No announcement yet.

Baseball Executions

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Baseball Executions

    James J. Slocum

    Jimmy Slocum played minor league ball in the 1880s for several teams including Wilkes-Barre and New Haven. He was described as a large, powerful guy – husky.

    After his playing career ended, he toiled at an occasional job, never anything solid; in truth, he was unemployed, supported by his wife Ellen. The couple lived in a rundown apartment building in New York City at 114 Roosevelt Street. The New York Times described the building as containing “miserable rooms.”

    Slocum was said to drink a little too much. He was also well known to the local authorities for the trouble he caused. The police referred to him as “a loafer and a bum.”


    By the time Christmas rolled around in 1889, Slocum was on a bender. He came home drunk on New Year’s Eve and started fighting with his 31-year-old wife, not an unusual event. Two days later, on January 2 her body was found lying in the bed with her skull crushed in. The murder weapon was a small axe, a hatchet. Slocum would later claim he used a water pitcher, but nonetheless a bloody axe was later presented to the jury as evidence.

    Slocum was no where to be found. On January 20 he was finally capture after “an exciting chase across house tops.”


    Slocum was imprisoned at the Tombs in New York City. On March 12, 1890 he was found guilty of first degree murder and taken to Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. Soon thereafter, he was sentenced to death by electrocution by Judge Martine. The even was to take place the week of May 4, 1890.

    Slocum appealed to the Court of Appeals on the grounds of insufficient counsel. The initial ruling was confirmed, setting the new execution date for the week of March 15, 1891. Slocum appealed again to the U.S. Circuit Court but was denied on March 12, 1891. The execution was set for the following week.

    However, the U.S. Circuit Court remitted the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The highest court in the nation acted quickly and dismissed Slocum’s case. The new execution date was set for the week of July 5, 1891.


    On June 4, 1888 New York Governor Daniel B. Hill signed a bill permitting the use of the electric chair in New York State. Slocum would be the first prisoner executed by the chair at Sing Sing Prison.

    All Slocum knew was that the execution was to take place the week of July 5. He was not informed of the exact date.

    On Monday July 6 the death warrant was read. The following morning Slocum was removed from his cell. Three other inmates were removed as well; it would be a mass execution. The order of execution was determined:
    James J. Slocum, Caucasian
    Harris Smiler, Caucasian
    Shibayo Jugiro, Japanese
    Joseph Wood, Negro

    Slocum was taken to the death chamber at 4:31 am on the morning of July 7, 1891. He entered the chamber at 4:33 am. He did not resist and sat in the chair peacefully. He even cooperated when he was strapped down. He was not asked for any final words and he did not offer any.

    Two electrodes were attached, one to his head, the other to his right calf. They would provide 1,458 volts of electricity.

    A system was worked out for the newspapermen and those holding vigil outside the prison gates. Different colored flags would be raised when each of the inmates were pronounced dead. Slocum’s flag was white. In the crass era much was made of the fact that Wood’s flag was black.

    It took two minutes and 40 seconds to fasten Slocum. A current was then applied for 27 seconds. Slocum still had a strong pulse and he reestablished respiration. At 4:39 am the current was reapplied for 26 seconds, heart and respiration functioning ceased. The body was allowed to sit in order to cool and await the doctor’s death pronouncement.

    Slocum was declared dead at 4:42 am. His body was removed from the death chamber at 5:00 am. Smiler was brought in at 5:05 am.

    Slocum was interred in the prison cemetery on July 8. At least four other professional ballplayers have been executed.

  • #2
    crazy, who are the other 4


    • #3
      Thanks for this, Brian. I don't know why, but I've always found ordinary people driven to a life of crime, and their stories, fascinating. Maybe it's because I took criminal psychology in college. I don't know, it just holds a morbid fascination for me. Baseball history is loaded with these guys.
      Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours. - Yogi Berra


      • #4
        Originally posted by blackout805 View Post
        crazy, who are the other 4
        Charles N. "Pacer" Smith, 1895 (he's talked about in the Murderers in the HOF Thread)

        Haven't researched the following yet:

        John Taylor, 1903
        Jim Moss, 1928
        Paul Kauffman, 1934


        • #5
          James Hugh Moss

          Jim Moss was a former Negro league player with the Chicago Giants. He was said to be a extremely tall.

