How about batting third in the lineup, between eventual Hall of Famers Max Carey and Honus Wagner, in your first major-league start? Frank Edington could rake, and he gave the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates an offensive shot in the arm for three weeks during the summer of 1912. Yet as it turned out, the 20-year-old never returned to the majors. He soldiered on in the minors through 1928.
The lefthanded pitcher turned outfielder was 5-foot-8 — maybe.1 His nickname morphed from “Bugs” to “Stub” to “Stubby” to “Stumpy” to eventually “Stump.” After his baseball days, he added another appellation: Doctor.
Jacob Frank Edington was born on July 4, 1891,2 in Koleen, Indiana. His parents were Melvin Gray Edington, who conducted a real estate business and operated a lumber yard3, and Stella Ann (Meredith) Edington. He had four sisters: Cledie (born in 1890), Harley (1893), Mary Jane (1899), and Mabel (1899). There were also two younger brothers: Jonah (1892) and Harley (1893).
Frank first came to notice in 1909, manning shortstop for the local amateur squad in Lyons, Indiana. In June, he pitched a complete-game victory for Lebanon against Frankfort.
In 1910, Edington, as an 18-year-old pitcher, was on the preseason roster for the Paris (Kentucky) Bourbonites of the Class D Blue Grass League.4 He was recommended by Thomas Dugger, who was with Paris in 1909 and had seen Frank play with Lyons. Even early on it was noticed that Frank was “stockily built and looks every inch like a ball player.”5 He started for Paris on April 21, striking out seven batters in three innings.6 Edington won his only decision before being released in late May.7 He moved to the Winchester (Kentucky) Hustlers in June, and then in early August to the Lexington (Kentucky) Colts, all still in the Blue Grass League. He lost against his former Paris team, 2-0, in his Lexington debut. “The strength acquired by work of over a week on the farm at his home in Indiana failed to check the stride of the Bourbonites.”8
Back at Lexington for 1911, he pitched to a 2-3 record in eight games. But the story was that he was converted into an outfielder, hitting .333 in 72 games for the season, including a 4-for-4 performance against Frankfort on July 4.9
He then returned for a third year in Lexington. On June 1, against Paris, “‘Bugs’ Edington, for the third time this season, pulled off his two-home-runs-in-one-game stunt.”10 On June 10, 1912, the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased Edington’s contract, and he left Lexington for New York to meet his new team.11
Edington made his debut on June 20, as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds’ Art Fromme, but his “good-looking smash was smothered by (right fielder Mike) Mitchell.”12 Manager Fred Clarke meant to play Edington in the outfield in that nightcap, but the player was hit by a pitched ball during practice and was limping.13
Two days later, Edington made his first start for Pittsburgh, in right field, as manager Clarke decided to rest Ham Hyatt for the day. The Pittsburgh Press reported that “Frank Edington, the youthful recruit from the Lexington Blue Grass League club, cavorted nimbly in the right pasture.”14 Edington batted third in the lineup, sandwiched between Carey and Wagner. The Pittsburgh Daily Post’s sub-headline read that, “Frank Edington Occupies Right Field and Carries Bacon Across Pan.”15 Edington scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning after drawing a walk off Cincinnati starter George Suggs. On June 25, Edington had five RBIs in the nightcap of a doubleheader sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Daily Post stated that Edington was taking Mike Donlin’s place in right field while the famous slugger was called away by the illness of his wife.16 Over Frank’s first seven games, spanning 31 plate appearances, he did not strike out once.17 The Daily Post noticed his “excellent work with the bat and…errorless ball in the outer garden.”18 Nonetheless, when Donlin returned on June 28, it sent Edington to the bench for a week.19
On July 4, back in the starting lineup in right field, Edington was the “star sticksman” during a home doubleheader sweep for the Pirates against the Reds. With three hits in the first game and two more in the second game, his batting average swelled to over .300.20 This prompted Clarke to make an announcement to retain Edington and sell utility infielder Wally Rehg to St. Paul. The Daily Post commented: “There is not much doubt that Clarke has picked up a real live wire in Edington. Although not over five feet five inches tall, he weighs close to 170 pounds and is hard as nails. He’s a fighter, too. Frank may not set the world on fire this season but look out for him in the near future. He sizes up as a good bet.”21
In Edington’s last start, on July 9, he bruised his hand while sliding into second base, making contact with the foot of Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Mickey Doolin. He was lifted for a hitter in the fourth inning.22 One more pinch-hitting appearance four days later would be Frank’s final major league at-bat. He wound up with a .302 batting average over the 15 games he played with the Pirates.
