Rather uncouth? Bill Mundy had a relatively short baseball career. He was a left-handed first baseman who played 16 games in the major leagues, all in 1913 for the Boston Red Sox. Though first base is a position that requires a lot of active fielding, it still was no doubt dismaying to manager Bill Carrigan to have his late-season backup first baseman commit seven errors in 14 games in the field.
The Red Sox were coming off a world championship season (1912) and struggling. There was a bit of turmoil in midseason, when co-owner Jimmy McAleer relieved manager Jake Stahl of his position. Stahl had been the first baseman of the 1912 team, but played in only two games in 1913, turning over first-base duties to Clyde “Hack” Engle, who worked in 143 games. Sporting Life commented, “Mundy, another unknown first-sacker, has been given a try at Engle’s job and, while rather uncouth, has all the earmarks of a comer.”i There was no explanation of the comment.
Mundy had been playing for the Portsmouth Pirates in the Class C Virginia League. He’d been an outfielder for an unknown team in the Three-I League before being released to Portsmouth in April 1912.ii He does not show up in such team statistics as are available for 1912, but in 1913 with Portsmouth he played first base and hit for a .293 average with six homers, nine triples, and 22 doubles.
On August 9, 1913, the Red Sox announced that Mundy had been purchased from the Portsmouth ballclub for immediate delivery to the Boston Red Sox. The Boston Globe informed readers that, oddly, “Pres. McAleer knew nothing of the history of Mundy, who was signed by scout Charley Farrell, the club being notified of this fact yesterday.”iii
Mundy played in his first game for the Red Sox on August 17, in St. Louis. It was a good deal for Portsmouth; the club hadn’t made any money on operations during the season, but sold off three of its players (Mundy, Ernie Herbert, and John Verbout) for enough money to benefit the ballclub.iv
On the 17th Mundy batted second in the Red Sox lineup and was 1-for-3, though he was batted for in the eighth inning. A 2-for-3 game on August 26 saw him score a run in a 7-6 victory over the Tigers in Detroit. He seemed to do reasonably well as a batter, and a couple of weeks before the season was over, Sporting Life foresaw a role for him in 1914: “Whenever he has a chance to do so Manager Carrigan gives Mundy, the new first baseman, a try at first. This player, has created a very favorable impression and the chances are he will be retained next year.”v Had they not been fighting hard to finish in the first division (fourth place or better), Carrigan would likely have used Mundy more.
He hit .255 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Had he not gone 0-for-9 in his final two games, on October 3 and 4, his average would have been .316. The October 4 game, the last of the season, wasn’t a fully serious one, dubbed a “joke game” in the Boston Globe headline. Neither team was playing for a spot in the standings. Washington manager Clark Griffith put himself in the game as pitcher, something he did in the final games in four different years. Griffith also had catcher Jack Ryan appear in his one and only game of the year, for the second year in a row, and allowed infielder Germany Schaefer to fling some from the mound – then took him out and put in Walter Johnson, in turn pulling Johnson and putting Schaefer back in to pitch some more. Catcher Eddie Ainsmith was finally given his own turn pitching, and he induced the final popup – from Mundy, to Walter Johnson in center field, ending the farce.
In his 47 times at bat, Mundy – not doing himself any favors – struck out 12 times.
Mundy’s seven errors at first base hurt, leaving him with a .952 fielding percentage. He showed some good flashes, but was undercut at other times. Tim Murnane’s account of the September 11 game against the Tigers gives a feeling for how Mundy’s work was seen: “Young Mundy made some very clever plays at first, and then, again, seemed awkward and failed to get into proper position to take the ball. Manager Carrigan has given this youngster a chance to show. In fact, this is Manager Bill’s strong suits – giving the new men a thorough trying out.” vi
Mundy’s inexperience may have shown in other ways, too. In the second game of a twin bill against the White Sox, with Boston batting in the bottom of the ninth and down 3-2, Hick Cady hit a two-out single and Mundy pinch-ran for him. He advanced to third base on Nunamaker’s single to right, but then, “owing to an open switch and a mixup in the signals, Mundy started from third with the Chicago players waiting for him with open arms and the game was over.”vii
Playing the visiting Athletics the next day, Mundy seemed to redeem himself with a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth, kicking off a four-run rally that closed the gap to 10-9, and he singled again to lead off the ninth, and then found himself on third base with one out, but was against nipped at home plate for the final out while trying to score on a fly ball into shallow left field. On September 29 he was cut down at the plate on an attempted double steal. The next day, he scored one run and drove in another, involved in two of Boston’s three runs while Earl Moseley two-hit the New York Highlanders.
After the 1913 season Mundy was seen as a prospect who might have a good chance to bloom in 1914. The November 1 Sporting Life named four Red Sox players “who probably will be big league stars next year,” naming Moseley, Leonard, Anderson, and Mundy.
On December 30, however, Mundy was released on option to the Worcester Busters (New England League). He began the 1914 season with Worcester, but in late June or early July was released to the Lewiston Cupids, another New England League team. For the most part, Mundy played right field. The string on him was still held by the Red Sox.viii Combined stats for the year show him batting .263.
In 1915 Mundy played again for Lewiston, and in 1916 he was on the roster of three teams: he played for both the Erie Sailors and the Bradford Drillers in the Class D Inter-State League, batting a combined .256, and he was at least on the roster of the Topeka Savages of the Western League, according his obituary in The Sporting News.ix At this point, he disappeared from the historical record of baseball.
Mundy had been born in Salineville, Ohio, on June 28, 1889, to Edward Mundy and Florence Hayes Mundy. Both were born in Ohio; both of Edward’s parents had come to the United States from England. Edward worked as a day laborer at the time of the 1900 census, and the eldest of their four children – Elizabeth, 17 – worked as a saleswoman for a dry-goods outlet. A decade later, Edward was working in East Liverpool, Ohio, in a pottery listed as what appears to be a ship maker.
Bill Mundy seems to have turned to similar work right after baseball; when he registered for the draft in the World War he indicated that he worked as a potter in Newell, West Virginia, for what is today the Homer Laughlin China Co. He enlisted in the US Army on September 3, 1918, at Wellsville, Ohio and served a little under three months in the 162nd Depot Brigade before receiving an honorable discharge as a private on November 29. He worked in a pottery in East Liverpool at the time of the 1920 census and had married by that time. In 1930, he is found living in Wellsville, working as a “steelman” at the Crucible Steel Co. mill in Midland, Pennsylvania, less than 15 miles from his home. Bill and his wife, Lula, had two daughters, Ethel and Marjorie.
After baseball, and after the war, Mundy took up work as a millwright with Crucible Steel, a position from which he retired in 1955. His wife, Lula, preceded him in death. He himself died on September 23, 1958, while visiting his daughter, Ethel Zahrndt in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the immediate cause being pneumonia but while undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Mundy’s player file from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com.
iSporting Life, August 23, 1913.
ii Sporting Life, April 27, 1912.
iii Boston Globe, August 10, 1913.
iv Sporting Life, October 11, 1913.
v Sporting Life, September 29, 1913.
vi Boston Globe, September 12, 1913.
vii Boston Globe, September 24, 1913.
viii Sporting Life, July 4, 1914.
ix The Sporting News, October 1, 1958.