Ken Hogan, whose first game as a professional came in the major leagues, but who played in only three more games thereafter, was probably the fastest, most instinctive outfielder ever to roam the amateur and semipro ballfields of Cleveland. He drew raves for his ability to cover ground in center field. The Cincinnati Post said, “He would go back a mile and pull down long drives or roam in left and right and gather in what seemed to be sure hits.”1
Hogan was born on October 9, 1902, in Cleveland to Stephen F. and Mary Jane (McDonough) Hogan. Stephen’s family had come from England in the 1870s. Mary Jane was the daughter of Irish immigrants. When Ken was born, Stephen worked as a timekeeper for a stone company, but he later joined the Internal Revenue Service and worked for the government until his death in 1932. Ken was the oldest of three children.
Hogan played baseball on the sandlots in Cleveland and showed his ability at Cathedral Latin High School. At 18 he became a fixture in the fast-paced semipro baseball scene, playing for a number of teams in the Ohio-Pennsylvania (OP) League, which featured the best amateur and semipro talent from Richmond, Indiana, to New Castle. Pennsylvania.
Hogan’s performance led to an invitation from the Cincinnati Reds. He joined the team late in 1921 and saw action in the last game of the season, on October 2. Batting fourth and playing center field he was hitless in two at-bats and had no plays in the outfield. The game was called after five innings because of darkness. Hogan was invited to spring training in 1922 and dropped out of St. Ignatius College to prepare himself physically. According to the Cincinnati Post, he made efforts to increase his weight and strength. He was never able to bulk up from 145 pounds “fully dressed and with an overcoat on his body.”2 Hogan showed the Reds enough in spring training at Mineral Wells, Texas, to go north with the team. During the spring he fell prey to an old baseball gag. One day while waiting out a rainout, he fell asleep in the hotel lobby. Teammate Babe Pinelli delighted the onlookers by setting fire to Hogan’s newspaper.3He was released in April without ever seeing action and signed with a semipro team in the Price Hill section of the city. He debuted going 2-for-3 in his team’s 7-2 victory.1 It is uncertain how long Hogan stayed in Cincinnati, but he didn’t get into any games. By August he was back in Cleveland and playing center field for the Rosenblums.4 The team eventually became the semipros’ AA national champion.
The Indians signed Hogan on September 19 and invited him to 1923 spring training. His speed and fielding were his calling cards. To stay in the majors he would have to show that he could hit. The Plain Dealer suggested that Indians manager Tris Speaker “has high hopes that Hogan can be taught to hit.”5 He got off to a good start, smacking two hits in an intrasquad game.6 Third baseman Larry Gardner, a fellow left-handed hitter, took the youngster under his wing and gave him hitting help. Hogan made the squad heading north. Speaker planned to use him as a pinch-runner for catcher Steve O’Neill when the situation warranted.7 Hogan’s first action was on April 28 when he ran for Gardner. Soon after, without getting into another game, Hogan was dispatched to Hastings in the Class D Nebraska State League, where he played in 105 games and hit .299 with 29 extra-base hits. The Indians invited him to spring training again in 1924 and he once again traveled north with the squad as a pinch-runner/backup outfielder. Speaker used him as a pinch-runner on May 7 and May 30. That was the end of Hogan’s major-league career. The June 6 Plain Dealer announced his transfer to Asheville in the Class B Sally League. Hogan played in 41 games for the Tourists and then returned to the sandlots.
The Indians maintained their option on Hogan and he again went to spring camp in 1925. This time he was farmed out to Terre Haute in the Class B Three-I League. After a week he returned to Cleveland and joined Tellings Ice Cream in the Ohio-Pennsylvania league. In his debut he lashed two triples in a 14-2 win.8 In 1926 Hogan again played for Tellings, and his performance led to yet another spring-training invite from Cleveland. This time he was sent to Toronto, but played only three games. In 1927 and ’28 Hogan returned to the OP League, patrolling center field for the Agathons of Massillon. On August 30, 1927, in an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Athletics, Hogan had two stolen bases as Massillon won, 10-3.
