Pete Henning

This article was written by Rich Bogovich

Pete Henning (Bain Collection, Library of Congress)Who’d have thought that almost a decade after Pete Henning’s final major-league game he could run afoul of none other than Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis? What’s more, he was connected to an obscure aftereffect of the momentous 1919 Black Sox Scandal. Yet Henning didn’t even have American or National League experience; he peaked as a pitcher in the Federal League during 1914 and 1915.1

Ernest Herman Henning was born on December 28, 1887, in Crown Point, Indiana, to Fredrick and Wilhelmina (Boesel) Henning. Ernest was the fifth of six children and the only boy. Their parents were born in Pomerania, which currently is divided between Germany and Poland. On April 20, 1884, Fred and Wilhelmina arrived in Baltimore with three daughters plus several of Wilhelmina’s relatives.2

In the 1900 census the family was living within Crown Point’s city limits, though they farmed nearby before that.3 Ernest was 13 years old and attending school. However, none of the Hennings graduated from Crown Point High School.4 The Henning siblings remained closely knit, especially late in their lives.5

Crown Point is in the center of Lake County, which borders Chicago. By September of 1907 Henning was the local team’s regular pitcher, at the age of 19.6 On May 10, 1908, he and two teammates went to Chicago to study major leaguers during a doubleheader. They saw Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown win the opener for the Cubs, after which Vic Willis hurled a 1-0 complete game for the Pirates.7

The next month Henning struck out 17 batters from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, and later in June he pitched a game for those collegians. Numerous other teams in Chicago reportedly wanted him.8 Meanwhile, on July 26 Henning won a complete game of historical significance when an African-American team, the Chicago Union Giants, visited Crown Point. The score was 7-6.9

In 1909 Henning led Crown Point to a 19-2 record by late September.10 As a result, Jimmy Callahan of Chicago’s Logan Squares semipro team asked Henning to pitch for the team against the AL’s White Sox on October 18. “Henning, who is the soul of modesty, has accepted the offer, upon the advise [sic] of his many Crown Point admirers with the same unassuming fashion that has marked his successful career,” wrote the Lake County Times a bit wistfully. “Crown Point fandom views the situation in a peculiar manner for if Pete makes good he’s lost to the local team next year, for Jimmy Callahan isn’t letting any food on the baseball plate go back to the kitchen, but when all’s said and done, Crown Point is willing to lose Henning if in losing him he steps up another rung on the ladder of baseball fans.”11

The game was at Logan Square Park, and at least 80 fans from Crown Point watched as Henning limited the White Sox to two runs in a complete-game loss. He struck out six and scattered nine hits. The Times said Callahan tried to sign Henning afterward, at a salary of nearly $1,000.12

Henning did eventually sign in that range for 1910, and splurged on a motorcycle.13 He thus joined “one of the finest if not the premier semipro baseball team in the country,” as SABR member James Elfers wrote.14 Henning did so well early on that in mid-May the AL’s Philadelphia Athletics reportedly tried to purchase his contract.15 Around then he faced one of the other five teams in the City League, the Chicago Giants, which became a founding franchise of the Negro National League in 1920. Henning lost to Hall of Famer Joe Williams, 4-1, despite yielding just four hits. Two weeks later Henning outdueled their other ace, Walter Ball, 2-1. In late July Henning topped Williams, 1-0, and gave up only three hits.16

Henning’s most significant game for the Logan Squares outside the City League may have been early that summer when he led his team to an 8-2 win over the Cuban Stars.17 In early October the club finished its City League season with a record of 13-16 and a team batting average of just .236.18

Henning had actually been released by early September, apparently due to his displeasure with the offense. The Lake County Times wrote that he “made it very evident to the manager that there were other teams that he could play with, with the chance of getting better support.”19 Despite an earned-run average of 2.82, his record was 5-9. On Labor Day he was back pitching for Crown Point.20

Henning’s weekday job during 1910 was as a teamster at a brewery, according to that year’s census. He lived with his parents and two sisters. He remained with Crown Point’s team in 1911 and 1912, though he pitched for other teams on the side.21

In early 1911 Crown Point became a founding franchise of the Northern Indiana Baseball Association, which set the maximum pay for a pitcher at “$12.50 per game and a catcher $7 per game, and in no case shall the total payroll per game exceed $50.”22 When Crown Point’s equipment manager lost Henning’s wallet to a pickpocket in midseason, the $25 he was out thus corresponded to his pay for two games.23

Henning’s most significant game in 1911 was played on October 20. He started for Crown Point against the Chicago Cubs, NL champion a year earlier. Henning held them scoreless for the first three innings but Crown Point was blanked, 9-0.24

Henning continued as Crown Point’s ace in 1912, and in mid-August there was word Washington’s AL team offered him a contract.25 In late April of 1913 he pitched an exhibition game for Crown Point and then, seemingly out of the blue, on May 2 it was announced he would leave that day to join the Federal League’s Covington, Kentucky, team.26 Just like that, at the age of 25 he was a professional in a brand-new circuit that the next season declared itself a major league equal to the American and National Leagues.

