Watterson: Safe at home: Billy Colgan

From SABR member Jeremy Watterson at Montana Senior News on October 1, 2017:

For 122 years, a Major League Baseball player has rested at Great Fall’s Old Highland Cemetery in an unmarked grave. An effort on behalf of William H. Colgan, the first former player to be buried in the state of Montana, hopes to remedy this in time to unveil a new memorial at the 8th annual Waking the Dead Tour to be held on June 24, 2018.

Billy Colgan was born during the Civil War, in East St. Louis, Ill., on March 19, 1862. A catcher, Colgan saw his first professional action in 1883, playing for his home state’s capital of Springfield. The following year he would appear in 48 American Association games, suiting up for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in what amounts to his only time in the big leagues. Colgan’s lifetime batting average is a meager .155, low even for the era in which he played, where pitchers were limited to deliveries from below the shoulder, and the rules dictated that a catcher squat beside home bases made of white marble or stone.

The brutality endured by professional catchers of the 1880s was nothing short of barbaric. In an age when masks, chest and leg protections, and often gloves could be seen as sissy stuff, catchers often risked mangling their bodies, with split and broken fingers a regularity. When the everyday catcher was injured, teams often forfeited the game, rather than one of the other position players exposing themselves to the cruelties.

Read the full article here: http://montanaseniornews.com/safe-at-home/

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