|Origins of Marcustry Park Elude Researcher|
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Trying to sort out the lives of Joe Marcustry and Floyd Pierson and the story of Marcustry Park, the off-Lake-Street baseball field that is now the Webster Little League complex, has grown into a challenge for Webster native Richard “Dixie” Tourangeau.
It’s not as though Marcustry Park is a mystery to Mr. Tourangeau, a longtime Boston resident and a highly respected baseball researcher, essayist, editor and author, including the famed “Play Ball” baseball calendar.
Mr. Tourangeau used many Internet tools, including Social Security index finders, ancestor.com and other checks, without an end track to Mr. Marcustry, a great baseball player, and Mr. Pierson, an early sports writer from 1905 to 1915 or later for the Webster Evening Times.
“The guys are important to Webster sports, as was the park,” says Mr. Tourangeau, revealing that his grandfather’s Lake Street market and home bordered the park. “Now, of course, it is the Little League kingdom, and few realize the number of great baseball games played there by local stars.”
Joe Marcustry was a player in the 1907 to 1917 range, says Mr. Tourangeau, wondering whether his family built the park.
While he knows a lot about Joe Marcustry, including the possibility his birth name might have been Makowski or similar, his baseball feats, public connections, player statistics, and the fact that he managed bowling alleys in this area, he doesn’t know his final address, or where and when he passed away.
Details about writer Pierson are even more sparse, even though he wrote about Webster sports with flair and apparent accuracy for quire a while. “For some reason, those two don’t appear on any census lists, or even in Webster directories.”
A June 1913 edition of the Webster Times gave what was said to be the opening of Marcustry Park on Friday, May 30 — Memorial Day, Mr. Tourangeau discovered. About 1,200 people attended the Fisherville-Webster game. “Fisherville won, 10-5, scoring all 10 runs in the 8th inning.” The first ball was thrown out by George J. Brunnell (chairman of Webster Selectmen). D.J. Delaney and William C. Klebart (the other selectmen) took positions behind the bat and at second base. Joe Marcustry, second baseman, had the honor of scoring the first run on the new grounds.
There’s nothing to say who built the park, or to identify the owner or owners.
A town tie to major league baseball surfaced in summer 1919 when Chicago White Sox second baseman Eddie Collins donated a baseball signed by all the players on the Chicago team as an award to the first S. Slater & Sons player to hit a home run, Mr. Tourangeau learned.
The major leaguer had met Miss Mabel L. Doane, the daughter of Charles P. Doane, a mill agent in Upper Darby, Pa., some time earlier. Mr. Darby moved his family to Webster when he became the agent at the Slater Co. South Village Mill. And, suddenly, Eddie Collins developed an interest in Slater baseball. Eddie and Mabel were apparently married by that time.
The Slater team played “small” baseball, and home runs weren’t in their arsenal. No one hit a homer well into the season, so it was decided the ball would go to the player with the highest batting average. William “Red” DeForest, Denny Karabash and an outfielder named Berry, of Southbridge, were in the running, but in the end Thomas Henry Hederman, headed for the U.S. Naval Academy, was declared the winner.
The baseball, signed by all of the Chicago players and the manager, and considered a gem, was packaged and sent to Hederman at Annapolis.
Then, word about baseball’s great 1919 World Series fix broke over the land, and the White Sox were referred to as the Black Sox.
Eight of their players were banned from baseball for life. Hederman went on to captain the Naval Academy baseball team and become a war hero, leading a destroyer squadron in a daring
daylight raid in Tokyo bay during World War II. He was a captain at the time and was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism.
Neither Mr. Tourangeau nor anyone else knows what became of the Eddie Collins gift. In the 1919 moment of shame, the baseball, and others like it, had little value, thinks researcher Tourangeau. But it would command a great price today, he suggests. History’s price tag might range to as much as $300,000, he estimates.
Getting back to his Joe Marcustry and Floyd Pierson investigation, and the facts to Marcustry Park, Dixie Tourangeau asks: “Does anyone have a clue about these people or the park, other than the land was sold in 1969?”
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