Lindsay, Bill

Player Name: Lindsay, Bill
Primary Position: Third base
Birthplace: Madison

First, Middle Names:  William Gibbon
Date of Birth:  Feb. 24, 1881  Date and Place of Death: July 14, 1963, Greensboro, NC
Burial: New Garden Cemetery, Greensboro, NC

High School: Undetermined
College: Guilford College, Greensboro, NC; Haverford College, Haverford, PA; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Bats: L Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-10, 165
Debut Year: 1911        Final Year: 1911          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Cleveland Naps, 1911

Career Summary
G          AB       H          R          RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
19        66      16        6          5            0          .242     .265     .273       0.0

Bill Lindsay’s major-league line isn’t particularly impressive: 19 games, 16 hits, five runs batted in, .242 batting average. As listed by major baseball references, his collegiate lineup, however, is All-Star caliber: Guilford College, Haverford College, Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Tulane University. Could this farm boy from Rockingham County, North Carolina, be the best-educated man to ever put on a baseball uniform?

Born in Madison in 1881, William Gibbon Lindsay was the third of five children. His Quaker parents, William and Nannie, sent him to Guilford, a small Quaker school in nearby Guilford College, North Carolina. Before his senior year in 1905, he received a scholarship to complete his studies at Haverford, a sister Quaker school in Pennsylvania. He attended two semesters at the University of Chicago law school in the fall and winter of 1910-11 but didn’t get a degree. Officials at the other schools could find no evidence in their records that Lindsay ever attended.

An online, error-prone collection of baseball biographies is partly to blame. It mixed up two Bill Lindsays and mistakenly put the kid from North Carolina at Tulane. A newspaper reporter is likely responsible for adding Harvard to his resume. A newspaper in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, reported on Christmas Day in 1920 that Lindsay married a local woman, Sadia Rae Brewer, a few days earlier. The groom, the paper reported, had graduated from Guilford and Harvard University. It made no mention of Haverford. He probably never heard of Haverford. Everybody heard of Harvard, of course, and the mistake was repeated through the decades.

Not much is known about Lindsay’s baseball schooling before he turned professional. Early newspaper articles report that he played “town ball” in Madison and it’s likely that he played at Guilford, which was acquiring a reputation as an incubator of major-league talent.[1] Haverford, though, didn’t have a varsity baseball team when Lindsay was there.

He started his professional career in 1907 with the Norfolk Tars in the Class C Virginia League. He played mostly in the low minors for the next 10 years, except for three seasons for teams in the Class AA Pacific Coast League. Looking for infield help after their great second baseman Napoleon Lajoie went down with an injury, the American League’s Cleveland Naps plucked Lindsay from the New Orleans Pelicans in 1911.[2] “The Professor,” as the players called him, was 30 years old when he debuted on June 21. He lasted less than a month before he was back in New Orleans.

Lindsay returned to Madison after he retired in 1916 where he farmed and became a proponent of better roads to give farmers easier access to markets. He also sold real estate, first in Rockingham County and then in nearby Winston-Salem, and later in Lakeland, Florida. He and his wife had one child, a daughter.

He died of heart failure in 1963 at age 82.

Footnotes
[1] Lindsay was the first of 12 graduates from Guilford who made it to the majors, according to Baseball Reference. The others and the years they played are Ernie Shore (1912-20), Tim Murchison (1917, 1920), Tom Zachary (1918-36), Luke Stuart (1921), Rufus Smith (1927), Rick Ferrell (1929-47), Bob Garbark (1934-45), Stu Martin (1936-43), Boyd Perry (1941), Bill Bell (1952, 1955), and Tony Womack (1993-2006).
[2] Cleveland’s entry in the American League went by several names before fans chose Naps in 1903 in honor of Lajoie. It was renamed the Indians in 1915 after Lajoie retired and the Guardians in 2021.