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There's much confusion here about Jacob Henry Atz. You'll find sources that say his given name was John Jacob Zimmerman, and that he changed it to Jake Atz after an unfortunate incident early in his baseball career reminded him it's often inconvenient to have a last name that begins with Z.

The story is that he was a second baseman on a Raleigh, North Carolina, minor league team that folded in 1901 before the season ended. The owner announced he'd pay as many players as he could — in alphabetical order. He ran out of cash before he got to Zimmerman. That's when the player decided to have his name legally changed to Atz.

It makes for a good story, but it's not true, though the source was Atz himself. That's what I discovered in a 1928 newspaper story that reported on a banquet speech in which Atz told the audience that he played his first season of professional baseball as "John Zimmerman."

Atz died in 1945, and according to his obituary, he'd been a vaudeville comedian in the off-season before he deciding to concentrate on baseball. Supposedly he was billed as "Leave 'em Laughing Jakey, though I'm not sure if that's true. Baseball historian Rob Fitts, who wrote the linked story that corrects Atz's real name and reveals that the man was not Jewish, despite being mentioned in "The Big Book of Jewish Baseball," said nothing about Atz ever performing in vaudeville. (However, I did find newspaper stories that identified him as Jakey Atz. I also found a March 28, 1908 Chicago Tribune story that said Atz, then a member of the Chicago White Sox, had been coerced into umpiring an exhibition game between the Sox and the Evansville, Indiana, River Rats of the Central League. The newspaper said Atz did an entertaining job of imitating famous umpire "Silk" O'Loughlin throughout the game. O'Loughlin is credited with shouting out his calls of balls, strikes and outs, and making elaborate gestures to let everyone in the park know his decisions. Previously, umpires were often difficult to hear and understand.)

Anyway, what is not in dispute about Atz is that he played for New Orleans of the Southern Association in 1901 and 1902, and got into three games at second base for the Washington Senators in 1902, batting .100 on one single in 10 at bats. He would have reason to wish he'd remained with the Senators.

Instead he returned to New Orleans, and over the next four seasons also played in Memphis, Portland (Oregon), and Los Angeles, though it was in New Orleans in 1907 that he batted .312 and earned a trip back to the American League, this time with the White Sox.

Atz hung around Chicago for two more years, playing 118 games at second base in 1909 and hitting .236, which seems feeble until you dig deeper and discover that was 15 points higher than the team batting average of .221. Atz's season — and his major league career — ended prematurely, thanks to a Walter Johnson fastball that nailed him on his left hip. It was the last pitch Atz ever saw in the major leagues. Ironically, Atz let the pitch hit him in order to get a free trip to first base.

This wasn't the first time Atz was injured in 1909. Earlier he had been knock unconscious as the result of a collision with outfielder Ellis Cole during practice.

He was back in the minor leagues a year later, recovered from his hip injury, but not quite the player he used to be. Then in 1911 he made the career move that would earn him a place in baseball history — he became a manager for Providence of the Eastern League, replacing Jimmy Collins, a former third baseman who'd wind up in the Hall of Fame 34 years later.

Atz's managerial career got off to a rough start (Providence fired him at the end of the 1911 season), but he'd soon realize he'd found his calling. He spent 27 seasons managing in the minor leagues, most of them in the Texas League where his Fort Worth Panthers won six pennants in a row, which earned him a spot in the league's Hall of Fame.

Minor league baseball's website lists the 100 best minor league teams of all-time. You'll find that list in the history section of http://minorleaguebaseball.com
You'll notice that three teams in the top 20 (and four teams in the top 33) were managed by Jake Atz.

His last season as a manager was 1941 when he led the Winston-Salem Twins of the Piedmont League. That same year, his son, Jake Atz Jr., was manager of Texarkana Twins of the Cotton States League.

There are two believable stories behind William George Dell's nickname. Apparently the six-foot-four pitcher really did wheeze when he breathed, which was understandable because his nose looked like it had been smashed by a baseball bat.

Casey Stengel, who was one of his Brooklyn teammates, years later joked about Dell, saying their manager, Wilbert Robinson, claimed he could always tell when Dell was warmed up, because that's when the pitcher's wheeze came in loud and clear.

But Dell's nickname originally had nothing to do with his breathing, not according to a story by David Toll on nevadatravel.net. It seems Dell's family, who had move from Nevada to Butte, Montana, soon after the future pitcher was born, had friends or relatives in Weiser. Toll says the Dells often visited Weiser, which is where young William met a girl named Eleanor, whom he would later married.

