Yount, Ducky

Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Iredell County

First, Middle Names: Herbert Macon    Nicknames: Ducky, Hub
Date of Birth:  Dec. 7, 1885    Date and Place of Death: May 9, 1970, Winston-Salem
Burial: Eastview Cemetery, Newton, NC

High School: Newton High School, Newton, NC
College: Catawba College, Newton, NC

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-2, 178
Debut Year: 1914       Final Year: 1914          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Baltimore Terrapins, 1914

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
13        1          1          0          4.14     41.1     19        -0.7

Ducky Yount is the only North Carolinian who played exclusively in the renegade Federal League, a short-lived experiment that challenged the stranglehold that baseball owners had on players. Yount lasted about three months and then returned home to become one of the pioneering industrialists of Catawba County.

Herbert Macon Yount was born in 1885 near Lookout Shoals on the Catawba River in western Iredell County, where his father, Jacob, was one of the first doctors in the region. Dr. Yount moved his family to Newton in adjoining Catawba County in the late 1890s so that his four sons could attend his alma mater, Catawba College.[1]

One gets the impression that Yount may have been a handful. His father wrote the Asheville police department in 1898 asking it to look for 13-year-old Herbert and his friend, Coonie Ramsey, who disappeared from Newton and were believed to be in Asheville.[I] Ramsey showed up several days later and told the newspaper that he had “taken a jaunt to several surrounding towns,” getting as far as Spartanburg, S.C. There’s no mention of what may have happened to Yount.[II] He did return to Newton because we know that four years later he and another teenager pleaded guilty to assault and were fined $10.

Yount played baseball at Catawba College and as early as 1906 seems to have played for independent-league teams during the summers. He coached the Catawba team after graduating and continued to play for independent and minor-league teams after the college season, first in the Midwest, then in New England.

The Baltimore Terrapins signed him in 1914 for their first season in the Federal League. The league had started as a minor league but declared war on baseball in 1913 by actively recruiting players from the two established leagues by offering higher salaries and freedom from contracts restrictions that tied players to major-league teams for life.  Many made the switch.[2]

Assigned to a relief role, Yount pitched about 41 innings stretched over 13 games. His 4.14. earned-run average wasn’t terrible, but the Terrapins released him in mid-August.

The team and the league didn’t last much longer. The competition of another, better-paying league caused salaries in the two established leagues to skyrocket, demonstrating the bargaining potential of free agency for the first time. Faced with the threat, the moguls who owned major-league teams flexed their muscle and flashed their cash. After the 1915 season, they bought out half the teams in the Federal League and the owners of two other teams were allowed to buy struggling franchises in the established leagues.[3]

The Terrapins weren’t bought out by the owners. The team’s owners sued the major leagues for violating anti-trust laws. In a landmark case in 1922, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Major League Baseball was primarily entertainment, not conventional interstate commerce, and thus exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act. The reserve clause, under which players were little more than chattel, survived. That exemption remains, though it was significantly weakened during the 1970s and by the development of a strong players’ union.

As for Ducky, he joined his father in 1917 and founded Newton Glove Inc. with six sewing machines and 10 employees to make canvas working gloves. By the time of his death, the company had three plants in Catawba County and hundreds of employees.

Yount was also a town alderman and a pioneer banker. He was active with the Farmers Merchants Bank in Newton that was founded by his father and played an important role in its merger with Northwestern Bank. He later served on the Northwestern board. His only child, Robert, would retire as president of the board.

Yount died of a heart attack in 1970. The glove company was sold three years later.

Footnotes
[1] The Reformed Church of the United States had started the small college in Newton in 1851. The campus moved to Salisbury in 1925.
[2] Yount was one of the few Terrapin players who didn’t have major-league experience. Fellow North Carolinian George Suggs of Kinston led the pitching staff. He had been a 20-game winner for the Cincinnati Reds and would win 24 that year with the Terrapins. Another North Carolina native, outfielder Vern Duncan of Clayton, had played for the Philadelphia Phillies.
[3] Charles Weeghman, a Chicago restaurant tycoon, owned the city’s Federal franchise, the Whales. He was allowed to buy the city’s National League franchise, the Cubs. The Whales’ Weegham Park became the Cub’s new home. The park was renamed in 1927 after the team’s new owner, chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. Beloved Wrigley Field, then, stands as a monument to the failed Federal League experiment.

References
[I] “Around Town.” Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times. May 6, 1898.

[II] “Runaway Boys.” Statesville (NC) Record and Landmark, May 10, 1898.

 

 

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.