Covington played in the very first Federal League game, on May 3 in Cleveland. Henning debuted the next day, late in a 4-1 loss before 1,894 fans.27 He next appeared in Covington’s second home game, on May 10 against St. Louis. The visitors had already scored 15 times by the time he pitched. Still, in his one at-bat he collected his first hit as a professional.28 Henning next closed out three victories for Covington from May 18 through 20. In the first of these, he entered in the fifth inning with his team trailing, but it scored seven unanswered runs to beat Chicago, 9-8. Henning thus earned his first win. The next day he pitched the final 1⅔ innings in a 7-4 contest against Cleveland. Two box scores showed that all five outs he recorded were strikeouts, and he yielded no hits, walks, or hit batsmen. A day later he pitched the ninth inning of a 6-5 win, and one account credited Henning with “saving the game for the locals.”29

Henning made his first start on May 24 in Indianapolis. He pitched a complete-game victory, 3-2. He scattered eight hits, two walks, and a hit batsman, and overcame errors by each of his middle infielders.30 On June 19 Henning set a Covington record with 10 strikeouts at home in an 11-2 win over St. Louis.31 He struck out nine batters in his next start, in Cleveland on June 26, on his way to a 6-1 victory. It turned out to be Covington’s finale, as the franchise was immediately transferred to Kansas City.32

The team happened to be on a long road trip, so its first game in Kansas City was played on July 12 against St Louis. After a parade from downtown to the ballpark and a ceremonial first pitch by the mayor, about 5,000 fans saw Henning strike out 11 batters and limit them to three hits on his way to a 3-1 victory.33

Additional highlights for Henning that season included 1-0 and 4-0 shutouts against Pittsburgh about two weeks apart in August and a three-hitter in early September that downed first-place Indianapolis, 4-1.34 Kansas City finished fifth in the six-team league, but Henning and Tom McGuire of Chicago led all pitchers with 18 wins.35 The league’s schedule concluded on September 14, so Henning was soon back home pitching for Indiana teams. Most notably, on October 18 he joined the Gary All Stars when they hosted the Chicago Cubs. Opposite pitcher Jim Lavender, a 10-game winner, Henning fared reasonably well in a 5-1 loss.36

Kansas City kept Henning as the Federal League transitioned from an independent minor league to an upstart major league for 1914. “Only a few players from the Federal League’s inaugural season would return a year later to make important contributions after the circuit declared itself a major,” wrote historian Robert Peyton Wiggins. He included Henning in a short list.37

Pete Henning made his major-league debut on April 17, 1914, as the starting pitcher in his team’s second game, hosting Chicago. The visitors scored once in the top of the ninth inning to make the score 3-3, and Henning continued to pitch. “Big Pete Henning, a stalwart athlete of muscular proportions and calm mind, was voted the hero because he withstood the attack of the Chicagoans for the entire afternoon and at the finish looked as if he were just getting warmed up to the fight,” wrote the Chicago Tribune. “He was wild, walking ten men, but he did all his great hurling when a few visitors were standing on the runway waiting for the punch to send them home.” The paper noted that “Henning himself scored the much sought run in the last of the thirteenth.”38

On April 21 Henning lost his second start, 6-2 at home to Indianapolis. A few days later he visited his hometown while Kansas City was in Chicago for a series. The Lake County Times said cold weather had hampered his pitching, but on April 26 he won the third game ever played at the ballpark now known as Wrigley Field. Three homers helped KC thump Chicago, 12-4. The Times grumbled that “the left field [wall] was too short and the ball awful rubbery.”39

In June the Times reported that despite such good outcomes, Henning had been “suffering with a ‘charley horse’ arm” since that 13-inning win in the cold weather on April 17. Federal League statistics printed on June 20 showed him with five wins and four losses in 14 games.40 He didn’t win another game that season but logged six more losses.

A week into July, Henning was again in Crown Point briefly due to another series in Chicago. His pitching arm was “still in bad condition and he is unable to pitch without experiencing severe pain,” according to the Lake County Times. “He is under constant care of the team’s trainer and hopes to be able to get into the game in the very near future.” It turned out that between June 20 and September 2 Henning pitched only twice, on July 28 and August 22. In September and October he had recovered enough to pitch in 11 games, four of them starts, including one complete game, but he couldn’t regain his early-season form. After the campaign ended the newspaper said a “‘charley horse’ arm” had indeed troubled him from start to finish.41 Henning concluded the 1914 season with an earned-run average of 4.83. Despite his idle stretches he tied for the fifth most starting assignments on his team, 14, seven of which he completed. Kansas City finished in sixth place.

Henning continued with the Kansas City Packers in 1915. Their first game of the regular season was at home on April 10, and he started their fourth home game, on April 13 against St. Louis. He pitched a complete game but lost, 3-0. His most effective stretch of the season was from late May through June 19, when he lowered his ERA from 4.91 to 1.90. That span included two extra-inning complete-game losses to Chicago.42

The first of those was particularly agonizing. It occurred in Chicago before 9,000 fans on May 31. In the second game of a doubleheader Henning had a no-hitter after seven innings but yielded a harmless single to Mordecai Brown in the eighth. With two outs in the ninth an error put a Chicago runner on second base, but it looked as if Henning would earn a one-hit shutout when he induced a high popup near home plate. Instead, third baseman George Perring made what a Chicago Tribune reporter called “a laughable muff” and the game was tied. Henning ultimately lost 2-1 in the 11th inning.43

On June 19 Henning rebounded in what may have been the high point of his career: In the first game of a doubleheader in Buffalo he hurled a four-hit shutout. The Kansas City Star summarized his performance in one of its subheads: “Henning Pitched Like an Old Master.”44 It was his only major-league shutout.

The Packers were in first place for most of June and no lower than second through August 12. After that they slid to a fourth-place finish. Emblematic of that were consecutive complete-game losses by Henning on August 18, 25, and 28 by scores of 3-2, 4-0, and 3-2, respectively. That kind of luck contributed to Henning’s losing 15 games and winning only nine. Nevertheless, his final ERA of 3.17 was still considerably better than his 4.83 mark in 1914. In the end, he started 20 games (with 15 complete games) and relieved in 20 others.45 His final major-league game was also the Packers’ last game ever. In St. Louis on October 3, he gave up four earned runs in a 6-2 complete-game loss.

