Ted Easterly

This article was written by Adam Klinker

Ted Easterly (Bain Collection, Library of Congress)The tale is familiar to followers of baseball legend: Young boy growing up in rough-and-tumble circumstances, running roughshod over parents and teachers, unrepentantly scoffing at law and decency, finally ends up in front of the local magistrate who has him declared incorrigible and packed off to the nearest reformatory. There, the lad discovers an outlet for his aggression in handling mitt and bat.

Ted Easterly was already 15 in the summer of 1900 when the story above came to pass, but his tale could serve as a template for an imp in Baltimore who, a few years later, would find himself on the same course. Even if Babe Ruth would surpass the briefly celebrated Easterly in every facet of the game, the two surely could have compared notes on hard-scrabble childhoods redeemed by eager promise on the sandlots, and subsequently becoming the colorful subjects of many a sportswriter’s correspondence.

Before he maligned Ruth, Ring Lardner’s fabled busher Jack Keefe bellyached about Easterly’s presence and prowess as a pinch-hitter on the Chicago White Sox of 1912 and 1913. Easterly, heretofore a catcher, was coming to prominence as an off-the-bench bat, leading the American League in pinch hits in 1912 with 13.

“I was going up there with a stick when Callahan calls me back and sends Easterly up,” Lardner has Keefe report in You Know Me, Al. “I don’t know what kind of managing you call that. I hit good on the training trip and he must of knew they had no chance to score off me in the innings they had left while they were liable to murder his other pitchers. I come back to the bench pretty hot and I says You’re making a mistake. He says if Comiskey had wanted you to manage this team he would of hired you. Then Easterly pops out and I says Now I guess you’re sorry you didn’t let me hit.”1

It might’ve gone well for Keefe that he didn’t make any such quips to Easterly. The truth about the catcher’s life was far rawer, stickier, and stranger than fiction.

“BAD DOWNEY BOY,” shouts the headline in the August 15, 1900, edition of the Los Angeles Times. “Theodore H. Easterly, a fifteen-year-old Downey boy who looks the fag end of a dilapidated youth, was committed to the Whittier reform school by Judge Trask yesterday, to remain during minority.

“Easterly is said to be a very bad little boy. Even his mother is compelled to say so, and the neighbors of the family willingly corroborate her. The boy has persistently refused to mind his parents, balks at going to school, and delights in running away from home.”

The final straw for young Easterly, the Times continued, was the theft of a dozen chickens, which he promptly sold to a hotel in Downey before absconding to Oxnard, where he was captured. Asked from the bench what he thought about spending his next years in the reformatory, Easterly, “a most nonchalant lad,” replied readily, “I don’t care.”2

Those words may just as well have been tattooed on Easterly’s heart if the next 30 years of his life and baseball career are any indication. Buffeted about by the usual uncertainties of a career in the early days of the organized game, Easterly also continued courting his share of trouble both on and off the diamond. Nevertheless, he was a doughty backstop and an adept hitter, tacking up an even-.300 career average in seven big-league seasons.

In 459 games behind the plate, Easterly threw out 427 attempted basestealers, good enough to place him 92nd on the all-time list — better than Hall of Famers Mike Piazza, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Cochrane, and joined in a tie by Thurman Munson. Still, his career was marked by doubters who thought his play uneven and his arm far too wild to be corralled.

News reports from Easterly’s first spring training with the Cleveland Naps document his troubles with footwork and using his body to block balls in the dirt. Even as late as 1912, when Easterly was a three-year American League veteran, sportswriters chided him for “wildness” in his throws and speculated that he was a lock to be sent to the minors.

Easterly was a favorite of the venerable Deacon McGuire, himself a former catcher and a coach and later manager of the Naps, who saw promise in the youngster’s bat. The youngster paid attention to McGuire’s homilies, making himself malleable to advice and the possibility of experiencing growth — perhaps for the first time in his young life.

