Public Domain

Ed Eiteljorg

This article was written by Paul Proia

Public DomainEd Eiteljorg had just turned one year old when his family disembarked from their ship Main at Castle Garden, New York in 1872. Soon after landing in the United States, the family settled in Greencastle, Indiana, where Eiteljorg learned the ways of America, including the national pastime of baseball.  Eighteen years later, he would be pitching for Cap Anson and the Chicago Colts in the National League.

Born October 14, 1871, in Berlin, Germany, to Carl Heinrich and Augusta (Baisenberg) Eiteljorg, Edward Henry was the third of the farmer and his wife’s four sons. The fourth was born in Greencastle, where Carl took up shoemaking. His children all appear to have finished high school, save for one. Albert became a dentist in Indianapolis; Charles was a respected businessman.1 The youngest son, Henry, died as a toddler in 1880.2

After high school, Ed Eiteljorg enrolled at DePauw University in Greencastle. He was a student there when he began pitching for Terre Haute in the Interstate League in 1889.3 This team won 20 of 25 games – and one paper said his name alone was intimidating. “Terre Haute has a pitcher named Eiteljorg. Printed in big letters on the scoreboard, it alone gives rival teams the horrors.”4 In the photo of the 1889 Terre Haute team below, Ed is seated at the lower right. Joe Cantillon, years before his days as a manager, sits behind Eiteljorg’s right shoulder.



At the end of the season, Eiteljorg earned a tryout with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the National League, with whom he would eventually sign a contract for 1890. He defeated both Kansas City and Columbus in exhibition games. After beating Kansas City, an Indianapolis reporter wrote, “He is only eighteen years of age, but he pitched like a veteran, and after he had finished the game he could have put his name to a contract with either Manager (Jack) Glasscock or (Bill) Watkins.”5 However, Indianapolis closed up shop as 1890 began and sold off player rights and other assets.6

The Chicago Colts purchased the rights to Eiteljorg and brought him to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for spring training. The Chicago Tribune observed, “He is a big, strapping fellow and comes with a great reputation secured with several good semi-professional teams. … He is big and heavy and needs considerable work to get him in shape.”7 lists Eiteljorg at 6-feet-2 and 190 pounds. When he first pitched for the Cubs, however, the Chicago Inter Ocean gave his height as just 5-feet-10, though the gap in weight was minor (the story showed 186 pounds).8

As for his mound technique, a later article in the Kansas City Times noted that the righthander “has a very rapid and very quick delivery and fields his position passably well.”9 He was a pretty fair athlete – he won a 100-yard dash while with Kansas City in 1892.10

After easy wins over Pittsburgh in an early series, Cap Anson decided to give Eiteljorg a start against the Pirates on May 2, 1890. Eiteljorg got through the first inning without a scratch, but the second inning got out of hand quickly. Pittsburgh scored five runs, with John Kelty’s triple being the big hit of the inning. When Eiteljorg gave up a single and a walk to open the third, Anson pulled him for a reliever. (Eiteljorg is given credit for having faced 12 batters on, but it’s actually 14.)11

Within days, Eiteljorg was sent out for more professional experience. The Colts farmed him to Evansville of the Interstate League – which caused a little disturbance because some teams felt it was unfair for a player who’d signed a contract with a major league team to play for a minor league club.12 Eiteljorg pitched remarkably well for Evansville, winning 22 of 30 decisions, completing all 30 of his starts, and pitching in relief three other times.

As the season ended in the Interstate League, Eiteljorg didn’t return to the Colts. Rather, he signed with the Omaha Lambs of the Western Association. In one of his first starts for Omaha, he was pitching in Minneapolis when the crowd called him “Idle George” and asked the youthful-looking hurler if his mother knew he was out playing. Minneapolis took an early lead, but Eiteljorg settled in. While his teammates rallied to take the lead (Ed himself had two hits), he fanned eight batters in the last five innings to earn the win.13

Later that month, on September 28, he participated in a rare tripleheader between Omaha and St. Paul. In the first game, Eiteljorg played center field and got a hit in a 7-5 Omaha win. In the second game he pitched a complete (albeit sloppy) game in a 15-7 win. He added a hit and a run to his batting totals in that game, too. Then, in the third contest, he had four hits including a home run. He started in right field before taking the mound and earning the win in relief of a game called by darkness with Omaha leading 16-11.14

