Chester Emerson

Chester Emerson

This article was written by Tom Emerson

Chester EmersonChet Emerson had made it to the big leagues. It was September 1911 and the Philadelphia Athletics had seen enough promise in the 21-year-old Dartmouth graduate to sign him to play for legendary Connie Mack and his first-place A’s. It’s safe to say that Emerson wasn’t particularly worried about where in the powerful Philadelphia lineup he would bat on that last Wednesday in September. As it turned out, he was slotted in the fifth spot, right after Eddie Collins and Frank “Home Run” Baker, two future Hall of Famers. No pressure: the pennant was already clinched. Emerson played right field in his debut on September 27, 1911. He walked twice in four plate appearances and made three putouts.

The next day Emerson batted second, in front of Collins and Baker, and collected his first major-league hit, stolen base, and run scored. He played seven consecutive games for the pennant winners over eight days as the 1911 season wound down. Emerson’s 26 plate appearances in that stretch plus one more in April 1912 were the entirety of his major-league career.

Chester Arthur Emerson1, a lifelong New Englander, was born in Stow, Maine, on October 27, 1889. His parents were Wesley, a Maine farmer, and Georgietta (Chapin) Emerson. When he was a young boy, Chester and his younger brother Harry moved with their parents to Medford, Massachusetts. The future major-leaguer attended Medford High School before enrolling in Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, in the fall of 1907. Though he played sports in high school, and was captain of the football and baseball teams, it was at Dartmouth that Emerson excelled, displaying the athletic skills that would catch the eye of major league scouts. It was also at college that Emerson acquired his nickname, Chuck.

At Dartmouth the lefty batter and right-handed thrower played baseball all four years and was named captain as a senior. Being a born and bred athletic New Englander, naturally Emerson also played on the hockey team. He was class secretary in his freshman and sophomore years and a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. In 1994 Emerson was inducted as a member of the Wearers of the Green, Dartmouth’s Athletic Hall of Fame.2

For many who attend college, those days are remembered as a last hurrah before embarking on a life of responsibility. When Emerson died in 1971, the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine wrote a short tribute. One remembrance, though seemingly unremarkable to anyone who didn’t share those days with Emerson, hints at those carefree last days of youth. After noting that Chuck played four years of baseball, the tribute reads, “Many years later 1911’ers were still talking about his three-bagger against Penn. . .which won the game for Dartmouth.”3 This was one game, an important one no doubt, but still one game. Why, 60 years later, was it remembered with fondness and nostalgia? It came in the 1908 season’s finale on June 8; Dartmouth was trailing, 3-1, with two out in the bottom of the ninth. The Big Green proceeded to string together three singles, scoring once, and then Emerson’s two-run blow concluded the dramatic rally.4 What a time it must have been in the freshman’s life!

After graduating from Dartmouth in June 1911, Emerson was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics and assigned to the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. There, the 5-foot-8, 165-pounder played 29 games for player-manager Del Howard. Howard’s Colonels finished in last place that year, behind the Toledo Mud Hens.

After his short stint in Louisville, Emerson joined the Baltimore Orioles in the Eastern League. There he played in 13 games and batted .296 against such teams as the Jersey City Skeeters, Toronto Maple Leafs, Providence Grays, and Newark Indians.

The Baltimore Sun said: “He is a fast young fellow and while at Dartmouth he was regarded as a college star. Surely, he has made good in Baltimore. His batting, especially against left-handed pitchers, is little short of unique. His throwing arm is strong and he fled to a ball very rapidly. One of the best things in Emerson’s favor is that he does not dissipate. On the road he is the first to retire and he has no bad habits. The youngster worked his way through college, did not fall for any of the temptations and now he is in base ball (sic).” 5

When the Eastern League season ended, Emerson’s work with the O’s earned him a trip to Shibe Park and the American League leading Philadelphia A’s for the stretch run of the 1911 season. Six days after joining the club, as described in the beginning of this story, on September 27, 1911, Emerson made his major-league debut as the right fielder in a 7-4 loss to the Cleveland Naps.

After playing in all four games against the Naps, Emerson remained in the lineup for a three game series against the Washington Senators. Sporting Life took note: “Emerson, Connie Mack’s latest collegian, played right field in all these contests. Those who have read Emerson’s books, and especially his poems, know that he has some stuff. He made several fine catches here, showed himself a good waiter, and hit hard, but unluckily.”6


It can be said, without a hint of exaggeration, that Emerson was a tough and determined ballplayer. In a review of Philadelphia prospects, Francis Richter of Sporting Life wrote: “Chester Arthur Emerson, the Dartmouth College lad with the Athletic’ Yanigans, has more injuries to his credit on the fields of athletic endeavor than the average Civil War veteran. Emerson has had each of his arms broken playing base ball (sic). Not to be deterred by these experiences, he made a place on the Dartmouth College team, and one season he had a leg broken.”7


Emerson batted one last time in the major leagues: on April 16, 1912 against the Boston Red Sox in a pinch-hitting role. After his abbreviated stay with the A’s, he was farmed out to the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Senators of the Tri-State League (Class B). Emerson had two solid years with the Senators, hitting .283 in 108 games in 1912 and .304 with 17 stolen bases in 103 games in 1914. However, it was not enough to earn him a return to the A’s. Fine outfielders including Bris Lord, Rube Oldring, Amos Strunk, and Danny Murphy blocked his path. Emerson was out of baseball before he reached age 25.

