Friday, February 24, 2023

The Mystery Continues: Gerry

I haven't mentioned it on here in the last few months, but I'm still working on trying to identify all of the "mystery" Beavers. As evidenced by previous posts, I've had some pretty good luck in doing so thus far, but have recently encountered another player whose first name, despite many hours of research, continues to allude me.

The player in question is a certain "Gerry", who appears to have pitched in exactly one game on May 7th, 1935.

The Sacramento Bee 5/8/35
Given his lack of stats, it would appear that "Gerry" came in for the bottom of the 9th (although he could've just as easily have pitched the 8th and 9th innings) during a 11-11 game, gave up a run, picked up the loss; and then disappeared off the face of the earth.

This was the Beavers 29th game of the season, and although they were already below .500 (12-17 after this loss), management wouldn't have been panicking quite yet. And it was certainly still too early in the season to be bringing guys in from any great distance, especially not for just one game. My gut tells me that "Gerry" was local, probably playing on a semi-pro or college team no further South than Salem, and no further North than Vancouver, WA. Seattle's possible, but that seems like a bit of a stretch. 

I've looked around for any "Gerry" playing baseball in the area, with a heavy emphasis between 1930-40, and have come up with absolutely nothing. Part of me is wondering if his name is wrong in the box scores, but until someone can prove otherwise, I'll just have to assume that it's correct.

Seeing as how there's at least two unidentified players now, I'm going to be creating another page at the top of the blog for the names that have alluded me, in the hope of course that some new material will become available at a later date, or that somebody with the necessary information will stumble upon the blog at some point, and hopefully be kind enough to share said information.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Portland Beavers vs. Dai Nippon: April 1-2, 1935

Following the hugely successful tour of U.S. baseball players to Japan in 1934, Japanese organizers, along with Lefty O'Doul, decided to capitalize on said success by arranging a tour of their own. 

A new team, dubbed, Dai Nippon, made up mostly of players from three universities, was assembled, and in 1935 would become the first professional Japanese team to play on North American soil.

The original plan was for the team to play between 60-80 games, but by the time all was said and done, they wound up competing in 109 contests in just a little over four months. 

Given Lefty's then current position as manager of the San Francisco Seals, it's not much of a surprise that the Coast League teams would be worked into the schedule. A total of 22 games were played against the eight Coast teams, each team seeing the Japanese at least twice.

Portland's final two warm-up games before starting the 1935 season were played against Dai Nippon on April 1st and 2nd.

Game 1:

The Ventura County Star 4/2/35
[Note: Because of how they were originally laid out in the paper, I had to do quite a bit of chopping, more so than normal, to get both of today's recaps to fit, and be readable, on Blogger.] 

Dai Nippon only had four designated pitchers for this tour; Eiji Sawamura, Kenichi Aoshiba, Toshihide Hatafuku, and the very young future HOFer, Victor Starffin (who had won the day before against Seattle). The only relief they got was from third basemen, Shigeru Mizuhara, who pitched in seven games, and second basemen, Takeo Tabe, three games; this being one of those three games. It's worth noting too that Takeo Tabe, who Lefty O'Doul thought had MLB potential, was one of the standouts from this tour, amassing 109 stolen bases, among other things. Despite his success, he for some unknown reason never played baseball again, and died in the war ten years later.

Game 2:

The Ventura County Star 4/3/35
There's no way of knowing for sure, but it sounds like this would've been closer to the real score, had it not been for all of the errors, in the first game as well. And it doesn't appear that Kenichi Aoshiba's injury was too severe, as he was back on the mound two days later (picking up the win against a Brawley, CA ensemble called Pirrone's All-Stars).

In 22 games against the PCL, Dai Nippon went 7-15. However, they did beat 7 of the 8 teams at least once; the Beavers being that one outlier. 

If anyone's interested in reading more about Dai Nippon's mind boggling 1935 tour, Western Canada Baseball has a very in-depth piece up on their website about it (nothing about the two losses to Portland though), which I would highly recommend. Knowing almost nothing of Japanese baseball, I used the article as my primary source for information on the players, and the tour itself.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Giving a name, or at least some initials, to Quisenberry

Dr., or "Doc", E.G. Quisenberry, was a recent graduate from North Pacific Dental College, when the Beavers decided to give him a tryout during the 1921 season.

