New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Baseball

Lee Ballanfant

Lee Ballanfant (Baseball.  Born, Waco, TX, Dec. 27, 1895; died, Dallas, TX, July 15, 1987.)  A broken leg while playing in the old Texas Association led Edward Lee Ballanfant to start umpiring in the same league the next season.  Ballanfant umpired 10 seasons in the minors before moving up from the Texas League to the N.L., where he remained for 22 seasons (1936-57).  Although he had been with the U.S. Army forces in France during World War I, when he worked on Opening Day, Apr. 14, 1936, at the Polo Grounds, it was the first time he had ever seen a major league ballpark.  Once, after he was hit with a bottle thrown by a fan in Philadelphia, crew chief Al Barlick forfeited the game.

Johnny Balquist

Johnny Balquist (College baseball.  Born, Pittsburgh, PA, June 18, 1908; died, Teaneck, NJ, Jan. 22, 1991.)  An infielder at Columbia (1930-32), John Balquist later succeeded the legendary Andy Coakley as the Lions baseball coach.  Balquist was head coach at Manhattan (1939-42), where he was also assistant athletic director, before joining Coakley as an assistant in 1943.  He handled the freshman and junior varsity teams until 1952, when he began a 21-year run as Columbia’s head coach.  Balquist was 180-176-8 at Columbia and 207-224-10 overall.  His 1963 team, featuring All-America shortstop Archie Roberts, was co-Eastern Intercollegiate League champions.

Dan Bankhead

Dan Bankhead (Baseball.  Born, Empire, AL, May 3, 1920; died, Houston, TX, May 2, 1976.)  Distinguished as the major leagues’ first black pitcher, righthander Daniel Robert Bankhead came to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 for four games (0-0).  Bankhead returned in 1950 (9-4) and 1951 (0-1) after two seasons in the minors.

Jack Banta

Jack Banta (Baseball.  Born, Hutchinson, KS, June 24, 1925; died, Hutchinson, KS, Sept. 17, 2006.)  His big league career was confined to 69 games over four seasons, but John Kay Banta carved himself a heroic niche in Brooklyn Dodgers history.  Banta was critical to the Dodgers’ one-game pennant win over St. Louis in 1949.  He relieved on the last day of the season, Oct. 2, in a game at Philadelphia that was tied, 7-7, after six innings.  Banta blanked the Phils over the last four innings while the Dodgers scored twice in the 10th off Ken Heintzelman to win the game, 9-7, and the N.L. pennant.  The lanky righthander pitched the last inning bleeding from a broken blister on his pitching hand.  Banta, who came to Brooklyn in Sept. 1947, appeared briefly in 1948 and was 10-6 in 1949 and 4-4 in 1950.

Al Barlick

Al Barlick (Baseball.  Born, Springfield, IL, Apr. 2, 1915; died, Springfield, IL, Dec. 27, 1995.)  An Illinois coal miner who began umpiring games at $1 apiece during a mine strike, Albert Joseph Barlick served as an N.L. umpire for nearly 30 seasons (1940-43, 1946-55, 1958-71).  Barlick began his professional career in 1936 in the Northwest Arkansas League.  By 1939, he was in the International League and was brought to the N.L. in Sept. 1940, when the famed Bill Klem injured a knee.  Barlick served in the U.S. Coast Guard on submarine patrol (1944-45) and missed two seasons (1956-57) to undergo treatment for an enlarged heart.  In 1970, he was the leader of the strike that caused regular umpires to miss the first game of the playoffs.  The walkout led to improved pay and benefits.  Barlick worked seven World Series and a record seven All-Star Games.

Rex Barney

Rex Barney (Baseball.  Born, Omaha, NE, Dec. 19, 1924; died, Baltimore, MD, Aug. 12, 1997.)  After one good season on the mound, Rex Edward Barney enjoyed many good seasons behind the microphone.  Barney had an unhittable fastball but unpredictable control.  The lefthander flunked a tryout with Detroit, got signed by the wartime Dodgers, and pitched five years for Brooklyn after World War II.  Barney pitched for Durham (N.C.), Montreal, and Brooklyn in 1943 and then went into the service.  He was 35-31 overall (1943, 1946-50).  His good year was 1948.  He was 15-13 and actually finished 12 of his 34 starts.  Also that year, he pitched a no-hitter on a rainy Sept. 9 at the Polo Grounds, beating the Giants, 2-0.  Injuries kept him out most of 1949, but he and his wildness returned.  The Dodgers even tried a hypnotist for Barney, to no avail, and in 1950 he was sent out to Fort Worth (Tex.).  He walked 16 in his first Texas League start.  He quit, tried a comeback with a semipro team, then finally quit for good.  Barney became a good broadcaster on the Mutual “Game of the Day” on radio, as well as on local New York stations.  In the early 1960s, he went to Baltimore, where he was a color analyst on Orioles telecasts, and conducted a radio show on WBAL.  Barney probably achieved his most lasting fame as the Orioles’ public address voice.  Filling in starting in the late 1960s, he became the full-time stadium announcer in 1974 and worked virtually to his dying day.

