Ad Gumbert (Courtesy of Bill Lamb)

Ad Gumbert

This article was written by Bill Lamb

Ad Gumbert (Courtesy of Bill Lamb)During his late 19th-century heyday, right-handed pitcher Ad Gumbert was regarded as one of the game’s most well-rounded performers. That status was founded on 123 major league victories led by two seasons of 20-plus wins; fielding skills that made him an outfield option; and a formidable bat with extra-base power. Gumbert was just 29 years old in December 1896 when he announced his decision to leave the National League to pursue a career in government service and elective politics in his native Pittsburgh. He soon proved an unbeatable Republican Party vote-getter and was serving his third consecutive term as a local county commissioner when felled by a brain tumor in April 1925.

Unrecognized during his lifetime and up to the present is the modest part that Ad Gumbert played in the evolution of baseball’s employment practices. Beginning in September 1987, arbitrators adjudicating player union grievances issued a series of rulings which rested upon a finding that major league club owners had colluded to suppress the increasingly expensive free agent player market. Redress took the form of a staggering $280 million award1 that, incidentally, vindicated in principle litigation instituted by Gumbert some 94 years earlier. The ensuing paragraphs take a look back at this noteworthy ballplayer-politician and baseball labor relations pioneer.

Addison Courtney Gumbert was born in Pittsburgh on October 10, 1867. He was the youngest of the five children born to railroad stockyard master Robert Wray Gumbert (1834-1902) and his New Jersey-native wife Henrietta (nee Skeen, 1836-1925).2 The patriarchal side of the family was well established locally, having descended from German Protestants who emigrated to Pennsylvania and settled in Pittsburgh before 1800.3 Young Ad received the elementary school education standard for the time and then entered the work force as a grocery store clerk. At age 18, his father’s influence – Robert Gumbert was long active in local Republican Party politics – secured our subject a position in the office of the prothonotary (chief clerk of the civil courts) and set him upon his ultimate career path.

Well-proportioned (eventually 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds) and athletically gifted, teenager Ad followed older brothers Charlie and Billy Gumbert onto local diamonds. By 1886 the three Gumberts were all members of the East End Athletic Club Athletics, a fast Pittsburgh amateur nine.4 Billy, later a major league pitcher, was the club shortstop. Hurling duties were handled by the other two Gumberts and John Tener, a future major league teammate of Ad, US Congressman, National League president, and Governor of Pennsylvania. Eventually, friends Ad Gumbert and John Tener became political allies as well.

In the meantime the two focused on playing baseball. Gumbert entered the professional ranks in late June 1887, signing with the Johnstown club of the independent Pennsylvania State Association. He began inauspiciously, dropping a 7-0 decision to Reading, but newspaper commentary on his performance was tolerant. “Gumbert, pitcher, was tried by the home club and was satisfactory,” said one review.5 Thereafter, Gumbert “played three or four games for Johnstown”6 before the club folded on July 4. Days later, Ad joined the Zanesville Kickapoos of the Ohio State League, debuting with a 9-8 victory over Columbus.7 He went 3-2 in six games for Zanesville before leaving for home in late July.8 Gumbert spent the remainder of the summer playing with his brothers on the East End Athletics.9 He concluded the season with a guest appearance for the hometown National League club in late October, pitching the Pittsburgh Alleghenys to a 16-7 exhibition game win over a semipro nine from Cleveland.10

In 1888 Ad Gumbert returned to the Zanesville Kickapoos, by then a member of the newly formed Tri-State League. Older brother Billy accompanied him and, playing under the alias Humbert, assumed the shortstop position.11 The two excelled, particularly Ad, although the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette reported that Billy Gumbert was “regarded as the finest all-around player in the Tri-State League.”12 The younger Gumbert dominated opposing batsmen, throwing no-hitters at the Mansfield Indians on June 11 and August 12,13 while recording a trio of one-hitters, as well. In all, Gumbert posted a sterling 27-9 (.750) record, with a 1.54 ERA in 327 innings pitched for Zanesville. He also struck out 253 while walking only 32.14 Making him an even more attractive prospect, the right-handed batter swung the lumber to good advantage, hitting .324.15

Gumbert’s performance garnered major league attention in late-summer 1888, with Chris Von der Ahe, owner of the defending American Association champion St. Louis Browns, being his most ardent suitor. Von der Ahe thus became the first club owner to encounter the hard-nosed contract negotiating posture that would distinguish Ad Gumbert from his ballplaying contemporaries. Although only 20 years old, Gumbert’s intelligence and his offseason job at the courthouse imbued him with confidence and legal savvy. The prothonotary’s office also provided him with a suitable career path outside the game not available to the typical late 19th-century baseball prospect desperate to escape the drudgery of life at the farm, factory, or coal mine.

