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Thomas Lonergan of St. Louis, baseball historian

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  • Thomas Lonergan of St. Louis, baseball historian

    I'm seekng the DOB and DOD of (and, if possible, a photo, and a bit of biographical information on) Thomas Lonergan, an early baseball historian based in St. Louis. I don't know if he was associated the Sporting News (the SN Website doesn't have a contact or queries feature). His name is often misspelled "Lonegran" and even "Lonergran."

    I already asked the Giamatti Library, and they have no file on him.

    This is wanted for a biography of William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy (1862-1961).

  • #2
    Originally posted by Hoyfan View Post
    I'm seekng the DOB and DOD of (and, if possible, a photo, and a bit of biographical information on) Thomas Lonergan, an early baseball historian based in St. Louis. I don't know if he was associated the Sporting News (the SN Website doesn't have a contact or queries feature). His name is often misspelled "Lonegran" and even "Lonergran."

    I already asked the Giamatti Library, and they have no file on him.

    This is wanted for a biography of William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy (1862-1961).
    There may be a better source here.
    Ask Bill/William Burgess. If he hasn't found it, I'd doubt if the guy existed.
    Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
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    • #3
      Thanks for the suggestion, which I've followed through on.

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      • #4
        Thomas Lonergan---This may or may not be the correct person. He is the only one listed in the Social Security Death Index from St. Louis.

        Born: April 8, 1881
        Died: February 20, 1972, St. Louis, MO, age 90

        Here is a letter, printed in the Hartford Courant, by sports writer, John Lardner (son of famed Ring Lardner), while he was on assignment as a war correspondent during WWII. It was published by the Hartford Courant, June 13, 1943.

        Baseball Fanatic Keeps Scribe Posted by Mail: Lardner Turns War Correspondent but 'International Slim' Keeps in Touch with him to exploit themes on baseball history

        New York, June 12,--(NANA.)--During the Tunisian campaign I got two letters from a certain Thomas Lonergan, a Spanish-American War veteran and former professional hobo (under the nom de rond of International Slim). They were written in longhand in pencil, like all the letters I have received from International Slim over the last five years, and averaged about 10 pages of ruled writing paper each.

        One of them came the day before Bizerte fell, after we got back from an afternoon of probing the roads around Mateur under occasional German shellfire. It had reached North Africa by convoy and was flown from Algiers to the front, with the rest of our mail, at some risk, by the Army courier service. It began:

        "Dear John--When Jim Collins died in Buffalo a report out of Buffalo had it that he was the first third baseman who played off of the bag. (Imagine a man standing on 3d base waiting for the ball to be hit to him). As long as I remember, 54 years of major baseball, I never saw the 3d baseman play his position any different than as of today."

        From that point on Mr. Lonergan exploited his theme fully, with names, dates, and references, before turning to the subject of when and where the home team in baseball formed the custom of taking the last turn at bat in each inning.

        . . . As I say, Mr. Lonergan is a Spanish War veteran. In St. Louis, where he has elected to spend the ? of his life with his records, clippings, and memories, he gets his war pension once a month. He devotes a week to spending the money among the taverns of his neighborhood.

        . . . He has terrorized most of the St. Louis baseball writers and sports columnists. Whenever they go back into baseball history, or draw some specious conclusion about the game, Mr. Lonergan leaps into action with his lead pencil and tells them in ten pages how wrong they are. When they fail to print his letters, he writes to me to expose their iniquity. By now the retired hobo has the situation well in hand. St. Louis sports writers are noticeably more subdued than they were ten years ago.

        . . . He is a very single-minded man, Mr. Lonergan, and very well thought of in North Africa.
        ----------------------------------------
        So, we know that Mr. Lonergan was still alive by June 13, 1943. The Missouri Death Certificates index, from 1910-1960 lists 2 other possibilities.

        Thomas J. Lonergan died in St. Louis, September 26, 1951. Born St. Louis, September 16, 1882. Was married to Virginia, was insurance agent, committed suicide.

        Thomas David Lonergan died in St. Louis, April 10, 1960; born July 8, 1885, St. Louis, worked for railroad, wife Fannie Lonergan, died broncho pneumonia from arterio sclerosis.
        -------------------------------------------
        I milked my various databases hard. Ancestry.com, Proquest, newspapers, etc. Apparently, our Mr. Lonegan is proving quite elusive. I'm sorry. I just can't find him with any degree of authoritative certainly. My profuse apologies. I hit my sources pretty hard. About 2 hours worth. Did good exhaustive search of St. Louis online databases.
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-21-2011, 11:11 AM.

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        • #5
          why did Thomas J Lonergan commit suicide?

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          • #6
            I think he was very sick.

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            • #7
              Dummy Hoy, in 3 assorted sizes, photoshopped by me, of course.
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                It sounds as though Mr. Lonergan was a man born before his time. Give him access to some full-text databases, and who knows what he might have accomplished.

                This part was a little frustrating to me, though...


                Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                ...before turning to the subject of when and where the home team in baseball formed the custom of taking the last turn at bat in each inning...
                .. I know perfectly well that Jimmy Collins was not the first third baseman to play away from the bag, but I actually have just been wondering when the last time was that a team chose to bat first, and I wish Lardner had gone into a little detail about that.
                “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

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                • #9
                  Good, even fantastic, stuff . . . and thank you so much!

