Ehrmann: New book gives banished center fielder Happy Felsch his place in baseball history

From Pete Ehrmann at on July 26, 2016, with mention of SABR member Tom Rathkamp:

A nagging gap on the shelf of books about Milwaukee sports history finally has been filled with the recent publication of “Happy Felsch: Banished Black Sox Center Fielder,” a biography of the homegrown icon banned from professional baseball with Chicago White Sox teammate Shoeless Joe Jackson and six others for throwing the 1919 World Series.

Written by Thomas Rathkamp of Cedarburg, the slim (192 pages) but fact-filled volume is a primer about local baseball history as well as the man who might’ve socked his way into the record books but for the lack of sophistication and intellectual fire that accounted for Felsch’s reputation as “the dumbest player on the White Sox.”

Called “Happy” for his usually sunny disposition, Oscar Felsch tore up local sandlots and semi-pro leagues in the state starting in 1911, reportedly hit the longest home run in the history of Borchert Field, on N. 8th and W. Chambers Sts., as a member of the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers (it “landed a block away near 8th and Burleigh Sts.,” says Rathkamp) and joined the White Sox in 1915. For five years, he hit right behind Shoeless Joe in the White Sox batting order.

After he was booted out of big leagues at 28, Felsch played semi-pro ball in Montana and Canada, operated a couple taverns in Milwaukee and worked as a crane operator. He died on Aug. 17, 1964.

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Originally published: July 26, 2016. Last Updated: July 26, 2016.