Dale Porter

During the Deadball Era, luck and persistence were nearly as important as talent in determining the ultimate success of a young player. In The Glory of Their Times, Al Bridwell spoke about the breaks that helped him reach the major leagues. Others of more modest talent reached the major leagues through persistence. Dale Porter’s career was not blessed by luck or persistence. Despite that and unimpressive career statistics, contemporary observers were impressed by his defensive play and occasional punch at the plate. According to one source, he even received a brief look by the Detroit Tigers. Porter however, never played a regular-season game above the Class D level.   

Dale Elston Porter was born on November 26, 1888, in the north-central Ohio town of Mount Vernon. His father, William, born in Ohio in 1858, worked as an expressman and in 1882 married. Dale’s mother, Mary. Also known as Jennie, was 16 years old at the time of her marriage. Dale was the only one of the Porters’ three children to survive to adulthood.

Dale developed an interest in baseball during his childhood. During his teenage years, Mount Vernon had outstanding independent professional teams. Mount Vernon frequently played teams from Lancaster, Newark, and Zanesville. In 1905 those cities joined three other medium-sized cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania — Akron, Canton, and Youngstown — to form a group called the Protective Association. In the middle of the season Association president Charles Morton succeeded in his goal of entering organized ball; the Class C Ohio-Pennsylvania League was officially recognized in July. The oversized, unwieldy league scheduled from month to month at best and included more than 20 teams at various times, some of which played fewer than 20 games before folding. The Wooster team included African American catcher Charles Follis, also an outstanding professional football player. Smaller cities like Wooster had trouble competing financially with their larger rivals, and soon Mount Vernon became a casualty. The league shrank to eight teams in 1906 – not including Mount Vernon — and lasted until 1912. If Mount Vernon had retained professional baseball, Dale Porter might have begun his professional career close to home. Instead, when he signed his first professional contract in 1910, he followed Horace Greeley’s advice and went west.

A century ago, young men looking for work often traveled to Kansas to work the wheat harvest. For a few seasons, especially 1910, baseball players were in nearly as much demand as harvest hands. The Central Kansas League started in 1908 and the Kansas State League was established the next season. Each league consisted of eight teams in 1910 and a third Class D circuit, the Eastern Kansas League, was established in June. Not counting franchise shifts, 24 cities and towns in the state had professional baseball in 1910, all but Topeka and Wichita (members of the Class A Western League) as parts of Class D leagues.

In 1910, Porter signed with the Great Bend Millers of the Class D Kansas State League. It’s not clear who recommended Porter to the Great Bend team, but Millers outfielder Frank Bockewitz had previously played professional baseball in western Ohio and may have seen Porter. In addition to Kansas, potential members of the 1910 Millers were from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Another Ohio recruit that spring was future major-league pitcher George Kaiserling

Porter arrived in Great Bend, a community near the center of the state, during the second week of April, and moved into a boarding house with many of the team’s younger players. The boarding-house owner was evidently ashamed of lodging ballplayers. When the census was taken shortly after their arrival the players were listed under other occupations. Porter was listed as a plumber. The first mention of him in the Great Bend Tribune described him as “a fast fielder and heavy hitter.” Porter had luck on his side that April. Incumbent shortstop John Fedor did not join the team until July, creating an opening for a newcomer. After the first intrasquad game, the Tribune said: “Porter, one of the new men, is showing up fast at short and if Fedor doesn’t report will land the job.” 

Porter’s first game against another team came on April 19 in an exhibition game against Lincoln of the Western League. The Millers lost that afternoon, 9-4, but Porter held his own against more experienced competition; he had two hits in three plate appearances against a pair of pitchers who, according to the Tribune,  “have had tryouts with the Chicago clubs.” Defensively, Porter turned in an unassisted double play and also made a defensive effort that would in essence summarize his season: “Aside from a sensational stop by Porter, but one in which he couldn’t deliver the goods once he got the ball the game was devoid of features.” Porter was apparently charged with a throwing error on the play. The Tribune compared the new shortstop’s play with that of his predecessor. “Porter does not show up as well as Fedor but he gives evidence of being able to learn.” Among Porter’s opponents that day was outfielder Paul Cobb, younger brother of Ty.

