Bradley, Tom

Position: Starting pitcher
Birthplace: Asheville

First, Middle Names: Thomas William
Date of Birth:  March 16, 1947
Current Residence: Barboursville, WV

High School: Falls Church High School, Falls Church, VA
College: University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-2, 180
Debut Year: 1969       Final Year: 1975          Years Played: 7
Teams and Years: California Angels, 1969-70; Chicago White Sox, 1971-72; San Francisco Giants, 1973-75

 Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
183    55      61        2          3.72     1017.2 691      10.1

Tom Bradley is almost certainly the only major-league pitcher who could read The Aeneid in its original Latin. He could also speak Greek and was such a nonstop conversationalist in his native English, always buzzing about looking for someone to talk to, that his teammates once playfully waved flyswatters at him in the clubhouse as if warding off a bothersome insect.

In a sport where most players don’t attend or finish college, Bradley was a scholar, but he was also a pretty decent pitcher. The big righthander was a durable workhorse, logging more than a thousand innings from 1970-73, his most-productive seasons. His 3.72 lifetime earned-run average, or ERA, is 19th among North Carolina pitchers with at least 500 innings in the major leagues. Had he played for better teams, Bradley would have likely ended with a winning record.

His playing days cut short by injury, he spent almost 30 years as a collegiate manager and minor-league coach. Even in retirement, he helped coach his son’s high-school team.

Born in Asheville in 1947, Thomas William Bradley was an infant when his parents, Dorothy and Claude, moved to Falls Church, Virginia, where they worked for the federal government. Claude, an accomplished amateur pitcher, became his only child’s primary instructor when the youngster started Little League. Bradley played in the youth leagues and at Falls Church High School.

He entered the University of Maryland at College Park in 1966 on a baseball scholarship and developed into one of the best pitchers the school has ever produced. He won 10 games in his two years on the varsity squad and his 1.32 career ERA is still the Atlantic Coast Conference record. As a junior, he stuck out 65 batters in 47 innings while leading the Terrapins to what was then their best record in school history (19-6-1). For the second consecutive year, he was named to the conference’s All-ACC first team.

Bradley was also a star in the classroom. He was the school’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1968 and would return to the university after his professional baseball career began to finish his studies. He graduated cum laude in 1972 with a major in Latin and a minor in Greek.

The California Angels drafted Bradley in the seventh round of the 1968 amateur draft and he spent the following season pitching for every team in their system, including a couple of innings with the parent club late in the year.

For most of 1970, he played for the Angels’ Class AAA franchise in Hawaii, compiling an 11-1 record with a 2.03 ERA on the pennant-winning Islanders. His manager, Chuck Tanner, took the helm of the Chicago White Sox later that year in what would be his first stop on a 19-year career as a major-league manager. One of the first things Tanner did was engineer a trade for his Islanders’ ace, whom he considered one of the best young pitchers in baseball.[I]

Tanner had his work cut out for him. Since their pennant-winning team of 1959, White Sox fans had little to cheer about at old, dreary Comiskey Park. A few teams since then had finished second or third, but most had been awful. The previous season’s version had lost 106 games, finishing at the bottom of its division. Its best pitcher had lost 17 games.

The 26-year-old Bradley gave those long-suffering fans hope. He started the 1971 season with a flourish, tossing 20 consecutive scoreless innings at one point. Entering May, he was 6-4 with a 1.67 ERA for a team struggling to get out of the basement. Only Oakland’s Vida Blue, the league’s eventual Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player, was better. With a bit more run support and a couple of breaks here and there, Bradley could have easily won 11 games. “The one thing to remember about baseball is that it’s a team sport,” he noted philosophically. “The pitcher doesn’t really win or lose. The team does. It’s a team effort that wins.”[II]

In the end, his team wasn’t very good, losing four more games than it won. As its reflection, Bradley ended up breaking even at 15-15, but he was among the league leaders in games started (39), shutouts (6), innings pitched (285.2) and strikeouts (206).

