Walt Woods

During his three seasons in the National League, from 1898 to 1900, Walter Woods was a highly flexible utility player, playing seven of the nine field positions (all except first base and catcher). In his 91 games played in the major leagues, Woods appeared 60 percent of the time as a pitcher (54 games) and the other 40 percent as an infielder or outfielder (37 games). 

Less well known is that Woods was a Sabbatarian, i.e., a person who strictly observes Sunday as a day of rest, which caused him to refuse to play baseball on Sunday. “Walter Woods, the new Colt of whom so much is expected, will not play Sunday ball,” Sporting Life reported early in 1898. “His family are strict on that point, and the young man obeys their desires.”1 Woods was one of the few Sabbatarians in the history of major-league baseball, which most notably included Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Branch Rickey as well as multi-year players Dave Fultz and Paul Radford.2

Following his last major-league game in 1900, Woods was able to pursue a long minor-league career while continuing to uphold his Sabbatarian beliefs. Teams overlooked his Sunday-game absences because of his ability to play multiple positions and his exceptionally temperate character. By the end of his 21-year professional baseball career in 1915, Woods was primarily a catcher and had played all nine field positions.

Walter Sydney Woods was born on April 28, 1875, in Rye, New Hampshire, the son of John and Eliza (Loeder) Woods, both immigrants from Devon, England.3 Rye is a few miles south of Portsmouth, a seaport city on the coast of New Hampshire. John Woods fathered 15 children, seven (six daughters and a son) with his first wife before she died in 1868 and eight (six sons and two daughters) with his second wife, Eliza.4 Walter, the 11th-born child, was the first born as an American citizen, following his parents’ arrival in the United States in 1874. Walter initially grew up on the family farm in Rye, then came of age in the city of Portsmouth, where his father relocated the Woods family in the mid-1880s to operate a grocery store near their residence at 70 Pleasant Street, next to the bridge over South Mill Pond.5

The grocery store, a modestly prosperous small business, afforded the Woods family a middle-class lifestyle, which included a strict observance of Sunday as a day of rest, with no activity permitted other than attending church services. The family of John Woods worshiped the Congregational faith as members of the North Church in Portsmouth.6 The Congregational religion was one of the strongest proponents of Sabbatarian belief in the nineteenth century.7 New Hampshire state law reinforced these religious beliefs, by specifying that on Sunday “no person shall do any work, business, or labor of his secular calling … nor shall any person use any play, games, or recreation on that day.”8

Woods said he acquired his love for baseball as a 13-year-old in 1888 when he followed the games of the Portsmouth minor-league team in the New England League. The ball grounds of the Portsmouth team were located on Newcastle Avenue on the spit of land across the South Mill Pond from the Woods family residence.9 “Walter used to spend hours retrieving balls and watching with longing and admiring eyes the players as they fought for the supremacy of their team,” according to a 1931 biographical sketch of Woods in the Portsmouth Herald.10 After playing baseball a few years for his school teams, Woods moved up to play for the adult Portsmouth Athletic Club team in 1893 and 1894. He played third base and did some pitching for the Portsmouth A.C. team, which played an ambitious schedule against teams in New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts.11

In 1895 Woods became a professional baseball player when he joined the Haverhill, Massachusetts, team in the New England Association minor league, a compact league with teams in six smaller cities in northern Massachusetts as compared to the more established New England League with teams in the larger cities of the region. Since Massachusetts had a sterner Sunday law than did New Hampshire — punishing spectator attendance at sporting events as well as the participants in the games — there were no Sunday ballgames in the New England Association.12

Woods pitched and played outfield for Haverhill, until the team dropped out of the league in June, then caught on as a reserve player for the Portland club in the New England League. On Labor Day, though, Woods played in a holiday doubleheader for the Rockland, Maine, team in the semipro Knox County League.13 Maine native Gilbert Patten, a writer better known by his nom de plume Burt Standish, saw the Rockland games and, three years later, included Woods as a character in one of his highly popular Frank Merriwell juvenile stories.

