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Dave Fultz, A Full Life

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  • Dave Fultz, A Full Life

    Dave Fultz

    David Lewis Fultz

    David Lewis Fultz was born on May 29, 1875 in Staunton, Virginia. His family can be traced back several generations. His great-great grandfather John Morton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence His grandfather was a circuit judge in Staunton.


    Fultz’s father was Alexander H. Fultz, born in Virginia in January 1837. He was a captain of a Staunton artillery unit during the Civil War. A confederate soldier, he fought at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He also practiced law in Staunton and was a multi-term mayor of the city. He died on December 3, 1908. His grandfather, John Davis, was a Pennsylvania captain during the Revolutionary War

    Fultz’s mother Ann Mary Morton Fultz, nee Lewis, was born in Pennsylvania in April 1840. Her obituary:

    Daily Local News, July 17, 1923
    Mrs. Alexander H. Fultz

    Funeral services for Mrs. Alexander H. Fultz, a descendant of a famous Revolutionary family, will be conducted tomorrow at the Great Valley Presbyterian Church, near Paoli.

    Mrs. Fultz, who died Wednesday in Brooklyn, was a daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John Lewis, a granddaughter of John Morton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. She was the widow of Captain Alexander H. Fultz, an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

    She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and one of the pioneers in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

    She leaves two sons, John Morton Fultz, of Philadelphia, and David Lewis Fultz, of Brooklyn, and one daughter, Mary Margaretha Fultz, of Brooklyn.
    The Fultzes were married in 1870. They owned a large home with multiple servants. They had the following children:

    -John Morton Fultz, born in Virginia in April 1873 (died in 1936)
    -Mary Margaretha, born in Virginia in January 1881 (not married by 1920 and living with David and his family)

    The family moved to Pennsylvania in the mid 1890s. Fultz would follow in his father’s footsteps relating to vocation, religion, education, military and politics.


    Fultz attended high school at the Staunton Military Academy ( where he played football and baseball and ran track.

    In 1894 he enrolled at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. At Brown Fultz ran track and was captain of the baseball and football squads. He was also All-American in both sports in 1896 and ’97 (becoming the first Brown football All-American). Both teams were among the tops in the country during his tenure. Fultz played halfback in football and second base in baseball.

    Brown Baseball:
    1895, 15-10-1 record
    1896, national champions, 19-4 record
    1897, eastern champions, 18-6 record, defeated western champions, the U of Chicago in a 3-game series
    1898, 13-7 record

    Future major league players Daff Gammons and William Lauder were on the baseball squad as well. Gammons also played on the football team.

    Brown Football, Division 1-A:
    1894, Rank #11, 10-5-0 record
    1895, Rank #7, 7-6-1 record
    1896, Rank #10, 4-5-1 record
    1897, Rank #9, 7-4 record (Fultz team captain)

    Fultz’s career marks of 186 points and 31 touchdowns wouldn’t be topped by a Brown player for a century. In 1896 Fultz scored 24 points in a game versus Amherst. He scored 78 points that year.

    He was said to be one of the toughest football players in the country. The following is a quote by a teammate:

    I think Dave Fultz played under more difficulties than any man that ever played the game. I have seen him play with a heavy knee brace. He had his shoulder dislocated several times, and I have seen him going into the game with his arm strapped down to his side, so he could just use his forearm. He played a number of games that way. That happened when he was a captain. He was absolutely conscientious, fearless, and a good leader.
    A quote in Outing magazine about Fultz's play in 1896:

    ...But the star of the Brown team was Fultz, who is, perhaps, the fastest running back now playing. His end running, especially on double-pass plays, has been very strong, and his line bucking is hardly less so.
    2 Pictures of Fultz in football uniform:

    Fultz graduated from Brown in 1898. Though he entered professional baseball and coached various college squads, he continued to study law. He earned a law degree from Columbia University in 1904 and passed the New York bar in February 1905.


    After leaving Brown, Fultz remained active in professional and college football well into his 50s.

    As a player:
    1899 – halfback for Duquesne (Pittsburgh) Country and Athletic Club, a professional team coached by former major league pitcher Mark Baldwin (Daff Gammons was also in the backfield)
    1900 – halfback for the professional Homestead (Pittsburgh) Library Athletic Club, sponsored by Carnegie Steel (Gammons also)
    1901 - halfback, captain and coach for the professional Homestead (Pittsburgh) Athletic Club (Gammons also)

    As a coach:
    1898 – University of Missouri, 1-4-1 record
    1900 – University of Missouri, 1-0 record, quit after one game
    1901 – Homestead Athletic Club
    1902 – Lafayette College, 8-3 record
    1903 – Brown University, 5-4-1 record
    1904 – New York University, 3-6 record

    As an official and administrator:
    Fultz officiated a number of games from 1905-06 and from 1912-28 (he also may have worked part-time in other years). He also sat on local and national rule-marking boards for decades. In 1933 he helped found the Touchdown Club of America (later renamed the Touchdown Club of New York), the brainchild of John William Heisman.


    Within a month of graduating from Brown, Fultz signed with the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League on June 23, 1898. He debuted on July 1 and appeared in 19 games for the club, mostly in the outfield.