Overall, Eiteljorg pitched well enough in a handful of starts to get a contract for the 1891 season. An odd story of his playing days, which likely dates from 1891, was told in 1922. According to lore, during a tie game with a runner at third base, Eiteljorg chose to give a pass to John Pickett. Pickett had a reputation as a hard hitter; with the winning run on third, he worked the count such that Eiteljorg thought he had a better chance to pick him off first base than get him out with a pitch. So, Pickett drew the walk. Eiteljorg had a good move to first, but not good enough this game, and Pickett realized he was in Eiteljorg’s head. So, he started yelling things at Eiteljorg and eventually walked toward him as if to fight. Eiteljorg left the mound toward Pickett – and at some point, he calmly tagged Pickett out.

Pickett started laughing. The catcher had been yelling, “Throw the ball home!” With Eiteljorg not paying attention, the runner at third started running and easily scored the winning run.15 (John Pickett played for Kansas City in the Western Association in 1891, the same year Eiteljorg pitched for Omaha. It’s the only season where it was possible for the two to face each other.  In going through box scores of Omaha-Kansas City games, a game meeting this description could not be identified.)

Eiteljorg pitched well for Omaha, winning 18 of 26 decisions with an excellent 1.68 ERA. Eiteljorg knew how well he was doing; in June he and two others threatened to leave Omaha for Louisville of the American Association.16  Perhaps those three knew that Omaha, despite a league-leading record, was having financial issues.  Many players, including Eiteljorg, left the club in mid-July for other teams right as executives had supposedly found a way to fund operations for the remainder of the season.17  Yet Omaha (along with five other teams) didn’t finish the 1891 season and the Western Association folded that fall.18 

Upon leaving Omaha, Eiteljorg signed with the Washington Statesmen, a poor club near the bottom of the American Association standings – but which had come to be managed by Dan Shannon, the former skipper of the Omaha Lambs.

There, the husky righthander struggled along with his team. He won just once, losing five other decisions, in his eight appearances (seven starts) with Washington. His 6.16 ERA was bad enough, but the dreadful fielding behind him meant that he allowed 67 total runs in his 61.1 innings. Also fueling this tally was control; he walked 41 batters, nearly twice as many as he struck out. Eiteljorg’s explanation for his poor pitching was that he was immediately discouraged by watching Washington lose. “I was there a week before I went in the box and a week’s watching of the kind of baseball the ‘senators’ played was enough for me. It was something awful. They gave a pitcher no support at all. When I went into the box I had no heart, knew I couldn’t win and, as a rule, I didn’t.”19

He did have one successful start, however. On August 22, 1891, he beat Baltimore in 11 innings, 3-2. In that game, he allowed but five hits, though he walked seven. Unfortunately, only 648 fans witnessed Eiteljorg’s lone major league victory.20

Omaha reorganized for the 1892 season with an entry in the Western League and demanded that all the players return to the franchise for that season. Eiteljorg was one of many players who refused to go to Omaha – so, at least for a short period of time, he was blacklisted.21 At some point, his ability to play was restored and he landed with another Western League club, Kansas City.

When the locals first met Eiteljorg, he made a wonderful impression. “Eddie Eiteljorg, the young man who is expected to be Kansas City’s mainstay in the box, is perhaps the nicest looking ball player who steps on a Western League diamond… He is a tall well-formed fellow and looks rather young. He has great speed and is the master of an excellent set of curves… It is pleasant to hear that he thinks Kansas City is the best town in the Western League, and that he would rather play here than in any of the western cities.”22

Here, Eiteljorg was good but not good enough on a poor team, finishing with a 7-13 record in 20 starts and one relief appearance, despite a 2.33 ERA. Most of his problems were tied to his wildness. In one start against Toledo, for example, he walked a dozen batters.23 A few weeks later, the Kansas City Star said, “Eiteljorg was as erratic in his delivery as usual, and when he did get the balls over the plate, the Toledos rapped him hard… Eiteljorg was expected to be the star pitcher of the Blues, but his work has been very disappointing of late, and a little lay off without pay would probably have a good effect in putting into pitching form.”24 In that game, he walked 11 batters and served up two homers.