“McGuire discovered that Easterly did not step out from the plate far enough on a ball to be wasted,” wrote Red Perkins in the Los Angeles Times. “He showed the youngster how and since that time Easterly has been doing the thing that used to be his weakness as though it were the most natural thing in the world.”3

Less natural for the young Easterly were the fashions of the day.

On the field, Easterly was noted for using a heavier-than-usual mitt. His Cleveland teammates attested to the stout glove in 1912: “Every man has taken his turn at trying to wield it in warming up, and each one has tossed it aside after taking half a dozen throws. ‘It weighs about a ton,’ said one of the squad. ‘When I use my own glove after handling that thing I’m light-handed, and can’t place my glove for five or ten minutes.’”4 He was also reported to swing the heftiest bat in the majors: “An average player can’t lift it up unless he’s feeling extra strong,” reported the Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram.5

On the boulevard, Easterly cut a less impressive figure. Upon first arriving to play with the Angels in 1907, the reform-school graduate came dressed in what papers called a “peaceful valley dicer,” replete with a celluloid collar.

“Ted is believed to have accumulated it in Downey, Cal., which was the scene of his amateur activities,” read a report in the Laporte (Pennsylvania) Republican News Item headlined “Ted Easterly No Dude.” “Celluloid collars were considered quite recherche in Downey at that time. Comparatively few of them, however, survive at the present time.”6

Wild arm, heavy mitt, bat, or outmoded duds, Easterly did not seem to care.

Theodore Harrison Easterly was born on April 20, 1885 in Lincoln, Nebraska, son of Eugene J. Easterly, a carpenter, and Laura J. (Drescher) Easterly. Theodore’s paternal grandfather, Jacob Easterly, had also been a carpenter and a paternal great-grandfather, the Rev. Lawrence Easterly, had been a minister in the Church of the United Brethren and was descended from German settlers.7 Lawrence Easterly had started the Easterlys on a westerly track, leaving Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, for Ohio. Jacob Easterly settled in Iowa for a time and Eugene J. Easterly was born in territorial Nebraska around 1859. Eventually, all these Easterlys ended up in California and Jacob died in Los Angeles County in 1915, the same year of his grandson’s chicken theft.

After his remand to the Whittier State Reform School — where he was a “freshman” and up-and-coming pugilist and future World Series fixer Abe Attell was a “senior” — Ted did indeed find his outlet in baseball. Harry A. Williams, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times in the early twentieth century, laid claim to having discovered Easterly during one of the many games the reform school played against the neighboring Poets of Whittier College.

Williams said that after Easterly’s “graduation,” the catcher caught on with a series of semipro teams in San Diego and Pasadena for a few seasons — the Oil and Agricultural League, where Easterly undoubtedly encountered a young Walter Johnson for the first time — while the sportswriter tried in vain to get him a tryout with the PCL’s Los Angeles Angels, helmed by player-manager Frank “Pop” Dillon.8 The persistence paid off late in the 1907 season when Dillon found himself with both of his regular backstops nursing injuries.

Easterly played 11 games for the Angels in their PCL championship 1907 season, notching nine hits in 40 at bats and earning a return invitation for the 1908 season, in which the Angels would repeat as titleholders, their fourth championship in the league’s six-season history.

In 1908 Easterly missed out on the opportunity to join Frank Chance’s Chicago Cubs in the middle of their run to the World Series championship because Los Angeles asked too high a price for the 23-year-old catcher’s services. Easterly wound up hitting .309 with three home runs in 123 games with LA, the only .300 hitter in the league, but with too few plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.9 Behind the plate, he was gaining more confidence, too. In one game, he tied a PCL mark by notching seven assists.10