In 1896 Woods played the entire season with Portland, where his batting and pitching exploits caught the eye of Tom Burns, the manager of the Springfield, Massachusetts, club in the Eastern League, the top minor league on the East Coast. Burns signed Woods for the 1897 season, where, for the first time, Woods had to confront the Sunday-baseball issue. Springfield played road games on Sunday in Montreal and against Providence at the Rocky Point Grounds, where Sunday games were allowed in contravention of Rhode Island state law. Woods had a spectacular 1897 season with Springfield, compiling a .366 batting average (second highest in the league) and a 17-11 record as a pitcher (10th-highest number of wins in the league).

Chicago of the National League signed Burns to manage the club in 1898, and Burns brought Woods with him to Chicago. In January 1898 Burns gushed about Woods: “He might make a great pitcher, but he is too valuable a man to pitch. He is one of the best youngsters I ever saw –better than Callahan when he was here — and he promises to improve just as much. He can hit, can run bases and field, and he’s got baseball sense.”14 Because Woods was so talented, Burns was willing to work around not having him for Sunday games.

The National League permitted the playing of Sunday baseball, where legal, which in 1898 occurred routinely in the cities of Chicago, Louisville, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.15 Chicago played Sunday games at home as well as on the road, which meant Woods was unavailable for 18 games during the 1898 season, about 12 percent of its 154-game schedule.

During preseason workouts Woods “expressed himself as prepared to quit the game for some other business in preference to playing on the Sabbath.”16 By March wire-service articles appeared in newspapers nationwide publicizing the Sabbatarian stance of Woods. “Walter Woods, Chicago’s model man, will not play Sunday ball, either at home or on the road. The conscientious youngster, who neither smokes, drinks nor swears, also has scruples against participating in games on the Sabbath. The young man is to be commended.”17

In mid-April of 1898 the Frank Merriwell story that included Woods as a character appears in Tip Top Weekly, which helped to bolster Woods’ reputation as a Sabbatarian and clean-cut athlete.18 “Patten made it a point in his writings to emphasize clean living — good sportsmanship — and honesty to the thousands of young boys who reveled in the exciting adventures of Merriwell,” the Portsmouth Herald wrote years later about this tribute to Woods’ character. “Patten employed Walter Woods, because he felt he was an excellent example of the clean-living type of athlete.”19 While Woods in real life fit the Frank Merriwell mold from an admirable-traits perspective, he didn’t experience quite the same level of heroic athletic success in the major leagues as Merriwell did with his college athletic exploits in Patten’s stories.

With Chicago in 1898, Woods was average, at best, as he compiled a 9-13 record as a pitcher. While he played six field positions when not pitching (all except first base and catcher), he produced a paltry .175 batting average. After the 1898 season, Chicago shipped Woods to the Louisville club as compensation for the acquisition of Jack Taylor during the last month of the season. In reporting the deal, the Chicago Tribune noted that “Woods is rather unique in baseball, as he refuses to play Sunday ball.”20

During the 1899 season Woods experienced the same issues with Sunday baseball in Louisville, since that club played just as much Sunday ball (18 Sunday dates) as did Chicago. He recorded the same 9-13 pitching mark in 1899 with an even lower .151 batting average. Louisville transferred Woods and several other ballplayers to the Pittsburgh club after the 1899 season, before Louisville was dropped from the National League. In 1900 the right-hander pitched one more game in the majors before Pittsburgh shipped him to the minor leagues. Woods never returned to the major leagues.

At 5-feet-9 and 165 pounds, Woods had a small stature for a ballplayer. As a pitcher he depended on craftiness rather than speed. “He had no curves to speak of, little speed, not much change of pace — but he certainly knew how to use what he had,” Hugh Fullerton wrote in describing the pitching style of Woods in a 1906 article about pitchers who used their brain. “His tantalizing twisters and his wonderful control kept the hitters at bay.”21

For the 1900 season Woods was reunited with manager Burns on the Springfield club in the Eastern League, which was a more accommodating environment for a Sabbatarian like Woods, since only two clubs (Montreal and Providence) hosted Sunday baseball that season. He had a successful season on the mound, compiling a 20-17 record, as Burns used him predominantly as a pitcher. Woods played in the infield or outfield in just nine other games, including one game at first base, the eighth position he had played as a professional ballplayer (all except catcher).

