Friday, May 30, 2014

Ollie Matson added to '55 All-American customs

I've been planning to do a 1955 All-American style custom card of Ollie Matson for a number of years. His 1954 Bowman card was one of my childhood favorites. I've had a USA Today clipping about his college team in my files for more than five years.

What got me off center on the project was my viewing the other night of the ESPN documentary '51 Dons.

The hour-long 2014 film details the University of San Francisco football team. It is largely based on the book Undefeated, Untied and Uninvited by Kristine Clark.

You can probably catch the documentary in a rerun, so I'm not going to do more than give you a capsule summary. In 1951 the Dons, from a tiny (1,200 enrollment) all-male Catholic college, were 9-0. The team featured running back Ollie Matson, who led the nation with 1,566 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, and linebacker Burl Toller, whose defense held opponents to an average of just eight points per game. Both were black.

With most of the major bowl games played in the Jim Crow South, the Dons were snubbed for a bowl bid, ostensibly because of the relative weakness of the Dons' schedule. When the Orange Bowl made back-channel overtures to the effect that USF could get the bid of they agreed to leave Matson and Toler at home, the team overwhelmingly voted to decline. 

By refusing to turn their backs on their teammates, the Dons lost more than the chance to win bowl championship rings. The loss of a major bowl-game payday doomed the school's football program. The school had lost $70,000 on football in 1951; it could not afford to continue in 1952. USF's football program went dark until 1959, when it returned as a minor college program.

The Orange Bowl insult was just another injustice heaped on Matson. Despite his NCAA-leading offensive stats, when he was named as San Francisco's first and only All-American, it was as a defensive back. In the Heisman Trophy balloting, he could no better than 9th.

The pros, however, recognized Matson's value. His college coach, Joe Kuharich, who had moved on to the Chicago Cardinals with the folding of the San Francsico program, made Matson the No. 3 overall pick in the 1952 NFL draft, behind Bill Wade and Les Richter.

Matson delayed signing a pro contract so that he could compete in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Helsinki. As part of the U.S.A. track team he won a bronze medal in the  400-meter sprint and silver in the 1,600-meter relay.

It was Matson's ill-luck to play his entire 14-year NFL career with non-contending team. With the Cardinals (1952, 1954-58), Rams (1959-62), Lions (1963) and Bears (1964-66), Matson played on only two teams with a winning record. He never appeared in a post-season game. 

Following the 1958 season, Matson once again figured in a former USF official's NFL plans. Pete Rozelle, who had been Don's sports information director in 1951, traded eight players and a draft pick to add Matson to the L.A. Rams team of which he was general manager.

Matson was a five-time All-Pro and played in six Pro Bowls. When he retired, his 12,884 all-purpose yards were an NFL career mark second only to Jim Brown.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. His teammates Bob St. Clair and Gino Marchetti also made the Hall of Fame, becoming the only college teammate trio so honored. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976.

Suffering from the sort of dementia now recognized as being caused by repeated head injuries, Matson died in 2011.

Naturally, there tons of stuff about Ollie Matson available on the internet. I can recommend his N.Y. Times obituary. .

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Baseball's first $1,000,000 memorabilia

Lou Gehrig was presented with his 1936 American League MVP
Award on Aug. 3, 1937, at Yankee Stadium by George M. Cohan.

Is one of the most valuable pieces of sports memorabilia hidden away in a Texas VA hospital?

The Sporting News of June 29, 1944, reported . . . 

Gehrig’s Trophy Brings
$1,000,000 in Bond Sales
            DALLAS, Tex.—A trophy won by Lou Gehrig, former captain of the Yankees and famous Iron Horse of baseball, when he was voted the American League’s most valuable player in 1936, brought $1,000,000 in bond purchases on being auctioned during a bond-selling drive on the night of June 20.
            Mrs. Eleanor Twitchell Gehrig, widow of the player, contributed the trophy through her brother, Pfc. Frank Twitchell of the Fifth Ferrying Group, stationed in Dallas.

The winning bidder was the Dallas-based Southland Life Insurance company. On July 8, the insurance company presented the "trophy" to the patients at McCloskey General Hospital, an Army hospital in Temple, Tex. I'm unsure of what format the MVP Award took in 1936. It didn't become the Landis award  and familiar large round plaque until 1944.

