Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fritz Boehmer (1831-1910): Early Alameda pioneer

Fritz Boehmer (Image from Hayward Daily Call; Grave photo by Michael Colbruno)
Plot: Plot 21, Lot 17
GPS (lat/lon): 37.83457, -122.24029


Text by John Sandoval, reprinted from Hayward Daily Call, December 13, 1964

One of the most colorful early pioneers of Alameda was Fritz Boehmer, who was an early merchant whose general merchandise store was built on Park Street.

Fritz Boehmer was born in Prussia, near Magdeburg in 1831. His father was a machinery maker and foundry owner. At 17 Fritz and a company of students fought briefly in the battle of Gravelot, for the unification of Germany under Bismark.

However, the news of the discovery of gold in California swept the youth of Germany into a frenzy to come to the gold fields, and in the fall of 1848 Boehmer went to Bremerhaven to see his older broth- er, Edward, off by ship to California. Fritz stowed away on his brother's ship and came to California with him without his family's permission.

The Schroeder Building was built in 1873 for Fritz Boehmer. He moved his grocery and hardware business into the ground floor, and the upper floor contained a public meeting hall. The Masons leased that space until their new hall was built in 1891 at the corner of Park Street and Alameda Avenue. In 1876, Boehmer sold the building to Adolph Schroeder (co-owner of a local feed and fuel business), who used it as rental property.
Mr. Boehmcr's ship rounded the Horn and arrived in San Francisco Bay in 1849. He went to the mines near Mokelumne Hill but being unsuccessful, returned to San Francisco and there joined with his brother in the house-building business. As a contractor the Boehmer Brothers paid carpenters the then-high wages of $12 a day.

Fritz Boehmer then alternated between operating mining ventures at Marysville, Coloma, and the American River, and in farming at Sacramento, in running a restaurant at Sacramento and in the contracting business in San Francisco.

In 1851 Boehmer and a partner, Henry Rosenbaum, bought rights to 150 acres of land in what is now downtown Oakland. However "squatter trouble" with a very rough element in the little village of Oakland caused Boehmer and Rosenbaum to sell out.

With the proceeds of the land-sale Boehmer joined a brother-in-law, Henry Gersting, in a mercantile business in San Francisco. Boehmer then established mercantile establishments in the booming gold-strike towns of Campo Seco and later Columbia and eventually in Alameda.

An historic post card of Park Street where Fritz Boehmer opened his first store
His store in Alameda on Park Street eventually expanded to encompass an en-tire block of the business section. When Alameda was in-corporated as a city the first board of city trustees was composed of Fritz Boehmer, Henry Robinson, Henry H. Haight, E. B. Mastick, and Jabish Clement.

Boehmer was also on the local school board and was effective in getting teachers salaries raised from $50 per month to $125, a very high scale for the 1880's. He also was instrumental in getting $300 raised by subscription to start the first public library in Alameda.

Boehmer was a member of the pioneer fire department of Alameda and was always interested in glee-club and choir singing, being a member of the pioneer San Francisco Harmony Glee Club and the Thalia Singing Society of Alameda.

Boehmer was married twice, first to Johanna Sevening, whom he courted by mail back in Germany and brought back as a bride to California. His second marriage was to Mary Elizabeth Hildenbrand a member of a well-known pioneer family of Stockton and Tuolumne County.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Socrates Huff (1827-1907): Gold Rush Pioneer; Banker; Alameda County Treasurer

Socrates Huff (photo of grave by Michael Colbruno)
Plot: Plot 21, Lot 43

Socrates Huff was a Gold Rush Pioneer, successful businessman and the elected Treasurer of Alameda County. 

He was born in Crawford County, Ohio on July 1, 1827 and moved to St. Joseph, Michigan when he was 2 years old. His mother died a year later and stayed in Michigan until 1849, when word reached the community that gold had been discovered in California. Huff organized a party of men to travel west, purchasing mules in Indiana, wagons in Chicago and provisions for the journey in St. Louis. The group arrived in Bear River in the Sierra Nevada on August 12, 1849, where Huff tried his hand at mining. He abandoned his gold mining pan after just two weeks and traveled 33 miles to Sacramento, where he worked for the city.

