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While looking through for stories about relatives I came across one about Mickey Major of Auburn, NY, who was arrested in 1913 for playing baseball on a Sunday.

"Sabbath breaking" was the popular term for the charge leveled against those who violated the Sunday laws (or blue laws). Such laws had been in effect since before the United States was founded, but by the 20th century they were being challenged, particularly when it came to baseball, which was, without doubt, our national pastime. The Sunday law generally was ignored when it came to amateur games. Professional baseball was another matter. Even major league teams didn't play on Sundays.

In 1902, three cities pioneered the movement to legalize Sunday baseball – Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis. The five major league teams involved – the Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Browns and Cardinals – did so to make money. Sunday was the best day to draw a crowd because your typical baseball fan worked the other six days of the week. And for those whose favorite recreation was playing baseball, Sunday afforded the best opportunity, sometimes the only opportunity.

COMPLICATING matters was the growth of cities where life was far different than in rural America. The gap between city and country residents was as wide as the gap between the North and the South. What happened in 1913 in Auburn, NY, a small city, to be sure, happened in part because of resentments held by people in a nearby rural area against city folks.

The effort that summer to enforce the law against Sunday baseball eventually concentrated on one park located a short distance south of Auburn, in the town of Fleming. The area's two best-known teams seemed determined to play Sunday games on this field. These two teams were semi-professional and charged admission at their games.

That was a reason religious groups used to oppose Sunday baseball for major league teams whose owners were up front in admitting their motive was profit. Many church leaders preached that this unacceptable because people weren't supposed to work on the Sabbath, much less get rich. (It didn't matter what the job was. I came across a story about the owner of a small grocery store who was arrested on a Sunday for stacking crates of eggs that had been delivered to his store late the evening before.)

That Sunday baseball flourished in cities that had legalized it was an outrage to some who viewed the sport's popularity on the Lord's Day as an indication of moral decay. They figured to attack this decay by eliminating the temptation that caused it. Religious groups in some cities increased efforts to encourage, even shame residents into attending Sunday church services. Often members of these crusading organizations went door-to-door on Sunday mornings; people at home were asked to explain why they weren't in church. Some newspapers promoted Go-To-Church Sundays to determine the country's most religious community. The assumption: We were all Christians, or, at least, we should be.

AS FOR MICKEY MAJOR, he was a sports hero to my father and other members of my family. He had played minor league baseball in 1906 (perhaps also 1907) with Auburn of the Empire State League. He loved baseball and kept playing on area teams for many years. When he and his teammates and their opponents were arrested in 1913, they were a test case for the Cayuga County Bible School Union that set out to have Sunday laws enforced.

The trouble began Sunday, May 11, 1913 when Arthur O'Connor, manager of a team called All-Auburn, was arrested for playing baseball. O'Connor, a cunning, intelligent man, was certain baseball would prevail so he and his team took the field again the following Sunday in defiance of a law that hadn't been enforced in the Auburn area for many years. Because their manager had been the only person arrested on May 11, his players felt they weren't at risk even if the local sheriff showed up again.

The teams involved were made up of young adults – Mickey Major, at 34, was at least ten years older than most of the others on the field that day. Perhaps the best known of the players was another man in his 30s, Harry "Zip" Northrup, who had played at least briefly years before with the Cuban Giants, a team famous in the history of Negro baseball. As far as I know, Northrup was the only African-American on the field. His race was never mentioned in the stories about the arrests and the legal battle that followed.

Some others on the field that day also were area sports celebrities, including "Laughing Larry" Barry, perhaps Central New York's best pitcher; Lester "Lutz" Worfel, a young pitching prospect who had previously turned down offers from professional teams; Thomas "Tad" Gaughan, a versatile athlete who had a very strong following in Syracuse and Watertown where he had played and managed, and John Haddock, about whom a book could be written.

In 1913 they played for two Auburn-based teams in the New York State Amateur Baseball League that operated in five New York cities. The league had announced several weeks earlier that all games would be played on Sundays and holidays for the convenience of the players, most of whom had full-time jobs.

AN ESTIMATED 1,000 spectators were on hand for the game between All-Auburn and Norwood. It was to be the fourth meeting in a five-game pre-season series. The first three contests had been close and exciting, two them going extra innings.

Some spectators were there not to enjoy the game, but stop it. They were members of the Law Enforcement Committee of the Bible School Union (aka Sunday School Union). They remained for one inning, presumably to verify that a game indeed was being played.

It was a one-sided affair. When Norwood came to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning, they trailed, 8-0. All-Auburn pitcher Larry Barry, who had gone nine innings the day before, certainly wasn't tired. In fact, he was working on a no-hitter.

Norwood outfielder Joseph Conroy was at bat when Constable Fred Buchanan and the Bible School Union committee arrived. Here the constable appears to have made a huge blunder. He allowed one of the committee members, Austin Devoe, to accompany him to the pitcher’s mound, where Buchanan proclaimed the game was over. The crowd, knowing what was about to happen, started gathering along the sidelines.