At that point, he was moved to left field. “And, by the way, that’s where Eiteljorg ought to play whenever it is convenient,” wrote the Kansas City Times a couple of weeks later. “The way he used his bat yesterday showed what a desirable man he is to have about. He made a two bagger and a home run. His home run hit was a terrific drive over the left field fence between left and center field. He made two other long drives which were caught. It certainly cannot hurt the outfield to let Eiteljorg play there, for, as constituted now, Kansas City has the worst outfield on the face of the earth, bar none. (Art) Sunday alone plays the game.”25

For what it’s worth, the right-handed-hitting Eiteljorg tied for the team lead in home runs with three on the season (he batted .243 with the fourth-highest slugging percentage on the team), and his control got better in the final weeks of the season. He even pitched a four-hit shutout to beat Omaha in June.26 However, Kansas City folded in July and Eiteljorg didn’t sign with another team for the remainder of the season.27 For the near future, Eiteljorg’s pitching would be on low-level minor-league or amateur teams.

The summer of 1893 saw Eiteljorg pitching with Muncie in the Indiana-Illinois League, despite rumors of his signing to pitch in the South or the East.28 However, for the most part Eiteljorg spent much of 1893 and 1894 playing some amateur baseball and working a family farm. On August 9, 1893, Ed married Virginia Richmond Hammond.

In 1895, Eiteljorg started the season playing for Terre Haute – either pitching or playing in the outfield.29 By midsummer, he was pitching for an amateur team in the small town of Kansas, Illinois – which happens to be about the same distance west of Terre Haute as Greencastle is east of Terre Haute. “Eiteljorg… has had a little League experience, but at the time he was tried out by the major organization was a raw, green, undeveloped boy. Since then he has developed into a splendid specimen of the strong, trim, clean-built athlete. Under the tutelage of an intelligent manager he would undoubtably blossom into a fine pitcher.” That Kansas team went undefeated with Eiteljorg pitching in every game, leading to a brief resurgence of his professional career.30

Eiteljorg was picked up by Grand Rapids of the Western League. He didn’t impress in his first start, a loss to Columbus where Eiteljorg was removed in the third inning.31 That led to comments that he wouldn’t last the season in the Western League.32 Again, erratic control was the problem. On a May 14, 1896, start against Minneapolis, Eiteljorg walked a dozen batters – even though the game was called in the seventh inning because of rain.33 When not on the mound, he would play right field as needed.

By late May, his arm was bothering him.34 By late June, predictions of Eiteljorg’s demise were correct. He was released and signed to pitch for Terre Haute in the Indiana-Illinois League. He hurled there on and off between 1896 and 1899.35 With that, his days as a professional ended – he would pitch or play in amateur games and make a living as a farmer. He and Virginia had three children: Charlotte, Charles, and Edward. At some point around the turn of the century he also worked as a salesman at a local store.

Starting in 1902, Eiteljorg – who had umpired games as early as his late teens in local events – started umpiring collegiate baseball. He appeared behind the plate for games between many of the Indiana-based universities, including Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, and his hometown DePauw.36 He had to take a brief break in 1903, however, when Purdue hired him as an assistant coach to help turn around a losing streak.37

Somewhere after his baseball days were over, Eiteljorg became Eiteljorge. His brother, Albert, used Eiteljorge in advertisements for his dental practice. Charles also changed his name during his adulthood. Perhaps Ed followed suit when he became more active in civic matters. He served as a Greencastle township trustee and secretary of the library board.38 More importantly, he served as a deputy and later the sheriff of Putnam County for a handful of years (and then deputy for a second time). In one story, his wife Virginia heard the scratching of a key along the floor. She caught a prisoner trying to use an improvised hook to steal the jail key – requiring that her husband find a new location to hang the extra key.39

Late in 1942 Eiteljorge began showing signs of decline due to arteriosclerosis. On December 5, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage; he passed to the next league that afternoon. He is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Greencastle next to his wife, Virginia, who preceded him in death in 1936.40



This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Ray Danner.



1880, 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940 US Census
Ellis Island Arrivals and Crew Lists
Indiana Death Certificates (Edward, Augusta)
Indiana Marriage Index – Ed Eiteljorge – This video shows the Terre Haute team image used here with names of players. – This is the source of the 1889 Terre Haute team image.



