SABR

Ollie Marquardt

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

“When he used to peer through the knotholes in the fences at the Toledo ballpark, and, if no one was looking, scale the barrier to get into the park, a youngster by the name of Albert Marquardt had two ambitions. One of them was to someday become a professional baseball player, and the other to manage his home town team.

“It didn’t take him long to accomplish the first, for at the age of 17, in 1921, he broke into the professional game. The other was harder to fulfill, but it came a few days ago when the Toledo Mud Hens announced the appointment of that same Albert L. Marquardt, known in baseball as Ollie, to manage the club in 1944.” So read part of a press release dated March 18, 1944 – those few days after he became manager of the Mud Hens.

His full name was Albert Ludwig Marquardt, and he was born in Toledo on September 22, 1902, a date that differs from the notion that he was 17 when he broke into pro ball in 1921. He was a right-handed infielder who stood 5-feet-9 and weighed 156 pounds. Ollie was one of four children born to German immigrants Mike and Hattie Marquardt. His parents arrived in the United States in 1892 and 1890, respectively. Hattie’s maiden name appears to have been Henrietta Kunz. She worked as a washerwoman at the time of the 1910 census in Toledo. During the 1920 census, with anti-German sentiment still high in America, Mike’s parents were reported as coming from Russian Poland, rather than Germany itself, and that may have been more accurate given the expanding and contracting national borders of those years.

Mike worked as a sewer digger for the city of Toledo in 1910. Ten years later he was a laborer working in a machine shop. The Marquardts’ eldest son, August, was employed as a toolmaker in a machine shop in 1920 and Ollie had a position as an apprentice in a pattern shop.

Ollie’s first job in baseball may have come in 1921 with the London, Ontario, team, though he played for Peoria later that year, the first of three years in the Three-I League (the Class B Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League), with the Peoria Tractors the first two and then in 1923 with Peoria and with the Moline Plowboys.i He worked those years as a pitcher, and then dropped out of Organized Baseball for many years, and played semipro ball.

Pitching built on Marquardt’s success in high school when he reeled off 15 consecutive wins for Toledo’s Scott High School. He reported leaving school after the tenth grade.ii Marquardt was 19-14 in the 1921 season, and in 1922, during the time he pitched for Peoria, he was 8-12.

There is an A. Marquard who played first base in the South Dakota League in 1920 for the Madison Grays – perhaps August, perhaps Albert (though he did not mention it himself), and perhaps someone altogether different. B.A. Marquardt was 1-0 for St. Paul in 1921. There was a Marquard who had shown some infield talent and appeared in 39 games for the Hagerstown Terriers in the Blue Ridge League during 1922, batting .182. The Marquardt we do know hit .117 for Peoria that season as a pitcher). Whether it was Ollie Marquardt who played for Bay City, Hagerstown, London, and Peoria all in the same year is something we don’t know, but seems unlikely.

In 1923 a Marquard played in 70 games for Spartanburg as a second baseman. It could have been Ollie, because his combined record for Peoria and Moline was just 0-1, with appearances in only three games.

By 1924 there weren’t either Marquards or Marquardts playing anywhere, save for future Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard, who enjoyed a long career from 1908 to 1925. Though an Ohioan by birth as well, Rube was born in Cleveland (as Richard William Marquard) and had no known family ties to Ollie’s family.

Ollie may have become active in other pursuits than pro ball. In 1924 he married Ethel Smith, and their engagement and marriage that November may have had much to do with his leaving the game for several years in the middle 1920s. If so, his childhood dreams still stayed alive.

We believe that Ollie is the “Marquardt” who played shortstop and second base for Canton in 1928 and 1929, after a short stint earlier in the year in 1928 with Springfield, hitting .315 over the two years in the Central League. He was sold to the Nashville Volunteers at the end of the 1929 season and without question was the shortstop for the Volunteers in 1930, appearing in 117 Southern Association games and batting .322. As early as mid-July, he attracted an offer from the Boston Red Sox, but it was reported that the Vols were “holding out for bigger bait.”iii Matters were worked out, and on February 11, 1931, the Red Sox announced that they had received his signed contract.

Marquardt worked out for new manager Shano Collins and, while others at spring training camp in Pensacola were farmed out to Nashville, Marquardt was kept with the big-league club. He “looks like a born shortstop [and] a good hitter,” wrote the North American Newspaper Alliance’s Walter Trumbull.iv