All-Auburn manager O’Connor attempted to calm both his players and the spectators. According to the Syracuse Journal account, O’Connor said, “We had better stop the game, boys, for the constable is right. Don’t make any trouble, boys, just be quiet and go back to your seats and we will fix this matter all right.”

O'Connor asked the constable to remove Devoe from the field, but Devoe refused, and insisted Buchanan start making arrests.

THE CROWD, which had started to retreat, reversed itself upon hearing a self-serving announcement by Devoe, the Prohibition Party candidate for mayor of Auburn in the fall election. Devoe, standing next to the constable, shouted, “Here is one who stands for law and order!”

For many in the crowd it was bad enough that the game was being stopped. They were in no mood for a political speech from one of the men responsible.

All hell broke loose. About 200 spectators went after Devoe and other members of the Law Enforcement Committee. A ticket booth was torn down as some in what was now an angry mob grabbed pieces of lumber to use as weapons.

On Monday the Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal reported, "The largest mob of enraged fans ever seen on a baseball field around Auburn was that which surrounded the committee of the Law Enforcement Committee of the Sunday School league at Norwood Park yesterday afternoon."

The Syracuse Journal said none of the churchmen was seriously injured, but their clothing was torn and they were beaten with sticks and umbrellas. Newspapers said Devoe was the favorite target, his hat being flattened in the initial charge. The man himself might have been severely hurt if it weren’t for Barry, the pitcher whose no-hit attempt had been interrupted. Barry took charge and summoned several cooler heads who set up a protective barrier around Devoe.

But Devoe wasn’t out of danger. When he ran for his carriage, which apparently was parked on the field, some in the crowd went after him. According to the Auburn Citizen, "After seating himself in his carriage they formed around his wagon, jeering him, holding the wheels, throwing sticks and other missiles and eventually forced him to drive around the field before he was allowed to drive out the gate into the roadway. A still greater crowd collected when Mr. Devoe stopped to wait for a friend. Several attempts were made to turn over his light wagon. However, a few of the more sensible ones appealed successfully to the crowd and urged Mr. Devoe to drive away, which he finally did."

THE PLAYERS were granted permission to change their clothes before they were taken to the home of the town of Fleming judge, Frederick DeGroff, a few miles away. Most of the players made the ride on an old hayrack. The rest were driven by managers Arthur O’Connor and Harry Gunnell, who rounded up some fans to act as bondsmen, if needed.

The flavor of rural life in 1913 is nicely captured in this passage from the Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal:

"It was some little time before the players were ready for the trip to the home of Justice of the Peace DeGroff, but the party was finally started at 5:30 o’clock. Some of the players, with Manager O’Connor, went on ahead in a big automobile, while the rest of the team was obliged to ride over the hills in the Owasco patrol. The team of horses drawing the improvised police wagon appeared to be in a tired condition and a prominent Auburn lawyer standing near suggested that the owner be prosecuted for cruelty to animals.

"The ride to the home of the Justice in the wagon was long and weary. The speed laws are stringent in the town of Fleming. The patrol driver talked with the horses kindly in an effort to make the journey before nightfall, but the team would not listen and persisted in walking. At 7 o’clock the players arrived at the home of the Justice."

Court was convened in the parlor. The players were charged with violation of Sections No. 2141 and 2145 of the Penal Law, which deals with Sabbath breaking and playing baseball on Sunday. They were released on their own recognizance until Thursday when they would be formally arraigned and released under bonds.

ARRESTED from the All-Auburn team were Lawrence “Larry” Barry, pitcher; John Budka, right fielder; John Donovan, center fielder; Thomas "Tad" Gaughan, catcher; John Haddock, first baseman; Jones, second baseman; Michael “Mickey” Major, left fielder; Thomas McCollum, shortstop; Barney Smith, third baseman.

From the Norwood team: Arthur Adams, third base; Jack Bannon, catcher; Clarence Bradford, second baseman; Joseph Conroy, left fielder; Coyne, center fielder; George Dreythaler, right fielder; Harry "Zip" Northrup, first baseman; Sidney Potter, shortstop; Lester "Lutz" Worfel, pitcher.

Also arrested for riot were John Corkery, John Erhart, John Smith and John White, apparently spectators, though Corkery was the only one who would be identified as such in future stories.

[Some of the above names may be incorrect because newspaper accounts did not always agree on the spelling or, in some cases, the player's first name.]

ANOTHER GAME was scheduled for the following Sunday, but despite statements from the managers that they intended to go ahead and play, that contest and every other baseball game in Auburn was either postponed or stopped by police. At least, that's what sheriffs claimed, though a Monday newspaper carried a story about one Sunday game played on a field sheriffs claimed they had visited.

The Cayuga County sheriff's department, after patrolling the city of Auburn that Sunday, was not pleased. Sheriffs felt anything within city limits should be handled by the Auburn police department. The Bible School Union preferred working with the sheriffs, saying they didn't receive cooperation from city officials, some of whom were openly in favor of Sunday baseball.

