Harry Frazee

When former Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee died on June 4, 1929, Red Sox president Bob Quinn ordered that the American flag at Fenway Park be flown at half-staff in his memory. In the many obituaries that appeared in Boston newspapers at the time, most noted that during Frazee’s tenure the Red Sox won a world championship in 1918, that Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, sold the Red Sox to a consortium led by Bob Quinn in 1923, and that his musical No, No, Nanette, which reached Broadway in 1925, was one of the most successful shows of the era. Some made note of his many battles with American League president Ban Johnson and a few noted the “mystery” of Frazee’s religion, but not a single obituary, published in Boston or elsewhere, drew any connection at all between the sale of Ruth and No, No, Nanette, treated Frazee as a pariah, or blamed Frazee for the fact that the Red Sox had finished in last place the past four seasons.

Nevertheless Harry Frazee somehow became the most notorious owner in Red Sox history. The reason for that has little to do with the facts of his life and much more to do with the way the facts of history have been misused and overlooked.

Frazee owned the Boston Red Sox from November 1, 1916, to August 1, 1923. During his tenure the Red Sox finished in second place in 1917, won a world championship in 1918, finished sixth in 1919, fifth in 1920 and 1921, ended the season in last place in 1922, and were in last place when Frazee sold the club in 1923. Compared with the others who have owned the Red Sox, Frazee’s performance was strictly middle of the pack — more successful than the reign of Tom Yawkey, his wife, the Yawkey Foundation, and the syndicate headed by Bob Quinn that took over the team in 1923, and not as successful as those of Joseph Lannin or James McAleer. With one world championship followed by a slow demise, Frazee’s record most resembles that of John I. Taylor, who owned the Red Sox from 1901 through 1911.

Frazee was born in Peoria, Illinois, on June 29, 1880. He was one of five children born to William and Margaret Frazee. His father owned the Peoria Pump Company in Peoria, manufacturing wood and chain pumps.

At the age of 16, he dropped out of high school and went to work at the Peoria Theater, learning the theater business from the ground up, then was hired as an advance agent for a traveling show.

His involvement with baseball began a few years later. After the Western Association ceased operations, Frazee reportedly booked the Peoria club on a successful barnstorming tour and learned a lesson of lasting value — baseball could be a lucrative business.

Turning his attention back to the theater, in 1901, Frazee produced his first successful show, a play called Mahoney’s Wedding, which earned him a $14,000 profit. That attracted the attention of Cleveland outfielder Harry Bay, a school chum of Frazee’s. Bay backed Frazee’s next show, earned a 1,000% return on his investment, and Frazee was on his way. Over the next several years, Frazee produced a series of productions in and around Chicago, earning a small fortune. He then began to branch out, building Chicago’s Cort Theater and earning money on that side of the business. At the age of 30, Frazee moved to New York and took aim on Broadway.

But Frazee remained interested in baseball. As early as 1909 he inquired about purchasing the Red Sox, and in 1911, after his first Broadway production, Madame Sherry, ran for nearly eight months and earned Frazee $250,000, he made a bid to buy the Boston Braves. Over the next five years, as Frazee produced hit after hit — and, like any other producer, a few misses — he periodically made additional overtures about buying a major league team, and at various times was reported to be interested in both the Cubs and the Giants.

Meanwhile, he was printing money on Broadway. His shows Ready Money, A Pair of Sixes, A Full House, and Nothing But the Truth were huge hits that Frazee made even more profitable by breaking with convention and putting the productions on the road while the show was still a hit on Broadway. In 1913, he built the Longacre Theater — still in existence today — which he kept full with both his own productions and those of others. He was one of the most successful producers of his era. Nearly everything Frazee touched made money, and he continued to branch out, starting a real estate company and a brokerage business, managing professional wrestler Frank Gotch, and dabbling in the promotion of boxing. By 1916, he was a millionaire and knew everybody who was anybody, not just in New York, but all over the Northeast, including Boston.i

