Tony Faeth (Trading Card DB)

Tony Faeth

This article was written by Terry Bohn

Tony Faeth (Trading Card DB)In 1916 Tony Faeth, then a pitcher with Milwaukee of the American Association, faced Dave “Beauty” Bancroft, a shortstop with the Philadelphia Phillies. No, the confrontation wasn’t on a baseball field – it was in a pool hall at the Palace Theater in Superior, Wisconsin. Faeth, the Minnesota state champion, was to play Bancroft, the title holder in Wisconsin (he made his off-season home in Superior), in a best two-out-of-three match for the pocket billiards championship of the Northwest. Faeth prevailed.1 Arthur Woods of Minneapolis, recognized as the New England pool champion, challenged Faeth, the winner, to play Fred Tuberski, the national champion. After agreeing on rules (Faeth refused to play with ivory balls and Wood insisted on a new table), Woods defeated Faeth in a 900-ball, three-day match.2

Fourteen years later Faeth faced Art “The Great” Shires, a first baseman with the Chicago White Sox. Again, this had nothing to do with baseball; rather, the two squared off in a boxing ring in St. Paul. Pre-fight buildup to the six-round bout included the usual trash talking, with Shires declaring, “I never did like pitchers, and I know enough about that one to know that I can hit him in the box or in the ring.”3 The only holdup to being sanctioned by the Minnesota Boxing Commission was that Shires first needed to answer to allegations that he had “taken a dive” in an earlier bout against Battling Criss in Detroit. After testimony from Nessie Blumenthall, Shires’ manager, the fight was allowed to take place. Promoters promised Shires $300 and $200 more for each round he completed, while Faeth was guaranteed a flat $500. After all the buildup, Art the Great landed two right hooks and knocked out Faeth two minutes into the first round. Faeth appeared to take the defeat graciously, saying, “[$500] is not too bad for two minutes and 10 seconds of work and a little headache.”4

In addition to these offseason athletic pursuits, Tony Faeth was also a pretty good ballplayer. Early in his minor-league career the right-handed pitcher showed great stuff but struggled with control (he walked over 100 batters in two of his first three professional seasons). As a result, he had a losing record in each of his first four seasons in professional baseball. Having the eccentric Rube Waddell as a teammate probably didn’t help. At one point Faeth was in danger of being released, but “the manager and the owners of the club decided that he was to have one more chance, in fact the blue slip and paycheck were made out.”5 Faeth survived, went back to Class B, and won 20 games for the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Black Sox of the Central League in 1917. This turnaround served a stepping stone to a later brief, but mostly successful, trial with the Cleveland Indians.

Anthony Joseph Faeth was born July 9, 1893, in Aberdeen, South Dakota. His father, Ludwig, was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States through the port of New York in 1889. He settled in Aberdeen, where he worked as a mason. Tony’s mother Elizabeth (Goetz) was also born in Russia. She died in 1909; a few years later Ludwig remarried, to Barbara (Eisenmanger), a Russian native as well. When her first husband died, Barbara and her three children immigrated to America in 1910. Consequently, Tony grew up with several natural and stepsiblings. After Barbara’s death, Tony and his stepbrother Walter went to live with his oldest sister Theresa and her husband. At the time of the 1910 U.S. Census, 16-year-old Tony had apparently quit school because his occupation was listed as laborer.

Little is known of his early life other than his remark that as a boy he “learned to pitch from throwing balls at crows on telephone lines.”6 Faeth played baseball at Aberdeen High School but at age 17 moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, to look for work. One job he acquired was pitching for a semipro team in Fairmont, Minnesota.7 He began his professional career in 1913, at age 20, with the Virginia (Minnesota) Ore Diggers of the Class C Northern League. He had some sort of dispute with Virginia manager Spike Shannon, so he skipped the club and pitched independent ball in North Dakota for a few weeks until he joined La Crosse (Wisconsin), also in the Northern League, in July.8 The La Crosse club had relocated from St. Paul earlier that season. After Shannon was fired, Faeth returned to Virginia, where he finished the season. He had a 9-16 pitching record, but the nine wins were the most on a pitching staff that included the 36-year-old Waddell for a time.

Faeth returned to Virginia for two more seasons, but in early September 1915, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association for the $500 draft price.9 (The transaction was originally reported as a sale).10 Despite his losing record, reports said that Faeth had as much “stuff” as any pitcher in the league and that he was personally recommended by Roy Patterson, who was pitching in Minneapolis at the time.11 After joining the Brewers he had a 2-2 record the rest of the season.