In the midst of Von der Ahe’s discussions with Zanesville management about acquiring the young pitcher’s contract, Gumbert made his own demands, seeking half of the $3,000 release price reportedly sought by Zanesville.16 To further unsettle the situation, he declared. “I do not know whether I will continue in the professional ranks for another season or not. My parents do not wish me to do so, and I may possibly quit.”17 The absence of a reserve clause in Gumbert’s pact with Zanesville and the imminent collapse of the financially troubled Kickapoos franchise also provided him with leverage in dealing with Von der Ahe.18 Ultimately, the St. Louis club boss became exasperated and walked away, saying, “I would not now take [Gumbert] as a gift. He threw away an opportunity to make over $1,200 for the remainder of the season, and I will not now have anything to do with him. Let him go to Pittsburg or elsewhere.”19 Meanwhile the Zanesville club disbanded on September 6.20

Back home in Pittsburgh, Gumbert assessed contracts proffered by various other major league clubs for the remainder of the 1888 season, but again attached conditions to his acceptance of any and placed a high $200 per week price tag on his services.21 Despite such posturing he quickly accepted a proposal from the National League’s Chicago White Stockings that paid him only $500 for the remainder of the 1888 season.22 The pact, however, did not contain a reserve clause. Instead Chicago retained only a first call on Gumbert’s services for 1889, permitting the club to match any offer tendered to the pitcher by another NL team.23

Upon watching Gumbert during an off-day workout, Chicago first baseman-manager Cap Anson took an immediate liking to his broad-shouldered new charge. Gumbert had a good, if not exceptional, fastball that he spotted well. He also threw a quick, late-breaking curve and had “a fairly good drop.”24 The youngster fielded his position ably, being particularly adept at handling bunts.25 And he was a solid hitter with extra-base pop.

Ad Gumbert made his major league debut on September 15, 1888, facing the Philadelphia Quakers in a home game at Chicago’s West Side Park I. He pitched effectively, taking a 3-1 lead into the final frame, but never got another out, eventually dropping a 4-3 decision. The final outcome notwithstanding, the local press complimented the new arrival’s performance. “For a first game, Gumbert pitched remarkably well,” the Chicago Tribune opined,26 while the Daily Inter Ocean pronounced that Gumbert is “a good one [who] will show up better when he gets acquainted.”27 Five days later Ad entered the major league win column, holding the Washington Nationals to three hits en route to a 5-1 victory.

Gumbert went 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA in six late-season starts for the second-place (77-58-1, .570) White Stockings. He also played two games in the outfield to get his potent bat (8-for-24, .333) into the lineup. Suitably impressed, Chicago club boss A.G. Spalding invited Gumbert to join the Sox contingent gathered for a postseason around-the-world-tour. But Gumbert declined, reportedly because his parents disapproved.28 More likely, he did not want to risk losing his offseason job at the prothonotary’s office.

Chicago wanted the unreserved Gumbert back for the 1889 season, but contract negotiations were complicated by the National League’s recent adoption of a rigid salary stratification scheme. While the parties dickered between the $3,000 sought by Gumbert and the $2,500 offered by Chicago, he was assigned a Class B player classification, which set a $2,250 ceiling on his salary.29 When the dust settled, Gumbert acceded to the club’s terms and signed for $2,500 under an exception to the Class B rule.30

Gumbert got off slowly in 1889, dropping his first three decisions. He then recorded three straight victories, establishing himself as the junior member of a quartet of Chicago starters that eventually posted strikingly similar final numbers: Bill Hutchison, 16-17 (.485), 3.54 ERA in 318 innings; John Tener, 15-15 (.500), 3.64 ERA in 287 innings; Frank Dwyer, 16-13 (.552), 3.59 ERA in 276 innings; and Ad Gumbert, 16-13 (.552), 3.62 ERA in 246 1/3 innings. Ad enhanced his value to the club by playing 13 games in the outfield and bashing seven home runs in only 153 at-bats. He also tied playing manager Anson for second-highest slugging percentage (.471).

