SABR

Jack Bushelman

This article was written by Craig Lammers.

Sometimes the best deals are those that aren’t made. In the spring of 1908, Boston was so impressed by a pitcher they faced in an exhibition game at Toledo they offered the Mud Hens $5,000 for him. Toledo Manager Bill Armour asked a reported $7,000 for the contract of Jack Bushelman - so he remained a member of the Mud Hens. Between that spring afternoon, and Boston’s acquisition of Bushelman late in the 1911 season, the right hander pitched for nine different teams and was at least briefly the property of two others.

Henry Bushelman immigrated to the United States from the Oldenberg region of Germany. Like many German immigrants in the mid 19th century, he settled in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Henry married Mary Hoggins, an Irish immigrant. On March 17, 1855, their first child John H. Bushelman was born in Covington, Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati. John H. Bushelman married in 1879 and settled on the Ohio side of the river, working as a gardener, a dairy farmer, and later as a teamster. On August 29, 1885, a son, John Francis Bushelman was born. i

Jack Bushelman grew up in Avondale and then St. Bernard, Ohio both suburbs of Cincinnati now but separate villages a century ago. John Bushelman opened a sand company and the family appears to have been fairly well off financially. Jack graduated from high school and attended the University of Cincinnati where he majored in Civil Engineering and starred as a pitcher on the baseball team. Bushelman would be the second University of Cincinnati athlete to reach the major leagues. The first was Miller Huggins.

Jack also played semipro ball, and was already regarded as a promising but inconsistent player. Just how inconsistent was later described by one of his early managers: “Jack was certainly the best youngster I ever saw, his one weakness was wildness. After pitching a fine game against the Shamrocks, striking out seven of the first nine men who faced him, I decided he would do. I took him to Middletown with the Cincinnatus club to play Miller’s Middletown club. For the first four innings, the batters could not knock the ball out of the diamond, because Jack wouldn’t let them come within a mile of the ball. He gave eight bases on balls.” ii

In the fall of 1905, Jack Bushelman signed his first professional contract with Cedar Rapids, Iowa of the Class B Illinois-Indiana-Iowa (Three-I) League. Cedar Rapids was managed by former major-league third baseman Belden Hill. Bushelman reported to Cedar Rapids in mid April of 1906. His first appearance for the Rabbits was in an exhibition game with Duluth. Pitching three innings in relief of starter Otis “Doc” Crandall, he surrendered three hits, struck out five, and walked one. It wouldn’t be his last appearance against the Minnesota team. A few days later he followed Russ Ford (another future major leaguer) in an exhibition win over Ottumwa. The Cedar Rapids Republican was impressed with his performance. “He has every ear mark of being a coming pitcher and the work he did yesterday gladdened the hearts of the fans.” iii He started the second game of the season for Cedar Rapids and was much less successful than he’d been in exhibition games. The Republican said: “Most of the poor work for Cedar Rapids was done by Bushelman. He should have won the game with ease but at two different times he went in the air and finally threw the game away.”iv He allowed five runs each in the second and ninth inning of the 12-11 loss. Two hits and a pair of stolen bases couldn’t save his place on the Rabbits roster, and he was soon sent to Grand Forks, North Dakota of the Northern Copper Country League. Cedar Rapids retained an option on his services.

The Northern Copper Country League had been formed that spring in a merger of the Northern and Copper Country Leagues. The new Class C league included four communities from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, plus Duluth, Grand Forks, Fargo, North Dakota, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Grand Forks Browns were the worst team in the league and fan support was sparse at best. On July 4, Bushelman lost to Winnipeg 9-2, allowing 15 hits, six earned runs, and throwing a pair of wild pitches. In his next start, also against Winnipeg, he was beaten 13-4, striking out six but walking seven. Despite the poor efforts, he must have impressed Winnipeg manager A.R. “Spike” Anderson. When Grand Forks disbanded on July 29, Winnipeg got the team’s two best players Bushelman and first baseman Fred Luderus, another future major leaguer.

