This article was written by Dale Voiss
He was a hero in his hometown of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. He was revered in Pittsburgh and admired nationwide. He was considered by many to be the game’s best pitcher in 1895. His roots went back to the nation’s earliest days as it was his ancestor, Major Joseph Hawley, who ordered the Boston Tea Party. His name was Pink Hawley.
He was born Emerson Pink Hawley on December 5, 1872, in Beaver Dam to Francis and Cornelia (Davis) Hawley. Beaver Dam is a small town which lies about 65 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Emerson was born one of two twins, the other being named Elmer. People had trouble telling the twins apart so the nurse who assisted in their birth pinned a blue ribbon to one and a pink one to the other. This resulted in Emerson being given the middle name Pink, and the brothers were known thereafter as Pink and Blue.
The Hawley boys grew up in Beaver Dam where Pink attended the Wayland Academy. The Wayland Academy is a private school located in Beaver Dam. The Hawley twins had an older brother, Fred, and the three of them became legends in Beaver Dam baseball. Pink was the pitcher, Blue the catcher and Fred the first baseman. The twins were known as the Pink and Blue battery and both appeared to have bright futures as Blue was every bit as talented as his twin. But Blue’s life was cut short by pneumonia in 1891.
In 1892, over the objections of his father, Pink’s desire to play baseball led him to pay his own way to the training camp of the Chicago White Sox. Sox manager Cap Anson was quite impressed with the 19-year-old right-hander but couldn’t find room for him on his roster. This discouraged Hawley to the point where he was ready to pack it in and head home. But fate intervened. Anson was talking with the Fort Smith Maroons. The Maroons were a semi-professional team located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The Maroons told Anson they needed pitching and Anson immediately recommended Hawley.
Pink headed to Fort Smith where he helped build the ballpark, organize a team and pitch, as well. Among the games he pitched for the Maroons was a 1-0 loss to Krebs, Oklahoma. In this game he struck out at least 22 batters but lost the game on a scratch hit, a passed ball and an error. The winning pitcher for Krebs that day was future Hall of Famer “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity.
In August of that year Pink reported to the St. Louis Browns of the American Association where he made his major league debut on August 13. The Browns at the time were owned by the colorful Chris Von der Ahe with whom Hawley developed a close relationship. He pitched 20 games for the Browns that year going 6-14 with a team leading ERA of 3.19. He also spent the 1893 and 1894 seasons with the Browns.
In 1893 Pink began a string of eight consecutive years of hitting 20 or more batters with pitches. Through the 2013 season Hawley is third all-time with 210 hit batsmen in his career and he has the three highest single-season HBP totals in Pirate history. In that season Hawley pitched in 31 games, including 24 starts. He struggled to a record of 5-17 with an ERA of 4.60 for a team which finished tenth in the National League.
In 1894 he appeared in 53 games, 41 of which were starts, throwing nearly 400 innings. He finished the season with 19 wins and a league-high 27 losses. He also led the league in hit batsmen with 21 and threw 21 wild pitches, good for second in the league. During the season Hawley had a series of disagreements with Von Der Ahe that led Hawley to say he would not re-sign with the Browns unless certain conditions were met.
Following the 1894 season Hawley pitched for the Browns in an exhibition game against the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League. The Browns, led by Hawley’s 14 strikeouts, won the game 14-0. Pittsburg player-manager Connie Mack witnessed the performance and told Pirate officials he just had to have Hawley. As a result of Mack’s interest a deal was worked out which sent Hawley to the Pirates for pitcher Red Ehret and $3,000. The trade seemed like quite a gamble at the time as Ehret had enjoyed six straight seasons of double-digit wins while Hawley had gone 30-58 with a 4.45 ERA in three seasons with the Browns.
Frank “Lefty” Killen, who had anchored the Pirate staff in 1893-94, missed the majority of the 1895 season with an arm injury. Hawley stepped into the breach. In 1895, the best year of his career, the 22 year-old Pink appeared in a league-high 56 games, including 50 starts for the Pirates. He wound up leading the league in innings pitched with more than 440. He also led the league with four shutouts, while his 31 wins were good for second in the league behind the 35 recorded by Cleveland’s Cy Young. No Pirate has won more games in a season since then.
The Pirates paid Hawley $2,400 a year, the maximum salary at the time. They clearly got their money’s worth. Besides his pitching greatness in 1895, Hawley also excelled at the plate where he batted from the left side. He hit an incredible .308 for an offense that was led by outfielder Jake Stenzel and future Hall of Famer Jake Beckley. Hawley also drove in 42 runs in just 185 at bats.
