Henry Easterday

Henry Easterday

This article was written by Vincent T. Ciaramella

Henry EasterdayBaseball is a sport with a deep history. While there are many famous names, a vast multitude of players have fallen into obscurity. These are the names found in old box scores, defunct team rosters, and newspapers long out of print. One of those names found deep in the archives is Henry Easterday or “Harry Esterday” or “East’d’y” as it was sometimes misspelled or abbreviated. Sadly, he was a player dead and gone before the 20th century, with only four years in the majors as a right-handed hitting shortstop. However, he was captured in four poses for the 1889 Old Judge Tobacco card series.1

Henry Propert Easterday was born on September 16, 1864, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Henry Propert Easterday and Catharine Easterday (née Coombs).2 Easterday’s father was first married to a woman named Amanda Easterday (née Homburger) and fathered two children with her before she died on September 4, 1848.3 By the 1850 census he had married Catharine and would go on to father three more children, with the youngest being Henry.4 The elder Easterday is listed as a wharf builder in both the 1860 and 1870 census, while Catharine is listed as “keeping house” in 1870.5 The unique middle name of both father and son can be traced back through the paternal family lineage to Margaret Easterday (née Propert), the mother of the elder Easterday and the grandmother of the ballplayer.6 The family’s surname may have originally been Oestertag but anglicized to Easterday by Peter Easterday, Henry’s grandfather and Margaret’s husband.7 This is the extent of information found on Easterday’s pre-baseball years. In 1883 he entered the baseball historic record.

On June 21, 1883, the Chester (Pennsylvania) Times reported on a game between a Chester ball club named “Ross” and a team from Philadelphia with the strange moniker, “The August Flower.” Though the article doesn’t give his full name, there can be little doubt that the Easterday found in the box score playing shortstop for August Flower is in fact Henry Easterday.8 In August Easterday joined the Ross team, and the Chester Times stated that “Easterday as shortstop is considered a good addition to the Ross team.9

On August 12 Easterday married Roseanna Gleason.10 Five days later the new groom was in the line-up, batting seventh when Ross took on the Hartville Club from Philadelphia. In reporting the Ross team’s 4-1 victory, the Chester Times noted that shortstop Easterday “played a beautiful game and made one of the most brilliant stops of the day.”11

The 1883 box scores indicate that Easterday’s defense was his strength, as he did not seem to be an accomplished batter. Though no compilation of stats for Easterday’s 1883 season can be located at this time (if they even exist), his playing ability caught the eye of the Philadelphia Keystones, who were to compete in 1884 in the new Union Association (UA), a major league that would last only a single season.

Just 19 years of age, standing 5-feet-6, weighing 145 pounds, with a clean-shaven face, a jump from playing for a town team to the major leagues appeared to be a tall order for young Easterday. His first appearance in the records playing major-league baseball can be found in a UA box score dated June 23, 1884, when the Keystones took on the Washington (D.C.) Nationals. The Keystones, having begun play in mid-April, already had a record of 10-29 when Easterday first appears in their lineup. Easterday and teammates William “Buster” Hoover, Bill Kienzle, and Jack Clements, lost to Washington, 6-5, though Easterday had two hits, including a double. Easterday handled five chances without an error, and was credited, along with first baseman McGinnis, for doing the “best work.”12 The Philadelphia Times reported that “Esterday (sic) is a brilliant shortstop.”13 The next day, the Keystones played the St. Louis Maroons. At 34-4, the Maroons were running away with the league pennant. The Maroons pounded the Keystones, 15-1. Easterday, batting fifth and playing shortstop, had one of the Keystones’ seven hits.

On July 14 the Keystones took on the Cincinnati Outlaw Reds. Though the Keystones lost 13-8, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that: “For the home club the only feature of the fielding was a magnificent stop and throw by Easterday.”14 On July 24 the Keystones lost to the Baltimore Monumentals. Easterday batted fourth and had one hit. The accompanying article praised his fielding.15 The Keystones played their last game on August 7, an 8-5 loss to Boston, which dropped their record to 21-46. Easterday (listed in the box as Ester’y) had no hits.16 After the game, the Keystones folded, with estimated losses on the season of $10,000-12,000 due to poor attendance. The demand by two players, Hoover and Kenzle, for their salaries was claimed to be the direct cause of disbandment.17

It looked as if Easterday was heading to Cleveland to play, though no team name or records exist to verify that claim.18Easterday played 28 games for the Keystones and finished with either a .243 or a .244 batting average, depending on the source.19 Either way, Henry enjoyed a successful rookie year. The following season, Easterday headed for warmer climates with the Augusta (Georgia) Browns of the Southern Association.