Faeth was back with Milwaukee in 1916 but stumbled to an 8-19 record. In the spring of 1917, citing Faeth’s slowness in getting into shape, it was reported at first that the Brewers released him to Joplin (Missouri) of the Western League.12, 13 There is no evidence that he ever played for Joplin; by May he had been secured by Grand Rapids of the Class B Central League.14 Faeth prospered in the lower level of the minors, winning 20 games for the Black Sox.

His excellent season in Grand Rapids earned Faeth another chance in Milwaukee in 1918. He got off to a strong start – a no-hitter was broken up with one out in the ninth inning against St. Paul on May 215 – but in mid-June he was drafted into the Army. He was first sent for training at Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois, and then assigned to aviation mechanics training in St. Paul.16 While there he was permitted furloughs to pitch for his old team when Milwaukee had road games in Minneapolis or St. Paul.17 He posted a 5-3 record with a 3.16 ERA in 12 games for the Brewers. Faeth was commissioned as a second lieutenant but never served overseas. However, four of his brothers were in the armed services. Walter and Albert both saw action in France.18

Faeth was discharged in November 1918 and after an initial disagreement over contract terms, signed with Milwaukee for 1919. Working under manager Pants Rowland, by early August Faeth sported a record of 11-13, but his impressive 3.24 ERA began to attract the attention of major league scouts. One report noted that Faeth “has displayed enough talent to make clear that a bright future awaits him.”19 On August 2 the Brewers traded him to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Tom Phillips.

Faeth made his major-league debut on August 10 against the Yankees in New York. Indians starter Elmer Myers was knocked out of the box after surrendering five runs in just one-third of an inning. Manager Tris Speaker brought Faeth into the game and over the next 6 2/3 innings he allowed three runs, only one of them earned. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Faeth got into five more games that season, all in relief, and all were scoreless outings, even though he walked 10 in his 18 1/3 total innings. He did not get a decision.

Faeth made the Indians roster in 1920 but was used infrequently and only in relief (he never started a major-league game). He got into 13 games between Opening Day and late July but had only two poor outings, both against the Yankees. On June 13 at League Park in Cleveland, he pitched the ninth inning in a 14-0 New York blowout, allowing three runs on two walks and doubles by Bob Meusel and Babe Ruth. On July 22 in New York, the Yankees knocked Cleveland starter Stan Coveleski out early. Faeth pitched the final three innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs, in an 11-3 Yankee win shortened to seven innings by darkness and rain.20

Faeth didn’t get into any more games but was on the bench on August 16 during another Yankees-Indians matchup – the one in which New York’s Carl Mays fatally hit Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman with a pitch. The Indians were on their way to the American League pennant but were looking for veteran pitching depth. So, on August 21 they traded Faeth, another young pitcher, Dick Niehaus, and cash21 to the Sacramento Senators of the Pacific Coast League for left-handed pitcher Duster Mails. The move turned out to be a good one for the Indians as Mails went 7-0 down the stretch with a 1.85 ERA and won Game Six of the 1920 World Series.

Faeth spent the next seven seasons in the minors, mostly at the AA level, but never returned to the major leagues. In 19 major-league games, all in relief, over parts of two seasons (1919 and 1920 with Cleveland), Faeth logged 43 1/3 innings and allowed only 13 earned runs for an ERA of 2.70. Control continued to plague him, as it did throughout his career. He walked 30 against 21 strikeouts. He did not register a decision during his major-league stay.

He finished the 1920 season with Sacramento and returned the following year, but at midseason he was traded to Vernon, also of the PCL, for pitcher Art Fromme. Faeth’s combined win total with both teams was 18 in 1921, and his 2.93 ERA was seventh best in the league.22 He and Vic Aldridge of the Los Angeles Angels were considered the top two right-handers in the league. Faeth’s stock was so high that there were rumors that Ty Cobb was trying to acquire him for his Detroit Tigers club.23

Faeth got off to a strong start with Vernon in 1922 but in mid-May was spiked on his foot. A subsequent X-ray revealed a broken bone.24 He missed six weeks; when he returned, he could not recover his form of the prior season, going 6-5 in 20 games but with an unsightly 6.08 ERA, second-to-last in the league.25 After the Tigers’ season ended, Faeth stayed in Los Angeles to play for Joe Pirrone’s All-Stars. He pitched well against the Colored Los Angeles Black Sox but was bettered by opposing pitcher José Méndez, who threw a 6-0 shutout.26

In December 1922 Vernon sold Faeth to Nashville of the Southern League. He was not happy playing in the South, and reports began circulating that accused Faeth of having an “indifferent attitude … nonchalance about his work, and … violations of training rules.”27 In August Nashville unloaded him to Mobile (Alabama) of the same league, where he finished the season. Combined, with both clubs, Faeth had a record of 17-15 in 37 games with a 3.28 ERA.28

With a desire to pitch closer to home, Faeth convinced the St. Paul Saints of the American Association to purchase his release and offer him a contract. Experiencing something of a rebirth, he quickly emerged as the ace of the St. Paul staff in 1924. At one point in July, he pitched four consecutive complete-game wins in which he allowed just one run over 36 innings.29 He finished the season with a record of 15-4, the best winning percentage among qualifiers in all the American Association.