Assuming the million dollar price mentioned referred to the face value of the bonds when redeemed in 10 years, the insurance company would have effectively paid $750,000 for the MVP award and would recoup the full $1,000,000 at maturity. 

According to a common inflation calculator found on the internet, $750,000 in 1944 is equivalent to about $9.8 million today. 

Mrs. Gehrig is reported to have expressed astonishment at the amount of money generated by the award's sale; she had anticipated it might bring $10,000-15,000. 

Eleanor Gehrig's contributions of Lou's memorabilia generated more than $6 million in war bond sales over the course of World War II. 

The Sporting News commented, “The spirit of Lou Gehrig, whose courage has become one of the greatest sagas of baseball, has come to Temple, Tex., as a lasting inspiration to thousands of young Americans wounded in the service of their country.” 

McCloskey General Hospital was activated in June, 1942, at Temple, about 30 miles east of Ft. Hood. The hospital was named for Maj. James A. McCloskey, who was killed on Bataan on March 26, 1942, the first regular United States Army doctor to lose his life in World War II.

The hospital was one of the army's largest and was noted as a center for orthopedic cases, amputations, and neurosurgery. The number of patients at the peak of admissions was more than 5,000.

In May, 1946, the hospital was turned over to the Veterans Administration and became a general medical and surgical center. It has been enlarged and modernized over the years.

In 1979 the McCloskey Veterans Administration Center was renamed in honor of Olin E. Teague, who served as Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives for 18 years.

My cursory poking around the internet failed to turn up information on the current whereabouts of Gehrig's 1936 MVP award; hell, it may still be on display at the VA hospital.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gehrig glove donation supported war effort

Lou Gehrig and his mother, Christina,
in a 1927 photo.

During the Third War Loan bond drive in late 1943, Lou Gehrig’s mother, Mrs. Christina Gehrig, donated one of her late son’s gloves to be auctioned.

Details I found in a subsequent issue of The Sporting News are sparse, but it was reported that the buyer, identified only as “(a) Mr. Weinstein” was the winning bidder, pledging the purchase of $50,000 of war bonds.

He then returned the glove to Mrs. Gehrig.

“Wasn’t that mighty nice of Mr. Weinstein to return it?” Mrs. Gehrig was quoted. “He thought that I should enjoy having it back. I surely did appreciate it, and thanked him and Mr. Dave Elman, another prominent New Yorker, heartily.”

There was no explanation of who either Weinstein or Elman were.

During World War II, bonds were sold at 75% of “face” value, for which they could be redeemed in 10 years. Thus Weinstein’s cash outlay for the Gehrig glove would have been equivalent to about $498,500 today, according to a popular inflation calculator found on the internet. He would, of course, recoup
the full $50,000 when the bonds were redeemed a decade later.

The glove may be the same bronzed mitt now displayed in the Hall of Fame, bequeathed to the National Baseball Museum in Mrs. Gehrig’s will.

Evidently, sports memorabilia was popular as incentives to spur bonds sales. 

To help kick off the 5th War loan bond drive in Chicago in June, 1944, a Mickey Cochrane model bat that had been autographed by members of the Navy's powerhouse service team, the Great Lakes Blue Jackets -- which over the course of its existence 1942-45 included 68 major leaguers, including 18 All-Stars and five future Hall of Famers -- was auctioned for $5,000. A bat that Jimmie Dykes had used in the 1929 World Series went for $2,000, and a pair of spikes from George Case, who led the American League in stolen bases each season 1939-43, also sold for $2,000.

Next time I'll give you the story of how another piece of Lou Gehrig memorabilia became the most valuable piece of sports memorabilia when it was sold in a World War II bond drive.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Flag felt decorated How I Met Your Mother set

A century-old B6 48-star United States felt flag tobacco premium
was used as set decoration on How I Met Your Mother.
Yesterday I presented a piece on the use of an (reproduction) 1889 Allen & Ginter tobacco card advertising poster as set decoration on the FX cable television cop show Justified.

