Bill Lee - The
The Baseball Necrology
During his playing career, a baseball player's every action on the field is documented - every at bat, every hit, every pitch. But what becomes of a player after he leaves the game? Unlike other professions, the baseball player's career is over at an age when most other careers are just beginning. What did the ballplayers of the past do with the rest of their lives after their short time in the limelight was over? The Baseball Necrology addresses this subject for more than 7600 now-deceased baseball players. Any player who ever appeared in a major league baseball game since the beginning of the major leagues in 1876, who has died, is included.
This exhaustive reference work presents information that has never before been available in one source. It briefly details the after-baseball lives of some 7600 major leaguers, owners, managers, administrators, umpires, sportswriters, Negro Leaguers, announcers and broadcasters who are now deceased. Each entry tells the date and place of the player's birth, the number of seasons he spent in the majors, the primary position he played, the number of seasons he spent as a manager in the majors (if applicable), his after-baseball career and activities, date and cause of his death, and his final resting place.
Baseball fan and history researcher Bill Lee lives near Harlingen, Texas, with LaVonne, his wife of over thirty years.
This excellent reference book will be a
significant addition to your personal baseball library, and will make an
outstanding gift for someone special who is a baseball buff.
Many thanks to all of you who have supported LaVonne and I over the last many years with this project.
During a baseball player's career as a player, everything he did is well documented. Every at bat -- every hit -- every pitch. This information is written about, talked about, hashed and rehashed, sometimes for years afterward. But the reflexes slow, the eyes grow dim, or the arm gets sore. The crowd quits cheering and the ballplayer's days in the limelight are over. Unlike most other professions, the baseball player's career is over at an age when most other careers are just beginning.
Sometime between age 25 and age 45, usually in the early 30's, the ballplayer is through as a performer, but he still has twenty to forty useful years ahead of him. What did the ballplayers of the past do with those twenty to forty years? The Baseball Necrology addresses this subject on more than 7600 now deceased baseball players, as well as other personalities in the game of baseball, giving their cause of death and the location of their final resting place.
The vast majority of information contained in The Baseball Necrology came from newspaper obituaries. The United States Newspaper Project (USNP), a cooperative national effort among the states and the federal government, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, has located, cataloged and preserved on microfilm, newspapers published in the United States from the 18th century to present. Each state has one, and in a few instances more than one, central repository, or newspaper morgue, of this microfilm. These are usually at a state library, a state historical library, a state university, or as in the case of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library. Using various versions of the baseball encyclopedia as a guide, between 1997 and 2001, I visited each of these locations at least once, and some two or more times, gathering data for The Baseball Necrology. Supplementing the obituary research, I also used information from public records, cemetery records, many calls to cemetery caretakers and funeral directors and, occasionally, visits to local libraries -- especially in Texas.
Information in obituaries varies greatly from a single line that may only list the name of the decedent and the funeral director to pages of biographical information, some of which is of little interest for the purposes of The Baseball Necrology. Obituary information in large city newspapers is usually the most sparse, while those of smaller towns are more wordy. Consequently, the short descriptive entries in The Baseball Necrology vary according to what information was available. In a good many cases an obituary might give a blow-by-blow description of the decedent's baseball career, information that is not included in The Baseball Necrology, but little insight regarding what he did in the thirty years following his baseball days.
A large portion of obituaries in the large cities of California, where over 11 percent of the population of late ballplayers died, fit the category of having only single line entries. Fortunately, in California death records are available to the public at County Recorder offices. Consequently, I visited most of California's 58 county courthouses at least once, some of them twice, in order to gather the desired information.
A special mention must also be made about my chosen home state of Texas. The central repository of newspapers in Texas is the Center for American History in Austin. Even though this library is one of the leading benefactors of funds from the USNP, it has one of the poorest collections of newspapers encountered on this project, not even having good coverage for some of the state's major cities. This made it necessary to visit many local libraries throughout one of the largest states in order to do justice to the nearly 5 percent of ballplayers who died in Texas.
