Frank Figgemeier (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)

Frank Figgemeier

This article was written by Larry DeFillipo

Frank Figgemeier (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)In 1896, the Des Moines Prohibitionists were dismantled in the middle of a season while cruising to the Western Association pennant after having won 25 straight games.1 Their utter domination had drained fan support in competing cities, prompting league officials to slash salaries in a failed attempt to keep the league afloat. The ace of the Des Moines staff was Frank Figgemeier, who’d won 13 during the team’s streak. Sold to the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League, he went on to win nine during that team’s 19-game winning streak, propelling them to a crown of their own.

Figgemeier was also a one-hit wonder. Acquired late in the 1894 season by the National League Philadelphia Phillies, he had one major league appearance, a start against his hometown St. Louis Browns, in which he collected a single and an RBI in a losing effort. Imposing in stature, with long arms and an exaggerated windup, Figgemeier’s pitching arsenal included “a half dozen curves,”2 but speed was his primary weapon. “When he pulls open the throttle there is no necessity to turn on the sand to get the thing started.”3 His last name often mangled,4 “Figgy” as he was known, played in midwestern minor leagues for one year before and nine years after his cup of coffee with the Phillies. As his playing career wound down, he served as a minor league and collegiate umpire for parts of several seasons and earned a living as a wire maker and a bartender. Washed up as a player by the age of 30, then denied a chance at steady employment as an umpire, he drank himself to death one week shy of his 42nd birthday.

Frank Figgemeier was born on April 22, 1873, in St. Louis, Missouri, the second of nine children born to Anton and Christina Figgemeier.5 His father emigrated from Prussia (Germany) in 1855 and spent 3½ years with the Union Army’s Missouri 12th Infantry during the Civil War. During Anton’s enlistment, the Missouri 12th fought in the battles of Pea Ridge, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, and Atlanta, and participated in the siege of Vicksburg.6 He mustered out in September 1864 and returned to St. Louis to start a family, identified in the 1870 census as a chemist, and in 1880 as a laborer.

Young Frank burst onto the St. Louis baseball scene in 1893 as a pitcher for the semi-pro Sporting News nine. The strongest semi-pro team in the Mound City, 7 their roster boasted former major leaguers Billy Joyce and Frank Pears, future major leaguer Tim Flood, and speedster Herman Gaber, credited with a “world’s record” eleven stolen bases in one game.8 Frank was labeled “an exceptionally clever twirler” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which predicted that a solid performance by Figgemeier in a late August Sporting News match would earn him a tryout offer from the National League’s Browns. After bombing in his pre-tryout,9 the 19-year-old shook it off and continued to shine, shutting out the rival Shamrocks in the rubber game of a three-game early October series. 10

Figgemeier joined the Western League’s Milwaukee Brewers for the 1894 season, where he was hailed by manager Charlie Cushman as “a coming wonder.”11 Figgemeier notched his first regular victory as a professional on May 3, defeating the Minneapolis Millers, 14-5. Listed as “Frigm’r” in the St. Paul (Minnesota) Globe box score, he was “a trifle wild,” but “made up for that, and more, too, by using good judgement.”12 After suffering his first loss a week later, Figgemeier pitched a game in relief, then inexplicably was let go. Several years later, the Kansas City Star reported that Milwaukee management had released Figgemeier because they considered him “lazy” and “worse than a counterfeit quarter.”13

Figgy moved on to the Peoria (Illinois) Distillers of the newly formed Western Association,14 where he debuted with an eye-popping 22-0 shutout.15 Soon after, he lost a 2-0 battle with the Lincoln Treeplanters, when second baseman Tom Delahanty “hit one of the syllables in Figgemier’s [sic] name” attempting to thwart a double steal, allowing two runners to score.16 Figgemeier had an up-and-down season, with winning streaks of five and four games, and an overall record of 15-14 for the second-place club. After his last outing on September 20, Frank headed home to St. Louis – not for the off-season, but to join the Philadelphia Phillies as their latest acquisition.

The 1894 Phillies were an offensive juggernaut of historic proportions. In a year in which NL batters hit a collective .309, the 1894 Phillies produced the highest team batting average of any major league team in history (.350), a mark which still stands as of the end of the 2021 season. The Phillies boasted four outfielders who hit over .400: starters and future Hall of Famers Sam Thompson, Ed Delahanty (older brother of Tom), and Billy Hamilton, along with flash-in-the-pan backup Tuck Turner. Hamilton led the NL in 1894 with 128 walks, 100 stolen bases, a .521 on-base percentage and 198 runs scored, the latter another major league record that still stands.