The Saints won the AA pennant and faced the Baltimore Orioles, champions of the International League, in the Little World Series. Baltimore was led by 26-game winner Lefty Grove, who was spending his last season with the Orioles before embarking on his Hall of Fame career with the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox. The teams split the first two games of the best-of-nine match and Faeth started the third for St. Paul. He was knocked out of the box in the sixth inning of a 6-6 tie game that was called after 13 innings because of darkness. Baltimore took three of the next four games to take a 4-2 series lead. Facing elimination, Faeth pitched St. Paul to a 3-2 win in Game Seven, beating another Orioles pitching star, George Earnshaw. St. Paul completed its comeback by taking the final two games to win the series.

In the spring of 1925 Faeth came down with a sore shoulder. One of the prescribed remedies at the time was a tonsillectomy.30 Apparently the procedure did not have the desired effect because his arm never fully recovered, and he was effectively done as a pitcher. Faeth was released by St. Paul in early July and then hooked on with Des Moines of the Western League.31 He returned to the American Association in 1926 when Columbus took a chance on him but by August, the Senators had shipped him to the Indianapolis Indians. Between the two clubs he had a dismal record of 4-15 losses in 29 games.32

The Indians released Faeth in the spring of 1927, and he signed with Lincoln (Nebraska) of the Western League. Having never recovered from his earlier arm injury, Faeth was released before the season began and picked up again by St. Paul, “largely for use in batting practice.”33 Faeth got into two games for the Saints but was pummeled for 13 hits in six innings, marking the end of his professional career. He played with various Minnesota rural amateur and semipro nines during the rest of 1927 and 1928, taking time out to marry Eugenia Roddy of St. Paul on June 5, 1928.

Early in December 1928, “Dapper Danny” Hogan – described as a “gambler, racketeer, and crony of the lawless,” and an associate of Arnold Rothstein of Black Sox notoriety – was murdered when a bomb went off in his automobile in Minneapolis. Curiously, Tony Faeth was listed as one of his pallbearers at his funeral; he also “sent elaborate floral pieces to the chapel.” The association between the two men was never explained, and no evidence was found that Faeth was ever accused of any wrongdoing. Given Faeth’s association with billiard parlors and prizefighting, it seems likely that he may have encountered any number of unsavory characters.

Shortly after his retirement, Faeth took a job with Griggs-Cooper, a liquor wholesaler in St. Paul, and held that position for 20 years. He still listed his occupation as “professional baseball player” on the 1930 U. S. Census. The 1937 St. Paul City Directory shows him employed as a salesman, as do the 1940 and 1950 census records. Outside of work, Faeth became one of the top amateur golfers in Minneapolis, regularly shooting in the 70s, and was credited with at least two holes-in-one.

After his 1930 boxing match with Art Shires, Faeth wasn’t completely through with fighting. In 1935 the St. Louis Cardinals scheduled an exhibition game with St. Paul, but Dizzy Dean failed to appear as promised. Faeth took exception and threatened to “sock” Dean in the nose. Faeth added, “If your nose is going to be punched, someone from St. Paul should have the first crack at it.”34 Apparently Dean had reneged on so many other similar engagements that Faeth was told to stand in line and wait his turn. Nothing ever came of it – but when Dean heard of Faeth’s threat, he remarked, “Yeah, he’d like to be a pitcher, too.”35

In January 1961, the St. Paul Hot Stove League held its annual dinner. The main topic was to welcome the Minnesota Twins, who were relocating from Washington, D. C. The group also decided to honor Tony Faeth for “his heroics of yesteryear,” specifically his role in the 1924 St. Paul Saints championship team. Faeth was also selected because “he has been a No. 1 booster for his favorite sport,” and he could “talk baseball every hour of the day if he can get someone to listen to him.”36

Faeth died on December 22, 1982, at a St. Paul nursing home at the age of 89. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul. Tony’s wife Eugenia had died in 1974. The couple never had any children.

Although his major-league career was brief, Faeth pitched to some of the best hitters in baseball history. According to his obituary, “[Babe] Ruth lashed a line drive that nearly took his ear off, [George] Sisler fattened his average on his pitches, and [Home Run] Baker once popped up on one of his changeups.37 Late in life he explained his combative philosophy by saying, “I used to stick the ball right under an enemy hitter’s chin. That guy up there was trying to knock my brains out so I decked him when he got smart.”38



This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Tony Oliver.

