Ralph Glaze: They Called Him ‘Pitcher’

This article was written by Jim McGreal

This article was published in the 1986 Baseball Research Journal


An All-American on the gridiron in 1905, Ralph Glaze spent three seasons in the majors before launching a 21-year career as a college baseball and football coach and athletic director.

 

In 1889 Walter Chauncey Camp (1859-1925) initiated the practice of honoring the best college football players of each season by naming them to an “All-American Team.” Camp was the great American football authority, writer and coach who revised the system of rules by which football was played, invented the system of downs, created the position of quarterback and set the number of players at eleven. For his 1905 All-American Team, Camp selected Daniel Ralph Glaze of Dartmouth as the greatest end of the 1905 season.

In describing him, Camp wrote: “Glaze of Dartmouth is a fast, consistent end, having all the qualities required for that position and, in addition, those of a running half-back, which gave Dartmouth some of the best results of her season’s work. He never made mistakes, was one of the most alert ends of the gridiron this season, a good tackler, clever on defensive work, and always reliable. Nor would the Dartmouth team begrudge any amount of credit bestowed upon Glaze, because in addition to it all, he is a good worker with the team and not simply an individual star.”

It was glowing praise for the young man from Denver, Col., who had left the mile-high city in 1902 to wear the big “D” of Dartmouth and become one of the outstanding athletes of the early 20th century. Like many boys before and since, he dreamed as a youth of becoming a great football player and of reaching baseball’s major leagues. The selection by Walter Camp was the first step in making his dream a reality.

Daniel Ralph Glaze was born in Denver on March 13, 1881. He and his younger brother John showed exceptional promise in both football and baseball, and the members of the Dartmouth Club of Denver kept a close eye on their progress through high school and prep school. Dartmouth had never won a game in its football rivalry with Harvard. Club members felt young Ralph Glaze might be what the Big Green needed to beat the Crimson.

Glaze entered Dartmouth College in 1902 and played the first of his four years of varsity football and baseball. Dartmouth played to a tie with Harvard that year, and in 1903 the spell was broken. Dartmouth scored an 11-0 upset before a stunned crowd at Harvard’s Soldiers Field. Newspaper writeups of the games of 1903 and 1904 spoke of right end Glaze’s powerful kicking and his deft running. He almost made Camp’s 1904 All-American Team, too. Camp selected Shevlin of Yale for one end position, but found himself in a dilemma when it came to the other. Weede of Pennsylvania, Gillespie of West Point and Glaze of Dartmouth were equally qualified to pair with Shevlin. Camp’s solution was to award the other end position to University of Chicago quarterback Walter Eckersall – for his kicking.

A newspaper account datelined Springfield, Mass., November 25, 1905, described Dartmouth’s 24-6 victory over Brown University: “The glory of Dartmouth’s victory is centered in the work of two brothers, Ralph and Johnny Glaze, both westerners, and undoubtedly two of the greatest football men ever identified with the green and white of the Hanover college. Throughout the entire fight for supremacy the Glaze brothers were head and shoulders above their fellow Dartmouth men, and had it not been for their phenomenal exhibition Dartmouth would have been beaten to a standstill. Brown’s line was a stone wall in itself, and on straight football the Providence men had nothing to be ashamed of. But Dartmouth’s strength rested in the ruses adopted by coach Folsom and the great speed of Ralph Glaze and his brother.” Sportswriters always emphasized Ralph’s speed in running the ball 40, 60, 90 yards or more for a touchdown. He was wiry, agile and muscular – five feet, eight inches and 153 pounds of “greased lightning” – and the smallest man on the Dartmouth squad in his senior year.

Glaze, nicknamed “Pitcher,” turned his talents to the baseball field in the spring of 1903, and the fortunes of the team began to rise. One of the premier college pitchers of his day, the brilliant righthander capped his record with a no-hit, no-run game against Columbia University. He spent his summers back home in Colorado playing semi-pro ball under an assumed name.

In 1905 the Big Six Athletic Club of Trinidad won the championship of Colorado and headed for the Southwestern Semi-Pro Tournament at Albuquerque, N.M. The club president signed Ralph for the trip under an alias as usual. The club was an also-ran in the tournament, but Glaze made friends with John Tortes, a big Indian catcher for the Clifton, Ariz., club. Glaze knew talent when he saw it. Tortes could run, hit and throw. He was an ideal candidate for Dartmouth, and not only for the baseball team. Glaze had hopes of turning him into a football player. Tortes thought the idea of college was crazy. Ralph explained that since its inception Dartmouth’s charter had provisions for the education of Native Americans.  Tortes still thought the idea was crazy, but Ralph persisted.

With the big catcher in tow, Glaze returned to Denver to seek help in resolving a major problem: Tortes was a school dropout. Some of the most respected men in the state became enthusiastic conspirators at this point. One came up with a high school diploma, slightly altered. Others wrote letters of recommendation and provided a suitable wardrobe. Dartmouth football coach Fred 0. Folsom, Dartmouth class of 1895 and the man for whom the University of Colorado’s Folsom Stadium is named, and other loyal Dartmouth alumni supplied cash and railroad tickets for the journey east. The pair arrived at Hanover, Tortes was registered, a course of study was selected and a tutor engaged.