Today I'll show you another example that seems to suggest that at least one Hollywood set decorator is a collector of vintage tobacco cards and premiums.

For much of the nine-season run of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, I've noticed that on the set the represents MacLaren's Pub, a favored hangout for the principal characters, there hangs on a wall near the back of the tavern a felt flag tobacco premium.

The felt "blanket" depicts the United States (48-star) flag. It was originally issued circa 1910-1912 as part of a series of dozens of national and other flags that were collectively cataloged as B6 National Flags in the American Card Catalog

The "regular" size flags are about 8" x 5" and were originally given away with the purchase of a package of cigarettes. They were in a small paper envelope that was paper-banded to the tobacco package. Flags of selected countries in a number of larger sizes were available by accumulating the coupons inserted in the cigarette packs.

These mail-in premium flag felts are known in sizes of about 12" x 9", 15" x 10" and 16" x 28", and probably a few others.  I'm no judge of relative size, but I'd guess the flag felt on the wall of the MacLaren's set to be about 15" x 10".

The U.S. flag from the B6 series can be found with several different background colors and border trim designs. Multiple examples are available at any given time on eBay and other internet venues. The smaller standard size can be had for $10 or even less, with the price going up from there for the larger formats.

The U.S. flag on the HIMYM set is not the only time I've seen the flag felts on the set of a television program. Some months or years ago I noticed on the wall of another sitcom set -- the name of the show escapes me now -- a wall hanging made of about 20-30 of the standard size felt flags. This was in keeping with the way in which many of the felts were used a century ago; they were sometimes sewn together into blankets, quilts or other decorative pieces.

The B6 felt flag premiums, circa 1910-1912, can be found in a
variety of sizes and colors.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Justified uses tobacco card set decoration

This screen shot shows an 1880s ad poster for N8 cigarette cards
on the set of a roadhouse on the FX cable series Justified.
Somewhere in Hollywood I think there is a set decorator who collects 1880s-1910s tobacco cards and premiums.

For a couple of seasons now I've noticed an Allen & Ginter point-of-purchase poster on the set of the FX cable cop show Justified.

The poster hangs on the wall just inside the door of Audrey's roadhouse/whorehouse somewhere in the hills and hollers of Harlan County, Ky. There really is a Harlan County, on Kentucky's southeast border with Virginia.

On the show, Audrey's is the headquarters for the show's principal bad guy, Boyd Crowder. 

Modern reprints of the
1889 A&G fish-card
poster are readily available.
The screen shot posted here was taken from one of the episodes toward the end of this season. It's a good thing I didn't wait for the final show, because on the season finale a potted tree had been moved in front of the poster, mostly obscuring it.

The poster is certainly a modern reproduction as original Allen & Ginter non-sports card posters of the 1880s-1890s sell for several thousand dollars. The piece pictures the complete set of 50 1889 A&G "50 Fish From American Waters" insert cards, cataloged as N8 in the American Card Catalog.

The poster on the wall at Audrey's looks to be about 16" x 28". Allen & Ginter advertising posters of the era were produced in a variety of sizes. In fact, they are still being produced today in a variety of sizes. The N8 fish poster is available all over eBay and other venues in several sizes and materials. You should be able to land one of your own for under $20.

In poking around the internet for pictures, I discovered that I'm not the first person to blog about the appearance of the poster on Justified. Some time back Bill Boehm mentioned the poster on his blog, .

Tomorrow I'll share another of my television tobacco premium "finds."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Potter first pitcher punished for spitball

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

I've mentioned before in this blog that while I have a great deal of respect for the first- and second-hand reporting in vintage issues of The Sporting News, I have learned not to take everything I read there as gospel.

That's why I'm skeptical -- although I have found no evidence to the contrary -- of a report I read in the July 27, 1944, issue that Nelson Potter was the first major league pitcher ever to be ejected for throwing a spitball nearly a quarter-century after the ban on the wet one had been promulgated in 1920. Arguing in favor of that being correct, the ejection was mentioned in two different articles and an editorial in that paper.

Potter was the starter for the league-leading St. Louis Browns who were hosting the second-place Yankees July 20 in a night game at Sportsman's Park. Potter was working with a 9-5 record at the time, on the way to the best (19-7) season of his 12-year major league career.