The change of scenery helped Bushelman. The Manitoba Free Press commented on his debut, a 6-1 win over Lake Linden. “Bush as the fans soon dubbed the tall fellow [6’2”] was a trifle nervous at the start, but he soon settled down and had the ball singing over the pan in a manner most tantalizing to the Lake Linden sluggers.” v Bushelman lost five of his first eight starts with Winnipeg.

The Maroons closed the 1906 season with a home series against Fargo, and that series was pivotal to Bushelman’s baseball future. On August 27, he shut out Fargo on four hits. Three days later he beat them 9-2, but his third start in the Labor Day doubleheader was truly memorable. The Free Press said of the game: “Bushelman entered the mystic circle to which all pitchers aspire when he shut Fargo out without a hit in the morning game. [He] seemed to have everything at his command, and he had the Fargo men batting as if they were handcuffed.” vi The closest thing to a hit was a ground ball deflected by Bushelman and ruled an error.

After the regular season ended, the Maroons made a barnstorming tour of Alberta, playing series against Edmonton and Calgary and several smaller communities before returning home for a three-game series with Minneapolis of the American Association. Between starts and relief appearances Jack pitched in most of the games, including five of six games at one stretch. He started two of the three games against Minneapolis. The Free Press considered his pitching one of the highlights in the first game of the series. “The tall young pitcher was distinctly on his mettle and threw one of the best games seen here in a long time.” vii He allowed five hits, struck out four, and walked three in a 2-1 loss. Although he later spent parts of three seasons in the American Association, it may have been the best performance of his career against an A.A. team. Bushelman finished his first professional season with an 11-8 record in 22 appearances.

Jack Bushelman began and ended his 1907 season in much the same way as he had the previous year, but his season was still far from ordinary. Jack reported to Cedar Rapids in April. Again, his stay was brief. Cedar Rapids and Winnipeg were in a dispute over the pitcher’s ownership. Cedar Rapids’ claim was based on the fact they had optioned him to Grand Forks and the option should remain in effect even though the team disbanded. Winnipeg argued that fact made Bushelman a free agent since he hadn’t been recalled when Grand Forks dropped out.

Hill used Bushelman frequently during the Rabbits exhibition schedule, and he made a pair of starts for Cedar Rapids once the regular season began. He started and lost a 2-1 start to Clinton on May 9. Taken out after five innings, the Republican said Bushelman “was a bit unsteady, though he deserves the credit also for working his way out of some very tight places. [He] pitched a good game but needed a larger plate.” He walked two and struck out two. Bushelman made just one more appearance for Cedar Rapids losing at Springfield largely due to his own throwing error. Then he was forced to stop pitching until National Association President Thomas Farrell determined who he would be awarded to.

Winnipeg Manager Ed Herr was optimistic Bushelman would return to Winnipeg, and he was soon proven correct. When he was awarded to Winnipeg, the Free Press commented on his June 20 debut. “Winnipeg fans’ old friend Jack Bushelman who has been among the lost, strayed or stolen since ordered to leave Cedar Rapids and report here, finally turned up yesterday and was immediately assigned to duty in right field. He accepted his one fielding chance, but failed to do anything but remove large chunks of ozone on each visit to the batting station.”

The next day he lost his first start, but losses would be few and far between for Bushelman and the rest of the Winnipeg team in 1907. The team was already 22-13 and 4 ½ games ahead of second place Duluth. The Maroons had the rare distinction of winning every series on the season and leading the Northern Copper Country League pennant race every day but one. Francis Richter of Sporting Life said this was the first time it had been done in the minor leagues.

