Pennsylvania Private Colleges-Universities: Special Student-Athletes-Winter Ball (Part I)

Christy Mathewson

A few student-athletes from Pennsylvania private colleges and universities have played big league baseball; managed in the majors; served as executives, including, but not limited to:

  • Cooperstown Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson (Bucknell) and Eddie Plank (Pennsylvania College baseball team)
  • Bill Lindsay (Haverford College)
  • Red Murff (Gettysburg College)
  • George Earnshaw, Cooperstown Hall of Famer (Executive) Lee MacPhail Jr. and Curley Ogden (Swarthmore).

Part I-II focuses on the student-athletes mentioned above. Part III-IV focuses on:

  • Dick Hall (Swarthmore)
  • Craig Anderson, Paul Hartzell and Matt McBride (Lehigh)
  • Joe Maddon (Lafayette)
  • Doug Glanville (Penn)
  • Agents Ron Shapiro, Arne Tellem and front-office personnel (Haverford).

Why is the author interested in private Pennsylvania colleges and universities? His mother (Paula Swarthe Van Hyning) earned her degree in Economics from Swarthmore (class of 1939), as a classmate of Lee MacPhail Jr. The author lived in Factoryville, Pennsylvania (1988-1993), the hometown of Christy Mathewson. (Keystone College was the author’s employer, at the time.)

Christy Mathewson (Matty, The Big Six): 1900 College Football All-American at Bucknell

Mathewson, born in Factoryville, Pennsylvania, on August 12, 1880, transitioned from Keystone Academy (Class of 1898) to Bucknell, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. At Bucknell, he distinguished himself on their football team as a fullback, punter, and dropkicker, 1898-1900, center on their basketball team and baseball pitcher. Per a July 19, 2013 football stadium press release, Mathewson kicked a point after touchdown in the first varsity game of his freshman year, and in three years, added 13 touchdowns and eight field goals. He gained national attention when he dropkicked two field goals—worth 5 points each—versus Penn Quakers in 1899 and a 45-yard field goal against Army in 1900 when he was named the «12th man» on Walter Camp’s 1900 All-America team. Mathewson practiced his dropkicking hour after hour, and his punting was exceptional throughout his career, a three-year stretch during which he scored 106 points. «Matty» was a punishing runner, with a 65-yard touchdown run and a 70-yard kickoff return  https://bucknellbison.com/news/2013/7/19/209105196.aspx

In the Fall of 1989, Bucknell’s football stadium was renamed for Mathewson. The author attended the October 14, 1989 football game between Bucknell Bison and Lehigh, giving commemorative items to fans. (Lehigh won the contest, 52-6.) After his junior year, Mathewson, who left Bucknell was a straight-A student, class historian, and president of his junior class. He sang the first bass in the glee club and played bass horn in the band; he was a member of the literary society, Phi Gamma Delta social fraternity, and Theta Delta Tau honorary society.https://www.upi.com/Archives/1989/09/25/Bucknell-renames-stadium-for-Christy-Mathewson/7256029076982/ A running track is adjacent to the stadium.




Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Photo credit: Bucknell University https://bucknellbison.com/news/2013/7/19/209105196.aspx
 

Mathewson—Fan Favorite in Havana, Cuba (Late November-December 1911)

Mathewson (26-11, 1.99 ERA) traveled with many of his 1911 New York Giants teammates to Havana, November 23, 1911, after playing two exhibition games in Miami, Florida. (LHP Rube Marquard, 1B Fred Merkle, and OF Red Murray declined to make this trip.) The Giants went 9-3 during their Cuba sojourn, facing the Almendares Blues and Havana Reds, per Gary Ashwill posting a September 4, 2009 blog by Brendan Macgranachan https://seamheads.com/blog/2009/09/04/the-cuba-trip-of-1911/ Mathewson was 3-1, including a three-hit shutout of Almendares, with José Méndez taking the loss. Jorge S. Figueredo opined that John McGraw was “not going to be embarrassed in Cuba so that he made sure that his ace,

Christy Mathewson would make the trip.” Mathewson bested Havana twice, 4-1 and 7-4. His final start resulted in his only loss—7-4 to Almendares—with Bombín Pedroso the winner and José Méndez getting the save. The 1911 NL pennant-winning Giants outperformed the Philadelphia Phillies, who won five of nine games in Cuba, preceding the Giants’ contests.