As the 1889 season wound down, storm clouds gathered on the game’s labor front. In early November the formation of a new, player-controlled major league initiated a furious three-way battle for playing talent among the established National League and American Association and the upstart Players League. Shortly thereafter Chicago manager Anson, a die-hard NL loyalist, visited Pittsburgh but his efforts to induce Ad Gumbert and John Tener to remain with the White Stockings were rebuffed. Both pitchers were committed to the new Brotherhood circuit.31

Unhappily for the hometown faithful, Ned Hanlon, field leader of the Players League’s Pittsburgh Burghers, found Gumbert as difficult to negotiate with as Von der Ahe and Anson had before him. Hanlon deemed the young pitcher’s salary demands “utterly unreasonable.”32 Subsequent contract discussions proved fruitless, leaving Hanlon in “high dudgeon” over Gumbert’s “preposterous” propositions.33 Several weeks later Gumbert signed with the PL’s Boston club.34 The terms of his contract were not publicly disclosed.

Whatever the cost, Gumbert proved a sound investment for the Boston Reds. He quickly settled in as the club’s number two starter behind staff ace Hoss Radbourn (27-12, .692) and posted major league career-best figures in wins (23) and winning percentage (.657). On the downside he surrendered a host of base hits (351 in 286 1/3 innings pitched) and surrendered the most home runs (18) of any PL hurler. Gumbert also played in the outfield on occasion and chipped in 11 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs with his .248 batting average. The Reds (81-48-4, .628) cruised to the first and only championship of the doomed Players League.

Upon the demise of the PL, it was rumored that Gumbert would join the new Boston club of the American Association. But Ad, while not noticeably religious, restricted his playing options via declaration that he would refuse to sign with any organization that permitted Sunday baseball, an AA staple.35 More consequential was the National League’s determination that players previously under reservation who had jumped to the Players League would revert to being the property of their former employers. In Gumbert’s case, this meant that he was obliged to return to Chicago if he wanted to play in the NL.36 For the time being, the often disputatious Gumbert did not fight the assignment, signing with Chicago for 1892 for $2,750.37

Back in Chicago, Gumbert quickly settled into the familiar role of number two starter, backing up staff stalwart Bill Hutchison (44-19, .698). Despite a 23-game-long stretch of inactivity,38 Ad turned in a solid 17-11 (.607) record, with a 3.58 ERA in 256 1/3 innings pitched. He also provided the lineup with an extra bat, posting a .305/.397/.448 slash line with the highest OPS (.844) of any Chicago player with over 100 at-bats. Chicago ended the campaign with a strong (82-53-2, .607) second-place finish, and the future looked bright. But the coming 1892 season would prove a trying one for both Ad Gumbert and the Chicago Colts [as the club had come to be called].

The seed of Gumbert’s forthcoming litigation against the Chicago ball club was planted in the offseason. Over the winter of 1891-1892, the contraction of major league roster spots initiated the previous year by the death of the Players League continued when the National League absorbed its lone remaining top echelon competitor, the American Association. Thus, in about 15 months the number of big-league clubs operating had been halved from 24 teams spread across three major leagues to a single 12-club National League.

Viewing these developments as an opportunity to constrict player salaries, new Chicago club president James A. Hart sent Gumbert a contract with a $1,000 pay cut.39 Predictably, Ad spurned the pact, declaring that he would not play for less than the $2,750 that he had received the previous season.40 With the parties at loggerheads, Chicago field leader Cap Anson, who liked Gumbert and disdained Hart, intervened on the pitcher’s behalf. Shortly thereafter, Gumbert was signed at his $2,750 salary figure.41

Gumbert rewarded Anson for his support by turning in Chicago’s only winning record (22-19, .537). The Colts (70-76-1, .486) fell to seventh place in the bloated NL’s final standings. In the process, Gumbert set a personal high mark for innings pitched (382 2/3) that included throwing a then-record 20-inning complete game against the Cincinnati Reds on June 30.42 But club president Hart again pressed his monopoly advantage, tendering Gumbert a contract for 1893 at a salary of $1,800. Gumbert promptly rejected the pact and requested his unconditional release.