Jack got into the winning spirit in his second start shutting out Houghton. The Free Press offered colorful comment on his effort. “Bushelman was harder to find than a million-dollar job. He held the Solbraa [the Houghton manager] Sluggers down to two little hits and made nine of them hit where the ball wasn’t.” His next start was a Victoria Day shutout of Calumet and the Free Press was impressed with his effort despite six walks. “He was the real candy. Whenever danger threatened Bush tightened up like a society dame and Calumet never had a chance.” viii

Even when defeated in 1907, the setback for Bushelman was momentary. One of his few bad outings was a July loss to Houghton. The Free Press described the rematch:

“Jonathon Bushelman the prize bull pup of the northern kennels was on the mound in the matinee. Jonathon pitched against the Giants in the rain the other night and had his pet curves pushed and shoved in a most exasperating manner. He was glad of the chance to get back at the Giants again and he sure delivered the goods in neat parcels. Up to the ninth but one little single had been made off the big fellow, but he let up a little in the final round; and a couple of hits with an out gave the visitors their only run.” ix

He won that game 4-1 and beat Houghton again the next day 6-1. That wasn’t his last iron man performance. Just three days later he pitched and won both games of a doubleheader against Calumet. The four-win week improved his record to 9-4.

As with any successful team in the lower minors, there was talk of sales to teams either in the major or high minor leagues. Winnipeg was no exception. On August 5, the Free Press reported Bushelman’s sale to Toledo of the American Association. As with a majority of similar sales, Bushelman would not report to his new team until the following spring.

Meanwhile there was a pennant to be clinched, and Bushelman delivered. The Free Press said: “Any time the tribe of Herr can hit in a couple or three runs behind Bushelman you can generally bank on another boost in the percentage. He stacked up against a couple of healthy-looking full houses, but he always held the cards and raked in every jackpot. Eleven of the [Duluth] Sox died on the bases, creating a mad scramble among the undertakers.” x When the 1907 season ended on Labour Day in Canada, Bushelman’s record was 15-7 and the Maroons compiled one of the most dominant team performances in minor league history. None of the other three Northern Copper Country League teams posted a better than .500 winning percentage.

Jack Bushelman joined the Toledo Mud Hens at Chattanooga, Tennessee in mid-March of 1908. The Toledo News-Bee said of his first appearance in an intrasquad game: “[He] worked as smoothly as though it were the middle of July. [He] had all brands of smoke on the mound. [He] acted as though a nine round affair would be easy [and] had the Colts standing on their heads throughout the four periods [he] worked.” xi He wasn’t quite as effective in his first outing against major league competition. Against the New York Highlanders, the News-Bee described him as “effective but wild.”xii His last appearance in Chattanooga was one of his best in a Toledo uniform. Pitching against the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs on March 31, “Bushelman went through his three innings like a prairie fire. This big fellow has something. He worked it coming and going.”xiii The Chicago lineup included many of the team’s regulars.

In early April, the Mud Hens returned to Toledo for a few more exhibitions against major league opposition. The first of those games was a turning point for Jack Bushelman. On Saturday April 4, the Boston Americans came to Toledo’s Armory Park for a weekend series. Jack was the starting pitcher that afternoon and was the story of the game. The News-Bee thought his experience at Winnipeg might have helped him that cold Ohio afternoon.

“[He] was acclimated to the hardships and rigors of the wintry weather by reason of his season’s experience in Winnipeg. Bushelman has not been afflicted with a sore whip this year but he is liable to fall heir to one if he keeps on cutting loose like he did in the snow ball atmosphere. Big Jack Bushelman pitched himself into high favor with the fans and on his way to the clubhouse after his five innings toil, was enthusiastically greeted. The lofty lad worked as smoothly as he did all spring at Chattanooga.” xiv

He pitched the first five innings allowing four hits and striking out four that afternoon.

Boston owner John I. Taylor witnessed the game that afternoon and offered $5,000 for Bushelman. The Mud Hens were actually owned by Charles Somers the owner of the Cleveland Naps. Between that cold afternoon in Toledo and Bushelman’s late 1911 Boston debut, the big right hander would be one of the most traveled pitchers in professional baseball.

