Joe Nealon

This article was written by Bill Lamb

Joe Nealon (COURTESY OF BILL LAMB)By the close of the 1905 season, first baseman Joe Nealon was the most highly coveted minor league prospect on the West Coast. Young (not yet 21), large (at least 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounds),1 and athletically gifted, his services became the object of an intense bidding war among major league clubs ultimately won by the Pittsburgh Pirates.2 Inserted into the everyday Pittsburgh lineup the next spring, Nealon enjoyed an impressive rookie season. Had RBIs been an official statistic in 1906,3 Nealon would have tied Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt for the National League lead. He also played first-rate defense, leading NL first basemen in putouts, assists, double plays, and total chances, while posting a solid .987 fielding average.

The following season, things went sour between Nealon and the Pirates. He reported to spring camp overweight, suffered nagging injuries throughout the season, and became an attitude/disciplinary problem for Pittsburgh manager Fred Clarke. Nealon also failed to match his 1906 numbers, and by campaign’s end had largely been supplanted at first by Alan Storke. With relations strained with club brass and disliking the East anyway, Nealon jumped to the outlaw California State League in 1908. In early 1910, he announced his retirement from the game to join his father’s construction business. Only a few months later, Joe Nealon was dead, succumbing to typhoid fever complications at age 25.

James Joseph Nealon was born in San Francisco on December 15, 1884.4 He was the youngest of three children born to Irish Catholic immigrant James Callahan Nealon (1847-1920) and his New York-native wife Minnie (nee Robinson, 1853-1899). By the time of his only son’s birth, J.C. Nealon had risen to become one of San Francisco’s leading citizens: a wealthy building contractor and businessman; a force in city Democratic Party politics, and a locally renowned sportsman – a champion-caliber handball player into his 50s and owner of stakes-winning racehorses.5 He later served as Assessor of the City of San Francisco, and as a two-term California state senator. Befitting the family’s station in society, Joe and his sisters Margaret (born 1877) and Marie (1878) were raised in style and comfort.

Nealon first attracted attention as a prep school athlete. A three-sport star at Crocker Grammar, he was a halfback/defensive lineman on the gridiron and split time in the spring between the baseball and track teams. An oversized 15-year-old, Joe won the 50-yard dash, shot put, and broad jump at the annual meet of San Francisco prep schools in late April 1900.6 A month later, he pitched and batted Crocker to capture of the Phelan Trophy, emblematic of the high school baseball championship of the city.7 In spring 1901, Joe repeated his track meet triumphs, setting several San Francisco prep school records in the process.8

In fall 1901, Nealon matriculated to St. Ignatius College, a Jesuit school located in San Francisco, and played baseball there the following spring. He garnered wider notice, however, playing shortstop for the Reliance of Oakland club of the Players’ League, a local area amateur circuit that played on weekends. Joe continued playing college and amateur league ball into late 1903, resisting overtures to turn professional, including one made by the San Francisco Seals of the [then] unaffiliated Pacific Coast League. “‘Flash’ Nealon9 could have made his debut as a professional yesterday if his feet had not chilled suddenly when the chance confronted him,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle. “Owing to his father’s objections to professional baseball, he has been forced to decline numerous offers from league managers.”10 As was oft observed, J.C. Nealon intended his only son for the family construction business, and as long as Joe was a minor, his father’s opposition to his turning professional was insuperable.11

In 1904, Nealon moved to first base for the San Jose Prune Pickers, the (24-9) champions of a six-club weekend amateur/semipro circuit sometimes called the State League.12 Although still a teenager, Nealon was the league’s top performer with the bat. “Nealon leads the leaders in sticking this season [with a .364 batting average],” reported a circuit rival newspaper in late July. “He is regarded as one of the most dangerous hitters in the league. Every time he steps up to the pan, the outfielders go way back to the tall timber. Flash generally hooks on for a long drive.”13

Our subject finally entered the professional ranks in February 1905, coming to terms with the hometown Seals – by then the PCL was a Class A circuit.14 But the events attending his engagement bore little resemblance to the typical situation wherein the ball club controls the negotiating agenda. In fact, the positions of the parties here were the diametric opposite of the norm. For Joe Nealon was not some hardscrabble hopeful desperate to escape the drudgery of farm, factory, or coal mine life. He was an eagerly sought scion of wealth and privilege whose interests were represented by a savvy, tough-minded, and politically influential San Franciscan. And it was J.C. Nealon who dictated his son’s contract terms, not Seals boss Henry Harris. In addition to a high but undisclosed salary to be paid young Nealon, the one-season pact contained no reserve clause.15 At season’s end, Nealon (or, rather, his domineering father) would decide whether and for whom he continued playing – and J.C. had made it plain that Joe would be permitted to play professional baseball for only two or three seasons before being required to join the family business.

