Friday, February 18, 2011

The New York Times, May 11, 1909

When, in the spring of 1909,  Reverend Father John Tracy of St. Louis's Catholic Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel heard from his Archbishop that he was to be transferred to rural Missouri, he refused to leave his team, opting instead to retire. Tracy was a fixture on the St. Louis third base line, and he visited ballparks in other cities. He was at the Philadephia National Park on August 8, 1903, watching them play the Boston Beaneaters, when he was witness to one of baseball's not-that-infrequent harrowing catastrophes.

Boston was up to bat.  5:40pm, the top of the fourth inning. Two drunks began to argue on the street. Their shouting attracted the attention of some spectators sitting on a walk that hung over the left field bleachers. That's when the trouble started:

The wood buckled and the walk collapsed and bodies plummeted into the bleachers below. Reverend Tracy, sitting in his preferred left field locale, sprang into action.

The New York Times, August 9, 1903

12 people were killed, suffering fractured skulls, broken legs, spinal injuries, concussions, and assorted other fatalities.  Hundreds more were injured. But the ordeal didn't turn Reverend Tracy off baseball.  And it seems he wasn't alone:

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