In August 1908 several major-league teams were vying for Easterly and he ultimately found himself drafted by Cleveland on September 1.11 The deal was anything but settled, however, according to reports in Los Angeles. After an initial accord with the Naps, the Cleveland management thought better of it and returned Easterly to the Angels. By late October Cleveland had curiously reclaimed the catcher and, wrote the Times, “even Easterly himself does not know to whom he belongs or where he will play next year.”12

But March of 1909 found the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Easterly in spring training with the Naps in Mobile, Alabama, and picking up some of the finer points of receiving from the punishing pitching staff Cleveland boasted, including Addie Joss, Cy Falkenberg, Heinie Berger, and a formidable new acquisition, Cy Young, who cited Easterly as his favorite catcher in his time with the Naps.13

Cleveland owner Charles Somers also took an early liking to the rookie.

“The first thing Charles Somers asked when he arrived [in Mobile for spring training] was, ‘Is Easterly going to catch today?’” Red Perkins wrote. “After he saw the new man he was all smiles and sunshine.”14

When camp broke, Easterly headed north with the Naps on an $1,800 contract, expected to assume at least a few strands of the starting-catcher mantle from 35-year-old Harry Bemis, Cleveland’s regular backstop since 1902, who was often hampered by injury.15 Splitting the duties with Easterly would be the veteran Nig Clarke. Clarke was a fair receiver and led the American League in caught-stealing percentage in 1908, but Easterly was expected to swing a more powerful bat.

Easterly saw his first action, as a pinch-hitter, in a game against the Detroit Tigers on April 17, 1909. His first start came three days later, catching Cy Young at Detroit on April 20, Easterly’s 24th birthday. Hitting fifth behind Cleveland player-manager Nap Lajoie, Easterly collected a single hit in five at-bats and a run scored as the Naps trounced the Tigers, 12-2. Ty Cobb swiped a base off the rookie receiver, but otherwise Young and his batterymate were masterful, allowing just three hits to the Detroit powerhouse on its way to a third consecutive American League pennant.

Easterly continued to split time with Clarke behind the dish, but was Young’s preferred catcher. The Naps’ season got off to a rough start and the team sat at 16-21 at the end of May, but a hot June and July helped push the team up in the ranks. Easterly played in 39 games and hit .279 with nine doubles and five triples in the two-month stretch. He clipped the .291 batting mark with a 2-for-2 performance that included a triple against Walter Johnson in a 3-0 win over the Washington Senators on July 12. A week later against the Boston Red Sox, he reached his midseason peak with a .295 average, going 2-for-4 in the second game of a doubleheader. In the first game he was behind the plate for Young when shortstop Neal Ball executed the modern era’s first unassisted triple play.

Easterly notched his first career homer off the Philadelphia Athletics’ Jack Coombs in a game at Shibe Park on September 27. His 10 triples were enough for a 10th-place tie in the American League.

In the receiving game, the young backstop gunned down 49 percent of would-be basestealers and allowed just nine passed balls in 637 innings. Easterly was singled out for having allowed Cobb and Eddie Collins just five thefts apiece, the lowest season totals for the era’s premier basestealers against the season’s regular backstops.16 Rewarding Easterly for a solid rookie campaign, Cleveland owner Somers gave the catcher a $300 a raise in 1910, pushing his salary to $2,100.17

The 1910 season was one of transitions and milestones for Easterly. After a slow start that saw him play in just 14 of the team’s first 37 games and hit just .256, Easterly again settled into the starting catching role and was hitting .314 at the close of June, when he was essentially the entirety of the Naps catching corps as Clarke was in the hospital with typhus and Bemis was laid up with an ankle injury.18 July saw Easterly’s average climb as high as .354, and he was hitting .333 when the Naps squared off against the Senators at Washington in the second game of a doubleheader on July 19.

