SABR

Frank Barberich

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

Frank Barberich pitched in two games for Boston’s National League team in 1907, and he pitched in two games for Boston’s American League team in 1910. He was 1-1 for the 1907 Doves and 0-0 for the 1910 Red Sox. In the minor leagues, he was 93-81 over eight seasons of play.

It’s easy to understand why the Doves sought Barberich out. In his first year of pro ball, he won 17 games for the New England League’s 1906 Lawrence Colts and he won 16 in 1907. That earned him a shot in the majors in September.

Barberich was a second-generation American, born on February 3, 1882, in New Town, New York, a section of Queens in New York City. All four of his grandparents were German, though both his father, Jacob, and mother, Barbara, were New Yorkers by birth. At the time of the 1900 census, Jacob Barberich was a day laborer and must have had a bit of a hard time providing for a family that numbered eight children. Frank was the fourth child in the sequence.

There were two other Barberiches who played baseball during his time – George Barberich, who played for Hamilton in the Canadian League in 1911, and Robert, who pitched for New London (Eastern Association) in 1914. Frank did have a younger brother, George, who would have been 24 in 1911, and George’s middle name was Jacob (perhaps in honor of his father) but while there’s every possibility they could have been brothers, we have been unable to determine this one way or another. After he married, Frank had two sons, the first being Frank Jr. and the second being named Robert – perhaps after an older relative, but again we have been unable to trace a connection.

Frank attended parochial school for six years and then made his way into the world. He played semipro ball at least as early as 1904, pitching for the Cedar Base Ball Club. An account of a game he played against the Pearsall Athletic Club, a game he lost, 6-5, is found in the June 14, 1904, Jersey Journal, a newspaper in Jersey City. The Cedars team was touted as “the champions from northern New York” in a 1905 reference. Barberich beat Hoboken in the Bronx (which we take to be northern New York – New York City, that is – in this case), with a 4-2 two-hitter. The game drew 3,000 spectators.i He apparently pitched for the Hopewell team at some point in 1905 as well.ii That was a good crowd for the Cedars/Hoboken game, but in Havana – Barberich said – “it was nothing to get 10,000 people on a fair day.”iii

He played in Cuba in the winter of 1904-05 as part of the American Series. Listed as part of the All-Americans, meant to be the players representing the American League, Barberich joined a team that featured Brooklyn’s Jack Doscher, Washington’s Howard Wilson, and an “F. Deember” from the Eastern League. Barberich is listed as representing the St. Louis Browns. He seems to have beaten Azul in a 6-5 game, and beaten Habana twice, 6-1 and 8-7, losing once in a 5-0 shutout.iv What he had to do with the Browns – if anything – remains unclear.

The first notice we find for Barberich playing in “organized baseball” comments on his batting, with two hits described as “timely batting” that helped the 1906 Lawrence team beat Worcester 5-2 on May 10 at Lawrence.v He earned a headline in the Boston Globe on June 29 – “Not A Hit in Nine Innings; Barberich Shuts Out the Fall River Boys” – when he threw a 4-0 no-hitter with only one error preventing him from recording a perfect game. It was also a home game, on June 28. A game on July 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire, wasn’t as pretty a game, and Barberich didn’t get in the Globe headline, but he pitched from behind and tied the game in the top of the ninth with a clean hit of his own, then held Manchester scoreless through the 16th inning to win, 6-4.

Lawrence and Manchester battled to a 3-3 tie in 12 innings on August 27, Barberich again going the distance. He threw a 4-0 six-hitter against Lynn on September 5. He was earning some attention. The Boston Herald wrote, “Some think that Barberich of the Lawrences is as good as there is in the New England League.”vi Sporting Life agreed, writing, “It is said that Barberich, the rising young pitcher of the Lawrence Club, will play with Brooklyn next season. He is about as good a man as there is in the New England League.”vii

Lawrence finished in third place in the New England League, and that Barberich hadn’t been drafted by a higher-classification team surprised some.viii On November 22, 1906, he married Barbara Zahnleiter.