          He could be the one identified as just "Moss" in James A. Riley's The Biographical Encyclopedia of Negro Baseball Leagues - pitcher (without a decision) for the Chicago American Giants in 1918.

          On August 5, 1927, 21-year-old Clifford Thompson (Caucasion), his 22-year-old wife Eula (Caucasion) and James Hugh Moss (African American) left their hometown near Etowah, Tennessee. They were transporting whisky.

          In the evening they ran out of gas near a store belonging to Coleman Osborne in Chatsworth, Georgia. Thompson and Moss went to the store but it was after hours. Osborne was called to the store from his bedroom and arrived to help the two.

          Soon after Osborne arrived, shots were heard. Osborne was killed. Thompson and Moss returned to the car and the trio fled back to Tennessee. They were arrested several days later and convicted of first degree murder.

          On August 3, 1928 Thompson and Moss were executed by electrocution at Georgia State Prison in Milledgeville. Mrs. Thompson's was to be executed as well; however, Georgia Governor L.G. Hardman later commuted it to a life sentence.

          At execution, Moss was said to be chanting a prayer.

          The case was later written of as a potential miscarriage of justice:

          Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases
          Hugo Adam Bedau, Michael L. Radelet
          Stanford Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Nov., 1987), pp. 21-179


          The most famous store at Center Hill was Coleman Osborn's. Located just east of the present church on the left, the store received statewide attention in 1927 when Mr. Osbom was murdered there. The three suspects-Cliff Thompson, Jim Hugh Moss, and Eula Thompson were found guilty in a speedy trial at Chatsworth and sentenced to the electric chair. The men were executed, but Eula Thompson's sentence was changed to imprisonment. She was later released.
          From The Atlanta Constitution, August 28, 1928:



          Latest "Confession" Says Negro, Executed With Husband,
          Alone Killed Storekeeper.

          Making still another "confession," in which she alleges that Jim Hugh Moss, a "negro who talked like a white man," was the slayer of Coleman Osborne, Eula Mae Thompson, in Fulton Tower under death sentence in connection with the murder, declared that she and her husband, Clifford Thompson, who already has been executed on the same charge, were innocent. Moss also was put to death.

          This latest "confession" by the Thompson woman is totally at variance with one made a few hours prior to the execution of her husband and the negro Moss. It makes no mention of a prominent citizen of Murray county who, in the first "confession," was said by the woman to have plotted the killing of Osborne to cover up an illicit relationship which, she said, existed between her and this man.

          She mentioned only herself, her husband and the negro in the new "confession," and declared that she and Thompson were waiting several yards away while Moss went to Osborne's house for some gasoline.

          Sounds of Argument.

          She said that she and her husband heard sounds of argument between the two, and then heard two shots, followed by "about five more shots." Moss then came running back to them and told them Osborne had refused to give him change, and had shot at him twice, whereupon he (moss) shot at Osborne, the confession sets out.

          In a previous "confession," made on the eve of her husband's execution, the Thompson woman implicated herself and another man and vehemently declared that her husband and the negro were innocent. She failed to save her husband and the negro from their sentence by this confession.

          The text of her latest "confession" follows:

          "In person before me came Eula Mae Thompson, who after having been duly sworn, deposes and says:

          "I, Eula Mae Thompson, do swear that on Wednesday night before Coleman Osborne was killed on Friday, Cliff Thompson and myself bought 100 gallons of whisky about two or three miles below Coleman Osborne's house, and we could not carry the 100 gallons together with, the three of us, (we had Jim Hugh Moss hired to help us haul whisky), and we decided to hide 50 gallons and go on with 50, and we hid 50 gallons below Coleman Osborne's, near Berry Bennett's and went on to Etowah, Tenn., that night. We did not stop at Coleman Osborne's and ask for gas or anything else, we did not stop at all on Wednesday night; on Friday night we went back down in Georgia after the 50 gallons of whisky we had hid, and my father had an apple orchard close to Mont Howell's and Cliff Thompson and myself went out in the orchard hunting fruit and left Jim Hugh Moss in the car. When we returned he said he had been over to that house, pointing to Mont Howell's house, to get something to eat. We did not intend to rob Mont Howell or anyone else, and Cliff Thompson and myself did not know about Jim Hugh Moss going to Mont Howell's. Jim Hugh Moss was about two-thirds drunk and he uses English like a white man without the slightest negro dialect.