Bushelman’s decline started with an exhibition appearance against the Giants. The Toledo Blade said: “The big bold Bushelman stepped into the box, anxious to finish his end of the afternoon engagement and beat it for the clubhouse where there is a fire that keeps the icicles from gathering along the rim of one’s hat. But alas! Poor Bushelman was given an awful bombardment. Three runs were gathered from his big frame and only one was out.” xv

The decline continued into the regular season. He made his debut on April 20; the season’s fourth game. Toledo won 8-7, but Jack was shaky at best. The Blade said: “Bushelman’s seven walks kept the entire team unsteady. Three balls were frequently called before he began to get them over the pan. The young pitcher had Abbott bobbing all over the territory behind the plate. The passed ball charged to Fred was a wonderful drop curve, which broke so suddenly it fooled even the catcher.” xvi

Given another start a week later, he allowed 11 hits, walked four, and threw two wild pitches in a 14-4 loss. He pitched better in a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee, but after a giving up two first inning runs and walking the first two men in the second inning of a loss to Indianapolis, he wasn’t used again by the Mud Hens. When Toledo optioned him to Springfield of the Class D Ohio State League on June 5, Armour said: “This young fellow has the speed and curves to make good with any team, but he needs more experience and should be worked every four days.”

At first it looked as though his Springfield assignment to Springfield might be brief, with a return to Toledo. The Springfield Daily News was impressed with his home debut. “Bushelman was the whole works in the first contest. He has terrific speed and a clever slow ball, and he worked a change of pace most successfully on Mansfield.” xvii He shut out Mansfield, one of the league’s best offensive teams on four hits.

He beat Newark 2-1 in his next start, then shut out Mansfield again. The Mansfield Daily Shield said: “He….had the locals guessing at all stages of the game. He struck out twelve coming within three of beating the league record held by [Harvey] Doc Bailey. He was wild during the early stages of the game, but was invincible when the bases were occupied.” xviii He gave up six hits that afternoon. That was also the last time he pitched for Springfield. The franchise moved to Portsmouth after the series in Mansfield.

Bushelman started the team’s first game in their new home and was again effective. He beat Marion 3-2 allowing just five hits and striking out six. Both runs scored on wild pitches. With a 4-0 record for a poor team, Bushelman seemed on the verge of another outstanding season. He dropped two of his next three decisions, but still seemed ready for a promotion, Toledo loaning him to Lincoln of the Class A Western League.

The promotion was the worst thing that could have happened to Jack Bushelman. Whether it was inactivity or an adjustment to his pitching motion by manager Bill Fox is unclear, but he wouldn’t be a consistently effective pitcher again until the second half of the 1910 season. Bushelman allowed one hit and struck out six but walked eight. He made a relief appearance five days later and was equally ineffective. Unhappy in Lincoln, he wrote Armour asking for a change of scenery. On July 24, the Newark Advocate announced Bushelman’s return to the Ohio State League, this time with the Newark Molders.

Newark’s franchise had been purchased by Cleveland through Armour earlier in the summer and former Toledo pitcher Harry Eells was the manager. It looked like a good situation for Bushelman. In his return to Ohio, Jack pitched three hitless innings striking out three but walking five. The Advocate said: “He has a good head in the box and works with the air of a veteran.” xix He shut Marion out in his first start and demonstrated a good pickoff move catching three runners napping. He walked five that day and also in a loss to Lancaster, but at first it seemed like he could be considered effectively wild.

That idea vanished in an August 2 start at Mansfield. The Shield described how much he’d regressed since his early June starts against the team. “Bushelman’s wildness in the first inning gave the Tigers an advantage which they held all through the game. The ex-Toledo and Portsmouth man gave four bases on balls in that one inning, forcing two runs over the plate by his wildness.” The Mansfield News said: “It required exactly 27 minutes to play the inning.” Soon there was talk of Jack’s release by Newark.

