millers: 1934-35
Louisville Colonels: 1939

b. October 8, 1887 @ Indianapolis, Indiana
d. March 28, 1972 @ Indianapolis, Indiana

Owen Joseph “Donie” or “Ownie” Bush was one of the early “grand old men” of baseball.

Today we commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death at the age of 84.

Bush began his career in pro ball at the age of 17 with the Sault Ste. Marie (MI) Soos of the Copper Country Soo League (D) in 1905. Three years later he made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers. A natural righty, Bush was a switch-hitter.

The 5’6”, 140-lb. infielder first joined the American Association in 1908 with his hometown Indianapolis Indians, playing shortstop in 153 games and batting .247, leading the league in runs scored with 99 to help lead the club to their second American Association championship.

Bush returned to the Indians as a manager in 1924 after a long career in the majors spent primarily with the Detroit Tigers, appearing in 1,945 games from 1908-1923. He led the American League in walks in five season.

Bush was a defensive specialist who ranked among the elite as a shortstop in numerous defensive categories throughout his career.

Bush became a principal owner of the Indianapolis club in 1942 and spent many years as a baseball executive and scout. According to Baseball Necrology he was a scout with the Chicago White Sox at the time of his death and was known at the time as the oldest man active in baseball.

The American Association ball park at Indianapolis was known originally as Perry Stadium, and was renamed Victory Field in the 1940s. In the 1960s it was renamed after Bush, and was called Bush Stadium.

Bush is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jimmy Burke, player-manager

Jimmy Burke, third-baseman and manager

Kansas City Blues: 1906-07
Louisville Colonels: 1908
Indianapolis Indians: 1909; 1911-12
Toledo Mud Hens: 1924-25

October 12, 1875 @ St. Louis, Missouri
March 26, 1942 @ St. Louis, Missouri

James Timothy Burke died 70 years ago today. He was known as “Sunset Jimmy.”

Burke’s extensive career as a professional on the diamond began in the Western Association as a member of the Peoria Blackbirds (B) at the age of 22 in 1897. He debuted in the majors the following season.

Burke joined the American Association as a player-manager with the Kansas City Blues beginning in 1906 in the days when the club played at Association Park. The third-baseman batted .284 that year, playing in 152 games. The following season Burke continued to manage the Blues, helping them improve to a fourth-place finish while covering the hot-corner in 154 games and batting .267.

In 1908 he was piloting the Louisville Colonels, bringing the club to a second-place finish just four games in back of the Indianapolis Indians who captured the pennant that year. Burke played 128 games at third base, batting .251, the third-best batting mark on the club.

Indianapolis picked up Burke for the 1909 season to play third base under manager Charlie Carr who brought the Indians to a fourth-place finish. Burke batted .246 while appearing in 139 games. It was his final season as a position player in the American Association, but he went on to manage the Indianapolis club in 1911-12 and the Toledo Mud Hens from 1924-25.

Burke’s entire career in pro ball extended from 1897-1925 with ten seasons spent at the minor league level and seven seasons in the majors. He managed in 12 seasons, including four in the majors.

Burke was paralyzed by a stroke in 1929 and died of pneumonia at the age of 67. He buried at the prestigious Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dick Coffman, Long-time Pitcher

Dick Coffman, pitcher

Milwaukee Brewers: 1933
St. Paul Saints: 1941

born: December 18, 1906 @ Veto, Alabama
died: March 24, 1972 @ Athens, Alabama

Long-time professional pitcher Dick Coffman died 40 years ago today at the age of 65.

Coffman’s first appearance in the professional ranks came in 1926 at the age of 19 when he played for two teams, the Quincy (Ill.) Red Birds (B) and Chattanooga Lookouts (A).

Joining the American Association as a Milwaukee Brewer in 1933, Coffman posted a record of 3-10 in 17 games in 95 innings of work with an ERA of 5.21.

In 1941 his travels took him to St. Paul where he pitched in 11 games for the Saints, earning two losses with no wins in only 23 innings of work.

Coffman’s career was checkered: his eight minor league seasons resulted in a combined record of 51-59. He hung around long enough to assemble a 15-season record in the majors, posting 72 wins against 95 losses with the majority of those seasons spent with the St. Louis Browns.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Steve "Smokey" Sundra, pitcher

Steve “Smokey” Sundra, pitcher

Toledo Mud Hens: 1934
Minneapolis Millers: 1935

born: March 27, 1910 @ Luxor, Pennsylvania
died: March 23, 1952 @ Cleveland, Ohio

Today we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the death of Steve “Smokey” Sundra who died March 23, 1952 at Cleveland, Ohio. Sundra died of rectal cancer at the age of 41. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland.