1 C. S. Eiteljorge, Indianapolis News, September 18, 1947: 12. Advertisements for Albert’s dental practice can be found in various Indianapolis newspapers over a 40-year period.  While this is covered later in the article, the three Eiteljorg sons all changed the spelling of their names to Eiteljorge at some point in the early 1900s.

2 Henry’s final resting place can be found on

3 “Diamond Dust,” University Kansan, November 15, 1889: 4.

4 “In the World of Sport,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, June 30, 1889: 2.

5 “A Coming Young Pitcher,” Indianapolis News, October 17, 1889: 2.

6 A brief note about this is included here: Bill Lamb, “Indianapolis Hoosiers team ownership history,” accessed December 29, 2023.

7 “Eiteljorg Reports,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1890: 6.

8 “Hecker Slightly Happy,” Chicago Inter Ocean, May 3, 1890: 3.

9 “Composition of the Teams,” Kansas City Times, March 18, 1892: 5.

10 “Eiteljorg the Fastest Man,” Kansas City Times, July 18, 1892: 3.

11 “Hecker Slightly Happy,” Chicago Inter Ocean, May 3, 1890: 3. Also, “Won the Last of the Series,” Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1890: 6.

12 “The Quincys Downed,” Evansville (Indiana) Courier, May 14, 1890: 4.

13 “Not So Green as He Looked,” Omaha Evening World-Herald, September 6, 1890: 5.

14 “Omaha, 7-15-16; St. Paul, 5-7-11,” Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, September 29, 1890: 2.

15 E. J. Bartley, “Baseball Freak Plays,” Pittsburgh Post, December 10, 1922: Section 3, Page 9.

16 “Jumped the Club,” Omaha World-Herald, June 7, 1891: 6.

17 “Omaha Will Play Big Ball,” Omaha World-Herald, July 21, 1891: 5.

18 Reach’s Official 1892 Base Ball Guide (1989 Reprint), Horton Publishing Company, 26-27. 

19 Kansas City Times, April 1, 1892: 2. (Article title is not visible thanks to age at time of image capture.)

20 “Made It Three Straight,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 23, 1891: 3.

21 “Will Not Take Chances,” Boston Globe, January 24, 1892: 16.

22 Kansas City Times, April 1, 1892: 2.

23 “Warm Welcome for Pears,” Kansas City Times, April 28, 1892: 2.

24 “A Game in Rain and Mud,” Kansas City Star, May 14, 1892: 3.

25 “Won By Very Hard Hitting,” Kansas City Times, May 27, 1892: 2.

26 “Two Games from Omaha,” Kansas City Times, June 4, 1892: 2.

27 “The Blues Scattering,” Kansas City Star, July 25, 1892: 3.

28 “Retrieved,” Muncie (Indiana) Morning News, June 21, 1893: 8.

29 “The Pitcher Was Amusing,” Indianapolis Journal, April 13, 1895: 3.

30 “A Tip for Diddlebock,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 19, 1896: 5.

31 “Baseball,” Muncie Evening Press, April 23, 1896: 3.

32 “Baseball Notes,” Indianapolis Journal, April 24, 1896: 3.

33 “Too Soft to Miss,” St. Paul Globe, May 15, 1896: 6.

34 “Blues Batted Out Victory,” Kansas City Times, May 24, 1896: 3.

35 “An Error Saved Shut-Out for Muncie,” Indianapolis Journal, June 23, 1899: 6.

36 “Depauw Gets Game by Forfeit,” Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1904: 8.  Also, “Could Not Stop Them, Indianapolis Journal, May 3, 1902: 2, and “Aided by Errors, I. U. Defeated Purdue,” Indianapolis Journal, May 24, 1904: 8.

37 “New Coach at Purdue,” Indianapolis Journal, May 23, 1903: 2.

38 “Legal Status of Board Is Questioned,” Daily Reporter (Martinsville, Indiana), March 19, 1937: 1.  Also, “Rites Held for Mary Morgan,” Indianapolis News, October 10, 1936: 9.

39 “Prisoners Try to Hook Key,” Indianapolis Times, May 24, 1929: 36.

40 “Rites Held for Mary Morgan,” Indianapolis News, October 10, 1936: 9.

Full Name

Edward Henry Eiteljorg


October 14, 1871 at Berlin, (Germany)


December 5, 1942 at Greencastle, IN (USA)

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