George Perring

This article was written by Rich Bogovich

George Perring (Library of Congress)A few years before the New York Yankees had a Murderers’ Row in their lineup, George Perring was proud owner of a bat carved from the hangman’s gallows of a prison. So the story went, at least, back in mid-1915. The tale made the news from coast to coast, and was even printed in Hawaii papers.1

George Wilson Perring was born near the Wisconsin-Illinois border on August 13, 1884, to Englishman Edward H. Perring and Melissa (Searles) Perring. The couple’s only other child was Kathryn, born two years earlier.2 In early 1880 Edward Perring was a cheesemaker living in Sharon, Wisconsin, but by the time of that year’s census he and Melissa were living in Hebron, Illinois, about 15 miles to the southeast. Edward had taken over the Maple Grove cheese factory there, but in mid-1885 it burned down. It was insured for $800 but a newspaper account put the loss on the building alone at $2,000.3

By 1897 the family was back in Walworth County, Wisconsin, for which Edward Perring served briefly as a justice of the peace,4 and in 1900 the census listed the family in that county’s village of Sharon, joined by Melissa’s mother. Edward was a harness dealer at the time and both teens were students.

In mid-1901 a local teen named Guy Field was joined by a George Perring on a bicycle trip to Wisconsin Dells and Waupun, Wisconsin. (Another George Perring who was about 13 years older lived in Sharon at the time, but censuses identify him as a farm laborer so it’s quite unlikely he’d have been able to take such a long vacation in the summertime.) Assuming that the duo didn’t transport their bikes by other means at times, they pedaled at least 240 miles during their triangular tour.5 A year later Perring was visiting a cousin in Rockford, Illinois, and a daily paper there noted that he was “the third baseman of the Sharon ball team.”6 It’s unclear when he first started playing baseball, but his Beloit College web page says he developed “his sure shot to first base by throwing green crabapples through the knothole in a barn door.”7

In August and September of 1903, a Perring was listed at third base in box scores for a nine representing Clinton Junction, Wisconsin, which is within 10 miles of Sharon. This was likely George, because at least four other players had surnames matching those of a team he was known to play on a year later.8

On June 2, 1904, Perring was one of 12 students to graduate from Sharon High School. This was announced in a column that concluded with a report about his crowning achievement as a senior: “The base ball game scheduled for Saturday, May 8, between the Sharon High school and Elkhorn High school nines resulted in a decisive victory for the locals, the Elkhorn lads being beaten to the tune of 9 to 4,” reported one newspaper. “This game decides the Walworth county championship leaving Sharon the pennant winners again as they also won it last season. Much of the credit of winning is due to the pitching of Perring, who is fast reaching league form.”9 By that August, George Perring was playing third base and right field for a semipro team in Janesville, one county to the west.10

Perring started the 1905 baseball season playing third base for nearby Beloit College. He was enrolled at its preparatory academy at the time. One high point came in late April when his two hits while batting cleanup helped the small school defeat Northwestern University’s squad. On June 1 the Chicago Tribune reported that he “played a brilliant game in the field” in a loss to Hugo Bezdek’s University of Chicago club, which was Perring’s finale because the next day he was scheduled to become a professional ballplayer with Beloit’s team in the Wisconsin State League. He had hit .325 for the college.11

Perring made his professional debut on June 2, 1905, in Freeport, Illinois (home of the Wisconsin State League’s out-of-state member) before 400 fans. He batted sixth and played shortstop in a 2-1 loss. He singled in four plate appearances and had a solid day defensively with three putouts and five assists, one of which started a double play. The outcome left Beloit with a record of 9-14, firmly in fifth place in the six-team league.12 Beloit played .500 ball the rest of the way and finished in fourth with a 50-59 record. In 84 games Perring scored 49 runs, homered twice, slugged five triples and 22 doubles, and stole 21 bases. His batting average was only .256 but the number of regulars in the league who fared better was in the single digits, and only one of them reached .300.13

Perring had clearly been good enough in his first pro season, because a week into November he was signed by Omaha of the Western League.14 He did quite well that season, and by mid-August a rumor emerged that he would be signed by either Chicago in the National League or Philadelphia in the American League. That was followed quickly by more substantiated speculation that Cleveland would acquire him. In fact, on September 1 Perring’s name appeared in a list of eight minor leaguers purchased by Cleveland.15

Perring spent the final month of the 1906 season with Omaha, which finished third in the six-team circuit with a record of 73-74. Stats for all Western League players printed in an Omaha newspaper showed that Perring was second in runs scored, with 114.16 In 150 games he batted .295.