Despite their breathtaking offense, the Phillies had been on a roller coaster the previous seven weeks. On August 6, Philadelphia Park was nearly destroyed in a fire that several Phillies tried unsuccessfully to extinguish.17 Unfazed, they won five of six games at the University of Pennsylvania while their park was being hastily rebuilt, including an August 17 mauling of the Louisville Colonels, 29-4, in which they clubbed 36 hits, another major league record that stands to this day. They won 10 straight and played nearly .666 ball (27-14) from the date of the fire through September 24t, rising from sixth to fourth place, but eliminated from the pennant race.

Player/manager Arthur Irwin was finishing his first year as Phillies manager. Skipper of the 1891 American Association pennant-winning Boston Reds and a Phillie before that, he’d been brought back to replace the man considered by many to be “the father of professional baseball,” 18 Harry Wright, let go after managing the Quakers/Phillies for the previous 10 seasons. Throughout the season, Irwin brought in a steady stream of occasional pitchers to reinforce his rotation of Jack Taylor, Kid Carsey and Gus Weyhing. With Philadelphia’s pitchers having allowed 56 runs in the previous five games, he needed a fresh arm for their September 25t game with the Browns. Figgemeier was tabbed to be the Phillies’ eleventh starting pitcher of the season for their match at St. Louis’s Robison Field.

Frank’s teammates were in a fine mood as the game got underway in front what the Philadelphia Times called “a very small crowd,” with local patrons having “not recovered from their attack of stay-away.”19 The day before, Philadelphia had opened their three-game series in Mound City with a merciless 21-1 thrashing of Doggie Miller’s squad.20 The Phillies handed Figgemeier the lead with two runs in the first inning on a Hamilton double and Jack Boyle’s triple. It didn’t last long. The Browns scored three runs in the bottom of the inning on a Joe Sullivan error, a hit batsman and a timely single by Bones Ely. Figgemeier gave up another three-spot in the fourth, but got one back when his out drove in rookie battery-mate Mike Grady in the fourth.21 After allowing the Browns another run in the sixth, Philadelphia tallied four more in the eighth to tie the score, 7-7.

Figgemeier ran out of gas in the eighth inning, He walked the first two batters, hit Art Twineham with a pitch, walked Ely and surrendered hits to Frank Shugart, slugger Roger Connor, Aussie Joe Quinn and fellow St. Louis native Heine Peitz, allowing seven runs in the inning. On the short end of the 14-7 final score, Frank had allowed 12 hits but only one earned run due to five Phillies errors.22 He also delivered a single, though game accounts don’t identify in which inning. “His efforts can not be called a success,” said the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “although the game would have had a much better color had the Phillies given a better exhibition in the field.”23

In January 1895, Figgemeier was an early signee for manager/catcher Bill Traffley and the Des Moines Prohibitionists of the Western Association.24 The team’s opening day starter, his single ignited a ninth inning come-from-behind rally to defeat Lincoln (Nebraska).25 Before a Memorial Day weekend contest in Peoria, admiring fans presented him with a “handsome bouquet of flowers,” in recognition of his efforts the previous year.26 Figgemeier soon established himself as the Des Moines ace, prompting the Courier (Lincoln, Nebraska) to claim, “Des Moines indulges in aqua pura to [his] health.”27 Figgy compiled a 26-15 record in 51 games that was “instrumental” to the team’s second-place finish.28 In October, Figgemeier topped off his year by playing center field with the St. Louis Browns in an exhibition game at Sportsman’s Park, against the “All-St. Louis” squad, a group of St. Louis-area ballplayers who were “some of the best players in the country.”29

Des Moines welcomed Figgemeier back for a return engagement in 1896. During an exhibition game against the Western League’s Minneapolis Millers, he swapped his playing uniform for umpires’ gear, the first of what would be many such occasions through the rest of his career.30 After losing the season opener to fellow St. Louis native Fred Underwood and the Rockford Forest City, Figgy reeled off 13 straight victories, while the team won 25 in a row.31

Des Moines’ dominance produced a crisis for the Association. Unable to attract fans to watch a team with no chance at the pennant, the Quincy (Illinois) club threatened to withdraw. The St. Joseph Saints claimed to be on the brink of financial failure. Finding no new investors to prop up the Saints, and fearing the collapse of the league, team owners compelled Des Moines (then 45-13, with an 11-game lead over second place Dubuque), to cut salaries from $1400 to $900. This forced the sale of several of the Prohibitionists’ best players, including Figgemeier.32 His record at 15-3,33 he was sold to the Minneapolis Millers, back in the now Class-A Western League, in exchange for Bill Carney, “the speediest pitcher in the West.”34 The fire sale couldn’t save the Western Association, as it disbanded four weeks later, after several teams pulled out, including Des Moines.35