Woods married Mary Tucker on January 16, 1901, at the Middle Street Baptist Church in Portsmouth.22 They moved into a newly built house on Newcastle Avenue in Portsmouth, just across the bridge over South Mill Pond, about a half-mile from the Woods family grocery store.23 Woods converted to the Baptist faith from his original Congregational religion, as he worshipped at the Middle Street Baptist Church for the next 50 years. 

As a Baptist, Woods retained his strong Sabbatarian beliefs; The Sporting News noted in the spring of 1901 that “Walter Woods still continues his objection to Sunday ball and does not play on the Sabbath.”24 The Portsmouth Herald reinforced that attitude, reporting: “Walter Woods of Syracuse is an Eastern Leaguer who refuses to play Sunday ball. He takes a turn at pitching, playing the infield or outfield, and never murmurs one word of complaint, but on the Sunday ball question he simply says, ‘That’s the day I rest.’”25

In the 1901 novel Frank Merriwell’s Cruise, writer Patten expanded his exemplary Woods character, adding nonfiction touches such as “Woods is a dandy little pitcher and a fine fellow” and “if he takes care of that arm, he’ll be in the National League before many years.”26 Patten included a footnote in the book to identify the real-life character for his readers: “A prophecy that has come true, as Walter Woods was signed by Chicago several years ago.”27

Unfortunately, the Sabbatarian beliefs of Woods forestalled his possible return to the major leagues and constrained him to the minor leagues for the remainder of his baseball career. During his first 10 years as a married man, Woods in the spring and summer played professional baseball in the Eastern League and then worked during the fall and winter at his father’s grocery store in Portsmouth. As one writer wrote about his future, “His chief ambition was to make enough money out of baseball to get out of the business and buy a grocery down at Portsmouth, N.H.”28

For the 1901 season, Woods played for the Syracuse, New York, club in the Eastern League, where, after injuring his throwing arm, he began his transition from pitching to be a full-time position player. He appeared in 56 games as an infielder or outfielder, while pitching in 32 games, where he compiled an 11-17 record. After Syracuse relocated to Brockton, Massachusetts, in July, the club folded at the end of the season.

Woods signed to play for the Jersey City, New Jersey, club in the Eastern League for the 1902 season, even though he once again had to directly confront the conflict between his Sabbatarian beliefs and Sunday baseball.29 Jersey City and neighboring Newark were added to the Eastern League with the anticipation that both would host Sunday games, since many cities in northern New Jersey only loosely enforced that state’s Sunday law. In 1902 Jersey City played its Sunday home games at a ballpark in nearby Weehawken.30 The 1902 season was last one in which Woods did double duty as pitcher and position player, seeing action in 13 games on the mound and another 79 games at various positions elsewhere on the diamond.

In 1903 Woods blossomed under new manager Billy Murray, who led Jersey City to the Eastern League championship with Woods as the team’s full-time third baseman. He replaced Steve Griffin at third base after Griffin broke his hand early in the season.31 Woods had the best season of his post-major-league career, hitting .268 while playing in 116 of the possible 126 games. The 1903 season was a better match for the Sabbatarian Woods, as he missed only the Sunday road games played by Jersey City, which did not stage Sunday home games in 1903.

Woods could have returned to the major leagues if he dropped his objection to Sunday baseball. Instead, he continued to play for Jersey City, which under Murray finished in either second or third place each season from 1904 to 1906 with Woods as the club’s regular third baseman.