George was presumably the Perring who played against the World Series champion Chicago White Sox back in south central Wisconsin on October 26. White Sox catcher Billy Sullivan was a graduate of Fort Atkinson High School and at the age of 20 in 1895 got his start in baseball with a team in nearby Edgerton. Perring and a few familiar semipro players were recruited to represent the locals at an exhibition in Edgerton. The White Sox won easily, 13-2, and only Perring’s homer off Nick Altrock prevented a shutout.17

On March 8, 1907, Perring reportedly left Beloit to meet up with the Cleveland club in Cincinnati on their way to spring training in Macon, Georgia. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported his weight as 182 pounds, noted that he batted right-handed, and said he was still a bachelor. He completed spring training with Cleveland by early April, but in the middle of the month he was released to Toledo of the American Association.18

Perring experienced a series of injuries during the first half of 1907. In Georgia he had strained his back at one point, and after a few games with Toledo it bothered him enough that he missed some starts. Shortly thereafter he had a five-day layoff because of illness. In May he homered to center field in a game and subsequently took a fastball off a finger as he still gripped his bat. The flesh was considered broken enough to warrant an additional week to 10 days off.19 Perring didn’t play in 18 of Toledo’s games that season.

In early August Cleveland sold him to Toledo for $1,500 though with an option to recall him by August 15. Cleveland did indeed exercise its option but allowed him to finish the season with the Mud Hens.20 Toledo was in a very tight pennant race with Columbus, and by the end of August the Mud Hens led by a single victory with a record of 80-54 to Columbus’s 79-54.21 Perring was a big contributor as the season wound down and won a gold watch and chain as a result. A local resort called the Casino sponsored a contest to see which Mud Hen could score the most runs from August 1 to September 6. Perring scored 17 times during those five weeks and won by a single run. He did most of the work for that decisive tally with a seventh-inning triple.22

All told, in 135 games for Toledo Perring smacked 22 doubles, 3 triples, and 9 homers on his way to a .301 average. Toledo finished with a record of 88-65 but Columbus won the pennant with a record of 90-64.23

Perring spent the winter playing more baseball, for a San Diego team called the Pickwicks. Among his teammates the only major leaguer at the time was a young Walter Johnson.24 Before mid-March he was at his second training camp in Georgia, and in early April the Plain Dealer printed two paragraphs about how good shortstop Terry Turner and third baseman Bill Bradley looked. Oddly, right beneath this short article, the paper printed a single sentence in noticeably larger font: “‘I would rather play on a class X team,’ says George Perring, ‘than warm the bench for a big league outfit.’”25 He didn’t warm Cleveland’s bench for very long.

Opening Day for the Naps in 1908 was at home on April 14, but Perring didn’t make his major-league debut until their ninth game, hosting Detroit on April 25. He replaced Bradley late in a 3-2 loss and was hitless in his only plate appearance. His first hit came in his sixth game, the second game of a doubleheader on May 9, again hosting Detroit. It was a single off George Mullin. His first two-hit game was the next day, in the first half of a doubleheader in Chicago. One hit was a double, and he scored his first run.

Perring gradually became Cleveland’s regular shortstop, and one unusual result of this occurred on September 5 in Chicago when he threatened the American League record for the most chances by a shortstop in a nine-inning game. The record, 17, was set by Bobby Wallace in 1902. Perring made two errors but offset them with four putouts and nine assists (while helping to turn one double play). His 15 chances came in only eight innings because the victorious White Sox didn’t need to bat in their half of the ninth.26

Though Perring’s final batting average for 1908 was a lowly .216, he made some very important contributions at the right time during the season’s final two months. On July 29 the Naps had a record of 47-43 and were in fourth place, nine games behind first-place Detroit. Cleveland then went on a 14-2 tear through August 17 and stood only four games from the league leaders. On August 20 Perring hit two triples and drove in three runs at Boston (albeit in a 5-4 loss), and on September 1 he went 3-for-4 in a 1-0 win at Detroit.