                  The familiar image of Dummy Hoy posing with bat and base in a Washington, D.C. studio is from the "Old Judge" N172 series, from his rookie year in the majors, with the Washington Senators. It's the best-known of five different poses (the others show Hoy batting, throwing, pretending to catch a fly ball, and squatting to capture an imaginary ground ball) that were part of the Old Judge series. Can anyone confirm that the "W" and stockings were dark blue?

                  As for Thomas Lonergan, thanks, Bill . . . the scanty bit of information I have on him accords with what you've found. This is the quote in question:

                  *******************************************

                  Some years ago, The Detroit News’ famous baseball journalist, H. G. Salsinger—quoting a St. Louis diamond historian, Thomas Lonergan, wrote of Hoy as follows:

                  “If you happened to ask a baseball fan of the last 35 years to name the player with the most inside baseball knowledge, the chances are that he would answer. ‘Johnny Evers.’

                  “Now, Evers’ reputation for inside baseball is built upon one play, late in the season of 1908, when he noticed that Fred Merkle failed to touch second base and cost New York the pennant.
                  “That one play stands out in baseball, but what of a man who practiced inside baseball for 18 years and whose name is unknown to the modern generation baseball followers?


                  “Such a man was William E. Hoy, the brainiest ball player I ever saw. He played centerfield for the St. Louis Browns in 1890, in the American Association. . . .

                  “Every time I had the opportunity to see Hoy play, I took advantage of it. Later, when Hoy played for Washington, in 1892, in a game against his old teammates, the Browns, Hoy hit a line drive into left field. Cliff Carroll, Brown outfielder, got his hands on the ball, juggled it, and it dropped into his shirt pocket, the umpire calling Hoy out. Washington lost the game and promptly filed a protest against the Browns, with the League President. The result was that pockets in shirts were ruled out—a ruling which is still in effect.

                  “Hoy was as swift as a panther in the field. I have seen balls hit for singles that would have been doubles or triples with other players fielding them. With men on bases, Hoy never threw to the wrong spot. No player ever returned a ball faster from the outfield. Hoy was a Cobb on the bases. I never saw him picked off base. He led the National League in base-stealing in 1888. Hoy, a deaf mute, didn’t bother about coaches. He did his base-running on his own. There’ll never be another like him."

                  *******************************************

                  This passage first made its appearance—as far as I've been able to determine—in the ditttographed syllabus prepared and distributed by Hoy's nephew, Paul Hoy Helms (who founded both the Helms Bakery and the Helms Athletic Foundation and Hall of Fame), distributed, evidently to BWAA members, in `51 or 1952, thereabouts. The quote was attributed to H. G. Salsinger (who's well represented in "Meet the Sports Writers (and thank you again, Mr. Burgess!), who was in turn quoting Thomas J. Lonergran.

                  Subsequent requotings of the passage have usually misspelled Lonergan's name. I was wondering if it might be possible to trace it to its origin. Perhaps not, but the information you've given me assuredly helps.

                  The Lonergan quote suggests that he actually saw Hoy play, which he could have done bin 1891, hen Hoy was with the St. Louis Browns, during the last year of the American Association, and well before the Spanish-American War . . . if it is indeed the same chap.

                  Incidentally, Ring Lardner didn't mention Hoy in any of his works, but did mention Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor in three stories, in a jibing way.

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                  • #10
                    The Carroll incident was fairly widely reported at the time, although I have never seen a game account or detailed retelling, nor have I read the batter's name, and what I know about it doesn't entirely seem to fit with what Lonergan writes. But the Browns' owner Chris Von der Ahe fined Carroll for the play, with the result that Carroll jumped the team on September 16, 1892. He did not play for the Browns again and was traded to Boston the following winter.

                    St. Louis played Philadelphia on September 16, but they had lost at Washington the previous day, the only runs of the day being a couple scored in the sixth inning. So it may well be that Hoy was the batter. However, if the umpire's call had gone the way Lonergan says it did, it's hard to imagine that Von der Ahe would have fined Carroll.
                    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

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                    • #11
                      In the unlikely event anybody else still cares about this, I have done a little more digging and found my source (which was reporting from a distance of several months) was in error, and Hoy almost certainly cannot have been the batter involved. The Brooklyn Eagle of September 2, 1892 reports that Carroll had jumped the club the previous day, which was payday when he found that he had been docked $50 for letting the ball get into his shirt. The Eagle says the play occurred on August 17 and the batter was Darby O'Brien of Brooklyn.

                      I still haven't found a game account that describes the incident, but it obviously couldn't have happened on September 15 and must have occurred during the second half of August, since the payday deduction precipitated Carroll's jumping the club and paydays were bimonthly. Washington did play a series in St. Louis from August 28 to August 30, but it's hardly likely the Eagle would have been so far off if the incident had occurred just a few days earlier. And aside from the fact that the Eagle says O'Brien reached third on the play, as I said earlier, had the umpire's original decision gone in the Browns' favor as Lonergan suggests, it's difficult to imagine Von der Ahe fining Carroll in the first place.

                      All in all, I have to say that, judging by Lardner's article, Lonergan himself would have been very tough on anybody who garbled a story the way he did this one.
                      “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

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