Figgemeier slid right into the Millers rotation. After losing his first three starts, he won his next ten decisions, including a September 6 shutout over the Indianapolis Hoosiers that the St. Paul Globe called “the best ball ever seen of him this year,”36 and a victory over Columbus that gave the Millers their 18th of 19 consecutive wins.37 Figgy faded the last few weeks of the season, but still finished 10-5.38 In the Western League’s best-of-seven post-season playoff with Indianapolis to determine the pennant winner, he lost Game One badly, then came back to start Game Six. He struggled early and was replaced by Harley “Doc” Parker after two innings with the score tied. Pop Schriver’s seventh inning home run, hit “a mile over the left field fence,” secured the lead for Minneapolis and Parker held on to clinch the pennant.39

Figgemeier’s body of work in 1896 earned him considerable praise in the off-season. The Logansport (Indiana) Pharos-Tribune called him “one of the coolest young twirlers in the Western League, [displaying] rare judgement at times, his steadiness seldom seen in a young pitcher.” 40 The Sporting News was equally flattering, calling the 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-hander “big and strong, with a good arm and level head,” who “did not lose heart” after his early losses, and “proved a jewel to Millers manager Walt] Wilmot.”41

After pre-season training in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Figgemeier’s 1897 season got off poorly as he allowed 13 runs in four innings in his first start.42 It didn’t get much better for Figgemeier or the Millers, who lost 16 straight at one point. The Millers threw in the towel with both hands; in early September the Chicago Chronicle even reported that the Millers had loaned out Figgy and future NL star Deacon Phillippe to help second-place Columbus.43 In his last start, Figgemeier faced former world heavyweight champion James J. Corbett, putting in a cameo performance for the Milwaukee Brewers.44 Corbett fittingly bookended Figgy’s season by drilling a walk-off single to hand him his 29th loss, against 12 wins, in 45 appearances. 45 The Millers finished 44-93, 55 games out of first place.46

In the off-season, rumors swirled that Figgemeier and Phillippe had been drafted by NL teams. NL President Nick Young quashed the idea and Figgy returned to Minneapolis for the 1898 season.47 He lost his first four starts, including a trouncing by Kansas City.48 After “a regular Waterloo” from Detroit in which 21-year-old Rube Waddell fanned eleven,49 Figgy was sent home for a “temporary retirement” that lasted three weeks.50 Unable to right the ship in two subsequent starts, he was released in mid-June. He latched on with Columbus and then St. Joseph for a single game with each team, both losses. Figgemeier ended the year with a dreadful 0-8 record, allowing nearly a run per inning.51 In the off-season, he worked as a tradesman, making wire in St. Louis, which by the early 20th century was second only to Trenton, New Jersey, in the quantity of wire rope produced annually.52

For the 1899 season, Figgemeier signed on with the New Castle (Pennsylvania) Quakers of the Interstate League, joining a rotation headlined by Jack Wadsworth, victim of the 29-run, 36-hit mauling by Figgemeier’s Phillies teammates five years earlier. In early June, Figgy tossed a 5-hit shutout over 22-year-old Nick Altrock and the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers. A month later he defeated the Columbus Senators in their first game in the Interstate League, after they had switched over from the Western League, with the Grand Rapids franchise going in the other direction.53

In midseason the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised Figgemeier’s “gilt-edge work” that “clearly outclasses his confreres.”54 The Post-Dispatch also predicted he’d be drafted by an NL club, but that never happened. Figgy went 18-12 on the season, winning 10 of his last 12 decisions,55 including outdueling former Millers’ 24-game winner Bones Parvin in a pennant-clinching victory over the Wheeling Stogies on the last day of the season.56 Figgy spent his off-season “stand[ing] watch in a North St. Louis wet goods emporium;” tending bar. 57

Back with New Castle in 1900, Figgemeier’s season was filled with highs and lows, including a brush with the law. After a May start in Youngstown, the ballplayers on both sides were arrested for having violated, the day before, “the statue[sic] inhibiting Sunday labor.” 58 The players appeared in court, pled guilty and paid a $1 fine each. He won seven of eight starts in June, then dropped six straight decisions. The day before taking the mound on August 19 against 20-year-old greenhorn Addie Joss and the Toledo Mud Hens, he insisted on getting 30-plus days of back pay he was owed. Quaker management obliged, but left the rest of the team unpaid, further lowering team morale.59 Figgemeier finished the year 16-22 for the last-place Quakers.60

The 1901 transformation of the American League into the newest major league more than doubled the number of major league jobs from the previous season,61 creating opportunities for many players, including Figgemeier; or so it seemed. Minneapolis, dropped from the AL along with Buffalo and Indianapolis after the 1900 season in favor of larger market franchises,62 signed Figgy to play in the reconstituted Western League. Finding themselves with more talented pitchers than they needed, they released him before the season began. Baseball-Reference shows Figgemeier playing outfield for the Davenport River Rats of the Three-I League, but that was actually his brother Jack.63