On May 4, 1885, the Augusta Browns arrived in Atlanta to open the season against the Atlanta Atlantas. Easterday played shortstop and batted eighth. He made an error, but also had a hit and scored two runs as Augusta won, 4-3.20Two weeks later, on May 18, Easterday hit a home run in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Americans.21 Easterday had his down days as well. In a June 4 game against the Macon (Georgia) Macons, he went 0-for-3, and his wild throw allowed the tying run to score in the sixth inning. Fortunately, Augusta answered with a run in the bottom half of the sixth to take the game, 4-3.22 Easterday would finish out the 1885 season with Augusta recording a .180 batting average over 101 games. In 1886 he moved back north to play with the Bridgeport (Connecticut) Giants of the Eastern League, where he finished with a .198 batting average and a .906 fielding average.23

In 1887 Easterday signed with the Buffalo Bisons of the International League. On April 2, the NL’s Pittsburgh Alleghenys took on Buffalo to open their home exhibition season. The Alleghenys roster included Ed “Cannonball” Morris, Fred Carroll, and Pop Smith. Easterday had a hit and six assists without an error, though Buffalo lost, 11-1.24 On June 9, the Buffalo Commercial wrote that, in a 6-2 loss to the Syracuse Stars, “Easterday did good work at short yesterday. He is a first-class player.”25 After the close of the season, there were reports that Louisville of the American Association (“AA”) had signed Easterday. The Louisville paper described him as a “fine light ball player,” and a clever base runner, but “not, under any amount of training, likely to develop into a slugger.”26

However, instead of Louisville, the 1888 season found Easterday signed to play shortstop for the Kansas City Cowboys, also in the AA.27 On May 23, for reasons not specified, the Buffalo Commercial reported Kansas City was contemplating letting Easterday go. However, he remained on the team and finished out the season with a league-leading .888 fielding average, but a dismal .190 batting average.28

The following season, Easterday stayed in the AA, this time playing for the Columbus Solons after being released by Kansas City. The papers erroneously list him as “Esterday.”29 This misspelling would follow him until the end of his career with papers oscillating between the correct and incorrect spelling of his surname. While Easterday wasn’t a powerhouse with the bat, he ended the 1889 season again as one of the leading shortstops in the league with a .890 fielding average, though his batting average was again low at .173.30

In the 1890 season Easterday moved around the AA. He started the season with the Columbus Solons but missed some time in April with an unspecified illness.31 In May, Easterday continued his career habit of being “good field, no hit,” although on May 26 he did have 2 hits and a stolen base in an 8-4 loss to Brooklyn.32 On June 8, Columbus defeated Louisville, 10-5, in 13 innings. Easterday had five putouts, seven assists and one error. The Philadelphia Inquirerpraised Easterday’s fielding as one of the features of Columbus’ victory.33

By July 12, Columbus was in the middle of the pack in the AA with a record of 34-33, but the club directors were dissatisfied with middling results from the highest-salaried team in the league. The directors released pitcher Widner and said the “next man to go will be Harry Easterday, and his place will be filled before the team goes East.”34 The next day Wheelock played shortstop for Columbus. He committed three errors in a 3-2 loss to Brooklyn, the game report stating that “Wheelock’s errors at short gave Brooklyn the game.”35

Easterday’s unemployment was brief. On July 19, it was reported that the Philadelphia Athletics had signed Harvey Esterday (sic) to play shortstop. In his first game, the local paper reported that “Harry Esterday (sic)…put up his usual fine game at short.”36 In a game against his former team, Columbus, Easterday scored four times without benefit of a hit, in a 15-9 victory. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that “Esterday put up a splendid game at short but marred his otherwise fine work by two wild throws.37 Three days later the Columbus directors must have really been frustrated when Easterday homered, stole a base, and fielded flawlessly in another Athletic defeat of Columbus.38

Unfortunately, both Easterday and the Athletics slumped in August, and on August 18 Philadelphia released “Harry Esterday” after just 19 games.39 He finished with a poor batting average of .147 and a .876 fielding average. In early September, Louisville Colonels shortstop Philip Tomney was injured.40 Louisville was in first place, battling St. Louis for the AA pennant. The Colonels picked up Easterday to fill in at short while Tomney healed. On September 6 Easterday was in the Colonels’ lineup, again wreaking havoc on a former team. He had two hits and no errors in an 8-0 whitewashing of the Athletics, the team that had just released him.41 However, the two hits would be his last in the major leagues. He went hitless in the next six games, and Louisville had seen enough. Easterday finished his Louisville stint 2-for-24 for a dismal .083 batting average. Louisville released him on September 29, ending his major-league career.42