Frank Sheridan of the Portsmouth Times described another August start. “Bushelman was as wild as a March hare or a February hare, for that matter---one is just as wild as the other.” xx He struck out nine and walked six that day. His next start was even worse. He walked 11 in an 8-1 loss at Lima. News of his wildness was spreading beyond the Ohio State League. The Akron Beacon Journal printed his stats after a rumor circulated that he’d be joining the team. Those statistics included 26 strikeouts, 25 walks, 22 hits allowed, and two hit batsmen in 34 innings.

Instead he returned to Portsmouth. Portsmouth manager Billy Doyle later one of the game’s outstanding scouts was also a member of the team’s pitching staff, but he couldn’t help Bushelman. After walking five in six innings in an early September start, Jack Bushelman was sent home for the season. At season’s end, he was 7-15 in the Ohio State League. The league released more complete pitching statistics than most and they show 108 hits, 140 strikeouts, 101 walks and a league-leading 11 wild pitches in 171 innings. His walks per nine innings led the league.

That winter, Cleveland through Toledo conditionally sold Bushelman to Savannah of the South Atlantic League for $300. Bushelman refused to report to Savannah, negating the sale. In May 1909, Toledo tried to send him to Mansfield, but he didn’t report, preferring to play for the Ivorydales of Cincinnati’s Saturday Afternoon League.

The caliber of semipro ball in Jack Bushelman’s hometown was very high. Ernie Diehl was the best known Queen City semipro. Business and political interests kept Diehl in Cincinnati most of the year, but he frequently filled in with various major league clubs as well as Toledo. In addition to the Ivorydales, Bushelman and Diehl were both members of the Hamilton Krebs. By late July, there were rumors of Bushelman’s return to organized ball. Dayton of the Central League was interested, but Toledo still held his rights and he reported to Toledo in late July after Armour received a favorable telegram from Diehl.

The Blade said: “The lofty right-hander has the natural ability to be as good as Addie Joss, Christy Mathewson and others. If Bushelman can control his fast ball, nobody in this league will have any right to beat him.” xxi Unfortunately, in his brief second chance with Toledo, he couldn’t control the fastball. He appeared in both games of an August 1 doubleheader at Milwaukee, and the News-Bee was not impressed. “Jack Bushelman, who worked the last two innings of [the first game] in order that that multitude might be appeased started off in the afterpiece. He looked soft in the first two periods, but went entirely to the bad in the fourth and took everybody with him.” xxii In four innings he allowed ten runs on as many hits. He was quickly released and returned to independent baseball.

Despite the lack of minor league success in 1908 and 1909, Jack Bushelman made his major-league debut the last day of the 1909 season. The Cincinnati Reds hosted the soon-to-be World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in an October 5 doubleheader, and – though he wasn’t signed to a contract – it was a tryout of sorts when Reds manager Clark Griffith started Jack in the second game. As might be expected, the Pirates won the game 7-4. Just two of the runs were earned, Bushelman allowing seven hits including a home run by Dots Miller. He walked four and struck out three in the seven-inning contest.

Four days later, pitching for the Krebs at the Butler County Fair, he faced Louisville of the American Association and shut them out 2-0 allowing just one hit. He struck out seven and walked four, impressing Louisville manager Heinie Pietz enough to be signed for the 1910 season. He turned down an offer from Buffalo believing Pietz, a former catcher would make him a better pitcher.

Hopes for a successful return to the American Association were quickly dashed. He allowed four runs in three innings against the Athletics and was beaten 7-2 by the Cubs allowing nine hits and walking eight. Appearing briefly in the regular season for Louisville he was equally ineffective. On May 3, his sale to the Syracuse Stars of the New York State League was announced. The president of the team said of Bushelman: “[Manager Ed] Ashenback has had his eye on this man for some time past…. Bushelman is a big fellow with lots of ginger and his purchase will materially strengthen the pitching corps.”