          Charges Robbery

          Jim Hugh Moss robbed those boys of their guitars at the railroad crossing, and we tried to get him not to do it, but we could not do anything with him. We then went on after our shisky, and loaded it at the place where we had it hid, and while we were there we looked at our supply of gas and it was real low, and I told them that Coleman Osborne sold gas a short distance up the road, and we could get some up there. Then we decided if we stopped in the road at Coleman Osborne's house he would see the car loaded with whisky and, too, he would recognize me. So we all decided to drive on past his house to the schoolhouse and let Jim Hugh Moss go back after the gas, and Cliff Thompson and myself waiting in the car for him to go after the gas, and it was Jim Hugh Moss, a negro who talks like a white man, who called at Osborne's house and got Mr. Osborne up for the gas. We could hear them talking and we heard two shots and then about five shots in rapid succession, and Jim Hugh Moss came running up the road to our car, saying the man tried to keep his change, and when told about it by him, tried to kill him, and that after Osborne had shot at him twice he shot five times at Osborne, and he thinks he killed him. We went on up the road and stopped at Ocoee, Tenn., and got some gas for the car. We did not go there to rob Coleman Osborne and did not rob him or anyone else. Jim Hugh Moss was drunk and showing off, and robbed those boys of their guitars, and could not help it.

          "We talked a whole lot about going ahead and telling the truth about these matter. Jim Hugh Moss would not consent to this and we just did not know what to do, but Cliff Thompson and myself certainly were not guilty, and did not have anything to do with it, and I hope this will straighten out the whole affair.

          "Mr. A. S. Johnson, my recently acquired attorney, has persuaded me to tell the whole truth.

          Sworn to and subscribed before me, this the 27th day of August, 1928. LUCY McMANUS, N. P., State of Georgia at Large.
          The day before her husband's execution she made up another story whereby she and another man had killed Osborne - supposedly clearing her husband and Moss.
          Last edited by Brian McKenna; 03-15-2008, 08:18 PM.


          • #6
            John "Bud" Taylor

            In 1899 Bud Taylor played for the Nebraska Indians. In 1900 he wore the uniform of an "eastern team."

            Taylor, 23, lived in Kansas City, Missouri in 1903 where he was engaged to a pretty young clerk in a dry goods store, 18-year-old Ruth Nollard. In the beginning of February the couple had a fight at which point the wedding was called off and Nollard cut off all contact as well.

            Two weeks later, Taylor forced himself on the girl, almost choking her to unconscience. Being pulled away, he threatened to kill her the first opportunity he got.

            On February 27, Taylor rented a room at a lodge on West Ninth Street, in the busy business district. He made sure that his second story room oversaw the street. Taylor proceded to spend his days waiting for Nollard to amble by.

            In the afternoon on March 2, Nollard was walking on the sidewalk with her sister. Taylor, sitting in his window, aimed his rifle and fired three times. Nollard was struck twice, one bullet settled near her heart, the other went and in then out her chest. She died within an hour.

            Police arrested Taylor in his room. Some difficulty arose with the mob that formed outside seeking to lynch Taylor.

            On October 5, 1901 Taylor was convicted of first degree murder despite his strenuous plea of insanity.

            On April 17, 1903 in the courtyard of the county jail in Butler, Missouri, Taylor was hanged. Over 1,500 showed up to witness the event, as two others, one a former member of the Texas legislature, were executed as well.

            Taylor had been baptized into the Catholic faith the night before the execution. On his way to the scaffold, he handed his brother a packet of strychnine. Taylor had planned on killing himself prior to his conversion; instead, he decided to accept his fate.


            • #7
              Paul H. Kauffman

              (per the 1930 U.S. Census) Sixteen-year-old Avis M. Woolery lived in Webb City, Missouri with her mother Dora and stepfather Ralph Corkins. She lived with her sisters Alice, 17, Elaine, 10, and Marie, 7, and brother Harold, 14. Her father Ed lived in Kinkaid, Kansas where all the children were born. Avis worked in an art shop doing "art work."

              Paul Kauffman, 31 years old, was from Columbia, Pennsylvania. He had played for Reading in the International League. Kauffman was a predator. In 1928 he was convicted and served two years at a Canon City, Colorado jail (the 1930 U.S. Census shows him there) for seducing a 15-year-old girl. He was released in mid-1930.

