SABR

Everett Booe

This article was written by Nancy Snell Griffith.

Speedy Everett Booe was one of a multitude of major-leaguers who played only a year or two in the big leagues, and then spent the majority of their careers in the minors. Booe was a rookie flash in the pan for the Pirates in 1913, and then jumped to Indianapolis and Buffalo of the upstart Federal League in 1914. He appeared in 125 major-league games, but was in almost 2,000 games over his 17-year minor-league career (spanning 1911 to 1930). He also served several of his teams as manager.

One of the most notable things about Booe, however, proved to be his name. The “e” is silent, so it’s pronounced “boo.”[1] Before the advent of broadcasting systems and names on the uniforms, umpires introduced the players as they were put into the game. Booe’s name caused no end of confusion for umpires and amusement for fans. William Hageman quoted Pirates icon Honus Wagner on a situation that occurred in 1913: “When I was playing with the Pirates, we had a rookie, Everett Booe. One day, we were giving home plate umpire Bill Klem a hard time, and his temper was short. Fred Clarke sent Booe up to pinch hit, and Klem asked him his name. He said, ‘Booe.’ Klem said, ‘What did you say?’ And the rookie replied, ‘Booe.’ Well, Klem got infuriated and was going to throw Booe out of the game until Clarke came out and showed him the scorecard and told him that the kid’s name really was Booe.”[2]

On another occasion, he moved umpire Hank O’Day to laughter when he was put in as a pinch-runner in a game in New York: “Everett Booe…was sent in to run for Mike Simon and Henry prepared to give due announcement to the crowd. ‘Booe,” Hank began, and the crowd bellowed its delight. ‘Booe,’ Hank said again, and shrill cries of ‘Booe for you,’ ‘Pooh pooh for your boo,” and ‘Oh, Booe Hooe,’ rang through the park. ‘Booe,’ granted Henry once more, and then he laughed.”[3]

Everett Little Booe was born in Mocksville, North Carolina, between Statesville and Winston-Salem, on September 28, 1890. His father, Phillip W. Booe, was a farmer. His mother was the former Henrietta Farris, and Everett had several siblings, including Avie, Frederic, Augusta, R. Hoard, and Merl. By 1910, the family was living in Davidson, North Carolina, slightly north of Charlotte, where Phillip owned a market and his wife kept a boarding house.

Everett graduated from Davidson College in 1911, and was a standout in baseball, football, and track. He graduated at the age of 19, and the Davidson yearbook described him as “A hail-fellow, well-met.” It added, “Everett has been tacked on the end of many a college yell. He is a great athlete, and then some … Dangerously handsome, with that Billikin smile of his, he is welcome anywhere in college. And, next to his honors on the athletic field, he is best known for his unusually great number of friends.” 

Booe actually began his pro baseball career during the summer before his senior year, when he played 100 games for the Portsmouth Truckers and the Petersburg Goobers of the Virginia League. Following graduation, he returned to the Goobers, where he played in 1911. The Goobers won the Virginia League championship that year, and he and Maurice “Mickey” Keliher both batted .300 for the team.[4] (Keliher played five games in the majors for the Pirates, three in 1911 and two in 1912.) By February of 1912, newspapers like the Bisbee Daily Review were referring to him as “Everett Booe B.F. (buster of fences),” and noting the “heavy swatting” he had done with Petersburg.” [5]

Everett’s situation in 1912 is a little murky. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he was playing with Petersburg again in 1912, where he had an especially good season, appearing in 127 games, chalking up 160 hits, and sporting a batting average of .325. Contemporary newspaper accounts, however, give a different story. The Indianapolis Star reported in April of 1912 that Pittsburgh had given Booe a try. Commenting on spring training, the Pittsburgh Press also reported, “Booe has a natural, easy way of working, is a fast man, but not a showy player. He plays fly balls and ground balls with easy grace. He has had some difficult chances here and is charged with but one error and has averaged a hit a game for a percentage of .276. His manner of getting to first has been highly pleasing. He gets away with the crack of his bat and makes a quick dash to the bag.”[6]

