Around the beginning of the 20th century, there was a fair amount of metal being polished around Montague, in western Massachusetts, by Nolan Maynard. He’s listed in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 US censuses as a steel polisher or a metal polisher in a machine shop. Nolan and his wife, Eva, were both New Englanders and had two sons: Leroy Evans Maynard, born on November 2, 1896, in Turners Falls, a section of the town of Montague, and his brother, Floyd, four years younger.
Leroy, or Chick, as he came to be called, went to primary school in Millers Falls, yet another section of Montague, and then Turners Falls High School. After graduation he attended Dartmouth College, from which he graduated with a bachelor of science degree. Baseball records show him as having only one year in organized baseball, 1922. After the US entered the World War, he served in the Army Signal Corps in 1918.
Maynard worked as a shortstop and appeared in a dozen games for the Boston Red Sox. The Sox were happy to sign him. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee and Boston Braves owner George Washington Grant were each, in his own way, dissatisfied with their respective team’s performance at the start of the 1922 season. A report in The Sporting News attracted the subhead “Scouts Hustled Out with Orders to Bring in Some New Playing Material Without Delay.” The article began: “The two Boston ball clubs are furnishing a variety that may be spice enough, but it’s not entirely to the taste of the Hub fans. Their recent spurts proved but flashes and so hard has been the fall that the owners have concluded there can be no permanent advances as the teams are now made up, and both George Grant of the Braves and Harry Frazee of the Red Sox have sent their scouts out with instructions to obtain as quickly as possible infielders and pitchers. Scout Eddie Holly of the Red Sox came through first when he signed Chick Maynard, Dartmouth College’s shortstop the past season. Maynard has reported to Manager Hugh Duffy and looks like a fine prospect.”i
Maynard had been Dartmouth’s shortstop for three years, playing under former major-league pitcher Jeff Tesreau. He was a relatively small player, 5-feet-9 and 150 pounds. He was named team captain in his senior year, and came on strong in the spring of 1922. His two-run homer in a home game on May 12 against Columbia won the game for the Green. How he was playing left field for Springfield College against Boston College on June 3 is unclear, but he hit a triple and a home run in the game. It could have been another Maynard, but the Boston Globe account said it was Chick. On June 14, however, there he was back at shortstop with Dartmouth, his triple the game-winning hit against Harvard. A three-run triple on the 17th won another game, this time from Brown. A week later, “young Maynard” had signed and reported on the 23rd and was in uniform working out with the Red Sox.ii Maynard was living at Millers Falls at the time.
His first two games came on the same day – his June 27 debut, in Philadelphia. In the first game of a doubleheader, he came in for Pinky Pittenger and played the ninth inning at short. Pittenger had been pinch-hit for. Maynard was due up in the bottom of the ninth, but was lifted in turn for a pinch hitter – pitcher Benn Karr. The same scenario presented itself in the eighth inning of the second game: Pittenger pulled for a hitter and Maynard in to play the ninth. Maynard’s turn to bat never came up in the ninth. The Red Sox lost both games and landed back in last place. Ed Rommel was the winning pitcher for the Athletics in both games. Two days later, Maynard got his first major-league base hit.
The Red Sox were still in Philadelphia on the 29th. Pittenger started the game but “seemed to be off form,” so Maynard took over for him in the sixth.iii He was 1-for-2, a single. He collected another single on July 2, playing against Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators.
Maynard’s third single came in the first game of a July 7 doubleheader at Fenway Park against the visiting St. Louis Browns; he was 1-for-5 for the day.
In the July 6 Globe, James C. O’Leary wrote, “Young Maynard, the Dartmouth man recently signed by the Boston club, is being played regularly at shortstop, and is going well. Manager Duffy is quite favorably impressed with what he has shown so far, and is sure that he is going to become a star. He is a classy infielder, and when at bat takes a good cut at the ball.” (The Duffy was Hugh Duffy, the future Hall of Famer, who knew a thing or two about hitting.)
July 8 was a bad day, however. Maynard played in both games of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. He produced nothing at the plate, 0-for-3 in the first game and 0-for-2 in the second, before he was replaced by Pittenger. In the field, he was a disaster. The first game was error-free, but starting pitcher Bill Piercy could not have been pleased with the way Maynard played (or misplayed) balls in the second game. A first-inning error led to three St. Louis runs, and a fourth-inning error let in another three runs. In the first, Maynard tried to turn a double play and end the inning, but the ball failed to come up and ended up between his feet. He recovered in time to throw out the batter at first, but was charged with an error. In the fourth, it happened again – an error, and the Sox seeing three runs score.
Maynard’s batting average had sunk to .125. He had zero RBIs and had one run scored, when he’d walked in the first game of a doubleheader on the Fourth of July, taken third on a hit, and come in on a sacrifice fly. He’d committed five errors in 39 chances, for an .872 fielding percentage.
The July 8 games were the last two Maynard played in the big leagues. The very next day, however, he played again in an exhibition game in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, against a team called the Collegians. He was 0-for-4 at the plate. On July 17 the Red Sox asked waivers on Maynard.
After baseball Maynard married Maine native Mary Melvina Maynard and by the time of the 1930 census was the foreman of a paper mill in Millinocket, Maine, later becoming the superintendent of the Great Northern Paper Co. and living with his second wife, Rena McDonough Maynard, daughter Barbara, and son Richard.
Maynard suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage on January 31, 1957, in Millinocket, and was pronounced dead in nearby Bangor. He was 60 years old.
In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Maynard’s player file from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com.
i The Sporting News, July 6, 1922.
ii Boston Globe, June 24, 1922.
iii Boston Globe, June 30, 1922.