Sunday, January 4, 2009

Scotty Ingerton

My first baseball history post on this site is about a player who played one year in the major leagues and of whom I knew virtually nothing 24 hours ago. I wanted to challenge myself to see how much information I could track down on a player who interests me in a limited amount of time.

Why does Scotty Ingerton interest me, especially if he only played one season in the majors? Two reasons. First, I have been playing a tabletop baseball simulation game, Strat-O-Matic Baseball (SOM), recently using the players from the 1911 season. Ingerton was a member of the Boston Rustlers (who were renamed the Braves in 1912, a name they carry to this day although the franchise is now in Atlanta), the worst team in the National League in 1911 with a record of 44-107. On this bleak team, Ingerton has been outperforming his real-life self, leading the team in runs batted in and doing a fantastic job of fielding.

That, in and of itself, wouldn't really make me want to delve into the life of Mr. Ingerton. The second source of inspiration is that Ingerton led the Tri-State League in home runs in 1910 playing for the Altoona Rams. The Tri-State League is a primary research interest of mine and Altoona is my hometown.

What can I tell you about Scotty Ingerton? He was born on April 19, 1886 in Peninsula, Ohio. Peninsula is a small village with about 600 people that is smack dab in the middle of Cuyahoga National Park. Back when the town originated in 1827, it was a large seaport town on the Ohio Canal. The town was located on a peninsula where the Cuyahoga River forms a relatively tight horseshoe. As river shipping dwindled, so did Peninsula. It was a veritable ghost town by the 1950's until locals worked to revive the town. It is now a frequently visited tourist area with 22 buildings on the National Historic Register and one of Ohio's few skiing areas.

Scotty was born William John Ingerton, the second of three children to William and Mary Ingerton. Both his parents were first-generation Americans, their parents having immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Scotty's father worked as an engineer. He died early in the 20th century. Scotty's younger sister Irene would live with their widowed mother until she married in the 1920's.

Scotty and his older brother Neil (Cornelius) began playing baseball in their youths and played for the Peninsula high school team. Scotty was a big kid and was also remarkably quick for his size. His build and athleticism led him to pursue baseball as a career. After high school, he played for a semi-pro team in Akron. From there he went north to play for the Ashtabula Trolley team in 1905. Ashtabula was a port town that also had a strong presence with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Ingerton's performance with the trolley team garnered the attention of the Cleveland major league club.

Called the Naps after team leader and star second baseman Napoleon Lajoie, the Cleveland team had grave concerns about the future of the squad. Lajoie, the American League's top hitter from 1901 through 1904, had been spiked during a game and had contracted blood poisoning which caused the future Hall of Famer to miss the majority of the 1905 season. Fearing that he would not be ready in time for the '06 season, the Naps signed Ingerton as an emergency precaution.

When the spring of 1906 came around, Lajoie seemed ready to play and Ingerton was deemed in need of some more seasoning before joining the major leagues. Given that his experience to this point was on the amateur and semi-professional level, this was not surprising. Cleveland released Ingerton to the nearby Zanesville, Ohio team. The team relocated to Marion, Ohio in the middle of the season and Ingerton's performance was solid but unspectacular. Playing shortstop and second base, Ingerton hit .256 with 13 stolen bases.

During the winter, Cleveland sold Ingerton to Albany of the New York State League for five hundred dollars but per the rules of the day maintained control of his rights. Ingerton struggled throughout the 1907 season, playing multiple positions in the infield and only batting .231. The Albany Senators, however, won the New York State League title with a 79-50 record.

In 1907, the Marion team developed a hard-hitting first baseman named Jake Daubert. Daubert would eventually star for Brooklyn in the National League in the 1910's. Cleveland was interested in Daubert and purchased him, agreeing to also send Ingerton back to Marion. Ingerton refused to report and before the season started, Ingerton was sold back to Albany for $600.

Ingerton continued to struggle at the plate for Albany in 1908, hitting just .222. He did lead the league in sacrifice hits with 39, hit 15 triples and also stole 17 bases. Defensively, his play was limited to the corner positions, first and third base, where he performed well.

Before the 1909 season, Ingerton held out briefly but finally reported to Albany. Once again he did not hit well, managing just a .217 average. As the everyday third baseman for the Senators, though, he began to establish himself as one of the better defenders of the position.

Ingerton's size (at this time he was about 6'1" and 180 pounds) and skill in the field made him appealing to other teams. Henry Ramsey, manager of the Altoona team of the Tri-State League, was one of those who held Ingerton in high regard. He procured Ingerton for his Rams and the 1910 season. The Rams had seen their roster greatly depleted after the 1909 season and Ramsey scoured the country for fresh talent to restock his team.

Ramsey's scouting work paid off. Altoona jumped out to a quick lead in the standings and took the pennant with a 72-38 record, nine games better than second place Lancaster. In Altoona, Ingerton realized his potential. His average jumped a hundred points to .320, fourth in the league, and he led the circuit with ten home runs. He also led the league's third basemen in fielding percentage. In a game against York, he had five base hits in five at bats.