As of this writing, baseball-reference.com has no 1916 line for Henning. However, for that season it has entries, without first names, for a “Hemming” with the Kansas City Blues of the American Association and a Henning with Topeka of the Western League plus a team in Iowa. The latter wasn’t Pete Henning (but rather a player whose first name was Oak).46 Pete Henning began 1916 with the Blues but by mid-May was incapacitated by a sore arm. Topeka purchased him on June 6 and he played in 37 games for them, with a record of 13-11. About a week into September, he was returned to the Blues and had a 1-0 record in four games.47

Henning was expected to continue with the Blues in 1917 but when he and two other players didn’t report in early April, they were suspended. Instead, he played for the Chicago City League team in nearby Hammond, Indiana. “Henning has a sliding scale starting at thirty dollars a game,” reported the Lake County Times. “If he wins his first game he gets forty the next, and so on to sixty dollars, maximum.” Before April was over, he proved his worth by hurling a no-hitter, and about two weeks later he struck out 19 batters to set a City League record.48 Such achievements led to a special game in Hammond on September 23, one of at least twice during his career that he was honored with a “Pete Henning Day.” Though his team didn’t generate enough offense, the Times noted that when he came to bat for the first time “the game was halted and he was presented with a beautiful basket of American beauties and a handsome Hamilton watch.”49

Henning rejoined the Blues for 1918. In a preseason game on April 3 he helped shut out the St. Louis Cardinals, and he also fared well against the White Sox on April 14. Early in the regular season, he pitched at home in long relief versus Minneapolis and won the game but before he saw additional action he was hospitalized in Minneapolis with smallpox.50 In June he was summoned by his hometown draft board for World War military service, and on September 3 he left for France, where his rank was corporal. By mid-May of 1919 Henning was pitching in Belgium and threw at least 34 consecutive scoreless innings.51

Henning returned to Crown Point on June 21 and pitched for various teams in the area. He was even named in an ad for a Chicago League game in July. By mid-August he returned to the Blues and promptly lost an extra-inning game in relief.52 As of this writing, team statistics for 1919 are incomplete, but Henning pitched in at least six more games for Kansas City and won two.

In 1920 Henning pitched only in some preseason games for the Blues, including a trouncing by Omaha on March 23. In late April he was sold after “a falling out with the Kansas City management,” according to an Omaha newspaper.53 He was acquired by his recent tormentor, Omaha, but refused to report.54 He joined a team back in Lake County.55

In March of 1921 The Sporting News announced that Charleston’s club in the South Atlantic (Sally) League had purchased Henning from Kansas City. He had apparently been on the suspended list all that time.56 This may have been what stuck in Landis’s craw. In any event, Henning started the regular season well with an 11-inning complete-game victory on April 28 at home versus Columbia. It turned out to be his last win as a professional minor leaguer, at the age of 33. He lost a 10-inning complete game on May 7, and in his final game, another start on May 14, he lasted only into the fourth inning as Charleston was shut out. At least he had the satisfaction of hitting a double in his final plate appearance. After that game all Sally League teams were required to reduce their rosters to 15 players, and Henning was one of the two cuts.57

For the remainder of the 1920s, Henning played on semipro teams in Indiana and nearby states. In 1922 he pitched for a South Bend club, and by mid-1923 it was supposedly paying him over $500 a month. In fact, when he soon switched to a team in Sturgis, Michigan, he was deemed “the highest priced pitcher in semi-pro ball” by one newspaper.58

On April 27, 1925, Henning pitched a game for South Bend, but five days later a daily paper in La Crosse, Wisconsin, announced that manager Sam Brenegan of their local team had signed Henning, a former teammate. On May 10 Henning debuted by hurling a three-hit shutout.59 Oddly, though, this wire-service story about Henning was published across the country the day before:

Dick Kerr, former Chicago White Sox pitching star, may play with the South Bend independent baseball club this year, pending his reinstatement, provided the team dismisses two other men, Baseball Commissioner K.M. Landis ruled today. Kerr had been playing outlaw baseball. Paul Castner, former Notre Dame athlete and for a time in the American League, and Pete Henning, former minor league hurler are the players who must be released by the independent club, Commissioner Landis ruled. Both are alleged to be ‘in bad’ with organized baseball.”60

Dickey Kerr was one of the stars of the 1919 White Sox who didn’t conspire with gamblers to throw that year’s World Series, but when he held out for a pay raise before the 1922 season, the White Sox stood firm. Kerr eventually received a “permanent” suspension from Landis, and by early 1925 was seeking to be reinstated.61 In fact, he had already pitched for South Bend on May 3.62 A different version of the announcement in the Indianapolis News on May 8 suggested that Castner was an “outlaw” for having “jumped major league ball rather than be farmed,” alluding to when the White Sox optioned him to Shreveport after the 1923 season. It wasn’t explained why Henning was also an “outlaw.”63

This was set in motion when the AL’s Washington Nationals agreed to play an exhibition in South Bend on May 7. On May 3 South Bend manager Louie Batchelor was to travel to Chicago “to get the final sanction of Judge Landis for the game,” wrote the South Bend Tribune, “and to assure the baseball commissioner the local club is not harboring any ineligibles.” A daily in Washington reported the outcome on the day of the game: “For a time there was some doubt as to whether the Nationals would be permitted to play an exhibition contest, as the eligibility under organized base ball rules of certain of the South Benders to face players in good standing with the major interests was questionable,” wrote the Evening Star. “Judge Landis, however, after an examination gave the semi-pro club a clean bill of health.”64