Probably to give him more seasoning, the Pirates sent Booe to Indianapolis, which in turn sent him to the Wheeling Stogies of the Central League to gain more experience. He apparently ended the season with the Fort Wayne Railroaders of the Central League, since Pittsburgh drafted him from Fort Wayne on September 2 in the Rule 5 draft.[7] While with Wheeling, he was one of the players to hit the Bull Durham sign. For several years, these signs were a fixture in ballparks, and players would receive cash or free tobacco for hitting the sign or hitting a home run in a park that displayed the sign. By August of 1912 Wheeling players had hit 15 home runs, receiving 1,650 packages of Bull Durham tobacco.[8] 

The Pittsburgh Press reported on September 1, 1912 that Booe was a star for the “Smokes”, hitting .310 and stealing 35 bases. Indeed, according to The Sporting Life, on August 31, 1912 he set a new world’s record in a game at Fort Wayne by bunting and reaching first in three seconds. In addition to his speed, this feat was possible because he was a left-handed hitter and could get off to a fast start.

Everett went to spring training with the Pirates in 1913, and started the season as a utility outfielder. He was a much-heralded newcomer. Sportswriter Ralph “Davy” Davis was betting on him to become the Pirate’s regular centerfielder by Memorial Day: “Booe came along like a house on fire this March. Tried out in 1912 he was lacking in experience, but that one more spell in minor league company ground off the rough spots. Judged by his manoeuvering Southland [during spring training in Hot Springs, Arkansas] he is ready for the big show. Booe is the type of tosser Cap Clarke ever yearns for. Fleetfooted he stirs up the opposition on every move.”[9] He was also adopted by none other than Pirates legend Honus Wagner, who apparently chose a different rookie to advise each year: “Booe is a pal, pupil, and ‘roomie’ of the old-timer. And Booe looks like a youngster who will profit by instruction and develop into a good ball player. He is wonderfully fast on his feet and stands up to the plate well.”[10]

His major league debut was April 13, 1913. A week later Ralph Davis was rhapsodizing again about Booe’s talents, describing him as “a youngster [who] can’t do a thing in the baseball line except hammer the cover off the ball, run like a scared elk, field like a fiend, throw like a rifle shot, and hurl consternation into the ranks of a certain well-known aggregation from the banks of Ohio’s Rhine. Aside from that, Mr. Everett Booe, Suh, is a very common sort of pusson, suh. Yes, and that was some ball game yesterday, and the youthful Mr. Booe was some part of it. Aside from making a single and a triple, scoring two runs, batting in another tally and throwing out a runner at the plate, he didn’t do much toward sending the Reds back home without a victory in Pittsburg to their credit.”[11]

Despite the praise, Booe remained in reserve for the Pirates. Hall of Famer Max Carey held down left field that year and Owen Wilson did the same in right, but center field remained unsettled all year. Everett got into 29 games that season. He drew attention for the catches he made in the outfield – but his batting average, at .200, was not so stellar. On June 24, the Pirates sent Booe on option to Springfield of the I.I.I. League in partial payment for another outfielder, Fred Kommers. Plus, Pitttsburgh had previously taken an option on two other outfielders, Joe Kelly and George Watson, until June 25. When Fred Clarke went to collect Kommers, “he liked Kelly’s action so much that he closed the deal.”[12]

Booe was eventually returned to the Pirates, however, because he had been drafted from a Class B team. When such a player was returned to the minors, the leagues had the right to claim him in order of their classification. The Saint Paul Saints, a AA team in the American Association, wanted him – but were late in sending in the necessary $1,200.[13] By July 1 he was with Saint Paul, and by the end of the season he was near the top of the league in both batting and fielding, batting .298 with a slugging percentage of .404. 

In the fall of 1913, Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, hired Booe to coach their first football team. (He had also coached the Davidson eleven.)[14] He was also in charge of track and basketball, and would run the college’s first physical training program. He worked through most of the year, and actually selected the baseball squad and began practicing with them.

By early March of 1914, though, manager Bill Friel of St. Paul and Bill Phillips, the manager of the Indianapolis team in the upstart Federal League, were in Clinton bidding for his services. Even though he had finished the 1913 season with St. Paul, he had not signed a contract for 1914, and he decided to jump to the Feds. At first Presbyterian declined to release him from his contract, but Phillips sent another experienced player and coach, Carl Vandagrift, to replace him.