Not surprisingly, the light-hitting shortstop also contributed on defense during this pennant race. “George Perring’s work at short has been one of the brightest features of the Naps’ play,” commented the Washington Evening Star on September 12. “The beauty of Perring’s work is that he can go either to the right or left and gather in hard hit balls, and his throwing from deep short has been perfect.”27

At that point Detroit and Cleveland were battling with two other teams, Chicago and St. Louis. On September 14 Perring went 4-for-4 with a walk in a win at Chicago. On September 26 and again on September 29 he contributed 3-for-4 games. The latter was a 9-0 win in the second game of a doubleheader against Philadelphia at home, and Perring’s contribution in the first game was even more significant. The Athletics had scored three times in the seventh inning to take a 4-3 lead. The Naps scored once in the eighth to tie it. Perring singled to start Cleveland’s half of the ninth inning. A misplayed bunt attempt moved him to second, and another bunt moved the runners to third and second with one out. Bradley then grounded out to shortstop, but a brief bobble was all it took for Perring to score the winning run.28

As a result of the two victories that day, the Naps and Tigers both had 86 wins. The Naps had 62 losses but the Tigers just 61. Chicago was just one game out of first place with a record of 85-62. On October 2 Cleveland benefited from a famous pitching effort, a perfectly-timed perfect game by Addie Joss, to which Perring contributed a putout in the first inning and an assist in the second.29

Cleveland faced the White Sox again the next day, in front of more than 20,000 fans, but trailed 3-1 after six innings. Perring led off his team’s half of the seventh with a double, and after one out he was held at third base on a single to left field. A walk then loaded the bases but Perring was forced out at home plate on the next play and a strikeout ended the threat. Cleveland scored only one more run. Thus, on October 5 it was do-or-die for Cleveland’s pennant chances, in St. Louis. The teams were tied going into the St. Louis half of the sixth inning. Dode Criss doubled home the lead run with a blow to left field and tried to take third. Perfect throws to and by the cutoff man, shortstop Perring, were in time to nail Criss at third base but Bradley somehow couldn’t apply the tag. Criss soon scored on a single, and that proved to be the game’s final run. Cleveland had been knocked out of the pennant battle.30 The next day Henry P. Edwards of the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentioned that at one point in the decisive first game Perring had made “one of the greatest one-handed catches ever witnessed in St. Louis,” but he added that Perring had been playing through “numerous injuries” so he “was allowed to rest” for the meaningless second game.31

Shortly before Christmas, Perring received a high compliment from the legendary Willie Keeler, based on the rookie’s performance during the second half of the 1908 season. Keeler singled out Perring as the most likely future star among young infielders.32 In the offseason Perring again played winter ball on the West Coast, this time with Frank Chance’s California Winter League team in the city of Azusa.33 Toward the end of that season he received attention for his achievement in a special skills competition: He was the only player who could hit a 12-inch by 12-inch target at second base from home plate, and he did it on his first throw.34

Perring played about as much for Cleveland in 1909 as he did as a rookie, but the team wasn’t a pennant contender. His best game at the plate was probably the one on August 24, hosting Washington. He entered as an early sub and went 3-for-3, including a double and triple. By the end of that month his batting average reached .241, but by the end of the season it had slid to .223, little better than a year earlier.

In 1910 Perring got into only one regular-season game in April, so his second appearance came on May 1 in St. Louis before a crowd of 15,000. The game went into extra innings, and in the top of the 11th the Naps had two runners on with one out against reliever Rube Waddell. Perring entered the game as pinch-hitter. “Perring strode up to the plate and walloped the ball,” said the Plain Dealer, “a beautiful smash out into right field” that drove in the lead runner. That made the score 5-4, which is how the game ended after the Browns were held scoreless in the bottom half of the frame.35

Perring’s batting average sank to .122 on May 28 but in July he got hot and raised it to .241 on the 19th. On July 6 he went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in as Cleveland edged the visiting White Sox, 5-4. Those three hits resulted from a first in his big-league career, according to the Plain Dealer: He batted left-handed. In fact, his only out “was when he shifted back and batted right handed.”36 He had two more 3-for-4 games over the next 10 days though both were in losses. He played in both games of a doubleheader at Philadelphia on July 22 and that turned out to be his final day as an American Leaguer. After just 39 games, Cleveland released Perring to the Columbus Senators of the American Association.37 He played in 74 games for Columbus and batted .271.