Sundra first pitched in the American Association as a 24-year-old with the Toledo Mud Hens in 1934, his first assignment in the high minors. Finishing the season with a 7-7 record, Sundra appeared in 37 games, completing 156 innings of work and compiling an ERA of 5.02.

The 1935 season found Sundra with the Minneapolis Millers who became the American Association champions that year. With a record of 4-6, Sundra pitched 102 innings with an ERA of 6.18 in 28 games. One highlight of his season came as a batter when he hit one home run.

Sundra’s last season in the minors came with the Newark Bears of the International League in 1937 when he posted a 15-4 record. He then began his nine-season major league career in earnest as a member of the New York Yankees.

Joining the US Army in in 1945, Sundra pitched in only two more games, appearing in the uniform of the St. Louis Browns.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Louisville's Ed Kenna, The Pitching Poet, Died 100 years ago Today


Ed Kenna, pitcher

Louisville Colonels: 1905-07

born: October 17, 1877 at
Charleston, West Virginia


death date: March 22, 1912


The distinguished West Virginian, Edward Benninghaus Kenna, known as the “Pitching Poet,” died 100 years ago today at Grant, Florida as a result of a disease affecting his stomach. According to Baseball Necrology, Kenna “died suddenly from heart failure after spending two months in Florida for a nervous stomach disorder.” He was only 34 years of age.

Kenna’s professional career as a pitcher began as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens of the Interstate League in 1900. From there he moved to Wheeling to play for the Stogies of the Western Association in 1901 where he appeared in 22 games. Then it was north to Wisconsin to play for the Western League’s Milwaukee Creams for two full seasons and a combined 66 games. In 1904 he went to Denver where he played in 33 tilts as a member of the Grizzlies of the Western League.

Likely owing to his Denver connection, he would have become familiar with the baseball magnate George Tebeau who had an interest in the Denver club and the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. In 1905 Kenna joined the Colonels and appeared in 35 games, winning 16, losing 13. In the next two seasons with Louisville, Kenna went 15-28, and pitched in 305 innings in 1906 at the age of 28.

Kenna became an editor at the Charleston Gazette. His father was a prominent senator representing West Virginia. He is buried along side a brother and his father at the Spring Hill Cemetery in Charleston, West Virginia.

Known as a colorful character on the ball field, Kenna was a singular persona, a lover of life with a variety of interests and talents. Among his favorite was writing poetry. After his death his wife compiled roughly a decade’s worth of his poems and had them published as “Songs of the Open Air and Other Poems” in 1912. The poems are largely reflections on nature and the joy of being in nature. Devoid of baseball themes, the book is a fitting tribute to an artist who also happened to be a sophisticated baseball player and a poet in the larger sense.

Today we sadly commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Otto Williams Died 75 years ago Today

Otto George Williams, ss/2b

death date: March 19, 1937


Otto Williams died 75 years ago today. The long-time American Association infielder played in over 1,000 games on deadball diamonds.

He was 59 years of age and succumbed after an eight-day battle with lobar pneumonia, according to Baseball Necrology, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Born November 2, 1877 at Newark, New Jersey, Williams played in his frist professional season with the St. Paul Saints of the Western League in 1901. He became a major leaguer shortly afterwards, and played in the Bigs for four seasons.

In 1906 Williams became a shortstop with the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. He converted into a second-baseman in 1908, managing to sustain a span of seven seasons with the Tribe. Typically a light hitter, his best year with the bat in the American Association came in 1911 when he hit .278 with 14 doubles.

At the age of 35 Williams moved on, playing with the Kansas City Blues in 1913 in 95 games, adding to his lengthy résumé in the American Association: eight seasons and well over 1,000 games to his credit.

He later managed Muskogee before becoming a coach and athletic trainer at Creighton University.

Gordie Hinkle Died 40 years ago today

Gordie Hinkle, catcher

Death date: March 19, 1972

Columbus Red Birds, 1931-32
Indianapolis Indians, 1938
Toledo Mud Hens, 1938

Born April 3, 1905 at Toronto, Ohio (east central Ohio on the Ohio River), Hinkle started his career in professional baseball at the age of 25 with the Greensboro Patriots (C) and Rochester Red Wings (AA). He signed on to play with the Columbus Red Birds in 1931, his first season in the American Association, batting .221 in 100 games. His stint with Columbus continued briefly in 1932. In 1938, he returned to the league with the Toledo Mud Hens after playing with the Indianapolis Indians for six games. Under manager Fred Haney, Hinkle batted .215 in 144 games. Hinkle died at the age of 66, 40 years ago today, in Houston Texas. He is buried at Woodlawn Garden of Memories in Houston.