The Weiser in Idaho is not pronounced like the weiser in Bud, which, as you know, is pronounced "WISE-ur." The Idaho town is pronounced WEEZ-ur.

Anyway, Toll's story goes on to say that young Dell's family began teasing him with "Wee Willie Weiser, pig-tail squeezer." There was a nickname in the making, but it wasn't yet fully formed.

Bill Dell made his professional baseball debut with a minor league team in Butte, and after winning 20 games in 1912, he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who let him go after three brief appearances. Dell went to Seattle and had two 20-win seasons in the Northwestern League, which earned him an offer from the Brooklyn Robins.

Dell had married his Weiser girlfriend, and his Brooklyn teammates began calling him Weiser Dell. It didn't take long for Weiser to turn into "Wheezer."

Dell won 11 games for Brooklyn that season, losing 10. He threw four shutouts for the third place team, and had an earned run average of 2.34, second best on the team (to Jeff Pfeffer). He improved his earned run average slightly in 1916, but had a losing record (8-9), though the Robins won the National League pennant. Dell pitched one scoreless inning in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, who won the series in five games.

However, Dell could do nothing right for Brooklyn in 1917. He started four games, lost them all. The Robins released Dell, and sent him to Baltimore, but he refused to report.

In 1918, Dell joined the Vernon (California) Tigers of the Pacific Coast League. He was 32 years old, and his second career was about to begin. The Vernon team was owned by actor Fatty Arbuckle, and managed by "Vinegar Bill" Essick. Dell emerged as perhaps the best pitcher in what was probably the best minor league of them all. In five seasons with Vernon, Dell won 117 games, lost 69, topped by a 28-win season in 1922. Overall, Dell had 238 wins in organized baseball, 219 of them in the minor leagues.

It's assumed that catcher James Francis Hogan was given his nickname because he was as big as a shack. However, I suspect the native of Somerville, Massachusetts, owed his nickname to his heritage, and that his family was considered shanty Irish. Just my theory.

Hogan was six-foot-one, and about 200 pounds when he became a professional baseball player in 1925. At the time he was an outfielder. He spent the year in the Eastern League with Albany and Worcester, but played nine games for the Boston Braves, who decided Hogan was too slow to remain in the outfield. He became a catcher in 1926 with the Lynn (Massachusetts) Papooses of the New England League, finishing the season with the Braves, and now several pounds heavier.

As he established himself as a major leaguer with the Braves in 1927, sportswriters began to have fun with Hogan, who became known as baseball's biggest eater. Fat jokes began to fly as Hogan's weight went up, up, and up. He became one of baseball's most storied players. For more.

"I never have any trouble with Hogan," said one of his managers, Bill McKechnie, "until it comes to eating. He likes to top everything off with ice cream and cake."

What kept him around was his hitting ability. His defensive ability went unappreciated, though statistics indicate he was a better-than-average catcher. He is listed as playing 13 seasons in the majors, but there were only eight seasons in which he participated in more than 70 games. His best years were 1928 to 1931 when he played more than 100 games each season with the New York Giants, and batted .300 or better every season, going as high as .339 in 1930 (when it seemed everyone hit well). His lifetime batting average was an excellent .295.

Hogan normally was a good-natured fellow. He even went on stage in a vaudeville comedy act with a Giant teammate, Andy Cohen. But apparently he tired of jokes about his appetite, and preferred to eat alone. There was another reason for this. By eating alone, he had no witnesses when he cheated on diets mandated by his managers, especially while he played for the Giants and John McGraw.

McGraw checked receipts for Hogan's meals, but these receipts were often works of fiction. There are stories about codes Hogan worked out with waiters and waitresses. For example, asparagus was code for pie a la mode.

In his February 26, 1932 column in the Buffalo Evening News, W. O. McGeehan recalled a training regimen set up for Hogan during spring training the year before.

"For luncheon, the diet allowed him some carrots, spinach, and a little lemon and water ... One day he wrote carrots and spinach. The waitress looked at him with deep sympathy as she took away the order. She brought him instead a double order of Boston cream pie and a double order of chocolate ice cream."

Was this true? Probably not, but throughout his career and forever after, Shanty Hogan was fair game for all kinds of stories about his eating habits.

He was only 30 years old when Washington purchased his services in 1936. He spent most of the season with the Senators' farm team in Albany where he batted .359 in 56 games, but in September he was back in the major leagues, batting .323 in 19 games with Washington.