With his breakout season, the major leagues came calling. The Boston Red Sox sent several scouts to examine Ingerton's play but found his fielding lacking. The Chicago Cubs liked what they saw, though, and bought Ingerton from Altoona for $1500. Ingerton was not the only player to be bought from Altoona. Bob Coulson, who led the league in runs, and Elmer Steele, the winningest pitcher in the league, would end up in the major leagues with Brooklyn for the 1911 season.

Despite the high price tag on Ingerton, the Cubs did not hold onto him for long. The Boston Rustlers of the National League, so named after new owner William Russell, a New York lawyer, wanted Ingerton. In 1910, Boston lost 100 games and finished last in the National League - the second consecutive season in which they had accomplished both feats. Russell was determined to rebuild the team and dealt infielder Bill Shean to the Cubs for Ingerton and pitcher Jeff Pfeffer.

The new Boston team did not fare any better than previous versions. The team floundered to a 44-107 record and again was in the basement of the National League. In May they lost fourteen games in a row and later posted a sixteen game losing streak. Ingerton, who roomed with fellow Ohioan and future Hall of Famer Cy Young, was used everywhere in the field except for pitcher and catcher. Once again Ingerton struggled at the plate, batting just .250 with five home runs and finishing eighth in the league in strikeouts.

Ingerton's single season in the major leagues was notable for three things. Scotty started the season well, blasting his first two home runs in a game against the Giants on May 6th. Only ten National Leaguers would hit two home runs in a game during the 1911 campaign. Ingerton continued his home run heroics two days later, again against the Giants. Ingerton launched a shot off Bugs Raymond into the centerfield bleachers at South End Grounds, the first player ever to send a home run into that section. Ingerton only managed a pair of home runs the rest of the season.

The final achievement of Ingerton's as a Rustler was his starting a triple play on the final day of the season. Playing at short and with men on first and second, Ingerton snagged a low line drive, tossed to second to double off the runner and then the third out was made when the relay to first beat the runner back.

A month after the season ended, owner William Russell died of a heart attack. The team was sold again. Ingerton refused to report for spring training, holding out for a better contract and expressing his desire to be used strictly as a first baseman. The new owners looked at Ingerton's play over the season and the team's performance in 1911 and figured there wasn't any reason to haggle with Ingerton so they sold him to Indianapolis of the American Association.

Ingerton once again started at third base but was moved to centerfield when injuries began to take their toll on the Indianapolis team. In May, several players, including Ingerton, were stricken with ptomaine poisoning after eating bad fish in Columbus, Ohio. Ingerton recovered and hit well, posting a .301 batting average. His team's prospects were the same as the Rustlers in 1911. Indianapolis finished last in the American Association with a 56-111 record.

The 1913 season saw Ingerton hit an identical .301 from the previous year. It was not a good season for him, however. Scotty began the year with Indianapolis and broke his leg early on. Indianapolis released him but Louisville picked him up and he finished out the season with them, playing just 23 games in all.

The broken leg sapped Scotty of his speed. Louisville used him primarily in rightfield during the 1914 season and would pinch-run for him late in games. He hit .254 but the triples that had been part of his arsenal would end up as just two-baggers. The next two seasons were spent jumping from team to team until Ingerton finally gave up and moved back to Ohio.

For a while he lived in Akron and worked as a deputy sheriff. When his sister finally married in the 1920's, he moved back to Peninsula and lived with his mother. Scotty opened a restaurant and bar there and took part in the Peninsula Python hunt of 1944. The Peninsula Python was said to have been a large snake that had escaped from a carnival. While there were many sightings of it and supposed tracks from it slithering in the dirt, the snake was never caught. It became an integral part of Peninsula's history and they still celebrate the hunt every year in Peninsula.

Ingerton died on June 15, 1956 in Cleveland and was buried at St. Vincent Cemetery in Akron, Ohio.

This is likely the Peninsula high school team but may have been a local team. The book Images of America: Cuyahoga Valley calls it the latter. Scotty is sitting in the middle. His brother Neil is standing second from the right.

The Tri-State League champion Altoona team of 1910. Ingerton is #4. Photo from the 1911 Spalding Baseball Guide.

The Sporting Life
Boston Braves Historical Association Newsletter
Who's Who in Baseball
The Boston Braves by Harold Kaese
Going for the Fences by Bob McConnell
The Minor League Encyclopedia by
Spalding's Official Baseball Guide
Society for American Baseball Research online databases
Baseball Magazine
The New York Times
Peninsula Library and Historical Society
Images of America: Cuyahoga Valley


Anonymous said...

Interesting notes. I, too wondered about Ingerton, as I had never heard of him until using him in a game of APBA this evening. Thank you for adding this biography to the net.
Dom Pacheco

Anonymous said...

Nice job of snap research. Scotty was one of our locals and I appreciate all the baseball information you included here.

The only correction you should consider making is to clarify that boats did not run on the river. It is way to shallow. What put the Village on the map (as well as Cleveland and Akron) was a canal that connected Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

Peninsula was the mid point between both cities as a center for boat building and winter laying over once the canals froze.

Ed from Peninsula.