One of Frazee’s acquaintances was Red Sox owner Joseph Lannin. That was the beginning of Frazee’s troubles, at least in regard to his lasting reputation in Boston. American League founder and president Ban Johnson ruled the American League with an iron hand and liked to decide who could and who couldn’t own a franchise in his league, but his relationship with Lannin, once warm, had deteriorated. In October of 1916, Lannin decided to cash in on his championship team and he sold the club to Frazee and a partner, Hugh Ward, an actor and theatrical entrepreneur, for $675,000, without Ban Johnson’s permission. From the outset, Johnson disliked the fact that Frazee had crashed his private party. Like many in the game, Johnson looked at Frazee’s New York-based theatrical background and assumed he was Jewish. In fact, he was Presbyterian, but Johnson and Frazee’s other detractors sometimes referred to him in code, criticizing him for being too “New York,” and referring to the “mystery” of his religion. Few observers missed the inference. Although Barney Dreyfuss owned the Pittsburgh franchise in the NL and another Jew, Andrew Freedman, had once owned the Giants, the American League would not have a Jewish owner from 1902 through 1946.

As soon as Johnson learned about the sale, he tried to get Lannin to back out of the deal, but it was too late. From the instant Frazee took over the Red Sox, he and Ban Johnson were at loggerheads.

Frazee announced he would “temporarily retire” from the theater, and did so for one season, 1917, staying more or less in the background as the Red Sox team finished in second place. But soon after the end of the season the United States entered the World War, putting the 1918 season at risk. No one in the game knew whether the government would allow major league baseball to continue during wartime.

In face of such uncertainty, most major league club owners retrenched and tried to shed salaries in the event the 1918 season was put on hold. Harry Frazee, however, saw opportunity in the crisis.

Philadelphia A’s owner Connie Mack decided to break up his club and Ban Johnson steered Mack to Frazee, who he believed was the only man in baseball foolish enough to pay Mack the prices he wanted. On December 14, 1917, Frazee sent the A’s $60,000 — what he accurately termed the “heaviest financial deal ever consummated in the history of baseball,” and acquired catcher Wally Schang, pitcher Joe Bush, outfielder Amos Strunk, and a few prospects. A few weeks later, he picked up A’s infielder Stuffy McInnis.

The Red Sox, already a solid contender, suddenly looked like a powerhouse, a fact not lost on the rest of the league. When the Yankees complained that they had never been allowed to bid on Mack’s players, Johnson coerced Frazee into sending several players back to the A’s to make the deal appear more equitable. Frazee then signed former International League president Ed Barrow to serve as manager and de facto general manager of the Red Sox. Everything was in place.

With both the draft and a “Work or Fight” order looming over the 1918 season, spring training opened in uncertainty as many players took jobs in the war industry or joined the military to avoid the draft. Eventually, 124 major league players joined the service in 1918, leaving most rosters short. The Red Sox, however, flush with players from the A’s and supplemented with minor leaguers, were less affected by the war than most teams. Still, some adjustments were necessary and a temporary lack of bodies in the spring led the club to play pitcher Babe Ruth at both first base and the outfield, where his batting prowess against war-ravaged pitching staffs proved to be a sensation.

The Red Sox began the season with their starting pitching intact and a solid lineup made even stronger by Ruth’s occasional appearance. The club jumped out to a 12–3 start and didn’t look back.

But in mid-May the government ruled that professional baseball was a “non-essential activity,” meaning that players were supposed to go to work in the war industries or join the service. Ban Johnson tried to persuade the authorities to give the players a stay to allow the season to be completed, but Johnson made his argument on economic terms, offending the government and harming his cause. Johnson himself declared that the season was over “except for the cremation ceremonies.”