On September 19, 1936, the New York Post ran a story about how the Yankees would break their home attendance record during a series against the Senators.

"The special attraction," said the newspaper, "is the new Washington Monument, Frank Shanty Hogan, the man who ate himself out of the National League and into the American ... The thousands of restaurant workers who attended games at the Polo Grounds as a matter of pride when their friend, known to them as Death on Steaks, was a Giant, may not recognize Hogan so easily. He weighed some 272 pounds in his last days at the Polo Grounds, and now he is a sylph-like 271."

When 1937 rolled around, Senators' owner Clark Griffith ordered Hogan to lose 50 pounds. Whether he did, I don't know, but it was a much lighter Hogan who began the season. Whether weakened by his diet, discouraged, or suddenly much older than his 31 years, Shanty Hogan could no longer hit. The Senators let him go after 21 games when he was batting .152. He went to Toronto of the International League, but was released after hitting .176 in 66 games. Indianapolis of the American Association picked him up, and he batted just .182 in seven games.

He managed to hit his approximate weight (.257) the next season with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League, but he'd gone as far as he could go, so Hogan retired. He was only 32.

He was in the news from time to time during his retirement, and in 1952 was briefly a minor league manager for the Hot Springs Bathers of the Cotton States League. Hogan died in Boston in 1967, at the age of 61.

Baseball researchers are having a field day with Charles Leander Jones, who threw a no-hitter in his first major league appearance, but among the unanswered questions is, "What's the deal with his nickname? Who or what is a Bumpus?"

David Nemec's "Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume 2," suggests there might be some validity to the explanation offered to a reporter after Jones' surprising no-hitter: That Jones had bumped around to so many teams (at least six) in the past two seasons, that "Bumpus" seemed an almost logical nickname.

Jones had won 46 games during those two seasons, most of them in the Illinois-Iowa League with teams in Ottumwa, Quincy, Joliet, Aurora. But it was in October, 1892, when Jones played for a semi-pro team in Wilmington, Ohio, that he got his big break. He hurled a couple of scoreless inning in an exhibition game against Cincinnati in a game where his team was hopelessly behind. Reds manager Charles Comiskey asked Jones to join his team to pitch against Pittsburgh in the last game of the season. Jones pitched and won on a no-hitter, though Pittsburgh scored one unearned run.

The significance of the game was it was the last one played before the distance from the pitcher's box to home place was changed from 55 feet-six inches, to 60 feet-six inches. It is suggested that Jones couldn't cope with the extra five feet of distance when he began the 1893 season with Cincinnati.

After pitching well in an exhibition game, Jones flopped when the season began. The Reds released him after he'd appeared in six games and had lost three of four decisions. The New York Giants grabbed him, but Jones walked 10 batters in four innings, giving up five hits and five runs, losing his only start before he returned to the minor leagues.

He pitched professionally until 1900, winning at least 133 games for teams at various levels of the minors. Much research has been done into Jones' family background, and whether his mother was African-American, mulatto or Native American. She may have had Jones out of wedlock, marrying three years later to a man named Jeffries, who may have been African-American.

Jones dropped out of sight after 1900, being discovered 20 years later in an infirmary in Dayton, Ohio. A story in a Dayton newspaper aroused interest and in an pre-internet example of Go Fund Me, money was raised to move Jones back home to nearby Cedarville, Ohio, where he was born. And there Jones died in 1938. He was 68.

Another pitcher named Jones —Elijah Albert Jones of Oxford, Mississippi — came along in 1907 to make four pitching appearances for the Detroit Tigers. People started calling him "Bumpus." A year later he won 19 games for Montreal of the Eastern League, and in 1909 started two games for the Tigers, winning one, losing one. That was the extent of his big league experience. He returned to the Eastern League, retiring in 1912 after one losing season with Rochester of the International League.

He was born Casimir Eugene Kwietniewski, but early in his professional baseball career, he decided the length of his last name might lead to complications. For one thing, it was too long to fit into a newspaper box score, so he considered shortening it to Kwiet, but worried that either way people pronounced it — as "quit" or "quiet" — he'd get a nickname he didn't want.

Why he chose "Michaels" as his last name wasn't recorded. Along the way he decided "Cass" was preferable to "Casimir." He had another problem, but this one helped him go directly to the major leagues when he was only 17. A perforated eardrum caused him to be classified 4-F, preventing him from joining the Armed Forces during World War Two. And so he played two games for the Chicago White Sox in 1943, going hitless in seven at bats. He was still Casimir Kwietniewski at the time.

