Charlie Dexter, and the Other Charlie Dexter

14 Aug
Last week I told you about Charlie Dexter, former major leaguer, and one of the heroes of Chicago’s Iroquois Theater fire.  Not to be confused with the other Charlie Dexter, a minor league outfielder and first baseman of the same era.  The two were often conflated in contemporary newspaper accounts.

Charlie Dexter

The other Charlie Dexter, the career minor leaguer (1904-09), was born Oscar Schoenbecker in Ohio and was killed in a hunting accident in November of 1909 in Mount Holly, Ohio.  According to his obituary, in The Cincinnati Commercial Tribune he changed his name “fearing the jests of the old people in case he failed,” as a player.

Reading contemporary accounts of the major league Charlie Dexter is a study in dichotomies.  A year and a half before his heroics at the Iroquois theater were recounted in papers across the country, numerous papers echoed the sentiments of the Pittsburgh Press that Dexter’s release by Chicago had more to do with his being a “trouble maker” than his .227 average.

Numerous stories over the years hinted, or outright said that Dexter, like many players of the era, had a serious drinking problem. He was released by Boston after the 1903 season and returned to the minor leagues for the first time since 1895.
The end of line seemed to come in October of 1905 in Des Moines, when during what was described as a “Drinking binge” Dexter stabbed his friend, Milwaukee first baseman Henry “Quait” Bateman.  The earliest reports from Iowa papers and wire services said Bateman was either dead or near death and that “(Dexter) slashed Bateman across the breast, the blade cutting into the lung.”

Quait Bateman

Dexter was immediately arrested.  But within days the wire services were reporting that Bateman was not seriously injured and had refused to file charges.  Dexter was released from custody.  Other players who were present (none were named is stories) “Dexter and Bateman are on the best of terms and that their little quarrel had done nothing to mar their friendship.”  Without Bateman’s cooperation, a grand jury elected not to indict Dexter.

He played two more seasons in Des Moines, taking over as manager from Mike Kelly 20 games into the 1907 season and managing the team through 1908.

Dexter stayed in Iowa and was occasionally mentioned in local papers over the next few years in connection with amateur and semi-pro leagues.  Dexter shot himself in 1934 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Bateman Died in Milwaukee on January 18, 1937.

One more story about the aftermath of the Bateman stabbing next week.

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