The gravamen of Gumbert’s lawsuit was founded on Hart’s reply of February 5, 1893. In response to Gumbert’s request for his release, Hart stated, “your contract with the Chicago club expired the last day of the last month; consequently we have nothing to release you from, and you are free to engage with any club that will offer you a position.”43 Still only 25 years old and coming off a 22-win season for a losing club, Gumbert stayed home, anticipating a slew of contract proposals from other big-league clubs. Four months later he was still waiting for the first offer. Then in late June, Chicago traded the seemingly free agent Gumbert to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-hander Bert Abbey.44

Gumbert did not immediately resist the transfer to his hometown. Joining a Pirates club in the thick of the NL pennant chase, Gumbert posted a winning (11-7, .611) record for Pittsburgh but had difficulty adjusting to the new pitching distance, elongated to the modern 60 feet, six inches for the 1893 season. Enemy batsmen hit .301 against him and his ERA swelled to 5.15.

In the midst of his playing field struggles, Gumbert filed a lawsuit against the Chicago club in the same Allegheny County courthouse where he worked in the offseason.45 The relief sought included wages lost during the months that Gumbert had remained idle that season. The suit’s complaint that baseball’s reserve clause lacked reciprocity and infringed upon a ballplayer’s freedom to contract was a familiar one, having been deployed successfully by those jumping to the Players League only a few years earlier. Gumbert’s suit, however, alleged a new and additional grievance: collusion by major league owners. According to Gumbert, the right to free agency embodied in the Hart letter was a sham. Gumbert effectively remained bound to Chicago by virtue of a tacit agreement among National League club owners not to offer a contract to an unsigned player without approval beforehand from the player’s most recent club.46

Legal maneuvers undertaken by the Chicago club included removal of the litigation to federal court on diversity of citizenship grounds.47 Technical defenses were also interposed. For example, erroneous citation of the ballclub’s current corporate name in the lawsuit caption required dismissal of the original complaint and its refiling.48 Before the suit was tossed, however, Gumbert’s attorneys succeeded in eliciting a tell-tale admission from former Pittsburgh club owner William C. Temple regarding the collusion claim. NL magnates had indeed agreed not to offer a contract to any putative free agent ballplayer released by another club without that club’s consent, Temple testified.49

While his lawsuit meandered at the courthouse, Gumbert got back into harness for the 1894 campaign. His final record of 15-14 (.517) was slightly better than that registered by the Pirates club overall (65-65-3, .500). But Ad’s other numbers during that offensively turbocharged season (376 base hits allowed in 271 innings pitched; .325 opponent batting average; 6.04 ERA) were unsightly and his ERA+ hit a career-low 86. That winter Pittsburgh jettisoned Gumbert, trading him to the Brooklyn Grooms in exchange for catcher Tom Kinslow.50 But Ad would not sign a Brooklyn contact for 1895 until club boss Charles Byrne agreed to exempt him from getting into uniform on Sunday.51

Gumbert relished the prospect of playing for Brooklyn skipper Dave Foutz.52 The genial Foutz, a right-handed pitcher turned everyday position player, had career pitching and batting statistics that well exceed those of our subject.53 But Ad’s performance was a disappointment. He posted a losing record (11-16, .407) for a Brooklyn club that otherwise went 60-44-3 (.576). Ad’s bat, however, provided some compensation, as he hit a career-best .361 with 13 RBIs in 97 at-bats. On another front, Gumbert was back in court before the season was over, reinstituting his reserve clause/collusion lawsuit against the Chicago club and now seeking $10,000 in damages.54

Brooklyn used Gumbert only sparingly in 1896, with almost six weeks separating his third start (on May 22) from his fourth (on July 1), all losses. Once placed on notice of his imminent release, Ad immediately signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.55 In his first start for the Phillies, he notched a 10-inning win over Pittsburgh. He continued to pitch creditably, appearing in 11 games with a 5-3 (.625) log that included a five-hit shutout of the Washington Nationals in mid-August, the seventh whitewash of his major-league career.

Not quite 29 when the 1896 season ended and seemingly rejuvenated, Gumbert was placed on the Philadelphia reserve list for the ensuing season.56 But upon being promoted in the prothonotary’s office that December, Ad Gumbert promptly announced his retirement from baseball.57 The announcement was greeted with expressions of admiration and regret, a Pittsburgh newspaper commenting that “the game loses a good player and a gentleman.”58 Sporting Life editor Francis C. Richter concurred, declaring “Mr. Gumbert’s retirement will be a distinct loss to the league, as he was in every way a credit to the sport. He was well connected, educated, of fine habits and a thorough gentleman at all times.”59

In nine major-league seasons Gumbert compiled a solid 123-102 (.547) pitching record. He was not a strikeout artist; his single-season high was only 118 (in over 380 innings in 1892). But he had good control, averaging less than three walks per nine innings pitched. Ad also capably supported himself with the bat. His career .275/.338/.396 slash line was consistently near and occasionally superior to the overall numbers posted by the clubs that he pitched for. And the defensive instincts that made him a standout fielding hurler also permitted him to be used in the outfield on 38 occasions.