Due to ill-health (purported to be malaria), he headed to Mission San Jose where he bought a freighting boat that he ran for profit between Stockton and Alvarado (now Union City). In 1853, he returned east where he married Amelia "Mamie" Cassady and returned to California with her.

In the ensuing years, he raised cattle and horses in Green Valley, Contra Costa County and Hayward, ultimately settling on Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro. In 1869, his wife was injured in a famous train wreck that killed a number of notable people, including the Honorable Alexander Baldwin, U.S. District Court Judge of Nevada.

The Huff residence, which was torn down in 1972 to make way for a fire station
In 1863, Huff was elected Treasurer of Alameda County from 1863-67 and from 1886-92,  opting not to run again in 1892. In 1880, he was chosen as a  delegate-at-large to the Republican National Convention in Chicago which chose James Garfield as their nominee. During much of this time he also ran a mercantile business in Carson City, Nevada. 

In 1891, while serving as Treasurer, he caught three men stealing oysters from his oyster bed near San Leandro and seized the boat and its load. He refused to give the boat back to its owner, Joseph Peralta, and the county official was arrested on charges of petty larceny. He was eventually acquitted, while the two thieves were apprehended and arrested.

Huff became a successful banker in East Bay, serving as a director of the Union Savings and Union National Bank, and as president of the Bank of San Leandro.

A description of his memorial and funeral took two full columns in the Oakland Tribune. 

 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Joachim Mathisen (18??-1896): Noted architect; Hanged himself from tree

Gravesite of Joachim Mathisen and image from San Francisco Call
Mathisen was born in Trondhjem, Norway and trained as a civil engineer at Hanover's Technische Hochshule. He came to the United States around 1886 and in 1890 worked as a draftsman for A. Page Brown. In 1891, he set up business in San Francisco with William Howard on Montgomery street. In 1892, along with Maybeck, he entered the competition to design the California Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They lost to he famed architect George Brown.

Mathisen design for San Francisco homes (SF Call)
He later honed his skills under the tutelage of George Brown, who mentored many other great architects including William Knowles, Sylvain Schnaittacher, Frank Van Trees and James R. Miller. Even Bernard Maybeck was associated with Brown in 1890.

His business partner George Brown took ill after they had taken over much of A. Page Brown's work, after the latter died from severe injuries suffered in a runaway horse and buggy accident. The stress proved too much for Mathisen, as income dropped and his rent increased. Two days after laying off two employees, he headed into the woods behind the Asylum for the Blind and Deaf in Berkeley and hanged himself with a four-in-hand neck tie which he had suspended to a small cypress branch.

Asylum for the Blind and Deaf in Berkeley
The branch that Mathisen hanged himself from was only about three feet from the ground and his body was found in a kneeling posture, his bead thrown forward, and his hands and arms dangling by his sides. There was no sign of struggle and there was a post card found in his pocket addressed to C. B. Vorce, a draughtsman in his office, with the following written on the back: "Please look for directions in safe."
Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley
Mathisen designed the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, which included fellow architect Bernard Maybeck amongst its parishioners.  The ambitious design for the church and seminary resulted from a resolution by the Pacific Coast Unitarian Conference to establish a Unitarian divinity school. The redwood-shingled structure became a landmark of the Bay Region's "building with nature" architecture and still stands at its original location and is now used as a dance studio on the University of California campus. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

Burlingame Train Station

In 1893, he worked with his architectural partner George Howard in designing the Burlingame Train Station, where trains brought wealthy businessmen from San Francisco to the Burlingame Country Club. The two men chose a quintessentially California design for the station—that of a California mission. The train station, completed in 1894, is now designated as a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due primarily to its architectural significance as the earliest permanent example of California Mission Revival architecture.

Sources: San Francisco Call, Burlingame Historical Society, UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library, "On the Edge of the World: Four Architects in San Francisco" by Richard W. Longstreth, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Joseph Glover Baldwin (1815-1864); California Supreme Court Justice

Justice Joseph Baldwin is buried in the Felton Family Plot
FELTON FAMILY PLOT 
Lot 2, Plot 410c

Joseph Glover Baldwin was born January 21, 1815 in Winchester, Virginia who became a noted lawyer, author, politician and California Supreme Court Justice.

In 1835, he edited the ‘Buchanan Advocate" and eventually went on to write he Old Southwest, as the southern frontier at the time has come to be known by historians. He is best known for his work The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi, a series of humorous sketches describing life on the frontier. Flush Times established Baldwin as both a serious author and astute observer of antebellum Alabama.