Figgemeier resurfaced with the Cass Lake, Minnesota, town club,64 then caught on with an independent team from Willmar, Minnesota. With Willmar, he overwhelmed his opposition, fanning 12 in his debut,65 shutting out another squad, 42-0,66 and tossing a no-hitter.67 The Millers took note and soon brought Figgy back. After losing to the Omaha Omahogs (aka the Kidnappers) in his first game back, they reconsidered and released him once again.68

In August, Figgemeier became a Western League umpire,69 calling over 20 games through the season’s end, including future NL 20-game winner Bob Ewing’s whitewash of Des Moines in early September. Later that month he experienced the kind of harassment often endured by umpires of the era. Egged on by their vocal captain and second baseman, John O’Brien, several Kansas City Blues players mercilessly harangued Figgy in one game, running over to question his calls “every minute or so,” with some “seiz[ing] him by the arm and even by the shoulder.”70

By now a permanent resident of Minneapolis,71 Figgy wanted a chance to play again in 1902 but found no takers.72 He took to umpiring high school and collegiate (University of Minnesota) games. Finally, on Memorial Day, the “jolly faced” Figgemeier “donned a blue miller suit” and pitched for the Millers once again, now members of the new American Association. He was out-dueled by St. Paul’s Archie Stimmel, 2-1, but the talk of the game was Saints second baseman Miller Huggins, hitless that day, but bound for big league success.73 Figgemeier found a role starting once a week and relieving in between.

During the summer, Figgemeier began transitioning to his next career, as an umpire. After umpiring the front end of a July doubleheader with Toledo, he changed into his Millers uniform and pitched the second game.74 A few days later he returned to the mound with Nick Altrock umpiring at first, then the next day umpired alongside him.75 Figgy’s solid 3-2 record, with under two walks per nine innings wasn’t enough and he was, yet again, released by the Millers.

Figgemeier caught on with the Crookston (Minnesota) Crooks of the new, independent Northern League, where he defeated the Winnipeg Maroons in his only game before quitting to resume umpiring AA games.76 Figgy umpired over 40 games before the end of the season, including working solo in all three games of a tripleheader.77

Like many Minnesotans, Figgy enjoyed ice fishing during the winter. Ice fishing with former teammate Perry Werden and another friend, Figgemeier was almost pulled into the icy water in January 1903 by a 29-pound pickerel as it snatched a crappie Figgy had just caught. Dumped off the sled he was sitting on, it took all three men to reel in the thief, as the ice cracked beneath them.78

Social causes and events dominated the summer of 1903 for Figgemeier. In June, he umpired a local benefit game with proceeds going to help victims of a recent flood in Topeka, Kansas, that had displaced 4,000 and taken 38 lives.79 He was elected vice president of a St. Paul social club in July,80 then quietly married North Dakota native Grace McLennon in August. With “few ball players in the Northwest better known than Figgemeier,” the couple went to some lengths to keep their engagement a secret, not letting anyone know until the morning of their wedding.81

After a year out of professional ball, Figgemeier began the 1904 season working out with the Fargo (North Dakota) Northern League team that Werden now managed, in hopes of attracting an offer that never came.82 He umpired a few AA games as a substitute from 1904 through 1906, but failed in getting a regular umpire’s “berth,” despite the Minneapolis Journal calling him “the one best bet in the twin cities on the arbitrating.”83 Baseball no longer paying his bills, he earned a living tending bar. 84

Frank pitched in a few all-star/old timers’ games at Minneapolis’s Minnehaha Park in 1905 with former teammates and foes,85 then signed on to coach the Lund Land company team the following year.86 He once again umpired a few collegiate baseball games for the University of Minnesota in 1906 and 1907 and played outfield in a 1907 all-star game behind Cleveland Naps starter Charlie Chech.87 The last game Figgy umpired, as reported by local newspapers, was an October 1908 exhibition between an all-star squad of Midwestern minor leaguers and the black Minneapolis Keystones, in their inaugural season.88

Soon after Figgy’s baseball career ended, darkness and despair descended onto the Figgemeier clan. Frank’s older brother Friedrich died on February 8, 1904.89 His younger brother Jack died in July 1907,90 and next youngest brother Henry died in January 1910, after a lingering illness.91

The loss of his immediate siblings along with the end to his baseball career left Figgemeier in despair. The 1910 census lists him as having returned to his hometown — as a resident of the St. Louis City jail. Given how his life ended, public drunkenness seems a likely explanation for why he was there. Frank’s father died of pneumonia on New Year’s Day 1914,92 and his younger sister Gertrude died in March 1915. His early childhood siblings now gone,93 Frank’s life ended on April 15, 1915, dead at age 41 from chronic alcoholism. Survived by his wife, Grace, Figgemeier was buried at Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis.94

Ironically, the one-time invincible ace of a team known as the Prohibitionists joined the tragic fraternity of former major leaguers who drank themselves to an early grave.95

 

Acknowledgments

This biography was reviewed by Darren Gibson and Norman Macht and fact checked by Terry Bohn.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, Statscrew.com, newspaper archives for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and SABR member Stew Thornley’s website dedicated to the Minneapolis Millers, https://stewthornley.net/millers.html.