On July 25, he was sent to the Wheeling (West Virginia) Stogies of the Class B Central League, on option for $300, thanks to the pleading of manager “Goat” Anderson.23 At the same time the Pirates recalled Eddie Mensor to take over right field.24 The Pittsburgh Daily Post claimed Edington “was tried and found wanting.”25 By contrast, the Pittsburgh Press asserted that Edington possesses real ability, especially in a batting way, and he may be recalled at any time.”26 Three days later, Edington started in right field for Wheeling, before coming in to pitch against Canton.27 He hit .260 in 35 games for Wheeling.
For 1913, Edington played for the Toledo (Ohio) Mud Hens of the Class AA American Association. He was hitting .281 as of late June, but slumped later, before transferring to the Columbus (Ohio) Senators of the same league in mid-August.28 He started 1914 back with Columbus, but by late May, he was bought on option by the American Association’s Indianapolis Indians, with manager Jack Hendricks desperate for outfield coverage.29 Edington immediately impressed his new team with his speed and aggressiveness.30 On the same day as the running of the fourth Indianapolis 500 car race, he collected five hits in a doubleheader sweep for the Indians in Louisville.31 Yet, in early June, Edington was returned to Columbus, then later sold to the Denver Bears of the Class A Western League. Edington starred in the Mile High City, hitting .347 in 100 games. He even came in from center field to pitch three hitless innings for Denver in late September against Wichita.32
Edington moved to the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Black Sox of the Class B Central League for the 1915 season, playing for manager Bill Essick. He boasted a .347 average heading into July, but dropped to .322 by season’s end, still good enough to win the league batting title.33 In 1916, Edington fell to a .262 clip over 133 games. In 1917, he once again finished second in the league, this time with a .339 mark, behind Frank Walker’s .370 tally, but set an all-time league record for walks.
After the season, Edington was drafted by Memphis, but Memphis was trumped by Uncle Sam and the continued World War I effort. Edington enlisted in the Army and became a first lieutenant. He also led off and played outfield on the Camp Taylor squad based in Louisville, Kentucky.
Back as a civilian at the turn of the calendar, Jacob married Jessie D. Wilson in Delaware, Indiana in February 1919. Jessie was a divorcée, a year older and from Kansas (where her daughter, Thelma, had been born in 1914). They got divorced late in 1920, with her claiming “extreme cruelty.”34
For the 1919 baseball season, Edington followed his old Grand Rapids manager Bill Essick west to play in the Pacific Coast League for the Vernon (California) Tigers. The team was owned by film comedian “Fatty” Arbuckle, whose career would be ruined by scandal two years later. Art Fromme, against whom Edington had made his major-league debut, was now a teammate. Stump hit .302 in 170 games, as the Tigers won the PCL pennant before defeating the St. Paul (Minnesota) Saints in the postseason “Western World’s Championship.”