On what was described as an unseasonably cool night in St. Louis, manager Luke Sewell of the Browns complained to home plate umpire Cal Hubbard in the third inning that Yankees pitcher Hank Borowy was throwing a spitball. Hubbard warned both benches against use of the illegal pitch.

Sewell's complaint backfired in the fifth inning when Hubbard warned Potter several times about running his fingers across his lips and not drying them before gripping the ball. 

The Browns pitcher pleaded that he was not wetting his fingers, just blowing on them. He said it gave him a better grip on the ball when he threw the screwball, his bread-and-butter pitch. 

Hubbard wasn't buying Potter's story, since this was not the first time he had been accused of throwing the spitball. In previous games the A's and Red Sox had both made the accusation against Potter.

When Potter continued to go to his mouth, either through absent-mindedness or bullheadedness, Hubbard ejected him.

Sewell charged from the dugout and precipitated a lengthy argument. Hubbard refused the manager's demand to go on the public address system and explain the ejection but the umpire refused.

While the fans at home listening to the radio were abreast of the news thanks to Dizzy Dean's broadcast, those (13,093) in the ballpark remained in the dark. What TSN described as a "near riot" erupted, with what was colorfully known in those days as a "bottle shower," littering the field. Play was halted for 20 minutes.

When play resumed, the Browns went on to pad their lead with a 7-3 win.

Violation of the spitball rule carried an automatic 10-day suspension. When Browns management and Potter appealed for a hearing for A.L. President Ford Frick, they were denied.

When Potter returned to the mound on Aug. 6, he won 10 of his final 12 games, including six straight complete game victories with two shutouts to close the season. The Browns won the American League pennant, then fell to the Cardinals 4-2 in the World Series. Potter was 0-1 in the Series.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Another '52 Topps-style Braves custom: Conley

I'll admit that Topps really had no reason to produce a 1952 baseball card of Gene Conley. Although he was one of the hottest prospects in baseball, he had not yet thrown an inning in the major leagues.

By the time the semi-high numbers came out, Conley had pitched in a handful of early season games and been sent down to AAA Milwaukee.

Still, I don't need much of a reason to expand my folio of 1952 Topps-style custom cards of Boston Braves, especially when the players were future Milwaukee Braves.

When I was a kid, Conley's smiling face was always a welcome find in Topps wax packs (he never appeared on a Bowman card) . . . at least until 1959 when he'd been traded to the Phillies. 

My '52T Conley custom is a card I wouldn't have minded having in my childhood collection.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

War work made Galehouse Sunday pitcher

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

The military's needs for manpower during World War II wrecked havoc on major league baseball rosters in the first half of the 1940s. Teams took the field with gray-beard 40-somethings, peach-fuzz teenagers and all manner of 4-Fs including a one-armed outfielder.

When the 1944 season got underway the draft commission ruled that men who were classified 2-A or 2-B by virtue of their jobs in civilian activity or national defense would be reclassified as 1-A and subject to the draft if they left their necessary civilian occupation to play professional baseball.

Some teams tried to patch together lineups with part-time players, working weekends, holidays and night games when they could come to the ballparks from their "regular" jobs as essential war workers in factories, shipyards, etc.

The pennant-contending St. Louis Browns were among the teams that made use of such part-time players.

One of the most notable was right-handed pitcher Denny Galehouse. Though he was only about a .500 pitcher, Galehouse was an inning-eater in his 11th big league season in 1944. 

From mid-May through the 4th of July, Galehouse was the Browns Sunday pitcher. After his six-day work week at the Goodyear aircraft plant in Akron, Ohio, ended on Saturday, he would hop a train for wherever the Brownies were playing on Sunday, usually pitching the first game of a doubleheader, then rushing back to Akron 

On May 14 he was in Philadelphia, on the 21st he was in New York. He went "home" to St. Louis on May 28, June 4 and June 11. It was off to Detroit on June 18. He missed the Sunday games on June 25 and July 2, but was on the mound in relief for the second game of the July 4 doubleheader at Philadelphia.