Enter Harry Frazee. He had a major investment in the 1918 season and didn’t want to see it wasted. With the blessing of a coalition of like-minded owners, he paid a personal visit to Secretary of War Newton Baker and convinced him that the season should continue, not because of economic reasons, but because it was good for the nation’s morale. The move saved the season but Frazee’s boldness embarrassed Johnson and relations between the two grew even colder.

The Red Sox, buoyed by Frazee’s acquisitions, won the pennant, edging out the Indians by 2½ games, then took the World Series from the Cubs in six games. But the Series was marred by the threat of a player strike when players learned that the club owners had changed the distribution of Series money, seriously cutting into the players’ take. In punishment, Ban Johnson refused to award Frazee’s Red Sox their World Series medallions, the equivalent of today’s World Series rings. All things Frazee, and Frazee-related, grated against Johnson.

When the war ended in November, baseball returned to normal. The Red Sox suddenly had more players than they needed and Barrow sold pitchers Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard and outfielder Duffy Lewis to the New York Yankees. The Yankees, owned by Jacob Ruppert, were quickly becoming a Boston ally. Like Frazee, Ruppert disliked Johnson, who he felt had misled him by reneging on a promise to help him acquire players for the Yankees. Meanwhile, the relationship between Johnson and Frazee deteriorated even further as the two clashed on a host of issues in the offseason and Frazee floated an idea that would have dumped Johnson and the three-man National Commission that ran baseball and installed former President William Howard Taft as the commissioner of baseball. The enmity between Johnson and Frazee was palpable. Johnson was determined to drive Frazee from the league and Frazee was determined to stay.

The Red Sox got off to a terrible start in 1919 as Babe Ruth, enamored with batting, balked at taking the mound. On June 1, he was barely hitting .200, Boston’s pitching had collapsed, and the sixth-place club was already out of the pennant race. Although Ruth would eventually turn his season around and even agree to take the mound, the Red Sox’s season was over and Ruth was much of the reason.

In mid-July, Boston pitcher Carl Mays walked off the mound in the middle of a game. Ban Johnson wanted Frazee to suspend him. Frazee balked and instead sold Mays to the Yankees. The deal sparked a political crisis in the league, which in response split into two factions — the Insurrectos, which included the Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees — and everyone else, the “Loyal Five.” Johnson refused to recognize any game in which Mays appeared for New York and eventually withheld the money they were due after finishing third. For much of the next nine months, the biggest headlines in baseball weren’t about the game on the field but about the courtroom battles between the Insurrectos and the Loyal Five, with Frazee and Johnson as the main protagonists.

In the meantime, Babe Ruth, who was already signed through 1920, wanted a new contract and a big raise after hitting a record 29 home runs in 1919. Frazee balked, for despite Ruth’s raw numbers, Ruth was becoming a headache Frazee didn’t need. He was staying out all night, had balked at pitching, and at the end of the season jumped the team without permission. The Yankees had been after Ruth, who always hit well at their home field, the Polo Grounds, for more than a year, and in December of 1919 approached Frazee again. Frazee consulted with Barrow and Barrow told him there wasn’t a player he wanted from the third-place club. Frazee then agreed to a cash-only deal. On December 26, he sold Ruth to New York for $100,000 — $25,000 in cash and notes for the remainder in three installments.

That was Frazee’s great crime, which over time spawned the so-called “Curse of the Bambino,” the notion that a cash-starved Harry Frazee sold Ruth, accepted a mortgage on Fenway Park from New York as part of the same deal, then sold his other Red Sox stars, destroying his baseball team to finance his play No, No, Nanette, earning Frazee the lasting enmity of Boston fans, leading to the creation of the Yankee dynasty, the subsequent demise of the Red Sox, and a championship drought that did not end until 2004.