Gumbert did not abandon the game upon his departure from the major-league scene, playing with Pittsburgh-area semipro and amateur clubs (often with his brother Billy) into his early 40s.60 He also did some coaching and umpiring. But for the most part, Gumbert concentrated on the duties of his position as clerk of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and on advancing his political ambitions. He also attended to his own case against the Chicago club, now inching its way forward on the federal court docket.

The parties having waived the right to a jury trial, the Gumbert case was argued before United States Circuit Court Judge Joseph Buffington in December 1897.61 Some eight months later, judgment was rendered in the defense’s favor.62 Newspaper coverage of the outcome, however, was superficial. A widely circulated wire dispatch reported that Chicago’s defense attorneys had argued that “if it is legal for employees to strike, it is equally legal for the employers to make agreements for mutual protection. This view was evidently taken by Judge Buffington.”63 Likely more perceptive was the opinion of Sporting Life editor Richter that the court had concluded that “Gumbert got the wrong pig by the ear” – had he sued the entire National League instead of just its Chicago club, he “would either have made the League come to terms or won his suit in open court.”64 Whatever the case, almost a century would pass before the issue of collusion by major league ball club owners was scrutinized again.

Gumbert appears to have been unfazed by his courtroom defeat. His energies were focused on his duties as court clerk and on local Republican Party political affairs. He also got married, taking Anna Elizabeth Boyle as his bride. The February 1900 birth of the couple’s only child, William Boyle Gumbert, completed the family.

Having held various Republican Party committee posts, Gumbert first sought elective office in November 1906, standing as the GOP candidate for Allegheny County Sheriff. In accepting the nomination, Gumbert had said, “my experience in connection with the courts has familiarized me with the various forms of writs and with the many duties that the office of sheriff involves [and] I would enter upon those duties confident of being able to perform them.”65 County residents evidently shared that confidence, as Gumbert swamped his Democratic Party opponent by a margin of better than two-to-one at the polls. Indeed, Gumbert was the top vote-getter on the Republican slate.66

Prior to the expiration of his four-year term, Gumbert resigned as county sheriff to accept appointment as assistant director of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Charities and Corrections.67 During his tenure there, he also served as “chairman of the Pittsburgh committee that aided in the relief of the flood sufferers of Dayton and other Ohio cities and won high praise for his work.”68 In 1915 Gumbert handily won election to the powerful three-member board of Allegheny County Commissioners. He was serving his third consecutive board term when wife Anna succumbed to post-surgical peritonitis in March 1922.69 Ad remarried the following year, taking 43-year-old divorcée Daisy Skillman Sprague, an opera singer and voice coach, as his second wife. The union was received coolly by son Bill.70

In early April 1925 Gumbert was hospitalized for treatment of a recently discovered brain tumor. The affliction left him partially paralyzed, and the long-term prognosis was not favorable. Still, Gumbert’s death early on the morning of April 23 “came as a surprise.”71 Addison Courtney Gumbert was 57. Glowing tributes published in the Pittsburgh press included reminiscences of the deceased’s baseball days.72 Funeral services attended by thousands at the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church73 were followed by interment besides first wife Anna at Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Gumbert was survived by his son William, sister Ida Gumbert Osmond, brothers Charlie and Billy Gumbert, second wife Daisy, and aged mother Henrietta Skeen Gumbert. Henrietta passed away less than a month later after a brief illness at age 88.74

Some 62 years after his passing, Ad Gumbert and his late 19th-century assertion of major-league club owner collusion went unmentioned when that issue made sports page headlines. Nevertheless, the historical record establishes that Gumbert is the first party to have expressly articulated the owner collusion grievance that so radically altered baseball’s financial landscape in September 1987.



This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Rick Zucker and fact-checked by Tony Oliver.



