Cadillac and the Mystery Baseball Score

Most catalogs in the Vinson collection have nothing more written on them than dates, prices of the cars from salesman, or prices from the person later selling the piece of literature. Occasionally, however, one encounters something completely different. This was the case with the Cadillac Motor Cars catalog, shown here. According to the date written on the front cover, this catalog is from 1928.

Cover, click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Inside the front and back cover, someone has used this catalog to keep score for a baseball game. It leads you to wonder about the story behind this item. Did the individual have the catalog lying around at home and was keeping score while listening to the game on the radio? Or were they driving to the game in person and wanted something on which to keep score and found this catalog lying in their back seat? Or was the game from an era completely different from the catalog that may have just been lying around as a convenient writing surface at the time? We will never know for sure.

For inside the front cover, the box score identifies the game as between St. Louis and the A’s. From this, we can make the educated guess that this refers to the St. Louis Cardinals (Thanks to Emmett for the tip!) and the Philadelphia A’s (who would go on to become the Oakland Athletics). The final score of this game was 8-7 in the favor of the A’s. On the opposite page, there is even the long division where the scorekeeper worked out the player’s batting averages.

Inside front cover, click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

The box score for the game in the back cover is much more badly faded, but one is still able to make out that it is between the same two teams. The final score of this game was 7-5 with St. Louis winning. Perhaps these games were played as a double header? Or just part of the same homestand? Again, questions to which we will never have the answers.

Inside back cover, click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

In case anyone is wondering if this scorekeeping was done by Mr. Vinson, there is no way of knowing for sure but I would suspect not for three reasons. First, he was born in 1933, so if this catalog is from 1928 and used to keep score around that time, he was either not born or very, very young. Second, the handwriting does not even remotely resemble any of the writing samples we have from him. Third, as a passionate lover of automobile literature, it seems extremely unlikely that Mr. Vinson would treat a catalog like a piece of scrap paper. Even as a child, he mentions one of his biggest regrets being that he cut photos out of car catalogs, but I think it is quite a jump from cutting out pictures of cars to enjoy them and treating a catalog like a notepad.

While this blog post holds more questions than answers, it shows you the kinds of mysteries that archivists often encounter. Collections will often provide many of these questions about where or when items came from. Perhaps we have some rabid baseball fans out there reading this and they’ll help to solve part of this mystery by figuring out when these games took place. If anyone out there does feel up to the challenge, please post your findings in the comments section as I’m sure we’d all love to know what you find!

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the comments section where some of our readers are helping to solver our mystery!

Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

15 thoughts on “Cadillac and the Mystery Baseball Score

    • Thank you very much for your comment! From 1920-1953 both the St. Louis Cardinals AND the St. Louis Browns (who would leave in 1953 to become the Orioles) played at Sportsman’s Park. (See the following from the Orioles Franchise Timeline(http://mlb.mlb.com/bal/history/timeline.jsp): “On September 28, 1953, baseball’s owners unanimously agreed upon the move of the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore. The move followed a season in which the Browns went 54-100 and drew a crowd of only 3,174 to their season finale, an 11-inning loss to Chicago.”)

      My original educated guess was based on the name of Hafey on the roster. I had found a player named Tom Hafey, who had played for the Browns during the approximate era of the catalog and based my guess on that. It turns out there was also a Chick Hafey who played for the St. Louis Cardinals during the same time. Who’d have thought?
      While continuing my search of players on the roster, I found several who did in fact play for both teams. Jim Bottomley (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=bottoji01), for example, played for the Cardinals in the early thirties and the Browns in the late thirties. This, of course, does not help narrow in on which team actually played in this game.

      However, then I got to Tommy Thevenow (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/theveto01.shtml). As far as I can tell, the only St. Louis team he played for was in fact the Cardinals.

      Another consideration is that the Philadelphia A’s were an American League team. So perhaps that would make it the Browns? We’ll leave it up to you baseball experts to let us know for sure, but for now, I’m going to keep this one under the mystery column!

      But thank you again very much for helping me include all the possible answers for this mystery!

  1. From an analysis of the Cardinals players, this has to be spring of 1928. A wealthy Philadelphian takes the train down drives down to Fort Myers, Florida for a winter vacation to watch his beloved A’s in their glory years. Amidst the slow pace of the exhibition contest and the sound of the seagulls and surf at Terry Park Ballfield* , he mulls returning to Philly with a brand new Cadillac. That’s my hypothesis and I’m sticking to it. (-:

    Can you make out for me the name above and the 2 names below Orsatti on the more faded scorecard? there is good data here for baseball historians.

    *which still stands today

    • That sounds like a pretty good theory to me!

      The best I can do is that the first name you asked about (the second baseman) is that it appears to start with a F. I can’t really read the letters, but length seems to match up with the 2B from the front cover of Frisch and you can almost sort of make out a smudged CH at the end.

      The second one you asked about (the first baseman) starts with a curved letter like a C, O, or G. It looks like it might end in MES.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Below ORSATTI, the first line is FRISCH, 2B. I believe the line below that is shared by two names: CLARENCE MITCHELL, a solid-hitting pitcher who played 80 MLB games at first base. Then, if I am correct and the position was shared during the game, BOTTOMLEY might be the name crammed in to the shared space.

    • This is referring to the more faded box score in the back cover, correct? I’m with you on Frisch, but on the original, the name below doesn’t look long enough to be Mitchell (or it’s just been so badly smudged you can’t tell what it WAS anymore). Also, I can’t make out anything in the box score that looks like Bottomley.

      If it helps at all and in case you can’t see on the scan, here is the St. Louis roster from the back cover: Hafey (RF), Orsatti(LF), Frisch (2B), illegible (1B), Roettger (3B), High (CF), Wilson (C), Thevenow (SS), Rhem (P), Sherdel (P).

  3. Yep. It’s confusing on that faded back page. However, I was guided by 2 things that SEEMED apparent:

    1. A “C” which appears clear enough, in a very smudged box in which two entries SEEM to have been made; by elimination and actual playing use at a position, C. Mitchell was the best I could do.

    2. An “m” and “e” and a “v” [which is probably what’s left of a “y” … which would indicate “Bottomley.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>