Having married Emma Day in 1912, Emerson decided it was time to concentrate on his business career with the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Malden, Massachusetts. He had previously worked there part time, during offseasons – though it was said by his old friend Jack Lovejoy that his new bride surely had something to say about this decision.8

Emerson’s talent brought him to the pinnacle of baseball. During his cup of coffee stay in the bigs Emerson was a teammate of the famous $100,000 infield  – Baker,  Collins, Stuffy McGinnis, and Jack Barry – as well as Hall of Famer pitchers Eddie Plank and Charles “Chief” Bender. As a batter he faced two of the game’s all-time great pitchers, Walter Johnson and Smoky Joe Wood.

After rising to Plant Superintendent with Converse, in 1927 he left that company to oversee the liquidation of the cement manufacturing business of Rice and Hutchens Rubber, based out of Boston.9 If Emerson had stayed with Converse, in the long run he could have been part of its rise to dominance of the American athletic shoe market, which was rooted in its manufacturing of footwear for the military in World War II.

First, however, he decided to explore his more creative side – and thus made his mark in another sport. Going in an entirely different direction, in 1928 Emerson went into the hotel business, owning and operating the Maple Villa in Intervale, New Hampshire. Skiing is a major activity in the Granite State, and Emerson’s family were all excellent skiers, but it was Chet who would go on to play an important role in U.S. Northeast skiing.

In the winter of 1936, while running the Maple Villa Hotel, Emerson, together with two other local notables from North Conway, New Hampshire – Dr. Harold Shedd and Noel Wellman – formed the Eastern Slope Ski Club. Their mission was to expose local youths to the growing sport, and to promote the North Conway area as a skiing destination. Three years later the club started a junior program to provide children with lessons and ski equipment. The program continues to serve Conway’s school children today. 10

In 1940 Emerson was named Chairman of the Interscholastic Junior Skiing Committee of the Eastern Amateur Ski Association, as well as a member of its national body. His influence on the development of junior skiing in the Northeast was notable. In January 1941, the New York Times ran an article, along with a family photo in full ski mode, praising Emerson’s organizational skills in creating the area’s first Junior Ski Day, including working with local businesses to provide free ski equipment to the area’s youth. “Today the stocky Dartmouth baseball captain of three decades ago, who later saw action with the Philadelphia Athletics, snow plowed and schussed down the Cranmore Mountains.”11

After his stint in the service economy, Emerson returned to his manufacturing roots and joined the United States Rubber Company, of Naugatuck, Connecticut. In 1942, with World War II in full swing, the company created the Munitions Division to manufacture firearm cartridges. Emerson was named superintendent of the factory, which was charged with making .50 caliber cartridges at the rate of 600,000 a day. Coincidentally, two other factories in the Munitions Division were run by fellow Dartmouth alumni. In full production, each plant employed nearly 2,000 workers.12

In 1943 Emerson and his wife Emma suffered the tragic loss of their youngest son, who was one of the first ski troopers in WWII. Roger was killed in the Aleutian Islands on August 16, 1943. Ranked as one of America’s most promising young four-event skiers when he graduated as captain of the Vermont Academy ski team in 1942, Roger followed in his father’s footsteps and enrolled in Dartmouth. He was considered one of the finest skiers ever to enter the school. But despite his promising prospects, Roger left Dartmouth in his freshman year and enlisted in the Army, joining the all-volunteer 10th Mountain Division, an elite ski troop unit. After the war, Chet and Emma were proud to be honored guests at the dedication of the “Roger Emerson Jumping Hill” at Vermont Academy.13

Chester Arthur Emerson retired from U.S. Rubber in 1955. He was 81 and living in Kennebunk, Maine, when he died on July 7, 1971, after a long illness. He was survived by his wife, Emma Rawson Day Emerson, and three sons, Hugh, Chester A. Jr., and Robert C. He is buried in Hope Cemetery, Kennebunk.14



This article was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Terry Bohn. The author would like to thank SABR colleague Len Pasculli for his inspiration. While the bio subject and the author share the same surname, they are not related.



The author accessed and for box scores, player, team, and season pages, pitching game logs, and other data. The author also utilized for U.S. Federal Census data.



1 Various publications (e.g., “Famous Player Namesakes” in SABR’s 1973 Baseball Research Journal) have inferred that Emerson was named for Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States, However, the author found nothing in support of this.

2 website.

3 Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, October 1971.

4 The Dartmouth Bi-Monthly, June 1908. “Pennsy Loses to Dartmouth,” The Summary (Elmira, New York), June 13, 1908: 5.

5 Francis Richter, “Local Jottings,” Sporting Life, September 30, 1911: .5.

6 Paul W, Eaton, “From the Capital,” Sporting Life, October 14, 1911: 6.

7 Richter, “Local Jottings,” Sporting Life, March 16, 1912:.6.

8 Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, January 1963.

9 Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, January 1963.

10 Cranmore Mountain Resort (

11 Frank Elkins, “Skis, Slopes, And Trails”, New York Times, January 21, 1941.

12 Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, January 1942.

13 Robert M. Campbell, Press Release, Alumni and Public Relations Office, Vermont Academy.

14 York County Coast Star, Kennebunk, Maine, July 7, 1971.      

Full Name

Chester Arthur Emerson


October 27, 1889 at Stow, ME (USA)


July 2, 1971 at Augusta, ME (USA)

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