Joe Nealon (COURTESY OF BILL LAMB)Over the course of a grueling 225-game PCL schedule, Nealon proved his worth. He posted a solid .286 batting average with 64 extra-base hits, and fielded his position adroitly, drawing favorable comparison to budding American League star Hal Chase, another young West Coast first baseman.16 Major league clubs were quick to take notice of Nealon’s exploits. First to try and pry the youngster loose from San Francisco was Chicago Cubs manager Frank Selee. Before April was over, Selee proffered a reported $2,500 to the Seals for the youngster’s contract.17 The Pittsburgh Pirates also put out feelers regarding Nealon’s availability.18 For the time being, however, Nealon was not amenable to going East, causing the Seals to decline offers for their slugging first sacker.

The situation changed as the PCL schedule entered September. As observed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Joe Nealon had become receptive to the idea of playing major league ball and as “the long, broad-shouldered kid … is to be wooed away from home, and as he happens to be a free lance, he will be able to make his own choice of offers and name his own price.”19 A spirited bidding war soon broke out, with the Cubs and Pirates joined by the NL’s Cincinnati Reds and AL’s New York Highlanders, St. Louis Browns, and Boston Pilgrims in aggressive pursuit of Nealon’s signature for the 1906 season. Like the Seals the previous winter, these clubs would not be dealing with a financially strapped minor league ballplayer without recourse, but with a well-to-do prospect armed with a formidable agent – i.e., his father.20 The elder Nealon remained displeased with Joe’s preference for pro baseball over the family business, but was determined to get his son the most advantageous deal possible if he was to play ball.

Boston club president John I. Taylor opened the bidding with a handsome $500 per month offer to which the Nealons did not even respond.21 Thereafter, Cincinnati club boss Garry Herrmann upped the ante to $4,000 and later claimed that J.C. Nealon had “given his word to the to the Reds president that if [Joe] goes East at all, it will be to play first base for Cincinnati.”22 Boston promptly matched that offer.23 That drove the New York Highlanders, who already had 22-year-old Hal Chase to man first, out of the Nealon competition, but Chicago and Pittsburgh remained undiscouraged.24 To close the supposedly promised Nealon deal, Cincinnati dispatched chief scout Ted Sullivan to the West Coast, but bad weather and train connection problems allowed Pirates manager Fred Clarke to beat him to San Francisco. Reassured by Clarke’s promise that he would personally keep an eye on the youngster, J.C. had his son sign with Pittsburgh.25

The $7,000 salary figure reportedly agreed upon proved an exaggeration26 – Nealon actually signed for $6,000 per season. Yet that was still outlandish for an untested rookie, and Nealon’s wage would subsequently be the cause of friction between Highlanders management and its own young California first baseman. In the meantime, Pittsburgh’s signing of Nealon was bitterly resented by Reds brass who thought that they had had Nealon sewn up. Failure to land the hot prospect also generated recriminations in the Cincinnati press.27 To avoid being scapegoated, Ted Sullivan unburdened himself to the Cincinnati Enquirer, offering a litany of travel excuses for his failure to sign the coveted youngster. Sullivan then denigrated Nealon, an unknown whose “skill [was] hidden beneath a dross of inexperience and youth,” wholly unworthy of the $7,000 price tag that had publicly been placed upon him.28 The Enquirer then gleefully published J.C. Nealon’s withering response: “The public has always permitted, and will always permit a man who has lost the object he was seeking to compensate himself for the loss in excusing his failure by some worthy and absurd explanation, or by throwing the responsibility of the failure on someone else.”29 Meanwhile, Chicago Cubs first baseman Frank Chance – who had succeeded Selee as manager during the 1905 season – sniffed that Nealon (whom Selee had wanted for Chance’s field position) was “not National League caliber. That is the reason Chicago declined to take [Nealon] when it had the opportunity.”30