              Upon getting out of jail, Kauffman put an ad in a Missouri paper searching for a nurse maid that would supposedly take care of a small child who resided at his mother's house. That's the story anyway. His true intent was to lure a young lady into his acquaintance.

              Woolery answered the ad, corresponded with Kauffman and then met him at the train station in Kansas City on August 17, 1930. He explained that he had been intoxicated the night before and wrecked his vehicle; there, the pair would have to walk part of the way to his mother's house.

              They took the street car to Swope Park and then began to walk. Soon, they sat in the grass to rest. Kauffman started to fondle the girl. When she resisted, he forced his elbow into her throat and choked her to death. He then removed her clothes, tied her stocking around her neck and tossed the body into a pit left empty by a fallen tree stump. Kauffman covered her with dirt and then disposed of her clothes and suitcase. All of this information was attained from Kauffman's confession.

              Her body was not discovered until the middle of October, at which time Kauffman was indicted by the grand jury for first degree murder on October 15, 1930. He was convicted in early November and sentenced to death.

              Kauffman appealed and was granted a new trial by the Missouri Supreme Court on February 17, 1932. He was sentenced to death again on May 21. He continued to appeal. At the end of 1933 Kauffman had to be removed from his Kansas City cell and taken to a prison in Jefferson City. Many were threatening to forcibly lynch him.

              He appealed to the supreme court again but was overuled. The execution was set for June 29, 1934. All appeals ran their course and Missouri Governor Park refused to intervene.

              Kauffman was executed by hanging in Kansas City on June 29.
              Last edited by Brian McKenna; 03-13-2008, 06:59 AM.


              • #8
                Charles N. “Pacer” Smith

                Charlie Smith was a pitcher from Pendleton, Indiana (born 8/4/1853).

                Some sources state that Smith played for the National League Cincinnati Reds circa 1876-77. He may have belonged to the club for exhibition matches or such but he never appeared in a major league game.

                Minor league clubs:
                1878-79 Baltimore Blues
                1880 Nashville
                1881 Terra Haute
                1882-83 Indianapolis
                1884 Nobleville (Indianapolis)
                1885 Jacksonville, Greencastle (IN), Evansville (IN)
                1886 Decatur (IL), Little Rock
                1887 Memphis, Wichita, Champaign (IL)
                1888 Decatur, Bloomington (IL), Effingham (IL)
                1889 Elkhart (IN), Monmouth (IL)
                1890 Ottawa (IL)
                1891 Oconto (WI), semi-pro ball in Decatur
                1892 Pana (IL), an independent club
                1893 Muncie (IN)
                1894 Indiana semi-pro clubs

                Smith started having trouble mentally and with the law around 1886. At various times he was indicted or suspected od larceny, burglary, assault and gambling. He was also a heavy drinker.

                His baseball career ending as his drinking became out of control in 1894.


                On December 26, 1888 at the California Hotel in Effingham, Illinois he married Maggie Buchert (from Decatur - they had met in 1886). Buchert's parents protested against the marriage and did not give their consent. A daughter, Louise, was born in 1890.

                Smith neglected his wife and young daughter; the couple separate a month after Louise's birth. Smith was also drinking much heavier. Mother and daughter moved in with Maggie’s family in Decatur. Smith would occasionally visit his family; however, as the married couple became estranged, Smith became habitually drunk. He was also known to threaten his family.

                On September 28, 1895 Smith showed up drunk as usual at about 3 pm. This time with a gun, a borrowed .38 caliber Harrington & Richardson revolver. After the couple talked calmly for 10 minutes, Maggie's 17-year-old sister, Edna, retrieved Louise from a neighbor's house.

                Upon arrival, Smith pulled out his gun and shot his daughter in the neck. The girl fell down the basement steps and would later die. Maggie took off running and Smith fired two shots that missed. Smith then killed Edna in the kitchen.

                Smith was arrested in an nearby alley.Smith was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death on October 7.

                Awaiting execution, Smith sparked up a correspondence with former big league first baseman and former teammate (with Monmouth in 1889) Frank W. Harris (with Altoona in the Union Association in 1884); he was also waiting execution in Illinois on the same date - November 29. Harris had killed Charles W. Bengel in Freeport in May 1895. Harris’ sentence was commuted by Governor John P. Altgeld.