Short of pitching in 1972, Tanner flaunted convention by relying on three starting pitchers, instead of the usual four. Bradley, Wilbur Wood and Stan Bahnsen started 130 of Chicago’s 154 games in a strike-shortened season.[1] They got three days’ rest between starts, though Bradley pitched with just two days seven times. An unproven Rich Gossage was one of the pitchers who picked up the slack when needed.[2]

Bradley roomed with the 19-year-old, rookie fireballer and gave him his famous nickname. “He pitched in a game early in the season, and I think he threw like two or three innings, and I looked at the scoreboard and said, ‘Look at all the goose eggs,’” he explained. “This was one of his first appearances in the big leagues. Rich kind of had a gangly motion, all elbows and arms and legs, which must have been awful tough on hitters, so I put two and two together and started calling him “Goose.”[III]

The three-pitcher strategy paid off. The White Sox won 20 more games than it lost and finished in second place, just 5.5 games behind the A’s. Bradley pitched more than 260 innings and won another 15 games.

That didn’t prevent Chicago from trading him for outfield help at the end of the season. Bradley learned of the trade to the San Francisco Giants while in the White Sox business office where he had volunteered to call potential season-ticket holders. “I come to work to sell tickets and before the cream was in my coffee I was in San Francisco,” he said.[IV]

Though blessed with sluggers Bobby Bonds, Willie McCovey and Dave Kingman, the Giants’ thin starting pitching consisted of a young Ron Bryant and an old Juan Marichal. “The way I see it,” a Jewish fan wrote in the local newspaper, “it’s the old ‘Spahn and Sain and two days of rain,’ only in this case it’s ‘Bradley and Bryant and pray to Mount Zion.’”[V]

Hobbled by an ankle injury that sidelined him for a month, Bradley won 13 games in 1973, but his ERA was a full run higher than it had been in Chicago.

In a windy, dank Candlestick Park on May 17 of the next season, Manager Charlie Fox called on Bradley in the ninth inning to finish a game against the San Diego Padres that his team was losing 5-3. Bradley had started two days earlier. He was ineffective, giving up two runs. Ominously, his pitching shoulder hurt after the game. “They asked me to pitch in relief and like a dummy I said yes,” he recalled years later. “I felt something pop in my shoulder and I wasn’t the same again.”[VI]

He kept pitching, changing his delivery to compensate for the pain. That led to a more-serious rotator cuff injury that would ultimately end his career.

Bradley was so bad at the start of the 1975 season that no team was interested in picking him up on waivers. Horace Stoneham, the Giants’ owner, told him he could go down to Class AAA Phoenix, Arizona, or be released. Bradley chose Phoenix. On the plane ride there he told a newspaper columnist: “It was a blow to my ego, my pride. But I realized it could have been a lot worse. I couldn’t even get picked up on waivers. The Giants could have released me. But Mr. Stoneham was willing to stick with me. He was very good to me.”[VII]

He was recalled in June and made his last major-league start two months later. He retired at the end of the season.

After a year as a pitching coach for a small college in California, Bradley became the head coach at Jacksonville University in Florida. He developed the school’s baseball program over the next 12 seasons, winning 432 games in the process. Three of his teams won 40 games and none won fewer than 30. He was the winningest coach in the school’s history at the time of his induction into its Hall of Fame in 1996.

When he wasn’t on the university’s ballfield, Bradley was back in its classroom studying for a master’s degree in athletics teaching, which he earned in 1980.

Coaching his alma mater was the next goal. He realized it in 1991 when he became the Terps’ head coach. He won a school record 29 games the first season, but it was downhill from there. The school didn’t renew his contract after 10 years and a losing record, though it would induct him into its Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Bradley ended his baseball career as a minor-league pitching coach, first for the Padres and then for the Toronto Blue Jays.

He retired in 2010 and lives with his wife, Kathy, a retired schoolteacher, in Barboursville, West Virginia. They have two children.

Footnotes
[1] The 1972 season was the first to have games cancelled by a player strike over pension and salary arbitration. The strike erased the first week and a half of the season, and the leagues decided to not make up the games..
[2] Rich “Goose” Gossage debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 1972 and would become one of the dominating closers of modern baseball. He saved 310 games in a 22-year career and was an All-Star nine times. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

References
[I] Borsch, Fred. “Bradley Writes Prize Thesis as Islander Pitching Scholar,” Sporting News (St. Louis, MO), July 4, 1970.
[II] Munzel, Edgar. “Fast-Talker Bradley Silences Big Bats.” Sporting News (St. Louis, MO), June 26, 1971.
[III] Laurila, David. “Prospectus Q&A: Tom Bradley.” Baseball Prospectus, October 29, 2008. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/8270/prospectus-qa-tom-bradley/.
[IV] Gabcik, John. “Tom Bradley.” Society for American Baseball Research, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/tom-bradley/.
[V] Twombly, Wells. “A Depressing Setting for an Opener.” Sporting News (St. Louis, MO), April 23, 1974.
[VI] Gabcik.
[VII] Ibid.