Booe played 20 games with the Hoosiers that year, and while there, he had the first base hit ever in Handlan Park in St. Louis – a double on April 16, 1914. He played mostly in the outfield, but was used occasionally in the infield. He was joined on the team by several other players who had jumped from the American and National Leagues, among them Bill McKechnie, Benny Kauff, Frank LaPorte and Cy Falkenberg. His batting average with the Hoosiers was .226 in just 31 at-bats, and he had just one extra-base hit, though he drew seven walks.

By late May, he had been sold to the Buffalo Blues, a Federal League team often known as the “Buffeds.” The Blues finished in fourth place in the Federal League that year. Booe played in 76 games for them, and had a batting average of .224, an on-base percentage of .289 and a slugging percentage of .278.   In the field, his overall percentage for the full year was .900, dragged down by the 11 errors he committed in 11 games at shortstop (.817) Once again, he played mostly in the outfield, but occasionally appeared at third base and second base as well as short. He played his final major league game with the Blues on August 29, 1914. The Indianapolis Star noted several months later that he had been released because “He did not show sufficient aggressiveness… even though the club [Buffalo] gave him a good contract and used up considerable time and money to get him away from St. Paul.”[15]

During his brief major-league career, Booe batted .219, with a slugging percentage of .270 and an on-base percentage of .289. He did not live up to his reputation as a speed merchant, stealing only 14 bases in his 125 games in the majors. He spent the remainder of his baseball career playing and managing in the minor leagues. At the beginning of the 1915 season, he was managing the minor league team in Statesville, North Carolina. By March of 1916, he was back with St. Paul, regretting his jump to the Federal League and trying to get back into the majors.[16] He ended up that season with the Springfield Ponies of the Eastern League. 

In 1917, he was with the San Antonio Bronchos, who would later become the San Antonio Bears.   He played briefly for the Bronchos until he enlisted in the 38th Infantry, 3rd Division AEF during World War I. He served as an infantry captain, and saw considerable action in France before returning to San Antonio in March of 1920. By 1922 he and his new wife, Analois Pullin Booe, had purchased a home in San Antonio, and he was dabbling in the oil business, with “interests in some of the leading oil companies of Texas.”[17] He continued to play for San Antonio through the 1925 season. During a game on September 22, 1922, he showed his versatility by coming into the game as a pitcher, allowing only one run and two hits. In 1923, when he received a significant raise, the San Antonio Express reported “Booe has been one of the most dependable players on the local team, a splendid fielder, always a dangerous man at the bat and the most reliable base runner in the Texas League. By his quiet and unassuming way, Booe has made a host of admirers who recognize him as one of the most valuable men on the Bear team.”[18]

He had several good years before he left the Bears in 1925. That final season, his batting average was .328 and his slugging percentage was .503. His fielding percentage was .991. He was the franchise’s leader in career hits, with 997, although this was during the era of the live ball. He also set a career record for stolen bases at Block Stadium/League Park, swiping 122. Meanwhile, his family was growing, with the birth of his daughter, Merle Ann, in 1921 and his son, Everett L. Booe, Jr., in 1923.

In 1926 he managed the Class C Fort Smith Twins of the Western Association. He played in 106 games for them, and batted .320 with a slugging percentage of .472. In December of that year, he was hired to manage the Danville Veterans of the I.I.I. League. He was greeted warmly in Danville. Red Hughes of The Sporting News reported that “Booe has already won himself a host of friends and it will not be another week before the old town will be for him to a man. Booe seems to be a go-getter and that is what the local fans want…While it seems to some that Booe may be allowed to sit on the bench, there are many who think he will play in the outfield. Booe is not the type who likes to sit through a ball game … His past record shows he is no loafer.”[19] Indeed not – he played in 87 games for Danville, and batted .260 with a fielding percentage of .994.