That day, a 43-year-old Young, just 2-7 to start his 21st major-league season, was on the hill at Griffith Stadium. He was seeking, for the fourth time, his 500th career victory. This time his favorite Naps receiver, Easterly, would prove helpful in more ways than one, hitting a tying sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and, when Young couldn’t nail it down in the bottom half, getting a walk in the 11th that pushed in the go-ahead run.19

In mid-August of 1910 Easterly experienced a mild shakeup in his baseball life and a monumental one in his personal life. First, on August 18, after life exclusively as a catcher, Easterly was penciled into the Naps lineup in right field. Since mid-July his hitting had declined, as he hit just .218 in the 30 games leading up to his move to the outfield to drop his season average below .300 for the first time since the earliest days of the 1910 campaign. He’d see action behind the plate in just two more games and appeared to respond well to the move to right, hitting .315 over the last 31 games in which he appeared, to put his season average at .306, seventh-best mark in the league (but again not enough to qualify). To his right, in center, was another young player who it was hoped would “live up to advance notices”: Shoeless Joe Jackson.20

(The late diminishment of Easterly’s numbers may also have had another cause. On August 15 his wife of five years, Myrtle, left him, taking with her the couple’s young son, Albert Eugene. Easterly did not file for divorce until three years later, after which he charged that Myrtle was consorting with other men in the Los Angeles area.21

(The case was tried in Los Angeles in January 1914 but not finalized until August 6, 1915. On the testimony of Easterly’s parents, especially his mother, Laura, the court ruled that Myrtle Easterly had deserted her husband and was at fault in the separation. Custody of 8-year-old Albert was granted to Ted’s parents while the baseball season was in session.22)

Easterly was a rumored trade candidate for much of the 1910-1911 offseason. Calling him a “failure as a catcher,” the Dayton (Ohio) Herald said his case demonstrated “the chances for [a] player whose ability is confined solely to batting to stick in the majors (are) 50 times those of a player who is competent in every other department.”23 Within weeks of the season’s conclusion, Easterly’s name was floated, along with Jackson’s, as potential targets of Clark Griffith’s Cincinnati Reds.24

As spring training approached, however, the scribes around Cleveland began pushing purple-prosed optimism on Easterly and agreed that a Naps outfield of Jackson, Graney, and Easterly would be a formidable one.

The 1911 campaign began auspiciously for Easterly, if not for the Naps, as the squad’s new right fielder went 4-for-4 against Jack Powell and the St. Louis Browns in a 12-3 defeat. Cleveland got off to a 6-11 start, after which Deacon McGuire, who’d taken the managerial reins from Nap Lajoie the year before, resigned and gave way to Cleveland first baseman George Stovall, a popular replacement with the Naps.

Easterly — who got another raise in 1911, to $2,40025 — hit safely  in 17 of Cleveland’s first 21 games and was swatting .358 at the end of May, having played in 42 of the Naps’ 44 contests, starting 40 of them in right field. June, July, and August saw Easterly’s regular playing time greatly reduced by an injury to his throwing hand.26 He caught his first game of the season on June 15 against the Boston Red Sox, and caught the second game of a July 4 doubleheader against St. Louis. But during the high-summer months of the season while shelved from the outfield, Easterly was learning a new talent: pinch-hitting. Between June 8 and August 29 he came off the bench 21 times and collected nine hits, including a double, a triple, and — in a 2-1 loss to Washington on August 29 — a home run in the bottom of the ninth in an abortive comeback attempt.

By September Easterly was recovered enough, and the Naps’ catching ranks depleted enough, that Stovall sent the erstwhile right fielder back behind the plate. He caught 18 of Cleveland’s last 34 games but hit just .242 over the span, dropping his season average from .350 on August 30 to a still sterling .323. Stovall led the Naps to a third-place finish in the American League, Cleveland’s first winning record since 1908.

The outfielding experiment for Easterly was over almost as soon as it began. And while he played a passable right field for Stovall, Somers had his eye on Harry Davis to manage Cleveland in 1912. Davis was in the twilight of his career with the Connie Mack-managed Athletics, but 11 seasons with the Tall Tactician had not taught him much about skippering. One of his first moves was to trade the popular Stovall to the Browns, leaving the Naps without a seasoned first baseman. Davis then reinstalled Easterly behind the plate.

