Anderson, Fred

Position: Starting pitcher, relief pitcher
Birthplace: Calahaln

Full Name: John Frederick
Date of Birth:  Dec. 11, 1885  Date and Place of Death: Nov. 8, 1957, Winston-Salem
Burial: Salem Cemetery, Winston-Salem

High School: Oak Ridge Academy, Oak Ridge, NC
College: Davidson College, Davidson, NC; University of Maryland-Baltimore

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-2, 180
Debut Year: 1909       Final Year: 1918          Years Played: 7
Teams and Years: Boston Red Sox, 1909, 1913; Buffalo Buffeds, 1914-15; N.Y. Giants, 1916-18

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
178      53        57        8        2.86     986.1   514      3.4

Dr. Fred Anderson was a spit-balling dentist, certainly the only one in the history of baseball. For parts of seven seasons during the second decade of the 20th century, Anderson made baseballs do funny things by legally lathering them with his saliva. In the off season, he reached into patients’ mouths to practice his other craft.  

That made Anderson unusual in another way. Unlike most players of his era, he wasn’t a slave to autocratic team owners wielding contracts that gave them complete control over their hires’ careers. He could afford to be independent. If he didn’t like the money an owner offered for his services, Anderson had the option of being a fulltime dentist or a collegiate baseball manager instead or even jumping to another major league.

He actually did all of those things before retiring from baseball with a 2.86 earned-run average, or ERA, third-best among North Carolina pitchers with more than 500 major-league innings. Anderson settled in Winston-Salem, not too far from his ancestral home, where he practiced dentistry for almost 30 years.

Andersons’ ancestors had helped found Calahaln, a small community in western Davie County. John Frederick was born there in 1885, the youngest of four siblings. Their father, John, was a pioneering physician in the area who died when little Freddy was less than a year old. He and the rest of the family lived with an older sister, first in Mocksville, the county seat, and then in Statesville in Iredell County.

Fred attended a private school in Boone, North Carolina, and then Oak Ridge Military Institute east of Greensboro, North Carolina, where he started pitching for the school team. It was at Davidson College, in the town of the same name near Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1906 that Anderson began lubricating the ball. Many young pitchers at the time were experimenting with spitballs in the hopes of imitating “Big Ed” Walsh, a Pennsylvania coal miner who would dominate the American League for the next seven seasons by throwing spitters.[1]

After graduating from Davidson in 1907, Anderson played for semipro teams. That May, he married Mary Coiner of Statesville. They would have a daughter, Elsie, born in 1909, but the couple broke up three years later. Mary married another ballplayer and moved to Tennessee, taking Elsie with her. Anderson would marry Clementine Tise in 1921. They would have no children.

Anderson finished dental school at the University of Maryland in Baltimore in 1909 and then signed his first professional contract with the Wilson, North Carolina, Tobacconists of the Eastern Carolina League. Though it occupied the lowest rung of the ladder to the majors, the Class D league would become famous because on the nearby Rocky Mount team that season was Jim Thorpe, one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. His two seasons with the Railroaders would exact a heavy toll after Thorpe won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games. He was stripped of the medals because his time in Class D baseball violated amateur rules. The medals would be restored to the Thorpe family in 1983.

Though no Jim Thorpe, Anderson was a pretty good specimen himself at 6-2 and 180 pounds. He won 10 games by July for Wilson when the Boston Red Sox signed him. Anderson made his major-league debut on Sept. 25, 1909 in the second game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. He yielded just three singles but left in the eighth inning trailing 3-1 because of two costly errors. The Sox would come back and win the game in extra innings.

The Red Sox likely didn’t expect a guy who pitched in just one major-league game to be so demanding, but Anderson wouldn’t accept the contract that the team sent him for the 1910 season. He wanted more money. Ballplayers then rarely won such disputes. Their first contracts legally tethered players to their teams for life and they couldn’t offer their services to other major-league clubs. Without that freedom, players had little leverage in contract negotiations. All they could do was hold out, usually for a few weeks. Most eventually signed on the owners’ terms. Dr. Anderson, however, had other, equally lucrative, skills. He hung up his shingle in Statesville, started seeing patients and sat out the year. In retribution, the Red Sox sold his contract to minor-league Sacramento for the 1911 season. Anderson didn’t show up in California when the season started and spent another year as a fulltime dentist.