By 1928 he had moved to the Class B Dayton Aviators of the Central League. The club went 76-59 that year, finishing second in the league, and was manned by future major-leaguers Ab Wright, Jim Jordan, Mike Ryba and Marvin Gudat. When the Aviators moved to Fort Wayne and became the Fort Wayne Chiefs in 1929, Booe accompanied them as manager. He remained a player/manager, participating in 91 games in 1928 and 90 in 1929.

Everett was with two teams in 1930, the Class C Greensboro Patriots of the Piedmont League and the Class A St. Joseph Saints of the Western League. One of his pitchers on the St. Joe team was future star Dizzy Dean. Booe himself played in fewer games that season, appearing in only 58. This marked the end of his 17-year minor-league career. During his various stints in the minors, he batted .296, had on on-base percentage of .306, a slugging percentage of .362 and a fielding percentage of .974. 

By 1930, the Booes had moved to Kenedy, Texas, a small town southeast of San Antonio, where Everett owned a lumber and building materials store. His wife, who had attended the Texas Women’s University in Denton, helped customers with their interior decorating. He owned this business until 1961. 

Booe never lost his interest in baseball. In 1931 he was coaching the Kenedy White Sox, who were playing the Ormsby Chevrolets in the Southwest Texas inter-city tournament. He apparently maintained interests in the oil business. In 1954 he was wildcatting a well for the Siznoid Oil Corporation in Bee County, Texas. 

He was very active in the Kenedy community, serving as president of the Kenedy Farm Loan Association (1945-56), president of the Kenedy Country Club (1948-52), member of the State Highway Committee (1950-61), and city commissioner (1940-46). He was also a member of the Lumberman’s Association and Investment Corporation, an elder and Sunday school superintendent in the Presbyterian Church, and worked with the Little League and the Boy Scouts. He enjoyed other leisure pursuits, including golf and contract bridge.

Everett Booe died from a heart attack on May 22, 1969, and was buried in the Kenedy Cemetery. He was survived by his widow, his two children, five grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and a sister, Mrs. David McAndrew of Davidson, North Carolina. His widow, Analois, died in 1990.

Thanks to the Presbyterian College Archives for the photograph of Everett Booe.

June 11, 2011

Sources

Ancestry.com

Biographical information provided by Davidson College Archives.

Pac Sac (Presbyterian College Yearbook), 1914.

Quips and Cranks (Davidson College Yearbook), 1911.

thebbnlive.com (The Baseball Necrology online)

Notes




[1] The family is of German origin and the original spelling was Buob, according to a Booe genealogy (http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/b/o/o/Ron-Booe/).

[2] Hageman, William. Honus, the Life and Times of a Baseball Hero. Sports Publishing LLC, 1996: 190.

[3] “When Hank O’Day was Forced to Laugh.” Olean Evening Herald, July 9, 1913: 8.

[4] “Everett Booe Has Made Good Showing.” Pittsburgh Press, April 1, 1912: 18.

[5] Bisbee Daily Review, February 16, 1912: 6.

[6] “Everett Booe Has Made Good Showing”

[7] Indianapolis Star, April 18, 1912; Sporting Life 1914 v. 64, No. 9: 11; Davis, Ralph S. “Young Booe Stars for the Corsairs.” Pittsburgh Press, April 20, 1913: S2; “Dr. Carson Will Not Head Central Another Season.” Pittsburgh Press, September 1, 1912: S2.

[8] Fort Wayne News, August 22, 1912: 3.

[9] “Pirate Points.” Sporting Life, April 12, 1913: 3.

[10] The Day Book (Chicago), April 16, 1913.

[11] Davis, “Young Booe Stars for the Corsairs”

[12] “Booe Draws a Release.” Beaver Falls (Pennsylvania) Tribune, June 26, 1913: 7.

[13] “How Springfield Secured Booe; Other News Around the Circuit.” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, July 10, 1913: 9

[14] Sporting Life, February 8, 1913: 9/

[15] Indianapolis Star, March 4, 1915: 10.

[16] Toronto World, March 8, 1916: 8.

[17] San Antonio Express, Sept. 10, 1922: 25.

[18] San Antonio Express, Feb. 25, 1923: 29. 

[19] Hughes, Red. “Fever Heat in Danville.” Sporting News, March 24, 1927: 3.

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