He moved to DeKalb County, Mississippi in 1836 then to Gainesville, Alabama in 1838 where he practiced law with J. Bliss, Esquire.

He was a Whig in politics and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1843 in Democratic  Sumter County, and was acclaimed as a skillful debater in the House. He was known for his courteousness, demanding respect and confining himself to the parliamentary rules.

In 1849, he lost to his Democratic rival Samuel W. Inge, who once partook in a duel with Congressman Edward Stanly from North Carolina, which gave him decided prestige. Baldwin was defeated by a narrow margin and  moved to Livingston, Alabama. Ironically, Stanly is buried near the grave of Joseph Baldwin.

In 1854, Baldwin moved to California, where he served as legal counsel on a number of important cases. In 1858, following the death of Chief Justice Hugh Murray from consumption, he became an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. He served from October 1858 to January 1862 and he resumed the practice of law in San Francisco after he left the bench.

The book “Lincoln’s Stories” (Chicago 1879), tells the following humorous anecdote: "Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, D.C., called one day on General Hallock, and presuming as a familiar acquaintance in California, a few years before, solicited a pass outside our lines to see a friend in Virginia, not thinking he would meet with a refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union Men. 'We have been deceived too often,' said General Hallock, 'and I regret I can’t grant it.' Judge Baldwin then went to Stanton, and was very briefly disposed of with the same result. Finally he obtained an interview with Mr. Lincoln, and stated his case. 'Have you applied to General Hallock?,' inquired the president. 'Yes, and met with a flat refusal,' said Judge Baldwin. 'Then you must see Stanton,' continued the president. 'I have, and met with the same result,' was the reply. 'Well, then,' said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile.' I can do nothing, for you must know that I have very little influence with the administration!' 

His son Alexander White Baldwin, was a U.S. District Court Judge. He was killed in a railroad collision near San Francisco at age 34 and is also buried at Mountain View Cemetery.  His nephew, John Garber, who lived with him at one point, served on the Nevada Supreme Court and is also buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

Joseph Baldwin was the author of Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi which was written to show the evil effects of an inflation of paper currency from 1833 to 1840 when paper money was so abundant. “The work was quite dramatic and described many transactions and scenes in and out of court, of wonderful originality and humor. It had an extensive sale. His other work was Party Leaders, in which Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Randolph and Clay were introduced as representative men, with contrasts and parallels well delineated, showing a great fund of information, and remarkable power of analysis in the writer.”