Perring rejoined Columbus for 1911, and the team did about the same as it had in 1910, with a winning record and a third-place finish in the eight-team league. However, in 156 games he improved his batting average to .321, with 36 doubles, 10 triples, and 2 homers. Despite his performance, at Christmastime management supposedly named Perring as one of the “trouble-makers among the old-timers [who] have got to go,” and he had already been offered to other clubs in trade.38 Nevertheless, he played nearly a full season for Columbus in 1912. Though the Senators again finished third, their record improved considerably to 98-68 in 166 games.39 Perring played in 164 games that season and his stats were very similar to his first full season there: a batting average of .311 with 36 doubles, 9 triples, and 5 homers.

Perring must have decided to shake things up that offseason. In November he bought a half-interest in a restaurant called the Smokehouse in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and he was going to live there when not playing in the American Association. By early February he was hired to coach the Mississippi Normal College baseball team in that city, and a month later his team played the Detroit Tigers. Perring’s students were clobbered, 12-1.40

In 1913 Perring played a third full season with Columbus, and the team went 93-74 but ended up in fourth place. His average and slugging dipped, to .267 with 29 doubles, 5 triples, and 4 homers. It so happened, though, that one of those doubles earned Perring an extra $50. In the second game of a doubleheader in Kansas City on May 21, he hit a double off a tobacco company’s “bull” sign, and $50 was the established reward for that feat.41

On January 28, 1914, it was reported widely that Perring had been signed by the Kansas City club of the Federal League.42 On March 9 barely a full nine left for spring training in Wichita Falls, Texas. Perring was to be in charge of the camp until the arrival of manager George Stovall, a former Cleveland teammate, who was recruiting players in Florida.43

Perring was the Opening Day third baseman for Kansas City, at home versus Chicago before 9,500 fans by one count. In the ninth inning Chicago led, 3-2, with pitcher Claude Hendrix two outs away from a complete game. Perring then notched his first Federal League hit, a single, and was replaced by a pinch-runner. Alas, outs by the next two Packers ended the threat and the game.44 Two days later Perring hit his first major-league homer, off Chicago’s Tom McGuire, but again it was in a losing cause.

In the Packers infield that season Perring was a fixture at the corners, though by mid-July his batting average had dipped below .220. He then had his best day of the season, in Buffalo on July 24. He went 3-for-4 in each game of a doubleheader, and in the two games scored four runs, had two doubles, walked three times, and drove in five runs.

The Packers were never in the pennant race in 1914, and finished in sixth place. Perring finished with a batting average of .278, and his 28 doubles tied him for eighth most in the league.

The 1915 season was a more fulfilling one for Kansas City. The team was in first place for most of June, and Perring helped sustain that, on June 16 in particular, when he went 4-for-5 in a 6-5 win at Baltimore. From July 1 through August 12 the Packers were no lower than second place. In the midst of that was reported the origin of George Perring’s special bat.

After a doubleheader in Chicago on July 11 the Packers traveled to Pittsburgh, and Perring found himself telling the history of his bat to the Rebels’ business manager: “Perring’s father, George Perring, Sr., was a ball player of note in his day and when the old Ohio State penitentiary was dismantled some 30 years ago he procured a stout hickory joint from the prison scaffold on which many an Ohio criminal had gone to his doom,” went the widely printed account. The elder Perring had a bat created out of it and used it for two decades before giving it to his son. “He allows no one else to use it and carries it with him in a separate bat bag all the time,” the story continued. “The timber from which the hangman’s rope dangled has been punishing baseball pitchers for 30 years.”45

About two months later, Perring punished a pitcher by smacking two homers in one game for the only time in his major-league career. In a 9-7 win over Baltimore he hit a solo homer in the second inning and a three-run shot in the sixth, both off Dave Black. Such late-season heroics couldn’t keep the Packers in the pennant race, and nine days later Kansas City ended the season in fourth place, though only 5½ games from the top spot. The finale on October 3 turned out to be Perring’s last major-league game, a loss at St. Louis. In it he went 2-for-3, one hit being a double. Perring played in every single inning for Kansas City that season. He batted .259 and his 67 RBIs tied him for ninth most in the league.46

Perring had only turned 31years old that summer, but his career back in the minor leagues was limited almost entirely to a full season back with Toledo in 1916. His high point may have been in a doubleheader in mid-August when he slugged two doubles, a triple, and a home run.47 After that campaign, almost all of his trips to ballparks were for semipro games.