 

Notes

1 The record for most consecutive wins by a minor league team is 29, set in 1987 by the Salt Lake City Trappers of the Single-A (Rookie) Pioneer League. “Longest Winning Streak – 29 Games to Celebrate Independence,” August 30, 2014, https://baseballroundtable.com/longest-winning-streak-29-games-to-celebrate-independence/, accessed January 25, 2022.

2 “Connors Will Be a Colt,” Chicago Chronicle, September 12, 1896: 11.

3 “Took All of Them,” Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star, August 17, 1894: 5.

4 The author identified eight different misspellings in newspapers (excluding contractions) during Frank’s playing career, including Figgemyer, Figgenmeier, Figgemeir, Figgamier, Figgemier, Figemeier, Tiggmeier and Jiggemeier.

5 Some references indicate that Frank had a middle initial of “Y,” however the author did not find any direct evidence that he had a middle name.

6 Battle Unit Details, Union Missouri Volunteers, 12th Regiment, Missouri Infantry, U.S. National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UMO0012RI, accessed January 20, 2022.

7 “Tomorrow’s Game,” St. Joseph (Missouri) Herald, July 20, 1893: 3.

8 “Tomorrow’s Game.”

9 “Clerks, 11; Sporting News, 1,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 28, 1893: 7.

10 The win earned Figgemeier and his teammates $100, plus all the gate receipts. “Sporting News, 17; Shamrocks, 0,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 2, 1893: 9.

11 “Food for the Fans,” Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, April 30, 1894: 8.

12 “Oh, What a Walloping,” St. Paul (Minnesota) Globe, May 4, 1894: 3.

13 “Base Ball Gossip,” Kansas City Star, April 5, 1897: 3.

14 The product of the former Illinois-Iowa League’s reorganization, this was the second league that carried the Western Association name. Jimmy Keenan, SABR Games Project, /gamesproj/game/may-19-1894-peoria-shut-out-by-lincoln-in-western-association-home-opener/

15 “Peoria vs. Quincy,” Nebraska State Journal, June 13, 1894: 5.

16 Tom was the younger brother of Ed and older brother of Jimmy, each of whom enjoyed major league careers longer and more storied than did Tom. “And Lookey, Too,” Lincoln Journal Star, June 25, 1894: 5.

17 Phillies players scrambled into their clubhouse to gather their belongings before the fire engulfed the park, with several losing uniforms, clothing, and other personal items. “The Ball Park a Heap of Ashes,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 7, 1894: 1; “Catastrophe and Death at the Ball Park”, Sports Talk Philly website, September 8, 2017, https://www.sportstalkphilly.com/2017/09/catastrophe-and-death-at-the-ball-park.html, accessed January 21, 2022.

18 Christopher Devine, Bio for Harry Wright, SABR, /bioproj/person/harry-wright/

19 Published attendance was 500. “Another of Irwin’s Curios,” Philadelphia Times, September 26, 1894: 9.

20 This was the fourth time in the 1894 season that the Phillies scored over 20 runs in a game. A near-perfect game from the Phillies’ perspective, everyone in the Phillies lineup collecting a hit and scored at least once (most doing both more than once), with no Phillies errors in the field. “The Browns Have to Chase Leather,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 1894: 3.

21 Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.com show Figgemeier having one hit and no RBI during this game. RBIs have only been an official statistic since 1920, however both of those sites use detailed play-by-play accounts to compile RBI statistics for major league games prior to 1920. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat game summary states “Grady tallied on Figemeier’s [sic] out.” As his out was not a double play, Figgemeier’s at-bat met the long-standing criteria (since 1931 incorporation of Rule 70, section 13 and in the Official Baseball Rules 2021edition, in Rule 9.04) for earning an RBI. “Victory for the Browns,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 26, 1894: 5; Mike Lynch, “The Complicated History of RBI,” August 6, 2014, Sports Reference website, https://www.sports-reference.com/blog/2014/08/the-complicated-history-of-rbi/, accessed March 15, 2022.

22 Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.com show Figgemeier allowing 10 earned runs during this game, however box scores published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Philadelphia Times and Philadelphia Inquirer all identify the Browns as scoring one earned run. “Victory for the Browns” ; “Another of Irwin’s Curios” ; “The Browns Win,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1894: 3.

23 “Victory for the Browns”

24 “Baseball News,” (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal, January 27, 1895: 16.

25 “All the Westerners Win,” Nebraska State Journal, May 3, 1895: 6.

26 “Good Game at Peoria,” Nebraska State Journal, May 27, 1895: 2.

