Greatest Story Never Told? Schenectady Baseball Team Beats Hall-of-Famer
An article from WNYT Channel 13 in Albany described how the City of Schenectady recently re-dedicated a baseball diamond for a gentleman named Buck Ewing.
I hadn't heard of Mr. Ewing before, so I began to do a bit of research into who he was. What I uncovered, was an incredible story of a local baseball star who had a profound impact on the Schenectady community during the 1900's.
What I also found, however, was a story that's gone under-the-radar for far too long. A story of a local Schenectady baseball team, that played in the Negro league, who took on a Hall of Fame pitcher in a game in the Capital Region for bragging rights.
And they won.
Schenectady Mohawk Giants Take Down Hall-of-Famer Walter Johnson
The headline of this story is a bit of a hyperbole, as a better description would be the greatest story that's rarely been told. It was told by Times Union writer Abigail Rubel last year, and is admittedly one of the coolest Capital Region sports stories I've ever seen.
The story centers around the Schenectady Mohawk Giants, who played in the Negro league during the 1913 and 1914 seasons. They played their home games in two locations, at Island Park and Mohawk Park.
The team gathered to play a game in late 1913, against a barnstorming baseball team, led by Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson. As Rubel details, Johnson was coming off of a 1913 MLB season in which he went 36-7.
Facing Johnson and the barnstorming squad was hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Frank Wickware, known by nicknames "Rawhide" and "The Red Ant". Wickware was known for his devastating fastball velocity, and his curveball; his control of said pitch was described as "so perfect". He was one of countless baseball talents that most baseball fans never knew about, because they played before the color barrier was broken in Major League Baseball.
That said, just because the team wasn't chock-full of Major Leaguers, didn't mean they weren't talented. As a matter of fact, Wickware and the Giants outdueled Johnson and the barnstorming team, winning 1-0 in a game that was called due to darkness in the 6th inning.
It's an incredible story of triumph in the face of adversity, and one that should be told more often.
So, why did research into Buck Ewing lead to this story being uncovered? Well, the original Mohawk Giants disbanded in 1915, and the area would go the next few years without a representative in the league. The area was still rich with baseball talent, including a catcher who would become a household name in the league years later.
City of Schenectady Re-names Central Park A-Diamond to Buck Ewing Field
As described in the WNYT article linked above, the City of Schenectady announced that it would be re-naming the Central Park A-Diamond to "Buck Ewing Field", honoring the catcher who played a decade in professional baseball.
Ewing lived a large portion of his life in Schenectady, New York, and was buried in the city along with his life. When the city formed a new iteration of the Mohawk Giants, Ewing was said to have been heavily involved.
It's an incredible monument, honoring a person with an incredible story as a prominent figure in the game of baseball in the Capital Region and beyond.