Again under the yoke of mask and pads, Easterly muddled through the season’s early going. He was hitting just .233 as May broke, but thereafter proceeded on an extended tear that saw him hit .313 with two homers and 16 RBIs over the next 54 games. The Naps’ fortunes did not follow Easterly’s, however. The team went 39-50 in that time, including a seven-game losing streak going into an August 7 tilt with the Red Sox. That morning, Easterly woke up to find himself the property of the Chicago White Sox.

Easterly arrived on the South Side August 8 and the Chicago Tribune reported that he was bought by Charles Comiskey to fulfill a utility need, but mostly for his steady nerves as a pinch-hitter.27 Easterly appeared in 30 games for the Sox to end 1912, entering 21 of them as a pinch-hitter. He notched five pinch-hits in 19 at-bats for Chicago, finishing with a season total of 13 pinch blows to lead the American League. His season average landed at .311, 10th best in the junior circuit, and the 14 double plays in which he took part as a catcher led the league.28 But the emergence of a 19-year-old rookie may have signaled that Easterly’s White Sox catching career was limited. Ray Schalk and Easterly both took the field for the first time as White Sox on August 11 against Philadelphia. Easterly pinch-hit for Eddie Cicotte in the bottom of the ninth, banging out an RBI single in a comeback effort that fell short. Schalk also picked up a knock in the rally to go 1-for-3. Over the next 17 years, he proved quite capable both at and behind the plate for Chicago, enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. After 1912, Easterly would have just 60 more games to play in the American League before his career took another outlaw turn.

Eager to rid himself of Easterly after the 1913 season, Comiskey thought he had a way to do so. The White Sox had purchased the contract of outfielder Larry Chappell from the Milwaukee Brewers, champions of the American Association, for consideration including a player to be named later. At the end of 1913 Comiskey thought the 28-year-old Easterly could be that player. The Old Roman was quickly rebuffed.

“Catcher Ted Easterly, of the White Sox, is too old to canter with a bunch of pennant winners,” read a report in the Indianapolis News. “This in effect was what Manager [Pep] Clark, of the Brewers, wrote to owner Comiskey of the Sox, today, refusing to take Easterly as part payment in the deal by which Larry Chappell became a White hosed outfielder.”29 Reports also circulated that Easterly was bound for the PCL.

Sensing he wasn’t wanted and perhaps drawing on his old outlaw instincts, Easterly beat everyone to the punch. On January 12, 1914, in violation of the reserve clause, he signed a three-year contract to play for his old Naps manager, George Stovall, now helming the Kansas City Packers of the new Federal League.

The jump to the Federal League agreed with Easterly. He still didn’t quite measure up as a backstop, committing 24 errors and allowing 17 passed balls in 1914, both tops in the league. But he gunned down 45 percent of basestealers and caught 1,046 innings.

With the bat, Easterly was hitting .368 in mid-May. And even after a two-week slump, he was still safely above the .300 mark when, on June 16, he unleashed a true demonstration of his potential. Hosting the Baltimore Terrapins, Easterly went 4-for-5 with a double, then proceeded to gather a hit in each of the Packers’ next 20 contests. During the streak, he was 37-for-81 with four doubles, two triples, 22 RBIs, and just one strikeout.

The long season behind the plate eventually caught up with Easterly, but he still finished the season with a .335 average, third best in the Federal League, and legged out 12 triples. Despite the offensive output of Easterly and a 27-year-old rookie named Duke Kenworthy, who hit .317 with 15 homers, 40 doubles, 14 triples, and 91 RBIs, the Packers finished the inaugural Federal League season at just 67-84, sixth in the circuit.