27 “The National Game,” Courier (Lincoln, Nebraska), July 20, 1895: 9.

28 Figgemeier’s record as reported here differs from Baseball-Reference.com, which shows he was 25-16 in 50 games played. The author tabulated his record from line-score/battery summaries and box scores published in newspapers that covered the Western Association. As Baseball-Reference does not publish box scores for the 1895 Des Moines Prohibitionists, the source of the discrepancy cannot be determined. “Pitcher Figgemeier,” Des Moines Register, February 23, 1896: 4.

29 The All-St. Louis team included Perry Werden, the Minneapolis Miller slugger who in 1895 set a new record for most home runs in a season by a professional player (45), NL veteran Egyptian Healy, who toured his namesake country as a member of Al Spalding’s 1889-1889 world tour, Sioux City star Frank Genins, Joe Peitz, younger brother and former teammate of Browns catcher Heine Peitz, former Brown, Jack Crooks and Figgemeier’s former Sporting News teammates, Frank Pears and Billy Joyce. “All St. Louis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1895: 10; https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/John_Healy

30 “Shutout the Hawkeyes,” St. Paul Globe, April 19, 1896: 8.

31 The team’s streak was helped along by league President Thomas Hickey reversing a May 13 forfeit they’d suffered for missing a game against St. Joseph. Figgemeier’s winning streak was reported to be 18 games by the Brooklyn Eagle and other newspapers, however the author’s review of linescores/batteries and box scores showed his streak ended at 13 with a June 27 loss to St. Joseph; the same day that the Des Moines Register first reported that Prohibitionist President Bennett was likely to sell Figgemeier and three teammates to the Millers. “Western Association,” Nebraska State Journal, May 13, 1896: 2; “Western Association Must Be Played Over,” Nebraska State Journal, May 19, 1896: 2; “Base Ball Notes,” Brooklyn Eagle, July 14, 1896: 5; “Ki Ho, Hip Ho, St. Jo,” St. Joseph Herald, June 27, 1896: 2; “To Buy the Ball Team,” Des Moines Register, June 27, 1896: 2.

32 “Western Association,” Chicago Chronicle, July 8, 1896: 11; “Des Moines Too Strong,” Chicago Chronicle, July 8, 1896: 11.

33 Figgemeier’s record with the 1896 Prohibitionists was tabulated by the author from line scores and box scores published in the St. Paul Globe, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette, Chicago Chronicle, Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star, Omaha Evening Bee, St. Joseph (Missouri) Herald, Sioux City (Iowa) Journal and Kansas City (Missouri) Times.

34 “Sporting Notes,” St. Joseph News, July 11, 1896: 3.

35 “Politics Too Much for Base Ball,” Champaign (Illinois) County Herald, August 5, 1896: 7.

36 “Hoosiers Shut Out,” St. Paul Globe, September 7, 1896: 5.

37 The game was highlighted by two doubles and a triple from center fielder/manager Walt Wilmot and running commentary from the Buckeyes’ Arlie Latham. Latham “had the crowd of over 3,500 in convulsive laughter,” cracking jokes with losing pitcher Bumpus Jones and the rest of his teammates over their inability to generate any offense against Figgemeier. “Eighteen In a Row,” St. Paul Globe, September 9, 1896: 5.

38 Figgemeier’s records with the 1896 Millers was tabulated by the author from line scores and box scores published in the St. Paul Globe, Minneapolis Tribune, Topeka (Kansas) State Journal, Chicago Tribune, Sioux City Journal, Detroit Free Press, and Indianapolis Journal.

39 The playoff series was known as the Detroit Free Press Cup. The Indianapolis Journal called attendance for Game Six, 1500, “quite small,” owing to “the football team of the State University,” the University of Minnesota, which presumably was playing at the same time. “Millers Get the Cup,” Indianapolis Journal, October 2, 1896: 3; “Win the Cup Too,” St. Paul Globe, October 2, 1896: 5.

40 “Diamond Dust,” Logansport (Indiana) Pharos-Tribune, October 11, 1896: 10.

41 “Joyce’s View,” The Sporting News, November 7, 1896: 4; “Werden’s Little Talk,” Minneapolis Tribune, November 8, 1896: 11.

42 “Just Their ‘Fig’,” St. Paul Globe, April 24, 1897: 7.

43 “Western League,” Chicago Chronicle, September 8, 1897: 8.

44 Corbett is credited by Baseball-Reference.com with appearing in typically one or two games apiece for over two dozen different minor league teams between 1895 and 1906, usually playing first base. His appearances, for which he received part of the gate receipts, were promotional events for both himself and the host team. “Jim Corbett Playing First Base,” SABR, http://research.sabr.org/journals/jim-corbett-playing-first-base

45 Figgemeier’s record as reported here differs from Baseball-Reference.com (and its likely source, a January 1898 summary of team statistics), which shows he was 13-24 in 42 games played. The author tabulated his record from line-score/battery summaries and box scores published in newspapers that covered the Western League. As Baseball-Reference does not publish box scores for the 1897 Minneapolis Millers, the source of the discrepancy cannot be determined. “The Western League,” Topeka Capital, September 21, 1897: 2; “The Figures for It,” St. Paul Globe, January 10, 1898: 5.