All that, however, was still years away. At the time Ruth was sold, no lynch mobs formed in Boston. Public opinion over the Ruth deal, in fact, was split in both Boston and New York. Although some, like uber fan Mike McGreevey of Boston’s Royal Rooters, bemoaned the loss of a talent like Ruth, others, such as former player Hugh Duffy and ex-manager Bill Carrigan, felt the Red Sox, who despite Ruth had finished sixth in 1919, would be better off without him. Many New York observers, such as New York Giants manager John McGraw, believed the Yankees were taking a considerable gamble. No one knew that Ruth would go on to hit 665 more home runs, and the notion that Ruth or anyone else ever could seemed as likely as sending a rocket to the moon.

Frazee immediately explained his reasons for dealing Ruth, which included his salary demands, his disruptive influence on the team, and the fact that he had jumped the club at the end of the 1919 season. Nowhere was it suggested that Frazee was broke or in any kind of financial difficulty whatsoever. He was, most certainly, not broke, either in 1919 or at any other time since he ran away from home at age 16. In fact, from 1911 through 1922, he never went more than a year between producing a Broadway hit, a remarkable record. His first play after returning to the theater in 1917, Ladies First, ran for 164 performances and was equally successful on the road. Three weeks before the Ruth deal, on December 3, 1919, his play My Lady Friends opened on Broadway and was an instant hit, eventually running for more than 200 performances.

Such successes were extremely lucrative. Frazee’s Broadway shows played in theaters that held nearly 1,000 spectators. Ticket prices generally ranged from $1.00 up to $5.00 or more for choice seats. In contrast, at the same time you could see a game in the Fenway Park bleachers for 25 cents. One successful show, running for 200 or more performances, grossed roughly as much as the Red Sox did in an entire season at the time (from 1915 through 1924, the Red Sox home attendance averaged nearly 400,000 fans annually). Taking into account Frazee’s income from his many other enterprises, from his theaters, and from the touring shows that he produced it is clear that the Red Sox were a relatively minor part of Frazee’s financial portfolio.

Frazee also did not use the proceeds of the sale to finance No, No Nanette, either directly or indirectly. All evidence suggests that he kept his theater operation completely separate from his sporting interests. In addition, Nanette, a musical adaptation of his successful production My Lady Friends, was not produced until more than three years after the Ruth sale, in 1923, and did not reach Broadway until 1925, when it became one of the most lucrative musicals of the era.

Despite this timeline problem, in 2003 historian Eric Rauchway propagated the notion, since aped by several other writers who have written that since Nanette was spun off from My Lady Friends, which predated the Ruth sale, Frazee must have used the proceeds of the Ruth deal to finance Nanette. This act of mental gymnastics conveniently ignores the fact that My Lady Friends was profitable on its own (and, in fact, even toured overseas), that in 1921 Frazee’s play Dulcy, written by George S. Kaufman, ran for 241 performances (at the time Frazee’s second most successful production ever) and that in September of 1920 Frazee was financially secure enough to purchase the Wallack Theater (likely with the proceeds of his 1919 sale of the Longacre Theater ). He renamed the theater the Frazee and, like the Longacre, it never sat empty for more than a few weeks.

Frazee announced that he planned to use the proceeds of the Ruth sale to rebuild his team, and even made noise about acquiring Joe Jackson from the White Sox, but before he was able to do so he became embroiled in two legal fights that combined to make his task nearly impossible. On February 1, the Yankees filed a half-million-dollar lawsuit against Ban Johnson, and a few days later Joseph Lannin, in a dispute with Frazee over which owner was responsible for making a $30,000 payment to the Federal League as part of major league baseball’s 1916 legal settlement with that failed enterprise, went to court and slapped a lien on Frazee’s “material assets,” which legally prevented him from making any trades. This came as no surprise to Frazee. The previous November, the dispute had led Frazee to purposely withhold an installment due Lannin on his purchase of the team.

Although Frazee and Lannin reached a settlement in May, by then the 1920 season was already under way. The result of the lawsuit against Johnson left Frazee and the other Insurrectos virtually frozen out by the Loyal Five, a situation soon made worse by the fact that the White Sox would soon be hamstrung by the emerging Black Sox scandal. Apart from waiver claims, the Yankees became Boston’s only willing partner in trades, and vice versa.