In 1915, while owners and lawyers battled in court over the Federal’s future, the circuit gave their fans one of the most exciting seasons of the era as the Chicago Whales and St. Louis Terriers landed in a virtual tie for the league crown, with the Pittsburgh Rebels just a half-game back. Easterly and the Packers raised their record to 81-72 to finish fourth, just 5½ games behind Chicago, with the Newark Peppers nipping at Kansas City’s heels at six games back.

In his age 30 season, Easterly got off to a rousing start in 1915, hitting at a clip to rival his 1914 effort. He was hitting .340 on May 8 with a career-high three home runs when he came out of the lineup with an injury and played sparingly for the next three weeks. Picking back up in June, Easterly reached as high as .361 on June 19 before he experienced a gradual, then sudden collapse in August and September that left him at .270 for the season.

With the demise of the Federal League later in 1915, Easterly returned to Los Angeles, where he caught up with Los Angeles Times scribe Harry A. Williams. Williams said Easterly was unsure of what was to become of the last year remaining on his Packers contract, but didn’t expect much. The ballplayer was going to settle into an offseason in California, playing with some of the local winter teams to keep limber.30 By February Easterly was one of the more prominent Federal League jumpers who had not secured employment with an American or National League club, joining his former Cleveland teammates Stovall, Falkenberg, Grover Land, George Perring, and Gene Krapp among the jobless ballplayers.31

The first half of the 1916 season passed without a contract. Easterly was reportedly signed with the Oakland Oaks in late July, only to eventually end up with Salt Lake City, reporting for duty in early August.32 Though out of shape, Easterly was hitting .381 after a month’s time.33

By September, however, Easterly was on a five days’ release notice from Salt Lake and playing for the Merced Bears in the California League, with the expectation that he’d jump to the Angels.34 Easterly arrived in LA in time to take part in the latter stages of the Angels’ championship run, their first title since Easterly had departed the team in 1908. Los Angeles manager Frank Chance, who once thought the asking price for Easterly in 1908 to be too dear, now said at the end of the 1916 season that he intended to bring Easterly back to the Angels for the 1917 campaign.35

On April 8, 1917, two days after the US entry into World War I, Easterly was given his outright release.36 He entertained offers from Oakland and the Vernon Tigers, while also eyeing opportunities with teams in the Tri-Copper League and back with Merced. A month later, on May 9, Easterly was again in the headlines for non-baseball-related activities, being held in Bakersfield on a charge of writing a bad check.37 He spent most of June and July with Merced before being released in late August.38

The year 1918 opened with news of Easterly’s signing with yet another PCL franchise, the Sacramento Senators, whose manager, Bill Rodgers, saw hitting potential in Easterly, if not much glovework.39 The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Easterly approached Rodgers for the job and a soft-hearted Rodgers sought to reform Easterly, who was “in the black books of baseball men out this way.”40

Rodgers turned the care of Easterly over to Art Griggs, one of Easterly’s old teammates with Cleveland and a fellow former Federal Leaguer. Their reunion went well: “Art looked Easterly right in the eye and said: ‘Now, Bull, I know you can play good ball if you behave. The first time you stray off the path I am not going to fine you or report you or anything of that kind — I’m just going to MASH YOU.’” Easterly had a laugh at that and went into training “with all kinds of pepper.”41

Easterly played 78 games with the Solons, hitting at a .259 clip as Sacramento’s catcher. Before October was out, though, Easterly was playing with a team in Crockett, California, and the occasional shipyard team in the Bay Area.42 He hung on as a catcher at Crockett to help that squad to a championship in the Bay Counties Midwinter League in December.43

In early 1919, Easterly was hired as manager of the Northwest International League’s Victoria (British Columbia) Tyees in April but by September was back with the Crockett Sugarites to play first base.44

In 1920 Easterly had one last go at the professional ranks, playing with the Class-B Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League. The 35-year-old played in 54 games and hit .310 with two homers before being released on August 10 for what reports said was “the good of the game.”45 S.S. Greene of The Sporting News attempted to discover the cause of the release, but Beaumont management would not say and Easterly claimed he did not know what the reason was, either.46

