Ed Lennox

This article was written by Matt Albertson

Ed Lennox (Library of Congress)

 

The Pittsburgh Rebels visited Kansas City on May 6, 1914, and routed the Packers thanks in large part to “Eggie” Lennox’s efforts at the plate. With Pittsburgh down 1-0, Lennox doubled to right-center field to lead off the second inning and scored on an error. In the third Lennox sent a ball over the left-field fence for a two-run home run. Later, with the Rebels leading 6-1, Lennox singled to left and scored later on Jack Lewis’s fielder’s choice. An inning later, with a runner on, Lennox tripled to right, scoring Rebel Oakes. Finally, in the ninth inning, Lennox hit a home run to lead off the inning for his second home run of the day. The Rebels beat Kansas City 10-4 and Lennox hit for the cycle, going 5-for-5 with two home runs, a double, a triple, and a single, and scored four runs. It was his most productive day at the plate in the major leagues.1

James Edgar “Eggie” Lennox was born in Camden, New Jersey, on November 3, 1883. He was the third of 10 children born to James and Catherine Lennox, who had come to the United States through Canada. Lennox’s father was identified as a railroad laborer when the family moved to Camden from Canada between 1880 and 1883.

Lennox developed a knack for baseball in his early years and was playing organized baseball by at least age 10. In 1894 he was a pitcher for the Andy Z. Barbee Club’s youth baseball team. Writing after Lennox pitched the Barbees to a seven-inning victory over the Golden Stars, the July 11, 1894, Camden Courier Post declared that “E. Lennox pitched a masterly game for the visitors, and was supported by the whole team.”2 This was the first time Lennox was mentioned in a newspaper for his baseball exploits; he was more often named a participant in criminal acts in his early years than for his work on the diamond.

Lennox was named by newspapers on several occasions for criminal activity as an adolescent. The Camden Daily Telegram identified Lennox and others as a bully against another child in March 1896. “Four small boys, Edgar Miller, Andrew Doubles, William Sanders and Edgar Lennox were arraigned before Mayor Westcott this morning on a charge of annoying other boys on Royden street. Henry Snyder, the complainant, said the boys threw potatoes and other missiles at his son and blackened his eye. They were given two days in the City Hall jail.”3 The next year the Courier-Post identified Lennox in a robbery: “Edgar Lennox, thirteen years old, and Boston Goslin, fourteen years, were arrested by Officer Haydon last night for jumping on freight trains … cutting open oyster bags and stealing oysters. They were given a hearing by the Mayor this morning, and owing to their youth got off with three days’ imprisonment.”4 These infractions were minor but not the last newsworthy criminal act in Lennox’s young life.

In September 1899 Lennox was party to a robbery at a Gloucester, New Jersey, race track. The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Times covered the story. Lennox and four others got into the track’s clubhouse by breaking a window in the grandstand. They removed the clubhouse’s telegraph wires, tore away brass from the bar area, and damaged a $500 heater. They either took or destroyed a chandelier in a private office and forced open a desk and destroyed its contents. The thieves piled up items of value such as clocks and brass lamps near the bar for removal. They also took a pile of insulated brass wire outside where they burned the rubber insulation off. Once they removed everything they wanted of value, they left. “When loaded down with plunder, they went towards the river to secure a boat, Benjamin Clark, the bridge tender at Little Timber Creek, espied them. He gave chase. They escaped.”5

Night watchman Francis Daly and trainer John Butts arrived to the track an hour later and noticed the thieves carrying bags over their shoulders. Daly gave chase as four of the thieves swam across the creek and escaped. Butts drew his revolver and fired shots as the thieves ran. Meanwhile, Daly caught Lennox and handed him over to the chief of police, who put Lennox in jail at Gloucester’s City Hall. His bail was set at $500. Damage done by the gang amounted to over $1,000 while the stolen material was valued at up to $500.