Despite his gameness in working a full-time job during the week, riding the rails on Saturday nights and pitching major league ball on Sundays, Galehouse was not particularly effective. He was 0-3 during that stretch and the Browns never won one of his Sunday games.

With the Browns hanging onto first place in the American League, Galehouse left his war work to pitch full-time on July 20. He won the next five games in which he appeared. With St. Louis tied with the Tigers for first place at the end of September, he pitched a complete game shutout over the Yankees in the penultimate game of the regular season, setting up the Browns to cop the pennant on the last day.

Galehouse was the starter in the first game of the World Series, beating the Cardinals 2-1 and going the distance. The Browns won despite getting only two hits, while Galehouse gave up seven safeties to the Cardinals. In the fifth game of the Series, Galehouse again pitched a complete game, but was the loser, 2-1, despite striking out 10. The Browns went on to lose Game 6 and the Series.

Galehouse being 33 years old, with dependents, Galehouse was drafted and spent the 1945 season in the Navy. His duty mostly consisted of pitching on the powerhouse Great Lakes Bluejackets at Chicago. He returned to the Browns in 1946. He was sold to the Red Sox in June, 1947, pitching for Boston through the first days of 1949. He played most of 1949 and 1950 with Seattle in the Pacific Coast League before retiring. His career major league records over 15 years was 109-118 with a 3.97 ERA. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

1946 All-Star winning A.L. out-signed N.L.

Not only did the American League out-slug the National League 12-0 in the 1946 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, but they out-signed them in autographing balls in the locker room.

According to the wrap-up coverage of the July 9 game in The Sporting News issue of July 17, 11 dozen balls were autographed by the American League players as opposed to six dozen by the National Leaguers.
The paper attributed the disparity to the "preponderance of 'name stars'" on the A.L. squad.

It's interesting to note that the several 1946 All-Star autographed balls that have been seen in recent sports collectibles auctions vary in the number of signatures that appear.

The TSN coverage also touched on the souvenirs that the players and press received.

American League All-Stars received a gold tie clasp and a $50 bond. National League players received either a watch (first-year all-stars), tie

clasp, plaque or cigarette case, depending on how many All-Star Games to which the player had been named.

Those trinkets could have easily been lost, however, as they were in the hotel room of N.L. President Ford Frick on the night of July 8 when a thief sneaked into the room while the executive slept and stole $85 in cash. It was speculated the souvenirs were left behind because they were engraved with the players' names and would be hard to sell on the black market.

The working press at the game received the traditional lapel pin and also, courtesy of Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, a gold tie clasp with a miniature ball diamond suspended from a chain. Surprisingly, a handful of these tie clasps have appeared in major sports memorabilia auctions in recent years, generally garnering prices in the $500-750 ballpark.

The sporting paper gave Yawkey high marks for his hospitality as host of the '46 All-Star Game, citing the several lavish parties he threw for players, officials and the media.

Yet another -- and perhaps the best -- souvenir of the game, is probably lost to the collecting world, perhaps gathering dust anonymously in a closet somewhere.

Ted Williams was the star of the 1946 All-Star Game. He was four-for-four with a walk, five RBIs and four runs scored. Among his hits were a pair of home runs, including what was believed to be the first home run ever hit off Rip Sewell's "blooper" pitch.

The bat that Williams used in that game was donated to the annual fund drive for the St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage of Providence, R.I., where it was presumably auctioned or raffled.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ted Williams: Game Violator

Most fans and collectors know that Ted Williams was an avid outdoorsman. Each year when the Red Sox season was over he'd head for the woods and waters to hunt and fish. Some years he'd stage a "holdout" to avoid spring training and give himself a few more weeks to indulge his inner nimrod.

His affinity for hunting and fishing is borne out by a handful of the cards in the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams 80-card set.

In retirement Williams affiliated with Sears to put his name and picture on a wide range of hunting, fishing, camping and outdoors equipment. 

Thus I was surprised to read in the Sept. 26, 1940, issue of The Sporting News that on at least one occasion Williams had been nabbed as a game violator. 

In his "Fanning with Fannington" column in TSN, St. Louis Times sports writer Dick Fannington reported that in the fall of 1939, the Red Sox rookie had lost his Minnesota hunting license -- and "his prize shotgun" for shooting ducks after hours at Red Wing, Minn.