However, a bribery scandal soon erupted, with claims that Vernon players, led by Babe Borton, had raised funds from teammates to pay off opposing players late in the 1919 season. Borton claimed that nearly 20 players, including Edington, along with manager Essick, were complicit. However, Edington vehemently denied the allegations, stating that Borton approached him about potentially paying off players from the Salt Lake Bees, but that Edington “advised him to attempt no such measure.”35
Vernon became PCL champion again in 1920, with Edington hitting .272 over 124 games. He also engaged in a memorable scrap in September with Los Angeles Angels manager Red Killefer. “Stumpy” emerged with a swollen eye and Killifer with a dislocated arm.36 After the PCL season, Edington recruited an all-star squad, including Frank Shellenback, to take on the Los Angeles White Sox colored team in a November exhibition.37
In 1921, Edington hit .300 over 144 games in his third and final year with Vernon. Before the 1922 season, he was traded from Vernon to the Beaumont Exporters of the Class A Texas League. There he played with Scotty Alcock on a third straight team together, spanning an eight-year period. Edington hit .326 and proceeded to set another league record in walks.
Somewhat begrudgingly, he added the title of manager to his resume with Beaumont for 1923. As the Exporters floundered under Edington, the “stocky one almost walked himself to death from outfield to pitcher’s box when piloting” the poor squad.38 It was claimed that, during his time leading the Beaumont squad, he was quite the intricate sign-giver. “Stump Edington…installed an elaborate set of signals. But by the time Stump gave the sign to a batter, had the batter flash him a return “OK” and then checked the signals with the base runners, the inning would be over. The signs were good but too complicated.39
By mid-June, Edington’s short tenure as manager concluded. The Fort Worth Panthers, needing more punch in their lineup, purchased him from Beaumont. Stump rapped out two hits in beating his former team in his Panthers debut — against the Exporters. He followed three days later with a four-for-four performance against Beaumont, with three doubles and two walks.40 Fort Worth won the Texas League title, and then faced New Orleans, the Southern Association champions, in the Dixie Series.
Edington played for a bit for Marianao in the Cuban Winter League before returning to Fort Worth for 1924.41 The Panthers finished 109-41 to win the Texas League, then took the Dixie Series from the Memphis Chickasaws of the Southern Association.42 Edington hit .335, which was good enough for only tenth place among regulars in the batting column of the hit-happy league.
Also in 1924, he remarried to Texas-born Myrtle Lucille Gleaves, who was ten years younger. Their union produced no children.
Still at Fort Worth under manager Jake Atz for 1925, Edington set a Texas League record with 140 walks.43 He also had an eight-RBI game.44 The Panthers finished with a 103-48 record and a three-game sweep of the Dallas Steers to decide the second-half champ in the TL. They followed by defeating Atlanta, the Southern Association winners, four games to two, for their fifth Dixie Series championship.45 The winners’ share was roughly $1,100 per player versus $750 for the runner-up Crackers.46
Regardless of his stature, Edington was not to be intimidated, as this anecdote higlighted. “A pitcher threw at Edington’s head. Stump walked out to the box, bat in hand. ‘Now listen here, feller,’ he remarked. ‘When you throw at my head you are endangering my life, the way I make my living. If you ever do hit me, I’m coming out here and grab your right arm and take this bat (waving the bat unpleasantly) and break your arm. You hurt my way of making a living and I’ll hurt your way of making a living.’ Edington meant what he said, too. After that if a pitched ball came close to Stump’s head the pitcher who threw it smiled in apologetic manner, assuring the batter the ball got away from him.”47
Edington’s four-year run at Fort Worth ended in 1927, as he returned to play (but not manage) for Beaumont. He was the leading hitter in the Texas League as of mid-July, but was released on July 4 in a cost-cutting move, being one of the highest priced players on the roster.48 He quickly was scooped up by second-place Waco.49 Stump hit .371 for the season, and once again led the league with 95 walks.50
Edington started 1928 as the player-manager for the Portsmouth Truckers of the Class B Virginia League. The league blew up in early June.51 Around the same time, his prior Waco team was in the market for a replacement outfielder. Those in the league thought this might become reality, since Stump now called Texas his home.52 Fans were clamoring for their hitting star to return, but the Waco News-Tribune’s sportswriter “Jinx” Tucker shot down that notion: “No doubt Edington can still hit. Perhaps not as in the days of yore, but the old batting eye is the last to leave a player. The keen vision is still there when the legs have long since refused to respond in capable fashion.”53
Instead, Edington moved to Spartanburg of the South Atlantic League in June. His homer accounted for Spartanburg’s only runs in a 5-2 loss to Greenville on June 15.54 After hitting .333 in 16 games, he was traded in early July by Spartanburg for Bill Bankston55 to become the new player-manager of the Raleigh Capitals of the Piedmont League. In his debut, he collected three hits against the Salisbury (North Carolina) Colonels.56 The next day, he “starred in (the) morning tilt” in a home-and-away sweep over Durham.57 He hit .341 in 61 games with Raleigh.