 

 

 

 

Graham, Moonlight

Player Name: Graham, Moonlight
Position: Right field

Birthplace: Fayetteville
First, Last Names: Archibald Wright  Nicknames: Moonlight, Doc

Date of Birth:  Nov. 12, 1877 Date and Place of Death: Aug. 25, 1965, Chisholm, MN
Burial: Calvary Cemetery, Rochester, MN

High School: Davidson High School, Charlotte, NC
College: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; University of Maryland-Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 170
Debut Year: 1905       Final Year: 1905          Years Played: 1
Team and Years: New York Giant, 1905

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1          0          0          0          0          0          0          .000     .000     0.0

Few baseball fans have ever heard of Johnny O’Connor, Henry Stein, Eddie Hunter, Terry Lyons or any of the other 43 non-pitchers who played in one major-league game but never got a chance to hit. They were in the big leagues just long enough for that proverbial cup of coffee. Their dreams merely patted them on their heads. All but one were quickly forgotten. Because of a mysterious nickname, that exception has achieved baseball immortality.

There’s no evidence that anyone ever actually called Archie Graham “Moonlight” while he was alive. If they didn’t refer to him by his first name, his teammates and sportswriters down in the minors likely called him Doc because that’s what Graham was, a medical doctor. That’s what the townspeople of Chisolm, Minnesota, where he practiced for almost 50 years, called him. The nickname appears in print once, soon after Graham reported to the majors. Where it came from is anyone’s guess. Some have speculated that Graham’s speed had something to do with it. The problem with that explanation, however, is that no standard dictionary suggests that “moonlight” was ever used as slang or in an idiom to describe someone who was fleet of foot. Others think his moonlighting as a doctor in the offseason was the genesis, but he was a licensed physician for only the last two years of his minor-league career.

Whatever the reason, it was “Moonlight” Graham that appeared in the Baseball Encyclopedia that W.P Kinsella received as a Christmas gift. It was Moonlight that caught the novelist’s eye. “I thought, ‘What a wonderful name. This is better than anything I could invent,’” Kinsella remembered decades later.[I]

 A character of that name based on the real Graham appeared in Kinsella’s 1982 novel about Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox star who was expelled from baseball after being suspected of helping throw the 1919 World Series. From the book came the hit movie Field of Dreams seven years later. That’s how it came to pass that an unknown player whose career line consists of a long string of zeros was portrayed by Burt Lancaster no less and grew into a baseball myth more than two decades after his death. There is now a Doc “Moonlight” Graham Festival every August in Chisholm. A Moonlight Graham Scholarship Fund provides college money to deserving high-school students. A biography was written about him and the Moonlight Graham Podcast features athletes who never made it. Moonlight Graham has become the surrogate for every ballplayer who was denied their chance at greatness.

The truth is more mundane. Graham had a few good years in the minor leagues, but there’s nothing in the numbers to suggest a budding superstar. Neither do we really know what he thought about his brief big-league showing or about his baseball or medical careers. There are no surviving letters, no quotes in newspapers. No one wrote about him until the movie was released after he died. That’s one of the problems with post-mortem fame, especially for someone who toiled quietly in the backwater along the Canadian border. Graham’s life, while he was living it, wasn’t considered remarkable enough for his contemporaries to record his thoughts or to preserve details about him. Speculation and myth-making filled the void.

None of that is to suggest that Graham’s life isn’t worth celebrating. He was a beloved town doctor, who got the people of Chisholm though flu epidemics and bouts with cholera. He birthed their babies, comforted their dying. His pioneering research on childhood hypertension was respected by his peers.

There is every indication that once his playing days were over, Dr. Archie Graham never looked back. The mythological figure hints of that in the movie. When asked about his short big-league career, Lancaster’s Graham famously says, “If I‘d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.”