Sources for the biographical info imparted above include the Ad Gumbert file maintained at the Giamatti Research Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York; US Census data and other government records accessed via; Gumbert profiles published in the New York Clipper, October 1, 1892, Baseball’s First Stars, Frederick Ivor-Campbell, Robert L. Tiemann, and Mark Rucker, eds. (Cleveland: SABR, 1996), and Major League Player Profiles, 1871-1900, Vol. 2, David Nemec, ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011); and informative obituaries published in the Pittsburgh press in April 1925. Unless otherwise specified, stats have been taken from Baseball-Reference.



1 An incisive overview of the collusion determination is provided in Steve Beitler, “The Empire Strikes Out: Collusion in Baseball in the 1980s,” SABR Baseball Research Journal, 2007, accessed online on March 19, 2024.

2 Ad’s older siblings were Sarah (born 1859), Charles (1860), Ida (1863), and William (1865).

3 The clan founder was Christian Gumbert (originally Gumber), a German-born patriot who fought in the Revolutionary War. Another branch of the family spawned Harry “Gunboat” Gumbert, a capable National League pitcher (1935-1950) who is often misidentified as Ad’s grandnephew. Ad and Harry Gumbert were actually first cousins, two generations removed. 

4 “Keck Says: Recalling the Three Gumberts, A Great Pitching Family,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, March 24, 1942: 26, complete with 1886 East End Athletics team photo.

5 “The State League,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, June 25, 1887: 6.

6 “Something about Gumbert,” St. Louis Republic, August 18, 1888: 6.

7 “Columbus Beaten,” Wheeling (West Virginia) Daily Intelligencer, July 12, 1887: 5: “Gumbert and [catcher] Miller, the new Zanesville men, did excellent work.”

8 As calculated by the author from newspaper box scores. Gumbert also went 3-for-12 (.250) at the plate. Note: Baseball-Reference has no 1887 minor league data for Ad Gumbert, misattributing his stay in Zanesville and Johnstown to his brother Billy Gumbert (who played amateur baseball in Pittsburgh that year). Any uncertainty about the identity of the Gumbert brother playing for Zanesville is erased by “Sporting Notes,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, July 19, 1887: 5: “Ad Gumbert pitched quite a fine game yesterday against Sandusky, striking out seven men” during a 5-3 Ohio State League win.

9 See e.g., “A Great Game,” Pittsburgh Post, August 15, 1887: 6: “Gumbert held the visitors down to three actual hits” and struck out 17 in a 2-1 East End triumph over a team from Beaver Falls.

10 “Finished Their Season,” Pittsburgh Post, October 24, 1887: 3.

11 “Von Der Ahe Could Not Buy Him,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, August 18, 1888: 5. See also, “Billy Gumbert,” Major League Player Profiles, 1871-1900, Vol. 1, David Nemec, ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011), 317.

12 “Von Der Ahe Could Not Buy Him,” above.

13 The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff, eds. (Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, Inc., 3d ed., 2007), 152.

14 William E. McMahon, “Ad Gumbert,” Baseball’s First Stars (Cleveland: SABR, 1996), 172. Baseball-Reference has no 1888 minor league stats for Ad Gumbert.

15  William E. McMahon, “Ad Gumbert,” Baseball’s First Stars, above. See also, 1888 Tri-State League stats published in the 1889 Reach Official American Association Base Ball Guide, 88, and “Gumbert’s Record,” Pittsburg Press, December 29, 1888: 7.

16 “Love and Base Ball,” Philadelphia Times, September 2, 1888: 16.

17 “Von Der Ahe Could Not Buy Him,” above.

18 “Grand Stand Chat,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 4, 1888: 8.

19 “The Browns at Home,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 11, 1888: 8.

20 At the time, the Zanesville Kickapoos were contending for the Tri-State League pennant with a record of 63-39 (.618).

21 See “Gumbert’s Big Demand,” Pittsburgh Post, September 11, 1888: 6.

22 “Gumbert Goes to Chicago,” Cincinnati Enquirer, September 13, 1888: 2; “Gumbert Plays in Chicago,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean,” September 13, 1888: 3.

23 “Gumbert Goes to Chicago,” above.

24 “Base Ball and Other Sports,” Pittsburg Press, August 27, 1888: 2. “Notes of the Game,” Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1888: 11.

25 Years later, Sporting Life’s Chicago correspondent recalled Gumbert’s uncanny ability to anticipate where a ball would be bunted. It was “as if he were a mind reader,” heading in the right direction to scoop up the bunt as soon as the ball left his pitching hand. See “Gumbert’s Forte,” Sporting Life, December 27, 1898: 1.

