I was looking through some old blog posts about the Minneapolis Millers 1904 season, which faithful readers will remember we last updated on… ahhhh, 13 March… 2017. (Yikes!)
Sorry about that.
But today I happened to look in old drafts file and I find this: May 5th – Watty’s Birthday.
So Happy Birthday to Watty, William H. Watkins, Skipper of the fleet young herd of Colts that are the 1904 Millers!
Watty was born in Canada, in 1858, and started playing professional ball in 1879 with the Guelph Maple Leafs, in Southwestern Ontario. 1882 finds him living and playing in Port Huron Michigan. Team name unknown. Port Huron Michigonians? In 1884 he enters the major leagues with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the American Association. He plays third base, and a little at second and short, and also taking over the managing, where he compiled a 4-18 mark.
on 26 August 1884 he was hit in the head by a pitch from Gus Shallix of Cincinnati, and was carried from the field, “…writhing in pain…” according to newspaper reports. After a few days at death’s doorstep, Watty comes back, and he puts himself back in the line-up on September 11th, and goes 2 for 4 that day. For more about this, see this post from 23 January 2014.
1884, though, is the last year for Watty as a player. From that point on the peripatetic Watkins is the brains behind the plays, managing or serving as business manager or president or part owner with Indianapolis, then the Detroit Wolverines, the Kansas City Cowboys, the St. Paul Apostles, the Rochester Flour Cities, the St.Louis Browns, the Sioux City Cornhuskers, Indianapolis again, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Indianapolis again, the Minneapolis Millers, Indianapolis again, Indianapolis in the Federal League, and, finally Port Huron.
Following his retirement from baseball, Watty found gainful employment in banking and business and city founding. He founded the city of Marysville, MI, and was village President. For awhile Port Huron had a baseball park called Watkins Field. But that was long ago, and is now covered by industrial parking lot:
Watty passed away in 1937 at age 79. He certainly saw a lot of baseball in his life.
Good game, Watty.