Alexander and Katherine Graham were probably satisfied enough that their second child, Archibald Wright, born in 1877 had become a respected doctor after trying his hand at baseball. Education was important to the Grahams. Alexander had been the captain of the baseball team at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill before the Civil War. He fought with the 3rd North Carolina Regiment and was captured at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina in 1865. He attended Columbia University after the war and became a lawyer. Alexander went home to Fayetteville, where he worked tirelessly to establish a public-school system, serving as its first superintendent.

 At a time when college-educated women were a rarity in North Carolina, Katherine had a degree from Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Grahams sent each of their nine children to college, another rarity. One son became a lawyer. A daughter was a college professor. Frank Porter became president of the University of North Carolina and then a United States senator.

Alexander moved the family to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1888 to become the city’s school superintendent. A firm believer in physical fitness, he expected all his children to complete a daily exercise program. Archie grew up to be best athlete in the family. He played baseball and football on Charlotte sandlots and then at Davidson High School, where he developed an interest in science and medicine.

Like his father, Graham played baseball at UNC, making the varsity team during his sophomore year in 1898. He was the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the next three seasons.

Archie Graham played center field for UNC. Photo: UNC

Graham remained in Chapel Hill for two years after his graduation in 1901 to take courses for medical school. He played minor-league baseball in the summers, probably to earn extra money.

Always an exceptionally fast runner, he bulked up to about 170 pounds when he entered the University of Maryland’s medical school in Baltimore in 1903. He was the school’s halfback on the football team each fall and the centerfielder each spring. Lax rules allowed him to continue in the minor leagues in the summers.

The New York Giants bought Graham’s contract in September 1904 from Manchester, New Hampshire, after he hit .272 that season in the New England League. Graham joined the Giants after graduating from medical school the following May. “He is fast on his feet and a strong hitter,” The New York Evening World reported. “(Manager John) McGraw believes he has in Graham a great find.”[II]

The same newspaper a couple of weeks later used the name that would open the door to fame. The new player, the World reported, “is known as ‘Moonlight’ because he’s supposed to be as fast as a flash.”[III] Before Field of Dreams was released, this is the only reference to Graham and the nickname that appears in online archives that include millions of newspaper pages from every state dating back to the 1860s.

Graham made his debut about a month later, on June 29, against Brooklyn at the Superbas’ Washington Park.[1] McGraw sent the rookie in to play right field in the eighth inning of a lopsided game the Giants would win 11-1. He was in the on-deck circle getting ready to bat when the Giants’ last out was recorded in the top of the ninth.

He went back to bench until July 5 when he was sold to the Scranton Miners of the New York State League. This may have been what’s now called a rehab assignment. The New York Times noted that Graham was “unavailable” to play while with the Giants. That could have meant that a lingering injury, maybe from his football days at Maryland, prevented him from playing. The Miners had an informal working agreement with the Giants and would have sold Graham back to New York when he was healthy enough to play.[IV]

Graham probably killed any hope of returning to the Giants, though, when he skipped the last five games of the Miners’ season to take post-graduate medical courses in Baltimore. The team was more than 15 games out of first, but that wouldn’t have made a difference to McGraw, who demanded loyalty and dedication from players. Though newspapers reported that Graham, who hit .288 in Scranton, would get another chance with the Giants, McGraw left him off the reserve list for the 1906 season. Though he reported to spring training, it was clear that Graham wasn’t going to make the team. He remained with Scranton.

Eddie Ashenbach, a career minor leaguer who managed the Miners that season, remembered a fast, scrappy player. “Graham was not much of a batsman but was chain lightning on the bases and in the outfield,” Ashenbach wrote in his memoirs. “He had some scruples about playing Sunday baseball, his father having strictly forbidden him to play on the Sabbath.”[V]

Ashenbach couldn’t afford having one of his player sit out Sunday doubleheaders, especially on a club playing for a pennant. Graham agreed to play by his middle name Wright. “He was quite a fighter while in the game and his aggressiveness once led him into a fracas on a bright Sunday at Scranton when he and the umpire indulged in a battle of fisticuffs in the middle of the diamond,” Ashenbach wrote. “On another Sunday at Syracuse, Graham, alias Wright, had a glorious day at the bat. Out of four times up, he hit out a home run, two three-base-hits and a single. He was very much pleased at his big day’s work, and after the fourth time at bat he rushed wildly up to the press-box saying to the reporters, “Look here, boys, my name is not Wright today, it’s Graham.” Four hits killed off the alias.”[VI]

It’s important to note that the manager never once referred to his outfielder as “Moonlight.”