In early 1917 there were rumors of a strike by players, and Perring was among 14 major- and minor-league players at a meeting in Chicago who agreed to participate in one. It’s unclear whether that factored into Toledo’s decision in March to release him to the Central League club in Evansville, Indiana. Regardless, in 1917 he played in the intercity semipro league based in Chicago, with the Fairies, sponsored by Beloit’s Fairbanks Morse factory. Beloit finished atop the 12-team circuit with a record of 24-3, and Perring continued with them in 1918.48

During those two years Perring had the chance to play in several noteworthy exhibition games, like a 5-4 loss at home to the White Sox on September 10, 1917. Also, in July of 1918 the Fairies were said to have been the first team to sweep a doubleheader from Rube Foster’s American Giants (at the latter nine’s grounds near Comiskey Park, no less), and on September 7, 1918, the Fairies won at home against the Cuban Stars, 2-1.49

By that point Perring had taken a weekday job as an agent of the New York Life Insurance Company, but four days after playing the Cuban Stars he filled out a military registration card for the World War identifying a second employer, the YMCA. He was going to France for them in some sort of athletic director position. Germany’s surrender on November 11 effectively ended the war, and by May his name was again appearing in Chicago semipro league box scores. This time he was playing with Chicago’s Gunthers, and that included a mid-June loss to the American Giants. Soon, though, Perring was playing his final few minor-league games, for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League. Rainiers manager Bill Clymer, an old American Association foe, was experiencing a shortage of players and Perring helped out for nine games. He went 5-for-30 at the plate in his final professional stint.50

Perring finished his semipro career after the 1922 season, having also played for Janesville’s Samson Tractors, Chicago’s Marquette Manors, and the Sangamos in Springfield, Illinois.51 Before his 42nd birthday in 1926 he married Isabelle Bibbins and on April 14, 1928, their son Edward, called Ted, was born. He was apparently their only child.

On January 28, 1930, Perring was one of five men in a car that was struck by a train. One man was killed and Perring was one of the three who remained in a Rockford hospital until at least three weeks into February.52

By all accounts Perring eventually made a full recovery. In mid-1938 the Cleveland Indians held an old-timers game between their 1908 and 1920 lineups, and Perring started in the infield for the former nine in front of almost 7,000 fans. Though he remained known for baseball in Beloit, in retirement he became known across Wisconsin as a golfer by winning the Wisconsin state senior championship four times. In 1946, about three months after Ted had turned 18, the two of them qualified for the state amateur golf tournament.53

George Perring died on August 20, 1960, one week after his 76th birthday. “He was active in every major civic undertaking in Beloit in the last 40 years,” said a death announcement published across Wisconsin.54 Isabelle died in October of 1975 and Ted died just a decade later. Ted, at least, was still alive when his father was inducted into Beloit’s Hall of Fame – an honor not limited to athletes – in 1976.55

The yarn about Perring’s bat carved from execution scaffolding has continued to be retold to this day.56 However, more than 35 years after it spread like wildfire, at the age of 68 Perring came clean about the “black bat that he carried around in a violin case and honed regularly with a ham bone.” Beyond those basic details there was just an additional grain of truth, specifically its origination in Ohio. “It wasn’t hickory. It was oak. I didn’t get it from a scaffold, but from a railroad shed in Columbus, Ohio,” he revealed. “My father wasn’t an executioner. He sold harnesses. And besides, I only did it to help out a pestiferous reporter who was always pleading with me for a scoop.” But as often happens with retractions, his confession appeared in far fewer newspapers than had the original version decades earlier, so it’s no wonder the myth persists.57

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author relied on Baseball-Reference.com as the primary source for baseball statistics.

 

Notes

1 For an early example, see “Bat Is from Scaffold; Many Hits Hung on It,” St. Louis Star, July 12, 1915: 8. See also “Has Remarkable Bat,” Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu), August 12, 1915: 9. Also making the rounds back then was a shorter version that mentioned Perring’s batting average of about .250 and concluded, “Some players would think that there was a dead man’s curse on a bat that didn’t get them better hitting figures than these.” For example, see “Hit or Miss in the World of Good Sports,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, August 10, 1915: 10.

2 His date of birth was identified on draft registration cards he completed for both World Wars. The 1900 and 1920 censuses indicate that he was born in Illinois but other censuses show Wisconsin. A mini-biography of Perring before his second American League season said he was born in Sharon, Wisconsin, on August 13, 1884; see “How the Naps Look Off the Field,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 2, 1909: 9. The Perrings don’t seem to be listed in the 1885 Wisconsin census and apparently lived in northern Illinois from 1880 to at least 1885, but it’s possible his mother gave birth back in Sharon. Searches for related birth and marital records are complicated slightly by the facts that her maiden name was often shortened to “Searl” and his sister’s name was spelled several different ways over the years.