Having only been able to find a set of initials for the good doctor, and no obituary, my research has been somewhat limited, but even so, I have been able to expand on what little information is currently available from the usual starting points (i.e. Baseball Reference and Stats Crew).

The biggest obstacle one has to overcome when trying to research the Beavers Quisenberry, is the fact that there were two Quisenberry's operating in and around Western Oregon at the exact same time. From what I can gather, both were similar in age, both worked in medicine, both were sometimes referred to as "Doc", both had some association with baseball, both used initials in place of a first name, and both appeared in many newspaper articles throughout their respective lives. The possibilities for confusion are endless, and even more so when an article about one of them only refers to it's subject as "Quisenberry" or "Doc Quisenberry".

In an attempt to help any future researchers, there was Perry Dwight ( or P.D.) Quisenberry, a pharmacist, who owned and operated a well-known pharmacy in Salem for many years. There isn't very much information available, but I have been able to deduce that he played some semi-pro ball in Eugene for a time during the 20's. He passed in 1959.

Then there's our Quisenberry, E.G. Quisenberry. Dentist/ballplayer. 

Morning Oregonian 7/7/21
Following 1920's losing season, the teams fifth in a row, Beavers management attempted to reverse their fortunes for the following year by injecting some life into the team via a number of youthful, and mostly unproven, prospects. Unfortunately, it didn't work, as the team would end up going 51-134 during that 1921 season; which was an all-time low in wins for the franchise. Reading old recaps, one can see that it isn't fair to pin all of the blame for that historically bad season on the youngsters, but they certainly shouldered some of it.

One of those new recruits, Doc Quisenberry, appears to have only pitched for his dental school team prior to joining the Beavers, and as the above article, and records show, he didn't fair so well during his one year with the team. That was his one and only season in the minors too, as he never made it past semi-pro ball after that.

Trying to trace Doc's career post-Beavers is very difficult. He opened a dental office in Portland sometime after 1921, and then closed it before decades end. He played on the Albany semi-pro team during 1925 and '27, as as a pitcher and an outfielder. By the mid 40's he was coaching softball in Corvallis, while still practicing dentistry. He seems to have been an avid golfer as well, participating in many tournaments throughout his life. The last mention of him in the newspapers comes from 1968, where he was the guest speaker for an annual Pioneer Party that was held by the Corvallis Woman's Club and the Benton County Historical Society. Curiously, that article also mentions that he had worked in the U.S. Treasury Department under Woodrow Wilson. President Wilson's second term ended in 1921, so that means that Doc may have worked there before going to dental school, which would make him a little bit older at the time of his joining the Beavers than the 22 or 23 that I thought he might've been as a recent college grad. 

Needless to say, there are many gaps in Doc's timeline. I plan to revisit this research from time to time, and will update this post if anything else comes to light. In the meantime, at least we now have some initials to go with the last name on my all-time list (which can be found at the top of the blog).

Thursday, October 6, 2022

New site feature: Resources

I've added a page for resources at the top of the blog. The list isn't very large, but is made up of sites that I've already used for researching previous posts, and those that I plan to use for future posts. I don't know how much use they'll be to anyone else, but they're now there if you need them. Obviously, if I'm missing something that you think should be there, please feel free to say so.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that 3-4 sites on the list were provided to me by, Jeff, from Wax Pack Wonders, back when I first started this blog. And I'm still grateful to him for doing so, as it really helped in what has proven to be a very alien form of blogging for me.

Friday, September 30, 2022

There's no Koene, but there was a Keene

Baseball Reference and Stats Crew both have a "Koene" listed as having played for the Beavers during the 1921 season...

... but as is often the case on these sites when you find a 'last name' only listing that has no stats attributed to it, there seemingly never was a "Koene". 

As per usual, I spent way too much time looking for this "Koene", if only to satisfy myself that he never existed. There aren't any typos that can be blamed for this one, so I don't know where "he" came from, or how "he" came to be on these sites.

The closest name to "Koene" that had any association with the Beavers in 1921 is Keene, Roy Keene.

Corvallis Gazette-Times 6/14/21
Roy Keene is a curious subject when looking into Beavers history. His Sporting News player contract card says that he was with Portland in May of '21...