Joe Nealon set about silencing his critics when the new season began. Installed in the everyday lineup and usually placed behind future Hall of Famers Clarke and Honus Wagner in the Pittsburgh batting order, Nealon initiated his major league career with two singles against veteran right-hander Jack Taylor in a 2-1, 13-inning Pirates victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on April 12, 1906. Joe continued to hit well during the early going, but what surprised observers was the big man’s defensive prowess.31 “There is not a first baseman in the league who has anything on California Joe Nealon when it comes to fielding his position,” maintained the Pittsburg Press. “Scarcely a game is played in which he does not make the crowd stand up on its hind legs and cheer a great catch or a fine pickup.”32

At season’s end, National League stats bore out this assessment. Starting all 154 games played for an excellent but third-place (93-60, .608) Pittsburgh club, Nealon paced the circuit’s first basemen in putouts (1,592), assists (102), double plays (90), and total chances (1,717), while placing third in fielding percentage with a rock-solid .987. But as the campaign wore on, Joe’s batting average fell off, prompting concern about his peculiar mechanics. “Nealon has an odd manner of batting,” observed Pittsburgh sportswriter A.R. Cratty. “He lets his right hand go just before completing the swing. For this reason, there are men who assert that he is not a first class batsman and will never be.” Cratty then hastened to add, “There may be something in this but one thing cannot be gainsaid. That is, Nealon’s batting was timely for Pittsburg and won many games.”33

Although Nealon finished the season with only a .255 batting average, his hitting was often clutch. No player in the National League other than Cubs third baseman Harry Steinfeldt drove in as many runs as the Pirates rookie: 83. Had RBIs been an officially recognized statistic at the time, Nealon and Steinfeldt would have been co-league leaders. In other offensive categories, Joe registered 36 extra-base hits, 196 total bases, and scored 82 runs, all second on the Pirates only to Wagner, while he led the club in home runs (3). Nealon also stole 15 bases. A team-leading 63 strikeouts, however, was cause for concern. Nevertheless, the Pirates newcomer had made an excellent first impression and even better was anticipated from him in seasons to come.

As it turned out, Joe Nealon’s major league career had only one more season to run: a disappointing and trouble-filled 1907 campaign with the Pirates. He reported to spring camp with a hand injury, the result of an off-season fall at home.34 Of larger concern was his conditioning. At 220 pounds, Nealon was some 15-20 pounds over his playing weight and struggled to get off the excess avoirdupois.35 He also inadvertently stirred up trouble elsewhere. When asked whether fellow Californian Hal Chase was “the greatest first baseman on earth,” Joe replied, “Perhaps he is. But I am receiving $6,000 per year, while he is getting $2,500.”36 This revelation had the predicable effect on Chase, coming off a breakout .323 season for the New York Highlanders. Chase’s unmet demand for Nealon-like money prompted a threatened spring camp walkout and season-long friction between club management and its star first baseman.

Nealon began the 1907 campaign by going 1-for-4 and stealing two bases in a 4-3 Opening Day loss to Cincinnati. But soon thereafter, he was forced out of the lineup by a foot injury, the first of the minor maladies that bedeviled him all season long. After two weeks on the sidelines, Nealon was reported to “have a slight limp, but is able to get around pretty fast and says he is ready to play as soon as manager Clarke gives the command.”37 But when he returned to action, Nealon performed poorly, with a sudden penchant for taking third strikes with men on base being deemed particularly alarming.38 Nealon sympathizer A.R. Cratty was also concerned. “Things have not been going well for Pittsburg’s big first baseman,” Cratty wrote. “Nealon, far overweight, is off in the field and in bat work. … Management recognizes this but the excuse is inability to get into playing form owing to the long spell on the road, lack of practice, etc. … [Still] manager Clarke is confident that the big boy will show better when he gets off the extra weight.”39

The Pittsburgh faithful was not as patient, and soon Nealon was the target of vicious hazing from the first base stands. Joe then annoyed field leader Clarke by becoming involved in a distracting dalliance with a local beauty.40 But what settled Nealon’s fate was unreported breach of curfew and other club rule infractions that finally necessitated his being sent back to Pittsburgh during an August road trip.41 Supplanted at first base by the versatile Alan Storke, Nealon saw much reduced playing time thereafter. Meanwhile, the Pittsburg Press actively campaigned for his permanent replacement.42 By season end, Nealon’s batting average (.257 in 105 games) was about the same as the season before. But all his other stats (18 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 124 total bases, .978 FA) were down markedly.