In the next two years as a Pirate, Hawley went 40-39 in 82 starts, 70 of which were complete games, while pitching for a team that finished sixth in 1896 and eighth in 1897.
While pitching for the Pirates, Hawley earned the nickname “Duke of Pittsburgh” because of his stylish dress and good looks. He was known to wear diamonds and other items of high fashion and developed a reputation similar to that of a matinee idol in Pittsburgh. Later a cigar was named Duke of Pittsburgh after Hawley. Boxes of these cigars featured his picture.
At one point during his tenure with the Pirates, Hawley refused to accept a bribe from a gambler who offered him $20,000 dollars to throw a game. The gambler told Hawley if he didn’t take the bribe he would go back to his room a $2,400 a year pitcher. Hawley replied that he would but he’d be able to sleep at night.
After three seasons with the Pirates, Hawley along with pitcher Mike Smith and $1,500 cash were shipped to the Cincinnati Reds for five players in November 1897. It was believed at the time that the trade was the result of a rivalry which had developed between Hawley and Killen. The Pirates released Killen in August 1898.
Hawley asked for and received $2,400 a year from the Reds. Pink got off to a fantastic start in Cincinnati winning his first nine games of the 1898 season. He went on to finish 27-11. His 27 wins led the Reds and were good for third in the league. The Reds, meanwhile, finished third in the league with a 92-60 record.
Hawley appeared in 34 games for the Reds in 1899 and his record fell to 14-17. His 250 innings pitched in 1899 was the first time since 1893 that his total fell below 300. In March 1900 Hawley was sold by the Reds to the New York Giants where Buck Ewing, who had managed the Reds in 1899, was now the manager.
While with the Giants, Pink managed to raise his innings total to 329 while making 38 starts for New York. He finished with a record of 18-18 while leading the league with 34 complete games. On August 14, 1900, Hawley heard some of the crowd calling him a has-been and stood before the crowd yelling at one man in particular telling him to come down so Hawley could tear him in two. When the man refused Hawley took a stone in his hand and acted as if he would leap into the stands to assault the man before the Giants bench restrained him.
Following the 1900 season, Pink left the Giants jumping to his home-state Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers were an entry in the newly formed American League. The 28-year-old Hawley saw his numbers decline sharply as he went 7-14 with a 4.59 ERA in just 182 innings over 26 games. As a result of his poor performance the Brewers, who finished dead last in the eight-team AL, released Hawley in September and his major-league career was over.
Hawley however tried to resurrect his career through the minor leagues. He appeared for Milwaukee of the American Association and Buffalo of the Eastern League in 1902. While pitching for Buffalo the 29 year old Pink met Katherine Langen whom he later married. Katherine gave birth to their only child, Emerson Jr. in 1905.
After he retired he moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he opened a cigar store. He helped organize the Wisconsin State League, which was a Class D League. He managed the La Crosse Pinks to league titles in 1905 and 1906. Hawley also went 19-9 as a pitcher for the Pinks in 1905 and 7-4 in 1906. For the 1907 season, the team was renamed the La Crosse Badgers and Hawley managed them to a third-place finish.
In 1908 the Eau Claire Tigers moved to Rockford, Illinois, and the league was renamed the Wisconsin-Illinois League. Hawley managed the La Crosse entry to a third-place finish before moving to take over the Oshkosh Indians for the 1909 season. Oshkosh had been managed the previous year by future Hall of Famer and fellow Wisconsin native Kid Nichols.
Eventually Pink gave up baseball and he and Katherine settled in his hometown of Beaver Dam where Hawley ran the local bowling alley for years. There he and Katherine raised their son who, like his father before him, attended the Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam. Emerson Jr. went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Throughout his baseball career, Pink spent his off seasons in Beaver Dam where he spent much of his time hanging out at Charley Miller’s Book Store, which was the social center of the small town.
Pink spent the remainder of his life in Beaver Dam, where he succumbed after a long illness and died September 19, 1938 at the age of 65. Katherine survived him until she passed away in 1950. They are buried together at the Oakwood Cemetery in Beaver Dam.
“Emerson P. Hawley” by Joseph Overfield from the book Nineteenth Century Stars published by SABR, 2012
The Sporting News: January 19, 1895; October 30, 1897; August 18, 1900.