In 1854, Baldwin moved to California where he gained a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court from October 1858 to January 1862 when he resumed the practice of law in San Francisco.
“From the book “Lincoln’s Stories”, Chicago 1879, is the following anecdote: Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, D.C., called one day on General Hallock, and presuming as a familiar acquaintance in California, a few years before, solicited a pass outside our lines to see a friend in Virginia, not thinking he would meet with a refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union Men. “We have been deceived too often,” said General Hallock, “and I regret I can’t grant it. Judge Baldwin then went to Stanton, and was very briefly disposed of with the same result. Finally he obtained an interview with Mr. Lincoln, and stated his case. “Have you applied to General Hallock?” inquired the president. “Yes, and met with a flat refusal,” said Judge Baldwin. “Then you must see Stanton,” continued the president. “I have, and met with the same result,” was the reply. “Well, then,” said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile.” I can do nothing, for you must know that I have very little influence with the administration!”
His wife, Sidney White, daughter of John White, (above) lived with her daughter, Mrs. Judge Felton of Oakland, California in one of the finest residences in the city of Oakland around 1880. Judge Felton died in 1878. Judge Felton was one of the best lawyers in California and his practice was said to amount to one hundred thousand dollars per annum. It was reported that even in 1880, Sidney retained much of her youthful beauty and vivacity.
He was a Whig in politics and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1843 for the Democratic county of Sumter. Mr. Baldwin was a skillful debator in the House. “He was courteous and always confined himself to parliamentary rules in his efforts on the floor and respected the personal rights and feelings of others in discussion, at the same time demanded the like civilities for himself.
He was a candidate for Congress in 1849 but his Democratic rival Hon. S. W. Inge, in the Tuscaloosa district had the advantage of having knocked down an abolitionist on the floor of Congress which gave him decided prestige. Mr. Baldwin was defeated by a small majority. In 1850, he moved to Livingston, Alabama.
Joseph Baldwin was the author of Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi which was written to show the evil effects of an inflation of paper currency from 1833 to 1840 when paper money was so abundant. “The work was quite dramatic and described many transactions and scenes in and out of court, of wonderful originality and humor. It had an extensive sale. His other work was Party Leaders, in which Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Randolph and Clay were introduced as representative men, with contrasts and parallels well delineated, showing a great fund of information, and remarkable power of analysis in the writer.”
In 1854, Baldwin moved to California where he gained a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court from October 1858 to January 1862 when he resumed the practice of law in San Francisco.
“From the book “Lincoln’s Stories”, Chicago 1879, is the following anecdote: Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, D.C., called one day on General Hallock, and presuming as a familiar acquaintance in California, a few years before, solicited a pass outside our lines to see a friend in Virginia, not thinking he would meet with a refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union Men. “We have been deceived too often,” said General Hallock, “and I regret I can’t grant it. Judge Baldwin then went to Stanton, and was very briefly disposed of with the same result. Finally he obtained an interview with Mr. Lincoln, and stated his case. “Have you applied to General Hallock?” inquired the president. “Yes, and met with a flat refusal,” said Judge Baldwin. “Then you must see Stanton,” continued the president. “I have, and met with the same result,” was the reply. “Well, then,” said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile.” I can do nothing, for you must know that I have very little influence with the administration!”
His wife, Sidney White, daughter of John White, (above) lived with her daughter, Mrs. Judge Felton of Oakland, California in one of the finest residences in the city of Oakland around 1880. Judge Felton died in 1878. Judge Felton was one of the best lawyers in California and his practice was said to amount to one hundred thousand dollars per annum. It was reported that even in 1880, Sidney retained much of her youthful beauty and vivacity.
- See more at: http://alabamapioneers.com/biography-joseph-glover-baldwin-born-1815/#sthash.sdBb66mk.dpuf

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Captain Henry Nichols (1842-1899): Died from heat in Philippine-American War

Grave of Captain Henry Nichols (photo by Michael Colbruno) and news headline
PLOT 33

Captain Henry Nichols, was the commander of the United States double turreted monitor Monadnock during the Philippine-American War. He died in the first year of the war, which lasted from 1899-1902. The war was over the First Philippine Republic's objection to the terms of the Treaty of Paris under which the United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain ending the Spanish–American War. The war was a continuation of the Philippine struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution.

Captain Nichols died from sunstroke aboard his vessel at Cavite during an intense period of hot weather. The Monandock had been lying off ParaƱque for two months where it had been under heavy fire from the rebels on a daily basis. Nichols had been fighting for the occupation of ParaƱque by American forces.
Newspaper account of Captain Nichols' death
Nichols refused an an offer to retire the ship from her duties and said he would stay until the area was cleared of rebels. However, Captain Nichols was overcome by the heat around noon on June 10, 1899. He retired to his cabin, where he received frequent reports of the operations and continued to give orders for the next three hours, when he finally lost consciousness. He died two hours later.

Several hours before his death he expressed gratification at the way events were progressing, remarking to an officer: "We have got the rebels there at last."

After his death, the flags on all the vessels in the area were half masted.

You can read about his wife Juliet in another "Lives of the Dead" post by clicking HERE

Monday, March 7, 2016

Ossie Vitt (1890-1963): MLB player; Managed infamous "Cleveland Crybabies"

Ossie Vitt Pacific Coast League card and burial vault
Main Mausoleum
2nd floor, Sec 155 Nitch 1 Tier 10

Oscar Joseph "Ossie" Vitt was a Major League Baseball third baseman in the American League for the Detroit Tigers (1912–1918) and Boston Red Sox (1919–1921). Vitt later became manager of the Cleveland Indians (1938–1940), where he sometimes clashed with his players.