Pittsburgh (91-63, .591) crept up to a distant second place in final 1907 NL standings, but talent upgrades were plainly needed if the Pirates were to challenge the powerful Chicago Cubs for the pennant. That someone other than Joe Nealon would play first for the Pirates in 1908 was a foregone conclusion. Nealon, however, preempted his inevitable release by the announcement that he was retiring from professional baseball. He was going into business with his father, and would confine his ballplaying to weekends with local San Francisco nines.43 Once home, Nealon joined a barnstorming team that eventually made its way to Honolulu.44 Presumably taking a cue from his diplomatically astute father, Joe also wrote a bridge-repairing letter to Pittsburgh club boss Barney Dreyfuss, expressing his thanks for the club’s interest in him, wishing his former teammates the best, and asking to be placed on the Pirates’ reserve list for the 1908 season – a highly unusual gesture from a “retired” ballplayer but one that restored goodwill with the gentlemanly Dreyfuss.45

Early in 1908 it was reported that Nealon had entered J.J. O’Brien & Company, one of his father’s construction businesses.46 But in reality, Joe spent most of his time doing what he normally did: namely, play baseball, signing with the Sacramento Senators of the California State League (CSL), an independent circuit outside Organized Baseball.47 Although knee and ankle injuries somewhat limited his playing time, Nealon pounded CSL pitching, batting a league-high .372 in 62 games for the third-place (55-20, .733) Senators.48 Along the way, he reportedly declined an offer to play with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, saying that when he left Sacramento, he would be leaving baseball for good.49

Late in the season, the normally placid giant flattened erstwhile rival Hal Chase with a flying tackle during a midgame brawl initiated by the recently arrived Chase.50 Joe’s plans to join a major/minor league player post-season exhibition game tour of the Orient, however, had to be canceled after American League President Ban Johnson threatened to blacklist any AL player (including Ty Cobb) who got into uniform with an ineligible player like Joe Nealon.51 Nevertheless, Pittsburgh retained Nealon on their reserve list for 1909 season, just in case.52

Untrue to his word, Nealon did not leave baseball when he departed the Sacramento club. Rather, he became the beneficiary of another bidding war for his services, this time between two Oakland clubs: the Oaks of the officially recognized PCL and the Commuters of the outlaw CSL.53 In time, Nealon chose the latter, becoming the Commuters team captain, as well.54 Grossly out of shape – a July 12, 1909 newspaper photo depicts a still-blimpy Nealon at midseason55 – the CSL’s defending batting crown winner hit only .274, albeit with 39 extra-base hits, in 138 games for the league champions (94-63, .599). Shortly thereafter, Joe made his now seemingly annual announcement that he was giving up the game to devote his full attention to father J.C. Nealon’s business interests.56

Although Nealon was still young, this time the retirement announcement may have been a serious one. Of interest, Nealon was restored to good standing in Organized Baseball by the National Commission in January 1910.57 Pirates boss Dreyfuss thereupon granted Joe his unconditional release.58 Yet, no announcement of a new baseball engagement ensued. Instead, J.C. Nealon, having played an instrumental role in the recent elevation of Democratic Party stalwart Patrick “Pinhead” McCarthy to the San Francisco mayor’s office, obtained a sinecure for his son in local government. A degree of press amusement accompanied the appointment of still-bachelor Joe Nealon as a deputy clerk in the marriage license bureau of the county clerk’s office.59 A report that Nealon was also playing for a San Francisco semipro club called Ireland’s Independents, however, gave life to glimmering hope that Joe’s professional baseball days were not yet over.60