But what about that mortgage on Fenway Park? Actually, that wasn’t part of the Ruth deal at all. Frazee did not own Fenway Park at the time of the Ruth sale. As papers held by the University of Texas indicate, when the Taylor family sold the Red Sox to James McAleer, they kept Fenway Park. Frazee rented it from the Taylors for $30,000 annually until purchasing it outright on May 3, 1920. Three weeks later, on May 25, Jacob Ruppert of the Yankees gave him a $300,000 mortgage on the property.

So why did Frazee buy the park and why then did Ruppert take out a mortgage on the property? At the time, as part of Johnson’s ongoing battle with both Frazee and Ruppert, Ban Johnson had persuaded New York Giants owner Charles Stoneham to cancel the Yankees’ lease of the Polo Grounds. That would have left the Yankees homeless, allowing Johnson to force a sale. The AL president even promised Stoneham that he could select the Yankees’ new owner. It was an ingenious plot, but Frazee’s acquisition of Fenway and the subsequent mortgage thwarted Johnson’s and Stoneham’s plans. Frazee’s acquisition of Fenway may even have been at Ruppert’s behest. It served both Frazee and Ruppert — the mortgage on the ballpark gave Frazee access to some cash for his trouble, but, more importantly, gave the Yankees leverage if Stoneham and Johnson followed through with their threat. They had a place to play if necessary — Fenway Park. While any attempt to do so would have certainly sparked a legal challenge from Johnson, the league president wasn’t doing very well in his legal fight with the Insurrectos in the New York courts, where Ruppert and Frazee enjoyed a home court advantage — New York Supreme Court Justice Robert Wagner, who had considered the Yankees lawsuit, later represented Frazee in his 1923 divorce from his first wife, Elsie Clisbee. It was likely no accident that as soon as Ruppert acquired Fenway, Stoneham and Johnson abandoned their threat.

Babe Ruth, of course, flourished in New York, hitting a record 54 home runs and leading the Yankees to a second-place finish in 1920. Meanwhile the Red Sox, without Ruth, still managed to move up one spot in the standings, to fifth place.

At the end of the season, after Ban Johnson ruled against the Red Sox in an illegal arrangement Ed Barrow had made with a minor league team, costing Boston prospect and eventual Hall of Famer Pie Traynor. Frazee allowed Barrow to leave the Red Sox and join the Yankees. Over the next few seasons, the two clubs made a series of trades, most of which in the long run worked out to New York’s favor and were later used as evidence of Frazee’s incompetence.

Fair enough, but one must also note that at the time the deals were made, in both public opinion and statistical terms, the deals were roughly equitable. The press in both New York and Boston was split on virtually every deal between the two clubs through 1922. In 2002 at the convention for the Society for American Baseball Research, SABR member Steven Steinberg gave a graphic presentation that analyzed the deals according to Bill James’ “Win Shares” system and concluded that there was no great imbalance at the time the trades were made. Steinberg has since published his findings. Over time, of course, many of the deals did, in fact, work out to New York’s benefit, but as several promising players acquired by Boston during this time, such as pitchers Hank Thormahlen and Allen Russell, suffered serious injuries, while players like Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, who had been awful in Boston, suddenly flourished in New York.

Neither did the Red Sox instantly become a last-place team. They got off to a quick start in 1920 before falling back, and in 1921 the 70–70 Red Sox were in fourth place before stumbling over the final days of the season to finish in sixth place as the Yankees won their first pennant. Johnson was still politicking for Frazee’s ouster, and for the first time, Frazee, tired of fighting, admitted that he was thinking of selling.