A quick Google follow-up revealed that Williams pled guilty in Red Wing Municipal Court on Nov. 6 to hunting after the posted 4 p.m. closing time. He was fined $15 and forfeited a shotgun valued at $30. A cursory search did not include mention of loss of his hunting license.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rudy York is my first '59 custom

Back on April 2-3 I showed you my custom Rudy York card creations in the style of 1940 and 1941 Play Ball. I explained why I was doing Rudy York cards and offered some career information.

Today I'm presenting my third, and likely final, York custom, in the style of 1959 Topps. The image at top is my "final" version. I had earlier worked up a different front, but was not real happy with the picture I had to use. 

It's a nice pose, but the image is not really sharply focused. In sharing my first version of a '59 Rudy York coach's card with a veteran collector, he offered the use of the portrait photo that was used for the final version.
Beta version

This is the first 1959 Topps-style custom card I have undertaken. Because 1959 was right in the middle of my card collecting days as a youth, this won't be my last. Now that I have templates for the front and back in my tool box, future faux '59s will be easier. 

This is also the latest in my series of coaches cards. I have on my to-do list a fair number of custom cards of familiar faces from our 1950s and 1960s baseball cards in later formats representing their coaching days. Usually these coaches cards will show the former players in uniforms other than those in which they played.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Slaughter poor-mouthed in divorce court

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

Pleading that injuries suffered on the ball field might prevent him from ever playing again, Enos Slaughter in 1946 got a judge to reduce his alimony by half.

Charging the Cardinals outfielder with “extreme cruelty,” and alleging that he had struck her, Mrs. Josephine Slaughter sued for divorce in mid-season 1946. The former show girl had sought $100 a week maintenance.

Fighting for a lower settlement, the ballplayer’s attorney, M.J. Hackett of St. Louis, pointed out that “this woman lived on $90 a month during Slaughter’s 40 months in the army” and offered up the figure of $125 a month as a fair payment.

Hackett told the court, “Slaughter is just a country boy with a country income, and with slim hopes of playing ball again.” Slaughter testified, “I don’t know if I’ll play ball any more. I have two broken ribs and my right elbow, hit by a pitched ball in the Series, is still so sore I can’t throw at all.”

Further testimony revealed that Slaughter had been paid $16,000 by the Cardinals for the 1946 season, but that $6,000 of that had gone for taxes. Slaughter also admitted, under questioning that he had recently withdrawn $7,425 from a Chicago bank. That money, he said, had gone for payment of personal debts.

“All Slaughter has,” his attorney told the judge, “is the $3,700 share from the Series. After that, he’ll be strictly on the income from his farm at Roxboro, N.C.”

Superior Court Judge George M. Fischer awarded Mrs. Slaughter $50 a week and $150 attorney’s fees.”

Despite his expressed fears of never being able to play ball again, Slaughter continued on in the major leagues for another 13 years, through 1959, then played part-time as a playing-manager in the minor leagues for another two seasons.

Oh, and that farm that his lawyer mentioned in 1946 wasn't exactly 40 acres and a mule. He had something like 720 acres in tobacco and other crops.

Slaughter was married and divorced five times. On Jan. 5, 1935, he married his high school girlfriend Hulo (or Hughto) Powell;. He told a divorce court that she deserted him six yeas later and a divorce was granted in November, 1942.

He married Josephine in February, 1943, divorcing in 1946. He married his third wife, Mary Kathryn, on May 1947; that lasted until 1951 when she divorced him charging "indignities amounting to cruelty."

The divorce didn't end Slaughter's legal troubles with ex-wife Mary. In 1953 she sued him and the Peoria (Ill.) Sunday Star-Journal for $227,000, claiming that an ad that had appeared in the paper showing her fawning over his cleanly shaven face made her look "foolish, stupid . . . ridiculous" and a red-head.

On the last day of 1951, Slaughter married Ruth Rohleder. They split in 1955.

Slaughter's fifth and final wife was Helen Spiker, whom he married in December, 1955. They were together some 25 years, divorcing in 1980.

He remained single for the rest of his life, passing in 2002 at age 86.