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Howard Ehmke

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Blues (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Howard Jonathan Ehmke (1894-1959) was a durable pitcher who played fifteen of his sixteen years in pro ball in the majors. The right-hander compiled a 166-166 record, debuting with the Buffalo Blues of the Federal League in 1915 before moving on to a fine career with three of the sport's great teams: the Tigers, Red Sox and Athletics. Ehmke had an unlikely highlight to his long career in 1929's World Series when Connie Mack took him up on his offer to pitch the opening game. Howard had shown flashes of greatness including hurling a no-hitter followed by a one-hitter and had pitched very respectably in '29, going 7-2. Nevertheless, he was a surprise choice to start the series as the veteran's activity had been limited that season. But the savvy Mack knew the opposing Cubs might be vulnerable to a side-arming righty. Ehmke went on to set the record for strikeouts in the post-season with 13, a record that would stand for decades until surpassed by Carl Erskine in 1953, a feat Howard listened to on his car radio until the battery died. He also set a record that held until 2006 for having the fewest regular-season wins by a Series starter.

  • Bill James has called Connie Mack's decision to start Ehmke in '29 “the most brilliant managerial stratagem in the history of baseball”
  • Playing for Boston in 1923, Ehmke won 20 and threw his no-hitter against Mack's Athletics, followed four days later by a one-hitter versus the Yankees, an effort marred only by a grounder off the third baseman's chest ruled a hit. Things evened out for Howard, however, as his no-no had featured a hit off the wall that became an out when the batter missed first base
  • Thanks to his no-no followed by the one-hitter, Ehmke still holds the American League record for fewest hits allowed in back-to-back starts with 1
  • Ehmke had a distinguished career as a player but also made his mark with his inventive bent. He sold the Pirates on his idea for a tarpaulin to cover Forbes Field's infield in the event of rain.  Howard parlayed that sale into a life-long business marketing all manner of tarps and fabrics, including canvas for the war effort in the forties. The Ehmke Manufacturing Co, based in Philadelphia, continues to this day

Auction History

Joe Agler

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Blues (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Joseph Abram Agler (1887-1971) was a first baseman/outfielder from Coshocton, Ohio who debuted with the Washington Senators at the end of the 1912 season after several years in the minors. He had started out in professional ball with Lansing of the Southern Michigan League in 1907. He then played for Canton, Newark, Atlanta and Jersey City before finally getting a late-season try-out in D.C. His long-awaited opportunity failed to gain Joe a spot on the Senators' 1913 team and he returned to the Atlanta Crackers. He got his big chance at “major league” glory when the Federal League opened for business in 1914.

The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs had incorporated in '13 under the auspices of John T. Powers who dangled the prospect of avoiding the hated reserve clause as an inducement to recruit disgruntled big-leaguers. Dubbed an “outlaw” enterprise by the AL and NL, the experiment was doomed to fail. Nevertheless, players such as Agler benefited by the expanded rosters and short-lived salary surges. He got his opportunity with the Buffalo Buffeds in 1914, playing 135 games and hitting a respectable .272. Dealt to the Baltimore Terrapins in the middle of the 1915 season, Joe improved a bit on the poor average that prompted Buffalo to give up on him. He hit only .178 for the Buffeds but batted .215 for Baltimore. His overall average in his three partial years in the majors was .246, not much below his minor league average of .258 showing modest but steady ability.

  • The Federal League may have been a brief actor on the major league stage but it left some indelible marks on the game. The Terrapins caused such a financial crisis for the across-the-street Orioles that the team had a fire sale which included sending a young kid named Ruth to Boston.
  • Wrigley Field was built for the Federal's Chicago Whales and still stands as a monument to the brash entrepreneurial spirit that built the national pastime
  • Litigation in the wake of the Federal League also sealed the monopoly still enjoyed by MLB as the Supreme Court ultimately ruled it was exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act

Auction History

Hal Chase

First Base
  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Blues (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Harold Homer Chase (1883-1947) may have been among the best first-basemen ever, but his “errors” place him as mediocre at best. His own words are his epitaph: “I am an outcast, and I haven’t a good name. I’m the loser, just like all gamblers are.” A star for the NY Highlanders for the first nine years of the franchise, admired by peers such as Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson, Chase even went on to out-poll dozens of later entrants into the Hall of Fame. Such was his prowess at first and plate. But his compulsion to wager, and the ease of access to illicit betting (the bookies were in the front row) consigned this great player to ignominy.

  • Chase’s spiral from NY idol to deportee from Mexico evidenced his inability to stay straight in an era when the crooked path was wide and inviting
  • Chase was banned from baseball for life by commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in 1922 for his (unsubstantiated) role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal
  • Despite the controversy that consumed his career, Chase received more HOF votes in 1936 than 18 future HOFers, and more votes in 1937 than 32 future HOFers, but he never appeared on the ballot again

Auction History

Deacon White

Third Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Bisons
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

James Laurie “Deacon” White (1847-1939). Considered the greatest catcher of baseball’s barehanded period (1870s), White eventually moved to 3rd base, played 23 seasons, won 6 championships, and played with a number of the century’s best players on a number of the century’s best teams.

  • 1st person to bat in 1st pro league, in 1871, earning a hit – a double
  • Reportedly believed the earth is flat
  • 2 batting titles; 3 RBI titles
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 2013

Auction History

Hardy Richardson

Second Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Bisons
  • League: National League

Abram Harding Richardson (1855-1931). Primarily a 2nd baseman, Hardy played every position at one time or another, even going 3-0 as a pitcher. Playing for 6 different teams over 14 professional seasons, Hardy was an excellent hitter who retired with a .299 lifetime average. Hardy’s best season was 1890 when he hit .326, scored 126 Runs, knocked in 146 runs & stole 42 bases.

  • Once hit a home run because the outfielder could not find the ball in the tall grass
  • Bill James ranks him as the 39th best 2nd baseman all-time

Auction History