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 Slaughter also admitted, under questioning that he had recently withdrawn $7,425 from a Chicago bank.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.

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