Friday, January 8, 2010

Tales of T212 #27 : Ted Easterly

(Sorry, no T212 Obak card photo; this is his 1909 T206.)

Back in the early 1980s I thought I'd combine my interests in minor league baseball and vintage baseball cards by assembling a collection of the Obak cigarette cards that were distributed on the West Coast in 1909, 1910 and 1911.I didn't realize it then, but those cards are so much rarer than most of the contemporary T206 cards from "Back East" that putting together complete sets of the Obak could take decades to accomplish -- and that's if a guy had more money than God to buy the cards when they became available.At about the time I started my Obak collection I also started researching the players who appeared in the sets. Over the course of several long Wisconsin winters I pored over microfilms of The Sporting News and The Sporting Life from the period several years before to several years after the Obak cards circulated, making prodigious notes on 3x5 file cards for each player in the set.I gave up trying to collect the T212s (that's the catalog number Jefferson Burdick assigned the three sets in the pioneering American Card Catalog in 1939), long ago, and have since sold off all my Obaks, one-by-one, first on eBay, then on the Net 54 baseball card forum. As I was selling each card, I included interesting tidbits about each player from my notes. The bidders seemed to like learning a little bit about these guys on the cards, so I thought I'd now begin sharing their stories here. Please excuse the lo-res nature of the card pictures; they were scanned for my auctions many years ago.

Ted Easterly appeared only in the 1909 Obak set, but by then he was in the major leagues. He had been born in 1885 in Lincoln, Neb.
A note in my files indicates he had played with Charleston of the Class D Eastern Illinois League in 1907, from whom he was purchased by Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, at the age of 22. Presumably that was late in the season, as he played in only 11 games that year, as a catcher. No stats are available for the EIL.

Easterly was the Angel's full-time backstop in 1908, and hit .309. He was drafted after the season by the Cleveland Naps. Easterly played for Cleveland from 1909-1912, both catching and in the outfield, batting .297. In August of 1912, he was purchased by the White Sox, playing with them through the 1913 season, when his batting dropped off to .237. With Chicago he led the American League with 13 pinch-hits in 1912.

When the Federal League was formed as the third major league in 1914, Easterly jumped to the K.C. Packers, and hit for a .336 average. When the Federal League folded after the 1915 season, the 30-year-old Easterly was unable to catch on with another major league team and he returned to the Pacific Coast League in 1916 with Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, but played only 33 games. He appeared in only two games in 1917, with L.A. In 1918 he joined Sacramento, also in the PCL, as a back-up catcher, hitting .259.
Easterly was out of Organized Baseball in 1919, but reappeared in the Texas League in 1920, where he batted .310 for Beaumont into July, when he was released, "for the good of the game." It was his last professional engagement.
Somewhere in my files I have a folder with notes on Easterly that indicate he was involved in some sort of funny business, probably gambling. Someday I'll probably work up a more thorough presentation, but that would be beyond the scope of this Tales of T212 series.
Easterly died July 6, 1951 (just five days before I was born) in Clearlake Heights, Calif.

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