Jack made his Syracuse debut in the team’s home opener. The Syracuse Post Standard was impressed with the new pitcher. “Bushelman owns to three inches over six feet and has a hand like a ham. He was altogether too lavish with his gifts of bases, two of the gifts resulting in runs, but he pitched an excellent game, nevertheless as the record attests.” He allowed five walks striking out eight in a 4-3 loss to Utica. The Post Standard was even more impressed with his next start: “He pitched consistent ball. The [Albany] Senators found him for nine hits all save three of which were widely scattered.” xxiii Most importantly he walked only one batter in an 8-1 win. It seemed like he’d found a home, but after three straight ineffective starts was released in late May.

He was soon signed by Lawrence (Massachusetts) of the New England League, but was no more effective than he’d been at Louisville or Syracuse. In a late June start, he gave up six runs in just over an inning of work walking three. In mid-July, Lawrence released him. The release was another turning point in his career. First-place New Bedford (Massachusetts) quickly signed him. Sixteen of his 27 appearances were with his new team, and by season’s end Bushelman showed signs of mastering his control and resurrecting his career, finishing the year with a 12-9 mark. Catcher Fred Ulrich was likely responsible for the improvement that would soon bring him to Boston.

Once the 1911 New England League season started, Bushelman was the Whalers’ best pitcher. In a pair of May starts he struck out 15 batters walking just two. He was also batting .350 over his first six games. The Whalers as a team included nine men with previous or subsequent major league experience, including Tommy Griffith and Rabbit Maranville, but still lost more games than they won.

He had several other successful starts, and in July, the Lowell Sun wrote, “The fans were disappointed in not seeing Bushelman, the big league prospect in yesterday’s game. Bushelman is generally regarded as the best pitching proposition in the league.” xxiv Chicago White Sox manager Hugh Duffy reportedly offered $4,000 for Bushelman but New Bedford management wanted $5,000. At the end of July, John I. Taylor paid that sum for Bushelman and outfielder Arthur McCrone.

Jack won 16 games against 14 losses for the Whalers before joining the Red Sox, but his last start for New Bedford was controversial. According to Sporting Life and the Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Daily Sentinel, Bushelman was accused of intentionally losing to Fall River on September 4. He was fined $50 by the Whalers but after an investigation no evidence was found that he’d indeed thrown the game. In fact such accusations were not uncommon in that era and he joined the Red Sox almost immediately after the game in question.

After the unpleasant exit from New Bedford, Bushelman’s debut with the Red Sox came September 11 against one of the American League’s best pitchers, Walter Johnson. Joe Jackson of the Washington Post described Bushelman’s rocky start:

“Young Mr. Bushelman, hitherto domiciled in New Bedford, but who yesterday was handed a Boston uniform, shown where the pitching hill is located on a regular yard, and told to go in and do his worst did so. He made the mistake common to twirlers transported from the bush and sent into a major league game before getting their bearings, that of imagining that more speed, wider curves and a larger number of strikeouts are essential to success in the large league. He spent one inning in trying to show and get these things and in so doing blew the ball game. After that Bushelman steadied and pitched a very creditable game. He seemed to have plenty of stuff when he contented himself with pitching to the batters and relying on his support, instead of trying to fool them all the time. In six consecutive innings only two hits and one base on balls were charged against him, and one of the hits as well as the pass came with two out.”

In the first inning, four walks, a hit batsman, a balk and at least three errors led to five runs without benefit of a base hit. In the second, he recovered to strike out Germany Schaefer and Tommy Long. Washington added two more runs on four hits.

Despite the generally positive effort after the first inning, that game was Bushelman’s only regular season start for Boston. He made a couple of relief appearances in a late September home series against the White Sox replacing Ray Collins and Larry Pape who were lifted for pinch hitters. In 12 innings he surrendered eight hits, walked 10, and struck out five. Only four of the nine runs scored against him were earned.