A couple of days later, after an exhibition loss to Clay Center of the Central Kansas League, the Tribune felt the addition of manager Charles Lyons to the lineup at second base would help the new shortstop. It wrote, “Porter is showing up better at short stop and now that Lyons is in the game will probably begin to cover the second station in better shape. That seems to be his only defect. He is fast at covering territory and fast at bat.” In another game of that series, Porter had four hits but made two errors, the Tribune noting that it “was one of the most disagreeable days of the season, there being a strong wind from the north and one could hardly expect a ball player to work much on such a day. Hits were frequent and a good many fly balls were misjudged.” That game also marked Kaiserling’s first appearance for Great Bend.

Porter played arguably his worst game of the exhibition season in an April 29 win over defending Central Kansas League champion Ellsworth. The Tribune said, “The only two poor plays in the game were by two of the most promising members of the team, [Ovid] Nicholson and Porter. Porter ran out in the field to back up a high fly catch and left second unprotected. It was a bad day for Porter. He got all the errors [actually three of four] made by the local side. Porter is a hard worker a fast fielder and lacks only the experience of team work. If he listens to Lyons he will know a lot about the game and be one of the most valuable men in the league when the season ends.” Despite the poor game, the Tribune’s baseball writer predicted that Porter would open the season in the starting lineup.  

Before the season started, Porter and the Millers encountered the most interesting team in the region, the Kansas City Red Sox. The Red Sox were organized and managed by Ira Bidwell, only a few months older than the 22-year-old Porter. That spring, Bidwell was taking his team west where it would be known as the Cheyenne Indians. In 1910 and 1911, the Indians played an independent schedule featuring future major leaguers Claude Hendrix, George “Zip” Zabel, and George Cochran. In 1912, Bidwell organized and owned a majority of the teams in the short-lived Rocky Mountain League.

The series with the Red Sox ended Great Bend’s exhibition schedule. Porter was one of six players to play in all ten games. He batted .389 (14-for-36) with six runs scored. He committed eight errors in 49 chances, a team-leading total. His fielding percentage of .837 was the worst among nonpitchers on the roster.

Great Bend opened the 1910 season with a rain-shortened two-game series at Arkansas City. Porter had three hits in eight at-bats and played errorless ball. In the ten-inning Opening Day loss to the Grays, Porter had the unusual fielding line of ten putouts and just one assist. The Millers dropped five of six on their opening road trip before opening at home on May 13 against Arkansas City. Kaiserling and Henry Grohs pitched Great Bend to a 10-3 win. The Millers stole ten bases, one of them by Porter. Illustrating the tenuous financial nature of Class D ball in Kansas, Grohs, who finished off the win, was later sold to Wellington for a sum described as “being in the low two figures.”

Later in that first home series, Porter successfully executed the hidden-ball trick. He victimized Arkansas City left fielder Martin Killilay, brother of pitcher Jack Killilay of the 1911 Boston Red Sox. Martin Killilay was noted for his hot temper. That temper led to his release or legal trouble on more than one occasion. According to the Tribune, blame for the gaffe lay elsewhere: “Killilay was caught at second yesterday by Porter who hid the ball in his gloved hand and was touched out. [Arkansas City manager Roy] Evans protested the game and the play made it look to the fans as though Killilay was to blame for the play. [Evans] should have signalled Killilay to stay on his base and his effort to cover up his poor coaching by protesting the game is poor generalship and will lessen the respect of his players for him.” Evans had pitched for five National League teams and one American League team during his checkered career. When he was fired later in the season, Arkansas City Traveler observed: “Evans has the goods and can make good everywhere if he only uses his noodle not only in baseball but all other circumstances.” 