In 1907 Barberich he had success early on, beating Lynn 2-0 on May 8 while allowing just one hit. It was the second one-hitter he’d thrown in a week, having beaten Brockton a week earlier.ix Two hits and no runs in 18 innings, but it couldn’t last. He was pounded, 7-1, in his next outing.

It was his fate to be pitching for a last-place Lawrence team that put up a 40-74 season in 1907. Barberich was 16-14, and that was good enough to earn him an invite from the Boston Doves. Team owner George B. Dovey signed him up on August 17 for delivery on September 9, after the New England League season.x “Boston has also secured another very likely man in Frank Barberich, the splendid pitcher of the Lawrence Club,” wrote Sporting Life, “who has been a mainstay of that club for two seasons past. Barberich hails from the Bronx, is cool, has a good head and good curves.”xi

Barberich first appeared in a major-league game on September 17, 1907, facing the New York Giants for Boston manager Fred Tenney at the Columbus Avenue grounds in Boston. Both Barberich and Tenney must have savored the next day’s Boston Globe headline: “Barberich, Pitching for the Boston Nationals, Wins Against Mathewson.” It was a 6-3 game and Barberich pitched from behind until the bottom of the seventh when the Doves scored five runs. “He went the distance without turning a hair. … (H)e was continually on the mark, paying little attention to a strikeout record, but working his man in superb style. With first-class support, the visitors would have scored only one run against him,” the Globe wrote.xii There were three Boston errors (one of them by Barberich himself, which cost the Doves a run) and Barberich had been reached for 11 hits, but he scattered them well enough. Mathewson struck out five, but Barberich didn’t strike out any. The “fair-haired pitcher from the little old New England League … received a flattering ovation from the fans after the game,” the Globe said.xiii The Herald added, “He was cool, he had good command and he was full of business from first to last.”xiv

Starting the September 23 game in Cincinnati, Barberich didn’t fare well at all. He gave up two runs in the second and three in the third, and was knocked out of the box in the fourth after giving up two more. Again, errors cost him some runs, Sweeney’s throw leading directly to two of the runs in the third inning, but Barberich was clearly not on his game. Boston lost, 11-6. He did record what proved to be the only strikeout of his major-league career.

Barberich returned to the New England League in 1908, pitching for Jesse Burkett’s Worcester Busters. Worcester won the pennant, for the third year in a row, in good parts thanks to two 24-game winners: Barberich (24-13) and Walt Leverenz (24-8).

The Eastern League’s Providence Grays drafted Barberich in the October 19 draft and became Barberich’s home team for the 1909 and 1910 seasons. He was a 20-game winner again in 1909, going 20-11 for the Grays, Hugh Duffy’s team, which came in third in the Eastern League. (Worcester won a fourth consecutive New England League pennant in 1909.) On July 15, 1909, the Boston Red Sox traded an unnamed player and some cash to Providence and secured the rights to Barberich’s contract as of October 1.xv

In January 1910 Boston Red Sox manager Patsy Donovan formally signed Barberich for that year’s campaign. He pitched in two games, both of them in relief efforts during blowouts. The first came on May 6. Ed Karger started the game and Charley Hall pitched next. Barberich was third. None of them had good support; the Red Sox committed five errors, and lost to New York, 11-0 in a game the Boston Journal said was characterized by some “sleepy baseball” on the part of the boys from Boston. Barberich threw the final three innings and gave up three runs (all in the top of the ninth) on three hits, and he walked one.

His only other time to take the mound for the Red Sox was on June 16 in Detroit. Frank Arellanes started and after six innings the score stood 9-3. Barberich pitched the last two innings and gave up three runs on four hits and a base on balls. There were nine Boston errors in the game, which ended 12-3. The June 25 Pawtucket Times reported that Barberich had been returned to Providence. He didn’t fare well for the Grays this time, going 5-12. In 1910 Providence finished dead last in the Eastern League.