Ossie Vitt was a product of the sandlots of San Francisco where he made considerable money as a bricklayer after the '06 earthquake. He broke into the Pacific Coast League as third baseman for the San Francisco Seals in 1911. He later advanced to the majors as a utility infielder for the Detroit Tigers. Through his major league career, Vitt played 833 games at 3rd base and 161 games at 2nd base. As the Tigers' regular third baseman from 1915 through 1917, he never batted higher than .254. But he was described as a smart, scrappy baseball man.
Oakland Tribune feature on Ossie Vitt
Vitt had a career batting average of .238, and was a talented third baseman with range and a good throwing arm. His .960 fielding average in 10 years at 3rd base was 20 points higher than the Major League average for 3rd basemen of his era. He led all American League third basemen in consecutive years (1915 and 1916) in putouts, assists and fielding percentage. He had career highs at third base of 208 putouts (team record at 3B), 385 assists, and 32 double plays in 1916. His range factor of 3.93 in 1916 was 70 points higher than the league average for third basemen.

While not a good hitter for average, Vitt was a good contact hitter and one of the best bunters of the era—a valuable talent on a Detroit squad that included Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, and Bobby Veach. His career total of 259 sacrifice hits (in a relatively short career) ranks 32nd best in major league history.

Vitt was also one of the toughest players to strike out in MLB history. For his career, he struck out an average of once every 26.6 at bats, 35th best in MLB history. In 1918, his at bat per strikeout ratio was 44.5, 2nd best in the AL.

1917 Ossie Vitt baseball card and newspaper feature, which ran nationwide
On August 10, 1915, Vitt was hit in the head by a Walter Johnson fastball. After being knocked unconscious for five minutes‚ Vitt left the game with a concussion. Ty Cobb‚ observing Johnson's fear of hitting a batter‚ crowded the plate on Johnson from that point forward. Cobb hit .435 against Johnson after the Vitt incident.

On July 30, 1917, Cobb‚ Veach‚ and Vitt followed each other in the lineup‚ with each going 5-for-5.

On January 17, 1919, Vitt was traded by the Tigers to the Boston Red Sox for Eddie Ainsmith, Chick Shorten, and Slim Love.

After playing in the majors for 10 years, Vitt was recommended to Oakland Oaks' owner Victor Devincinzi by the Yankees' management to manage the Oaks in 1935. His style was described as both abrasive and motivational, pushing the Oaks to a third-place finish.

Vitt moved on in the Yankees' organization the next year, managing their farm team in Newark. He was then hired by the Cleveland Indians in 1938 to replace Steve O'Neil as manager and instill new life into their team.

Ossie Vitt with three different teams
Vitt's role in the 1940 Cleveland Indians team known as the "Cleveland Crybabies" has become a baseball legend. "I don't want any lazy players on my club," said Vitt when he was hired. "If the boys won't hustle, out they go." Vitt's players felt they were being accused. In Vitt's first two seasons in Cleveland, the Indians finished third. Yet, there were frequent clashes between Vitt and his players, and the discontent festered.

On June 11, 1940, matters came to a head when he went to the mound to remove Mel Harder. "When are you going to start earning your salary?" asked Vitt of Harder, who had won at least 15 games for eight consecutive seasons, including two 20-win seasons. The team revolted, and many players signed a petition to have Vitt removed. After the incident with Harder, a dozen Indians met with owner Alva Bradley to state their grievances against Vitt, whom they described as a "wild man." They made it clear they hoped he would be fired. In the closed-door meeting between Indians players and owner, Harder told Bradley: "We think we have a good chance to win the pennant, but we'll never win it with Vitt as manager. If we can get rid of him, we can win. We feel sure about that." Bradley sought to keep the controversy quiet, but the story quickly got out, and newspaper headlines all over the nation referred gleefully to the Indians as the "Cleveland Crybabies."

Despite the hullabaloo and ridicule, the Indians, with Vitt hanging on to his job, battled the Detroit Tigers for the pennant to the last day of the 1940 season. Through June, the Indians were 42–25. After June, with the "Crybabies" harangue clanging in the papers and from the stands, they went 47–40, not a collapse, but not good enough to stay ahead of the Tigers who won the pennant by a single game over the Tribe. Bob Feller, a 27-game winner that year, lost the decisive game 2–0.

Vitt was among those in the first class of inductees in 1943 in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.

SOURCES: Reprinted from Wikipedia, photos from Salt Lake Tribune, Montana Standard,  Oakland Tribune

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mary Ellen Bamford (1857-1946): American author and prohibitionist

Gravestone of Mary Ellen Bamford (photo by Michael Colbruno)
Mary Ellen Bamford was an American author and prohibitionist.

