Famous Baseball Names

Names You’ll Recognize

Over the years we corresponded with some well-known people in baseball. You’ll recognize these names, which are signed to letters in our correspondence file: Ford Frick, Charlie Segar, Dave Grote, Charles “Chub” Feeney, Larry MacPhail, Albert B. “Happy” Chandler, Bowie Kuhn, Marty Appel. These letters were written in response to our requests for information to be used in the Seymour books, information that many businesses other than baseball businesses would be glad to distribute. But most of the answers these famous people gave were in this vein: No, we can’t give you that information; it’s not our policy to do it. Only Larry MacPhail and Marty Appel of the Yankees said Yes, we’ll send what you need.

The Sporting News Spinks

Another name you’ll recognize is the name Spink, the family that started The Sporting News. At first we corresponded with C.C. Johnson Spink; soon we were writing instead to his son, J.G. Taylor Spink. Although the Spinks could not always acquiesce to our requests, they did so when possible. Because at first the only microfilmed copies of back issues of TSN could be found in the newspaper’s St. Louis office, that’s where we went to do research on the paper, beginning in 1949, the year we were married. Johnson suggested we buy a set for ourselves; the cost was $536, and for us that was prohibitive. Soon libraries were buying sets, so we didn’t have so far to go in order to read back issues. [Letter From J.G. Taylor Spink]

Specs Toporcer

George “Specs” Toporcer is another name you may have heard. George, an ex-player, was the first infielder to wear glasses in the majors. After eight years with St. Louis in the twenties, he managed the Rochester Red Wings, then directed the Red Sox farm system. Harold Seymour got to know George Toporcer when he referred a couple of his young players to George and took them to spring training. (See Kids Play topic) Some of them made good, and one stayed in the majors for years. So George knew that Seymour had a good baseball eye and made him a “bird dog,” an unofficial scout. George’s sight gradually grew weaker, and by the 1950s he was blind. He and his wife Mabel remained friends of ours for many years. Once in their New York home I emerged from Mabel’s kitchen to find the two men stretched out on the floor, comparing notes on the correct way to execute the hook slide!

Recognition by Giamatti

We were living in Boston in October of 1985 when we read, in the Boston Globe, quotations from A. Bartlett Giamatti’s speech on “Baseball and the American Character at the Boston Public Library for the Massachusetts Historical Society.” We wrote complimenting him on the speech, and he replied graciously, enclosing a copy of his speech, in which he quoted Seymour and credited Seymour’s “excellent history of baseball, to which I am throughout indebted.” Giamatti died unexpectedly in September of 1989.