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.

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