For the 1904 season, Jersey City played a few Sunday games at a new ballpark in nearby Bayonne, but faced strong Sabbatarian opposition there. After players were arrested in April at a Sunday exhibition game against the Philadelphia Athletics, court proceedings muddled the Sunday-baseball issue in Bayonne so much that the Jersey City club had to abandon the idea of hosting Sunday games for 1905 season.32

On September 30, 1904, Wadleigh Woods was born, the only child of Walter and Mary Woods.33 The birth certificate was one of the few times that Woods reported his occupation to be grocer rather than baseball player as he proudly reported for 15 years in the Portsmouth City Directory.34

For the 1907 season, after Murray departed to manage the Philadelphia club in the National League, Woods became a part-time third baseman for Jersey City. In 1908 when club ownership aggressively pursued playing Sunday home games at a ballpark in nearby Hoboken, Woods transformed into a utility player with Jersey City.35 In August 1908 the club experimented with Sunday games at its regular ballpark in Jersey City, West Side Park, which was used for Sunday home games in 1909 as Jersey City became the fourth club in the Eastern League to consistently host Sunday baseball.36

Faced with limited playing time that was further constrained by his Sabbatarian beliefs, Woods volunteered to expand his utility role to be the team’s third catcher. When he was a late-inning replacement at catcher in a lopsided game on April 28, 1908, Woods had now played all nine field positions in professional baseball.37 By playing one of the game’s toughest defensive positions, Woods gained additional longevity in professional baseball as the acceptability of Sunday baseball continued to spread throughout the Eastern part of the United States.

In May 1909 Jersey City traded the 34-year-old Woods to Buffalo for catcher Joe Knotts, with one newspaper bluntly reporting, “The reason for the trade was that Woods refused to play Sunday ball.”38 Buffalo couldn’t host Sunday games at home, due to local enforcement of the Sunday law in New York. The Buffalo Courier put a positive spin on the trade of a young catcher to obtain an older player: “Woods, perhaps, is not as good a hitter as Knotts, but he is a better all-round man and in case of necessity could be used in any other position, as he has played nearly every one.”39

During the 1909 season, Woods was a utility player extraordinaire, playing all four infield positions, 18 games at catcher, and two games as pitcher (including the game on August 10 when in mid-game he switched from catcher to pitcher).40 His hometown newspaper gushed about the versatility of Woods: “One of the best all-around men — still doing duties in the minors — is Wally Woods. Wally has played all of the nine positions and has shown good class in all of them.”41 Woods continued his minor-league career as a utility player and backup catcher in Buffalo in 1910 before his contract was sold to the Troy club of the New York State League.42

During the winter of 1911, the 35-year-old Woods was at a crossroads in his working life, since both his immediate future as a professional baseball player and his future post-baseball career were in flux. He decided to continue his baseball career with Troy in the lower minor leagues, playing in that Class B league from 1911 to 1914.43 He supplemented his salary as a ballplayer with a college coaching position, as baseball coach at Dartmouth College from 1912 to 1915.44 His planned post-baseball career as a grocer had been jettisoned, as his widowed mother sold his father’s grocery business in 1910, presumably because Woods decided not to take over the business.45 He opted for the more reliable income of working for the post office, a transition likely assisted by his brother-in-law Fred Tucker, a supervisor at the local post office. During the fall of 1910, the Portsmouth Herald announced that “Walter Woods will work in the post office during the winter months.”46 For the next several years he reported his occupation in the Portsmouth City Directory as substitute mail carrier rather than as baseball player.47

Troy was a good fit with the Sabbatarian beliefs of Woods, since in 1911 it was the only club in the eight-team New York State League that didn’t play Sunday home games.48 The other seven clubs hosted Sunday games with impunity as officials looked the other way in the enforcement of state Sunday laws. According to the author of Bat, Ball and Bible: Baseball and Sunday Observance in New York, “Minor league ball in upstate New York was allowed, or not allowed, on Sundays depending upon the attentiveness of ministerial associations and law and order groups, the vigilance of local authorities and the mood of the public.”49 The league’s two Pennsylvania teams, in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, also flouted that state’s very rigid Sunday law by hosting Sunday ballgames in those coal-mining communities.

For the 1912 season Woods did not report to the Troy club until early June, now an annual ritual with Woods as he completed his duties as baseball coach at Dartmouth College. Woods had a provision in his contract that he “would not play Sunday ball, would not report before June 1 of each season, and would take ten days later in June to oversee the Commencement games at Dartmouth.”50 With the Troy club, Woods donned the catcher’s mitt more often than the fielder’s glove in his role as utility player. In 1913 he caught 48 games, splitting time with two other catchers, and played 20 more games in the infield.

