Thursday, July 14, 2016

What was John Sterling's middle name?

John Thorn, MLB's Official Historian, shared his fine blog space with SABR member Richard Malatzky today.  Richard was looking into identifying the player identified only as "Sterling" who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in a game against the Syracuse Stars on October 12, 1890.

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 13, 1890

Baseball-Reference has him listed only as Sterling.

Richard suggests that this Sterling was John A. Sterling, citing the 1870 and 1880 US Census.

"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Philadelphia, ward 02 > image 252 of 1554; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Philadelphia > ED 78 > image 3 of 24; citing NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

So, there's John, aged 5 and then 14.  What's so bad about dropping a year when you're a baseball player?

In the 1870 Census we see that John has a middle initial, A.

In the 1880 Census we see that John has a middle name, Albert.

Now that we know who his folks are, Jesse and Henrietta Sterling, let's try to find any mention of his birth.  FamilySearch shows that there was a John Pierce Sterling.  This is just an index.  I was not able to access the image.

"Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950," database, FamilySearch ( : 9 December 2014), Jessee D. E. Sterling in entry for John Pierce Sterling, 06 Sep 1865; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,310.

The 1890 Census is not generally available for the majority of Americans, due to a fire that destroyed many of the records.  For a more complete explanation of that disaster see the National Archives' Prologue magazine from the Spring of 1996.

Richard states that John Sterling married a Maggie and they had children.

I found John and Maggie in the 1900 Census.

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 August 2014), New Jersey > Camden > ED 97 Gloucester city Ward 2 > image 57 of 82; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

No middle name or initial.  But we can see that John and Maggie had been married for 13 years.  That would put their wedding date at about 1887.

The 1905 New Jersey State Census transcription doesn't list a middle initial.

"New Jersey State Census, 1905," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 November 2014), John Sterling, , Camden, New Jersey, United States; citing p. 13, line 95, Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 1,688,593.

The more records the better.  When doing genealogical research it is sometimes difficult to see what the records contain.  The following is the death certificate for John and Maggie's young daughter, Frances C. E. Sterling.

"Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 May 2014), 004010409 > image 880 of 1102; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

She died when only 13 months old.  It must have been heart breaking for newlyweds to have to bury their child.

But we see the middle initial of A again.

John isn't in the 1910 Census as he passed away on November 10, 1908.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 12, 1908

We have the A again.

Here's the obituary that Peter Morris found in The Billboard magazine.

The Billboard - November 28, 1908
from Google Books

The next week John's mother, Henrietta, passes away.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 17, 1908
Four years before that his father, Jesse, passes away.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 2, 1904

All three of them are buried at Union Cemetery.  Only Jesse has a FindAGrave memorial.

John's wife, Maggie, now going by Margaret, can be found in various state and federal census records going up to 1940.  I have no record of her death or burial.

So, where does that middle name of Pierce come from?  I don't know.  The bulk of the records show A and the 1880 Census shows Albert.  I think that either of those is fine.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Broadcast of July 8, 1941 All-Star Game

John Thorn wrote a piece for the 2016 All-Star Guide titled The San Diego Kid where he asks:
Has there ever been a more dramatic finish to an All-Star Game?  The question is rhetorical; the answer is No.  We’re talking about a Midsummer Classic of 75 seasons ago: July 8, 1941.
I wasn't familiar with that game so after reading John's story, I sought out the box score.  There are several available.  Baseball-Reference has a nice version.  Lots of links.

I looked to the local paper, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, to view their coverage.  It was an evening paper, so the published what they had on the same day the game was played.  Which was through the 4th inning.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 8, 1941

Was there film of this game?  Yes.  I found a few minutes on YouTube.

But what about audio?  Was there a radio broadcast that was captured?   I found a copy of the game n four parts on Old Time Radio Downloads and pieced them together.  The quality was okay, but had some warbles.

Back to YouTube.  I found this copy of the complete game.  It was much more pleasing to the ear than what I concocted.

If you're itching for some All-Star action before Tuesday night, take a few hours and click the play button.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Augusta Giants

On the facebook group, The Historical Negro League Baseball Site, researcher Steve Cain wrote:
I am still trying to find any information on negro minor/amateur baseball in Augusta, Georgia. I know there was a team called the Augusta All-Stars that played at the Augusta Sea Beach in 1932 and there was another team clled the Augusta Giants that played at Jennings Stadium. If anyone has more information, it would be greatly appreciated!
I took to and found the following articles and ads about the Augusta Giants.

The Augusta Chronicle - May 14, 1933

The Augusta Chronicle - June 18, 1933

The Augusta Chronicle - July 2, 1933

The Augusta Chronicle - August 1, 1934

The Augusta Chronicle - August 21, 1934

Charleston News and Courier - September 2, 1934
I've shared them with Steve, but I wanted to make them available to others.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Neutral Game in Covington, KY - 1875

The Marlins and the Braves are going to play a game at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on July 3.  John Thorn, Official Historian of MLB, wrote a nice piece about games being played on Neutral Sites.

Several years ago I wrote about my 'discovery' of the Star Base Ball Grounds in Covington, Kentucky.  It was used by the Philadelphia Whites and the Hartford Dark Blues on September 21, 1875.

I thought that it was time to recount the story of the game.  I found it in the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, dated September 22, 1875.

A disputed coin flip to start the game.  A ball rolling under carriages in the 9th.  And lots of action in between with a wonderful write up. 

The weather report from the day before indicated that the temperature was 50°, clearing, with winds out of the NW.  The Hartfords were in Covington that day, playing a game against the local team.  The Hartfords lost.  From the following story we find out that Mr. Mack, who was umpire for the Philly/Hartford game, was the first baseman for the Stars.  Interesting to note that Umpire Mack was Dennis "Denny" Mack, who had played mostly infield for the Philadelphia National Association team the previous two seasons.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune - September 21, 1875

Also playing on that Monday were the Philadelphians and the Red Stockings of the Queen City.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune - September 21, 1875

And there you have a the story (and more) of one of 10 neutral site games played in 1875.

All newspaper images from