In June Sunday baseball returned to city parks. The Bible School Union representatives continued to insist they were simply interested in law enforcement, but from my reading, I think their battle became increasingly personal, directed more at the players of two teams than at the law they may have broken, though what riled the church folks more than anything was Francis C. Raines, a lawyer who had come to the defense of the players – and would become chief spokesman in favor of Sunday baseball. Raines was the son of John Raines, who had served in both houses of the New York State legislature, plus two terms in the U. S. House of Representatives.

THE BASEBALL CASES proceeded, threatening to overwhelm two local judges. The Auburn Citizen seemed to enjoy the situation. Unfortunately, there was no byline on any stories, even those written in a subjective, slightly derisive style that was in vogue during that period in American journalism. Alas, no newspaper today is as lively and interesting as those from the first half of the 20th century. They were eyesores, perhaps, but like horrible accidents, they commanded and held your attention.

One of the judges involved in this affair, Isaac E. Pearson, already was in need of a long, long vacation. There is a reference below to "annual sessions for various offenses committed about the foot of the lake on Sundays." In other words, it was summertime and on weekends people flocked to Owasco Lake for recreation that often got out of hand, since alcohol and gambling were usually involved.

What follows is an entertaining account of the events of the weekend of May 24-25. Note the efforts of a few baseball fans who retaliated by complaining about Sunday golfers and even a cricket team. Also, notice how political incorrectness was alive and well in a reference to some Polish-Americans:

Auburn Citizen, May 26, 1913
The busiest justice of the peace in Cayuga County at the present time is Isaac E. Pearson of the town of Owasco with Justice DeGroff runner-up. The officials have plenty of work ahead for the next month disposing of arrests made in the Sunday baseball agitations and in addition Justice Pearson is beginning his annual sessions for various offenses committed about the foot of the lake on Sundays and other occasions.

Saturday Justice Pearson was busy adjusting bail and other details connected with the arrest of the 18 members of the All-Auburn and Norwood baseball teams on warrants charging them with riot growing out of the stopping of the game at Norwood one week ago yesterday. On three days, June 4, 6 and 7, the players will appear and then decide whether they will have an examination or waive and be held for the Grand Jury.

When this procedure was over, the players were brought before Justic DeGroff at the Two Mile House* in Fleming to be arraigned on warrants charging violation of law, Sunday baseball playing. Justice DeGroff was not posted on all the fine points of the law regarding his duties, but well along in the evening had disposed of all the cases.

The players were represented by Attorneys Charles A. Wright and Francis C. Raines and the People by Henry D. Parsell. The players pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial separately. The Fleming justice will be busy with baseball trials nearly every day next month. Nineteen juries have been drawn by the Fleming justices and some of the jurors have been drawn on as many as four panels. Clarence Post, one of the complainants against Sunday baseball, was drawn in two of the cases. All of the players are out on bail.

The first trial of Sunday baseball violations will be held before Justice of the Peace Wyckoff in Fleming on Wednesday. The case is that of Manager Arthur O’Connor of the All-Auburn team. He will be defended by Attorney Frank M. Leary.

Yesterday Justice Pearson had other troubles besides the baseball question. Auctioneer Byron V. Baker came into his office and after laying down a “two bit” piece, asked for a warrant to arrest all of the members of the Country Club for Sunday golf playing on their fine preserve in Owasco. Justice Pearson directed Baker to furnish him with a list of the persons playing golf, and make the usual depositions and he would act at once in the case.

Baker was insistent that the club members should be arrested and that the justice get their names from the County Clerk’s Office. Then Justice Pearson got riled and ordered Baker from his office. Justice Pearson said this morning that if he had had any officers handy at the time that he would have locked up Baker.

The Law Enforcement Committee of the Bible School Union has sent a communication to the Country Club officers requesting the members of that organization to cooperate in having the laws pertaining to the observance of Sunday observed.

Then the pleasure of a bunch of jolly Englishmen enjoying a little cricket practice among themselves on the Melrose court jarred the sensitive nerves of Owasco residents.

Herbert D. Rhodes, a youngster living in First Avenue, made complaint to Justice Pearson regarding the cricket practice and asked for the issuance of warrants. Rhodes could not give the names of the players, a condition exacted by Justice Pearson before he will issue warrants, and none was issued. Rhodes will take the matter up with the Bible School Committee.

This morning Stanley J. Majeki and John Subry, Polacks arrested last evening for running a team of horses recklessly along the Owasco road, were in a penitent mood. They had been to a Polish christening in the town of Fleming during the day and had imbibed too freely.

The men did not know anything about the commotion they raised last evening and both promised to drink “never again.” Both pleaded guilty to charges of public intoxication and paid fines of $10 each.

Then Majeki was arrested on a warrant charging cruelty to animals on complaint of Superintendent Doyle of the Humane Society. The Polack entered a plea of guilty and paid a fine of $10.

Along in the evening two men detained for intoxication in the yard of Justice Pearson were rescued by a crowd of half a dozen rowdies and all got back to Auburn.