In June 1915, after completing his coaching duties at Dartmouth, Woods did not return for a fifth year with Troy. Instead the 40-year-old ballplayer signed to play with the Springfield, Massachusetts, team in the Colonial League, a minor league affiliated with the outlaw Federal League.51 Despite its renegade status, the Colonial League was a good match for the Sabbatarian Woods since the league did not play Sunday baseball.52 Woods played mostly infield positions and caught a few times in 75 games for Springfield during the 1915 season, his 21st year in professional baseball.53 This was his last year as a paid ballplayer and college baseball coach. When the Federal League folded after the 1915 season, Woods began working full time in 1916 as a mail carrier at the Portsmouth post office.54

In his 19 seasons in the minor leagues, Woods played in 1,299 games, 129 as pitcher and 1,170 at the other eight field positions. He compiled a 61-59 career won-lost record as a pitcher and a .236 lifetime average as a hitter, while not once playing in a ballgame on Sunday. In his four years as baseball coach at Dartmouth, Woods compiled a won-lost record of 54-45-1, for a .545 winning percentage, the third highest in Dartmouth history (through 2017) among baseball coaches with 3-plus years of service.55

From 1916 to 1922 Woods umpired and occasionally played in Portsmouth’s Sunset League, a twilight baseball league for amateur players. His dedication to the Sunset League increased in 1923 when he became the coach and full-time catcher of the Portsmouth A.C. team, as “father and son, Walter Woods, an old-time favorite, and his son Wadleigh, Dartmouth College freshman pitcher, were in the points” often that summer.56 In 1924 he piloted the DeMolay team to the championship of the Sunset League.57 Woods continued to regularly play catcher during the 1925 season, when he was 50 years old, before retiring from Sunset League competition.58

Woods generously gave his time to charitable endeavors in Portsmouth. In September 1922 he helped to raise money for a local nursing association by organizing and playing in an old-timer’s baseball game.59 He and his wife devoted many hours to serving on committees to further the education of children. Woods became famous in Portsmouth for his portrayal of Santa Claus each Christmas season. The tradition began in 1926 when Santa “was impersonated by Walter Woods” at a Christmas celebration at a local school.60

In 1931 New Hampshire’s restrictive Sunday sports law was modified to provide local option by cities and towns to allow baseball and other sports to be legally played on Sunday.61 A few months later an extensive article about Woods, “the Sunday school pitcher,” appeared in the Portsmouth Herald entitled “Walter Woods Had Unusual Record as Ball Player; Local Man in Professional Baseball for 21 Years — Played Every Position on the Diamond.”62

Woods retired as a mail carrier from the Portsmouth post office in 1937.63 One pundit called it “a very fitting occupation for the big league player who never failed to write home every single day he was away from home throughout his 21 years of professional baseball” and was known for compiling “a one-pound letter to New Hampshire” after a pitching victory.64

“The players are just as good today as they used to be. They’re no better and no worse,” Woods said in retirement. “I will say, however, that the players in the old days had more ‘guts.’ They weren’t always thinking something was ailing them, and didn’t expect the ‘Mama’s best Chinaware’ treatment that players get today with constant rubdowns, clinical examinations, and all the other frills. The old boys never let minor injuries stop them from playing ball.”65 While he didn’t smoke, drink, gamble, or play ball on Sunday, Woods was as tough as nails on the baseball diamond.