In 1929 Hogan was lured back into the professional ranks when he joined the Erie Sailors in the Class B Central Association. The Sailors were in a pennant race the entire season with the eventual champion, Canton (Ohio). Hogan led the league in runs and stole 55 bases, six of them in a May 6 game against Fort Wayne.9 Other exploits that season included starting a nine-run ninth-inning rally on July 24 and being named second team all-league.
Always noted for his speed, he was challenged to a “fastest man” competition by league batting champion Chuck Hostetler, who beat him with a time of 10.1 seconds in the 100-yard dash.10 Hostetler was named first-team center fielder by a vote of the Central League managers. Hogan returned to the sandlots and managed an all-star team versus Tellings on September 22, 1929.11
In 1930 Hogan rejoined the Sailors and got off to a scorching start (.353, 18 extra-base hits), but his season was cut short by a broken leg on June 5. The injury kept him out of action until 1932, when he returned to Erie. It was obvious that he was not the same player as before. He started the season in left field and uncharacteristically made an error on his first chance. He moved from Erie to Akron, but with the Depression in full swing the franchise folded on June 19. Hogan was one of the Akron players picked up by the Canton Terriers when they replaced Akron. He remained with the team until it was disbanded by the league on July 21.12
Canton was in Fort Wayne when the shutdown order reached the team. Hogan was added to the Fort Wayne roster and ended the season playing in 86 games and hitting .229. It was the end of his professional playing days. He returned to Cleveland to play for the Rosenblums before moving into the dugout as manager for various teams.
Hogan worked odd jobs during his baseball-playing years. The 1920 census has no occupation listed for him and in 1930 he listed himself as a professional baseball player. He took a job with the Cleveland school system as a maintenance man in the 1930s. In 1935 or ’36 he married Agnes M. Adamic who was 15 years his junior. The couple had four children, Patricia, Mary Jane, Roger, and Stephen. Ken was injured in a traffic accident in 1941 when he ran out of the school-board office and into the street without looking. He was struck by a car and hospitalized with a fractured skull. Not an event to be remembered for, but it did serve to have his name in the same headline as the legendary Elliott Ness.13
Hogan retired from the school district in the 1960s and lived out his years in Cleveland. He died on January 2, 1980. Agnes died in 1982. They are buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Johnson, Lloyd, and Miles Wolff, eds. Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, Inc., 1993)
The Baseball Encyclopedia (New York: Macmillan, 1993)
(Baseball-Reference and The Baseball Encyclopedia list Hogan with an at-bat in 1924. Retrosheet has him with only the two pinch-running appearances. The minor-league seasons at Hastings and Asheville are listed in baseball-reference with a “Hogan?” notation.
1 Cincinnati Post, September 19,1921, 11.
2 Cincinnati Post, March 6,1922, 12.
3 Cincinnati Post, March 6, 1922, 11.
4 Cincinnati Post, April 22, 1922, 6.
5 Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 21, 1922, 13. The Rosenblums were sponsored by a Cleveland department store.
6 Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 23, 1923, 37.
7 Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 14, 1923, 18.
8 Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 8, 1925, 18.
9 Canton Repository, May 7, 1929, 6. Hogan stole second, third, and home in the eighth inning.
10 Canton Repository, July 22, 1929, 10.
11 Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 22, 1929, 35.
12 Canton Repository, May 5, June 8, June 22, and July 22, 1932. South Bend was unable to make payroll and when the Central League met to address that issue, it was decided to proceed as a four-team league. Canton suffered the fate of last-hired, first-fired.
13 Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 11, 1941, 1 and 12. Ness was Cleveland’s public safety director and was concerned with recent deaths in traffic accidents. His press conference and Hogan’s injury coincided and the paper included them in the same headline.