The same day that Porter outsmarted Evans, the Tribune offered a good critique of his early-season play, writing, “Porter is becoming faster every day as a fielder and should, in time, be as good a shortstop as there is in the league. His main fault has been trying to get rid of the ball too quickly after fielding it and he will soon settle down in good shape. But when it comes to fielding he already has most of the infielders outclassed.” The following day, he showed more of the inconsistency that plagued his season. “Porter had a bad day of it at short and in the seventh allowed two runs to get in when he muffed a fly back of third. Porter redeemed himself in the last half of the tenth when he brought in the winning run.” 

The next day his fielding was strong again as he made a difficult one-handed catch of a line drive smashed by Newton’s Gil Pittman.   Later in that series, Porter was involved in one of the season’s most memorable games. On May 20, pitcher Levi “Chief” Williams (who was not of native American ancestry) pitched a perfect game for Newton at Great Bend. Future big-league catcher Nick Allen, playing right field that afternoon, saved the gem, throwing out Great Bend first baseman Neil Kennedy at first in the ninth inning after what appeared to be a base hit. Williams bested Great Bend’s Rolla Mapel, a future major leaguer (St. Louis Browns, 1919).

By the end of May, manager Lyons of the Millers released the young infielder. It isn’t entirely clear if inconsistent defense or a failure to get along with some of his teammates was the reason for the release. In any event, Porter wasn’t unemployed for long. The Tribune reported: “Porter is going to hook up with Arkansas City. Porter is all right and a good player, but he doesn’t fit in just right on the local team.” In 18 games for the Millers, Porter had 17 hits in 69 at bats (.246 average), scoring four runs. Defensively, after the good start he made 14 errors in 70 chances for a fielding percentage of .800.

Arkansas City is in the south central part of Kansas near the Oklahoma border. In 1910, it was home to just over 7,500 people, trailing only Hutchinson in population among Kansas State League cities. Despite the relatively large population, Arkansas City had trouble supporting professional baseball. The Arkansas City Traveler commented: “We do not believe that Arkansas City is what is generally termed a good ‘sport’ town. We do not believe there are enough fans in Arkansas City to keep up professional ball.” Arkansas City had shared the franchise with nearby Winfield (the offseason home of Pirates manager Fred Clarke) the previous season, and had hired Roy Evans (mentioned above) in an attempt to increase attendance for 1910. Evans was a mediocre pitcher (19-23 career record) and an even worse manager. He was still in charge of the Grays when Porter joined the team on June 2 during a series at Larned.

Porter made his Arkansas City debut as a second baseman. The Grays’ shortstop was Theodore Brunt a 24-year-old member of the Osage tribe from Pawhuska, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Brunt was a talented athlete who’d starred in baseball and football at the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. He was an outstanding defensive player but a terrible hitter. He hit just .115 in 49 games in 1909 and was only a little better in 1910. When he was released a couple of weeks after Porter joined the team, Brunt’s average was .160. Brunt was one of three native American members of the Grays when Porter joined the team. The best of the three was pitcher Pete LaFlambois, also the team’s best hitter. A reluctance to use LaFlambois elsewhere on the field on days he wasn’t pitching was one of the criticisms against Evans.

Porter started slowly at the plate for his new team, garnering just one hit in his first five games. Still, the Traveler was impressed: “Porter who plays short, hits the ball hard, has a good arm and is a consistent fielder.” He finally began to show that offense in a doubleheader against Newton on June 10. In the two games, he had five hits in eight at-bats, with two doubles and a run scored. The next afternoon he hit his only home run of the season, off Hutchinson’s Edward “Farmer” Smith, one of the league’s top pitchers. The home run went over the fence at Arkansas City’s League Park. But Arkansas City lost the game, 18-6. The next day’s game was even worse – a 14-1 loss – and Evans, who surrendered nine of the runs in three innings of pitching, was fired at the end of the game. Before that, however, he gave Porter an opportunity to pitch. Porter took the mound in the fourth inning and blanked the league leaders for four innings, but allowed five runs in the eighth.