Photo credit: Trading Card DB.



Unless otherwise noted, statistics from Faeth’s playing career are taken from and genealogical and family history was obtained from The author also used information from clippings in Faeth’s file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.



1 “Tony Faeth Wins Final Game from Bancroft, 200-150,” Duluth (Minnesota) News-Tribune, February 2, 1916: 2.

2 “Woods Challenges,” Minneapolis Journal, January 13, 1917: 3.

3 “Great Art Will Fight Faeth,” Atlanta Journal, January 2, 1930: 13.

4 “’Anybody Recognize Faeth as Dangerous Dan?’ Asks Shy One,” Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune, January 8, 1930: 8.

5 “Mesaba Range Baseball Men Winning Fame,” Duluth News-Tribune, June 7, 1920: 5.

6 “Tony Faeth, Hometown Baseball Great, Died at 89,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 23, 1982.

7 “A. H. S. Star Makes Good,” Aberdeen (South Dakota) American, August 2, 1920: 3.

8 “Northern League Gossip” Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald, July 31, 1913: 6.

9 “Notified of Faeth Draft,” Virginia (Minnesota) Enterprise, October 8, 1915: 4.

10 “Northern Pitcher to Brewers,” Minneapolis Tribune, September 2, 1915: 17.

11 “Fans Take Interest in Sale of Tony Faeth to Milwaukee,” Virginia Enterprise, September 3, 1915: 2.

12 “Tony Faeth is Sent to Joplin, Mo. Club,” Minneapolis Journal, April 17, 1917: 18.

13 The transaction was also reported as a sale. See: “Buys Northern Leaguer,” La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune, April 26, 1917: 7.

14 “Faeth Joins Essick Club at Ft. Wayne,” Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press, May 21, 1917: 12.

15 “All Association Teams Tied for Championship,” Duluth News-Tribune, May 3, 1918: 10.

16 “Tony Faeth Is Drafted,” Des Moines Register, June 30, 1918: 13.

17 “Faeth to Continue Playing,” Chicago Eagle, August 3, 1918: 9.

18 “Some Aberdeen Families That Are Doing Their Bit,” Aberdeen (South Dakota) News, September 4, 1918: 5.

19 “Brewer Mound Stalwarts,” Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, July 17, 1919: 8.

20 “Peckinpaugh’s Two Homers Drive Coveleskie from the Box,” New York Tribune, July 23, 1920: 1.

21 One source (“Speaker Wishes He Had Tony Faeth Back Again,” Los Angeles Express, September 6, 1921: 27) said the amount included in the transaction was $10,000, and another (“Tony Faeth, Hometown Baseball Great, Died at 89”) said it was $15,000.

22 “Fittery Was the Leading Strike-Out Tosser in 1921,” Sacramento Bee, December 17, 1921: 22.

23 “Cobb Will Have to Sow Some Pep,” Sacramento Star, January 13, 1922: 8.

24 “Vernon Star Pitcher Has Broken Foot,” Riverside (California) Press, May 16, 1922: 12

25 “Official P. C. L. Pitching Averages for 1922,” Oakland Tribune, December 17, 1922: 11.

26 “Mendez Shuts Out All-Stars,” Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1922: 30.

27 “Tony Faeth Sold to Mobile Bears; Vols Get Friday from Washington,” Nashville Tennessean, August 9, 923: 8.

28 “’Slim’ McGrew Is Best Southern Hurler 1923,” Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), November 28, 1923: 22.

29 “Faeth After Record,” Milwaukee Journal, July 31, 924: 18

30 “Lame Shoulder Causes Tony to Lose Tonsils,” Washington (D.C.) Times, May 28, 1925: 23.

31 “Tony Faeth to Join Des Moines Ball Club,” Milwaukee Journal, July 7, 1925: 21.

32 “Pitchers Records,” Cincinnati Inquirer, October 3, 1926: 36.

33 “Only Six Men on Club Lack One Long Hit,” Minneapolis Star, June 11, 1927: 16.

34 “Tony Faeth Also Wants Dean’s Hide,” Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, March 10, 1936: 10.

35 “Dizzy Has Comeback,” Columbus Dispatch, March 10, 1936: 8.

36 “Deserving Veteran,” Minneapolis Star, January 24, 1961: 26.

37 “Tony Faeth, Minor League Pitcher with Saints, 89, Dies,” Muncie (Indiana) Star Press, December 24, 1982: 2.

38 “Tony Faeth, Minor League Pitcher with Saints, 89, Dies.”

Full Name

Anthony Joseph Faeth


July 9, 1893 at Aberdeen, SD (USA)


December 22, 1982 at St. Paul, MN (USA)

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