Actor John Mahoney Passed Away This Week. Do You Remember His Connection to Baseball History?

Actor John Mahoney Passed Away This Week. Do You Remember His Connection to Baseball History?

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Kid Gleason Photo Gallery
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Actor John Mahoney Passed Away This Week. Do You Remember His Connection to Baseball History?

In case you don’t remember, I’ll tell you. He portrayed White Sox manager Kid Gleason in the movie “Eight Men Out.” Many of us are aware that the movie, based on Eliot Asinof’s book, took quite a few liberties with the truth, but John Mahoney’s performance of Kid Gleason was certainly well done.  

Actor John Mahoney

There was a lot more to Kid Gleason’s career than just the Black Sox Scandal. Let’s take a couple minutes to use the occasion of John Mahoney’s passing to set the record straight.

“He was, without doubt, the gamest and most spirited ball player I ever saw and that doesn’t except Ty Cobb. He was a great influence for good on any ball club, making up for his lack of stature by his spirit and fight. He could lick his weight in wildcats and would prove it at the drop of a hat.”- John McGraw

Kid Gleason was a scrappy little ball player who started out as a pitcher and later became the starting second baseman for one of the greatest teams in baseball history, the famous Baltimore Orioles of Ned Hanlon.

In the featured photo below, we see a beautiful colorization of Kid Gleason by our resident baseball artist, Don Stokes. Click on the link to see a nice photo tribute to Kid Gleason: http://wp.me/p7a04E-1gq

William Gleason acquired the nickname “Kid” early in life because of his short stature and his youthful nature. He debuted as a pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies on April 20, 1888. Over his long, 22-year major league career (1888-1908, 1912), Gleason played for the Phillies, Browns, Orioles, Giants, and White Sox. Over eight seasons as a pitcher, he went 138-131 with a 3.79 ERA including 38 wins in 1890. His career batting average was a respectable .261 with 1946 hits, 216 doubles, 81 triples, and 824 RBIs. He’s one of the small group of players who have appeared in the major leagues in four decades.

After his playing career ended, Gleason returned to the major leagues as a coach with the White Sox. He was named manager on December 31, 1918. In his first season, the Sox won the pennant but the lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, amid allegations that the Series had been thrown. The scandal resulted in lifetime bans for eight White Sox players. Gleason was not involved, and some historians have noted that he was among those who alerted White Sox owner Charles Comiskey of the fix. 

Gleason was said to be personally affected by the scandal for the rest of his life. His team was in a close pennant race in 1920, but fell out after the eight suspensions came down. With a roster depleted of its star players, the White Sox failed to post a winning record in the three remaining years of his tenure, finishing with a managerial record of 392-364.

Kid was out of baseball for two years until the allure of baseball got to him again. Athletics’ manager Connie Mack gave him an opportunity to return to the coaching ranks. Gleason was aboard for two World Series championships with the Athletics in 1929 and 1930 and a third pennant in 1931.

-Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: Featured photo colorized by Don Stokes:https://www.facebook.com/Don-Stokes-Old-Time-Baseball-Colorizations-923346241033508/?fref=ts:; Others from Getty Images; the Charles Conlon collection; and from Google search

Information: Excerpts and quotes edited from the Kid Gleason SABR biography by Dan Linder:http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/632ed912; and from the Kid Gleason Wikipedia page:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kid_Gleason

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

1 Comment

  1. Drury · February 10, 2018 Reply

    Excellent article, Mr. Livacari. Very interesting facts and insights, and very ell written. Many thanks!

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