All such hope was dashed the next time that Joe Nealon’s name was in the news. In early March, the California press reported that Nealon was gravely ill with typhoid fever, his prognosis pessimistic.61 A month later, his fate was sealed by the onset of pneumonia. James Joseph Nealon died at his father’s home on Haight Street in San Francisco on the afternoon of April 2, 1910. He was only 25. Nationwide dissemination of the sad news stunned former teammates and major league club officials back East, most of whom had been unaware of Joe’s illness. Telegrams of condolence poured into the Nealon family residence, with Barney Dreyfuss prominent among those who conveyed their regrets.62

Following a High Requiem Mass said at Sacred Heart Church in San Francisco, the deceased was laid to rest in the Nealon family plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in nearby Colma, California. Survivors included devasted father J.C. Nealon, married older sisters Margaret Nealon Hampton and Marie Nealon Henderson, and thoroughbred namesake Joe Nealon. Certain obituaries placed the value of the late young man’s estate at a princely $200,000.63



This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Jan Finkel and fact-checked by Terry Bohn.



Sources for the biographical information provided above include the Joe Nealon file maintained at the Giamatti Research Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York; US Census and other family data accessed via; and certain of the newspaper articles cited in the endnotes. Unless otherwise specified, stats have been taken from Baseball-Reference.



1 Based on unspecified sources, Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet list Nealon’s size as 6’1½”/weight unknown. But in a 1906 Pittsburgh Pirates team photo, Nealon appears at least an inch taller than the teammate standing next to him, 6’2”/185 lb. pitcher Vic Willis. The following year, an overweight Nealon reported to Pirates spring camp weighing 220 lbs., and needed to drop about 15-20 pounds to get to his playing weight.

2 The spelling of the city’s name has a complicated history, fluctuating between Pittsburg and Pittsburgh until the latter was officially adopted in July 1911. For clarity, the city’s baseball club will be referred to as the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout the text. Newspaper article citations, however, will use the spelling of the newspaper masthead and/or caption.

3 Runs Batted In was not an officially recognized statistic until 1920.

4 Baseball reference works have long misidentified Nealon’s birthplace as Sacramento. Nealon’s death certificate, informed by his father, and his locally published obituaries designated San Francisco as Joe’s birthplace. Efforts to correct the Nealon birthplace listing were ongoing at the time that this bio was submitted.

5 The best thoroughbreds in J.C. Nealon’s stable were likely the eponymous Nealon, winner of New York’s prestigious Suburban Handicap, and Joe Nealon, also a stakes winner.

6 “Crocker Gained Fresh Laurels,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 22, 1900: 11.

7 See “Public School Athletes To Compete for Trophies, San Francisco Call, May 22, 1900: 5, and “First Public School Athletic Day a Success,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 23, 1900: 8.

8 “Entries for Grammar School Field Day,” San Francisco Call, April 26, 1901: 5. See also, “Grammar School Boys of Brawn and Brain,” San Francisco Examiner, July 1, 1900: 30. The new Nealon-set records were 50-yard dash: 5.8 seconds; 10-lb. shotput: 41 feet, 10 inches; and broad jump: 19 feet, six inches.

9 The nickname Flash was frequently employed by Northern California newspapers and derived from Nealon’s youthful foot speed.

10 “Diamond Gossip,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 1903: 4.

11 A month later, it was reported that J.C. Nealon had given his consent “with the restriction that [Joe] perform only on Thursdays, a day when he is free from school. This relenting on Pater Nealon’s part will not do ‘Flash’ any good. No manager would consent to such an arrangement.” See “Irwin to Local Team,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 11, 1903: 29.

12 As reported in “Fast Players Will Wear San Jose Uninforms,” San Jose Evening News, March 23, 1904: 2.

13 “Field of Sports,” Stockton (California) Evening Record, July 22, 1904: 4.

14 As reported in “Harris Signs His Last Man,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 10, 1905: 8; “Nealon Is on First,” (Portland) Oregonian, February 11, 1905: 8; and elsewhere.

15 As reported in “Gossip about the Players,” Seattle Times, April 21, 1905: 14. See also, San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1905: 37, and October 25, 1905: 11.

16 See e.g., “Joe Nealon Makes a Hit,” Oregonian, April 9, 1905: 17; H.C. Lowry, “California Cullings,” Sporting Life, April 22, 1905: 13.

17 “Selee Wants Joe Nealon,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 16, 1905: 21; “Gossip of the Players,” Seattle Times, April 21, 1905: 14; “National League News,” Sporting Life, May 6, 1905: 5.