To begin 1929, records show that Edington pitched one game in relief for the Texarkana Twins of the Class D Lone Star League in late April. In June of the same year, he had become a fill-in Texas League umpire.
A year later, he was a deputy sheriff in Beaumont, Texas. By 1935, he worked for the Texas Railroad Commission, and was considered a fine shot. He later became an optometrist in Louisiana, where he was also recognized as a well-known local batting coach. In 1968, Dr. Edington was honored and presented the keys to the City of Bastrop for his coaching and officiating service.58
Jacob “Stump” Edington died on November 29, 1969, at the age of 78, in Bastrop, Louisiana, and is buried at Prairie Chapel Cemetery in Lyons, Indiana.
This biography was reviewed by Gregory H. Wolf and Rory Costello and checked for accuracy by SABR’s fact-checking team.
In addition to the sources shown in the Notes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com, StatsCrew.com, and MyHeritage.com
1 On Edington’s player questionnaire from the Baseball Hall of Fame, he lists himself as 5-foot-6 ¾” tall.
2 On Edington’s May 1917 draft card, he lists his name as Jacob Franklin Edington and his birth year as 1892.
3 Biographical Memoirs of Greene County, Ind. with Reminiscences of Pioneer Days, Indianapolis, Indiana: B. F. Bowen & Co. (1908): Volume 3, 1131-33.
4 “Blue Grass League Notes” Bourbon News, February 4, 1910: 1.
5 “Notes” Bourbon News, April 12, 1910: 4.
6 “Colts Win in Yesterday’s Contest” Bourbon News (Paris, Kentucky), April 22, 1910: 1.
7 “Averages of the Paris Club” Bourbon News, June 2, 1910: 8.
8 “Base Ball — Friday” Bourbon News, August 9, 1910: 4.
9 “Lexington 10-0, Frankfort 0-0” Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), July 5, 1911: 10.
10 “Bourbonites Defeat Colts in Close Game,” Lexington (Kentucky) Herald, June 2, 1912: 9.
11 “Pittsburg Buys ‘Bugs’ Eddington,” Lexington Herald, June 11, 1912: 1.
12 Ed Balinger, “Corsairs Land Opening Battle in Ten Innings,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 21, 1912:17.
13 “Marty O’Toole to Face Suggs in Game Today,” Pittsburgh Press, June 21, 1912: 26.
14 “Reds Make Four Hits” Pittsburgh Press, June 23, 1912: 20.
15 Ed Ballinger “Camnitz Allows Four Tiny Swats and Pirates Win” Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 23, 1912: 41.
16 “One of Fred Clarke’s Recent ‘Finds’ Who Looks Like a Valuable Player” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 3, 1912: 17.
17 “Notes from Cardinaltown” Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 28, 1912: 17.
18 “One of Fred Clarke’s Recent ‘Finds’ Who Looks Like a Valuable Player,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 3, 1912: 17.
19 “Lavender Allows Clarke’s Men but One Lone Safety” Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 29, 1912: 17.
20 “Sporting Notes” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 5, 1912: 12.
21 “Live Wire Edington” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 2, 1912: 17.
22 Ed Balinger, “Marty’s Curves Prove Too Kinky for the Phillies,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 10, 1912: 13.
23 “Wheeling Gets Edington, Mensor to be Retained” Gazette Times (Pittsburgh), July 25, 1912: 10.
