SABR

Lefty Jamerson

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

Charles Jamerson came to the Boston Red Sox at the age of 24, in 1924, having played semipro baseball and professional football for the Milwaukee Badgers. The left-hander was signed by team owner/president Bob Quinn and reported to Boston on August 15. He’d been coaching that summer at Johnson City, Tennessee, and had pitched some for the Appalachian League team in Johnson City.[1] He was a 6-foot tall, 190-pound lefthander. He got into a game the very next day.

The St. Louis Browns were visiting Boston and took two from the Red Sox, 10-2 and 6-4. Jamerson came in during the first game, with the Red Sox already behind St. Louis, 8-2. George Murray had started for Boston and Curt Fullerton relieved him. It was just a little mop-up work in a game that was pretty much over. Jamerson – who went by the nickname Lefty – walked three and gave up one hit, allowing two earned runs. Bobby Veach pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the ninth.

In a day when college graduates were rare among ballplayers, Jamerson was called “the young collegian” (though he was 24 when he made his brief debut). He had lettered in baseball and football at the University of Arkansas, and graduated in 1922. He was born in Illinois, in Enfield on January 26, 1900, and his family moved to Clarendon, Arkansas, when he was young. He went through the public schools in Clarendon, graduating from high school in 1918, and went to the university for his bachelor of arts degree.

Like most male students at the university, Jamerson signed up to be in the Student Army Training Corps (in effect, junior ROTC).[2] When he registered for the draft, he indicated that he was working as a “button cutter” for the Clarendon Pearl Button Co. and gave Hattie Jamerson as his closest relative. [3] The war ended before his freshman year was done. On graduation, he became an instructor in athletics, and while working at the summer camp for boys in Johnson City he was spotted by a Red Sox scout when he pitched for the local Johnson City Soldiers.

Jamerson stuck with the Red Sox for at least three weeks after his one outing, but had to leave before the season was out in order to report for work as an athletic instructor at a school somewhere in the South.[4]

The following February, Jamerson was brought to Hot Springs but had some tough competition in spring training, being just one of numerous pitchers trying out for the 1925 team (Oscar Fuhr, Rudy Kallio, Joe Kiefer, Joe Lucey, Pay Noonan, Charles “Red” Ruffing, John Schelberg, Harold Sherman, Louis Temple, Hal Wiltse, Ted Wingfield, and John Woods). Most of them made it to the majors, though for most it was but a brief stay.

Jamerson seemed to offer promise, and the March 17 Boston Globe noted that manager Lee Fohl was spending extra time working with him on his footwork at the end of his delivery. “Jamerson Looks Good” read the subhead. The “big Memphis boy” was still with the team until the day before it broke to head north.[5] Jamerson was among the players designated for Louisville, but was still with the Boston team when it played an April 12 exhibition game in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was only on May 29 that he was released on option to Chattanooga.[6]

Jamerson never made it back. He played for Pittsfield in 1925 and had a 2-2 record in five games, 35 innings, and a 2.06 earned-run average.

In 1926 Jamerson played for both the Pittsfield Hillies and the Hartford Senators in the Eastern League, 231 innings in all with a combined record of 13-15 and a 3.62 ERA. There were some ups and downs. He threw a brilliant 11-inning one-hitter for Pittsfield on May 15, a 1-0 win over Waterbury. He was sent to Hartford under option in mid-June. On August 28 the “Hillie castoff” had a no-hitter against Waterbury through 8 2/3 innings, but “the smiling schoolmaster” had to settle for a two-hit shutout. Three days later, on the last day of the month, the Brasscos (Waterbury) bombed him for eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.[7] 

Aware of Lefty’s football background, some sportswriters called his pitching “forward passes.”[8] Later that year Jamerson played in the Connecticut capital as a left end and appeared in three early-season games for the National Football League’s Hartford Blues.[9] He was given his release on October 3.[10]

Jamerson held out in April 1927, but came to terms with the Hillies again and reappeared in camp on April 14. He was “ineffective” on April 26 and was knocked out of the box on May 7, and on May 17 he was purchased by the Western League’s Des Moines Demons. In 1927 he was 1-3 for the Demons, appearing in 11 games. By year’s end, after the season and after some dealing we’ve been unable to trace, Jamerson was property of the Memphis Chickasaws of the Southern Association.

In early April 1928 the Hartford Senators acquired the left-hander from Memphis and on May 5 he was back in Bulkeley Stadium pitching for Hartford. He was beaten by the Brasscos, 5-3, that day but by June he was on the mound pitching the rest of the season for Waterbury.

After the 1928 season the Brasscos ceased being a franchise in the Eastern League, their place taken by the Allentown Dukes. The March 5, 1929, Courant reported that Jamerson was being taken to spring training. He doesn’t seem to have pitched for Allentown, though. Someone with the surname Jamerson did put up a 3-3 record for Manchester and Portland in the New England League, with a 2.97 earned-run average.

We find no further trace of Jamerson in baseball records. Lefty Jamerson apparently didn’t quite have what it took, even to pitch for the perennially last-place Red Sox of the 1920s.

We’re also not entirely sure what his career path was after baseball, whether he worked more in athletic instruction or not. We do know that he married Mayme Griggs Barnes in 1935, and they had at least one child, a daughter named Jo. In 1960 he completed a questionnaire for the Baseball Hall of Fame and give his then-current occupation as personnel manager for Erwin Mills of Colleemee, North Carolina, a cotton mill specializing in denim. Jamerson died of cancer in nearby Mocksville on August 4, 1980, at the age of 80.

August 16, 2011




[1] Boston Globe, August 16, 1924. The August 17 Washington Post reported that Jamerson had played football for Bo McMillan’s Milwaukee Badgers.

[2] The University of Arkansas website reports, “When the United States enters the World War I, a Student Army Training Corps is organized to supply college trained officers, and practically all the male students are in the army.”

[3] Attempts to trace Jamerson’s family through census records were not fruitful. The draft registration form is found via Ancestry.com.

[4] Boston Globe, February 25, 1925

[5] Boston Globe, March 31, 1925

[6] Boston Globe, May 30,,1925

[7] Hartford Courant, August 29 and September 1, 1926

[8] Hartford Courant, September 15, 1926

[9] www.pro-football-reference.com

[10] Hartford Courant, October 4, 1926

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