Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Bill Hart had Hollywood star son
. Based on contemporary accounts from The Sporting News; tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they help bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.
Bill Hart played professional baseball for 25 years around the turn of the 20th Century.
From 1885-1910 he played 16 years of minor league ball mostly in the Midsouth and Midwest, playing the outfield when he wasn't pitching. He won 230 games in the minors, losing 212.
Between minor league gigs, Hart spent parts of eight seasons in the major leagues between 1886-1901. He never had a winning season in the bigs, and led the National League with 29 losses in 1896 with the St. Louis Browns. Lifetime in the majors he was 66-122 with an ERA of 4.65.
After his playing days he umpired in the Southern Association and the National League.
In 1917, Hart had a son, William Sterling Hart. Growing up with leading-man good looks, the younger Hart was signed to a movie contract by Columbia Pictures in 1939. To avoid confusion with silent film cowboy start William S. Hart, the ballplayer's son changed his name to Robert Sterling.
With time out as a flight instructor during World War II, Sterling played many, but forgettable, movie roles through the 1940s, most notably in 1951's Show Boat, and 1961's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
Television revived his flagging career and he continued to play handsome middle-aged characters through the 1960s, then dapper elderly gents into the mid-1980s.
His most famous TV role was as the ghost of George Kerby in the 1953-55 CBS series Topper, in which he co-starred with his wife Ann Jeffreys.
You can, of course, find out much more about Sterling's TV and movie career on site such as the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com).
Bill Hart, the pitcher, is included among the scarcer T206 Southern League series of cigarette cards circa 1909. He's the Hart with Little Rock, as opposed to Hart, Montgomery (Jimmy Hart).