Focus on Fostoria - Feb_2_04

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Fostoria Focus - February 2, 2004

Charles Foster Baseball Update
By Leonard Skonecki

Recently the Focus gave you the exclusive on Calico Charlie Foster's career as one of American's leading baseball fans. I discovered an article about Foster and Washington Senator outfielder Dummy Hoy in an 1892 issue of Sporting Life.

Now, to coincide with WFOB's Cleveland Indian event at Meadowbrook Park in metropolitan Bascom, we are back at it with more Charles Foster baseball info.

In June 1893, Sporting Life magazine mournfully reported that among the Cabinet members in the Administration of President Grover Cleveland, only Attorney General Richard Olney was a baseball fan.

Alas, ‘twas a far cry from President Benjamin Harrison's Administration.

You see, not only did Fostoria's own Charles Foster go to the Washington Senator games at National Park, he sometimes took President Harrison with him. Sporting Life said they had a royal good time."

But Harrison wasn't Calico Charlie's only baseball pal. It seems that Harrison's AG, William Miller, and Secretary of Agriculture Jeremiah Rusk teemed up with Foster to make a triple play of baseball fans.

Here's a question: Do you think that Foster, Miller and Rusk used their positions of power just to finagle good seats at the ball games?

You bet your sweet life they did.

In fact, Sporting Life reported, "they always occupied seats in the press box."

Further, Foster and his buddies weren't content to sit and passively observe the action on the field.

Sporting Life said, "They joined in the running comment and criticized the plays and players with all the enthusiasm of a DeWolf Hopper or Digby Bell."

Bell and Hopper were popular comedic stage performers at the time. Both were nationally known and had well-established reputations as baseball fans.

Hopper is especially interesting. He's the man who popularized the baseball poem, "Casey At the Bat." written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer in 1884. ("There is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey has struck out.")

Hopper probably performed "Casey" over 5,000 times. There is an ancient recording of one of his recitations that was copied and sold by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I ordered one and can tell you Hopper's rendition defies description except to say he wrung every last drop of hope and pathos from Thayer's poem.

In other words, he hammed it up.

It's a good bet that Charles Foster derived enormous personal satisfaction from being Fostoria's leading citizen, Ohio's governor and America's treasury secretary.

But I'll lay you two to one he had a lot more fun being a baseball fan.


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