Carl Stimson pitched four innings in the majors, two each in games a bit more than a month apart. He gave up 10 earned runs in the four frames. He didn’t spend much longer in baseball. And he hadn’t spent much time beforehand, either. His only prior experience seems to have been on the sandlots and in the Class D Mississippi Valley League.
Looking at his 10-15 record for the Rock Island Islanders in 1922, and his .144 batting average that year, one wonders what possessed the Boston Red Sox to sign him. There was apparently one game he had worked which caught the eye of Red Sox scout Mike Donlin – and it was a game he lost.
Stimson was born in Hamburg, Iowa, to Charles R. Stimson, a printer, and Elizabeth (Smith) Stimson. His birthdate is given as July 18, 1894, though the 1900 census reports he was born in May 1893. The family lived in Red Oak, Iowa, at the time. Whether he had an uncle named Remus, we do not know, but his given name was Carl Remus Stimson. He was 6-feet-5¼ inches tall, and was listed at 190 pounds.
In 1915 a state census in Iowa showed Stimson already listed as a “ballplayer” and living in Glenwood, Iowa, 25-30 miles due west and quite near the border with Nebraska. When he registered for the draft at the time of the First World War, Stimson was working as a blacksmith employed in Emerson, Iowa (about halfway between Glenwood and Red Oak). He had already served two years in the infantry at the time, and held the rank of corporal. Stimson does not show up in the 1920 census.
In 1921 he married Pauline Georgia Brown.
Stimson played semipro ball in Omaha and the Bluffs and started the 1922 season with the Mississippi Valley’s League’s Waterloo, but was “sold after a short time to Rock Island.”1 The game that caught Donlin’s eye was a contest against Ottumwa on August 4 that went 23 innings. Stimson pitched all 23 innings, allowing only 10 hits. He struck out 18. The opposing pitcher allowed 23 hits and walked seven, but allowed only two runs. The final score was Ottumwa 4, Rock Island 2. Donlin said, “He’s got the form of a great hurler if I ever saw one.”2 The article also noted that Stimson worked in the offseason as an electrician for the Woodmen of the World.3
Indeed, after the Rock Island season ended, Stimson was reported pitching for the “Wows” – the Woodmen of the World semipro team.4
In introducing Stimson in its pages, the Boston Herald had a unique way of explaining that he was a switch-hitter: he was “a right-handed chucker and bats right, left, and mediocre.”5
Stimson joined the Red Sox for 1923 spring training in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but was laid low for a prolonged stretch. It proved to be due to an abscess in one of his ears.6 It took Stimson several weeks to regain his strength, and he was optioned to Waterbury (Eastern League). “He had everything but control one day,” wrote the Boston Herald, and Waterbury returned him to Boston.7
Stimson finally got his debut for manager Frank Chance. The switch-hitting right-handed pitcher was brought into an “irretrievably lost” game against the visiting Cleveland Indians on June 6 for two innings of experience, but “took matters too seriously” and was “overanxious, which tied him up and was as wild as a hawk.”8 Red Sox fans at Fenway Park, already upset at the 10-1 deficit, gave Stimson the business. He walked three, threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, gave up six hits, and allowed seven more runs. He was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth – as the Red Sox scored three times to make the final score a somewhat less disastrous blowout, 17-4.
Still suiting up with the team, Stimson came into another game a month later, also against the Indians, though this time in Cleveland. That July 7 game was even more of a lost cause, and it was a game in which Boston pitcher Lefty O’Doul was punished by his manager (and the Tribe) by being left in, and in, as he surrendered 13 runs in the sixth inning and was not removed until after he finally closed out the inning. O’Doul had come on in relief of Curt Fullerton, who had given up eight runs in the first three innings. The game was turned over to Stimson with Boston behind 24-2, and he let in six hits and three more runs – one in the seventh and two in the eighth.
Those were the only two major-league games in which Stimson ever pitched, and the Red Sox lost by a combined score of 44-7. Stimson faced 24 batters and gave up 12 hits, walked five, and hit a batter. He threw one wild pitch. He did strike out a batter, but he had to bear a career earned-run average of 22.50.
A special dispatch to the Globe observed that Stimson’s was “considered a remarkable performance when that of his predecessors was taken into consideration.”9 What an epitaph.
Stimson did have more life in him, though.
In June 1924 he was pitching in Omaha for Gretna in a semipro game against the Omaha World Herald’s team.10 The Mobile team of the Southern Association hired him, starting in July.11 But by August 16, Stimson was back in semipro ball, pitching at Beaver Crossing for Milford against Halam.12
Stimson died on November 9, 1936, in Omaha. The cause of death was heart trouble – mitral and aortic insufficiency, from which he had suffered for a couple of years. He left a widow, Pauline, daughters Virginia and Connie, and sons Bobby and Larry. His trade at the time had remained that of an electrician.
In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Stimson’s player file from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, and the SABR Minor Leagues Database, accessed online at Baseball-Reference.com.
1 Omaha World Herald, August 22, 1922. The paper of March 20, 1923, provided more detail.
2 Unidentified 1923 news clipping headlined “Carl Stimson, Former Omaha Sandlot Hurler, Signed by Red Sox Because of Showing in 23-Inning Game,” sent to the Hall of Fame by his daughter Virginia Lee Stimson in 1948. Donlin as the signing scout is also noted in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Daily Republican of September 8, 1922, and the Boston Herald of February 2, 1923.
3 The newspaper is almost certainly one published in Omaha, because it concluded the article by saying, “He lives at 617 Park avenue.”
4 Omaha World Herald, October 4, 1922.
5 Boston Herald, January 21, 1923.
6 Boston Herald, March 21, 1923.
7 Boston Herald, May 29, 1923.
8 Boston Globe, June 7, 1923.
9 Boston Globe, July 8, 1923.
10 Omaha World Herald, June 9, 1924.
11 Omaha World Herald, June 27, 1924.
12 Omaha World Herald, August 16, 1924.
13 Boston Herald, April 1, 1925.
14 Omaha World Herald, July 28, 1925, and August 2, 1926.