Macgranachan, via Ashwill, included McGraw quotes, including one on Méndez, posthumously inducted in Cooperstown (2006): “I must say a good word about Méndez. He is a fine pitcher, sure enough, with as fast a ball as you’d see anywhere. He burns it over like a rifle ball and depends entirely on his great speed,” per McGraw. The New York Times published this on Christmas Day, 1911: “No major league ballplayer has ever gone to Cuba and made the favorable impression that Christy Mathewson, the Giant pitcher, left among the fans on the island. Unlike many of the stars who have barnstormed there, Mathewson did his best in every game he pitched, and the Cubans have unbounded admiration for him.” https://www.nytimes.com/1911/12/25/archives/mathewson-shocked-conceit-of-mendez-cuban-fans-are-glad-cuban.html Earlier, a Havana newspaper put Mathewson on a pedestal by stating he “was the best pitcher ever to set foot in Cuba” (Macgranachan, 2009). Mathewson’s SABR bio by Eddie Frierson is at: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/christy-mathewson/

 Eddie Plank

Plank was born in Gettysburg, August 31, 1875, less than 12 years after Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863. Plank pitched for the Pennsylvania College—which became Gettysburg College in 1921—baseball team without enrolling there. He attended Gettysburg Academy—a prep school—and pitched effectively. Plank (326 big league wins) had the most MLB wins by a lefty until Warren Spahn (363) and Steve Carlton (329) surpassed him. Coincidentally, Plank—pitching for Pennsylvania College—faced Bucknell’s Mathewson several times in 1899, with the latter winning those pitching duels. Jan Finkel’s SABR bio of Plank is at: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/eddie-plank/

Plank, who had a sore arm, pitched three games in Havana, Cuba, post-1910 World Series between his World Champion Philadelphia A’s and the Chicago Cubs, but lost three starts: December 3, to Havana (5-3); December 13, to Almendares (5-2), with José Méndez the winner; and, to Méndez, 7-5, in Game Two, of a December 18 twin-bill. The A’s won four of their 10 games, but were minus Eddie Collins, per historian John Holway. Figueredo indicated that Frank “Home Run” Baker did not make the trip; neither did skipper Connie Mack. Each A’s players received $387 for the 10 games in Cuba, plus round-trip expenses for them and their spouses.

Plank-Mathewson pitching duels took place in the 1905 and 1913 Fall Classics:

  • October 9, 1905, Game 1—Matty blanked the A’s, 3-0, on a four-hitter; Plank hurled a CG, allowing 10 hits and fanning five;
  • October 8, 1913, Game 2—Matty threw a 10-inning shutout at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, giving up eight hits and fanning five; Plank hit into a fielder’s choice with one out and runners on second and third in the home ninth. Matty drove in the game’s first run with a one-out RBI single off Plank in the tenth. The Giants scored two more for a 3-0 win.
  • October 11, 1913, Game 5—Plank (1-1) permitted one unearned run in besting Matty (1-1), 3-1. The Giants connected two hits to six by the A’s. Home Run Baker’s two RBI were crucial. Plank and Matty pitched 19 innings in their two CG, with identical (0.95) ERA. Plank’s WHIP (Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched) was 0.632, superior to Matty’s 0.842.

Eddie Collins, Plank’s A’s teammate, once said: “Plank was not the fastest, not the trickiest, and not the possessor of the most stuff; but was just the greatest.” (2020 National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Yearbook, 111).

Eddie Plank, winner of Game 5, 1913 Fall Classic.