Finally, in 1912, the Red Sox and their independent-minded pitcher agreed on a contract, and Anderson reported to the team’s training camp in Hot Springs, Arkansas., that spring. He didn’t make the team, however, and spent two seasons in the minors. The Red Sox gave him another look in August 1913, but Anderson was awful, losing six games while giving up almost six runs a game.

With his future as a ballplayer looking bleak, Anderson took a job after the season as the baseball manager at what is now North Carolina State University. He would direct the team for the next three seasons. Anderson hinted to the newspapers when he took the job that his playing days were over.[I]

If he was seriously thinking about quitting, Anderson changed his mind in 1914 when the Buffalo Buffeds of the renegade Federal League made him an offer. He said the money was too good to turn down. [II] The league had started as a minor league but declared war on baseball in 1913 by actively recruiting players from the two established major leagues by offering higher salaries and the freedom to move from team to team.  Many made the switch. [2]

Anderson pitched well for Buffalo, winning 19 games during the league’s last season in 1915, but he had his best years when he rejoined established baseball with the New York Giants. Anderson had a great first half for the Giants in 1916 and a dismal final few months when he was the least effective pitcher on the team. He attributed it to a sore back, but John McGraw had other ideas. The wily Giants’ manager had watched from the bench as Anderson’s erratic spitter fooled opposing batters for a few innings, but they would usually got the measure of it the more they saw it. McGraw started limiting Anderson’s exposure by using him more and more as a relief pitcher. The strategy worked. Pitching mostly from the bullpen in 1917, Anderson led the National League with a 1.44 ERA. He was almost as good the following season, which was shortened by America’s entrance into World War I.

Anderson joined the Army’s aviation corps at the end of the year, but the war was over by the time he finished training in late 1918.

His baseball career was also done. Another contract dispute played a part, but so did changing times. Anderson may have sensed that his days were numbered. Spitballs had always been controversial. Doctoring the ball, many thought, wasn’t very sporting.  A ball stained by tobacco spittle and mud could also be dangerous. Batters had a hard time seeing such balls, especially late in games in the failing light on unlit fields. Ty Cobb thought there was another reason why the spitter was falling out of favor in the dawning era of Babe Ruth and the slugger. “Freak pitches […] were outlawed when the owners greedily sold out to home runs,” he wrote in his autobiography.[III]

Team owners voted after the 1919 season to limit spitball pitchers to two per team. After a Carl Mays’ spitter struck Ray Chapman in the temple and killed him in August 1920, the owners banned the spitball but exempted the 17 pitchers who threw them. When they retired, the spitter would be illegal. Burleigh Grimes, the last spitballer, retired in 1934.

Anderson left after the 1918 season. He was a dentist in Charlotte for a short time but was living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, two years later. He and his new wife, Clementine, settled in the South Fork section of Forsyth County, and Anderson practiced in the city until his retirement in 1948.

Suffering for two years with an undisclosed illness that was likely terminal, Anderson shot himself in 1957.

Footnotes
[1] Walsh spent all but the final season of his thirteen-year career with the Chicago White Sox. Throwing primarily a spitter he won 195 games during his career, including 40 in 1908. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
[2] Anderson was one of four North Carolina natives who played in the short-lived league, which folded after the 1915 season. For a more complete description of the league and its effects on major-league baseball, see the Ducky Yount
profile.

References
[I] Nowlin, Bill. “Fred Anderson.” Society for American Baseball Research. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/fred-anderson/.
[II] “Anderson Signs With Federals.” News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), March 15, 1914.
[III] Cobb, Ty with Al Stump. Ty Cobb: My Life in Baseball. New York: Doubleday, 1961.

 

 

 

Booe, Everett

Position: Outfield, shortstop
Birthplace: Mocksville

First, last Names: Everett Little       

Date of Birth:  Sept. 28, 1891             Date and Place of Death: June 21, 1969. Kenedy, Texas
Burial: Kenedy City Cemetery, Kenedy, Texas

High School: Undetermined
College: Davidson College, Davidson, NC

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-8, 165
Debut Year: 1913       Final Year: 1914          Years Played: 2
Teams and Years: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1913; Indianapolis Hoosiers, Buffalo Buffeds, 1914

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
125    352    77       43        22        0         219      .289     .210     -2.0

The “e” in Everett Booe’s last name is silent, and he played baseball in a time before public-address equipment and names printed on the back of jerseys. To introduce players to fans, umpires bellowed out their names when they stepped to home plate for the first time.

