Tag Archives: Harry Ables

Lost Pictures–Hatton Ogle

17 Oct


Hatton Geter Ogle (Texas papers often misspelled his last name “Ogles”) pitched in the Texas League from 1909 to 1916.  He was most likely born in 1885 (Baseball Reference lists his birth date as 1883, but North Carolina and Texas records disagree).

The six-foot, 185 pound Ogle began his professional career with the Wilson Tobacconists in the Eastern Carolina League;  complete records are not available, but in July The Raleigh Times said he “has pitched and won 11 games, having a clean slate.”

The Dallas Morning News said former pitcher Cy Mulkey watched him play in Wilson and signed him to a 1909 contract for the Dallas Giants;  Mulkey compared him to Texas League star Harry Ables.

Ogle moved to Texas after the 1908 season and took a job teaching school near Dallas, in Coppell; his off-season job earned him the nickname “professor’ in Texas papers–he continued teaching in the off-season through at least 1915.

He was just 7-14 with Dallas in 1909 and joined the Waco Navigators in 1910.  After an 11-22 season in 1910, Ogle had a three-year run as one of the best pitchers in the Texas League.

From 1911 until 1913 he was 21-11, 17-14, and 19-12.

In 1912 he pitched in two exhibition games against the Chicago White Sox, on March 17 and March 30, allowing just two runs and six hits in nine innings.  He also had his first no-hitter that season, an 11-0 victory over the Galveston Pirates.

The Waco-News Tribune said:

“(Ogle’s) principal asset was his head, but when the occasion made it necessary ‘the professor’ shows his usual assortment of curves and speed.”

He continued pitching in the Texas League with Waco, the Houston Buffaloes, the Austin Senators and San Antonio Bronchos, through the 1916 season; he added a second no-hitter for Waco in 1914, defeating Austin 6-0 on April 26.

After an 8-17 season in 1916 his career was over.  He returned to the classroom until 1918 when he contracted tuberculosis and moved to El Paso, Texas, where he died five years later, on May 27, 1923.

The Waco News-Tribune–seven years after his career ended, and four years after Waco’s Texas League franchise had folded–simply said in Ogle’s small obituary:

“(He) was one of the popular tossers of the old Waco Navigators.”

Ogle's 1912 no-hitter

Ogle’s 1912 no-hitter

Ogle's 1914 no-hitter

Ogle’s 1914 no-hitter

“Branding us as if we were a Band of Convicts”

1 Aug

When the directors of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) met in Los Angeles in January of 1912, The Los Angeles Examiner said the league would be introducing a new innovation:

“President (Allan) Baum said each player will be given a uniform bearing upon the left arm a number he will wear throughout the season.  On all score cards sold at games every man of each team will be named in consecutive order.”

The plan wasn’t immediately embraced.  The Portland Oregonian said several players on the Portland Beavers were against the idea, pitcher Frederick “Spec” Harkness said:

“Of course, I don’t like this branding us as if we were a band of convicts…Hap Hogan (Wallace “Happy Hogan” Bray, manager of the Vernon Tigers) must have been the man who got this freaky legislation past the magnates at Los Angeles for the numbers go nicely with Vernon’s convict suits.”

Frederick "Spec" Harkness

Frederick “Spec” Harkness

The idea was actually the inspiration of Oakland Oaks president Edward Walters.

Major League players and executives also objected to the idea, Tigers president Frank Navin was quoted in The Detroit Times:

“It is a 10-1 bet that the players would rather suffer salary cuts all along the line than be labeled like a bunch of horses.”

Despite early objections, PCL players eventually accepted the inevitable, even Harkness who caused a stir among superstitious teammates when he requested number thirteen.

Roscoe Fawcett, sportswriter of The Portland Oregonian said:

“(Harkness) has put superstition to rout by sending in a request for number 13 under the new Pacific Coast League system of placarding players.”

By March the numbering idea gained some acceptance, and the desire for number 13 had caught on; there was a competition for the number among the Portland Beavers.  The Oregonian said Harkness “now finds his claim disputed by Benny Henderson, Walter Doan and others.”

In the end Harkness (who was born on December 13) received the number.  Given the rampant superstitions of early 20th Century players, most teams simply didn’t issue number 13 to any player.  The only other player in the PCL reported to have worn the number was Oakland pitcher Harry Ables.

Harry Ables

Harry Ables

The PCL’s experiment in uniform numbers was largely unsuccessful.  The Oregonian said the armbands were too small and “cannot be read from 90 feet away.”

By the end of the season, Vernon manager Hogan and Portland manager Walter “Judge” McCredie both of whom enthusiastically supported the numbers, were of the opinion that “the present trial has been a fizzle.”

The biggest criticism of the experiment was the failure of the system to achieve its chief goal, “numbering the men did not help out the sale of scorecards.”

Numbers were eliminated before the 1913 season and the PCL did not use uniform numbers again until the early 1930s.

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