Justice Pearson announced emphatically this morning that any of the rowdy element which makes a practice of coming to the lake Sunday and spoil the pleasure of others will get soaked to the very limit of the law. He stated that he knew some of the gang last night and if they appear in the town of Owasco this Summer they will not return to Auburn free men.

Justice Pearson stated that he was going to give any rowdies arrested this Summer a chance for a little confinement “and it won’t be a 10-day bit either."

May 25, was a day of rest for players from the Norwood team; they had been scheduled to play at home against a team from Seneca Falls in a State Amateur League game, but the managers opted to postpone the contest. A newspaper story claimed the game was called on account of wet grounds, but the real reason was the Bible Union Group.

Meanwhile, in nearby Syracuse, the All-Auburn nine did play a league game against a team called The Moose Club. There was no church group in Syracuse trying to shut down Sunday baseball, though The Moose Club probably wouldn't have objected if this game had been stopped, and stopped early. All-Auburn beat the Moosers, 33-1. That score is not a typo.

Inside the Auburn city limits teams called the Harriers and Swamp Athletic Club went at each other for 14 innings at the Standart Heights field in a game that ended in a 3-all tie. It was the first contest of a five-game series between the teams. The Auburn Citizen reported the game was arranged the night before and the teams did not advertise the contest. Still a large crowd was on hand to witness the game, which, according to the Citizen story, featured "snappy fielding" and "many sensational catches."

While the story above focused on Judge Isaac Pearson, the next one follows the Cayuga County sheriff and his deputies as they patrolled the area on Sunday. Unfortunately, the writer did not receive a byline, which certainly seems much deserved:

Auburn Citizen, May 26, 1913
Sheriff George W. Bancroft and his deputies, and he had a bunch of them on the job, had a busy time yesterday. There were the sheriff himself, Under Sheriff John A. Drake, Deputy Sheriffs Thomas M. Walker, Fay Teeter, Cliff Havens and Charley Shaff, quite some force.

The force was on hand as the result of requests from Rev. E. J. Rosengrant, pastor of the First M. E. Church, and representatives of the Bible School Union, as well as correspondence requesting the sheriff to get after Sunday ball and other violations.

To add to the impressiveness of the request for official action, it was asserted that unless the sheriff was on the job, the matter would be taken to Governor William Sulzer. To this the sheriff made reply that he was able to take care of business in Cayuga County irrespective of whether demands were taken to Albany or elsewhere; that he intended to exercise his duty “on the square” with everybody and that he would insist on the same policy on the part of those who desired official action in any matters pertaining to the carrying out of the law in Cayuga County.

So from early morning until well along into last night the sheriffs were busy, but nothing came into their net in the way of arrests. During the day five ball games were stopped by the sheriffs. Deputies Teeter and Drake stopped a contest between the Cubs and a Syracuse boy’ baseball club at the Walnut Street playground. The officers told the youths the conditions just as they were and the lads quit the contest. There was no evidence of ill-feeling or disorder among the large crowd of spectators.

Deputies Havens and Walker stopped a game in the northwestern part of the city, morning and afternoon games at the Columbian Rope Park, and a game at the Standart Park in the northeastern part of the city.

Sheriff Bancroft also had his men on hand at the foot of the lake, but no attempt was made to play the scheduled game between the Norwoods and Seneca Falls.

But although there was no baseball game, Auburnians who journeyed to the foot of the lake had a heap of fun watching the efforts of members of the Bible School Union, officials of Fleming and Owasco and their deputies hustling about to prevent violations of the law. It was a beautiful day, the air was bracing and the sport was exhilarating to both the hunters and the spectators.

One of the stunts which provided some little excitement was the attempt to round up a bunch of crap shooters who hiked along the underbrush along the west side of the lake near the old channel. The tip that the “bones” were on the job with plenty of real coin in sight was brought to Justice of the Peace DeGross of Fleming, attorney Henry D. Parsell, and their deputies which included the energetic Henry Bremer.

The invaders knew that the crap shooters territory near the lake shore was occupied. Although Henry Bremer was only an enlisted man in the ranks of the invaders, he advocated the deploy of forces in line of skirmishers along the shore and a concerted attack in all directions as the only successful method to make an effectual round-up. Justice DeGroff demurred somewhat at the suggestion, as did the others. In fact, it is said, the latter did not relish the making of another batch of arrests as his time will be pretty well occupied until the Fourth of July in disposing of the baseball actions.

The invaders finally decided to advance in close order. Evidently some veteran in manipulating the dice had his nose to the windward for the advance of the invaders became known. The coin and bones were corralled when Attorney Parsell gave a “halloa” and issued a command to halt.

None of the party had ever been under military discipline and the most have had athletic training for they disappeared with sprints that would have made Bernie Weters in his prime exceedingly jealous of their strides and manner of tearing up the sand. It is said that scouts of the invaders succeeded in getting the names of some of the dice manipulators and that arrests will result.