When he reported to the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association in 1944, he checked in as second baseman Cass Michaels. He batted .356 in 54 games, and was back in the majors from then on. He played for the White Sox until early in the 1950 season when he was traded to the Washington Senators. It was strange timing because the 24-year-old second baseman had hit .308 the season before, and was batting .312 when the White Sox unloaded him. Michaels' average immediately dipped, and he never batted higher than .265 for the rest of his career, which ended in 1954. By that time he'd gone from Washington to the St. Louis Browns to the Philadelphia Athletics and back to the White Sox.

He was only 28 when he played his last game. What sent him into retirement was a pitch that hit him in the head on August 27, 1954. The pitch was thrown by Marion Fricano of the Philadelphia Athletics. Michaels and Fricano had been teammates in Philadelphia the previous two seasons.

Michaels was out for the rest of the season, but attempted to return with the White Sox in 1955. During his third day of spring training, he passed out. He was hospitalized and told by doctors he couldn't play for at least six months. He said at the time he'd try again in 1956, but he never did.

He went home to Detroit, where he'd coached high school basketball in the off-season, and opened a bar. Michaels died in 1982. He was only 56.

Robert Potter is called Squire Potter on the incredibly detailed website, baseball-reference.com, which also lists his full name as Robert Potter. In trying to determine if Squire was a nickname, I dug around the Internet until I was convinced it was his middle name — because there's a family history online that shows his grandfather's name was Squire Hollingsworth Potter.

Unfortunately, there's little other information on a right-handed pitcher who made one appearance in the major leagues, with Washington in 1923, when he was 21 years old. But that experience was unforgettable, though unpleasant and embarrassing.

I find no minor league record, nor is there a college listed, though it appears the Senators may have given the Kentucky native a trial just after he graduated from one. Or perhaps he'd made a reputation for himself as an amateur pitcher in his hometown of Ashland. In any event, his experience in Washington must have jolted him into pursuing another profession. That was about the only favor Senators manager Donie Bush did the young man.

It was August 7, 1923, and after six innings, the Senators were losing to the Cleveland Indians, 13-1. Potter entered the game in the seventh inning, and threw eight straight balls, walking two of the four batters who would get free passes off him before the game was over. He also gave up 11 hits, as Bush kept Potter in the game until the bitter end. Potter retired only five batters in three innings. Three Indians deliberately allowed themselves to get caught stealing, and another tried to stretch a double into a triple, knowing he wouldn't make it. Potter gave up nine runs, and Cleveland won, 22-2.

The pitcher's parents, Andrew Maryland Potter and the former Julia Ann Abrams, had 18 children. Born eight years after Squire was Maryland Dykes Potter, who preferred to be called by his middle name. He also would give baseball a try, making it his career for eleven seasons, though he pitched even fewer innings in the major leagues than his older brother, but did it in two relief appearances with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938, working one inning each time, and giving up one run — on a home run. However, he gave up three other hits, which may be why the Dodgers sent him back to the minors after a week.

Dykes Potter remained in the Dodgers' farm system until 1941, spending most of his last three seasons with Dayton of the Mid-Atlantic League. (He was 19-10 in 1940). He retired after the 1941 season. having won 140 games in the minor leagues (against 97 losses). At that point he was 30 years old. He returned home to Ashland, and took a job as repairman with Armco Steel. He and his wife, Donna, had eight children, and he remained at Armco until he retired for a second time.

Squire Potter must have been a highly regarded pitcher in the Ashland area because he and his brother were honored posthumously in 2015 when they were inducted into the Ashland Baseball CP-1 Hall of Fame. (CP-1 stands for Central Park baseball field number one, known as Ashland's Field of Dreams.) Among the others in that initial Hall of Fame class were formers major league pitchers Brandon Webb and Don Gullett, so the Potter brothers are in good company.

Ralph Vivian Stroud is an interesting case. Like Grover Cleveland Alexander, whom he faced on one occasion while pitching for the New York Giants, Stroud had a nickname that may not have been been so widely used as to obliterate his given first name.

These days Grover Alexander is often recalled as "Pete" Alexander, even during periods he didn't have that as a nickname. He quite clearly was Grover Alexander in those days, and, in my opinion, Grover ever after.