Evans was replaced as manager by outfielder Percy Bates. Bates was a 23-year-old from Essex Junction, Vermont. Bates was in his second year with the club and had previously played for Wichita of the Western Association. The new manager was popular with his teammates and Porter continued his strong play, doubling in the Grays’ first two games under their new manager. He was one of the team’s more consistent hitters, getting 12 hits in ten games during one stretch in June. Perhaps most importantly, he impressed the management of the Newton team and the sportswriters who covered the team. After a series, the Newton Kansan-Republican said: “Porter, who is playing shortstop for Arkansas City, is the fastest short seen here this summer. He comes up on the ball in great style and stabs them clean. His batting eye is mighty good also.” Porter’s batting earned him a switch from seventh to second in the batting order.

Although the new manager was popular with the players, the Grays dropped in the standings and interest at home games among what fans there were dropped further. Bates resigned as manager, though he stayed on as a player for a few weeks longer.

On June 27, 1910, Porter was indirectly responsible for the firing of manager Cecil Bankhead of Lyons. Porter singled home two runs that gave Arkansas City the win. The Lyons News described what happened next: “In the seventh inning of Monday’s game when Porter of Arkansas City drove in two runs with a clean hit, Bankhead became enraged and threw the ball at short range, with great force at pitcher [Walter] Sizemore. The act was so flagrant that it met with immediate disapproval by the spectators. Bankhead was unconditionally released by the directors [of the Lyons team] this afternoon. This action is not a hasty one, but is only the culmination of a series of incidents that have impaired his usefulness as manager.”       

After Bates resigned as manager, Arkansas City was essentially without a skipper for most of the last two months of the season. It was also teetering on the brink of financial collapse. During the second week of July, the team’s owner gave up on the franchise and it looked like the end of baseball in the Kansas State League’s southernmost city. A group of local citizens took over the team, though a month later they also gave up and the Grays were a league-operated road team the last two weeks of the season. When the mid-July ownership change occurred, the new owners made some personnel changes. On July 11, LaFlambois was sold to Hutchinson. At the time of the sale, Arkansas City was hosting Newton, and when the Railroaders left Arkansas City, Dale Porter went with them.

Shortstop had been a tough position for Newton catcher-manager Mel Backus to fill. He had started the season with Jack Carter, from his hometown of Winfield, Kansas, at shortstop. When Carter was unable to hit or play adequate defense, he was released and the team tried a succession of players at short. During the July road trip that ended in Arkansas City, Newton was using outfielder Tom Miller at short. Miller had won the Kansas State League batting title in 1909 (.342) and at the halfway point of the 1910 season was batting .392 (he finished at .361). Miller left much to be desired defensively and Newton team president F.R. Dutcher was also negotiating his sale to Galveston of the Texas League. On July 12, Porter, still with Arkansas City, had two hits, including a double, in a 9-6 loss to Newton. The next day’s Kansan-republican reported the pending change of address for Porter, and said, “Porter would fill in at short in great style. With the short stop position properly filled, it makes the Railroaders stronger than they have been at any time during the season.” Arkansas City received cash and infielder Dick “Rabbit” Garrety in the transaction. For the rest of the season Arkansas City struggled and tried virtually anyone in the lineup. A linotype operator from the Traveler was given a tryout and Arkansas City resident Claire Patterson, under suspension by Fort Wayne of the Central League, played for the Grays until the National Association forced his removal from the lineup. In one late-season game, umpire C.E. McDowell expressed a desire to catch so he and Grays catcher-manager Doc Baker switched places.

The situation was much more stable in Newton. The Railroaders were breaking even financially and looking to improve in the standings as well as building a team for 1911. At least initially, it looked as though Dale Porter would be part of that rebuilding program. He played well against McPherson in the first series after the trade. Shortly after the trade, the averages for the first half of the Kansas State League season were released. Porter was credited with a .208 average in 48 games with 10 doubles one home run and three stolen bases. Five of the eight teams had team averages of less than .230, so Porter’s numbers were better than they might initially appear. Future major leaguer Nick Allen was a teammate of Porter’s with Newton and his first-half batting average was .175, and some considered Allen the top major-league prospect in the league. (Allen played for the Buffalo Feds, the Cubs and the Reds from 1914 to 1920.) Defensively, Porter did not shine, committing the second most errors among league shortstops (38) in the first half. His fielding percentage was .827.