26 “Gumbert’s First Game,” Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1888: 11.

27 “Baffled by Buffinton,” Chicago Sunday Inter Ocean, September 16, 1888: 2.

28 “Notes and Comments,” Sporting Life, October 3, 1888: 2.

29 “Gumbert Still Unsettled,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, March 5, 1889: 7; “Gumbert in Class B,” Pittsburg Dispatch, February 10, 1889: 6.

30 “Gumbert Was Bluffing,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 28, 1889: 8; “Gumbert Will Play Here,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, March 27, 1889: 8. Because the $2,500 offer was extended to Gumbert before he was officially classified, it was deemed not to violate the NL’s newly-enacted salary dictate.

31 “Capt. Anson’s Fruitless Mission,” Chicago Tribune, December 4, 1889: 6. “Quest Now Reigns Supreme,” Pittsburgh Post, December 14, 1889: 6.

32 “Gumbert’s Contract,” Pittsburg Dispatch, January 22, 1890: 6. See also, “Ad Gumbert Wants the Planet,” Chicago Tribune, January 23, 1890: 3.

33 “Hanlon Mad at Gumbert,” Cincinnati Enquirer, January 24, 1890: 2. Hanlon had better luck with John Tener, signing him to a PL Pittsburgh contract.

34 “Base Ball Gossip,” Worcester Daily Spy, February 17, 1890: 3; “Gumbert Goes with Boston’s Brotherhood,” New York Herald, February 14, 1890: 9; “Gumbert for Boston,” Pittsburg Dispatch, February 14, 1890: 6.

35 “Base Ball Notes,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 21, 1891: 5; “A Review of Sports,” Pittsburg Dispatch, December 21, 1890: 15.

36 “Balked Again,” Pittsburgh Post, January 30, 1891: 6. “Hanlon and the Mogul,” Pittsburgh Post, February 7, 1891: 6.

37 “Guy Hecker’s Story,” Pittsburg Press, March 2, 1891: 6. “Anson Signs Gumbert,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, February 21, 1891: 6.

38 Following a 14-6 loss to Boston on June 11, Gumbert saw no action in the box until posting an 11-3 win over Philadelphia on July 9, prompting a Chicago newspaper to jibe that Gumbert’s “baseball trousers have gone threadbare by nature of long bench warming this season.” Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1891: 6.

39 “Deep Cut in Wages,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, January 21, 1892: 6.

40 “Ad Gumbert’s Ultimatum,” Pittsburgh Post, February 26, 1892: 6.

41 “Ad Gumbert Signs,” Pittsburg Dispatch, March 5, 1892: 8; “Gumbert to Play with Chicago,” Chicago Tribune, March 4, 1892: 7.

42The game ended in a 7-7 tie with Cincinnati starter Tony Mullane going the distance as well. See “Twenty Innings and No Result,” Chicago Tribune, July 1, 1892: 8.

43 “Ad Gumbert Released,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, February 8, 1893: 7, quoting the Hart letter.

44 “Chicago Has Another Pitcher,” Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1893: 7; “Glasscock and Gumbert,” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, June 28, 1893: 6.

45 “The Gumbert Suit,” Sporting Life, August 26, 1893: 1; “Base Ball Notes,” Washington (DC) Evening Star, August 11, 1893: 3.

46 “The Law and Baseball,” a widely circulated wire service story published in the New Orleans Item, September 21, 1893: 4; (Springfield) Daily Illinois State Journal, September 17, 1893: 9; Wheeling (West Virginia) Register, September 17, 1893: 6.

47 Plaintiff Gumbert and the defendant Chicago corporation were residents of different states.

48 “Gumbert’s Case,” Sporting Life, December 15, 1894: 3; “Gumbert’s Suit,” Sporting Life, December 2, 1893: 1. See also, “Non-Suit Is Entered,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, November 24, 1894: 4; “Pitcher Gumbert Loses His Suit,” Kansas City Times, November 24, 1894: 2; “Sporting,” Pittsburg Press, November 24, 1894: 5.

49 “Baseball in Court,” Pittsburg Press, November 23, 1894: 1.

50 “Gumbert Coming to Brooklyn,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 27, 1895: 4; “Kinslow for Gumbert,” Pittsburgh Post, January 26, 1895: 6.

