Louis Pelouze (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)

Louis Pelouze

This article was written by Paul Winter

Louis Pelouze (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)Louis Pelouze, a semipro baseball player in Detroit, had had only 20 games of professional experience in the summer of 1885 playing for the London (Ontario) club in the Canadian League, when on July 24, 1886, the St. Louis Maroons of the National League called on the 22-year-old to play center field against the Detroit Wolverines. He replaced Joe Quinn, who’d injured his knee the day before sliding into second base.1 According to the Detroit Free Press, Pelouze played “exceedingly well, capturing three difficult flies” and retiring the side in the third inning.2 However, in the first inning, Pelouze misjudged a fly ball by Hardy Richardson. He recovered in time to get a hand on it and stop it, but the result was a triple for Richardson, who then scored Detroit’s first run later in the inning. He was not at all successful at the plate, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He did advance baserunner Patsy Cahill from second to third with a groundout in the fifth. Cahill subsequently scored the Maroons second run of the inning when third baseman Deacon White threw high to Dan Brouthers at first base on a grounder by Maroons pitcher John Kirby.

The Maroons lost, 7-2, as they failed to do anything in any other inning of the game. Losing was not unusual for the Maroons. They won barely one-third of their games, finishing the season (their last in St. Louis) at 43-79 for a .352 winning percentage.

The outing on July 24 was Pelouze’s only appearance in the majors and his last known professional game. As it stands, research has not yet revealed more detail on how the Maroons came to use him rather than a player already on their roster — nor do we know why he was simply a stopgap. The Sporting Life (the leading baseball newspaper of the day) sheds no light on the matter. Any subsequent reminiscences by Pelouze himself, if indeed they exist, have not surfaced. After the game in Detroit on July 24, the Maroons did not play again until July 28 in New York. Jack McGeachey, who had been released by Detroit in early July, played center field for St. Louis that day and regularly for the rest of the season. Quinn shifted to second base on his return to the lineup in early August, replacing Fred Dunlap, who was sold to Detroit.

Louis Henri Pelouze III was well known in Detroit, but not just for his days as a ballplayer. He was born September 10, 1863, in Virginia, one of five children of Ellen Doolittle (1837-1916) and Louis Henri Pelouze II (1831-1878). Louis Henri Pelouze II was an 1853 graduate of West Point and subsequently served in the Seminole Indian Wars in Florida and along the frontier in Kansas before being commissioned as a Captain in the 15th United States Infantry in May 1861.3 He served under General John Dix and then under General James Shields in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was a major with the II Corps of the Army of Virginia when he was wounded in battle at Cedar Mountain in August 1862. After he recovered, he served in various posts in and around Washington DC. He was brevetted as Lieutenant Colonel for his gallantry at Cedar Mountain, and in March 1865 received brevets of Colonel and Brigadier General for services in the field and in the adjutant-general’s department. Just over one month later, General Pelouze was present at the deathbed of Abraham Lincoln and escorted the body back to the White House. He was still serving as an Assistant Adjutant General in the War Department in Washington when he died in 1878. Young Louis III was just 13 at the time of his father’s death.

The Pelouze family was also well-known in the type foundry industry4 in the late 19th century. Louis’s great-grandfather, Edmund, was born in Martinique, the son of a French ship captain. Edmund became a doctor and moved to the United States, where he married Sarah DeJean. Edmund and Sarah had four children. Two of their sons started type foundries, while a daughter married another gentleman in the business. Louis’s grandfather founded the Lewis Pelouze foundry in Philadelphia.5 (For some reason, presently unknown, his grandfather’s given name is consistently spelled “Lewis” in the available records.)

Louis III and his two younger brothers (William and Frederick) all attended the Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake Village, Michigan (now a northern suburb of Detroit). William moved to Chicago, where he married Helen Thompson, daughter of Chicago real estate mogul William H. Thompson and sister to future (corrupt) Chicago mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson.6 While William was becoming entrenched at the top of Chicago society, Louis III settled in Detroit. In the early 1880s, he worked as a clerk for the IRS until he was dismissed in 1884 to open a job for “an ambitious colored politician” in a move that was “regarded about town as an outrage on the living and an act of infamous ingratitude to the dead.”7 He was active in the Detroit Light Infantry (an early version of the National Guard in Michigan), 8 and played semipro baseball with the Cass Club, one of the oldest teams in Detroit, through most of the 1880s. His teammates in 1884 included Al Buckenberger and Charles Campau. Buckenberger would go on to manage for nine years in the majors. Campau played parts of three seasons in the majors with Detroit, St. Louis and Washington. The 1884 team was considered the best Cass club of the decade, winning 38 games while losing only 8.9 Pelouze’s amateur career in Detroit lasted into 1890, when he was playing for the Detroit Athletic Club.