Although his defensive numbers were poor, when the talk around the league turned to All Star teams, Porter’s name was mentioned. The Arkansas City Traveler  listed Porter as the league’s top shortstop.

Initially Porter batted near the top of the order, either before or after second baseman William Stillwell, another player from Ohio. Porter fell into a deep slump at the plate shortly after joining the Newton team. The slump was deep enough that the Kansan-republican reported, “Porter spoiled his slump in batting average yesterday by getting a fast one between second and first.” 

The Railroaders slumped both offensively and defensively during the final weeks of the season, and Porter was no exception. After a 13-1 loss to Lyons, the Kansan-republican said: “Some of the Newton players seem to have the idea that they are hired to attend a summer excursion party. Little heed do they give to what is expected of them. They can and do play brilliant ball at times, but the instant one fellow makes a bobble some player immediately takes it upon himself to tell him about it. Players make errors when doing their best, but because they make an occasional bobble is no need for other members of the team to lay down in a low comedy that is sickening to witness.” Although Porter does not appear to be one of the players supposedly laying down that day, he was definitely among those criticized by the Newton fans. The Hutchinson News reported on a mid-August incident: “Porter, shortstop for Newton, yesterday dared a spectator to come out of the grandstand. ‘I choose you,’ he said, addressing a spectator. It is doubtful whether the action was in the jurisdiction of the police officer or the umpire.”  

On August 15, Newton played an exhibition game in the small town of Peabody, Kansas. Manager Backus caught for Peabody, and the home team borrowed pitcher George “Kid” Speer, a former Detroit Tiger apparently still Detroit property. Newton won the game, 5-2, despite 13 strikeouts by Speer. If later reports are to be believed, Porter apparently impressed the former Tiger enough for Speer to recommend the Newton shortstop to Detroit. If Porter received a tryout with the Tigers, it was apparently a brief one. His name is not listed among those traveling for spring training in 1911, nor does he show up in exhibition game box scores.

Porter was not the only Newton batter in a slump as the season wound down. Pitcher Levi “Chief” Williams was disappointed in the team’s offensive production. After one game he said: “I could pitch all night and all day and I wouldn’t get two runs behind me.” Dissension was not the only problem with the Newton team. Poor attendance was a problem for most Kansas State League teams in 1910. The Hutchinson News said of fan turnout in a home series against Newton, “The quality of base ball that has been played by all the teams on the circuit this year warrant a greater patronage but the people don’t seem to appreciate the efforts of the managers. In the recent series with Newton, every one was a ball game and deserved four times the attendance that was received.” 

 The often anemic offense was helped the last few days of the season when Miller rejoined Newton for the team’s final series. Newton closed the season with the former Arkansas City team, now run by the league. The Kansan-republican called the team the Orphans and said: “It was a team with eight uniforms dotted with large safety pins and one Hutchinson uniform that congregated before the Railroaders yesterday afternoon for a game of ball.” By this time, Porter had been dropped back to seventh or eighth in the Newton batting order. Batting seventh on Saturday, August 27, his final game of the season, he doubled off spitballer Charles Barngrover of the Orphans with two out in the sixth and scored on a base hit by Backus to tie the game. Miller replaced him at short for the last couple of innings and also played the position the next afternoon, the last day of the 1910 season.

It was an interesting but frustrating season for Newton. Seven wins in their last eight games allowed the Railroaders to edge Great Bend for fourth place. It was also an interesting but frustrating season for Porter. Many of the Newton players stayed at least briefly in the area to play on barnstorming or semipro teams, but not Porter. The Kansan-republican said of his winter plans: “Porter left Sunday night for Mount Vernon, O., where he lives. Porter’s father is a merchant at that place and Port intends to work in the store. He says he does not intend to get into this country again.” Dale Porter was a man of his word. He did not return to Newton or the Kansas State League for 1911. 

