Position: Outfield, shortstop
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
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.
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.