You can read more about Hinkle at http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/0fac787a

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Billy Purtell Died 50 Years Ago

Toledo: 1918

Columbus, Ohio native William Patrick “Billy” Purtell died on this date 50 years ago in Bradenton, Florida at the age of 76. Purtell played his first season in the American Association as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens during the war-shortened 1918 season at the age of 32, playing shortstop and appearing in 40 games, batting .175. Purtell played professionally from 1904 to 1926, sandwiching in five seasons at the major league level and managing in the low minors for Vancouver in 1921 and for Hagerstown in 1928. He is buried at Mansion Memorial Park in Ellenton, Florida.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kansas City Blues' Eddie Mulligan

Kansas City Blues: 1916-17

St. Louis (MO) native Edward Joseph Mulligan, a 22-season minor leaguer (1914-39), died 30 years ago today in San Rafael, California. At the age of 21, Mulligan debuted with the Kansas City Blues of the American Association as a shortstop, batting .238 in 55 games. He returned to the Blues the following season, appearing in 100 games and swatting .253. With his first taste of the major leagues in 1915, Mulligan became a Chicago Cub in 11 games, showing promise with 8 hits in 22 at-bats. Mulligan was born Aug. 27, 1894. He is buried at Colma, California at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Danny Hoffman Died 90 Years Ago Today

Toledo: 1903
Indianapolis: 1911
St. Paul: 1912

Daniel John Hoffman was born March 2, 1880 (sharing a birthdate with Woody English, among others) in Connecticut, joining the ranks of professional baseball at age 21. In 1903 he became a Toledo Mud Hen, appearing in just seven games after making his major league debut with the Philadelphia Athletics with whom he played 74 games. After several seasons in the American League, Hoffman returned to the American Association, joining the Indianapolis Indians in 1911 as an outfielder when he appeared in 118 games. The following season he became a St. Paul Saint, playing in 129 games and batting .258. Hoffman passed away March 14, 1922, 90 years ago today, of tuberculosis and his buried in St. Michael Cemetery in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vincent Maney died 60 years ago today

TOL: 1902
COL: 1902

Today we observe the 60th anniversary of the death of Vincent Maney of Batavia, New York. Maney was 14 years old when he joined the Marion (Indiana) Glass Blowers of the Western Association in 1901. According to baseball-reference, Maney was born Oct. 14, 1886, and was still a pre-pubescent youngster when he joined the American Association (the youngest I’ve ever heard of) as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens, under the name of Patrick Meaney. In LinWeber’s Toledo Baseball Guide he is listed at 25 years of age. Maney split the season between the Toledo Mud Hens and Columbus Senators as an outfielder. And he was impressive as a hitter, posting a .307 batting average in 257 at-bats with Toledo, and a .313 mark in 211 at-bats with Columbus. He finally made the majors ten year later, appearing in one game as a member of the Detroit Tigers in 1912 at the age of 25.

Fred Beck, 1b/OF, died 50 years ago

KC: 1916
STP: 1923

Yesterday we observed the 50th anniversary of the death of World War I veteran Fred Beck of Havana, Illinois. A lanky left-hander, Beck spent 22 seasons in the ranks of professional baseball beginning in 1905 with the Bloomington Bloomers of the Three-Eye League (B) in 1905. Principally an outfielder, Beck joined the American Association as a first baseman in 1916 at the age of 29 when he appeared in a pinch-hitting role in 20 games with the Kansas City Blues. In 1923, he joined the St. Paul Saints when he appeared in 80 games, batting .269 with six home runs in 275 at-bats. Three years later Beck was one of three managers for the Cedar Rapids Bunnies of the Mississippi Valley League at the age of 39; he also played in 33 games at first-base that year. Beck was 75 when he passed away at Havana, Illinois; he was born Nov. 17, 1886.

Pete Daglia, pitcher: age 46

IND: 1932-33

On March 11, we observe the 60th anniversary of the death of Pete Daglia, a right-handed pitcher for the Indianapolis Indians of 1932 and 1933. A California native, Daglia spent many seasons in the Pacific Coast League, and came to the American Association in 1932 at the age of 26 when he appeared in nine games, winning four and losing three in 57 innings of work, sporting a flashy 3.44 ERA. Daglia returned to Indianapolis in 1933, putting in a full season as a member of the Indians. In 175 innings of work, Daglia won nine, lost nine with a 4.22 ERA. His last year in minor league ball came in 1937 at the age of 31. He was only 46 years of age when he passed away March 11, 1952 in Willits, California.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ted Sepkowski

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the death of Ted Sepkowski who died at Severna Park, Maryland at the age of 78. Born Theodore Walter Sczepkowski in Baltimore, MD on Nov. 9, 1923, Sepkowski was 78 at the time of his death. The former Cleveland Indian is buried at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

Sepkowski joined the American Association (AAA) as a member of the Kansas City Blues in 1949 when he played second base and outfield, appearing in 80 games and hitting .243 for the New York Yankee farm team.