Though Kerr had already pitched for South Bend four days earlier, he “was compelled to sit in a box seat” during the Washington game, reported the South Bend News-Times on May 8 (the day before the nationwide wire-service article), because he was ruled ineligible for that particular contest. Batchelor was apparently going to have Henning or Castner start versus Washington but suddenly they were “on the black list,” the News-Times noted, and “due to the last minute announcement by Judge Landis the locals were forced to use a Washington hurler.” That was coach Al Schacht. Beyond that game, Landis would “not allow Kerr to play with any other ineligibles, which will force the locals to abandon the plan of keeping Castner and Henning.” This account, somewhat longer than the Indianapolis and wire-service ones, also didn’t identify Henning’s infraction.65

In any case, on May 15 Brenegan, the La Crosse manager, defended Henning fiercely in the La Crosse Tribune. That paper printed the wire-service announcement and clearly interviewed Brenegan about it. He implied that Batchelor engaged in some fabrication. “Manager Brenegan indignantly says that this is Manager Bachlor’s [sic] way of taking reprisal upon Henning for leaving the South Bend club,” wrote the Tribune. Brenegan said Batchelor considered Henning to be better than Kerr and thus the loss of Henning endangered even more Batchelor’s job, which he was only hanging onto “by a shoestring,” in Brenegan’s words.66

Regardless, news involving Castner the following month seemed to validate the original news item. The Tigers of Nappanee, Indiana, were to play at Fort Wayne around the first day of summer but one weekly reported that “Judge Landis, high commissioner of baseball ordered the game with Nappanee to be cancelled on account of Paul Castner, formerly with the Chicago White Sox, being a member of the Nappanee team.”67 On the other hand, if Henning’s activity was being monitored similarly, it’s strange that in October he managed to pitch in an exhibition game against an AL team. On October 13 he battled St. Louis Browns pitcher Dave Danforth to a 1-1 tie after nine innings, though he lost the game in the next frame.68

Henning continued to face African-American teams during the 1920s. Perhaps most notably, he pitched for La Crosse twice against Gilkerson’s Union Giants shortly before facing the Browns.69 When La Crosse signed Henning again for the following season, he received perhaps the longest and nicest tribute of his career. Roy Bangsberg of the Tribune expressed bewilderment about some fans questioning the decision and proceeded to summarize Henning’s impressive pitching and batting statistics. Bangsberg then focused on Henning’s character. “Henning is not of the excitable or emotional temperament which usually attracts attention, not a pitcher who throws his hat in the air upon the occasion of a hard-fought triumph, or one who flings his glove in the direction of the dugout and deliberately walks out when he is not going good,” he wrote. “He may be mild mannered, but [is] a true ‘war horse,’ a fighter every inch, an honest worker for himself and the club which pays him money.”70 

A quarter-century after his major-league debut, Pete Henning had one final time in the spotlight. He was highly sought after for a charitable old-timers game in Lake County to be played in mid-1939. He was a telephone lineman by then, and recruiters reportedly found him atop a 90-foot pole. “Well, it might sound foolish to you boys, but I think I can still throw my high, hard one down the middle, at least for a couple of innings,” Henning said. “Sure, I’ll be there.” In front of 2,000 fans on June 25, at the age of 51, Henning pitched the first two innings and set his squad up for a 5-3 victory.71

Tragically, Henning’s life was soon cut short. While he was pushing a stalled car on US Highway 30 in Lake County on November 4, another driver crashed into Henning and the first car. Both of his legs were broken and his abdomen crushed. He died in transit to a Hammond hospital. He was survived by four sisters but coverage of his death made no mention of a widow or deceased wife, or any children.72 Pete Henning may have left professional baseball as an outlaw, but he passed away as one of the good guys.

Sources

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

 

Notes

1 All told, 286 men played in at least one Federal League game those seasons. Henning is among the 89 who didn’t also play in the American or National League. See Emil H. Rothe, “Was the Federal League a Major League?” Baseball Research Journal 10 (1981): 5.

2 Ernest’s date of birth and birthplace are from his military draft registration card dated June 5, 1917. The spellings of his parents’ first names are from their shared gravestone, viewable via findagrave.com. Her father was listed as part of the Henning household in the 1900 census and that provided her maiden name (albeit misspelled there). The family’s 1920 census entry identifies Pomerania as the birthplace of Ernest’s parents.

3 “Crown Point,” Lake County Times (Hammond, Indiana), July 19, 1928: 17. The 1900 census listed Fred’s job as day laborer, while in the 1910 census he was a section laborer for a railroad. Crown Point’s population at the turn of the century was 2,336, according to stats.indiana.edu/population/PopTotals/historic_counts_cities.asp.

4 Crown Point High School’s 1916 yearbook, The Oracle, listed all graduates by graduating class going back to 1883, and the only Henning included was a boy named Fred in 1913.

5 The 1900, 1910, and 1930 censuses for Chicago and Crown Point showed Henning siblings living with one another or back home with Pete and their mother. In 1935 Pete traveled to Milwaukee with three of his sisters, according to “Crown Point,” Hammond Times, November 5, 1935: 8.

6 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, September 23, 1907: 6. Crown Point won 9-8 against a team from Lowell, Indiana, a few miles to the southeast. Another early mention in his county’s newspaper came about two weeks later, though it was because he sprained his wrist during a practice and couldn’t pitch against the Kenwood team from Chicago. See “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, October 7, 1907: 6. Without Henning the Crown Point squad still beat the Kenwood nine, 19-6.