Easterday completed his four-season major-league career with 1,129 at-bats, 203 hits, 9 home runs, and a .180 batting average, though he did better in the field as a shortstop, finishing with an overall fielding percentage of .868, and leading all AA shortstops in fielding percentage in 1888.43 In the end, Easterday simply could not hit well enough to sustain a major-league career. He managed to cobble together four seasons by playing in what is probably the worst major league in the history of baseball, the 1884 Union Association, and by also playing in 1890, when the existence of three leagues watered down major-league talent.

Over the next few years Easterday bounced around the minors, starting with the Providence (Rhode Island) Clamdiggers of the Eastern Association in 1891, where he hit .215 and stole 19 bases. In 1892 Easterday made the news, but for the wrong reasons, while playing in the Pennsylvania State League. That year Easterday initially signed on to play with the Harrisburg Ponies.44 On May 22, Opening Day, Harrisburg took on Pittsburgh in front of a large crowd at Island Park. The papers noted that “Easterday made pretty stops at short and threw to the bases with precision.”45 However, by June 16 the Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Daily News reported that “Easterday has been suspended indefinitely. No club will be allowed to play in a game that in which he is engaged.”46 Easterday had jumped Harrisburg to play with the Johnstown Pirates. A meeting with the State League on June 19 caused the manager of Johnstown to drop Easterday and he returned to Harrisburg.47 Easterday last appeared in a box score for Harrisburg on July 7, playing both games of a doubleheader against Wilkes-Barre,48 after which the Wilkes-Barre paper reported that Easterday had been suspended.49 Easterday then appears to have signed to play semipro ball for the Charles Livingston Club of Philadelphia.50

It is unclear where, or if, Easterday played ball in 1893. In various papers it was reported that Easterday was looking to play with Scranton, Providence, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, but he doesn’t appear to have played for any of these clubs.51

Easterday’s final year in organized baseball was 1894. He played for two different teams in two different leagues. He began the season with the Macon (Georgia) Hornets of the Southern Association.52 In the opening game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the papers reported that Easterday didn’t perform well, making two errors.53 Before he was let go, his batting average was a miserable .103. Just a few weeks later, on May 18, Easterday was playing for the Lynchburg (Virginia) Hill Climbers of the Virginia League.54 This was the last known team he suited up for.

For Henry Easterday, the 1895 season would never come. Easterday died of typhoid fever at his home on March 30 at the age of 30.55 He is buried in Fernwood Cemetery and Mausoleum in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania next to his wife and their two children, William and Catherine.56



This story was reviewed by Darren Gibson and Rick Zucker and fact-checked by Kevin Larkin



In addition to the sources shown in the notes, the author used:







1 Joe Gonsowski, Richard Masson, and Jay Miller. The Photographic Baseball Cards of Goodwin & Company 1886-1890 (‎Self-published, 2008), 221.

2 1870 US Census. No mention is found in the census records of the elder Easterday being a Senior or the younger Easterday being a Junior. However, the younger Easterday was regularly referred to as “Harry” in baseball articles, so that may have been the name adopted to distinguish him from Henry the elder.

3 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/113692211/amanda-easterday

4 1850 US Census.

5 1860 US Census and 1870 US Census.

6 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21001772/margaret-easterday.

7 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21001681/peter-easterday.

8 “A Good Game,” Chester (Pennsylvania) Times, June 21, 1883: 3.

9 “Base Ball Notes,” Chester Times, August 15, 1883: 1.

10 Pennsylvania and New Jersey, U.S., Church and Town Records, 1669-2013.

11 “The Ross and Hartville,” Chester Times, August 18, 1883: 3.

12” Base Ball,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 1884: 2.

13 “The Ball Field,” Philadelphia Times, June 24, 1884: 3.

14 “Keystones Beaten,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 15, 1884: 2.

15 “A Twelve Inning Game,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 1884: 3.

16 “The Keystones Beaten,” Philadelphia Times, August 8, 1884: 3.

17 “The Keystones Disband,” Philadelphia Times, August 8, 1884: 3.

18 “Base Ball Notes,” Chester Times, August 19, 1884: 3.