Those were the circumstances under which Everett Booe met Bill Klem. The year was 1913. Booe was a 21-year-old rookie who was warming the bench for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had been born in Mocksville, but his family had moved to Davidson, North Carolina, where his father owned a market and his mother ran a boarding house.

Klem was about a quarter of the way through an almost 40-year career that would make him one of the most-respected umpires of all time and one of the first inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He would introduce several innovations, such as hand signals that allowed fans even out in the bleachers to know the umpires’ decisions. Calling balls and strikes was a serious matter to Klem and he instructed other umpires how to position themselves to best judge the strike zone. They still stand in Klem’s “slot” between the batter and catcher to get the best view of home plate. Most importantly, Klem injected much-needed professionalism into a job that had known more than its share of drunks and rowdies.

Klem, though, had a notoriously short fuse. He would throw out a record 251 players during his career, including the sainted Christy Mathewson and any player who called him “Catfish.” Klem’s jowly appearance as he got older had led to the nickname that he detested. He much preferred his other moniker, The Old Arbiter.

Pirates players started riding Klem early in the game in question on June 9 for close calls that had gone against them. He angrily strode to their dugout in the fourth inning and threatened to throw out the next bench jockey he heard as well as the players sitting on either side of the offender just for good measure. The players quieted down.

One of umpire Bill Klem’s innovations were hand signs that allow everyone to know the umpires’ decisions.

It was at this juncture that Pirates Manager Fred Clarke decided to send in Booe to hit for the pitcher. Klem didn’t recognize the kid stepping to the plate.

“What’s your name?” he demanded so that he could announce it to the crowd.

“Boo,” said the kid.

 “What did you say?” said a now glowering Klem as he stepped out from behind the catcher.

 “Boo,” repeated the retreating Booe.

 “Why you damn busher, I’ll run you out of here,” roared an enraged Kle It took a lot of sweet talking by Clarke to convince the umpire that Booe was really the kid’s name.[I]

 Booe stayed in the game. He struck out.

If he could have just run the bases without first hitting the ball, Booe may have had a long major-league career. His speed had been turning heads since his days at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, where he played baseball and football and ran track. Down in the minors, Booe, a lefty, once laid down a bunt and reached first base in three seconds.

While sportswriters in Pittsburgh rhapsodized about his speed and his acrobatic catches in the outfield, Booe sat on the bench, thanks largely to his .200 batting average. By the end of June, he was back in the minors.

Booe had been making money in professional baseball since at least 1909 when, as a teenager, he played for a semipro team in Waynesville, North Carolina. While in college, he spent summers playing for the Portsmouth Truckers and the Petersburg Goobers, yes, the Goobers, in the Virginia League.

He seemed ready to give up that line of work in 1913 when he took the job to coach the first football team at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. He also coached the basketball and track teams and was preparing the baseball team for its season the following spring when he decided to join the Indianapolis Hoosiers in the upstart Federal League.   

The league had started as a six-team minor league in 1913. It added two teams the following year and challenged the established American and National leagues by enticing its players with more money and the freedom to move around. The established leagues’ so-called reserve clause restricted players to the same team for life. Several established stars made the jump. Benny Kauff, for instance, left the New York Yankees to join Booe on the Hoosiers. The “Jewish Ty Cobb” would lead the league in hitting (.370) and stolen bases (75). Booe was the only North Carolinian to make the switch.

Unfortunately, changing leagues didn’t improve Booe’s hitting. He appeared in only 10 games for the Hoosiers before being sold to Buffalo Buffeds.

His one-year stint in the Federal League would be Booe’s last in the major leagues. He would play or manage in the minors for another 16 years.

World War I was the only interruption. Booe was playing for a team in San Antonio, Texas, in 1917 when he enlisted in the Army. He was an infantry lieutenant and saw considerable action in France. “He fought in the open and was not in the trenches at all,” the Davidson student newspaper reported. “In spite of this, he escaped without a wound.”[II]

After baseball, Booe, his wife, Analois, and their two children moved to Kenedy, Texas, where he owned a lumber and building materials store and became a pillar of the community: city commissioner, president of the farm loan association, member of the State Highway Committee, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and a volunteer with Little League and Boy Scouts.

He died of a heart attack in 1969 at age 77.