When the season’s final statistics were released in November, Porter was credited with a .182 batting average in 109 games and 395 at-bats. He managed just 72 hits but showed decent extra-base power with 17 doubles, one triple, and the over-the-fence home run he hit while with Arkansas City. He scored 37 runs and stole 12 bases. The figures, though not impressive, were better than his defensive numbers. He led the league’s shortstops with 73 errors, and posted a fielding percentage of .855. The top percentage among regulars was .920 by Joe Kneaves of Lyons, an indication of generally poor field conditions throughout the league. Interestingly John Fedor, Porter’s eventual replacement at Great Bend, also had an .855 fielding average. Theodore Brunt, replaced by Porter at Arkansas City, made just two errors in 19 games for an average of .972.

Closer to Porter’s home, the Lancaster, Ohio, club of the Ohio State League was in decline. The Lanks had won the league pennant in 1908 but disbanded because of financial problems during the closing weeks of the 1909 season. The team was revived in 1910 with new ownership. Primary owner George Ruff was one of those men who believed he knew more about baseball than his manager. Veteran Henry “Heinie” Peitz compared Ruff to former St. Louis owner Chris Von der Ahe. In one game, Ruff gave a player a dollar bill for making an outstanding play then deducted that dollar from the player’s next paycheck. In mid-July of 1911, with Lancaster in seventh place, Ruff abruptly resigned. Just before his departure, he sold his shortstop, opening a place on the Lanks for Dale Porter.

Ohio State League president Robert Read sold the Lancaster team to William Armour, president of the American Association Toledo Mud Hens, who were owned by Charles Somers, owner of the Cleveland Indians. Lancaster became an Indians farm club.

Just days after the ownership change, Porter’s name was mentioned as a possible member of the Lanks. The Lancaster Gazette was initially pessimistic about Porter joining the team, writing, “Porter, an infielder of Mount Vernon, who played with Detroit some and with Saginaw, was wired for, but the wire was too late, as he had gone west to join a team in a Western league.” Porter’s stay with Saginaw was apparently not much longer than his tryout with Detroit, as he does not appear in the Southern Michigan League statistics. Porter also changed his mind about going west and debuted at third base for Lancaster in a loss to Lima on July 25. The Gazette was skeptical of the abilities of some of the Lancaster newcomers. “None of our new men have shown themselves to be experts as yet and none of them have hit the ball into safe territory. First appearances are often deceptive. We hope so in this case.” 

After one game at third, Porter was shifted to his usual position of shortstop. He got his first hit, a run-scoring single, that day, and singled against Marion’s Wilbur Cooper, a future major-league star, the next day. That same day, he displayed some of the inconsistencies defensively that characterized his 1910 season. In the first inning “when the bases were filled with two down, [Harry “Paddy”] Weller grounded to Porter who threw low to first. [Norman] Munn made a terrific catch, digging the ball out of the dirt. In the third inning Porter after fielding [William] Lallier’s grounder threw the ball into the bleachers.” Despite the error and the near-error, the Gazette thought he played well that day and was optimistic that he’d “come around alright.” The next day Porter struck out in three successive at-bats against Marion’s Ted Goulait, another future major leaguer (New York Giants, 1912).

In his sixth game with Lancaster, Porter was injured. A Hamilton baserunner spiked him in the hand while attempting to steal second base. At first it was hoped Porter would be back in a few days, but he missed almost three weeks of action, returning on August 17. Porter picked a bad day to return to the lineup. Frank Harter of Portsmouth threw a four-hit shutout. Porter did not have one of the four hits.

During the just over two weeks left in the season, hitless games were the rule rather than the exception for Porter. Whether it was the layoff or the injured hand is uncertain, but even when he did reach safely, there was often a matter of luck involved. In one late-season game against Chillicothe, he struck out twice against Howard “Muck” McGraner and managed an infield hit only because McGraner deflected the ball. In another game, he lined into a double play, struck out and grounded to the pitcher. When the season ended on Labor Day, Porter’s average was .176 in 26 games covering 85 at bats. A double was his only extra base hit. His defense was more consistent than it had been in 1910. He committed 11 errors in 141 chances for a .922 average, still below average for Ohio State League shortstops.