George Barr

George Barr (Baseball.  Born, Scammon, KS, July 19, 1892; died, Sulphur, OK, July 26, 1974.)  Few men have contributed as much conceptually to major league umpiring as George McKinley Barr, who umpired in the N.L. for 19 seasons (1931-49).  In 1935, Barr opened the first umpiring school in Hot Springs, Ark., then wrote the first textbook about umpiring, and later served as president of two minor leagues, where he emphasized umpire training.  He operated his umpire school until 1967 while serving as president of the Western Association (1953-54) and the Sooner State League (1956-57).  Called up in August 1931, Barr umpired four World Series and is the last umpire to get Series assignments in consecutive years (1948-49).  He worked the Subway Series of 1937 and the 1942 Fall Classic.

Ed Barrow

Ed Barrow (Baseball.  Born, Springfield, IL, May 10, 1868; died, Port Chester, NY, Dec. 15, 1953.)  Considered by most observers to be the architect of the New York Yankees dynasty, Edward Grant Barrow was the man who engineered the deal that brought Babe Ruth to New York and then constructed the supporting cast.  Barrow, perhaps the only serious rival to Branch Rickey as an organizer and judge of talent, ended an undistinguished playing career and became manager of the Detroit Tigers in 1903 at age 34.  He had previously been a scout and minor-league manager as well.  In 1911, he became president of the International League and built it into probably the top minor league of its time.  In 1918, Barrow was hired as manager of the Boston Red Sox and guided the club to the American League pennant in a season shortened by order of the government due to World War I.  He served two more seasons as field boss of the Red Sox and then was hired by the Yankees as their business manager.  While Col. Jake Ruppert was the president of the club, Barrow was the de facto boss in baseball matters and in the front office through the 1944 season. He became president of the club after Ruppert’s death in 1939.  During his reign, the Yankees rose from a lackluster club to be the dominant force in the game, winning their first 14 A.L. pennants.  The Yankees also won 10 World Series during his tenure, including four-game sweeps in 1927, 1928, 1932, 1938, and 1939.  From 1945 (when the team was sold) until 1948, Barrow served as chairman of the board and the Yankees won both the pennant and the Series again in 1947. But his 1927 club, still thought by many to be the greatest team ever, is his towering monument.

Rowdy Dick Bartell

Rowdy Dick Bartell (Baseball.  Born, Chicago, IL, Nov. 22, 1907; died, Alameda, CA, Aug. 4, 1987.)  As his nickname implies, Richard William Bartell was a peppery, aggressive player.  Bartell was also the shortstop for the Giants pennant winners in 1936 and 1937, injecting some life into what many thought was a talented but uninspired team.  His aggressiveness wasn’t confined solely to the field and this led to frequent trades.  Bartell started his career in Pittsburgh (1928) after just one year in the minors, and he came to the Giants Nov. 1, 1934, in a deal that sent four players to the Phillies.  He hit .298 in 1936 (plus .381 in the World Series against the Yankees) and .306 in 1937.  The Giants sent him to the Chicago Cubs Dec. 6, 1938, with Gus Mancuso and Hank Lieber for three players, including slick-fielding shortstop Billy Jurges.  Bartell wound up on Detroit’s 1940 A.L. pennant winners as the No. 1 shortstop, but was released May 11, 1941, and four days later signed with the Giants.  He hit .303 that year in 104 games but was a utility man for the next two seasons before entering military service in 1944 at age 36.  Bartell returned to the Giants in 1946 but retired after five games (hitless in two at-bats) and became a minor league manager.  He hit .284 in 2,016 major league games over 18 seasons (1927-43, 1946).

Hank Bauer

Hank Bauer (Baseball.  Born, East St. Louis, IL, July 31, 1922; died, Lenexa, KS, Feb. 9, 2007.)  A one-time steamfitter and World War II veteran, Henry Albert Bauer was the Yankees rightfielder for more than a decade, during which time the team won nine pennants.  Bauer came to the Yankees in 1948 and became a regular in leftfield the following year.  Following Tommy Henrich’s retirement, Bauer shifted to right on a steady basis, though he was sometimes platooned with lefthanded hitters by Casey Stengel.  A strong righthanded hitter, Bauer had his best season in 1950, when he hit .320 in 113 games.  He later set a World Series record by hitting safely in 17 straight games (1956-58).  Bauer hit 158 homers for the Yankees (1948-59), who traded him Dec. 11, 1959, to Kansas City in the seven-player deal that brought Roger Maris to New York.  He was an excellent fielder with a strong arm and closed out the 1951 Series with a running catch on Sal Yvars’ sliced, sinking liner to right in the ninth inning of the sixth game.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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