46 “Joy in Old Town,” St. Paul Globe, July 2, 1897: 5.

47 Newspapers of the time consistently misspelled Deacon’s last name as “Phillippi.” “Baseball Notes,” Washington Times, January 11, 1898: 6.

48 The next day’s newspapers were filled with stories of preparations for war with Spain over the sinking of the battleship Maine, which was declared on the 25th. “Western League,” Topeka State Journal, April 25, 1898: 7.

49 Figgemeier allowed 19 hits in a 12-2 loss. “A Regular Waterloo,” St. Paul Globe, May 18, 1898: 5.

50 “News of the Diamond,” Detroit Free Press, May 19, 1898: 6.

51 Figgemeier’s record as reported here differs from Baseball-Reference.com. They erroneously do not credit Figgemeier with a loss for his one start with Columbus. Figgemeier entered that game in relief in the bottom of the first inning and pitched the balance of the game in which the Buckeyes tied the score in the fifth inning before losing the lead to St. Paul for good in the eighth inning. “Won It in the Eighth,” St. Paul Globe, July 27, 1898: 7.

52 “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, January 21, 1899: 5; Harry L. Purdy, Ph.D., An Historical Analysis of the Economic Growth of St. Louis 1840-1945, p. 85, https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/files/docs/publications/books/econgrowthstl_purdy_1945.pdf, accessed January 31, 2022.

53 Ten days after Figgemeier’s victory over Columbus, they changed cities but not leagues. They moved to Springfield and became, fittingly, the Wanderers. Figgemeier continued his mastery over the franchise, defeating the Wanderers twice in the last month of the season. “Interstate League,” Detroit Free Press, July 21, 1899: 6; “The Nomad of the Interstate League,” Baseball History Daily website, https://baseballhistorydaily.com/tag/columbus-senators/ , accessed January 25, 2022.

54 “A Promising St. Louis Pitcher,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 18, 1899: 12.

55 Figgemeier’s records with the 1899 Quakers was tabulated by the author from line scores and box scores published in the Chicago Tribune, Indianapolis Journal, Dayton Daily News, Fort Wayne News, Muncie (Indiana) Morning News, East Liverpool (Ohio) Evening Review, Fort Wayne Sentinel, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Detroit Free Press, and Dayton Herald.

56 The clincher was the second half of a doubleheader. The second place Mansfield Haymakers, who finished one game back, protested the award of the pennant to the Quakers. They claimed that an unscheduled but completed game between Mansfield and Dayton that was “thrown out” by league President Power for violation of the National Agreement, (which stipulated that only scheduled games can count towards league standings) should have been replayed. Their objection was dismissed. “Pennant,” Dayton Herald, September 21, 1899: 6.

57 “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, January 27, 1900: 4.

58 The Youngstown players were immediately re-arrested on an open warrant from a local magistrate. Though left unsaid, the latter offense was presumably for an earlier infraction of the same “statue.” “Sunday Ball Players Arrested,” Pittsburg Post, May 8, 1900: 4.

59 “Baseball Gossip,” Dayton (Ohio) News, August 22, 1900: 3.

60 Figgemeier’s records with the 1900 Quakers was tabulated by the author from line scores and box scores published in the Mansfield (Ohio) NewsJournal, Dayton Daily News, Ft. Wayne News, Dayton Herald, Ft. Wayne Sentinel, Pittsburg PostGazette, Pittsburg Daily Post, Indianapolis Journal, Wheeling (West Virginia) Daily Intelligencer, New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, Chicago Tribune, and Cincinnati Enquirer.

61 The AL consisted of eight teams, as did the NL, with the AL allowing larger rosters (18 versus 14) at the start of the 1901 season. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/baseball_rosters.shtml, accessed December 31, 2021.

62 “Sporting Matters: Base Ball,” Sun (St. John, New Brunswick), January 29, 1901: 4.

63 Jack played for semi-pro teams in Sterling and Pekin, Illinois before joining Davenport. “Going to Be Professionals,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 8, 1900: 22. Newspaper summaries of Davenport games unfailingly identified Jack by his last name alone. A 1901 photo of the Davenport squad captures a notably different looking Jack as compared with Frank as seen in a team photo from the 1896 Minneapolis Millers “Rattling Bones in Catacombs of Davenport Sport,” Quad City Times, January 24, 1915: 18; “Wilmot and Werden Helped Millers Win First Pennant in 1896,” Minneapolis Tribune, June 4, 1939: 40.