51 “Gumbert Under Contract,” Pittsburg Press, February 4, 1895: 3; “Ad Gumbert May Refuse to Go to Brooklyn,” Pittsburg Press, January 27, 1895: 8.

52 As reflected in a letter Ad wrote to his mother that was re-published in “Ball Players in Town,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 15, 1895: 5.

53 Before his arm went bad, Foutz posted a sterling 147-66 (.690) record as a pitcher. As a batsman, Foutz had a career .276 BA, with two 100+ RBI seasons. Other two-way contemporaries whose numbers exceed those of Ad Gumbert include Bob Caruthers (218-99, .282 BA), Jack Stivetts (203-132, .298 BA), and Guy Hecker (175-146, .282 BA).

54 “Base Ball Notes,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 19, 1895: 5; “Chicago Club Sued,” Pittsburgh Post, September 18, 1895: 6.

55 “Gumbert Goes to Philadelphia,” Baltimore Sun, July 3, 1896: 6; “Ad Gumbert Released,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 3, 1896: 4.

56 “Philadelphia News,” Sporting Life, October 10, 1896: 3.

57 “Ad Gumbert Promoted,” Pittsburgh Post, December 29, 1896: 2; “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, December 26, 1896: 4.

58 “Baseball Brevities,” Pittsburg Press, January 2, 1897: 5.

59 “Gumbert Really Retires,” Sporting Life, January 9, 1897: 9.

60 No title, Pittsburgh Gazette Times, January 8, 1907: 4: “‘Ad’ Gumbert, the well known East End pitcher, signed with the Allegheny County team yesterday for a three-year term at the largest salary ever paid a hurler hereabouts.”

61 “Sporting Notes,” Pittsburgh Post, December 7, 1897: 6; “In the United States Circuit Court,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, December 7, 1897: 3; “Ad Gumbert’s Claim,” Pittsburg Press, December 6, 1897: 9.

62 “Hart Calls the Decision Just,” Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, August 18, 1898: 4; “Ad Gumbert Lost Again,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 18, 1898: 6: “Gumbert Lost,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 17, 1898: 4.

63 “Gumbert’s Case,” Boston Globe, August 18, 1898: 6; “The Case of Pitcher Ad Gumbert,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 18, 1898: 5.

64 “Gumbert’s Case,” Sporting Life, August 27, 1898: 4. Without the verbatim text of Judge Buffington’s ruling, it is impossible to render informed commentary on the legal basis for the outcome of the Gumbert case. That said, the Richter hypothesis seems far more plausible to the author than that supposed by the general press.

65 “Gumbert Proud of his Record,” Pittsburg Press, October 7, 1906: 4.

66 “Gumbert Leads Ticket,” Pittsburgh Post, November 21, 1906: 2.

67 “Gumbert Will Head Charities Department,” Pittsburgh Post, December 17, 1909: 2.

68 “Addison C. Gumbert,” Pittsburgh Post, April 25, 1925: 6.

69 Per the Pennsylvania death certificate for Anna Boyle Gumbert (1872-1922), accessed via

70 Following Ad Gumbert’s death, his widow and his son promptly became adversaries in probate proceedings in which Bill Gumbert prevailed. See “Gumbert’s Will Gives All to Son,” Pittsburgh Post, April 28, 1925: 8; “Gumbert’s Son Made Sole Heir,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 28, 1925: 10. See also, “Gumbert Will May Be Invalidated by Slip-Up; Died Intestate Is Belief,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 25, 1925: 1.

71 “County Commissioner Gumbert Dies: Tumor on Brain Is Cause of Death,” Pittsburgh Press, April 23, 1925: 1.

72 “Baseball Record Says Late Addison Gumbert Was Brilliant Pitcher,” Pittsburgh Press, April 26, 1925: 22; “Remarkable Career in Majors, Experience of Ad Gumbert,” Pittsburgh Post, April 24, 1925: 11; “Death of Addison Gumbert Recalls Interesting Career on Diamond,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 24, 1925: 13.

73 “Gumbert Rites Are Attended by Thousands,” Pittsburgh Post, April 26, 1925: 17.

74 “Death Record,” Pittsburgh Press, May 19, 1925: 3.

Full Name

Addison Courtney Gumbert


October 10, 1867 at Pittsburgh, PA (USA)


April 23, 1925 at Pittsburgh, PA (USA)

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