By December of 1890, Louis and brother William were playing indoor baseball with the Marquette Club in Chicago, William at third and Louis pitching.10 On August 17, 1891, Pelouze married Helen Ward, daughter of David Ward, the richest man in Detroit. At the time of his wedding, he was living in Chicago working as a jeweler.11 In 1894, Louis and William founded a successful company manufacturing postal scales, which morphed into the Pelouze Maufacturing Company.12 Their youngest brother Frederick also spent time working at the company.

Louis and Helen next moved to Boston, where their daughter Lucille was born in December 1898. They eventually moved to New York, where they lived in an apartment at 55 East 58th Street. Louis served in World War I as a Colonel.13 By the 1930 census, Louis and Helen were living on Park Avenue.

In 1913, Helen made the newspapers after she was fined for smuggling more than $1,000 worth of furs, apparel, and jewelry from Europe. In levying the fine, the judge noted that “the offender paid her fine and then entered her automobile and motored uptown laughing at the Government and the court.” He then warned that in the future such women would face stricter sentences, including prison time.14 Pelouze was a diamond dealer in New York, but some of the articles about this case indicated he was an electrical engineer.

Helen Ward Pelouze died in 1933. Louis Pelouze died in January 1939 at the age of 75. He is buried in Kensico Cemetery in Westchester County, New York.

 

Acknowledgments

This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb, Rory Costello, and Norman Macht and fact-checked by Chris Rainey.

 

Sources

General references consulted for this biography included box scores for games around July 24, 1886 as accessed through Newspapers.com and Geneology.com. US Census data was accessed through Geneology.com and Ancestry.com. Other family information was found at FindaGrave.com. Stats and records were collected from Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted. Wikipedia helped fill in details on the type foundry industry.

 

Notes

1 “Gossip of the Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 1886: 5. Quinn missed ten games total, returning to the lineup against Washington on August 7, the same day the Maroons sold Fred Dunlap to Detroit and Henry Lucas declared he was giving up on the club.

2 “Well Played, Well Won,” Detroit Free Press, July 25, 1886: 4, and “A Fitting Farewell,” Detroit Free Press, July 26, 1886: 5.

3 Articles from the time of the Lincoln assassination place General Pelouze at the house where Lincoln died and confirm that he escorted the body to the White House. For more on his military record, go to the Arlington National Cemetery website: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/pelouze.htm.

4 A type foundry designs and manufactures typefaces. In the nineteenth century, these businesses would create metal or wooden typefaces used in letter press printers, for printing newspapers for example.

5 Much more information about the Pelouze family’s connection to the type foundry business can be found at https://www.circuitousroot.com/artifice/letters/press/noncomptype/typography/atf/history-early/index.html.

6 The Made in Chicago Museum has a blog entry about the Pelouze Scale and Manufacturing Company: https://www.madeinchicagomuseum.com/single-post/pelouze/.

7 “A Shame and a Disgrace,” Detroit Free Press, August 14, 1884: 3. This incident so upset some people that the Detroit Free Press printed a comment upon it again more than six months later: “Civil Service Reformer Stone,” Detroit Free Press, March 14, 1885: 9.

8 “Light Infantry Appointments,” Detroit Free Press, January 3, 1884: 7

9 “Fun for Ball Players. Amusing Incidents in the Career of the Cass Club,” Detroit Free Press, February 10, 1889: 19.

10 “Indoor Baseball,” Chicago Inter Ocean, December 6, 1890: 2. The pair appear in multiple box scores during the winter of 1890-1891.

11 “Pelouze-Ward,” Chicago Inter Ocean, August 15, 1891: 7.

12 May 1997 report for the SABR Biographical Research Committee.

13 https://www.thedeadballera.com/ThoseWhoServed_WW1.html.

14 “Court Threatens to Jail Women for Smuggling,” (New York) Evening News, November 25, 1913: 1. Other New York City papers also covered the story.

Full Name

Louis Henri Pelouze

Born

September 10, 1863 at Fort Monroe, VA (USA)

Died

January 9, 1939 at New York, NY (USA)

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