Then, in September, Henry Ford’s virulently anti-Semitic nationally distributed weekly newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, slandered Frazee in a series of articles that falsely identified him as being Jewish. One article, in particular, excoriated Frazee, attacking him for promoting boxing matches featuring “Negro” fighters, for encouraging “sensuousness” in the theater, for his undermining of Ban Johnson, and for the demise of the Red Sox.

“Baseball was about as much of a sport to Frazee as selling tickets to a merry-go-round would be,” opined the Independent. “He wanted to put his team across as if they were May Watson’s girly girly burlesquers. Baseball was to be ‘promoted’ as Jewish managers promote Coney Island.” The Independent also asserted that when Frazee bought the Red Sox, “another club was placed under the smothering influences of the ‘chosen race.’” The article concluded that baseball’s essential problem was that Frazee and other Jews were “scavengers [that] have come along to reduce [baseball] to garbage. But there is no doubt anywhere, among either friends or critics of baseball, that the root cause of the present condition is due to Jewish influence. . . .  If baseball is to be saved, it must be taken out of their hands.”

From this point forward, almost to the present day, the facts of Frazee’s life and career became ever more distorted. The “curse” and virtually all that came to be attached to it came into being after the series of articles appeared in the Independent.

In 1922, the Red Sox again got off to another decent start. On June 24, after beating the Yankees four straight, they trailed the Yankees by only 6½ games. But a month later, after the team collapsed in July, Frazee made a truly bad trade, sending Joe Dugan to New York and receiving little in return. The Red Sox tumbled to a last-place finish as the Yankees won another pennant. Ironically enough, however, the last-place Sox were the only team in the league to win the season series against New York, beating the Yankees 13 times in 22 games.

Attendance tumbled and at the end of the season Frazee announced his intention to sell the team. Thereafter he gave his full attention to the theater, even buying Boston’s Arlington Theater. After protracted negotiations, on August 1, 1923, Frazee finally sold the Red Sox to a group financed by bottle manufacturer Palmer Winslow and fronted by Bob Quinn for one million dollars, $350,000 more than Frazee and his partner had originally paid for the team. Under Quinn, the Red Sox rapidly got worse. When Winslow died in 1926, Quinn, who had no financial resources whatsoever, took over. From 1924 through 1932, the Red Sox avoided last place only twice — barely — before Tom Yawkey purchased the team in 1933.

Meanwhile, Harry Frazee continued to flourish. After his divorce he married actress Margaret Boyd. He brought No, No, Nanette to the stage in Detroit in 1923 and spent the next two years tinkering with the production before finally taking over as director in 1925. The show opened on Broadway on September 16, 1925, and was a sensation, touring the world and over the next few years earning Frazee more than four million dollars.

Frazee was in his glory, one of Broadway’s giants, a man who knew everyone and everybody, a confidant of New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, a mover and shaker of the first order in New York politics and culture. A measure of Frazee’s stature is that when Charles Lindbergh returned to America for a tickertape parade in New York after his flight across the Atlantic, he spent the night at the home of Harry Frazee.

Frazee’s good fortune, however, did not last for long. For two decades he’d been the life of the party and it began to have an effect. He developed Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment exacerbated by alcoholism, and died on June 4, 1929, leaving an estate of nearly $1.3 million. Frazee had one son, Harry Jr., born to Elsie Frazee.

Harry Frazee should have passed into history as just another name in Boston’s ownership roster, for at the time of his death no one blamed Frazee for much of anything, and certainly not for the ongoing fate of the franchise. From the time of his death through World War II, Frazee’s name was rarely mentioned in regard to the Red Sox and he seemed destined to become a footnote in the history of the franchise, much like previous owners John I. Taylor, James McAleer, and Joe Lannin, all of whom won at least one championship but were little examined afterwards.