Along in the evening Stanley J. Majeki and John Sabry, with the family of the former in a rig, caused some commotion in the quiet hamlet of Owasco by running a team of horses at a rate of speed deemed to be cruel and inhuman right past the home of Justice of the Peace Pearson. Former Constable Henry Bremer tried to make a flying tackle at the horses, but did not succeed. He did press an automobile into commission, gave chase and at the bend in the road at the Country Club placed both men under arrest. They were brought to the County Jail, where they stayed overnight and were taken before Justice Pearson this morning.

The duties of Sheriff Bancroft and his trusty sheriffs were not confined to the lake region. They were asked to be on the lookout for violations of the Excise Law in Auburn and they were busy. In fact, Auburn was the “tightest” it has been in recent history so far as the selling of beverages for the thirsty was concerned.

Sheriff Bancroft intimated to the committees who waited on him last week that he thought the Auburn police force was large enough to look after Auburn affairs in the Excise Law line and moreover it was the duty of the city to look after any such violations.

The committee insisted that they had not been able to get much satisfaction from the city authorities and they wanted both the city and country authorities to get busy. Besides the deputy sheriffs, details from the Bible School Union were on the job in person peeking about places suspected of selling a wee drop or so.

No arrests were made.

The activity of the sheriffs was not confined to the center of the city, but the saloons and hotels on the outskirts of the city were also carefully watched.

One thing which aroused the ire of some of the baseball fans about the foot of the lake yesterday was the sight of one of the men actively opposed to Sunday baseball seated majestically in his automobile and enjoying himself. Enjoyment which he would deny them.

The Bible School Union had to be stung by the outcome on May 29, 1913 when All-Auburn manager O'Connor went to trial for his first arrest. According to the Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal, it took three hours to secure a jury, one hour to present and rebut the evidence, and nine minutes for the jury to reach a verdict of not guilty.

Three days earlier, in a sermon published in the Auburn Citizen, a Catholic priest took to task the churchmen behind the Bible School Crusade. A day later attorney Francis C. Raines. in his letter to the editor in defense of personal liberty, referred to the anti-baseball crusaders as "nincompoops."

Demographically, the cities of New York State were predominately Catholic, with large and vocal Irish populations and rapidly expanding Italian neighborhoods. There was a strong Polish influence in some cities, a strong German influence in others. All four ethnic groups would make their marks in major league baseball. (The Irish and Germans dominated the game in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.) And at O'Connor's trial, such as it was, some residents of the town of Fleming complained about city folks interfering with their way of life. Weird how the Bible School Union failed to see the irony.

It would be two famous Catholic politicians, New York State Sen. Jimmy Walker (later mayor of New York City) and Gov. Al Smith, who would be instrumental in finally settling the issue in 1919 when Smith signed into law a bill to legalize baseball; the bill was the work of Walker, who generally gets credit for giving New York Sunday baseball. (Smith had tried – and failed – to secure similar legislation when he was a member of the state legislature in 1907.) The bill which finally legalized Sunday baseball in New York was the Sunday Baseball Local Option Bill which was proposed in 1914.

AUBURN'S legal battle dragged on for several months. Some of the players lived many miles away. Traveling to Auburn for inconclusive court appearances was annoying.

Meanwhile it became obvious baseball would prevail. Amateurs openly played Sunday baseball within two weeks of the arrests. Professional baseball was delayed, but returned to the area before summer's end. No more arrests were made.

Meanwhile, most of the cases that resulted from the May 18 arrests dragged on until November and lawyers argued the way lawyers do, witnesses conveniently had memory lapses, and jurdges and jurors became increasingly irritated at the what had become a huge waste of time, especially for rural residents who were farmers and had more urgent matters that needed their attention.

The crusaders did win some skirmishes, though their victories were hollow. Clarence Bradford, for example, was convicted of playing Sunday baseball, largely because another player, Sidney Potter, admitted under oath that Bradford had played on the day in question. Bradford paid a $5 fine – and lawyer Francis C. Raines appealed the verdict. I found no mention of how that appeal worked out.

Seven players were quickly acquitted and ten others —Larry Barry, John Budka, Joseph Conroy, John Donovan, George Dreythaler, Thomas "Tad" Gaughan, Michael "Mickey" Major, Thomas McCollum, Harry Northrup and Pottter — were found guilty in November, but received suspended sentences.

Some players then sued Bible Union officials who had instigated the arrests, but the players failed to win their cases. Austin Devoe, who had helped instigate the crusade, was a non-factor in the Auburn mayoral election, which may have underlined the message that Sundays were big enough for God and baseball.

Thanks, Nancy
The photo at the top of the page, identified as the All-Auburn baseball team of 1913, appeared in the Auburn Citizen on September 8, 1933. It's here thanks to wonderful cooperation from Nancy Assmann, secretary and research assistant at the Cayuga County Historian's Office, who printed it from a microfilm copy of the page.

The Auburn players are identified as they were in the newspaper. Not all of these players were involved in the controversial game of May 18, 1913. Those not on the field that day were Breen (first name unknown), John Gaughan, George Orth (apparently an outstanding pitcher) and Paul Graney, who had just graduated from high school.

I think the newspaper may have misidentified Barney Smith and Larry Barry; just a hunch. John and Tad Gaughan may have been brothers. Tad was arrested that day, but one newspaper story referred to him as John.