19 Baseball-Reference lists his 1884 batting average at .243. “How They Stand,” Sporting Life, August 27, 1884: 2.

20 “To-Day’s Great Game,” Atlanta Constitution, May 4, 1885: 5. ”Augusta Scores Over Atlanta,” Atlanta Constitution, May 5, 1885: 5.

21 “Augusta Defeats Nashville,” Savannah (Georgia) Morning News, May 19, 1885: 2.

22 “At Baseball Park,” Telegraph and Messenger (Macon, Georgia), June 5, 1885: 5.

23 “Eastern League Averages,” Meriden (Connecticut) Journal, November 1, 1886: 3.

24 “Chilly But Cheerful,” Pittsburgh Post, April 4, 1887: 6.

25 “A Springville Trotter Wins,” Buffalo Commercial, June 9, 1887: 3.

26 “Base Ball Comment,” Courier-Journal: Louisville (hereafter Louisville Courier-Journal), November 27, 1887: 14; “Buffalo Sporting,” Buffalo Commercial, October 27, 1887: 3.

27 “The Club Complete,” Kansas City Star, March 21, 1888: 1.

28 “Much in Little,” Buffalo Commercial, May 23, 1888: 3.

29 “Esterday Goes to Columbus,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 9, 1889: 2.

30 “The Baseball World,” Standard-Union (New York), November 30, 1889: 3.

31 “Complaining at Columbus,” Philadelphia Times, May 4, 1890: 17; “The Work of a Week,” Philadelphia Times, May 4, 1890: 18.

32“Scores of the Week,” Philadelphia Times, May 11, 1890: 19; May 25, 1890: 19. “Games of the Week,” Philadelphia Times, June 1, 1890: 21.

33 “A Thirteen Inning Contest,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 9, 1890: 3.

34 “Notes of the Diamond Field,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 1890: 3.

35 “Wheelock’s Errors Lost the Game,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 14, 1890: 3.

36 “Notes of the Diamond Field,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 20, 1890: 3. “St. Louis Wins Through the Athletics’ Inability to Hit Stivetts,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 21, 1890: 3.

37 “M’Mahon a Winner,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 1, 1890: 3.

38 “A Very Listless Game Won by the Athletics,” Philadelphia Times, August 4, 1890: 2.

39 “Ball Notes,” Louisville Courier-Journal, August 20, 1890: 7.

40 “St. Louis is ‘Rotten,’” Louisville Courier-Journal, August 27, 1890: 5; “Baseball Season Closing,” Reading (Pennsylvania) Times, September 29, 1890: 1.

41 “Saturday’s Games,” Philadelphia Times, September 8, 1890: 2.

42 “Raymond Sick and Esterday Released,” Pittsburgh Post, September 30, 1890: 6. Tomney would return to the lineup on September 19, and Louisville would go on to win the AA pennant.

43 “Base-Ball Notes,” Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1890: 6. “American Association,” Philadelphia Times, September 7, 1890: 2.

44 “Base Ball Notes,” Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Daily News, May 21, 1892: 4.

45 “Opening the Season To-Day,” Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Telegraph, May 22, 1892: 1.

46 “Base Ball Notes,” Lebanon Daily News, June 16, 1892: 1.

47 “Hot Grounders,” Harrisburg Telegraph, June 20, 1892: 1. “Notes,” Altoona (Pennsylvania) Tribune, June 22, 1892: 4.

48 “The State League,” Union Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), July 8, 1892: 3.

49 “The National Game,” Wilkes-Barre Daily News-Dealer, July 11, 1892: 7.

50 “Amateur Base Ball,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10, 1892: 3; “A Chance for the Y.M.C.A.,” Miners Journal (Pottstown, Pennsylvania), September 3, 1892: 2.

51 “The Base Ball Fever,” Scranton (Pennsylvania) Republican, March 23, 1893: 5; “Our Baseball Club,” The News (Providence, Rhode Island), April 11, 1893: 1; “Base Ball Notes,” Daily Standard (Hazleton, Pennsylvania), May 26, 1893: 1.

52 “How the Boys Will Play Ball,” Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, April 4, 1894: 7.

53 “Best Game of the Season,” Macon Telegraph, April 24, 1894: 4.

54 “Now in Second Place,” Norfolk (Virginia) Virginian, May 19, 1894: 1.

55 Nemec, David. Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume 1: The Ball Players Who Built the Game. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2011), 453.

56 Henry Easterday Death Certificate, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/92128717/henry-propert-easterday.

Full Name

Henry Propert Easterday


September 16, 1864 at Philadelphia, PA (USA)


March 30, 1895 at Philadelphia, PA (USA)

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