From Texas, Easterly wound up in the Cuban League, playing for the Havana Almendares, managed by Mike González, until he was “dismissed from the team, whether under orders from higher up or not is not stated” and begging the question, “now where can Easterly play?”47

In 1922 he was set to once again play for his old pal George Stovall with Jacksonville in the Florida State League before Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis intervened and advised the League not to admit Easterly.48 The advent of Landis in the situation may indicate that Easterly’s trouble in Texas ran to gambling or game-fixing, though there remains no evidence of such villainy.

Easterly then landed a job as player-manager with the Lake City Terrors, a semipro team in Florida. At 37 and with a bad reputation, Easterly was the butt of jokes in local papers. The Palatka Daily News reported once that Easterly was held up before a game “due to the delay in arrival of a fresh consignment of monkey glands which the demon backstopper for the Terribles uses to engender pep and sprightliness.”49

Not much is known of Easterly after the conclusion of his baseball career and he seemed to want to keep it that way.

On February 22, 1925, tragedy struck for Easterly when his 18-year-old son, Albert, a sailor on the USS Idaho, drowned in a lagoon in Los Angeles’ Westlake Park. The younger Easterly was with two friends in a canoe on the lagoon when the boat capsized. The two friends dived again and again in the vicinity, but could not locate Albert.50 Easterly was not mentioned as Albert’s father.

As early as February 1921, Harry A. Williams was counting Easterly as among the once-familiar faces of the PCL and the major leagues who had gone missing.51 The 1930 Census found him living in Clearlake Highlands, California, with a new wife, Eva, and working as a laborer in roadwork.

In 1940 Easterly was living in the same house in Clearlake Highlands as he had been in 1930, still married to Eva, but now working in carpentry, the chosen trade of both his father and grandfather. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had an operation to remove a tumor in February of 1950, but the cancer recurred and Easterly died on July 6, 1951, at the age of 66.52 He is buried in Lower Lake, California.

Efforts at tracking Easterly down were made into the 1960s, when Lee Allen, historian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, sent a letter to newspapers across the country asking for Easterly’s whereabouts. One such letter appeared in Lincoln, Nebraska, Easterly’s birthplace. The letter said the Hall of Fame was unaware if Easterly was still living and represented “a case as yet unsolved” in its efforts to locate about 10,000 players from 1871 onward.53 Allen’s inquiry must not have returned much. To date, Easterly’s player file with the Hall of Fame contains only his death certificate and his salary information from 1909 to 1913, with a note that he violated his reservation in 1914 to join the Kansas City Feds.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted baseball-reference.com, retrosheet.org, findagrave.org, and the 1860, 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940 US censuses.



1 George W. Hilton, ed., The Annotated Baseball Stories of Ring W. Lardner, 1914-1919 (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1995), 64-65.

2 “Bad Downey Boy,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1900: 10.

3 Red Perkins, “Gossip of the Diamond,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1909.

4 “Ted Easterly’s Glove,” Great Bend (Kansas) Tribune, June 18, 1912: 2.

5 “Scattering Notes of the Diamond,” Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram, July 10, 1912: 6.

6 “Ted Easterly No Dude,” Laporte (Pennsylvania) Republican News Item, August 2, 1912: 6.

7 Linn County, Iowa Biographies, “George H. Easterly,” iagenweb.org/linn/bios/e.htm.

8 Harry A. Williams, “Local Players Star on Southern Clubs,” Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1915: 23.

9 Braven Dyer, “The Sports Parade,” Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1937: 41. Jack Slattery of the Oakland Oaks batted .331 but also would not have qualified for the batting title.

10 Bill O’Neal, The Pacific Coast League: 1903-1988 (Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1990), 12.

11 “Coast Championship,” Los Angeles Times, October 25, 1908: 5.