While Ralph garnered new laurels on the football field, Tortes studied hard and managed to get through the first semester. He gradually adapted to the role of student and began to relish the camaraderie of campus life. He was popular and became something of a bon vivant and man-about-town. Then, slowly, the whole carefully-knit scheme began to unravel. For one, Tortes hated the New Hampshire winter; he became homesick and worried about news of illness in his family. When his classroom work began to deteriorate, someone discovered the alterations on the high school diploma. It was confession time.

The young man’s story was received with remarkable understanding and sympathy. There was even an offer to send Tortes to preparatory school. He was almost 26 years old and could not accept the prospect of going to school with downy-chinned teenagers. Then baseball coach William Hamilton stepped in. Hamilton had played two years with Kansas City of the major American Association in 1888 and 1889 before joining Philadelphia in 1890. He subsequently spent 12 years in the National League, half with Philadelphia and half with Boston, and compiled a lifetime batting average of .344. The outfielder’s extraordinary skill in stealing bases earned him the nickname “Sliding Billy.”

Billy Hamilton was also manager of the Harrisburg club of the Tri-State League, and he offered Tortes a chance to play professional baseball. Tortes proved himself at Harrisburg and moved up to St. Paul of the American Association. In 1908 he was sold to the New York Giants, where he played under John J. McGraw and became known as Chief Meyers. He carried Dartmouth in his heart for the remainder of his life and was proud to say Ralph Glaze started him on the road to glory.

Glaze graduated in 1906 and signed with the Boston Red Sox. He won four games and lost six that year. The Red Sox played Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in Boston on August 31, 1906, with Glaze and Rube Waddell as the starting pitchers. The Boston Globe ran a two-column headline: “Glaze Puts It All Over Rube – Youngster Pitches Brilliant Ball.” The account of the game read in part: “Few persons at the Huntington Avenue grounds yesterday who heard dapper little Tim Hurst, the umpire, announce the pitchers for the game between the Bostons and the Athletics would be Rube Waddell and Ralph Glaze had any idea that the former Dartmouth boy would put it all over the eccentric southpaw, so to speak, and that Rube would spend the last half of the game on the bench, while the young man would continue to pitch out a splendid victory.” The lone run off Glaze came on a homer by 20-year-old Jack “Schoolboy” Knight, who became a Red Sox teammate the next year when the A’s traded him for Jimmy Collins.

When the 1906 season was over, Ralph returned to Dartmouth to coach the football team. That became the pattern of his life during his eight-year professional baseball career – playing in the summer and coaching during the off-seasons.

The baseball world was shocked when Boston playing-manager Chick Stahl committed suicide in the spring of 1907. Cellar-dwelling Boston had four more managers that season, including pitcher Cy Young and first baseman Bob Unglaub. The club finally settled down with Deacon McGuire and managed to move up to seventh place. Veteran Cy Young headed the Red Sox pitching staff. At age 40 and in the twilight of his career, he put the younger pitchers to shame with his 22-15 record and 1.99 ERA. in 32 games Glaze won nine and lost 14 and had a very respectable earned-run average of 2.32. Three events were of special importance to him that year: He pitched a shutout, hit a home run and married Evaline Leavitt.

Glaze coached Dartmouth baseball the next spring before joining Boston for the 1908 season. He pitched in ten games, winning two and losing two, before the Red Sox sent him to Providence of the Eastern League, where he won 14 and lost six. In 1909 Boston sold him to Indianapolis of the American Association, where he posted a 17-17 record. He won seven and lost nine for the Indianapolis club in 1910, then was sold to Kansas City. During his last four years of professional baseball, he shuttled among Montreal, Utica, Wilkes-Bane, Beaumont, Topeka and St. Joseph, Mo. With his playing days behind him, he became a full-time college coach and athletic director.

It’s not generally known that the University of Southern California substituted Rugby football for American football in 1911. The experiment lasted three years. USC then brought in Glaze to coach American football in 1914 and 1915. The first game between the Trojans and the California Bears was played during his tenure. USC triumphed, 28-10, and a great football rivalry was born. Over a period of 21 years Glaze served as athletic director and coach of both football and baseball – usually for terms of two to four years – at such schools as Dartmouth College, University of Rochester, Baylor University, University of Southern California, Colorado School of Mines, Drake University, Lake Forest College, Colorado State Teachers College, Texas Christian University and St. Viator College.

Ralph’s wife of 20 years died in 1927, the same year he left coaching to become a Denver businessman. He returned to Massachusetts in 1930 to become superintendent of the B & M Railroad’s Mystic Terminal at Charlestown and married Winifred Bonar Demuth in June of that year. He retired at the age of 65 in 1946 and moved to California. In 1951 Ralph and Winifred Glaze built a home in the coastal community of Cambria, Calif.

During Glaze’s remaining years he kept remarkably strong and fit by walking three to five miles a day with his dogs. Sam Crawford, the Hall of Fame outfielder who played with Detroit of the American League from 1903-1917, was Ralph’s last link to his own playing days with Boston. Crawford lived 25 miles away at Baywood Park when the two old-timers met by accident in 1962. Sam was one year older than Ralph. In a long newspaper interview dated January 1, 1965, Glaze mentioned his daily walks and joked: “Crawford went with me several times, but he couldn’t keep up with me. He’s a lot older than I am.”

They died within a few months of each other 88-year-old Sam Crawford on June 15 and 87-year-old Daniel Ralph Glaze on October 31, 1968.

© SABR. All Rights Reserved