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Ezra Sutton

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  • Ezra Sutton

    like most 19th century guys i never see sutton's named mentioned - playing as an amauter when the 1869 cin red stocking made their tour - initial member of the national association - played in national league through 1888 - some references say he was the best 3b of the 1800s - any one have info

  • #2
    There's a famous old photo taken in 1879 near second base at Messer Street Grounds in Providence. It shows the Boston Red Stockings posing on the left and Providence on the right. Ezra is standing second from the left with Boston.

    Boston was solid at thirdbase throughout the 19th century. Harry Schafer, Sutton, Billy Nash, and then Jimmy Collins. I think Collins was the best of the four and most likely the greatest third baseman of the 19th century, having revolutionized fielding at that position.
    Last edited by SABR Steve; 03-20-2006, 08:49 AM.

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    • #3
      sad ending..
      Last edited by Brian McKenna; 09-05-2006, 05:17 AM.

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      • #4
        He was good enough to play on one of best amatuer teams in Rochester, NY at the age of 16.
        "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
        "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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        • #5
          Very sad obit- especially about his poor wife. Tell you something, I had no idea about his throwing arm, I wonder just how good it was.
          "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

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          • #6
            Sutton's fatal illness

            When I saw the mention of locomotor ataxia, I thought immediately of the usual grim association -- spinal nerve degeneration associated with tertiary syphilis. But I don't think that was the case here with poor Ezra.

            For one thing, I'd be very surprised that the Globe would have printed something this taboo back then. for another, I doubt that Sutton would have survived roughly 17 years with end-stage syphilis.

            So I looked, and it could be that he suffered from something called Friedreich's ataxia, a rare hereditary disease of much longer duration.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by VIBaseball
              When I saw the mention of locomotor ataxia, I thought immediately of the usual grim association -- spinal nerve degeneration associated with tertiary syphilis. But I don't think that was the case here with poor Ezra.
              new book bury my heart at cooperstown says that tertiary syphilis was the cause of his troubles

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              • #8
                In Blackguards and Red Stockings, a footnote mentions that Ezra had a unique method of off-season training:

                During harsh Upstate NY winters, he often went over to the ballfield. He would build a snowman at first base, and then throw snowballs at it from 3B for practice.
                Last edited by TonyK; 01-21-2007, 03:54 PM.
                "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brian McKenna View Post
                  new book bury my heart at cooperstown says that tertiary syphilis was the cause of his troubles
                  I notice your new full-length bio on the SABR BioProject skirts this topic, Brian. I'm guessing it was either because you could not fully document it or because you chose to downplay it.

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                  • #10
                    Sutton usually garners HoF support from the BBF members who are really versed in the 19th Century and are willing to give credit for work done prior to 1876.
                    Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by VIBaseball View Post
                      I notice your new full-length bio on the SABR BioProject skirts this topic, Brian. I'm guessing it was either because you could not fully document it or because you chose to downplay it.
                      Thanks for noticing. I've written about the syphilis angle here at Baseball Fever but when I sat down to write the man's biography for something other than a discussion forum I asked myself "How do we know he had syphilis?"

                      I see that the internet sites say that locomotor ataxia can be caused by tertiary syphilis but what exactly can I definitively say about Sutton? That since A (syphilis) can cause B (locomotor ataxia) that C (Sutton) had A?

                      Considering that I'm not a medical doctor and that accusing someone of an STD based on limited knowledge is irresponsible, I decided not to make such a claim. To tell you the truth though I wouldn't have necessarily had a problem with adding the phrase "which is often caused by tertiary syphilis" after the introduction of the term locomotor ataxia if pushed to do so. It may have made the story even more entertaining but I wouldn't make such a claim about a living person so where do I get off saying that just because he's been dead for 100 years.
                      Last edited by Brian McKenna; 01-07-2009, 08:14 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                        Sutton usually garners HoF support from the BBF members who are really versed in the 19th Century and are willing to give credit for work done prior to 1876.
                        On of the surprises I got from my research of Sutton is how he was considered one of the top, if not the top, third basemen in baseball by age 19 - by more than one reference - and by references both in the east and the west.

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