24 L.C. Macpherson Jr. “Sporting Chat” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 28, 1912: 37.
25 Macpherson Jr., July 28, 1912: 37.
26 Ralph S. Davis, “Pirates Go East Tonight” Pittsburgh Press, July 25, 1912: 14.
27 “Notes” Pittsburgh Press, July 29, 1912: 14.
28 “Greene County Ball Players” Bedford (Indiana) Weekly Mail, August 22, 1913: 1
29 “Indians Dicker with Pirates, Braves, and Tigers for Players,” Indianapolis News, May 18, 1914: 12.
30 “New Man with Indians in Action,” Indianapolis (Indiana) Star, May 23, 1914: 11.
31 “Frank Eddington Stars in the Double Victory,” Indianapolis Star, May 31, 1914: 53.
32 “Witches Secure 3 Out of 5” Wichita Daily Eagle, September 26, 1914: 7.
33 “Baseball Batting Kings,” Sacramento (California) Bee, November 27, 1915: 12. Tommy Miller of Erie finished with a .336 batting average but did not play in 80% of his team’s games or get at least three at-bats per game, thus Edington was the top qualifier. See “Final Official Central League Averages for 1915,” Fort Wayne (Indiana) News, September 11, 1915: 8.
34 “Stubby Eddington (sic) Sued for Divorce,” Stockton (California) Daily Evening Record, November 20, 1920: 13.
35 “’Ball Club Buys Flag,’ is Claim of Player,” San Francisco (California) Examiner, August 11, 1920: 12.
36 “Even in Defeat There’s Solace,” Whittier (California) News, September 17, 1920: 1.
37 “Stumpy Edington’s All Stars Take on White Sox,” Los Angeles Evening Post-Record, November 27, 1920: 18.
38 Ned Record, “Fanatic Fancies,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 4, 1929: 13.
39 Ned Record, “Fanatic Fancies” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 2, 1928: 18.
40 Pop Boone, “Cats Wallop Exporters, 11 to 4,” Fort Worth Record-Telegram, June 20, 1923: 5.
41 Ned Record, “Stars in the Texas Sky-Stump Edington” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 20, 1924: 12.
42 “Joe Pate Pitches Cats into Southern Supremacy with 3-2 Win” Austin American, October 3, 1924: 7.
43 “League Records, 1907-1927” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 25, 1927: 29.
44 “Notes,” Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun, June 27, 1930: 14.
45 “Pate Has Best of M’Laughlin in Pitchers’ Battle” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 1, 1925: 1.
46 Flem R. Hall, “Winning Players in Dixie Series Get Approximately $1100; Losers $750,” Times (Shreveport, Louisiana), September 30, 1925: 9.
47 Ned Record, “Fanatic Fancies” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 9, 1928: 10.
48 “Stump Edington Bought by Cubs,” Waco (Texas) News-Tribune, July 12, 1927: 1.
49 “Edington Swaps Teams and Beaumont Loses” Austin (Texas) American, July 13, 1927: 7.
50 ‘Joe Bonowitz of Cats Makes One Mark; Others Rank High,” Fort Worth Star–Telegram, September 25, 1927: 29.
51 “Virginia League Going to Pieces,” Kingsport (Tennessee) Times, June 4, 1928: 2.
52 “Notes” Fort Worth Record-Telegram, June 8, 1928: 15.
53 Jinx Tucker, “Sport Hotshots” Waco News-Tribune, June 15, 1928: 8.
54 “Edington’s Homer Accounts for Both of Spartanburg’s Tallies” Asheville Citizen-Times, June 16, 1928: 9.
55 “Edington to Manage Raleigh Ball Club” Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), July 3, 1928: 4.
56 Charles Daniels, “New Pilot Puts Hustle in Team to Defeat Cols” News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), July 4, 1928: 8.
57 A.J. McKevlin, “Iron Man Stunt to Pitch 2 Wins” News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), July 5, 1928: 11.
58 “Diamond Great is Honored,” Times (Shreveport, Louisiana), August 4, 1968: 26.