Bamford was the daughter of Doctor William Bamford and Cornelia Elizabeth Rand, her parents were pioneer settlers. Her father was one of the first physicians in Oakland (what was then called Brooklyn).She lived at the Bamford family home for most of her life.

Mary was educated in public schools in Oakland and served as a substitute librarian at the Oakland Library from 1906-1939. However, writing remained her main vocation and she authored 21 books, including Marie's story. A tale of the days of Louis XIV, Miss Millie's Trying, A Piece of Kitty Hunter's Life, Thoughts of My Dumb Neighbors and Ti: A Story of San Francisco's Chinatown.

Mary Ellen Bamford's "Up and Down the Brooks"

Bamford was an committed prohibitionist and was also secretary of the regional Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society and active at the 23rd Avenue Baptist  Church. She supplied books to a number of publishers including the American Baptist Publication Society. Bamford also wrote for Sunday schools of several denominations

In contrast to most Americans at the time, Bamford was sympathetic to Chinese and other Asians attempting to enter the United States. She was the author of Angel Island: the Ellis Island of the West, which was published by Woman's American Home Baptist Mission Society in 1917.

SOURCES: Oakland Tribune, Wikipedia, Amazon.com

Anna McCune Harper (1900-1999): Dominant female tennis player

Anna McCune Harper and gravestone (photo on right by Michael Colbruno)
PLOT 36, Lot 269

Anna McCune Harper was dominant American female tennis player in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1924 she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley. She later served as the national president of Sigma Kappa from 1939-1942.

She learned the sport along with her sister, Lucy, when they were youngsters in Pacific Grove, California. She restricted most of her play to the West coast until her marriage to UC Berkeley history professor Lawrence Averell Harper. He received a fellowship to study in England in 1925 and 1926 and Anna entered Wimbledon in those years.

Harper was ranked in the U.S. top ten five consecutive years from 1928 through 1932 and was top ranked in 1930.  She won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 1931 partnering George Lott. She was the runner-up in singles at the 1930 U.S. Championships, losing to Betty Nuthall (who won the match in 36 minutes!). She also was the runner-up in women's doubles at the 1928, 1930 and 1932 U.S. Championships and in mixed doubles at the 1931 edition of those championships.
 
Lawrence Averall Harper, who died exactly 10 years before his wife
In 1932, Harper was called home because of an illness in her family. She then decided to give up tournament tennis for other tasks, including the rearing of three children. But she continued to follow the game and played for many years. She even had arthroscopic knee surgery at age 81 so she could continue to play. An adverse reaction to a general anesthetic sidelined her for good and precipitated a long, slow decline in her health.
 
Harper was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981. There is an "Anna McCune Harper Scholarship Fund at UC," which goes annually to a woman student who is an outstanding athlete and scholar.

She died on June 14, 1999, which was the 10 year anniversary of her husband's death. 

SOURCES: Wikipedia, SFGate.com, Baltimore Sun, Tennis Forum, Sigma Kappa

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bernie DeViveiros (1901-1994): Baseball's "Doctor of Sliding"

Bernie DeViveiros
Plot 72, Grave 1435

Bernard "Bernie" John DeViveiros was a Major League Baseball player who played shortstop for Chicago White Sox in 1924 and the Detroit Tigers in 1927. During his playing days, he stood 5' 7" tall and weighed 160 pounds. He batted and threw right-handed. His major league career consisted of 25 games with a batting average of .227.

DeViveiros played baseball at Oakland Tech High School in 1919-20 with future pros Johnny Gillespie and Taylor Douthit. He was named the California State Player of the Year in 1920.

Bernie DeViveiros teaches Gene Lamont how to slide
He was dubbed “The Doctor of Sliding” and taught numerous players the bent-leg slide and the fadeaway slide. He was also known as a great bunting coach. He learned the craft of sliding from then-Tiger manager Ty Cobb, as Hall of Fame player known for his base running skills.  After a few stints managing minor league and independent teams,  DeViveiros went to work as a scout for the Tigers in 1946 and remained with the team until he retired in 1972. During his time as a coach, he taught bunting and sliding to George Kell, Al Kaline, Vic Wertz, Hoot Eversm Harvey Kuenn, Rocky Colavito, Dick McAuliffe,  Bill Freehan, Mickey Stanley, Jim Northrup, Willie Horton and Gates Brown.
Bernie DeViveiros' high school photo and a baseball signed "Always Sliding"
Perhaps his most famous contribution was discovering and signing Mickey Lolich, who became a legend when he led the Detroit Tigers to a World Series win in 1968. Lolich ended up winning 217 games in the majors, threw 39 shutouts and struck out 2,832 hitters.