7 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, May 11, 1908: 6. For details about the games, see baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN190805101.shtml. For one example of the Kindbergs appearing in a Crown Point lineup, see “Lots of Fans Expected,” Lake County Times, July 11, 1908: 3.

8 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, June 20, 1908: 6. See also “County Seat Team Loses,” Lake County Times, June 8, 1908: 3. This was the original account of his 17-strikeout performance but it didn’t note the total. However, it did describe how he lost 1-0 due to teammates’ errors. During Henning’s several seasons with the Crown Point team it generally didn’t have a name, at least not reported in newspapers, but during 1908 it was sometimes called the Bridgeport or Bridge nine, as was the case in the June 20 article. In September Henning pitched for another Indiana team, in nearby Griffith, according to “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, September 21, 1908: 6.

9 “Crown Point Wins,” Lake County Times, July 27, 1908: 3. The paper’s brief coverage named no other players. It called them by their original name, the Unions; for another instance around then, see “Sporting Editor’s Notes,” Fort Wayne (Indiana) Journal-Gazette, July 22, 1908: 2. On October 15, 1911, Henning hurled Crown Point to a 7-2 victory over the Union Giants. He struck out 11 and had two of his team’s five hits off Hub Alexander. A crowd of about 700 fans saw Henning and a teammate receive gold watches from appreciative fans before the ninth inning. See “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, October 16, 1911: 6, and “Crown Point, 7; Union Giants, 2,” same day, 3. On September 28, 1913, Henning faced them again. He struck out 14 Giants and held them to five hits. Crown Point won, 8-2. The opposing pitcher was named Crawford, quite possibly Sam Crawford, one of the original Kansas City Monarchs in 1920. See “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, September 29, 1913: 6. The visitors were actually called “Peters’ Chicago Giants,” referring to owner W.S. Peters. See also “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, September 25, 1913: 6.

10 “Crown Point Team Wins Its Nineteenth Game,” Lake County Times, September 27, 1909: 3. On page 7, under “News of the County Seat,” it stated that the team’s record was 19-2.

11 “News of the County Seat,” Lake County Times, October 12, 1909: 6. “News of the County Seat,” Lake County Times, October 16, 1909: 6.

12 “News of the County Seat,” Lake County Times, October 18, 1909: 6. This long summary said Henning struck out seven White Sox and yielded five hits, but the Tribune box score showed Callahan’s team as the one having only five safeties, while stating that Henning had six strikeouts. “Sox Victors in the Ninth,” Chicago Tribune, October 18, 1909: 11. See also “News of the County Seat,” Lake County Times, October 19, 1909: 6.

13 “News of the County Seat,” Lake County Times, January 7, 1910: 6. “News of the County Seat,” Lake County Times, March 14, 1910: 6.

14 Callahan, who was between stints with the White Sox, had been instrumental in reviving the Chicago City League of the late nineteenth century. “The Chicago City League became a model for urban competition throughout the country,” wrote SABR member Brian McKenna in an article about the Logan Squares. “Organized-baseball officials on the other hand weren’t as enthusiastic. They referred to Callahan as the ‘Anarchist of Baseball.’” See sabr.org/bioproj/topic/logan-squares and James Elfers’ biography of James “Nixey” Callahan at sabr.org/bioproj/person/ee2e44fa. For more on the original and second Chicago City Leagues, see encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/114.html and https://baseballhistorydaily.com/tag/chicago-city-league/.

15 “Crown Pt. Boy Gets Big League Offer,” Lake County Times, May 19, 1910: 7.

16 “Chicago Giants Keep Top Place,” Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1910: 12. “Logan Squares, 2; Chicago Giants, 1,” Chicago Tribune, May 31, 1910: 15. “Upsets Plentiful in Chicago League,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), July 31, 1910: Sports section, 4. In mid-1917 Henning played for a Hammond team against the Chicago Giants, though not as their pitcher because he was scheduled for that duty the next day. See “Saturday’s Game,” Lake County Times, June 25, 1917: 3. He faced them again a few years later with a Gary team; see “Chicago Giants Win,” Chicago Defender, May 29, 1920: 9.

17 “Manager Ed Hahn Wins for Red Sox,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), June 26, 1910: Sports section, 2. The game’s box score excluded Cuban pitcher José Méndez, who is enshrined in Cooperstown. Henning faced the Cuban Stars more than a decade later. See “Pyotts Eclipse Cuban Stars, 9-1,” Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1921: 19.

18 “West Ends Win in City League Race,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), October 3, 1910: 4. See also Brian McKenna, sabr.org/bioproj/topic/logan-squares.

19 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, September 3, 1910: 6.

20 Scott Simkus, Outsider Baseball: The Weird World of Hardball on the Fringe, 1876-1950 (Chicago: Chicago Press Review, 2014), 93. “Crown Pt. Defeats Gary by Score 10-3,” Lake County Times, September 6, 1910: 8. Simkus provided stats, which he called “near-complete pitching records,” for six Chicago City League pitchers plus Rube Foster. In addition to an ERA under 3.00, in 130⅔ innings Henning gave up 99 hits and 24 walks and struck out 67. On page 95 Simkus described Henning’s late-July shutout at length.

21 For example, by mid-April of 1912 Henning had started working for the American Bridge Company in Gary. Not surprisingly, he was expected to pitch for the company’s baseball team on Saturdays, possibly hindering duty for his hometown team. See “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, April 11, 1912: 6.

