* 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.