Table I: Mathewson and Plank Career Pitching Metrics

PitcherWARSeasonsW-LSHOERAERA+WHIPFIPCooperstown
Matty106.517373-188792.131361.0582.261936
Plank90.917326-194692.351221.1192.451946

Sources: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mathech01.shtml; https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/planked01.shtml

Wins above replacement (WAR) is a “CT scan,” per historian Jorge Colón Delgado, the most comprehensive indicator. It trumps everything else. Mathewson was one of five ex-players initially inducted in Cooperstown (1936), with Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. Their 17-season big league pitching stats came in the “Dead Ball Era,” prior to 1920. The Veterans Committee vote (1946) enabled Plank to be inducted posthumously. Plank passed away (from a stroke) in Gettysburg, February 24, 1926, at age 50, 20 weeks after Mathewson’s death, October 7, 1925, in Saranac Lake, New York, from tuberculosis, at age 45.

“Professor” Bill Lindsay

Lindsay mostly played in the minors, except for 19 games, 1911 AL Cleveland Naps. Shoeless Joe Jackson was his Naps teammate and teammate on the 1910 New Orleans Pelicans, champions of the eight-team Class A Southern League, at 87-53. Shoeless Joe led that league with a .354 batting average; his 1910 Pelicans card sold for $492,000 at an on-line auction, May 2020, per https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/top-item-on-every-mlb-teams-holiday-wish-list-hot-stove-signings-blockbuster-trades-extensions-more/ Lindsay played shortstop for New Orleans, and batted left-threw right. Jackson was their center-fielder.

Professor Bill earned two undergraduate degrees—from Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina; and Haverford College, near Philadelphia, and Swarthmore’s “arch-rival.” (Lindsay attended law school at Tulane University, in New Orleans.) He passed away in Greensboro, July 14, 1963, at 82.

Curley Ogden

The Washington Senators’ only World Series title came in 1924, with Walter Johnson’s strong four innings of relief work in Game 7, a 4-3 win, on October 10. The 12-inning contest lasted precisely three hours and ended when Earl McNeely’s double scored catcher Muddy Ruel.  https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WS1/WS1192410100.shtml

Curley Ogden, 9-5 in the regular season after being acquired from the Philadelphia A’s, started Game 7 for Washington, but only faced two hitters, fanning Frankie Frisch and walking Freddy Lindstrom. Player-manager Bucky Harris replaced Ogden with lefty George Mogridge, as part of a strategy to neutralize lefty-hitting Ross Youngs and Bill Terry. Coincidentally, six Giants in their starting line-up ended up in Cooperstown: Frisch, Lindstrom, Youngs, Terry, Hack Wilson, and Travis Jackson. Ogden’s SABR bio by Andrew Sharp noted Terry would not have started versus a lefty and Harris fooled Giants’ skipper McGraw by secretly warming up Mogridge, who was “hidden” below the grandstands. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/curly-ogden/

Ogden was a three-sport athlete at Swarthmore: football, basketball, and baseball. He graduated in 1922 with his bachelor’s degree in chemistry before Connie Mack signed him to a Philadelphia A’s contract. The Swarthmore train stop is roughly 11 miles from Philadelphia’s “Main Line,” so Mack was quite familiar with Ogden’s potential as Swarthmore’s star pitcher. Ogden went straight from Swarthmore to the big leagues, making his debut against Cleveland, on July 18. At season’s end, he returned to Swarthmore to help coach the Garnet football team.

A sore arm affected Ogden’s pitching in 1923 and Washington picked him up for the $7,500 waiver price, May 24, 1924, with Ogden at 0-3, 4.85 ERA. He was 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his first seven Senators’ starts, before a tired arm resulted in a 3-5 mark the rest of the season. Per Ogden’s SABR bio, writer Shirley Povich wrote this in 1954:

“He [Ogden] would walk the floor of the hotel suite he shared with Harris and [catcher] Muddy Ruel would hold his arm in pain and wonder if he could ever work again.  He amazed me every time he won a game,” Harris recalled. “Only Ruel and I could appreciate what Ogden went through. He pitched his heart out.”

By 1927, Ogden was pitching in the minors. John McGraw invited him to 1929 spring training with the New York Giants, but sent him back to Buffalo, since he didn’t think Ogden’s curveball was good enough to get big-league hitters out. Ogden was 18-19 in five major league seasons, with half of those wins for the 1924 Senators. In nine minor-league seasons, he was 60-47. He passed away at 63, on August 6, 1964, in Upland, Pennsylvania, after a long high school coaching and teaching career. (to be continued).

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