Marquardt trained with the team in the spring of 1931. He was assigned number 7 in the first season the Red Sox wore uniform numbers, and on April 14 he appeared in the Opening Day game in front of a 70,000-person throng at Yankee Stadium. It was Joe McCarthy’s first day as Yankees manager. Mayor Jimmy Walker threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, seeing their first baseball game, were among those in attendance. Red Ruffing started for the Yankees, and Marquardt sat on the bench at the start of the game. Leading off for the Red Sox was first-string shortstop Rabbit Warstler, who tripled. The Red Sox scored once but the Yankees got two in the second and three in the fourth. It was 6-1 after seven innings (Babe Ruth hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh), and while the Red Sox were in the process of scoring twice in the top of the eighth, Pat Creeden batted for Warstler and Marquardt took over defensively in the bottom of the eighth. The Sox lost, 6-3. Marquardt had no putouts or assists in his first major-league game. His first two plate appearances came the next day; he sacrificed once and struck out the other time. His first run batted in won a game on April 25 in Boston, against the visiting Yankees. Marquardt came up in the bottom of the tenth with one out and grounded to second baseman Ben Chapman. Chapman got a force out at second, but the ball was hit too softly for him to throw home or to execute a double play. The Red Sox won the game, though Marquardt didn’t get a base hit since Chapman did secure one out.

Marquardt was used sparingly, and had only 12 plate appearances through May 29. Warstler was batting only .143, though, and so Marquardt had the opportunity to play for ten games in a row, beginning with the second game of a Memorial Day (May 30) doubleheader in Boston. That’s when he got his first hit – a single – against the visiting world champion Philadelphia Athletics. He played second base and batted second in the order that day, but was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Red Sox scored six times for a 6-5 win. The teams played another doubleheader the next day and Marquardt played in both games, collecting a single in each game, with his first run scored coming in the second game (when he also walked twice).

Marquardt’s only multi-hit game (two singles) and his second (and last) RBI both came on June 2 in a hectic 12-11 loss that saw Boston score five times in the bottom of the ninth but fall one run short of tying. The last game Marquardt played in the majors was on June 8. In all, he went 7-for-39, a .179 batting average. He played second base almost exclusively, though with brief appearances at shortstop and third base; he had only one fielding chance other than at second.

On June 9 the Red Sox released Fred Brillheart and Gene Rye. On June 11 the team released Marquardt outright to the Kansas City Blues (American Association). His time in the major leagues was complete – though, of course, he couldn’t have known that yet. This was early enough in the season that Marquardt was able to get into 106 games with Kansas City, batting for a .298 average.

The Marquard in the news remained Rube, active in managing from 1929 into the early 1930s. Ollie Marquardt’s minor-league career lasted 13 more seasons. In his second year with KC, he hit .289. In 1933 he spent the year with Milwaukee, batting .281 with a career-high three home runs. In all his minor-league years, he homered only 14 times.

In 1934 Marquardt took a step down the ladder to Single-A for a season, playing for the Williamsport Grays in the New York/Penn League and hitting .284. In the eight seasons after ’34, he never hit higher than .270 except for a .273 mark with Memphis in 1936. He was smart on the basepaths, though, at one point stealing 23 consecutive bases in 1936 without being thrown out.v

Marquardt spent time with Syracuse in 1935 (briefly back in the Boston system), but spent most of the year and then all of 1936 with Memphis, playing shortstop. From 1937 on, he was a player-manager, beginning with a return engagement with Williamsport, then with the Clinton Owls in the Three-I League, followed by three years in a row with the Cedar Rapids Raiders, from 1939-1941. The team was also in the Three-I League.

Those were four successful years. Cedar Rapids finished first in 1939, in a tight race that saw them win by one game, and in 1940 won by one game again. In ’39 they lost in the playoffs, but in ’40 they won the playoffs with ease. In 1941 they finished second, six games behind Evansville, but won the playoffs. Marquardt himself played second base in most of the games, appearing in 88, 85, and 109 games. In 1942 he appeared in only ten games, but again managed Cedar Rapids to the pennant and a win in the playoffs.

With the Second World War on in earnest, the Three-I League suspended operations, thereby making Marquardt a free agent. He was signed by Toledo and earned the opportunity to return to his hometown and lead the Mud Hens starting in 1944. He succeeded manager Jack Fournier. Toledo finished second in 1944 and sixth in 1945.

Following the trade he’d learned after high school, Marquardt had worked during the offseasons as a wood patternmaker and tool designer.vi

After baseball, he formed his own company working as a building contractor and named it the Ollie Marquardt Construction Co., which may have helped him pick up some extra work in Toledo. He died of a sudden heart attack in Port Clinton, Ohio, on February 7, 1968, survived by his wife, Ethel.

 

Sources

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

 

i The 1944 press release, presumably written with Marquardt’s input, mentioned playing in London, but baseball records show a Marquard there only in 1922, as a shortstop who hit .311 in 15 games. There were three Marquards without known first names listed as playing in 1922, with the other two appearing for Bay City (a pitcher with a 6-3 record) and a shortstop for Hagerstown.

ii Marquardt player questionnaire, National Baseball Hall of Fame.

iii Hartford Courant, July 13, 1930

iv Hartford Courant, March 25, 1931

v The Sporting News, August 17, 1939

vi Ibid.

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