22 “Semi-Pro Ball in Region More Popular Than Ever,” Lake County Times, January 23, 1911: 3. The semipro Northern Indiana Baseball Association often appeared in standings as the Northern Indiana Baseball League, which risked greater confusion with the Northern State of Indiana League, a Class-D professional minor league. The Class-D minor-league franchises in northern Indiana at the time were all to the east of Lake County, according to baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Northern_State_of_Indiana_League.

23 “Baseball Magnate Loses His Wad,” Lake County Times, August 9, 1911: 1. Otherwise, there was plenty of good for Henning in 1911. As examples, in May he hurled a one-hitter in a league game against Indiana Harbor, according to “Crown Point, 3; Indiana Harbor, 0,” Chicago Tribune, May 22, 1911: 14. In late August he did it all for a team clear across the state, in Winamac: He struck out 18 on his way to a shutout, while at the plate he had a homer, a triple, and two doubles. See “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, August 28, 1911: 6. Henning’s quasi-cycle in late August hinted at why he regularly started at second base for Crown Point when he wasn’t scheduled to pitch. In fact, one instance was reported on page 3 of the August 28 edition, under the headline, “Whiting Protests Hub Game.” A week into October, Crown Point won its league’s pennant, for which players each received a big bouquet of flowers from female fans and a bunch of cigars. See “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, October 9, 1911: 6. On page 3 of the October 12 edition, the paper published a team photo with a caption that not only identified everyone in it but listed the outcome of all Crown Point’s league games.

24 “Cubs ‘Come Back’ Against Crown Point,” Lake County Times, October 21, 1911: 3. On page 6 was a play-by-play report under “Crown Point News.”

25 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, August 13, 1912: 6.

26 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, April 28, 1913: 6. “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, May 2, 1913: 6. Despite this news of his departure, on page 5 of the next day’s edition was the headline “Henning to Pitch for Locals,” under which it was projected that he would pitch for Hammond against the American Giants the next day.

27 “Federal Leaguers Open in Cleveland,” Pittsburgh Sunday Post, May 4, 1913: Sports, 3. The Covington team was called the Colonels instead of the Blue Sox. “New Park Will Be Ready for Opener,” Kentucky Post (Covington), May 5, 1913: 3. This paper’s box score indicates that Henning retired just one batter, by strikeout, but other box scores indicate that he pitched 1⅔ innings. For example, the box score accompanying the account by Gordon Mackay, “Miller Hurls Cleveland to Federal Victory over Covington Team,” Cleveland Leader, May 5, 1913: 10.

28 “O’Connor’s Men Beat Covington in Swatfest, 16-7,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 11, 1913: Sports, 1. See also “Henning Makes Good with Federals,” May 12, 1913: 3. The latter provided the detail that St. Louis had four hits off him. Oddly, that hometown paper referred to him as “the old White Sox discard” though they were apparently borrowing from a wire-service account.

29 “Rally Beats Chicago ‘Feds,’” Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1913: 17. “Covington Feds Trim Cleveland,” Cleveland Leader, May 20, 1913: 9. “Cleveland Is Defeated,” Pittsburgh Post, May 20, 1913: Sports, 2. “Cleveland Loses Out,” Pittsburgh Post, May 21, 1913: Sports, 3.

30 “Covington Federal Win,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), May 25, 1913: Sports, 2. Henning’s catcher was Pop Hicks, who also caught his record-setting start on June 19 and his impressive first start in Kansas City. As of this writing Hicks is not on the franchise’s baseball-reference.com roster, but four separate baseball-reference.com listings for “Hicks” without first names are all in fact Dennis J. “Pop” Hicks. In 1912 he played for the Cincinnati Pippins in the short-lived United States League and then for Paris of the Blue Grass League. In 1911 he had the highest batting average in the Mountain States League with Huntington, West Virginia. These sources connect the dots relating to this important figure in Henning’s first professional season: “Covington Team,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 26, 1913: 9. “Local Baseball Gossip,” Cincinnati Enquirer, January 16, 1916: 23. “Paris Takes Fast Game from Richmond,” Bourbon News (Paris, Kentucky), June 25, 1912: 4. “Notes,” Bourbon News, July 30, 1912: 4. He is also presumably the “J. Hicks” on a rare 1910 baseball card viewable at metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/434723. (Conversely, baseball-reference.com incorrectly implies he is also the outfielder “D. J. Hicks” with Bristol in the Appalachian League in 1912 and 1913. The Hicks commonly in Bristol box scores was “Hicks” Hickman from Johnson City, Tennessee; see “Only One Year in Minors,” Cincinnati Enquirer, May 19, 1913: 6. From the 1910 census, this other “D.J. Hicks” was David J. Hickman Jr.)

31 “St. Louis Is Defeated,” Pittsburgh Post, June 20, 1913: Sports, 2. This game is mentioned about 31 minutes into the 2014 documentary by Cam Miller, Our True Blues: The Story of the Covington Blue Sox, accessible at youtube.com/watch?v=xOOkF-uZ9Mo.

32 “Covington, 6; Cleveland, 1,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), June 27, 1913: Sports, 2. See also the concluding sentences by Luke Groeschen, “Professional Baseball in Covington: They Built It but They Did Not Come,” November 12, 2013, at kentonlibrary.org/2013/professional-baseball-in-covington-they-built-it-but-they-did-not-come.

33 “Couldn’t Hit Henning,” Kansas City Star, July 13, 1913: 8A. This game is featured in two books by the same author: Robert Peyton Wiggins, The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs: The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2009), 18, and The Deacon and the Schoolmaster: Phillippe and Leever, Pittsburgh’s Great Turn-of-the-Century Pitchers (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2011), 248. Sam Leever had been Henning’s manager up to that point of the season, and remained in that role for one more month.