12 Ibid.

13 Dyer.

14 Perkins.

15 Player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame.

16 “Diamond Dust,” Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania) Evening News, January 26, 1910: 9.

17 Player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame.

18 “Naps’ Catcher in Poor Shape,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 1910: 15.

19 Russell Schneider, The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. (Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing, 2004), 423.

20 “Ex-State Leaguers on Next Year’s Naps,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, September 9, 1910: 13.

21 “Ted Easterly Sues Wife for Divorce,” St. Louis Star and Times, November 14, 1913: 9.

22 “‘Ted’ Easterly Gets Decree of Divorce,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 10, 1915: 8.

23 “Hard Hitters Get a Lot of Chances to Stay in Majors,” Dayton (Ohio) Herald, March 31, 1911: 21.

24 “To Put Lid on Syndicate Baseball,” Wilkes-Barre Record, November 9, 1910: 16.

25 Player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame.

26 “Lively Stars of the Cleveland Club,” St. Louis Star and Times, August 20, 1911: 22.

27 “Ted Easterly Joins Sox,” Chicago Tribune, August 9, 1912: 11.

28 Once again, he did not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.

29 “Easterly Too Old,” Indianapolis News, October 8, 1913: 10.

30 Harry A. Williams, “Plenty of High-Class Guardians of First Base in This League,” Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1916: 26.

31 J. Ed Grillo, “Pertinent Comment,” Washington Evening Star, February 14, 1916: 14.

32 “Bees Open Series with Seals This Afternoon,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 1, 1916: 4.

33 “It’ll Be a Tough Series,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 29, 1916: 4.

34 “Wild Heaves and Such,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 10, 1916: 36.

35 “Seen Through the Sports Periscope,” Salt Lake Herald-Republican, October 19, 1916: 8.

36 “Lepan Regular Player for Angels,” San Bernardino County Sun, April 11, 1917: 5.

37 “Ted Easterly Held on Bad Check Charge,” Oakland Tribune, May 9, 1917: 10.

38 “Merced Club Releases Artie Benham and Ted Easterly,” Modesto Evening News, August 30, 1917: 5.

39 “Ted Easterly to Get Job With Sacramento,” San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 28, 1918: 5.

40 Ed R. Hughes, “Rodgers Will Try to Reform Ted Easterly,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 17, 1918: 7.

41 Ibid.

42 Eddie Murphy, “‘Wiz’ Kremer Weakens in Eighth and Hanlons Drive Five Runs Over Rubber,” Oakland Tribune, October 21, 1918: 8.

43 “Benham or Pruitt to Pitch Opener at Crockett,” Oakland Tribune, December 22, 1918: 42.

44 “Ted Easterly Will Boss Victoria Club,” Oakland Tribune, April 5, 1919: 7; “Good Contests Promised by Young Players,” Oakland Tribune, September 12, 1919: 18.

45 “Diamond Notes,” Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun, August 10, 1920: 6.

46 S.S. Greene, “Easterly’s Discharge,” The Sporting News, July 8, 1920: 3.

47 “Brief Sports,” Dayton Daily News, December 11, 1920: 10.

48 “Easterly Back in Game,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 13, 1922: 24; “Landis Caused Release,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 20, 1922: 50.

49 “Pals Make Clean Sweep of Series from Lake City,” Palatka (Florida) Daily News, May 25, 1922: 8.

50 “Navy Man Is Drowned in Local Park,” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 1925: 17.

51 Harry A. Williams, “Familiar Faces Missing,” Los Angeles Times, February 14, 1921: 7.

52 Player’s file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

53 Lee Allen, “Ted Easterly,” Lincoln Star, October 27, 1965: 4.

Full Name

Theodore Harrison Easterly


April 20, 1885 at Lincoln, NE (USA)


July 6, 1951 at Clearlake Highlands, CA (USA)

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