Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hall of Famer knew Jesse James

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped 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.

Here's three things you probably didn't know about Hall of Famer Clark Griffith.

1) He claimed to have had a speaking acquaintance with, and to once having saddled the horse of, notorious outlaw Jesse James.

Griffith was born in 1869 near Clear Creek, Mo., in the heart of Jesse James' country. Griffith would have been about 13 years old at the time of the outlaw's death.

2) While managing the Washington Senators in his early 40s from 1912-14, the Old Fox put himself on the mound as a relief pitcher for an inning in one game per year.

In 1912, he became the first known major league pitcher to face only one batter in a season, and give up a home run to that batter. In the last game of the season, at New York, Griffith took the mound in the bottom of the 8th inning and gave up an inside-the-park home run to Hal Chase. The Senators lost the game 8-6.

3) In 1923 Griffith adopted two of his sister's children, and later, after their father died, took in their five siblings. One of the adopted children, Calvin, took Griffith's name and, upon Clark Griffith's death in 1955, took over control of the Senators.

One of Calvin's brothers was major leaguer Sherry Robertson, who later served as the Senators' assistant farm director. Two of Sherry Robertson's sisters married ballplayers. Mildred married future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. Thelma married Joe Haynes, a Senators' player and coach.

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