ALSO here are a few things I have found out about the men involved in the 1913 baseball legal battles.

 
Arthur O'Connor, manager, All-Auburn
In 1914 he took a job as umpire in the Atlantic League, a professional minor league with teams in New York and New Jersey, teams with such wonderful names as the Asbury Park (NJ) Sea Urchins and the Poughkeepsie (NY) Honey Bugs. O'Connor must have done well, because in September he was summoned to the National League, making his debut in New York City at a game between the Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. There he attracted the attention of Damon Runyon.
Auburn Citizen, September 12, 1914
Arthur O’Connor made his debut as a National League umpire yesterday in New York, and the crowd made him feel right at home by calling him a robber, according to one report. He officiated on the bases in the Brooklyn and New York game, Mal Eason, the old Auburn twirler, doing the arbitrating behind the bat.

The Auburn ump was fortunate that it was one of those days that New York won for when the Giants are losing Johnny McGraw and his crew are very peeved.

O’Connor didn’t have to chase one from the field or extract any from from any of the contestants, but Eason did as Wilbert Robinson and his Dodgers did not like the idea of losing.

Damon Runyon in the New York American says in writing about O’Connor:

“Mal Eason had a new accomplice in the place of Quigley, which was probably a good thing. It is not likely that your Uncle Wilbert could have survived both Eason and Quigley. The new umpire’s name is O’Connor, which sounds promising. He comes from the Atlantic League and made himself as inconspicuous as possible yesterday.”

Today O’Connor is umpiring behind the bat in Philadelphia in the New York and Philadelphia double header.

O'Connor's career as a major league umpire was brief, ending two weeks after it began. He told the Auburn newspapers in 1915 that he might take a job in the Federal League, the third major league that was in operation only two years (1914-1915), but that job apparently fell through. I believe he found another minor league position that season, but after that he was back home in Auburn, umpiring games there and looking for another team to manage.

Ever the entrepreneur, O'Connor engaged in what was then a popular bit of baseball theater every October. He would rent a large facility in which he and several players would re-create World Series games as they were played. There was no radio or television, so O'Connor and similar promoters throughout the country used the telegraph to recreate games, play-by-play, with men on a miniature field staging the action only seconds after it actually happened. Newspaper ads made a big thing out of O'Connor's electric scoreboard.

O'Connor later managed Auburn teams in various semi-professional leagues and continued to be the area's top umpire.

A year later, on July 25, 1935, O'Connor died. He was only 52.

 

Mickey Major
His best days as a baseball player were behind him in 1913. He was in his prime in 1906 and 1907 when he played minor league ball in the Empire State League, first with Auburn, then with Lyons a year later.

After 1913 he continued to play and to umpire games in and around Auburn, teaming up with my father, Buster Major, and several other relatives to form an All-Major team in the early 1920s.

Like many members of his family, Mickey Major entered politics, running for Auburn alderman in the fourth ward in 1917, but he lost. His brother, Charles P. Major, would have greater success, serving a few terms as an Auburn alderman.

By 1928 Mickey Major and his family were living in Syracuse where they would remain. That year he stepped on a nail and the resulting infection caused him to have his right leg amputated below the knee.

He died in 1962, a few months after he lost his wife, Anna McLaughlin Major, whom he had married in 1907. His obituary said he had worked for Group Parts, Inc., of Syracuse.

 

John Donovan
Donovan worked for the Leigh Valley Railroad until he joined the U.S. Army in World War I. Upon his discharge he became a special agent for the U. S. Department of Commerce. He went back to the railroad after two years, but in 1928 was appointed Auburn city manager by Mayor Charles D. Osborne.

In 1932, he was appointed city manager of New Rochelle, NY, a post he held until he became chief engineer of Farm Security with the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Washington where he lived until his death in 1960.

 

Arthur J. Adams
The man who was found not guilty of Sunday baseball playing in record time was a civic servant at the time, employed in the Auburn water department.

In 1928, Adams became superintendent of the water department; in 1939, he became the second of the Sabbath-breaking baseball players to be appointed city manager.

As a 17-year-old in 1908, he had gained a measure of local fame for his participation in an unusual stunt staged by the YMCAs of Chicago and New York. It involved a message from the New York City mayor to his counterpart in Chicago and it was delivered in the manner of the Olympic torch; that is, it was put in a tube and carried by runners in relay fashion over the 1,000-or-so miles. When the message arrived in Auburn, it was taken next to the shore of Cayuga Lake where a teenaged swimmer awaited. The boy swam halfway across the lake, then passed the tube to Adams, who jumped into the water from a waiting boat and finished the swim. At that point the lake was about a mile wide. Newspaper accounts said the swim, which was done well after dark, was the highlight of the event.

Adams attended Yale University, graduating in 1913, which was probably the high point of his life that year, quickly followed by the low, a case of going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

 

George L. Dreythaler
He worked at Robinson and Byron shoe manufacturers for a while, drove a bus and owned a supermarket, but is best remembered as a justice of the peace in the Town of Owasco, the post held by I. E. Pearson who had issued the John Doe warrants against the players in 1913.