3 “Hebron,” Woodstock (Illinois) Sentinel, March 4, 1880: 1. The factory fire was reported on in three articles without headlines: Rockford (Illinois) Daily Gazette, June 30, 1885: 4; Woodstock Sentinel, July 2, 1885: 5; and Rockford Daily Gazette, July 11, 1885: 1.

4 Albert Clayton Beckwith, History of Walworth County, Wisconsin, Volume I (Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, 1912), 400. Edward Perring was also listed on page 404 as Sharon’s village clerk in 1901.

5 “Sharon,” Boone County Republican (Belvidere, Illinois), July 12, 1901: 12. The 1900 census reported that Guy A. Field was a student born in May 1882, likely making him a classmate of Kathryn Perring. Also, his brother Forrest graduated with George Perring, according to “Sharon,” Republican-Northwestern (Belvidere, Illinois) May 31, 1904: 8.

6 “Purely Personal,” Rockford Morning Star, July 13, 1902: 6.

7 This is according to Perring’s Beloit College “Hall of Honor” profile, at beloitcollegeathletics.com/hof.aspx?hof=117.

8 “Olivers Meet Defeat Saturday from Clinton Junctionites,” Woodstock Sentinel, August 13, 1903: 2. “Olivers Are Again Victors on Ball Field,” Woodstock Sentinel, September 24, 1903: 1. This Clinton Junction team and George Perring’s 1904 Janesville team both had players named Broughton, Cole, Fulton, and Newman in addition to Perring.

9 “Sharon,” Republican-Northwestern, May 31, 1904: 8.

10 “Big Teams Were Both Defeated,” Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Gazette, August 8, 1904: 5. “Port. Wash Team Is Vanished [sic],” Janesville Daily Gazette, September 5, 1904: 5.

11 “Beloit Downs Northwestern,” Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1905: Part II, 1. “Chicago Nine Wins at Beloit,” Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1905: 6. His batting average is from his Beloit College “Hall of Honor” profile at beloitcollegeathletics.com/hof.aspx?hof=117, which also reported his fielding percentage, .929.

12 “LaCrosse Nosed from First Place,” Freeport (Illinois) Daily Journal, June 3, 1905: 5.

13 “Athletes Lost a Foolish Game Yesterday,” La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune, September 18, 1905: 3. “Batting Average of State League Baseball Players,” La Crosse Tribune, December 8, 1905: 2. Perring was the only major leaguer on Beloit’s 1905 pro team. Within a few weeks of the season’s conclusion he and teammate Frank Aiken were playing for a team in Harvard, Illinois. See “Reds Take the Conceit out of Harvard’s Ball Team,” Woodstock Sentinel, October 12, 1905: 1.

14 “Geo. Perring Goes to the Omaha Club,” Janesville Daily Gazette, November 7, 1905: 2. This account noted that during the summer of 1904 he had played for Janesville’s team.

15 “College Boy Is Fast,” Rockford Daily Republic, August 15, 1906: 2. “Perring Gets Berth,” La Crosse Tribune, August 16, 1906: 6. “Perring Sold to Cleveland,” Omaha Daily Bee, August 19, 1906: 8. The Bee noted that Perring was hitting .303 and fielding .925 at that point. See also “Big Raids Made on the Minors,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 2, 1906: 4.

16 “Omahas Drop Last Game,” Omaha Daily Bee, October 2, 1906: 9. “The Season Just Closed the Batting and Fielding,” Morning World-Herald (Omaha), October 4, 1906: 10.

17 “Edgerton Owned by White Sox,” Janesville Daily Gazette, October 27, 1906: 2. See also “White Sox Win at Edgerton,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), October 27, 1896: 4. For more about this contest plus an account of Perring playing in a second such game two years later, see David Stalker, “A Tribute to Billy Sullivan,” December 14, 2011, at seamheads.com/2011/12/14/a-tribute-to-billy-sullivan/.

18 “Beloit,” Rockford Daily Republic, March 6, 1907: 1; “Nap Statistics,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 17, 1907: Part Three, 1; “Nap Lajoie a Tireless Worker, Once on Field Always Active,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 1, 1907: 6. “Perring Is No Longer a Nap,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 17, 1907: 8. As spring training in Georgia was winding down, Perring was hitting just .143 and his fielding percentage of .786 was easily the worst among Cleveland players with more than a dozen chances, according to “Averages for Nap Players,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 1, 1907: 6.