18 “Gossip of the Players,” Seattle Times, April 21, 1905: 14.

19 San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1905: 37.

20 When he died three-plus years later, Joe Nealon reportedly left a $200,000 estate. Because San Francisco had no claim on Nealon’s services once the 1905 PCL season ended, major league bidders had to negotiate directly with the Nealons, not Seals boss Harris.

21 “Gossip about the Players,” Seattle Times, September 10, 1905: 19.

22 “Reds Offer Nealon $4,000,” Topeka (Kansas) State Journal, September 29, 1905: 3.

23 See “Gossip about the Players,” Seattle Times, October 30, 1905: 11; J.C. Morse, “Boston Briefs,” Sporting Life, November 4, 1905: 5.

24 See “Major League Magnates Still after Nealon,” San Francisco Call, November 3, 1905: 11.

25 As reported in “Pittsburg Signs Joe Nealon,” Baltimore Sun, November 7, 1905: 12; “Youngster Has Bright Future,” San Francisco Call, November 7, 1905: 11: “Pittsburg’s First Bag for Big Joe Nealon,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 1905: 8; and elsewhere.

26 Fred Clarke subsequently asserted that one unnamed club had, indeed, offered Nealon a $7,000/season contract but that Joe had signed with Pittsburgh for less because his father “was more anxious to make sure that [Joe] was going to a good club and going to have the right kind of companions.” See “Chase after Nealon Proves Successful,” Pittsburg Post, November 14, 1905: 8.

27 See e.g., Ralph S. Davis, “Other Clubs Jealous of Dreyfuss’ Success,” Pittsburg Press, November 26, 1905: 19. For more, see Tom Karmik, “Joe Nealon,” Baseball History Daily, posted May 2, 2018.

28 See Karmik, above, “Joe Nealon.”

29 The letter of J.C. Nealon was subsequently re-published in “How Reds Lost Nealon,” unidentified December 30, 1905 news article in the Joe Nealon file at the GRC. See also, Tom Karmik, “There Is a Heap about Baseball that I Do Not Know,” Baseball History Daily, posted May 4, 2018.

30 “National League Notes,” Sporting Life, December 9, 1905: 5. Incumbent first baseman Chance had replaced the ailing Selee at the Chicago helm in late-July 1905.

31 When he arrived in Pirates spring camp, “Nealon made a favorable impression on the team. He is the biggest man on the team, but is splendidly proportioned and there is no suggestion of clumsiness in his movements,” per “Pirates Play While Boreas Howl,” Pittsburg Press, March 17, 1906: 8.

32 “Baseball Notes,” Pittsburg Press, July 20, 1906: 18.

33 A. R. Cratty, “Pittsburg Points,” Sporting Life, October 27, 1906: 8. Although the parallel may be inexact, the Cratty commentary suggests that Nealon’s batting mechanics presaged the approach advocated seven decades later by hitting guru Charley Lau and exemplified by his star pupil, three-time AL batting champion George Brett.

34 See “Pirates Lineup for Opening Contest Still Undecided,” Pittsburg Press, March 31, 1907: 18.

35 As reported in the Pittsburg Press, March 17, 1907: 18; (Denver) Rocky Mountain News, April 13, 1907: 8; and elsewhere.

36 “Base Ball Notes,” Washington (DC) Evening Star, March 21, 1907: 23, re-printing an item originally published in the Philadelphia North American. See also, “‘Hal’ Chase and ‘Joe’ Nealon,” Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican, March 31, 1907: 19.

37 “Joe Nealon Practices and Pleads To Resume,” Pittsburg Post, April 30, 1907: 8. See also, “Pirates Shut Out Charleroi,” Pittsburg Gazette Times, April 30, 1907: 8.

38 According to sportswriter Ralph S. Davis, “Pirates Hopeful,” Pittsburg Press, June 2, 1907: 19.

39 A.R. Cratty, “In Pittsburg,” Sporting Life, June 15, 1907: 5.

40 As reported by A.R. Cratty, “In Pittsburg,” Sporting Life, June 22, 1907: 5. Aggravating the situation was Pirates pitcher Lefty Leifield’s romantic interest in the same woman.