                Smith, on the other hand, was hung on November 29, 1895 in Decatur, Illinois. At the scaffold Smith admitted to a previous torture and robbery. The rope used to hang him cost $5. A local drug store purchased it for $10 and put it in a display window.

                A complete bio can be found here:
                Last edited by Brian McKenna; 03-12-2008, 10:10 AM.


                • #9
                  Patrick H. Ford

                  Ireland-born Patrick Ford played for the Pelicans of New Orleans during the National Association of Base Ball Players days. It is possible that Ford was an amateur; however, knowing about his political connections, it's also possible that he was compensated to play - either directly or via a job with the city.

                  Ford played against the famed Red Stockings of Cincinnati on April 25, 1870 at Louisiana Base Ball Park during the Reds' acclaimed undefeated streak. New Orleans was crushed 51-1. Asa Brainard tossed a six-hitter.

                  Ford's brother Thomas J. Ford became a man of some influence in the Democratic Party in New Orleans. He became a judge of the Second Recorder’s Court and administered political affairs and doled out his brand of justice via his post as police magistrate.

                  Patrick Ford took on various city jobs including at one time the post of Acting Chief Engineer for the New Orleans Fire Department.

                  Thomas Ford developed a personal and poltical rivalry with Andrew H. "Cap" Murphy, also a well-connected Democratic politician (Murphy's father was Collector of Internal Revenue under President Andrew Johnson in 1866), who was a deputy at the city jail.

                  The feud started when Murphy was arrested for being drunk and disorderly (and slapping a woman) and brought before Judge Ford. Murphy was fined and Ford entered a notation in the official record that Murphy was "a hoodlum, a dead beat and a city official." Murphy paid his fine and began circulating pamphlets that described Ford as "a coward, a liar, a thief and a perjurer." Ford had Murphy arrested for libel and the case was still pending coming into December 1884.

                  On December 1, 1884 Thomas Ford assembled his brother Patrick and several of his police thugs to seek and pummel Murphy. Among the police were court officers Bader, W.E. Caulfield, W.H. Buckley and policeman John Murphy (no relation to Andrew and actually Ford's cousin who had only arrived from Ireland in 1882).

                  They found Andrew Murphy at about 2:30 pm at the corner of Claiborne and St. Phillip Streets overseeing a chain gang. The Ford gang immediately started firing. Shot rang throughout the streets. Murphy jumped up and returned fire. When is gun emptied, he took off running. Patrick Ford fired the shot that brought Murphy down. Five bullets were found in Murphy.

                  The incident occurred in front of at least 70 witnesses. The Ford gang was quickly arrested. Political pressure, bribery, influence, intimidation and threats permeated each step of the following legal process.

                  Ford's cronies intimdated witnesses against testifying and maintaining silence. The group was brought to trial on January 27, 1885. After a ten-day trial, the jury went into consultation. After three days the judge declared a new trial due to witness tampering which was conducted by means of the court officers.

                  The second trial began on February 18. It went to the jury on the 28th. After a half hour of deliberations, the jury found Patrick Ford and John Murphy guilty of first degree murder (because the fatal shots were determined to come from their guns) and Thomas Ford, Caulfield and Buckley guilty of manslaughter. Patrick Ford and Murphy were sentenced to death, Thomas Ford received 20 years.

                  After appeals, the governor finally issued the death warrants on September 9, 1885. The executions were set for November 13. Pressure was still being used on the governor in an effort to commute the sentences and even to guve them a pardon. The executions were pushed back until March 12, 1886.

                  On the morning of March 12, 1886, prison officials tried to wake Patrick Ford and Murphy but could not. The pair had taken the poison atropine. Murphy was eventually brought to but Ford never regained consciousness. The governor ordered the executions to be conducted anyway.

                  The pair were hoisted into a chair carried in that manner to the gallows. They laid limply on the scaffold in the rain. At 12:50 pm they were hung. Their necks "dislocated and their struggles were few."

                  It was later discovered that Ford had written curses on his body to those who wouldn't commute his sentence. The newspaper noted, "It cannot longer be said in reproach that no white man can be hanged for murder in Louisiana."


                  Ad Widget