In 1951, DeViveiros wrote an article on Base Running in The Sporting News called "How to Play Baseball."

He died while living at the Altenheim Retirement home in Oakland on July 5, 1994.

Sources: Oakland Tech High School, "Safe by a mile" by Charlie Metro, BaseballReference.com, Wikipedia, Ancestry.com, Corpus Christi Caller Times

William "Babe" Borton (1888-1954): Baseball player mired in scandals

 
Babe Borton and the Main Mausoleum at Mountain View Cemetery

 MAIN MAUSOLEUM

William Baker "Babe" Borton was born on August 14, 1888 in Marion, Illinois to Reuben Borton and Martha Simmons. He is best remembered for his involvement in some well-publicized bribery scandals that rocked baseball in the early 20th century. 

Borton played for the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, St. Louis Terriers, and St. Louis Browns from 1912 to 1916. During his playing years, he was listed at 6' tall and 178 pounds. He batted and threw left-handed.

Borton was born in Marion, Illinois in 1888. He started his professional baseball career in 1910, at the age of 21. In 1912, he was hitting .369 in the Western League when he was acquired by the White Sox late in the season. He played one season for them before being traded to the Yankees for Hal Chase. He hit just .130 in New York and was released. In 1914, he played in the Pacific Coast League. 

1915 was Borton's only full major league campaign, and he made it count. With the St. Louis Terriers, he led the Federal League in walks (92) and runs scored (97) and was fourth in on-base percentage (.395). After the season, the Federal League folded, and Borton was purchased by the American League's Browns. He hit just .224 in 1916 and never played in the majors again. From 1917 to 1920, he played in the Pacific Coast League. He batted .303 in 1919, as his team – the Vernon Tigers – won the pennant. In 1920, he was batting .326 late in the season when he was suspended. 

Babe Borton and St. Louis Browns team photo (he is second from the left in the second row from the top)
In July 1920, Borton had tried to bribe an opposing pitcher into throwing a game. According to "The Fix Is In: A History of Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals" by Daniel Ginsburg, "In late July of 1920, Borton met with pitcher Ralph Stroud of Salt Lake in the Lankershim Hotel in Los Angeles and offered him $300 to throw a game to Borton's Vernon club. Stroud refused the offer and left the hotel. Just after this incident, Borton met with Maggert and paid him $300, which looked suspicious...Despite the fact that he refused Borton's offer, Stroud pitched poorly and was knocked out in the first inning. After the game, Borton approached Stroud in the hotel lobby and him $300, saying, "You earned it." Stroud refused the money, insisting that he tried to win but just had an off day." Newspaper accounts verify the claim that Stroud did accept $300 from Borton and outfielder Harl Maggert in a hotel lobby, but Stroud claimed it was payment for an unrelated gambling debt.

In October 1919, the famous Black Sox Scandal erupted (when two Chicago White Sox players admitted taking money to throw the 1919 World Series) and, according to Ginsburg, Borton's name emerged again when players were called to testify. Salt Lake player Tub Spencer claimed Borton offered him $1,700 at the end of the season and pitcher Wheezer Dell said Borton offered him $300 to throw a game. Despite denying the charges, Borton claimed that he only offered Spencer $500.

As details in the scandal emerged, it was discovered that he and some Vernon teammates had also bribed opponents in 1919 to throw the pennant to the Tigers. Borton was eventually cleared of any criminal charges in December, but along with Harl Maggert, Gene Dale, and Bill Rumler, Borton was expelled from the Pacific Coast League.

Borton never played in organized baseball after 1920. He worked for the Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, California from 1926 until his retirement in 1953. He died on July 29, 1954 at his home in Berkeley.

Sources: Society for American Baseball Research, "The Fix Is In: A History of Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals" by Daniel Ginsburg, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Oakland Tribune, Wikipedia, Ancestry. com