In the spring of 1912, Bushelman was one of 30 players (including 10 pitchers) listed on the Red Sox preseason roster. Sheridan of the Portsmouth (Ohio) Daily Times said “Here is a kid who if he could get the bean over the plate would be another Christy Mathewson.” xxv Unfortunately for Jack, he didn’t master his pitches in his brief opportunities for the 1912 Red Sox. In late April he pitched an uneventful inning against Philadelphia. A week later, he walked a pair of Washington batters in the eighth, one scoring on a throwing error by Bill Carrigan. Jack’s best performance in a Boston uniform was a 4-2 exhibition win over Baltimore of the International League on May 5.

Jack’s final regular season appearance in the major leagues was also his only big league win. On May 13, Boston scored nine runs in the second inning and Bushelman entered the game in relief of Charley Hall who’d surrendered four first-inning runs. Bushelman held the Browns scoreless until the seventh when according to game accounts “he went to pieces in the seventh” and had to be relieved by Hugh Bedient. Despite the rocky seventh, he allowed three runs, eight hits and a pair of walks in 5 1/3 innings. After that game, he remained with the Red Sox but never appeared in another regular season game. After a poor start in another exhibition against Baltimore, Boston sent Bushelman to Worcester (Massachusetts) of the New England League. Optioned at first, he was officially sold to Jesse Burkett’s team in August. He won eight of 12 decisions for Worcester.

Jack Bushelman had his best season as a professional in 1913 but it was likely responsible for shortening his career. Burkett’s Busters were battling Lowell (Massachusetts) for the New England League pennant. Jack won 26 games in 37 decisions season but his effectiveness declined in the season’s final weeks and he was never really the same pitcher again. xxvi

Bushelman was one of the first players to sign a 1914 Worcester contract. As the season started, Jack was still winning but not in the often dominant fashion of 1913. One of his better efforts was a mid-June start against Fitchburg. The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel said he “was practically invincible, holding Fitchburg to three hits. He pitched very effective ball in all the sessions but the fifth...” xxvii He also pitched well in his next start a win over Lewiston (Maine), but by the end of the month was essentially finished for the season.

According to the Lowell Sun there was reason for optimism at the beginning of August. “Jack Bushelman is back again in the Worcester lineup and his arm feels much better. Jesse sent Bushelman out to see Bonesetter Reese and the latter guaranteed Burkett a speedy return of form for the big pitcher.” xxviii The rumor was overly optimistic, and Jack finished the year with an 8-4 record in just 18 appearances.

Worcester did not offer Bushelman a contract in 1915. Manager Bill Schwartz of the Southern Association’s Nashville Vols was a fellow Ohioan familiar with Bushelman and signed him. Perhaps his most memorable game in a Nashville uniform was a 17-inning game against Atlanta on May 31. Bushelman pitched effectively for the first nine before being lifted for a pinch hitter. At midseason he was 4-5 in 14 appearances foe the Vols. In late July, he was released to Memphis of the same league.

The Chicks were in second place when Bushelman made his debut for the team on July 25. The Atlanta Constitution said of his losing debut against the Crackers: “Bushelman kept himself continually in trouble through his wildness, but managed to pull himself out of each hole which he put himself in with the exception of the fifth.” That inconsistency was typical of his stint with Memphis, though his effectiveness improved late in the season. Perhaps most satisfying were a pair of September wins over his former Nashville teammates. He finished the year with a 12-11 record and 97 walks in 203 innings.

The 1915 season was also the end of Jack Bushelman’s organized baseball career, though he played for Cincinnati’s top semi pro teams for several more seasons. Jack settled into the lumber business which had been his offseason occupation. Jack and his wife Helen (generally referred to by her middle name of Zilla) had met when Jack was briefly the property of the Little Rock Southern Association club early in his professional career. The Bushelmans raised four daughters and two sons. Immediately after his baseball career, the family lived in Eastlake, Tennessee while Jack worked as a traveling lumber salesman. Moving back to the Cincinnati area by 1920, he was living in St. Bernard and was an inspector for a lumber company. The family lived in Ohio until 1932 when hired by the Tennessee Eastman Lumber Company of Kingsport. Initially working in the sales and purchasing department, he was promoted to lumber and box department superintendent in 1944. The Bushelmans lived in nearby Gate City, Virginia where he served as president of the Rotary Club. He retired in 1951 and died at a Roanoke, Virginia hospital on October 26, 1955 after a long illness.