In researching Stroud, I found 458 articles that referred to him by his given first name, only three that called him "Sailor," and all three were items from the 1920s, long after he'd left the major leagues. (Although "only" six feet tall, Stroud was called "Skyscraper" by the Buffalo Courier on January 3, 1913)

Statistics on baseball-reference.com do not tell the whole story of Stroud, a right-hander, whose pitching records with Trenton of the Pennsylvania-New Jersey League in 1908 and Williamsport of the Tri-State League are unavailable. I found a clipping that referred to Stroud as the ace of the Williamsport team, but did not have any won-lost figures. In any event, the Detroit Tigers signed him in 1910. By then Stroud was 25 years old. He won five games, lost nine, but his victories included three shutouts.

He wound up in Buffalo in 1911, pitching for the Bisons of the Eastern League, winning 12 games, losing nine. He remained in Buffalo, but the team had advanced to the International League. Stroud won 16 games, lost 15, and Buffalo sold him to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. Stroud was held in high regard, because owners of other International League teams complained they should have been offered an opportunity to bid on his services before he was dealt to a West Coast team.

Stroud won 45 games in two seasons in the Pacific Coast League, which got him an offer from the New York Giants. New York newspapers referred to Stroud as "a recruit," though he was 30 years old. (The New York Herald even called him stripling Ralph Stroud.)

He performed well for the last place Giants, winning 12 games, losing nine. (Combined, he and teammate Jeff Tesreau had a won-lost record of 31-25; the rest of the pitchers were 38-58)

Feisty Hall of Famer John McGraw managed the Giants, and a season later Stroud found himself in McGraw's doghouse. By June, 1916, Stroud had just one win and two losses. It didn't matter that his earned run average (2.70) was slightly better than the season before. Stroud's departure from the Giants unfolded this way, with McGraw having an ulterior motive which is immediately obvious. Also check the writing; it's priceless. And, yes, I shortened this piece considerably.

New York Press, June 16, 1916

By FREDERICK G. LIEB
Slim Sallee, the slender left-handed Sheriff, is now in the position of Willie-off-the-pickleboat, who was all dressed up and had no place to go. However, Slim Harry’s position is slightly different from that of Willie. Slim jumped the St. Louey Cardinals late on Thursday night, but as the late Mr. Federal League is but a memory, Slim has no place to jump. But jump he did!

Miller Huggins, who already commanded one of the saddest teams there are, had a fresh mess of trouble yesterday. Miller is a barrister by trade, managing the Cardinals is only his recreation. Some people have queeeer ideas of fun.

It seems Sheriff Slim Sallee objected to the way they cooked the prunes at the Somerset, found fault with the southern exposure, and had an awful fuss with the midget manager. To show how much he was aggravated, Harry tore up his contract into 983 little bits, packed up his grip, and departed to — no one knows where.

According to Huggins, Sallee has been insubordinate, sulky and dissatisfied for some time. The showdown came last night, when Sallee registered a big kick about his hotel room and his meals.

[Meanwhile, John] McGraw is getting ready to chop the head off one of his pitchers, Ralph Stroud, so a place could readily be made for Sallee on the Giant staff. Waivers have been asked on the former Detroit Tiger, and if they are granted, the Dover, N. J., boy is booked for a Class AA berth. The poor pitching Stroud exhibited in a game against the Cubs last week is said to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so far as McGraw’s opinion of Stroud as a big league pitcher went.

Stroud was sent to the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, but, at first, Stroud refused to report. According to the New York Sun on July 17, Stroud wanted to go to the Pacific Coast League, "his first love." He finally gave in, and about a month after he was supposed to report, Stroud showed up in Louisville, and won eight games, losing only three.

Meanwhile, the Giants picked up Sallee, who won nine games and lost only four during the last half of the 1916 season. Sallee won 18 games for the Giants a year later. (More on Sallee further down the page.)

Stroud remained in Louisville through the 1918 season — he was 16-10 for the Colonels in 1917. Finally, in 1919, Stroud was back in the Pacific Coast League, playing for the Salt Lake City Bees. He won 14 games that season, and in 1920 he had a 26-13 record. (One of his teammates that year was Sloppy Thurston, who is spotlighted next on this page.)

At least twice Stroud jumped the Salt Lake City team, only to be negotiated into a return. At this point (1920), Stroud was 35 years old. The New Jersey native obviously preferred life out west, because he turned down opportunities to pitch for the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. And in 1921, he decided he'd rather be in California than Utah, so he signed a contract to play with Hanford of the outlaw San Joaquin Valley League.

