Craig: Sweetbread Bailey, Abraham Lincoln, and redefining time

From Mary Craig at BP Wrigleyville on October 2, 2017:

Abraham Lincoln “Sweetbread” Bailey was the third and final of such a name to play professional baseball, following “Ham” Wade and Abe Wolstenholme. None of these three baseball players have much in common with President Abraham Lincoln save for their name, a shared love of baseball, and coincidental dates here and there. Moreover, all three have faded from baseball memory while their namesake lives on as one of this country’s greatest figures. We have a vibrant picture of the latter and only blurry sketches of the former, two groups separated by time and rank. Yet the timelessness of President Lincoln ebbs forward, latching onto these men and filling in their blank spaces, all while offering us a reprieve from our dependency on time.

Of these three baseball Abes, Sweetbread had by far the most illustrious career. Ham Wade appeared in only one game, a 1907 affair between the New York Giants and the Boston Doves in which he played two innings as the Giants’ left fielder. He reached base in his only professional plate appearance, a hit by pitch. Abe Wolstenholme fared somewhat better, his career with the 1883 Philadelphia Quakers lasting a lengthy single week, from June 4th to June 11th. Like Wade, he was a left fielder who managed to get on base once in his career, but unlike Wade, he did so in eleven plate appearances.

Sweetbread Bailey’s career diverged from these two in minor ways and converged in one major way. First, he was a pitcher, secondly, his career spanned parts of three seasons, and thirdly it was delayed due to his time in the military. He could have begun his professional career with the Cubs in 1917, but instead enlisted in the 72nd Field Artillery, returning at the end of the war. The Cubs immediately added him to the team’s roster as a relief pitcher, but his lost conditioning delayed his first appearance by several months

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Originally published: October 2, 2017. Last Updated: October 2, 2017.