41 Belatedly disclosed by A.R. Cratty in “In Pittsburg,” Sporting Life, September 14, 1907: 7.

42 See e.g., “Where Pirates Are Weak,” Pittsburg Press, August 18, 1907: 19; “Keep Storke at First Base,” Pittsburg Press, August 31, 1907: 7.

43 As reported in “Joe Nealon Will Retire,” Pittsburg Post, December 1, 1907: 23; “Joe Nealon Abandons National League,” San Francisco Call, December 2, 1907: 5; “Exit Joe Nealon,” Pittsburg Press, December 8, 1907: 21.

44 See “Fisher’s Great Start,” Sporting Life, October 26, 1907: 2; “National League News,” Sporting Life, February 1, 1908: 8.

45 As reported in “New Catcher for Pirates,” Pittsburg Press, February 2, 1908: 16. See also, “National League News,” Sporting Life, February 8, 1908: 3, and A.R. Cratty, “In Pittsburg,” Sporting Life, February 22, 1908: 10.

46 Cratty, above, Sporting Life, February 22, 1908: 10.

47 As reported in “National League News,” Sporting Life, March 28, 1908: 6.

48 According to “Official League Averages,” Sacramento Bee, November 28, 1908: 8. Nealon also led CSL first baseman in fielding percentage with a .987 FA.

49 “Seasonable Sports,” Santa Cruz (California) Evening News, July 10, 1908: 2. Given that Nealon’s name was still on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ reserve list, such a signing would have required Pittsburgh consent in any case.

50 The game was played in Sacramento on October 24, and after Chase had completed his strife-riddled season with the NY Highlanders.

51 As reported in “Baseball News and Gossip,” Cincinnati Post, October 19, 1908: 6, and “Supreme Court,” Sporting Life, October 24, 1908: 2. Nealon’s playing in the outlaw California State League rendered him an ineligible player in the eyes of Organized Baseball.

52 “Major League Players,” Sporting Life, October 10, 1908: 17.

53 As reported in “Ex-Big Leaguer Is Now in Great Demand,” San Francisco Call, February 18, 1909: 10.

54 See “Joe Nealon Signs Up with Outlaws,” San Francisco Call, February 28, 1909: 33; “Sacramento Mourns Loss of Joe Nealon,” Visalia (California) Times, March 3, 1909: 5; “Full Team in Action,” Stockton Evening Record, March 20, 1909: 4.

55 See the Oakland Tribune, July 12, 1909: 8.

56 “Joe Nealon Says He Has Played His Last Game,” Sacramento Bee, December 21, 1909: 2.

57 See “Nealon Reinstated by the National Commission,” Fresno (California) Morning Republican, January 8, 1910: 9; “Players Restored to Good Standing,” Los Angeles Herald, January 8, 1910: 12. The Commission ruled that Pittsburgh had waived any rights that the club may once have held in Nealon.

58 “Notes of the Diamond,” Santa Cruz Evening News, February 2, 1910: 2.

59 As reported in the Oakland Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and elsewhere, February 4, 1910. See also, “Sports Under the Microscope,” Oakland Tribune, January 5, 1910: 11.

60 “On the Diamond,” Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1910: 7.

61 See e.g., “Joe Nealon, Victim of Typhoid, Is Not Expected to Live,” Oakland Tribune, March 10, 1910: 12: “Joe Nealon Has Typhoid Fever,” Stockton Evening Mail, March 4, 1910: 4.

62 As reported in the (Portland) Oregon Journal, April 5, 1910: 16. Others extended their condolences included future Hall of Famer Jake Beckley, former Pirates teammate Lefty Leifield, Boston Red Sox manager Patsy Donovan, NY Giants outfielder Mike Donlin and his vaudeville performer wife Mabel Hite, and the Pittsburgh Knights of Columbus.

63 See e.g., “Joe Nealon, Former Major Leaguer, Dies,” Denver Post, April 3, 1910; 35; “Joe Nealon Is Dead After Short Illness,” Seattle Times, April 3, 1910: 24. See also “Sporting News Items,” (Cottonwood, Idaho) Camas Prairie Chronicle, April 8, 1910: 3.

Full Name

James Joseph Nealon


December 15, 1884 at San Francisco, CA (USA)


April 2, 1910 at San Francisco, CA (USA)

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