Lennox was again in trouble with the law five months later when he and four others drove a wagon onto the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks and deliberately left it there. “[T]he gateman’s hair stood on end and the engineer in the cab of an approaching train played rag time selections on the whistle and prepared to jump. An accident was averted, however, and Policeman Paul arrested the whoel [sic] crowd.” The miscreants were arraigned on February 24, 1900, and were given five days imprisonment for disorderly conduct.6

Tracking Lennox’s criminal exploits is easier than tracking his early baseball career. Between 1894 and 1906 he played for numerous Gloucester and Camden clubs and was well known on the sandlots in the area. “An aggressive youth, Mr. Lennox stood out, among sandlot players in Camden during the early 1900’s and first entered organized baseball in 1905,” the Courier-Post noted many years later.7 In several seasons he played for multiple teams in one season. “[Lennox] … wore a Meriden shirt, New Haven pants and Holyoke shoes, so in him the crowd … saw three crack clubs of the down-East leagues in one.”8 He played for the Meriden club of the Connecticut League in 1905 and ended the season back with the Camden team. In April 1906 the Camden Morning Post reported that Lennox had joined the Lancaster club of the Tri-State League. His tenacity on the diamonds in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England provided his first opportunity in the major leagues in 1906.

Lennox probably caught the eye of Philadelphia Athletics part-owner and manager Connie Mack in 1905. The A’s captain, Lave Cross, was nearing the end of his long career in 1905 and Mack needed to prepare for the future at third base. He signed a young Jack Knight to help man the hot corner but the position was still uncertain. Lennox seemed a decent choice for a look at third. The Morning Post noted that Lennox watched the Athletics lose to the Detroit Tigers on September 27 in Philadelphia.9 It’s plausible that he was invited to see the Athletics play that day by Mack or another club official. His watching a game as a leisure activity isn’t necessarily newsworthy. Lennox completed his season with the Meriden club of the Connecticut League and returned to the Camden area for the offseason and amateur baseball activity. What is known for certain is that Mack signed Lennox by July 1906. Mack was known to sign players to a contract and put the contract in his safe until he could make the move official with the American League. News broke by wire on July 16 that Lennox had met with A’s part-owner Ben Shibe and A’s first baseman and Mack confidant Harry Davis in Altoona while Lennox’s Lancaster club was in the Mountain City.10 On July 18 news broke that Lennox signed a contract with the Athletics for $400 per month and would report to the team that Saturday.11 The Lancaster club threatened to file for an injunction of Lennox played for the Athletics in Pennsylvania. The Morning Post reported on July 26 that Lennox would finish the season with Lancaster and report to the Athletics for the remainder of the season, avoiding injunction.12

On August 8, 1906, Lennox made his major-league debut for the Athletics against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago. He made an error at third base in the third inning but his debut was otherwise good. “The general tenor of the sporting guys’ dispatches from the city of hot air and embalmed beef is that Eggie was all to the spiced brandy,” a newspaper commented. “True he didn’t make a hit. … What he did do at third, however, came near being a No. 1, his fumble of a hot one mounting for naught.”13 The Philadelphia Record noted that “he accepted five out of six chances and handled all like a veteran, always knowing where to throw. He hit the ball every time up, although he did not land safely. He has a strong throwing arm, shooting them across the diamond in fine style.”14

Lennox’s stint with the Athletics in 1906 was short-lived. He played in six games, starting five, got one hit in 19 plate appearances and made three errors at third base in 33 chances. Connie Mack farmed him out to the Eastern League’s Rochester club. Lennox told the Morning Post that he suffered from a stomach illness for some time and that was why he played so poorly while with the Athletics. He was confident that once he recovered he would regain his composure at the plate and in the field.15 He played his first game with Rochester on August 23, 1906, and finished the year with that team, batting .269 in 28 games. Mack felt that Lennox had the ability to develop into a fine third baseman and Lennox spent the next two seasons refining himself with Rochester before he earned another shot in the major leagues.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on February 9, 1909, that the Brooklyn Superbas had signed Lennox to a $4,000 contract. Lennox was brought in to compete with Pryor McElveen for the starting third-base position, which Lennox won with his exceptional defense and decent hitting. The Superbas finished the 1909 campaign with a 55-98 record. Lennox finished with a .262/.337/.359 slash line and led the majors with a .959 fielding percentage with only 16 errors in 121 games. Despite missing most of 1910 spring training due to illness, he played in 110 games for Brooklyn and performed similarly with a .259/.333/.357 slash line and a .950 fielding percentage.