As a member of the Boston Braves organization in 1951, he joined the Association's Milwaukee Brewers for seven games, appearing only in a pinch-hitting role.

Sepkowski spent a total of 12 seasons in the minors, wrapping it up at the age of 31 in 1955 after appearing with the PONY League's Erie (PA) Senators (D) in 91 games while managing the club. All told, he played in 1,240 games in the "little show,", with 4,355 plate appearances, hitting .275 with 194 home runs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bill Carrick Died 80 Years Ago Today

A right-handed pitcher from Erie, Pennsylvania, William Martin Carrick, also known as "Doughnut Bill," died March 7, 1932 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Adrian, Michigan, the same final resting spot as Emil Huhn, a former member of the Milwaukee Brewers, who was killed in an auto accident in 1925.

Carrick was a pitcher in the American Association for just one season. As a Toledo Mud Hen in 1903, Carrick had a 2-8 record in ten games. During the first half of the season, a strong Toledo labor union identified him as a spy whose job it was to identify union members who were making trouble during union events. The group called for Carrick to be dismissed or they would organize a boycott against the Mud Hens. Their threat worked and Carrick was soon pitching in Seattle where he finished the season.

Monday, March 5, 2012

70 Years Ago Today: Frank "Dutch" (Buzz) Wetzel Dies

Franklin Burton (Dutch) "Buzz" Wetzel, an outfielder who was appeared with the 1927 Minneapolis Millers in seven games, passed away March 5, 1942 in Hollywood, California. Baseball Necrology reports he passed away at his home in Burbank, California. Records indicate he was used only as a pinch-hitter as a Miller. He was born July 7, 1893 at Columbus, Indiana. In 20 at-bats for the Millers that year, Wetzel had five singles for a batting average of .250. The following season Wetzel, at age 34, played for Omaha of the Western League, batting his eyeballs out with a .345 average (157 hits, 20 home runs).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jack "Wobby" Hammond: KC's Solid Sticker

Walter Charles "Wobby" Hammond, also known as Jack, died 70 years ago today on March 4, 1942 at Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Hammond had a substantial minor league career, batting .304 in over 3,600 at-bats (965 games).

Wobby spent the last two seasons of his career with the American Association's Kansas City Blues, first in 1922 when he appeared in 76 games as a second-baseman when he hit .321 at the age of 31, then in 1923 when he hit .300 in 121 games.

Hammond was born at Amsterdam, New York on February 26, 1891. He was the athletic director at Colgate University during WWI, became a prominent chemist and died after a brief illness.

George Mogridge Died 50 Years Ago

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of George Mogridge, a left-handed pitcher on the staff of the Minneapolis Millers in 1913-14.

Compiling a record of 13 wins, 10 losses for the Millers in 1913, the 23 year-old from Rochester, New York appeared in 136 games with over 200 innings of work. The following season he split with Des Moines of the Western League (21-15) and Minneapolis where he went 0-1 in just four games.

Mogridge went on to play 15 seasons in the majors after compiling a remarkable minor league record of 86-51. In fact, he is noteworthy as the first member of the New York Yankees to pitch a no-hitter.

He was born George Anthony Mogridge on February 18, 1889. He died of a heart attack and is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Rochester, New York.

Larry Rosenthal died 20 Years Ago Today

Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Larry Rosenthal who died in Woodbury, Minnesota March 4, 1992.

The lefty/lefty outfielder first played in the American Association at the age of 23 for his home town St. Paul Saints in 1933, appearing in 74 games and batting .294 with four home runs. His first stint with St. Paul lasted from 1933-36; he rejoined the club in 1946, appearing in 135 games with 457 at-bats! Wrapping up his résumé with the 52 games as a Saint and 41 with the Indianapolis Indians in 1947, batting a combined .320 in 93 games!

Rosenthal appeared with the Kansas City Blues for 130 games in 1942, and the Milwaukee Brewers were honored with his services in 1945 when he hit .303 in 74 games. He finished his 10-year minor-league career in the minors as a Brewer with 892 games in the American Association.