The Los Angeles Evening Herald (June 2, 1921) referred to Stroud as "one of the greatest grasshoppers in baseball" in a story about a possible investigation by Judge K. M. Landis, the baseball commissioner. I don't think anything came of it, because Stroud remained outside of organized baseball for three years. He said the money was better in the San Joaquin Valley League, so he remained there until 1924. (Stroud never underestimated his value; he was a holdout several times in his career, starting with Buffalo in 1912.)

According to baseball-reference.com, Stroud returned to the Pacific Coast League, pitching without much success for no less than five teams — Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Hollywood, Los Angeles and Portland — until he apparently retired from baseball in 1928, at the age of 43.

All of this begs the question, when and why did he become known as "Sailor"? Perhaps it was late in his career when he became known for his habit of sailing from one team to another. Or perhaps some sportswriter got him confused with another player, and his mistake has been compounded every since.

As a boy, Hollis Thurston worked for his father, who owned a restaurant and operated a soup kitchen for the poor. "Slop" referred to the food or the manner in which it was served.

That's one explanation for the pitcher's nickname. The other is that someone was being sarcastic, because Thurston was almost excessively neat, described as "a meticulous and dandy Jazz Age dresser."

He pitched with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators from 1923 to 1927. His best season was 1924 when he won 20 games for the White Sox, losing 14.

After going 13-13 with Washington in 1927, the Senators let him go, apparently because Thurston's pitching arm was ailing. But he was only 28 years old, and far from finished. He returned to the Pacific Coast League, where he'd started in 1920 with the Salt Lake City Bees, only this time he played for the San Francisco Seals.

While waiting for his right arm to recover, Thurston played first base. A good-hitting pitcher — he'd batted over .300 in three of his five seasons in the American League — Thurston outdid himself in San Francisco, batting .348, with 24 home runs. He also returned to the mound in time to win nine games, against seven losses.

He remained in San Francisco in 1929, this time mainly as a pitcher, and won 22 games, losing 11. He also hit .302 in 182 at bats, and slammed eight more home runs.

He went back to the major leagues, and pitched for Brooklyn for the next four seasons, but was not particularly effective, though he did have a 12-8 record in 1932.

In 1934 he was back in the Pacific Coast League, this time with the Mission Reds, winning 15 games. He won 15 more in 1935, and 13 the next season, but Thurston's career was near its end. He had only one win after that, losing seven times, before he retired in 1938, with 195 wins at all levels of organized baseball.

He remained in the game, managing in the minor leagues for one season, then becoming a scout for Pittsburgh, then Cleveland, and, finally, the Chicago White Sox.

Though he had one of the most memorable nicknames of his era, Thurston was usually referred to as "Hollis." In looking for newspaper articles about him, I found him listed as "Hollis Thurston" almost three times as often as "Sloppy."

Thurston trivia: On September 22, 1923, he joined the group of pitchers who struck out three batters on nine pitches in one inning. He was pitching for the Chicago White Sox against the Philadelphia Athletics, and the batters were Beauty McGowan, Chick Galloway and Sammy Hale. Baseball calls this "an immaculate inning." So far there have been only 92 such innings in American and National League history, and Thurston's was the only one to come past the ninth inning. His game went into extra innings, and he struck out those guys in the 12th. I just love how baseball keeps track of such things. (As far as I know, Ed "Cannonball" Crane pitched the only unique immaculate inning, doing it while the four-strike rule was in effect.)

Another note: On June 2, 1925, Thurston became one of the few major league pitchers to give up 10 earned runs on his birthday. It was his 26th birthday, and the gift he received from the Detroit Tigers was a shelling that sent him to the showers in the fifth inning, after Thurston had given up 14 hits and 11 runs, 10 of them earned.

Here's the weird part: Thurston wasn't the losing pitcher. His team, the White Sox, rallied to tie the game, 15-15, in the top of the ninth inning. Relief pitcher Ted Blankenship, who had pitched two scoreless innings, lost the game in the bottom of the ninth when Ty Cobb homered.

In 2005, when I did my first website list of baseball players with unusual names and nicknames, I couldn't resist including "Mysterious" Walker, though I found little information about him. What I did find turned out to be misinformation, which I was prepared to pass along again until I came upon a fascinating story by Gary Joseph Cieradkowski, who set me straight about a most interesting man.