    Fultz, a 5’11”, 170 lb. righthander, was extremely fast. He was proficient at bunting and stealing bases. Some sportswriters claimed he was the best bunter in the game. He also had excellent range in centerfield (though he wouldn’t settle into that position until 1900) until his legs began to give out after years of taking abuse on the gridiron. He was also reputed to be a great slider (whatever that means).

    Fultz joined the Phillies for spring training in 1899 but was released after only two games on July 5. Twelve days later, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent, first appearing as pinch hitter on July 18. He played in 57 games for the Orioles roughly split between the outfield and third base.

    Just before spring training in 1900, Fultz was transferred to the Brooklyn Dodgers on March 8 as part of the syndicate deal which merged many of the strongest players from both clubs to form a solid Brooklyn roster. Two weeks later, Brooklyn sold Fultz to Connie Mack, manager of the Milwaukee franchise in the minor American League. The team lost the pennant by 3+ games to Charles Comiskey’s Chicago White Sox.

    On June 2, 1900 Fultz sparked a triple play with a catch and throw from centerfield to the plate to catcher Diggins and then a throw to shortstop Wid Conroy. On September 26 Brooklyn drafted Fultz off the Milwaukee’s roster but the American League had other plans. Fultz ended up shifting to the Philadelphia Athletics with Mack as the American League emerged as a major.

    Fultz played centerfield full-time for Mack’s A’s in 1901 and ’02. In 1902 he helped drive the club to the pennant with a .302 batting average, 44 steals and a league-leading (tied with teammate Topsy Hartsel) 109 runs. He also covered second base for Nap Lajoie when he was forced from the lineup due to a court order. On September 4, 1902 Fultz stole second, third and home in the second inning against the Tigers.

    Fultz perennially insisted on a clause in all his contracts which stipulated that he didn’t play on Sundays (He never did). He also never cussed, drank or smoked and was well-known for counseling other ballplayers against vices. He would later become a noted lecturer on these and similar topics to youth groups and others.

    Connie Mack was particularly fond of Fultz and his work on the field. He used Fultz as an example of college ballplayers, later stating:

    It was Dave Fultz, a graduate of Brown University, who got me started going to the colleges for pitchers. Dave was one of the greatest outfielders that ever lived. In 1902, the first year the Athletics won the flag, his work was marvelous. Not even Jimmy Fogarty, whose memory is still revered in Philadelphia, ever did better playing. Fultz played inside ball. His arms and legs were mere factors in the game. His brain dominated his work. He impressed me so that I have since looked to the colleges for players, and have seven of them on this team – Bender of Carlisle; Plank of Gettysburg; Coombs of Colby; Krause of St. Mary’s; Barry of Holy Cross; Eddie Collins of Columbia and Davis of Girard.
    Since both the American and National Leagues had suspended adherence to the National Agreement, clubs continually tampered with another’s players from early 1901 to early 1903. After the 1902 season, New York Giants’ manager John McGraw approached Fultz. Fultz agreed to a two-year $6,500 per offer; however, he came back looking for more money which McGraw also agreed to. An American League agent then approached Fultz claiming that McGraw had misrepresented some of his disclosures (about signing other players). Fultz took a slightly lesser offer from the agent plus a $1,000 cash advance. Despite all of McGraw’s subsequent blustering, the American League kept Fultz. Ban Johnson transferred him to Clark Griffith’s new New York Highlander roster in March 1903.

    Fultz’s legs started to give out in 1903 after years of taking hits out of the backfield. He appeared in 79 games for the Highlanders and another 97 in 1904 despite persistent knee pain. In late 1904 he obtained his law degree and set about to study for the bar exam. Passing the bar, Fultz decided that 1905 would be his last season in professional ball. It was in his 129th game of the season that that decision became all the more apparent.

    On September 30, 1905 centerfielder Fultz chased a shallow fly ball hit by the Cleveland Indians’ Bill Bradley. Fultz and shortstop Kid Elberfeld, sprinting into the outfield, collided. Both were knocked unconscious. Elberfeld was eventually helped from the field disoriented and bleeding above the eye and across the nose (broken nose as well). He was done for the year and shortly left for home.

    Fultz did not regain consciousness for two hours. He awoke at Washington Heights Hospital with a broken jaw and multiple lacerations. He subsisted on a liquid diet for nearly a month. Tough though, he was soon on the football field officiating games with his face bandaged and a cast still in his mouth.

    With that Fultz left the ball field as an active player; he did however remain close to the game. While still nursing his broken jaw, Fultz was approached about becoming president of the Eastern League. He declined interest though, intent on continuing his law practice.

    He also coached college baseball:
    1908 U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland
    1909 Naval Academy
    1910 Columbia University
    1911 Columbia University

    He was offered the same position at Yale in 1912, but turned it down.

    In November 1913 Fultz was elected and announced as the new president of the outlaw Federal League. He asked and was granted a three-year, $24,000 contract; though, he never assumed the post. He did however accept the position of president of the International League in January 1919. He kept it until being ousted in December 1920.

