As a hitter, Hall of Fame outfielder Ed Delahanty wore out pitchers with a career .346 batting average, including three seasons of .400 or better. During his 16-year major-league career, 13 of them spent with the Philadelphia Phillies, “Big Ed” collected 2,597 hits and slugged 101 homers in an era when round-trippers were scarce.
Delahanty also wore out pitchers at saloons, with bouts of binge drinking toward the end of his career, which ended tragically in 1903. More on that later.
But a silver pitcher, with Delahanty’s name engraved on it in a beautiful script to commemorate his home run prowess in 1899, might be the most fascinating story about the “King of Swat.” Bank on it.
On February 20, 2016, John Frederick Bauder Jr. died in Southampton Township, New Jersey. He was 100 years old, a longtime Philadelphia native, a retired fifth-grade teacher and a pilot who flew missions over the Normandy beaches on D-Day. A few days before his death, he was speaking with his niece, Sandy Bauder, and her boyfriend of eight years, Rick Marino.
“Uncle John said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you,’” the 55-year-old Marino said. “He was a recluse, he’d hardly ever let anyone into his house.
“He had a pitcher on the shelf, it was innocuous-looking.”
What he told the couple stunned them both.
History of Ed Delahanty’s Silver Pitcher
That silver pitcher was sold to John’s father, John F. Bauder Sr., by Delahanty to cover some debts. Bauder Sr. was president of the Tenth National Bank in Philadelphia, and he also bought a gold and diamond ring from Delahanty.
But the silver pitcher was the real jewel. Delahanty received it as a gift from William E. Grady, “one of the Phillies’ most loyal partisans” according to the Pittsburgh Press. Engraved on the front was the phrase: “Presented by Wm. E. Grady to Ed Delahanty 1900.”
Whenever Rick or Sandy would visit Bauder, the pitcher was turned so neither could see the engraving. It is 12 inches tall and 6 inches wide — “pretty neat, very ornate with a beautiful handle, a pretty heavy item,” Marino said.
“It was in beautiful shape, but you could tell it was 115 years old,” he added.
Grady was a Philadelphia saloon keeper who annually presented a silver pitcher to the player “making the most home runs on the grounds at Broad and Huntingdon Streets,” according to the Pittsburgh Press. Baseball historians will recognize that description as the streets surrounding Baker Bowl, the Phillies’ home park. In 1899, Delahanty led the Phillies with nine home runs — with four coming at Baker Bowl. It might have been his most productive season, as he led the National League in eight categories, including average (.410), hits (238), RBIs (137) and doubles (55). He did not lead the league in homers, though; Buck Freeman of the Washington Senators connected for 25.
The trophy certainly was well-deserved, and Marino was excited after reading about Delahanty’s career.
“The trophy was in the man’s hands. He drank beer right out of it.”
Sounds like a great story, but some facts needed to be confirmed. Was John Bauder Sr. indeed an officer at the Tenth National Bank? I mean, did anyone frequent the Ninth National Bank, for example? Marino produced some five dollar notes from the Tenth National Bank, signed by Bauder Sr. Plus, census records from 1910 through 1940 confirm that Bauder Sr. was what his son said he was, a bank president. So did his Pennsylvania death certificate, issued after the elder Bauder died on April 8, 1950, in Philadelphia at age 75.
And what about Grady? At first blush, one might think he was the famous New York educator, who now has a school named after him in Brooklyn — William E. Grady Career and Technical School — that counts former NBA star Rolando Blackman as an alumnus. But no, the Grady whose name graces the silver pitcher shows up in every census from 1900 through 1920 on North 16th Street in Philadelphia as an Irish-born saloon keeper or owner; in 1930 he was listed as a wine importer (most likely due to Prohibition laws then in effect). A headline in the Pittsburgh Press of April 14, 1908, noted that Grady “Offers A Cup to Quaker Making Most Home Runs.”
Grady died on March 1, 1937, in Philadelphia, according to his death certificate.
Big Ed’s Sad End
Marino said there was a newspaper clipping about Delahanty placed inside the pitcher. It was from the July, 3, 1988, edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, published 85 years and a day after Delahanty’s death.