19 “White Sox to Be Here Today,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 23, 1907: 8; “Perring Suffers Mashed Finger,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 19, 1907: 19; “Hard Luck Follows Third Baseman Perring,” Kansas City Star, May 23, 1907: 10.

20 “List of Players Sold and ‘Farmed,’” Washington Evening Star, August 3, 1907: 9. “Baseball Briefs,” Washington Post, August 23, 1907: 8.

21 “Baseball Summaries,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, September 1, 1907: 11.

22 “Former Badger Wins Major Prize,” La Crosse Tribune, September 17, 1907: 2.

23 “The Official Standing,” Kansas City Kansas Globe, September 18, 1907: 5.

24 “Short Sport,” Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, February 4, 1908: 5. For an early box score in which he appeared see “Fiercely Contested Game Is Won by the Ralstons,” San Diego Union, January 20, 1908: 5. In a rematch about five weeks later Perring hit a first-inning, first-pitch homer “into the street beyond the park,” according to “Pickwicks Find Stoval’s Delivery for Heavy Hits,” San Diego Union, February 24, 1908: 8. The regular-season affiliations of Perring’s teammates were identified in “San Diego Base Ball Fans Without Usual Entertainment,” San Diego Union, March 29, 1908: 17. For a history of the Pickwicks, see Bill Swank, Baseball in San Diego: From the Plaza to the Padres (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2005), 45-47.

25 “Brief Gossip from Macon Training Camp,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 13, 1908: 6; “Brad and Turner Are Fast,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 5, 1908: 1C.

26 For details about this and other chance records by shortstops see baseball-almanac.com/rb_ssch.shtml. As a matter of fact, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s box score credited Perring with 10 assists and only one error. See Harry Neily, “White Sox Make Naps Look Cheap,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 6, 1908: 13.

27 “Fodder for the Fans,” Washington Evening Star, September 12, 1908: 8.

28 “Athletics Drop Two to the Naps,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 30, 1908: 10.

29 See sabr.org/gamesproj/game/october-2-1908-addie-joss-outduels-ed-walsh-throws-perfect-game and “How Joss Retired Twenty-Seven White Sox in Order,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 3, 1908: 7.

30 Jim Murphy, “Blowing a Pennant,” The National Pastime, Spring 1988: 29-30. See also Charles C. Alexander, The Half-Game Pennant of 1908: Four Teams Chase Victory in the American League (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2018).

31 Henry P. Edwards, “Cleveland’s Out of Pennant Race,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 6, 1908: 1, 6.

32 “Baseball Notes,” Boston Herald, December 19, 1908: 5.

33 “Chance Now an Orange Grower,” San Diego Union, January 21, 1909: 8. Perring himself was featured in a story around then – see “Cleveland’s Shortstop Who Defends Azusa’s Second Bag,” Los Angeles Herald, January 17, 1909: Part III, 2.

34 “Big Pitcher Keeps Arm All Winter,” Spokane (Washington) Press, March 8, 1909: 7.

35 “Perring’s Single Defeats St. Louis,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 2, 1910: 8.

36 “Perring Bats Left Handed and Makes Three Hits,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 7, 1910: 8.

37 As of this writing, his baseball-reference.com seasonal stats show him with a final batting average of .221 for 1910 but BR’s game log for him shows it as .214. He has 27 hits on both web pages but his at-bats differ, 122 and 126, respectively.

38 Fred R. Coburn, “Gavvy Cravath Is Expected to Win Regular Berth in Phillie Outfield,” Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, December 24, 1911: 40. Fred R. Coburn, “Association Magnates Make Ready for Annual Meeting in Chicago,” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, December 25, 1911: 9.

39 As of this writing baseball-reference.com does not provide the standings for the American Association in 1912, so the Senators’ record that year is from statscrew.com/minorbaseball/standings/l-AA2/y-1912.

40 “Half Interest in Smokehouse Sold,” Hattiesburg (Mississippi) News, November 23, 1912: 1; “Perring to Coach New Normal College Men,” New Orleans Daily Picayune, February 7, 1913: 12; “Tigers Wallop Collegians,” Cleveland Leader, March 7, 1913: 10.

41 “Notes of the Double Header,” Kansas City Star, May 22, 1913: 8. For a full list of players nationwide who hit these signs or were similarly rewarded, see Billy Lewis, “Sporting Brieflets Picked Up from the ‘Wireless,’” The Freeman (Indianapolis), December 20, 1913: 7. Lewis credited the Indianapolis News for compiling the list.