... and yet, there's absolutely nothing else out there that mentions him ever having officially joined the team; or even traveling with the team. And unless I missed something, he doesn't appear in any of the box scores from May of that year either. It's certainly strange, those contract cards are not wrong very often, but there's something amiss here, and I can't seem to figure out what it is.

In some ways it's a bit of a moot point though, as much like our subject from the previous post, Roy's passion belonged to something other than playing ball. 

Statesman Journal 8/26/77
Ultimately, I can't say for certain that someone adding information to the above mentioned sites confused Roy Keene for the "Koene" that is listed, but since no "Koene" played for Portland in 1921, or any other year for that matter, I'm not sure how else one could explain this particular error. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Something a little different

This blog wasn't created to show off mail days, or to do any other sort of "Look What I Got!" posts. However, about a month ago I received a surprise envelope from, Matt, the guru of haiku, behind Diamond Jesters, that I thought was more than worthy of making an exception for.

In his note, Matt said that he didn't know whether of not batboys were being included into my all-time collection. To be honest, I had never even thought about it. I suppose I'm not really looking to add items from them to the collection, however, once again, this card is worth making an exception for.

Vince Pesky was fairly well known in Portland. I remember him mostly from his various speaking engagements during my teen years. I also knew an older fellow at one time who had been coached by Vince at Marshall sometime during the early 70's (I believe).

Vince passed away last year at the age of 99. There's a pretty good obituary for him on the Riverview Abbey Funeral home website. If you have an extra minute or two, I think it's worth the read. The only thing that I can add to it, is that a number of his former students went on to do great things, mostly outside of sports, but there were a few guys that some folks might remember from their accomplishments on the field, namely Terry Baker and Mel Renfro

Oh, and there was that time that he "guilted" his brother, Johnny, into signing autographs after a game:

The Durham Sun 9/25/42
I'm thinking that those kids would've appreciated Vince being around more often, as the implication is, that Johnny wouldn't have gone out to sign autographs, even on 'kids day', had Vince not been there.

It's always a little sad when a good person leaves us, but he had a good run, and by all accounts, inspired more than a few to follow in his footsteps. He definitely left the world in a better in a better place than he had found it. We could all be so lucky!

Matt got this card in a lot that he had bought, and mentioned that he thought of me when he saw it. Hearing that was almost as nice as getting the card itself. Many thanks to him, not only for sending this card my way, but also for alerting me to a book that I had previously hadn't been aware of. Now if a cheap copy would just pop up somewhere...

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Mystery solved: Richard Maxmeyer

* Editor's note: This is a follow-up to last weeks post. Thank you to Bo (Baseball Cards Come to Life!) for his assistance, without it, today's piece wouldn't have been possible.

The last post saw me trying to figure out who the unknown "Maxmeyer" was that pitched in one game for the Beavers back in 1932. My efforts came up short, but I did wonder at the end of the post if that Maxmeyer was the same, or any relation to, the Maxmeyer that was with the Portland Colts in 1911 and part of 1912. Thanks to the efforts of Bo, I now know that both Maxmeyer's were one in the same.

Richard Maxmeyer (later nicknamed "Maxey" and "Rube") was born in Germany in 1890. His family immigrated to Tacoma, WA when he was three months old, and would then later move to Portland (or possibly to Corvallis then Portland).

Given his lankiness (6'2 and 180 pounds in 1911), and odd pitching mechanics, it took some effort on his part to get a tryout from Portland management, but his persistence finally paid off and he was given a chance with the Beavers farm team (the team didn't have an official name in 1911, so depending on the source, you will often see them referred to as the Colts, Pippins, or "Nicks", after manager Nick Williams) in the Northwestern league.

Rube Maxmeyer c. 1911
Even as a young man, Richard was described as eccentric. He was good natured, and wherever he would go in the future, much would always be made of his large feet. These traits along with his awkward delivery made him an instant favorite with fans, and the local beat writers. 

Unfortunately, the aforementioned characteristics that made him so popular with everyone else, would also be the source of constant amusement by his Colts teammates, who spent the better part of 1911 pranking him pretty regularly. Being college educated probably didn't do him any favors either, as that was a big no-no for ballplayers back then. The practical jokes were said to have been all in fun, and by all appearances Richard seems to have taken them as such, but more than one writer at the time would wonder if they didn't hinder his progress with the team.