 

Sources

Sporting Life 1905-11

Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Republican 1906-07

(Winnipeg) Manitoba Free Press 1906-07

Winnipeg Daily News 1906-07

Toledo News-Bee 1908

Toledo Blade 1908-09

Springfield (Ohio) Daily News 1908

Mansfield (Ohio) Shield 1908

Mansfield (Ohio) News 1908-09

(Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal 1908

Newark (Ohio) Advocate 1908

Portsmouth (Ohio) Times 1908-12

Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle 1908

Cincinnati Enquirer 1909

Syracuse (New York) Post Standard 1910-11

Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun 1911-15

Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Daily Sentinel 1911-14

Boston Globe 1911-12

Washington Post 1911-12

Atlanta Constitution 1915

Kingsport (Tennessee) News 1955

Genealogical information

Kentucky Birth Records

Cincinnati, Ohio Directory 1890-91

U.S. Census 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

World War I Draft Registration Eastlake, Tennessee

World War II Draft Registration Gate City, Virginia

Thanks to Jack V. Morris and Dave Pugh for tracking down the dates of many of the citations.

 

Notes

i Handwritten census records are unclear, but Bushelman’s mother’s name could perhaps be Nettie. His birth year, 1885, is in some doubt because the 1900 census, and his draft cards at the time of both the first and second World Wars all say he was born in 1886.

ii Portsmouth Daily Times, November 22, 1909.

iii Cedar Rapids Republican, April 27, 1906.

iv Ibid., May 5, 1906.

v Ibid., August 1, 1906.

vi Manitoba Free Press, September 4, 1906.

vii Ibid., September 21, 1906.

viii Ibid., June 26, 1907 and July 2, 1907.

ix Ibid., July 22, 1907.

x Ibid., August 20, 1907.

xi Toledo News-Bee, March 23, 1908.

xii Toledo News-Bee, March 26, 1908.

xiii Toledo News-Bee, April 1, 1908.

xiv Toledo News-Bee, April 6, 1908.

xv Toledo Blade, April 8, 1908.

xvi Toledo Blade, April 21, 1908.

xvii Springfield (Ohio) Daily News, June 8, 1908.

xviii Mansfield (Ohio) Daily Shield, June 15, 1908.

xix Newark (Ohio) Advocate, July 25, 1908.

xx Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, August 12, 1908.

xxi Toledo Blade, July 21, 1909.

xxii Toledo News-Bee, August 2, 1909.

xxiii Syracuse Post-Standard, May 7, 1910 and May 12, 1910.

xxiv Lowell Sun, July 7, 1911.

xxv Portsmouth Daily Times, March 15, 1912.

xxvi On the afternoon of September 10, Bushelman was nearly responsible for Burkett’s arrest. According to the Lowell Sun: “Jack Bushelman pitcher for the Worcester team was summoned to appear in the superior court in Taunton in the case of Thomas Dowd [Bushelman’s former manager] vs. the New Bedford Baseball Association.” Constable John McManus of Lowell, told the Sun: “I Went to the New American House [hotel] with the summons and the money [traveling expenses] and passed them to Mr. Bushelman. Mr. Burkett was there and he said that Bushelman couldn’t go to Taunton. He snatched the summons and the money from Bushelman’s hand and pushed me away. I told him to beware of the majesty of the law and warned him he was liable to arrest for interfering with an officer.” Burkett didn’t deny the facts when questioned by the Sun’s reporter at the Lowell ballpark, noting “he wasn’t worrying about any arrests being made.” Though there were rumors that Burkett was headed to the Federal League as a manager for 1914, Jack Bushelman wouldn’t have followed him.

xxvii Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, June 13, 1914.

xxviii Lowell Sun, August 3, 1914.

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