After the season, there was word that Boston was going to give Barberich another shot in 1911, but the Red Sox dealt his contract to Montreal at a December 15 American League owners meeting in New York.xvi

There were “exceedingly numerous player shifts” in the International League in 1912. Barberich played for three different teams. A correspondent from Buffalo wrote that the Jerseys were the most active, but that “Montreal has also been compelled to dispose of many players to help out financially. Jerry Akers was sold to Rochester, Viebahn to Jersey City. ‘Chick’ Hartman and Frank Barberich to Newark. Curtis to Toronto, and ‘Chick’ Gandil to Washington.”xvii

Barberich began the season with Montreal. But a flurry of confusing transaction reports follow. He was reported to have been sold to Newark on May 20 for $500. He worked for Newark for a very short period of time and indeed appears in several Newark box scores in late May.xviii The New Orleans Item of May 29 reported that Montreal had sold Barberich to Indianapolis. In its June 12 issue, the Jersey Journal said that he’d been given his outright release by Newark so that they could add pitcher Bill Kay. Newark needed room on its 20-man roster. The June 17 Pawtucket Times reported that Barberich had signed with Providence, for the third time. He played out the rest of the season for the Grays. His available combined statistics, however, show him appearing in a total of only 12 games, with an 0-3 record.

Barberich hadn’t given up semipro work and is found pitching for Hoboken in an exhibition game against the Washington Nationals in early October.xix

We have no won-lost statistics at all for 1913, but show Barberich in 27 games for the New York State League’s Binghamton Bingoes and that he played for Binghamton again in 1914 but for an unknown number of games. On July 10 he pitched for New London in a game against New Britain, but broke the little finger on his left hand while turning a double play.xx On the 29th he threw a three-hitter and beat Hartford, 2-1. And the September 14 issue of the Hartford Courant shows Barberich posing in the team picture for the New London team, champion of the Eastern Association. He was 0-1 in the playoffs against Lawrence.

Barberich played for Manchester early in 1915 but was released. Syracuse expressed some interest in signing him, and he pitched in at least one game for them. He’s next seen taking part in at least one New York area semipro game in 1915, for the Suburbans, losing 6-2 to the Lincoln Giants.xxi

His playing career was pretty much over. In 1918, when he registered for the draft during the First World War, he said he was working installing signals for the IRT rapid-transit in New York City. At the time of the 1920 census, he gave his occupation as signalman for the subway. He was living in Queens at the time with his wife, Barbara, and their three children, Frank, 12; Robert, 10; and Virginia, 2½.

Barberich shows up in neither the 1930 nor 1940 censuses. He died on May 1, 1965 in Ocala, Florida, of a thrombosis, or blood clot. His occupation was listed as Retired – Pitcher Boston Red Sox, apparently a matter in which he had taken pride despite his time with the team being only for two games.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Barberich’s player file and player questionnaire from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com.

 

Notes

i Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey), April 3, 1905.

ii Trenton (New Jersey) Evening Times, May 4, 1906.

iii Sporting Life, July 28, 1906.

iv Jorge Figueredo, Cuban Baseball, A Statistical History, 1878-1961 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2003), 55, 56.

v Boston Globe, May 11, 1906.

vi Boston Herald, September 7, 1906.

vii Sporting Life, September 22, 1906.

viii See the Boston Herald, December 7, 1906.

ix Boston Globe, May 8, 1907.

x Boston Herald, August 18, 1907.

xi Sporting Life, August 31, 1907.

xii Boston Globe, September 18, 1907.

xiii Ibid.

xiv Boston Herald, September 18, 1907.

xv Boston Journal, July 16, 1909. The Jersey Journal of Jersey City, New Jersey, said that the price was understood to be $4,000 and two players.

xvi Pawtucket Times, December 16, 1910.

xvii Sporting Life, August 31, 1912.

xviii Pawtucket Times, May 20, 1912. The purchase price was reported in the June 11 Jersey Journal.

xix Washington Post, October 7, 1912.

xx Hartford Courant, July 11, 1914.

xxi Chicago Defender, August 21, 1915.

Individual Memberships start at just $45/year

Become A Member Today

When you join SABR you are making a statement of support for baseball history. You are joining a worldwide community of people who love to read about, talk about and write about baseball.