He spent all of 1911 with the Colts, finding more success than not. Despite that, he was only brought back for an extended tryout in 1912, then released (along with catcher, Jess Troch) on April 15th, less than a month into the season. Richard would later cite differences of opinion with manager Nick Williams on how he should be pitching (Nick pitched for the teams as well). It also didn't help that he was the only member of the pitching staff who wasn't being paid.

Not unlike most cities, and their surrounding areas at the time, Portland was a hotbed for baseball during the early part of the last century. Fans were treated to games played by minor league teams, semi-pro teams, and amateur/sandlot teams almost every day of the week from February to early November. There were countless leagues in just western Oregon alone, and over the course of about twenty years, Richard Maxmeyer would go on to play for many of them.

Two weeks after being released by the Colts, Richard was pitching for the Lents Giants of the A. & W. League [Today, Lents is a somewhat affluent neighborhood in SE Portland, but back in 1912 it was an ignored section of the city that was made up of mostly impoverished immigrants]. In June of that year he found himself back in the Northwestern League, this time with the Vancouver Beavers. He would be cut just days later after a couple of unimpressive outings, one of which, ironically, was a walloping at the hands of his former Colts team. Six days after his initial Vancouver deal, he agreed to terms with the La Grande Pippins of the Class B Tri-State League. He spent one month with the Pippins, going 2-3. He left because he thought the leagues level of competition was beneath him. There's no way to know for sure, but given how things would go, I suspect that he might've later regretted making that statement.

Morning Oregonian 8/14/12
Playing on pickup squads would be a staple of the rest of his career. Here he was pitching against his former Giants team. Unfortunately there are no details on who made up the rest of his team. 

In October of '12, Maxey signed on for a tryout with Spokane of the NWL, but was cut before the 1913 season started. He was then given another tryout with the Colts, but didn't make the cut there either.

1913 saw him playing for two more semi-pro teams, the Woodburn Red Sox in May, and the Archer-Wiggins Weonas in June, before finally a winning a ring in July...

The Oregon Daily Journal 7/21/13
The happy couple moved to a 160-acre farm in Crawford, WA, and Richard appears to have spent the better part of the next two years away from baseball, during which time a daughter was born.

Maxey let it be known that he was ready to come back in 1915, and was then promptly signed by the Sellwood Merchants of the Portland City League.

Most of 1916 was spent in the Inter-City League, where he would pitch for Log Cabin, the Kirkpatricks, and the Baby Beavers. 

The Oregon Daily Journal 3/22/18
There's a reference to Rube taking a job in the shipyards in 1918, but he must've done so a year prior, as he pitched for the Cornfoot team, of the Columbia-Willamette Shipbuilders League, during the 1917 season. He moved over to the Peninsula yards, and team, sometime after the 1918 got under way. He threw for at least one more game with Vancouver NWL club again that year as well. In fact, on July 1st, he pitched for the Cornfoot team in an early game, and then started for Vancouver later that same night; both of which were complete games by the way. He lost the first game in a pitchers duel, and then just ran out of a gas during the later game, which resulted in a loss.

1918 Peninsula team. Rube on the far right. Link to a better resolution photo.
Richard decided to retire 1918, and appears to have committed to that decision, at least until 1921 when he shows up back in the Inter-City League pitching for the Gresham Giants. He switched over to the St. Helens American Legion for the 1922 Inter-City season.

Vernonia Eagle 9/10/26
After a couple of years gap, we get this little tidbit. Rube was apparently living in Columbia City at this time, which is located on the Northwestern Oregon border with Washington.

He pops up again playing with the Woodmen (?) in the Portland City League in 1927, then shows back up at the age of 42 for his one game with the Beavers in 1932 (see previous post).

Maxey started appearing in old-timer games in 1936, and would continue to do so for the next couple of decades.

There's a lot of gaps in Richard's baseball timeline, many teams and years are missing, and as of this writing, I cannot find an obituary, so I can't even tell you when he passed. If any of this information comes to light at a later date, I will come back and update the post when possible. In the meantime, it would seem that he led a very interesting, and colorful, life. And though it appears that he lost more games than he won, he remained ever popular with the fans. He got to travel quite a bit, lived in many different places, had a family, and played a LOT of baseball; I suspect that a fella like him couldn't have asked for too much more than that.