SABR

Freddie Moncewicz

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

June 19, June 20, and July 3, 1928 – during a 15-day span, shortstop Freddie Moncewicz, fresh out of college, played out his entire major-league career with the Boston Red Sox on these three dates. He also played briefly in the minor leagues in 1929. Moncewicz may not have had a lengthy baseball career, but he more than made up for any shortfall in professional sports with distinguished service in a number of government positions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

He was a local lad, the pride of Brockton, Massachusetts (which later was home to Rocky Marciano).Freddy was born on September 1, 1903, to Peter Moncewicz and Stephanie Kondracki Moncewicz. Both parents had come to the United States from their native Poland, likely from an area that is now Lithuania.i

As a child, he attended the Winthrop School, and later graduated from Brockton High School, where he starred in athletics. Freddie played in the Cape Cod League for three summers, 1923-25. He continued his education at Boston College, and even as a freshman earned varsity letters in baseball, basketball, and football. He played shortstop for the BC Eagles from 1925-28, During his first three years, Freddy was coached by Jack Slattery, who had played for the original Boston Americans team in 1901 (albeit only for one game). Slattery retired from BC before Freddie’s senior year and was replaced by longtime Boston baseball veteran Hugh Duffy, who was impressed by Moncewicz and regarded him a “good prospect.”ii

The young graduate met with Red Sox president Bob Quinn on June 13, 1928, and was signed to a contract; the Sox asked him to join the team in Washington on the 19th. Once he arrived, manager Bill Carrigan didn’t waste time getting him into a game. Moncewicz made his big-league debut that same day, giving Wally Gerber a rest late in the second game of a doubleheader. Gerber was 2-for-5 on the day; Freddie was 0-for-1, but got his feet wet as Boston went down to a 16-7 defeat (they’d won the first game, 5-1). He struck out in his one at-bat.

It was almost the same thing the next day; he was again a late-inning substitution for Gerber at short. This time, E. Garland Braxton was shutting out the Sox, 8-0. Mr. Moncewicz never got up to bat.

In his third game, on July 3, in Philadelphia, Freddie ran for Red Ruffing in the seventh, but did not score. And that was it; his contract was assigned to the Brockton club the same day.

All three of his appearances were in road games, the first two at Griffith Stadium, and the third at Shibe Park. He had been on the bench during six home games at Fenway in between his second and third games, but had not played in any of them. His batting line stands at 0-for-1.One could cynically say that all he ever did at the plate was strike out. He did convert his two fielding chances without committing an error.

He was 5’8” or 5’ 9”, and weighed 170-175 pounds. He was said to have an exceptionally good throwing arm.

All in all, 1928 was a good year for Moncewicz. Not only did he graduate college and play major-league baseball, but he also married Margaret Chalitco that October.

His classmates at Boston College apparently considered him a remarkable man, the very model of a student athlete. In the 1928 Boston College yearbook, he was accorded a full page, glowing write-up that read, in part:

Whoever has declared that we can truly judge men by the company they keep, has at the same time secured for this class its reputation of excellence, for one and all sought for and esteemed Freddie’s company. At times we have occasion to answer the belligerent contention that college sports are over emphasized and then we call upon Freddie as our “argumentem ad hominem”. He always managed to give studies and athletics an even break and invariably emerged triumphant in each. There are times when one gets weary of characterizing a man with the trite expression “student athlete” but without being in the least bit syrupy we may declare that Fred is nothing else but.

Scholastically, Freddie yielded to none. Modest, reserved, sacrificing, conscientious, and amiable – it was will be a long time before his place can be filled.

While Moncewicz was only a bench warmer during his 15 days with the Red Sox, he had enjoyed a triumph at Fenway Park as a sophomore with the BC Eagles. In those days, with the Red Sox almost always in last place, some college games outdrew the major league contests. On June 17, 1926, BC hosted Holy Cross at Fenway, and 20,000 turned out to watch the game between the two Catholic colleges. Holy Cross scored once in the fourth inning, and led 1-0. With a man on base in the sixth, Freddie settled himself in the batter’s box and then “stepped into the first pitch and rattled the ball against the left field scoreboard for two bases. It was a fine wallop,” reported the next day’s Boston Globe. Moncewicz’s BC club also played before 18,000 fans at Holy Cross’s Fitton Field in Worcester.

In March of 1929, Moncewicz again joined the Red Sox party as it left Boston’s South Station for training in Bradenton, Florida. He was one of six Red Sox rookies sent back to Boston in early April to work out with Shano Collins’ Pittsfield Hillies, who maintained a working agreement with the Red Sox.

In 1929, Freddie played 40 Eastern League games for Pittsfield. He collected 26 hits in 122 at-bats (.213), with four doubles and one home run. On April 11, he even played one game at Fenway against Hugh Duffy’s BC Eagles, with Pittsfield winning, 7-5. Freddie went 0-for-3; these were his only at-bats as a pro ballplayer at Fenway (albeit in an exhibition game.)

On June 11, Pittsfield released him to make room for Fred Kennedy, an infielder from Tufts College. For a while in 1930, again under manager Shano Collins but now with the New England League’s Nashua Millionaires, Moncewicz played shortstop, but an arm injury prevented him from continuing his career in baseball.

Moncewicz returned to BC, working as freshman baseball coach and assistant varsity baseball coach. The Boston Globe also reported that he “headed the Cape Cod semipro league.”iii After a period of time, he entered Boston College Law School, where he became class president, and reportedly passed the bar examination six months before his scheduled graduation.iv

He practiced law and also taught employment security law in university extension courses. He served for a while as a member of the faculty at Portia Law School. Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin appointed him to the Boston Board of Assessors.

Though he was nearly 40 years old when the United States joined the Second World War, Moncewicz signed up to work with Naval Aviation (1942-45), teaching for a while at the Georgia Pre-Flight school. He became a lieutenant commander and served in the South Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier USS Antietam.

After the war, Maurice Tobin – now Governor of Massachusetts – appointed him to the state’s Appellate Tax Board, and then, in 1946, as Comptroller of the Commonwealth. It was a position he held for more than ten years. Respected for his work, Moncewicz served under three other governors, both Democratic (Paul Dever and Foster Furcolo) and Republican (Christian Herter).

In June 1958, Moncewicz was diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer and an “affective disorder of the depressive type.” A three-member medical board recommended his retirement on disability. His condition was ascribed to his dozen years of service in state government.v

At some point in 1967, he developed carcinoma of the esophagus and stomach cardia, and six months after that diagnosis, the carcinoma began to metastasize. He died at Brockton’s Cardinal Cushing General Hospital, on April 23, 1969, survived by his widow, Margaret. He was buried three days later at Calvary Cemetery in Brockton.

 

Sources

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

 

Notes

i In the United States census, several of the Moncewiczes in Brockton reported their native land as Lithuania, while several others reported Poland.

ii Boston Globe, June 14, 1928.

iii Boston Globe, April 24, 1969. Cape Cod League officials contacted in 2012 have no record of his being in a leadership position with the league, though records are admittedly incomplete. There is, of course, also the possibility that a surviving relative may have misunderstood his work.

iv Brockton Daily Enterprise, April 24, 1969.

v Boston Globe, June 6, 1958.

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