But in 1947, baseball writer Fred Lieb published the first narrative history of the team, The Boston Red Sox. Lieb, whose writing career began with the New York Press in 1911, was a longtime supporter of Ban Johnson. And unbeknownst to most of the people in baseball, Lieb was also an avowed occultist whose two books on the subject demonstrated pronounced anti-Semitic beliefs. In his Red Sox book, Lieb turned Frazee into a caricature with overtly Jewish overtone, as a money-grubbing skinflint who sold the Red Sox out to line his own pocket. In so doing, Lieb laid the groundwork and provided much of the misinformation that others later cobbled together to create “the curse.” For the next 50 years, virtually every printed discussion of Frazee took its cue from Lieb, repeating and enhancing his many inaccuracies.

Yet Frazee did not really become known to contemporary fans until 1986, when the Red Sox lost the World Series to Mets. To this point no one had ever assigned any kind of curse to Frazee’s sale of Ruth. But the excruciating nature of Boston’s defeat in Game Six called for an explanation and sent fans and sportswriters alike scurrying for some kind of precedent, something that could explain what had just happened. They found it in Fred Lieb’s book. First John Carroll in the San Francisco Chronicle and then George Vecsey of the New York Times made mention of such a notion, the first time the idea ever appeared in print. In Carroll’s story, the notion appeared in a quote from SABR president Gene Sunnen, while Vecsey wrote an entire column entitled “Babe Ruth Curse Strikes Again” around the idea.

Still, the idea had little traction until 1990, when Dan Shaughnessy published The Curse of the Bambino. That book, taking its cues from Lieb, gave both Frazee and Ruth a central role in Red Sox history that neither had ever had before. The book rescued Harry Frazee from obscurity, and a generation of Red Sox fans found the perfect patsy to explain how one team could go so long without winning a championship. As the author wrote in 2004 in an article on the subject for ESPN.com, the “Curse” fit Boston, a parochial place that always goes after the new guy, the outsider, perfectly. It made everyone an insider. Just as Boston’s Brahmins once blamed the Irish for Boston’s ills and Irish blamed the Yankees and Southie blamed busing and the Boston Globe, the “Curse” gave Red Sox fans someone to blame, that rat bastard Harry Frazee. He was perfect for the role: dead and a New Yorker, a patsy no one knew and who couldn’t fight back.

The Curse was narcotic. The Curse explained everything. The Curse made everybody an expert. The Curse worked. “See, it was somebody else’s fault after all.”

Somebody became Harry Frazee.

An earlier version of this biography appeared in SABR’s When Boston Still Had the Babe: The 1918 World Series Champion Red Sox” (Rounder Books, 2008), edited by Bill Nowlin.


Last revised: October 31, 2020 (ghw)



Steve Steinberg, “The Yankees and the Red Sox: The Curse of the…Hurlers?” SABR Baseball Research Journal, No. 35.

Glenn Stout, ed., Impossible Dreams: A Red Sox Collection (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

Glenn Stout, Yankees Century (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

Glenn Stout, “A ‘Curse’ Born of Hate,” ESPN.com, October 3, 2004. The anti-Semitic roots of the so-called ‘Curse of the Bambino. Originally appeared in Boston Baseball, September 2004. Reprinted in the Elysian Fields Quarterly, vol. 22 #4, 2005. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs2004/news/story?page=Curse041005

Glenn Stout, “When the Yankees Nearly Moved to Boston,” ESPN.com, July 18, 2002.


Glenn Stout, “1918,” Boston Magazine, October 1987.

Glenn Stout, “The Last Champions,” NEW ENGLAND SPORT, July 1993.



1 Anyone interested in Frazee’s theatrical career would do well to examine the Internet Broadway Database, www.ibdb.com, created and maintained by the Research Department of the League of American Theatres and Producers. The database includes a wealth of information about Frazee, the plays he produced, and the theaters he owned and leased. Even a cursory glace at this source makes it clear that the notion that Frazee was a failure who operated on a shoestring is pure fiction.

Full Name

Harry Herbert Frazee


June 29, 1881 at Peoria, IL (US)


June 4, 1929 at New York, NY (US)

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