The Superbas sold Lennox’s contract to Louisville of the American Association, where he spent the 1911 season, playing in 75 games with a .331 batting average. Lennox proved an adequate third baseman but newspaper accounts suggest that he and Brooklyn manager Bill Dahlen were at odds, and that could be why Lennox was sold to Louisville. Lennox’s extended absence from spring training weighed on Dahlen’s patience, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.16 Dahlen wanted players to come to camp early to create a cohesive unit. When news broke in 1911 that three clubs were interested in Lennox, he told his brother that he would not go back to Brooklyn as long as Dahlen was manager.17

Once again Lennox’s excellent hitting in the minor leagues attracted the attention of a big-league club. The Chicago Cubs signed him to a contract for 1912. The Cubs wanted him to challenge for the vacant third-base position. One sportswriter was impressed, commenting, “Lennox’s hard work, his knowledge of the game and of the batsmen in the National league, his reputation as a smart ball player all stood him in good stead, however, and he will have the first chance of making good at third.”18 But despite fine play in the field, Lennox’s batting dipped as he slashed .235/.347/346 in 27 games with the Cubs before being sent back to Louisville in late May.

Lennox spent the 1913 season in Montreal, where he batted .320 and played mostly second base.19 His play with Montreal opened up one final major-league opportunity, this time in the brand-new Federal League.

On February 10, 1914, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League had signed Lennox to a contract, noting that Lennox had a .966 fielding percentage in 86 games at second base and a .983 fielding percentage in 37 games at first base.20 On March 3 Lennox was traded to the Pittsburgh Rebels because the desire of the Federal League owners “has been to see that no club enters the race a weakling.”21 Lennox’s batting average was .188 after six games despite being the club’s cleanup hitter. “He has not quite struck his stride with the stick, although he is the clean-up man of the team, but when, he does, opposing third-sackers had best be on the lookout for cannonballs, in the form of base balls,” Sporting Life reported.22 It didn’t take long for Lennox to warm up and he started to hit the ball well in early May and continued his excellent work at the plate for the entire season. In May Sporting Life commented, “Eddie Lennox at third base is fast regaining his hitting eye. Up until Friday Lennox had not been hitting his weight, but in the second game of the double-header he came back with a vengeance and if he can only retain this form he will be well up among the leading sluggers at the end of the season.”23

Lennox’s work at the plate in May 1914 was his most productive month of the entire season. In 27 games, he recorded a .398/.456/.767 slash line with 6 home runs and 30 RBIs.

In a game against Kansas City on July 30, Lennox injured himself when his spikes dug into the ground on a slide into home plate. He had to be carried off the field. A physician who was at the game concluded that he tore ligaments in his knee and said he would be out of action for at least a week. At the time of the injury, his .337 batting average was the sixth-highest in the Federal League (minimum 100 at-bats).24 He return to the lineup on August 26 but did not return to form as he slashed .264/.380/.379 with one home run and 19 RBIs. Despite his offensive decline, Lennox batted .312, the eighth-highest batting average in the Federal League in 1914 (minimum 100 at-bats).25

After the season the Rebels signed former Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Mike Mowrey, who was expected to compete with Lennox in spring practice. Lennox entered spring camp in better physical condition than the previous year and hit the ball well early in camp but suffered two injuries that set him back, a “lame finger” on March 6 and the effect of taking a ball to the face on March 16. He also dealt with a sore arm for most of spring training and was relegated to pinch-hitting duties to open the 1915 season.

Lennox played in only 55 games in 1915 and started just two of the games. He slashed .302/.383/.453 in his final season in the major leagues.

