Tag Archives: Elmira Pioneers

Jack Ogden

28 Sep

John Mahlon Ogden had limited success in three stints in Major League Baseball, but for an eight year period he was one of the greatest minor league pitchers in history.

Born in 1897, Ogden played baseball at Swarthmore College (where his brother, Major League pitcher Warren “Curly” Ogden also played), and went directly to John McGraw’s New York Giants.  The 20 year old appeared in five games for the Giants before being shipped to the Newark Bears in the International League where he went 5-5 with a 1.48 ERA.  Ogden spent 1919 with the Rochester Hustlers posting a 10-13 record with a 2.37 ERA.

His career took off the next season with the Baltimore Orioles.  The 22 year old Ogden led the International League champions with a 27-9 record—future Hall of Famer Lefty Grove was 12-2 for the O’s that year.  Egan followed that up with an incredible 31-8 record with a 2.29 ERA in 1921.  Beginning on May 10 Ogden won 18 straight decisions, finally losing 3-2 to the Jersey City Skeeters on July 22.  Ogden then won his next five starts.  Baltimore won their third of seven straight IL championships (Grove was 25-10 with a 2.56 ERA).

Over the next six seasons Ogden went 133-63, including a 28-win season in 1925, the last championship in Baltimore’s domination of the International League.

Jack Ogden

Ogden made it back to the Major Leagues with the Saint Louis Browns in 1928 and ’29 where he was a combined 19-24 with an ERA above 4. Ogden was acquired by Cincinnati for the 1930 season, but due to an illness he announced his retirement and took a high school coaching job.

Ogden attempted a comeback in 1931, going a combined 6-10 for the Reds in ’31 and ’32, followed by two more minor league stints with Rochester (after being traded by the Reds to Cardinals) and Baltimore.  He retired for good in 1934 and accepted the position of Vice President and General Manager of the Orioles and became assistant to Philadelphia Phillies President Gerald Nugent in 1939.

In 1941 Ogden bought controlling interest of the Elmira Pioneers in the Eastern League.  His son, John Jr., also a star pitcher and basketball player at Swarthmore, helped Ogden operate the team until he was drafted in 1943.   PFC John Mahlon Ogden Jr. was killed in France on August 8, 1944. Ogden sold the Elmira franchise shortly after his son’s death.

Ogden continued in baseball serving as a scout for a number of teams and managed high school and college teams.  He passed away in 1977 in Philadelphia.

Ogden is a member of the International League Hall of Fame.

Caught a Bullet

16 Aug

Elmira Pioneers Centerfielder Milt Joffe made an unusual catch at the start of the top of the sixth inning in an Eastern League game against the Hartford Chiefs on May, 15, 1952.

A .22 caliber bullet ripped the glove off Joffe’s hand and lodged in the webbing.

Shaken but unhurt, Joffe stayed in the game which resumed after a short delay.

Police found a group of kids with the .22 rifle near the ballpark, they claimed they were firing at a target and missed.