While he is referred to today as "Mysterious" Walker, that usually wasn't the case when he was playing professional baseball or involved in his many other athletic endeavors. Oh, Frederick Mitchell Walker certainly was mysterious, but when he earned the nickname in 1910, he was living in self-imposed exile, pitching for the San Francisco Seals under the name "F. Mitchell," gaining notoriety as "Mysterious Mitchell." His story is too long to contain here. I've linked you to one take on this strange, but talented athlete. For my version, click here.

Huyler Westervelt combined his mother's maiden name with his father's surname. He was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, and his father was a man of means. Huyler was an excellent athlete, but he aspired to be a stockbroker. Apparently he went to Yale, and after college worked on Wall Street and pitched for various athletic clubs in New York City and New Jersey.

He attracted a lot of attention in 1892 when the New York City Athletic Club toured the Midwest and won every game that Westervelt pitched. Well, maybe they would have lost one, in Detroit, but that game broke up after future major league catcher Tom Bowerman hit a home run off Westervelt, which triggered a game-ending brawl.

After Westervelt tossed a no-hitter against a Cleveland team, future Hall of Famer Cap Anson, manager of the National League Chicago Colts, offered Westervelt a contract, but the pitcher decided to remain an amateur. Finally, a year later, the New York Giants persuaded the young man to turn pro, putting him on their 1894 roster without benefit of minor league experience.

Westervelt would soon experience an incredible high before suffering some humiliation as a New York Giant. The Boston Beaneaters, league champions the season before, came to the Polo Grounds on May 5, 1894, for their first series of the season against New York. Giant manager John Ward decided to start his rookie pitcher, and Westervelt responded by throwing a three-hitter at the defending league champions.

The New York Sun had this to say the next day:

Huyler Westervelt, the ex-amateur pitcher, was a veritable hero at the conclusion of the game with the Bostons at the Polo grounds yesterday. He had pitched the champions out with but three singles to their credit, and could have whitewashed them but for a combination of bases on balls, errors, and a little ill luck.

When he capped his magnificent work with a strike out on Bannon in the ninth inning, it dawned upon the great crowed that New York had really conquered the champion Beaneaters, and the spectators made a wild, headlong rush for the young pitcher and carried him bodily to the dressing room. He was hugged and patted on the back by hundreds, and was warmly congratulated by Manager Ward and his fellow players.

Later, when Westervelt appeared outside the grounds on his way home, he was surrounded by a big crowd who followed him down Eighth Avenue, cheering like mad. It was an ovation such as few pitchers have ever received in this city, and the young man deserved all he got.

New York went on to have a terrific 88-44 record that season, finishing second to the Baltimore Orioles, but most of the Giants' pitching was done by future Hall of Famer Amos Rusie (36-13) and Jouett Meekin (33-9). Despite his performance against Boston, Westervelt proved a disappointment, and when the season ended, he finished with just six more wins — and ten losses. Despite a reputation for a terrific fast ball, Westervelt struck out only 35 batters in 141 innings, and walked 78 of them. His earned run average of 5.04 was not good. Not good at all.

In December, the New York Herald claimed Giant management still had great faith in Westervelt, though the newspaper said the pitcher's performance as a rookie had been "miserable."

The Giants did offer Westervelt another contract, one that called for a pay cut. The pitcher responded by admitting he certainly didn't warrant a raise, but he refused to take a pay cut. The New York World, on February 22, 1895, had little sympathy for Westervelt.

Huyler [Westervelt] was a great amateur, but it is only a plain statement of fact to say that he has not shown himself a phenomenon since becoming a League pitcher. He was valuable when signed by New York, in much the same way that Mike Kelly was — as a side attraction, but side attractions lose their drawing power in time, and even Arlie Latham has become an unmitigated bore.

Westervelt, however, has some real ability and a truly great speed, whatever he may lack as an all-round man. But not to such an extent that he can afford to carry on a protracted flirtation with a league contract.

Two months later, Westervelt announced he would pitch that summer for the Orange (NJ) Athletic Club, though he would remain on the New York Giants reserve list for several seasons. Two years later, the Cortland team of the New York State League announced it had signed Westervelt, but there's no record he ever pitched s game in that league. In 1898 he did some pitching for an amateur team in Mattituck, New York, on Long Island, and in 1901, the New York Morning Telegraph reported that Westervelt would pitch for the West New York Field Club in a game against a team from Poughkeepsie.