Dale Porter left professional baseball after 1911. He was 22 years old. Though it wasn’t stated, lack of desire appears to be the reason. Despite the reduction of the Ohio State League from eight teams to six in 1912, there were a half-dozen Class D leagues relatively close to Mount Vernon and plenty of jobs for young players with ability and experience.

Perhaps with some drive to reach the major leagues, Porter’s career would have been more successful. Indianapolis of the Federal League was managed by former major-league pitcher Bill Phillips. Before taking the Indianapolis job, Phillips had managed at Youngstown, Ohio. Numerous Ohio minor-league journeymen played in the Federal League, many of whom had played for or against teams managed by Phillips. Among Phillips’ signings was George Kaiserling, Porter’s former teammate at Great Bend. 

After baseball, Porter attended Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. Apparently his professional baseball experience wasn’t noted as he played center for the freshman football team in 1914. Porter’s football and college career lasted about as long as his professional baseball career.

He had already left college and was back in Mount Vernon living with his parents by 1917. On June 1, 1917, he enlisted in Battery E of the 1st Field Artillery, a unit of the Ohio National Guard. Later in the year, he was discharged with the rank of corporal. He joined the American Expeditionary Force in June 1918 and served in Europe during the last months of World War I. He received an honorable discharge on April 2, 1919.

After the war, Porter returned to Mount Vernon and ran a soft-drink stand. In 1922, he married Elsie Leach and adopted her 2-year-old son, Raymond. Dale and Elsie had two daughters, Phyllis (born 1925) and Mary Jo (born 1928). Porter operated a combination filling station and barbecue in the community of South Vernon, just outside of Mount Vernon. On October 21, 1930, the Coshocton Tribune reported on a close call for Porter: “Two highwaymen shot and wounded Dale Porter, during an attempted holdup shortly before midnight Sunday. They escaped on foot in the darkness without securing any money. Porter received a bullet in his armpit, which physicians have made no attempt to remove. It entered the left arm near the shoulder and was deflected into the body after striking and cracking a bone in the arm.” 

During the 1930s, Porter worked for the Cooper-Bessemer Company in Mount Vernon making roller bearings. He was an outstanding bowler. In 1939, legendary trick-shot artist Andy Varipapa rolled his 44th perfect game in a match against Porter.

Sometime during the 1940s, Dale’s marriage ended in death or divorce. On June 5, 1954, he married Dorothy Priest of Newark, Ohio. Dale and Dorothy lived in Newark, and Dale after his retirement continued as an outstanding bowler. The Newark Advocate highlighted a particularly strong 1961 effort: “Dale Porter, age 70-plus, showed the youngsters a trick or two Wednesday night at Park Lanes, where he shot a roaring 239-670 series, top bowling score of the area. Porter, rolling for the Park Lanes team, didn’t have an open frame in piling up the big total.” The Advocate was nearly as impressed with a December 1961 effort: “Dale Porter, the 73-year-old bowling wizard, banged out a 632 series Thursday night to headline the bowling scores.” He continued to be mentioned as one of the area’s top bowlers as late as 1966.    

Dorothy Porter died on May 11, 1970, and Dale moved back to Mount Vernon. He Porter died on October 26, 1974, at the Northside Manor nursing home in Mount Vernon after a long illness. He was buried at Mound View Cemetery in Mount Vernon.


Arkansas City (Kansas) Daily Traveler, 1910

Great Bend (Kansas) Tribune, 1910

Hutchinson (Kansas) News, 1910

Lyons (Kansas) News, 1910

Newton (Kansas) Evening Kansan-Republican, 1910

Lancaster (Ohio) Gazette, 1911

Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, 1915

Coshocton (Ohio)Tribune, 1930   

Mansfield (Ohio) News-Journal, 1939

Newark (Ohio) Advocate, 1958-66, 1970, 1974     

United States Census, Knox County Ohio, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

United States Census, Barton County Kansas, 1910

World War I Draft Registration Dale Porter

World War II Draft Registration Dale Porter                                     

Full Name

Dale Elston Porter


November 20, 1888 at Mount Vernon, OH (US)


October 26, 1974 at Mount Vernon, OH (US)

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