In his retirement, Woods gained fame for playing the local Santa Claus at Christmas time. “Jolly Wally dons a bright red Santa Claus suit and beard each year and distributes ‘goodies’ to kindergarten and first grade pupils,” the Portsmouth Herald recapped his annual ritual in 1948. “A retired Portsmouth mail carrier and at one time one of the most widely-known baseball pitchers in the country, Wally emerges each year from the skylight of his large home near the Haven school and lowers a basket of candy or gifts to the thrilled children.”66 

Walter Woods died on October 30, 1951, in Portsmouth and is buried in the Newington Cemetery in the nearby town of Newington.67

The obituary distributed nationally by the Associated Press focused on his baseball fame as a strict Sabbatarian who wouldn’t play Sunday baseball.68 The lede paragraph in the Portsmouth Herald, though, had different priorities, reporting that “Christmas won’t be the same for South End youngsters this year. ‘Santa Claus’ is dead,” while three paragraphs later noting that “while a big league star, Mr. Woods was widely-known as ‘the Sunday school pitcher’ because he refused to play baseball on Sunday.”69 You might say that the life of Walter Woods began as a Frank Merriwell figure and ended as Jolly Wally. 



This biography was reviewed by Len Levin and verified for accuracy by the BioProject fact-checking team.



Baseball information and statistics, unless otherwise footnoted, are from the Walter Woods pages, both major and minor league, at the Baseball-Reference.com website.



1 “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, March 5, 1898.

2 Charlie Bevis, Sunday Baseball: The Major Leagues’ Struggle to Play Baseball on the Lord’s Day, 1876-1934 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2003), 145-147.

3 Birth information from death certificate in death records of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for 1951; no birth record can be located.

4 Federal census records for 1880 for John Woods, Rye, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, and for 1900 for John Woods, 70 Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, Rockingham County, New Hampshire.

5 Portsmouth City Directory, 1886 and 1890.

6 During the nineteenth century, the siblings of Walter were all married at the Congregational church; see marriage records for Jane Woods (1887) and George Woods (1898) in New Hampshire state vital records at familysearch.org website.

7 Alexis McCrossen, Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), 49-50.

8 Abram Herbert Lewis, A Critical History of Sunday Legislation from 321 to 1888 A.D. (New York: Appleton, 1888), 235-236.

9 Charlie Bevis, The New England League: A Baseball History, 1885-1949 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2008), 60.

10 “Walter Woods Had Unusual Record as Ball Player; Local Man in Professional Baseball for 21 Years — Played Every Position on Diamond,” Portsmouth Herald, September 22, 1931.

11 “Woods Leaves for Chicago: Portsmouth Man Will Be With His Former Manager This Season,” Boston Globe, March 4, 1898; box scores for Portsmouth A.C. in the Boston Globe, May 31 and June 29, 1893.

12 Lewis, Critical History of Sunday Legislation, 226.

13 “Season Ended Grandly,” Boston Globe, September 3, 1895.

14 “Will He Be a Star? Something About Woods, Chicago’s New Player,” Chicago Tribune, January 23, 1898.

15 Bevis, Sunday Baseball, 130.

16 “No Sunday Ball for Walter,” Portsmouth Herald, March 5, 1898.

17 “Baseball,” Buffalo Evening News, March 16, 1898.

18 Burt Standish, “Frank Merriwell Under Megunticook; or With the Knox County League,” Tip Top Weekly, April 16, 1898.

19 “Sports Talk and Items of Athletic Interest,” Portsmouth Herald, May 18, 1937.

20 “Colonels Get Woods,” Chicago Tribune, January 12, 1899.

21 Hugh Fullerton, “Brain in Pitching: Counts in the Long Run for More Than Speed,” Baltimore Sun, August 20, 1906.

22 Marriage record in New Hampshire state vital records at familysearch.org website.

23 “Woods-Tucker,” Portsmouth Herald, January 17, 1901.

24 “Records of 1901,” The Sporting News, May 25, 1901.

25 “Personals,” Portsmouth Herald, June 4, 1901.

26 Burt Standish, Frank Merriwell’s Cruise, reprint of 1901 edition (Rockville, Maryland: Wildside Press, 2008), 57, 77.

27 Ibid, 77.

28 Fullerton, “Brain in Pitching.”

29 “Jersey City’s Baseball Team,” New York Times, March 9, 1902.

30 “Eastern League Games,” New York Times, June 16 and August 25, 1902.

31 “Best in League,” Portsmouth Herald, June 12, 1903.