34 “Double Defeat Dealt to Fils,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 4, 1913: Sports, 1. “Filipinos Divide Honors with Kansas City at Exhibition Park,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 20, 1913: Sports, 2. “Henning Pitched in Form,” Kansas City Times, September 4, 1913: 6.

35 John Thorn and Pete Palmer, eds., Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball (New York: Warner Books, 1989), 577.

36 “Gary Feeds Cubs, Then Loses Game,” Chicago Sunday Tribune, October 19, 1913: Sports, 1. Confirmation that it was indeed Pete Henning was provided in “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, October 20, 1913: 6. “Cubs Take Gary Team Into Camp” on page 8 of that edition reported the score as 4-1.

37 Wiggins, The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs: The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915, 20. “Among that number were Elmer Knetzer, Jack Tobin, Pete Henning and George Kaiserling,” he continued. Knetzer and Kaiserling were also pitchers, with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, respectively. Tobin was an outfielder for St. Louis.

38 “Wild Pitch Beats Tinker’s Team, 4-3 in 13th Session,” Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1914: 15. See also baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCF/KCF191404170.shtml. According to the Cincinnati Reds 2017 Media Guide, 150, three other pitchers made their major-league debuts that same day: Red Faber of the White Sox, Erv Kantlehner of the Pirates, and Ed Porray of the Federal League’s Buffalo team. More than a century passed until another four pitchers made their major-league baseball debuts on the same day. On July 1, 2017, Jackson Stephens of the Reds, Luke Farrell of the Royals, Félix Jorge of the Twins, and Paul Blackburn of the Athletics shared that milestone.

39 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, April 25, 1914: 6. “Circuit Smashes Help Kansas City Beat Chifeds, 12-4,” Lake County Times, April 27, 1914: 3.

40 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, June 9, 1914: 6. “Pitching Averages,” New St. Louis Star, June 20, 1914: 6. At the time of this writing, Henning’s 1914 Pitching Game Log at baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=hennipe01&t=p&year=1914 showed his record as 6-6 after 14 games, not 5-4. It also showed his record at the end of the season as 6-12 with a save. However, on his main baseball-reference.com page his record was shown as 5-10 with two saves. For an insightful discussion about such discrepancies, see Emmet R. Nowlin’s SABR biography of another 1914 Federal League pitcher, Henry Keupper, at sabr.org/bioproj/person/19cb9396, including under its Notes, at number 18.

41 “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, July 8, 1914: 6. “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, October 13, 1914: 6.

42 See baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=hennipe01&t=p&year=1915.

43 J.J. Alcock, “One to Kawfeds, Other to Locals,” Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1915: 2, 1.

44 “Split Two by Same Score,” Kansas City Star, June 20, 1915: 12A.

45 For a chart showing the team’s position in the standings at weekly intervals, see “The Route the Packers Traveled,” Kansas City Star, October 3, 1915: 13. Additional positives for Henning that season, as determined by baseball-reference.com, included that among Federal League pitchers he had the fourth best fielding percentage (.989) and range factor per nine innings.

46 “Through the Periscope,” Evansville (Indiana) Journal-News, June 4, 1916: 7.

47 “Rain Halted Twin Bill,” Kansas City Times, May 15, 1916: 10. “Savage Lands Three Players,” Topeka State Journal, June 6, 1916: 8. “Postscript,” Topeka State Journal, September, 1916: 1.

48 “Cubs Play Here Today,” Kansas City Times, April 4, 1917: 8. “All Set for Big Opener!” Lake County Times, April 18, 1917: 8. “Hammond’s Pitcher Shuts Out Murleys Without a Hit, 7 to 0,” Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1917: 13. (“Eleven visitors perished by the strikeout route,” the Tribune wrote. “Only three Murley players reached first, two on errors and one on a walk.”) “Henning Whiffs 19, Hammond Winning from Stahls, 5 to 1,” Chicago Tribune, May 14, 1917: 21.

49 Jingoe [sic], “Sporting Column: Lost First Game to S. Chicago,” Lake County Times, September 24, 1917: 6. Another “Pete Henning Day” was celebrated on June 3, 1923. See “Pete Henning Day at Turner Field on Sunday,” Lake County Times, June 2, 1923: 10.

50 “Blues Beat Cards Again,” Kansas City Star, April 4, 1918: 8. “White Sox Back in Chicago for Opening Battle,” Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), April 15, 1918: 7. “Millers and Kaws Even Up Series,” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, May 3, 1918: 16. “Crown Point News,” Lake County Times, May 18, 1918: 12. As of this writing his baseball-reference.com entry for 1918 shows him having pitched 6 innings but the Minneapolis paper’s box score specified 6⅓.

51 “Called by the Crown Point Board,” Lake County Times, June 11, 1918: 8. “Where They Are,” Lake County Times, September 7, 1818: 4. “From Clarence Crawford,” Lake County Times, October 17, 1918: 7. “Slab King Shooting Them Over,” Lake County Times, May 16, 1919: 9. See also “Heard from Our Soldiers and Sailors,” Lake County Times, November 7, 1918: 4. By mid-1917, when he filled out a military draft registration card, Henning was living 151 N. Ridge Street in Crown Point, which is where he resided for the remainder of his life.

52 Lake County Times, July 17, 1919: 12. “Lost to Iron Men in 10th,” Kansas City Star, August 17, 1919: 14A.

53 “All the Blame to Henning,” Kansas City Star, March 24, 1920: 14. “Rourke Buys Pitcher and Outfielder,” Omaha Daily Bee, April 29, 1920: 16. His beef with Kansas City might have stemmed largely from lack of use.