 

Clarence "Bucky" Bradford
Bradford retired in 1959 after a career as an agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance. He died in 1972 at the age of 82. Of the eight players who opted to go to trial that summer on the baseball-playing charge, Bradford was the only one found guilty, mostly because of the testimony of teammate Sidney Potter who candidly admitted Bradford was in the game that day. (In other trials Potter took the Fifth Amendment, but in November pleaded guilty to baseball and with nine other players received a suspended sentence.)

 

Sidney Potter
An Auburn newspaper reported in January 1915 that Potter had moved to Chicago in 1915 to take a job with the Kimball Piano Company. However, three months later Potter made news when he was named captain of the Groton Coronas, a baseball team in Groton, NY, about 20 miles south of Auburn. Either it was a different Sidney Potter who went to Chicago or that piano company job didn't pan out. In Groton, Potter was employed by the Corona Typewriter Company (see John Haddock, below). Potter was still in Groton in 1917, but what happened to him after that I have yet to discover.

 

Thomas "Tad" Gaughan
He was a well known athlete throughout Central New York where he played for and managed several baseball teams, two of which (New Process Gear and the Knights of Columbus) he organized in partnership with famous football coach Chick Meehan, who spent several years at Syracuse University before moving on to New York University.

Gaughan was considered an excellent catcher and often teamed with pitcher Larry Barry. In the early 1900s there were so many amateur and semi-pro leagues that it's difficult to keep track of the teams involved. Gaughan had a big following in Watertown, NY, where for a few summers he managed the city's team in a semi-pro league. Gaughan also played for awhile with the Syracuse Stars.

In 1923 Gaughan took a job at New Process Gear, a Syracuse plant that made automobile transmissions, and became the company's safety engineer. He also continued to play baseball for the New Process Gear team and others. Oh, yes, his obituary said Gaughan also was head usher at the Wieting Opera House in Syracuse for 15 years. He died in 1950 at age 69.

 

"Laughing Larry" Barry
Another baseball gypsy, Barry spent his summers juggling teams that needed a good pitcher. He and "Tad" Gaughan, a catcher, often were part of a package deal. Barry played one season of minor league baseball, in 1906, with Geneva of the Empire State League.

He continued to play after the 1913 fiasco. The way he stepped in during the May 18 riot and protected Austin Devoe, one of the men responsible for stopping the game, was a hint at how Barry would spend his future – as a Syracuse policeman.

Among the stories I found online was one that told of how Barry, Gaughan and John Haddock, another member of the 1913 All-Auburn team, joined some "all-stars" in 1916 to play a team of inmates at Auburn prison. Two Syracuse-based major leaguers, outfielder Jimmy Walsh and George "Hooks" Wiltse, were the reason the team was referred to as "all-stars," but they were just a bunch of losers behind prison walls. It was the second year in a row a team of professional and semi-professional baseball players were beaten by Auburn Prison inmates.

 

John Budka
He died in 1962 at age 72. He retired in 1956, and had worked at International Harvester and U. S. Hoffman.

 

Lester "Lutz" Worfel
When he was a star pitcher at North High School in Syracuse he turned down a professional offer, opted instead to attend St. John’s Academy (which later became Manlius Military Academy), with the intention of going to college, but in 1914 turned professional by signing to play for Troy of the New York State Baseball League. Three months later was awarded to Brantford of the Canadian League. He was back in the Syracuse area within a few years. He died in 1974 at age 83.

 

Harry "Zip" Northrup
Like Mickey Major, Northrup's best playing days were behind him by 1913. However, he continued to play and coach until the 1930s, though as early as 1924 he was often referred to as "Cayuga County's grand old ball player."

It was in 1902 that Northrup was signed by the Cuban Giants, a famous team in the history of the Negro leagues. Northrup had been pitching for a team in his hometown, Weedsport, NY, and had won 14 of 16 games that summer before he joined the Giants. He remained with the Cuban Giants for three years. Despite the team's name, there were no Cubans on the Giants. It was a common ploy in those days to refer to Negroes as Cuban, Spanish or Indian (as would be the case in the 1930s when the Syracuse University football team had an African-American quarterback, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, who had been adopted by his stepfather, an India-born doctor). In the case of the Cuban Giants, the name was intended to broaden the appeal and generate more games for the barnstorming team.

Northrup was back home in 1906, playing for many teams over the next 25 years, including All-Auburn. He also organized and coached several teams, some integrated, some all-colored outfits, including an Auburn-based team called the Royal Giants (who defeated the Cuban Giants in a 1924 game). His brother, Frank, played on the Royal Giants and other teams coached by Zip Northrup. Like most semi-professional players of his time, Northrup was at home at several positions, and in the last half of his career was used more at first or second base than he was on the mound.

During World War I he worked at the Semet-Solvay munitions plant in Split Rock, NY, site of a horrific explosion in 1918 that killed 50 men. Later he worked at International Harvester in Auburn. He died in 1944, and probably was in his early 60s.