42 For example, see “Hendrix and Perring Go,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 28, 1914: 10.

43 “Packers Into Training,” Joplin (Missouri) Daily Globe, March 10, 1914: 6.

44 “Chifeds Start with Victory over Kaws, 3-2,” Inter Ocean, April 17, 1914: 13.

45 “Perring Uses Piece of Scaffold for Bat,” Pittsburgh Press, July 16, 1915: 28.

46 Perring’s game log at baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=perrige01&t=b&year=1915 shows that his total games played matched his team’s total, and “CG” on every line in one column stands for “complete game.” See also baseball-reference.com/leagues/FL/1915-fielding-leaders.shtml, which shows he led all third basemen in range factor per nine innings and ranked among the top five in five other defensive categories.

47 Fred R. Coburn, “Millers and Hens Split Double Bill,” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, August 17, 1916: 12.

48 “Fourteen Players Meet in Chicago,” Trenton (New Jersey) Evening Times, January 17, 1917: 13; “Toledo Starts on Trip,” Sporting Life, March 17, 1917: 8; “Chicago League Champions Lose as Race Closes,” Chicago Tribune, September 17, 1917: 13.

49 “Beloit Fairies Given Trouncing by Rowlanders,” Rockford Morning Star, September 11, 1917: 7; “Baseball Games,” Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1918: 8; “Fairies, 2; Cubans, 1,” Chicago Tribune, September 8, 1918: 21.

50 “George Perring to France,” Belvidere Daily Republican, August 17, 1918: 6; “American Giants Defeat Gunthers,” Chicago Defender, June 14, 1919: 11; “Baseball Notes,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 1919: Part II, 6. Perring’s job as a traveling salesman allowed him to relocate temporarily. Clymer managed Columbus when Perring’s Toledo team battled them for the 1907 American Association pennant, and Perring also played against him throughout 1916.

51 William M. Braucher, “Sport Talk,” Illinois State Register (Springfield), August 21, 1921: 27; “Perring, Ex-Athlete, Honored in Beloit,” Rockford Morning Star, September 19, 1923: 10.

52 “Elks Exalted Ruler Talks from Rockford Hospital to Ballroom in Beloit,” Rockford Register-Gazette, February 22, 1930: 26.

53 “Cleveland Vets Play,” Kansas City Times, July 4, 1938: 5; “Pairings for State Amateur Golf Tourney,” Milwaukee Sentinel, July 28, 1946: B4; See also Perring’s Beloit College “Hall of Honor” profile, at beloitcollegeathletics.com/hof.aspx?hof=117.

54 For example, see “Perring, Former Baseball-Golf Star, Buried,” Green Bay (Wisconsin) Press-Gazette, August 23, 1960: 25.

55 Bill Behling, “On This Date,” Beloit Daily News, August 20, 2001, referring to 25 years earlier – see beloitdailynews.com/archive/article-b0c6b553-098c-568f-b59f-19e7633d2bcb.html.

56 Examples of the original fable reiterated this decade (as of this writing) include Beth Stallings, “Batter Chatter,” Columbus Monthly, July 2012, columbusmonthly.com/article/20120713/OPINION/307139636; Bob Rives and Tim Rives, “Pros vs. Cons: Federal Leaguers versus Federal Prisoners at Leavenworth,” Baseball Research Journal, Spring 2015: 65, sabr.org/research/pros-vs-cons-federal-leaguers-versus-federal-prisoners-leavenworth; Jonathan Fraser Light, The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball, 2nd ed. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2016), 101; and “ ‘Zip’ Set Cubs’ Record before Landing in Beloit,” Beloit Daily News, October 26, 2016, beloitdailynews.com/archive/article-fdec00ce-9b95-11e6-b11f-2f8f64dba056.html. The latter, at least, expressed skepticism.

57 “Smashes Famous Baseball Legend,” Jacksonville (Illinois) Daily Journal, February 15, 1953: 14. This recantation can also be found shortly thereafter in newspapers from Knoxville, Tennessee, to New Philadelphia, Ohio. Stragglers included a Texas newspaper printing it in June and another Ohio newspaper in October.

Full Name

George Wilson Perring

Born

August 13, 1884 at Sharon, WI (USA)

Died

August 20, 1960 at Beloit, WI (USA)

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