Graham was practicing medicine by 1907, when he received his Pennsylvania license.  He opened an office in Scranton and saw patients in the offseason during his final two years in the minors. He intended to make Scranton his home when he retired from baseball after the 1908 season but a chronic respiratory condition forced him to look for a cleaner, drier air.

Soon after his retirement, Graham accepted a residency at a Chicago hospital. He was attending a medical conference at the end of 1908 in Rochester, Minnesota, when he saw an ad in the local paper for a doctor in Chisholm. He wired his resignation to Chicago and boarded a train.

The mining town, 70 miles from the Canadian border in Minnesota’s Iron Range, was the last stop on the line. Connected by rail to Duluth and with plenty of mining work nearby, Chisholm had boomed since its incorporation in 1901. About 6,000 people lived there when Graham got off the train. He didn’t know any of them as walked the streets of a town that smelled of burnt wood. A forest fire several months earlier had destroyed a significant portion of Chisholm. The fire was so bad that many residents had sought refuge in Longyear Lake at the edge of town.

Walking past construction crews rebuilding whole blocks of town, Graham found the hospital and announced himself as Chisholm’s new doctor. He would remain for 57 years.

Dr. Archie Graham provided free eye glasses to the children of Chishol, MN. Photo: Duluth News Tribune

“When he first came here, he was regarded as something of a quack,” Veda Ponikvar, the founder of The Chisholm Free Press and Tribune, told a reporter in 1994.[VII]

Graham soon became the trusted physician to the immigrant miners and their families who had come to America from Croatia, Serbia and other eastern European countries. He became a familiar sight, walking around town in his black, flowing overcoat, its pockets filled with fruits that he’d give to kids that he met. He’d go to local high school games, tending the needs of the injured and treating the home team to a bag of oranges or a crate of apples. He was, they said, “the friendliest man in Chisholm.”[VIII]

For years, people all over the county sent Graham used eyeglasses. Every Saturday, the children of Chisholm could go to Doc Graham’s office for a free eye exam and a pair of glasses. “And there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or clothing,” Ponikvar wrote. “Yet, no child was ever denied these essentials because in the background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the ticket to the ballgame found their way into the child’s pocket.”[IX]

Graham over the years conducted numerous studies on the effects of hypertension in children. He presented his finding in 1941 at a conference at the Mayo Clinic. Two doctors at the conference joined with Graham, and their combined research showed that kids could get high blood pressure, contrary to the then prevailing theory.

Kinsella, who interviewed dozens of townspeople to learn about Graham, was relieved that his subject had such a sterling reputation. “I mean, what I was afraid of, was that this was going to be a guy who sat in the American Legion bar and bragged about playing in the major leagues for 40 years,” the author said.[X]

Graham, who was also the physician for city schools since 1911, was elected to the school board in 1963. In failing health, he retired two years later. He was dead within a month.

Bob McDonald, Chisholm High School’s basketball coach for 50 years, noted that baseball was important to Graham but it was nothing compared to being the town’s doctor. “That’s the big item you see,” he said. “In baseball, you kind of help yourself and you entertain. Athletics are like that, you entertain people. But he comforted people.”[XI]


Footnote
[1] Washington Park, between Third and Fourth avenues on First Street in Park Slope, opened in 1898 and was the second Brooklyn ballpark. It closed in 1912 when Ebbets Field was completed. Part of the clubhouse wall still stands on Third Avenue as a wall for a Con Edison yard. It’s likely the oldest remnant of a major-league ballpark still in existence. (“Washington Park.” Ballparks.com. https://ballparks.com/baseball/national/washin.htm.)

References
[I] Olberman, Keith. “’Moonlight Graham Remembered.” Countdown with Keith Olberman. NBC News, 2013. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/8423741.
[II] Keenan, Jimmy. “Moonlight Graham.” Society for American Baseball Research. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/moonlight-graham/.
[III] Ibid.
[IV] Ibid.
[V] Shieber, Tom. “A Glimpse of Moonlight.” National Baseball Hall of Fame, https://baseballhall.org/discover-more/stories/short-stops/a-glimpse-of-moonlight.
[VI] Ibid.
[
VII] Betts, Jack. “Doctor Moonlight.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, October 23, 1994.
[VIII] Ibid.
[IX] Olberman.
[X] Olberman.
[XI] Olberman

 

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.