64 “Excursion and Ball Game,” Minneapolis Journal, June 4, 1901: 12.

65 “Willmar Defeats Montevideo,” Willmar Tribune, June 5, 1901: 1.

66 “Graceville vs. Willmar,” Willmar Tribune, June 19, 1901: 1.

67 “Western League Notes,” Minneapolis Tribune, July 10, 1901: 3.

68 The Kidnappers unofficial name stemmed from the 1900 kidnapping of the son of Omaha meat packing magnate Edward Cudahy. The culprit, career criminal Pat Crowe, was acquitted because at that time, Nebraska had no law against kidnapping. “Could Not Hit,” Minneapolis Tribune, July 20, 1901: 2; Richard Worth, Baseball Team Names: A Worldwide Dictionary, 1869-2011 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Inc., 2013), p. 219.

69 “Gordon Was a Snap,” Minneapolis Journal, August 17, 1901: 4.

70 The St. Joseph Gazette story describing the Blues near assault on Figgemeier prefaced the account by calling him “by far the worst umpire that has appeared on the local diamond.” “Blues Take Last Game,” St. Joseph Gazette, September 6, 1901: 2.

71 “Diamond Dust,” St. Paul Globe, November 10, 1901: 8.

72 “Figgemeier Wants a Chance,” St. Paul Globe, April 17, 1902: 5.

73 “Teams Break Even,” St. Paul Globe, May 31, 1902: 5.

74 “Toledo 14-7, Minneapolis 2-8,” Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), July 3, 1902: 7

75 “American Association,” Minneapolis Journal, July 16, 1902: 5; “Millers are Beaten Again,” St. Paul Globe, July 17, 1902: 5

76 “Northwestern Games,” Minneapolis Journal, July 26, 1902: 13.

77 “American Association,” Minneapolis Journal, September 23, 1902: 16.

78 “Fish Bite Freely,” Minneapolis Journal, January 17, 1903: 9.

79 “Flood Sufferers’ Benefit,” Minneapolis Journal, June 6, 1903: 9; Tim Hrenchir, “1903 flood killed 38 people in Topeka,” Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal, online edition, May 31, 2018, https://www.cjonline.com/story/news/local/2018/05/31/history-guy-115-years-ago-this-week-topeka-saw-its-deadliest-flood-on-record/12094416007/, accessed January 12, 2022.

80 “New Incorporations,” St. Paul Globe, July 18, 1903: 10.

81 “’Figgy’ is Wed on the Quiet in St. Paul,” St. Paul Globe, August 15, 1903: 10.

82 “Fargo Bunch Looks Good,” Minneapolis Journal, April 27, 1904: 18.

83 “American Association Affairs,” Winfield (Kansas) Free Press, April 3, 1905: 7; “Should Hire Figgy,” Minneapolis Journal, July 8, 1906: 31.

84 “Baseball,” Minneapolis Journal, February 21, 1905: 3.

85 “All-Stars,” Minneapolis Tribune, September 25, 1905: 5.

86 “Lund Lineup Strong,” Minneapolis Journal, April 1, 1906: 38.

87 “Charlie Chech will Pitch for All-Stars on Sunday,” Minneapolis Tribune, October 5, 1907: 15.

88 The Keystones 1908 winning percentage exceeded .750 that year, with a roster that included the “sensational” pitcher Walter Ball (for part of that season) and several players with eye-catching nicknames, including Dick “Noisy” Wallace, “Topeka” Jack Jackson and Eugene “Cherry” Barton. “All-Stars Defeat Keystones, 11 to 0,” Minneapolis Tribune, October 5, 1908: 3; Terry Bohn, Bio for Walter Ball, SABR, /bioproj/person/walter-ball/; Frank White, “1908 Minneapolis Keystone Tigers,” Minnesota Black Baseball Project website, https://www.minnesotablackbaseball.com/stories/1908-minneapolis-keystone-tigers, accessed January 31, 2022.

89 “Died,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 10, 1904: 9.

90 “Deaths,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 19, 1907: 12.

91 “Deaths,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 20, 1910: 18.

92 “Deaths,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 3, 1914: 10.

93 The Figgemeier children were born over a span of 23 years, with a six-year gap between the birth of the fifth child, Gertrude and the sixth, Anton, Jr. By the time Anton Jr. was born, Frank was 11 years old, and presumably closer to the older group of siblings than the younger ones.

94 “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch, Frank Y. Figgemeier, 1915; Burial, Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, United States of America, Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum; citing record ID 6999338, Find a Grave,

95 That fraternity includes Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who collected his 2,415th and final major league hit on the anniversary of Figgemeier’s only one.

Full Name

Frank Y. Figgemeier

Born

April 22, 1873 at St. Louis, MO (USA)

Died

April 15, 1915 at St. Louis, MO (USA)

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