In between, on March 21, 1900, the New York Evening Telegraph reported that Huyler Westervelt had "failed" as a stock broker, because he had been unable to meet his financial obligations. He was only 30 years old at the time (and still on the New York Giants reserve list). But he continued to work on Wall Street, and on May 23, 1903, the New York Daily Tribune reported that Westervelt had pitched for a team of married brokers who had beaten a team of bachelors, 20-5. (Westervelt was married in 1896 to Gertrude Currie of Bayonne, New Jersey.)

Westervelt's success as an amateur was such that for years afterward, New York newspaper referred to him as "a famous pitcher." He was the subject of a 1924 column by Frank Graham, then of The Sun and The Globe in New York. Graham, as New Yorkers are prone to do, referred to local boy Westervelt as the finest amateur pitcher in the country in the 1890s.

Like a lot of baseball veterans (he was 54 when Graham interviewed him), Westervelt made the expected claims: "I think the pitchers of my day were better than the present crop," and insisted the old Baltimore Orioles were the greatest team of all. He did, however, put Babe Ruth in a class by himself. Ruth was then 29, and in his fifth season with the New York Yankees.

Westervelt died in 1949 in Westchester County, New York. He was 80 tears old.

Shortstop-second baseman George Wuestling played 83 major league games (1929-30) with Detroit and the New York Yankees. The transaction that sent him from the Tigers to the Yanks was recalled by James C. Isaminger in the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 13, 1932:

"Perhaps no baseball deal made in many years left so many pangs of regret to one of the clubs involved ... Bob Shawkey, then manager of the Yanks, swapped pitcher Waite Hoyt and shortstop Mark Koenig to Detroit for outfielder Harry Rice, pitcher Owen Carroll and shortstop George Wuestling.

"Hoyt and Koenig are regulars and looking forward to a prosperous season, but not s single player sent to the Yanks remains on the club’s payroll. Not one could last even a calendar year.

"Carroll was waved to the Cincinnati club after failing to win a single game for the Yanks. Wuestling was sold to the Portland club, of the Pacific Cost League, the team which first developed him and sold him for a huge sum to Detroit when President Turner intrigued Owner Navin by going into his office and producing a big cut-out batting picture of Wuestling that was mounted on a wooden base.

" 'Look at that player,' softly said Mr. Turner in the tone of a gem expert showing a diamond as big as an egg to a new multi-millionaire. 'Do you get his style at the plate that alert and up-and-doing manner and the beam of confidence in his smiling face”

" 'Now, Mr. Nevin, I’ll tell you what I will do ...' In less than an hour, Turner had a check calling for five figures in his pocket, while Mr. Nevin owned all rights on Wuestling, including the Scandinavian.

"Now the shrewd hoss trader, Turner, has Wuestling back and Mr. Nevin’s check, too."

Even when the deal was made, another sports writer was skeptical. This is what Harold C. Burr of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle had to say about Wuestling on June 21, 1930:

"Wuestling reported to the Tigers a sick boy, but another detriment to his baseball success is that he doesn’t have to work. If he doesn’t click on a double play or come through in the clutch at bat, George continues to eat just the same. He doesn’t have to return to his St. Louis home, head hanging in shame, and go to clerking in the shoe store. Wuestling pere owns and operates one of the biggest sausage factories in Missouri.

"After all, it’s the poor boy with ambition who makes good in the big leagues. The rich boy with the same thing can’t, in the nature of things, think a three-bagger quite so important. Riches, the old scout will recall, were the ruination of Tillie Schafer, a Giant infielder of a past decade.

"The next seven days should foretell Wuestling’s future. Even though Werber is recalled, the Mound City rookie is sure to receive the job as Lary’s understudy. It’s up to him what he does with it, good or evil."

Because of his father's business, Wuestling was fair game for another nickname, which, fortunately, did not catch on. Sports columnist William Braucher, in the Jamestown (New York) Evening Journal on June 4, 1930, referred to the newest Yankee as "Weenie" Wuestling.

I'd like to think there's truth in that Philadelphia Inquirer story about how Weustling was bought by the Tigers, especially that part about the cut-out photograph of the player batting. Tiger owner should have looked instead at Wuestling's batting average for Portland — .252 at the time of the purchase.

Wuestling batted just .189 for the Tigers, and hit .190 in 25 games with the Yankees. He returned to the minor leagues, playing his last professional game in 1934 with the Omaha Packers of the Western League. Whether he went to work at his father's sausage company, I do not know. Neither do I know how and why he was called "Yats."

 
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