Pop Swett

  • Card series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: San Francisco
  • Team: Haverlys
  • League: California League

William Edward Swett (1870-1934) had impressed major-league scouts with his performance in his hometown of San Francisco. The young catcher showed great fortitude by catching all but four of the ‘88 Haverlys’ 95 games. One report noted: “He throws like a rifle shot and has any amount of nerve.” Such publicity prompted the Boston Reds to offer him $2800 to join the Players’ League franchise. This amount was said to be the most ever paid to that time to land a California recruit. Swett saw limited service for King Kelly’s 1890 champions; the league folded, and “Pop” went home. Clearly, he preferred to be a highly-regarded player out west to being overshadowed in the the big leagues. In ‘93 The Sporting Life said of him: “without doubt one of the best catchers on the coast.” Nevertheless, Swett’s commitment to the game was lacking. He took a bailiff’s job in SF, tried once more with Nashville but was out of shape. In any event the team, like the Players’ League, folded in July ‘94.

  • In his only major-league season, Swett hit .191 with a HR. In seven minor league seasons he hit .238
  • It is unknown how the boyish blond acquired the nickname in his early 20s

Auction History