Delahanty’s body was “nude, save for a necktie, shoes and socks,” according to an account in the July 10, 1903, edition of the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Record. Two days earlier, the paper reported that Delahanty left Detroit “in a very despondent frame of mind after several days of dissipation.”
Delahanty died on July 2, 1903. He was 35. His biography, written by John Saccoman on the Society for American Baseball Research’s website, tells a sad tale about the final days of Delahanty’s life. Saccoman presents some examples that would lead the reader to guess that Delahanty was considering suicide; for example, in June 1903 he began giving away personal artifacts, and took out a life insurance policy, naming his daughter Florence as the beneficiary.
Delahanty had jumped to the American League’s Washington Senators in 1903. On July 2 he went AWOL in Detroit, started drinking heavily and boarded a Pullman train, the Michigan No. 6, to New York. He became a nuisance on the train, smoking, continuing to drink heavily, and damaging the train’s emergency tool cabinet. At Bridgeburg (now Fort Erie) Ontario, conductor John Cole put Delahanty off the train.
The train crossed the International Railway Bridge and Delahanty decided to walk across the 3,600-foot span toward Buffalo, New York. He was accosted by night watchman Sam Kingston, who was on patrol and looking for smugglers. “There were angry words between the two men, but it is not known whether blows had been exchanged,” the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader reported on July 8, 1903. Delahanty shook free of Kingston and began running toward the American side. The drawbridge had been opened to allow a boat to pass, and Kingston claimed Delahanty either jumped or stumbled, falling 25 feet into the deep water of the Niagara River.
His body was found 20 miles downstream at the base of the Horseshoe Falls—the Canadian side of Niagara Falls — by passengers riding the Maid of the Mist boat.
“He sounded like a sad guy,” Marino said.
Turn of the Century Baseball Relic
Big Ed’s sudden death makes for a sad story, but when Sandy Bauder and Rick Marino called Cooperstown about the discovery of his silver pitcher, officials there were ecstatic.
“I called the Hall of Fame and the girl there went crazy,” Marino said.
Marino said there was a possibility of loaning it to the Hall of Fame to show to baseball fans.
“They said they’d graciously accept,” he said.
Uncovering a relic like the Delahanty item might inspire dreams of a big payday, but Sandy and Rick want to give the first crack to the Hall of Fame.
David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions, says he believes the pitcher would likely fetch at least $5,000-$10,000 with the potential to go higher.
At least for now, there’s no known correlation between the ring and Delahanty’s career. Finding one could also turn it into a valuable relic.
Marino said that in all the time he knew Bauder Jr., the silver pitcher was never brought up in conversation. “We’d watch baseball — he loved the Phillies — but he never mentioned it.”
Exactly when Delahanty sold the pitcher and the ring to Bauder Sr. is unclear; he played in Philadelphia through 1901, but it’s possible Delahanty maintained a residence in Pennsylvania even after he jumped to the Senators and played in Washington. He could have met his banker at any point.
Delahanty was buried at Calvary Cemetery in his hometown of Cleveland. John Bauder Jr. was buried on February 26, 2016, at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania — the same graveyard where his parents and grandparents are buried. He never married or had children.
A Teacher’s Legacy
Marino said Bauder Jr. “was witty and sharp until the end.”
Reclusive or not, Bauder Jr. was hailed by one former fifth-grade student “for being a dreamer who inspired others to dream too.”
In the guest book on Bauder Jr.’s obituary page, former student Sharon Kelly wrote that her teacher inspired her when she attended the Bridesburg School in Philadelphia and that he was a visionary.
“He told us that one day we would be able to sit on the beach and make a phone call,” wrote Miller, who is now a teacher herself. “We all thought he was a little crazy.
“I think of him every time I am on my cell at the beach.”
The legacy Bauder Jr. left has inspired Marino, too.
“Man, I am so fascinated about baseball history,” he said, “and now it gave me a thirst for knowledge about baseball history.”
Pieces of memorabilia like a pitcher personalized to Ed Delahanty certainly would be a thrill to find. And Sandy Bauder and Rick Marino certainly are excited. They are cradling a piece of baseball history rarely seen–and one with quite a story to tell.
“It’s like the Holy Grail of baseball collectibles as far as I can see,” Marino said.