    (The whole Federal League thing was a farce. Fultz had initiated a libel suit against Sporting Life magazine for its zealous efforts in trashing the Fraternity. They planted the Federal League presidency story to try to further label Fultz.)


    A former ballplayer and a lawyer residing in one of the chief baseball territories, New York, Fultz was occasionally sought for advice from players. About 1910, some players took their gripes to Fultz about their plight in trying to negotiate and work within the framework of the contract designed by and for Major League Baseball. Basically, the men were reiterating the problems which had plagued professional ballplayers since at least the advent of the reserve clause and other collusion-based treatment from club owners.

    By 1911, Fultz was touring Western League clubs trying to drum up supported for his new creation, the Fraternity of Baseball Players. When Ty Cobb was suspended in May 1912 for fighting with a fan, his teammates rebelled and sat out a game – MLB baseball's first general strike. Fultz quickly inserted himself in the dispute and unilaterally crowned himself as president of the new players’ union (though he repeatedly denied that it was in fact a union). Other noted early leaders of the Fraternity included Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Mickey Doolan and Jake Daubert.

    The new players’ union was formally chartered on September 6, 1912 and was administered from Fultz’ law office. In 1912 the membership included about 300. The goals of the organization were basically the same of every other union through history - to assist with:
    -disagreements about reserve matters
    -disagreements about ill treatment of ballplayers by club executives
    -better contract terms

    It should be noted though that Fultz was no radical. He supported the basic organizational structure of the game and was an ambivalent adherent of the reserve clause. They union was also not concerned with establishing a pension plan.

    By 1914, the union, now with a membership of 1,100 (many of them minor leaguers), gained significant leverage with the emergence of the outlaw Federal League, which saw itself as a third major league. The pair gave MLB a persistent and significant headache. Throughout the existence of the union, Fultz continually spared with major and minor league leaders.

    Throughout the Federal League era, major league executives were constantly threatening ballplayers with banishment for jumping to the new league. Fultz stood his ground threatening back and soothing the players that all would be well and that he would force major league executives to live up to their multi-year contracts and grant full reinstatement to all who jumped. With these assurances, union membership rose to over 1,200 by the end of 1916.

    However, with the decline of the Federal League Fultz and the union lost much of their negotiation power. In 1914 Fultz though negotiated the “Cincinnati Agreement” with the National Commission and the minor league executive board. It provided players with measures of protection in regards to many of their gripes. This was a clear effort by MLB to appease the ballplayers during the Federal League difficulties. However, the majors soon began ignoring the Cincinnati Agreement and by 1916 openly reneged on it.

    Fultz also took up many minor league issues. In particular, he wanted clubs to pay for all travel and meal expenses from a player’s home to the spring training site. He failed to gain a concession here in 1916, sparking a good deal of animosity. Fultz also took up many individual cases in an effort to change the system as a whole. By contract, owners were permitted to dispose of injured ballplayers after paying them fifteen days worth of salary. Fultz gained a concession in 1916 that all injured players would be paid throughout their contracts.

    With the demise of the Federal League Ban Johnson and other executives stepped up their aggressive attitude towards Fultz and the union. They openly reneged on many previously agreed to contract clause, particularly the 15-day injury payment. Near the end of 1916, Fultz issued a set of demands to baseball executives. In January 1917 the National Commission rejected most of them. National League president John Tener then announced that the National Commission would no longer hear appeals from the Fraternity.

    Fultz applied for membership to the American Federation of Labor. Major League Baseball countered by declaring that they would no longer deal with the Fraternity as a whole (only individual players) and would no longer deal with Fultz.

    Fultz gained support of many players and called for a general strike on February 20, 1917. Fultz though was losing support of the AFL and of many of the players. A week before the deadline the National Commission formally revoked the Cincinnati Agreement. Fultz blinked and released the players from their strike pledge. With that the union eventually disintegrated.


    Fultz passed the New York bar in February 1905. He immediately opened an office at 295 Broadway in New York City with his partner Fred Murphy (Murphy & Fultz), a former Brown football teammate. Both Murphy and Fultz lived at the residence of Murphy’s father John Murphy (per the 1910 U.S. Census).

    On August 5, 1915 Fultz was married to 25-year-old Ida Marjorie (called Marjorie, born in July 1890) Verlin from Norfolk, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Louis Verlin from Denmark and Theresa A. Verlin from Norway. The Fultzes had no children.

    In July 1918 Fultz enlisted in the U.S. Aviation Corps. A first lieutenant, he was instantly made Physical and Athletic Director of the Aviation Corps. Though the armistice was soon to be signed, Fultz trained to fly planes stateside at Mineola on Long Island.

    In 1935 he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for assemblyman from the Flatbush district of Brooklyn. Eventually moving his law practice to 165 Broadway in Wall Street, Fultz retired at age in 1947. He moved to DeLand, Florida, near Daytona Beach in Volusia County, buying the estate of DeLand founder (1876) Henry A. De Land, an old-time New York baking soda industrialist. Fultz died in DeLand on October 29, 1959 at age 84.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 05-23-2008, 08:23 AM.

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