 

John Haddock
He turned professional in 1914 and played seven years in the minor leagues. His stops included Binghamton and Toronto of the International League, then a Class AA minor league. He advanced no further because of poor hitting. His lifetime minor league batting average was .187.

I found one item that he had left his team, the Reading Pretzels (of the New York-Pennsylvania League) in 1917, to join the U.S. Army. If so, he served about a year in the Army because he had already played 71 games with Reading that year. In 1918 he returned home in time to play 41 games for the Binghamton Bingoes

In 1920 he became the athletic director at the Corona Typewriter Company in Groton, NY. As such, he managed the Groton Coronas, one of the best semi-pro baseball teams in the country. Rejoining him for awhile that season was Frank "Wild Fire" Schulte, who had spent several years with the Chicago Cubs, leading the National League in home runs in 1910 and 1911.

Haddock's association with the former major league is the reason he was selected to award the player a gold watch in 1921 after Schulte had rejoined the Syracuse Stars, forerunners of the International League Syracuse Chiefs. Schulte had been a standout in Syracuse on his way up to the majors. For Frank Schulte Day, Haddock went to Syracuse with a 35-piece band from Groton.

Like Arthur O'Connor, Haddock spent a few World Series weeks re-enacting games for paying customers. In 1923 Haddock was selected to play for a team in an exhibition game against touring major leaguers, including Zack Wheat, Casey Stengel, Joe Dugan and Bob Meusel.

In 1925, he was manager of the Binghamton team in the New York-Pennsylvania League. In 1937, he managed Smiths Falls in the Canadian-American League. In between he was on the coaching staff at Cornell University and in 1929 escaped serious injury when the team was on a swing through the South and their bus went off the road and flipped over near Quantico, VA.

In 1930 he was a coach for the Rochester Red Wings of the International League and later was a New York Yankee scout for several years.

 

Thomas McCollum
One court story said he lived in Rome, NY, but McCollum was from Fulton, the son of Julie Carrigan and Alexander McCollum. He was well-known throughout the area and managed some baseball teams, then went into the Army during World War I. McCollum was related to Mickey Major's wife, Anne McLaughlin. McCollum's uncle, Thomas Carrigan, was married to Mary McLaughlin, one of Anne Major's first cousins.

 

Joseph Conroy
He remained active in baseball for several years, playing for various Auburn teams. I found a column in the Auburn Citizen-Advertiser written by Paul Pinkney and published on July 18, 1935 that reminisced about the city's baseball history. Included was this tribute: "Remember when Joe Conroy, Auburn flyhawk, could cover more ground than any two outfielders?" Conroy died in 1967.

 

John A. "Barney" Smith
He opted for a trial on the baseball playing charge, preferring not to let the matter be held over until the October Grand Jury. Eight days after his arrest, the 20-year-old ball player was found not guilty.

A few weeks later Smith turned pro, reporting to London (Ontario) of the Class C Canadian League. Apparently he did well that summer, but his professional career was short lived. Reportedly he was done in by a severe attack of rheumatism just before spring training the following year. A leg injury in 1915 cost him an opportunity to play with the minor league Syracuse Stars.

He remained in Auburn and followed a familiar pattern, playing, coaching and umpiring baseball. Like many other young men, he served in the Army in World War I

Later he became a guard at Auburn prison, but remained active in baseball. He also was one of the better basketball players in Auburn, though eventually he settled on another sport – bowling.

 

Jack Bannon, Coyne and Jones
These remain the three mystery men from the baseball arrests. I've found nothing on what happened to Jack Bannon and have been unable to find a first name for Coyne, though his name appears in other baseball stories from the period. Newspaper style at the time did not require the use of first names in their sports stories. And the only time Jones appears is in the box score for the May 18 game, making me wonder whether the scorekeeper deliberately withheld his identity. In any event, team rosters in those days obviously were flexible, with players summoned from other teams and other towns to fill spots for certain games.

 

Francis C. Raines, attorney
Of all the characters involved in the baseball arrest story, attorney Raines interested me the most. My sources for this piece were mostly Auburn newspapers, which may be why Raines dropped off the radar a soon as the baseball trials were concluded.

Apparently he left Auburn in 1914 and moved to Rochester; in 1917, he entered World War I (as a private), returned to Rochester after the war, then moved to Brooklyn where he died in 1926. Apparently he hadn't established himself in Brooklyn because his death didn't even rate a story in the borough's newspaper, The Eagle. The Auburn Citizen paid scant attention, running a short obituary a week after Raines died, never mentioning the baseball trials that had attracted so much attention in 1913 and 1914.

The short obituary said Raines, originally from Canandaigua, NY, was an athlete is his own right, playing for area football teams several years earlier. Not mentioned was his lineage: He was the son of John Raines, a Civil War veteran who went on to serve in the New York State assembly and senate for many years, as well as two terms as a United States Congressman. Francis C. Raines also was the nephew of Thomas Raines, a former New York State treasurer, and George Raines, a Monroe County district attorney.

I can't help but think there's much more to Raines' story.

 
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