Born Lawrence John Rosenthal on May 21, 1910 at St. Paul. Buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hal Janvrin Died 50 Years Ago Today

Today is also the 50th anniversary of the death of former Indianapolis Indian and Kansas City Blues' middle infielder, Harold Chandler Janvrin who passed away at the age of 69 at Boston, Massachusetts on March 1, 1962. According to Baseball Necrology, Janvrin was a World War I veteran who served in the U. S. Army. He is buried at Exeter Cemetery in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Hanvrin was 30 years of age when he first played in the American Association as a shortstop for the Indianapolis Indians in 1923. By that time he was a veteran of the game, having played for several seasons with his hometown Boston Red Sox. As a member of the Indians he put his expertise to good use, hitting .305 in nearly 400 at-bats.

As a member of the Kansas City Blues in 1924, Hanvrin was a second-baseman who appeared in 44 games, 39 as an active infielder. He had a respectable season with the glove but his bat was on the wane, posting a .234 batting average. It was his final season in pro ball, but he later coached for the Harvard baseball team.

Hanvrin was born at Haverhill, Mass. on August 27, 1892.

(Baseball Necrology reports his death was March 2, not March 1)

Nig Fuller of the 1902 Columbus Senators

Today is the 75th anniversary of the death of a former American Association player from the league’s first season. Fuller, whose full name was Charles F. "Nig" Fuller (but whose real last name was Furrer, according to baseball-reference.com, died in Toledo at the age of 58 on March 1, 1937. He was born March 30, 1878 at Toledo. Fuller played for the 1902 Columbus Senators primarily as a catcher.

In his brief career with Columbus, Fuller reported officially for 14 games, getting 14 hits and batting .264, playing in a utility role.

There is conflicting information regarding his burial location. Baseball-reference lists Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery, Sylvania, OH as his interrment grounds, whereas Lee’s Baseball Necrology lists Woodlawn Cemetery. Anyone with information regarding this discrepancy please reply or send note to pureout@msn.com.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dizzy Trout

Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Paul Howard “Dizzy” Trout. Trout was on the 1938 Toledo Mud Hens team as was “Wild Bill” Miller (whose death was commemorated yesterday) but possibly at different points in the season. Trout hailed from a northern suburb of Terre Haute, Indiana called Sandcut, cutting his teeth on professional baseball at the age of 20 with the Terre Haute Tots of the Three-Eye League. Trout's American Association debut came the same year when he had a cup of coffee with the Indianapolis Indians in 1935. He repeated with the Tribe the following season, going 8-7 in 37 games. In 1937 he was with the Toledo Mud Hens, picking up 14 wins, losing 16 games in 41 games. He returned to the Hens for a five-game stint in 1938 for a dash of seasoning before joining the Detroit Tigers for a long and noteworthy career. Trout died February 28, 1972 before his time at the age of 56 at Harvey, Illinois.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wild Bill Miller

William Francis “Wild Bill” Miller died on this date 30 years ago. In 1938 the 28-year-old righty suited up for eight games with the Toledo Mud Hens, earning no decisions. In 20 innings of work, Miller struck out nine batters, walking 17, hitting one. He died at Hannibal, Missouri, the town where he was born on April 12, 1910.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Billy "Pickles" Dillhoefer Dies at 28

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Pickles Dillhoefer who played one season in the American Association as a catcher for the 1916 Milwaukee Brewers. Born October 13, 1893 at Cleveland, Ohio, the young catcher batted .292 in 154 at-bats (50 games) for the Brewers during the club's worst season as an American Association franchise. Dillhoefer contracted typhoid fever which led to pneumonia and his premature death in St. Louis on February 23, 1922. He is buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama where his wife was from. For more info please see: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/dillhpi01.shtml

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Phil "Sid" Hensiek

Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Phil Hensiek, an American Association pitcher who performed in three seasons for the Minneapolis Millers from 1931-33. Born at St. Louis, Missouri on October 13, 1901, Hensiek died at the age of 70 in St. Louis. His cumulative record as a Miller was 15-19. Hensiek's seventh and final season in pro ball was in 1936 as a reliever for the Montreal Royals of the International League at age 34.

John "Shotgun" Peters

Today is the 80th anniversary of a former American Association player. John "Shotgun" Peters, a catcher who appeared in over 450 games in a Kansas City Blues uniform, died on February 21, 1932 at the age of 38 in Kansas City, Missouri, less than one year since he'd hit .325 for the Blues in 126 games that year. "Big Pete" was a member of the Blues organization on a full-time basis from 1927-31 after being given a trial as a 24 year-old in 1918. With 17 seasons in the minors, Peters was an accomplished player, appearing in 1,770 games with 53 home runs, 264 doubles and a batting average of .292.