32 “Court Holds Ball Players,” New York Times, April 26, 1904; “No Sunday Games for Jersey City,” New York Times, April 6, 1905.

33 Birth record in New Hampshire state vital records at familysearch.org website.

34 Portsmouth City Directory, 1895 to 1910.

35 “Jersey City Defeats Montreal,” New York Times, May 4, 1908; “Skeeters at Hoboken Today,” New York Times, June 21, 1908.

36 “Didn’t Stop Ball Game,” New York Times, August 10, 1908; “Sunday Ball Wins,” Sporting Life, May 29, 1909.

37 “Rochester 9, Jersey City 1,” Baltimore Sun, April 29, 1908.

38 “Jersey Jottings,” Sporting Life, June 5, 1909.

39 “Knotts Is Traded for Walter Woods,” Buffalo Courier, May 22, 1909.

40 “High Praise for Walter Woods,” Portsmouth Herald, January 17, 1910.

41 Ibid.

42 “News Notes,” Sporting Life, February 18, 1911.

43 “Walter Woods Will Report to Troy Team,” Portsmouth Herald, April 1, 1911.

44 “Woods Chosen Coach,” Portsmouth Herald, November 23, 1911.

45 Father’s 1908 death record in New Hampshire state vital records at familysearch.org website; “Commissioner’s Sale,” Portsmouth Herald, June 17, 1910.

46 “Personals,” Portsmouth Herald, October 5, 1910.

47 Portsmouth City Directory, 1912 to 1914.

48 F.C. Lane, “The Greatest Problem in the National Game: The Critical Situation in Sunday Baseball,” Baseball Magazine, October 1911.

49 Charles DeMotte, Bat, Ball and Bible: Baseball and Sunday Observance in New York (Washington: Potomac, 2013), 94.

50 “New York Nuggets,” Sporting Life, June 14, 1913.

51 “Walter Woods Signs with Springfield,” Portsmouth Herald, June 16, 1915.

52 Bevis, The New England League, 155.

53 The 1915 season is not included on the Woods minor-league page at the Baseball-Reference.com website, but rather is isolated into an unnamed Woods page in this database. The author is confident this unnamed player is Walter Woods, since in addition to the Portsmouth Herald article in 1915, Woods often referred to having played 21 years in pro ball, which would need to include 1915 to total 21 years.

54 Portsmouth City Directory, 1916.

55 “Dartmouth Big Green Baseball Record Book” at DartmouthSports.com website.

56 “Navy Team Beats Portsmouth in a Close Game,” Portsmouth Herald, July 19, 1923.

57 “DeMolay Members Proud of Team,” Portsmouth Herald, September 6, 1924.

58 “P.A.C. Takes 2d Place in League,” Portsmouth Herald, August 7, 1925.

59 “Three Thousand Attend Old Timers Ball Game,” Portsmouth Herald, September 18, 1922.

60 “Xmas Tree at Haven School,” Portsmouth Herald, December 17, 1926.

61 “Sunday Sports Bill a Law,” Portsmouth Herald, May 8, 1931.

62 “Walter Woods Had Unusual Record as Ball Player; Local Man in Professional Baseball for 21 Years — Played Every Position on the Diamond,” Portsmouth Herald, September 22, 1931.

63 Joe Connolly, “Wally Woods, 73, Plays Santa — And the Kids Just Love Him,” Portsmouth Herald, December 17, 1948.

64 Don Stewart, “Story of the ‘Sunday School’ Pitcher Who Wouldn’t Chuck on the Sabbath,” Portsmouth Herald, April 15, 1941.

65 Ibid.

66 Connolly, “Wally Woods, 73, Plays Santa.” 

67 Death record in New Hampshire state vital records at familysearch.org website.

68 “Walter S. Woods Dies; Refused Sunday Hurling,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 31, 1951.

69 “Walter S. Woods, 76, Dies After Sudden Collapse,” Portsmouth Herald, October 30, 1951.

Full Name

Walter Sydney Woods


April 28, 1875 at Rye, NH (USA)


October 30, 1951 at Portsmouth, NH (USA)

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