54 “Notes of the Game,” Joplin (Missouri) Globe, April 30, 1920: 8. See also “Pa Rourke in Kansas City Searching for a Pitcher,” Omaha Daily Bee, May 25, 1920: 5.

55 “Pete Henning and Harry Moll Now with Gary,” The Times (Munster, Indiana), May 1, 1920: 5.

56 “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, March 10, 1921: 6.

57 “Pals Beat Comers and Fans Win that Trophy,” Charleston (South Carolina) Evening Post, April 29, 1921: 3. “Pals to Play Tyger Line-up,” Charleston Evening Post, May 16, 1921: 3. See also “15 Players on Local Squad” on the same page.

58 “Coterie of Ex-Leaguers with S. Bend,” Huntington (Indiana) Herald, June 14, 1923: 2. “Baseball Fans and Idle Hour Guests to Hear Band Concerts; Indians and Park Owner Boosts Series Project,” Huntington (Indiana) Press, July 18, 1923: 6. The Herald cited South Bend manager Louie Batchelor as its source about how much Henning cost the All-Professionals.

59 “Local Semi-Pros Defeat Whiting Owls, Score 9-3,” South Bend (Indiana) Tribune, April 27, 1925: 18. “La Crosse Boosters Sign New Pitcher and Outfielder,” La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune and Leader-Press, May 1, 1925: 12. “Boosters Smother Blair Aggregation in Opening Tilt,” La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, May 11, 1925: 7. The opposing pitcher was a spitballer named Art Johnson but Blair’s pitcher was originally expected to be the infamous Swede Risberg, according to “La Crosse Boosters Clash With Blair In Opener Today,” La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, May 10, 1925: 15.

60 “Kerr May Get to Play with South Bend Nine,” Des Moines Register, May 9, 1925: 9. In this paper the story was credited to the Associated Press, and the dateline was May 8. Other examples of the identical wording include “Wild Heaves and Such, Salt Lake Tribune, May 9, 1925: 12; “Kerr and Landis Come to Terms,” Denver Post, May 9, 1925: 11; and “Kerr Can Stay if Team Releases Two,” Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), May 9, 1925: 8.

61 See Kerr’s SABR biography, by Adrian Marcewicz, at sabr.org/bioproj/person/e144a288.

62 “Woodhouse and Dicky Kerr Hook Up in Sunday Tilt,” Daily Gazette (Sterling, Illinois), May 4, 1925: 10. Interestingly, Sterling’s American Legion team was convinced it had Kerr under contract and not South Bend.

63 “Let Castner and Henning Go to Retain Dick Kerr,” Indianapolis News, May 8, 1925: 34. See also Castner’s SABR biography, by Bill Lamb, at sabr.org/bioproj/person/5f9d1039.

64 “Kerr Will Hurl Against Strong Kalamazoo Team,” South Bend Tribune, May 3, 1925: 13. “Griffmen Have Exhibition Tilt with South Bend Outfit Today,” Washington Evening Star, May 7, 1925: 30.

65 “Landis Will Not Allow Local Nine to Use ‘Outlaws,’” South Bend News-Times, May 8, 1925: 2. The box score a few columns to the left of this article indicated that it was Schacht who was the starting pitcher for South Bend. Thanks to Kevin Wadzinski of the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend for retrieving this article.

66 “Indiana Manager Only Sore Because Henning Came Here,” La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, May 15, 1925: 10.

67 “Nappanee News,” Bremen (Indiana) Enquirer, June 18, 1925: 2. This weekly drew from the Nappanee Advance-News.

68 “Browns Win in Tenth at La Crosse, 3 to 1,” Milwaukee Journal, October 14, 1925: 33. This impressive outing against a major-league squad was a fitting conclusion to Henning’s 1925 season. His record for the Boosters that season was 27-11 and he completed 36 games out of 41 in which he pitched. He played in 50 games total and batted .339. See “Orwoll Tops Batters and Fitzke Pitchers,” La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, October 18, 1925: 15.

69 “Boosters and Giants Divide Slugging Bees Sunday, “La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, October 5, 1925: 10. “Boosters Cop from Giants at Gays Mills, 7-2,” La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, October 8, 1925: 8. In 1927 he also pitched for South Bend against the little-known Argos Athletics, who had previously been the South Bend Colored Giants. See “Base Ball,” Argos (Indiana) Reflector, August 11, 1927: 1. Henning had an 11-game winning streak prior to that game, according to “Base Ball,” Argos Reflector, August 4, 1927: 1. (The Argos team’s previous identity as the South Bend Colored Giants was mentioned in “Base Ball,” Argos Reflector, September 1, 1927: 1.)

70 R.L. Bangsberg, “Sport Mirror,” La Crosse Tribune and Leader Press, March 21, 1926: 16.

71 “Pete Henning to Hurl for Old Time Stars on June 25,” Hammond (Indiana) Times, June 15, 1939: 13. “Old Timers Win, 5-3 in Benefit Tilt,” Hammond Times, June 26, 1939: 9.

72 “Henning, Ex-Baseball Star, Killed,” Hammond Times, November 5, 1939: 1. “Pete Henning Crash Victim,” Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Indiana), November 6, 1939: 7.  Henning was always shown as single in federal censuses.

Full Name

Ernest Herman Henning

Born

December 28, 1887 at Crown Point, IN (USA)

Died

November 4, 1939 at Dyer, IN (USA)

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