Reports of His Death Were Greatly Exaggerated

18 Sep

Harry “Rube Allemang’s career was on the upswing at the close of the 1902 season; after a disappointing 4-15 record in his first season in pro ball with the Youngstown/Marion franchise in the Interstate League, Allemang had turned it around at Little Rock in the Southern League posting 20-4 and 19-11 season in 1901 and ’02.  (Contemporaneous newspaper accounts say he also played for Fort Wayne in the Interstate League in 1899, but there are not available records)

The Cincinnati Reds had just purchased Allemang’s contract and he was out celebrating with friends on the Evening on November 8.  Walking home at around 3 am, Allemang stumbled upon the lookout for a robbery in progress in the Mason City, West Virginia post office.  The lookout told Allemang to stop; when the pitcher kept walking he was shot, robbed and left for dead.

News of the shooting appeared in papers the following day:

Chicago Tribune: “Ball Player in Murdered”

New York Times: “Harry Allemang, Ballplayer, is Dying”

Fort Wayne Gazette: “Harry Allemang Mortally Wounded”

Arizona Republican: “Shot and Mortally Wounded”

The reports were premature.

Despite being shot just above the heart, with the bullet passing through his right lung, Allemang was out of the hospital in less than a month.  The Associated Press said “His case puzzles leading physicians.”

While still in the hospital he sent a letter to Reds owner August Herrmann to “Let you know I am still alive and expect to report in the spring.”

Allemang, with the bullet still lodged in his upper back, got ready for the 1903 season by doing ten mile runs while being pursued by blood hounds borrowed from the Mason County Sheriff.  But Allemang was never the same pitcher after the shooting.

He struggled that spring with the Reds and was sent to St.Paul in the American Association.   He was 12-11 in St. Paul in ’03 and 10-23 with Indianapolis in the same league in 1904.  After just two games with Sioux City in Western League in 1905, Allemang signed with the Niles Crowites in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League in May, and then jumped to an outlaw league team in Coatsville, Pennsylvania in July.  He came back to Southern League with Nashville in 1906, but lasted just six games, posting a 2-4 record.

Allemang passed away in Linton, Indiana in March of 1938—more than 35 years after the newspapers pronounced him dead.

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