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Focus on Fostoria - Nov_23b_03

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Fostoria Focus - November 23, 2003

When Charles Foster was a Baseball Fan
By Leonard Skonecki

Charles Foster was quite a guy.

Three years before Rome and Risdon united to become Fostoria in 1854, he was mayor of Rome. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, governor of Ohio and secretary of the Treasury under President Benjamin Harrison.

He was a merchant, banker and philanthropist. Fostoria was named for his father.

Did you know the on top of all that Calico Charlie was a rabid baseball fan?

I was rifling through some issues of Sporting Life from 1892. Why was I doing that?

Simple. My life lacks proper direction.

But that's a different problem. Back to Calico Charlie and baseball.

According to the Aug. 27, 1892 issue of Sporting Life, Foster was pals with quite a few of the old Washington Senators of the National League back in those long ago times.

Sporting Life was a national sports publication from 1883 to 1917, much like Sports Illustrated today. It covered cycling, billiards, football and track and field, but its primary interest was baseball, as it should be.

Foster served as Treasury from February 1891 to March 1893 and lived in Washington much of the time in 1892.

Sporting Life said, "One of the greatest baseball cranks (fans) in Washington is the Secretary of the Treasury. He attends every game and roots for the home team."

Foster didn't always root, root, root for the home team. In 1892, Cincinnati and Cleveland alike were in the National League and when they visited Washington, Foster did the big rah-rah for the Ohio teams.

Foster didn't like going to the games at Washington's National Park alone. Every now and again, he dragged President Harrison along with him.

Sporting Life said, "... the two have a royal good time."

How did Foster get bitten by the baseball bug?

The Civil War spread baseball from its birthplace in the Northeast to the rest of the nation. Fostoria was no exception.

Returning Union veterans brought the game home with them. According to the Fostoria Daily Times of July 8, 1925, "Old timers will tell you that the Fostoria Regulars, organized in 1866 just after the Civil War, was the first organized baseball team in Fostoria."

The Regulars needed competition so a second team started up later that summer. That team was called – ready for this? – the Morning Glories.

Why Morning Glories? Because, since they were busy men, they held their practices at five o'clock in the morning.

Foster, age 38 at the time joined the Morning Glories. The teams battled each other on a field at Poplar and McDougal Streets where the old Armory now stands.

Most of the players on these teams were young, up and coming professionals and business men. In addition to Foster, there were John Bricker, a doctor; Abe Gladstone, a grocer; L. Schlesinger, a clothier; and Bert Kridler, son of a harness shop owner, to name a few.

How chummy was Foster with the Washington players? Well, one day Dummy Hoy, the Senator center fielder, waltzed into the Treasury office and asked to see Foster, custodian of the nation's money.

Hoy was an interesting character. He played major league baseball from 1888 to 1902.

He batted .288 over his career and played on the Chicago White Sox team that won the pennant in the American League's very first season in 1901.

He was a great base runner and stole nearly 600 bases. On June 19, 1889, he became one of only three major league outfielders to throw out three runners at home plate in a single game when he nailed a trio of Indianapolis Hoosiers trying to score.

If he was so good, why was he called "Dummy?"

His real name was William Ellsworth Hoy and he was deaf and dumb.

In those less sensitive times, anyone who couldn't speak or hear might well carry the nickname "Dummy".

On May 16, 1902, Hoy, playing for Cincinnati, batted against Luther "Dummy" Taylor of the New York Giants. Taylor was also deaf.

Taylor beat the Reds, 5-3, but Hoy got two base hits in the only big league game where two deaf players competed against one another.

Why was Hoy visiting Foster?

Hoy was a thrifty sort. He'd saved his money and wanted advice on how to invest it. Who better to ask than the country's highest ranking financial officer?

Foster's personal secretary ushered Hoy into his office. The two communicated by writing notes back and forth across Foster's desk. Hoy wanted to know about government bonds.

Foster asked how much money Hoy had, thinking it was a relatively small sum, perhaps a few hundred dollars. Hoy unpocketed a wad of bills.

When Fostoria got done counting, the total was $22,500.

When he told reporters about it later, he said, "I was knocked off my pins."

Fostorer must have steered Hoy right. Hoy died a fairly prosperous man in 1961 at the age of 99.

All thanks to Fostoria's own Charles Foster, economic guru and friend of ball players.

 

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