In about 10 percent of the population of deceased major league ballplayers I was unable to locate an obituary of any sort, or any indication that the person ever lived or died. This could be for several reasons.
A good many of them died in the Latin countries of North, Central and South America. Because of cultural and language barriers no attempt was made to research outside the United States. This is left for the research of some ambitious person in the future. Other reasons for missing obituaries are that a newspaper was not readily available in the location the person died, or because I didn't have the correct death place or date. It could be that the person was at a location he wasn't known when he died and that an obituary exists somewhere in another area, or that there just wasn't an obituary printed. In some instances I was unable to locate a newspaper for the time and place where the person died.
A good many of the ballplayers listed in The Baseball Necrology played in only one season, some maybe in only a single game or just part of an inning. Even though such players may be somewhat obscure, the decision was made early in the course of my research to include every person who ever played in a major league game. The reason for this was twofold. First, where does one draw the line -- be it more than one season -- more than two seasons -- more than a single game? Wherever the line was drawn, someone of some importance to someone would be left out, so all are included. Second, the major leagues are the utopia of baseball -- the goal of every ballplayer who ever played the game. In order for that ballplayer to have made it to the major leagues he had to be pretty good and well known at some level, and therefore included in this history of deceased major league baseball players. There were many really good minor league players who never made it to the major leagues, but they are not included for the very reason that they did not ever play in the major leagues.
Some people who have reviewed my manuscript have been critical of the fact that I do not indicate who the player played for. This is for many reasons. First, this is not a baseball book. It is a book about baseball players -- what they did after their baseball playing days were over, cause of death, and where they are buried. What they did as baseball players is well documented in various versions of the Baseball Encyclopedia, and I strongly recommend that every true baseball fan own the latest version of this outstanding reference work. Also, the size of The Baseball Necrology has always been a major concern, and therefore including more baseball related information would only make it larger and more unwieldy. Finally, also size related, some of these ballplayers played for many teams during their careers -- some for several teams in just a single season.
The Baseball Necrology includes all of the following information I could locate for any deceased person who ever played in a major league baseball game, and also some other baseball personalities such as umpires, managers, owners, administrators, announcers, sportswriters and those who played in the Negro Leagues:
• The number of years played in the major leagues and the primary position played
• The number of years as a field manager, if applicable
• Hall of Fame indication
• Date and place of birth
• Date and place of death
• Military Service, when found
• Information about his after-baseball career
• Cause of death
• Burial place
In rare instances, an interesting piece of baseball trivia was found in an obituary that I have included, thinking that it could be lost if I didn't capture it. If the number of years and primary position are excluded, it was because the person was a baseball personality and not a player. Some parts of the above information might be, and in a good many instances is, missing. If I couldn't find it, I was unable to include it.
The very sizeable appendix presents burial locations for all players and personalities for whom I could find information, arranged by state, then city and then cemetery.
As with any research project of this size, there are errors. These may be clerical errors, errors of interpretation or errors of omission. The compiler has made every effort to keep these to a minimum, but they are there, and with the reader's support they can be corrected in future editions. Please write in care of the publisher and let me know what needs to be corrected and what is the accurate information. If a reply is requested, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
La Feria, Texas
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Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours. Bill went on one of Jay's tours in 2003 and had a great time. Leave all the arrangements to Jay and just enjoy baseball. No fuss or bother. Jay drops you off at the game and picks you up when it's over. Lots more than baseball too, as you get to see different parts of the country and get guided tours of popular tourist attractions. Several of Jay's tours include a stop at The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY. Transportation, lodging, tickets to the ballgame and entry to most attractions are included in the cost. Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours are highly recommended by this fan! Jay usually has 20 plus tours a year, starting in Spring Training, including some minor league jaunts. Watch for the schedule for the upcoming season on his website in February. A must for any baseball fan.
National Baseball Hall
of Fame, Cooperstown NY. Take a step back in time and visit
Cooperstown, New York. A quiet, rustic village in upstate New York
where one can see artifacts from the history of our National Pastime.
The Hall of Fame Library is a great place for the intellectually
challenged fan where one can study documents from the game's beginnings to