After the Federal League folded, Lennox was signed by the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association. In 82 games he hit .266. In 1917 he played for Elmira of the New York State League and several Camden sandlot teams. In 1918 he signed with a semipro Steel League club in Pennsylvania and a year later signed with Springfield (Massachusetts) of the Eastern League before jumping back to Lebanon in the Steel League, where he stayed through the 1922 season. Late in 1923 he signed with the Allentown Dukes of the Atlantic League and soon took over as manager of the team, a post he held until 1926 before returning to Camden. The Courier Post recounted Lennox’s lengthy baseball career in March 1928 and reported that he would umpire in the Virginia League that season. “While everyone wishes Lennox success in his new venture, there are many fans who will regret his passing out of the playing end of the national pastime,” the paper said. “The game loses a great hitter, but Lennox should make the grade as an ‘ump’ without much trouble and as efficient umpires are in as great demand as players, it may be just as well that he has decided to cast his lot with the arbiters of the game.”26 Lennox also umpired in the Eastern Carolina and Blue Ridge leagues in 1928 and 1929 and later scouted for the Yankees, Giants, and Athletics.27 Lennox fell ill and was admitted to Cooper Hospital in Camden in September 1939 and died on October 26 of carcinoma of the rectum that spread to the liver.28

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.

Photo credit: Library of Congress

 

Notes

1 “Rebels Treat Three Packer Pitchers in Rough Manner,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, May 7, 1914: 11.

2 “Barbees Play Base Ball,” Camden Courier-Post, July 11, 1894: 3.

3 “Committed for Two Days,” Camden Daily Telegram, March 28, 1896: 1.

4 “Stole Oysters From a Freight Train,” Camden Courier-Post, August 31, 1897: 4.

5 “Visited ‘Duke’s’ Sanctum,” The Times (Philadelphia), September 20, 1899: 1.

6 “Wanted a Hair-Raising Experience,” Camden Courier-Post, February 24, 1900: 8.

7 “Funeral Monday for ‘Eggie’ Lennox,” Camden Courier-Post, October 27, 1939.

8 “Wislery’s Home Run Hit Prevented a Shut Out,” Camden Morning Post, September 16, 1905: 3.

9 “Deciding Game on Saturday,” Camden Morning Post, September 28, 1905: 10.

10 “Lennox for Athletics,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 1906: 13.

11 “Eggie Lennox At Last Signs,” Camden Morning Post, July 18, 1906: 10.

12 Camden Morning Post, July 26, 1906: 10.

13 “Lennox Joins the Athletics,” Camden Morning Post, August 9, 1906: 3.

14 “Athletics Fail to Score,” Philadelphia Record, August 9, 1906: 8.

15 Camden Morning Post, August 17, 1906: 9.

16 “Dahlen Changes His Mind and Wants to Sign Keeler,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 12, 1910: 24.

17 “Again Want ‘Eggie’ in National League,” Camden Morning Post, July 27, 1911: 11.

18 Hy Low, “P.L. Announces Lennox as Doyle’s Successor,” Chicago Inter Ocean, March 12, 1912: 4.

19 Newspaper notices of Lennox’s death said he was suspended for most of the 1913 season while with Montreal. It’s unknown where this assertion comes from because a suspension is not mentioned anywhere in the Montreal Gazette which provided regular coverage of the Montreal Royals. Baseball-Reference.com shows that Lennox played in 129 games for Montreal. Spalding’s 1915 baseball guide showed that the Royals played 151 games in 1913, so Lennox missed a total of 22 games. It’s possible Lennox was suspended for all or a portion of that 22 games, but again, a suspension is not mentioned in the Gazette.

20 “3 Men for Terrapins,” Baltimore Sun, February 10, 1914: 9.

21 C. Starr Matthews, “Lose Lennox, Get Allen,” Baltimore Sun, March 3, 1914: 9.

22 Harry H. Kramer, “The Pittsburg ‘Rebels,’” Sporting Life, April 28, 1914: 13.

23 Harry H. Kramer, “The Pittsburgh Rebels,” Sporting Life, May 2, 1914: 12.

24 Sporting Life, August 1, 1914: 12.

25 Sporting Life, October 17, 1914: 16.

26 Tom Ryan, “‘Eggie’ Lennox Decided to Cast Lot with ‘Umps,’” Camden Courier Post, March 24, 1928: 18.

27 Ed Lennox file at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

28 Death Certificate.

Full Name

James Edgar Lennox

Born

November 3, 1883 at Camden, NJ (USA)

Died

October 26, 1939 at Camden, NJ (USA)

If you can help us improve this player’s biography, contact us.

Tags

© SABR. All Rights Reserved