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Anson, Cap (17 April 1852–14 April 1922), professional baseball player and manager, was born Adrian Constantine Anson in Marshalltown, Iowa, the son of Henry Anson, a land developer, town founder, and mayor, and Jeannette Rice. By his young adult years, Anson was tall and well built at 6′ and 227 pounds. He often was referred to as “the Swede” because of his square shoulders and wavy blonde hair, but, in fact, his parents were of English-Irish extraction. Anson was taught to play baseball and invited to join his father and older brother who formed the nucleus of the Marshalltown team, an amateur club of great repute. While in his teens, he attracted attention as an outstanding hitter and all-around athlete. Local residents dubbed him the “Marshalltown Infant.”...

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Arcaro, Eddie (19 February 1916–14 November 1997), jockey, was born George Edward Arcaro in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Pasquale Arcaro and Josephine Giancola Arcaro. (It is not known what his parents did for a living.) At birth he weighed barely three pounds, and though he was not a sickly child he remained small in stature throughout his life, growing to an adult height of only five feet two inches and weighing a maximum 114 pounds. From an early age he loved all sports, especially baseball, but because of his size he was never chosen to play on school teams. To make matters worse, a devastating sledding accident when he was twelve, following a move by the family to Southgate, Kentucky, almost cost him the use of his right leg, but the spunky youth began walking on his own even before the doctors allowed him to....

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Armour, Tommy (24 September 1895–11 September 1968), professional golfer, was born Thomas Dickson Armour in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of George Armour, a confectioner. His mother’s name is unknown. His father died when Armour was four. Armour’s older brother, Sandy, took the young child to a golf course adjacent to their house and introduced him to the game of golf. As an adolescent, Armour caddied for Sandy as he won the Scottish Amateur championship. After entering Stewart’s College in Edinburgh, Armour graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1914....

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Armstrong, Henry (12 December 1912–22 October 1988), boxer, was born Henry Jackson, Jr., near Columbus, Mississippi, the son of Henry Jackson. His mother, whose name is unknown, was a full-blooded Iroquois, and his father was of mixed Indian, Irish, and black ancestry. He was the eleventh child in a family of sharecroppers. When he was four years old his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where his father and oldest brothers worked in the food-processing industry. His mother died a few years later, after which he was reared by his paternal grandmother. He graduated from Toussaint L’Ouverture Grammar School and Vashon High School, working during his school years as a pinboy at a bowling alley and becoming interalley bowling champion in midtown St. Louis. He gained his first boxing experience by winning a competition among the pinboys....

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Atlas, Charles (30 October 1893–23 December 1972), physical culturist, was born Angelo Siciliano near Acri in the Calabria province of Italy, the son of farmers. (The parents’ names cannot be ascertained.) He emigrated to the United States with his mother in 1904 and settled in Brooklyn. After leaving school at fifteen, he worked in a women’s pocketbook factory; his future seemed unpromising. Like most “pedlars” from this era, Siciliano was psycho-asthenic and of foreign extraction. Anemic and lacking confidence, Siciliano was subjected to beatings from a neighborhood bully and from an uncle. These humiliations provided an impetus for his lifelong struggle to overcome weakness. Statues of Hercules and other mythological heroes he saw at the Brooklyn Museum inspired him to build his body. Realizing that such beautifully proportioned physiques came from exercise, young Siciliano began reading ...

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Baer, Max (11 February 1909–21 November 1959), world heavyweight boxing champion, was born Maximilian Adelbert Baer in Omaha, Nebraska, the oldest son of Jacob Baer and Dora Baer (maiden name unknown). His father, a cattle dealer and buyer for Swift and Company in Omaha, later moved his family to Durango, Colorado, and then to Livermore, California, where he bought a ranch and raised livestock. Max graduated from elementary school in Livermore and attended high school for one year, then quit school and went to work herding cattle and butchering meat for his father. Later Baer worked in an Oakland, California, factory in which diesel engines were manufactured....

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Baker, Home Run (13 March 1886–28 June 1963), baseball player, was born John Franklin Baker in Trappe, Maryland, the son of Franklin Adam Baker, a butcher and farmer, and Mary Catherine Rust. Baker began playing baseball on the farm fields of Trappe and performed for area semiprofessional teams beginning at age nineteen, earning from $5 to $15 a week. He rejected offers from the Texas League because it was too far from home and from the Baltimore Orioles of the International League because he did not think the contract terms were fair. In 1908 he signed with Reading, Pennsylvania, of the Tri-State League, a team controlled by the Philadelphia Athletics, who called him up to Philadelphia that fall....

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Baugh, Sammy (17 March 1914–17 December 2008), football player, was born Samuel Adrian Baugh and raised in Temple, Texas, the son of James “J.V.” Baugh, who worked for the Santa Fe Railroad when not running gaming houses and cockfights, and Lucy. The family was poor, a predicament that worsened when the father ran off with another woman. “Sammy” Baugh attended local schools. In junior high, he played end and switched to tailback before his mother took her three children to Sweetwater, near Abilene, after Sam's freshman year in high school. There, Sam practiced accuracy by throwing at a swinging tire, later starring at tailback and twice taking his team to the state playoffs. Texas Christian University gave him a scholarship to play baseball, but in his sophomore year the legendary Dutch Meyer became the school's football coach and urged Baugh to concentrate on that sport as quarterback. Between 1934 and 1936, the raw-boned, genial, but foul-mouthed Baugh led the Horned Frogs to a 29-7-3 record, passing a newly designed, slimmer football for 3,384 yards and 39 touchdowns, while being named an all-American in 1935 and 1936. He capped his college career with wins in the Sugar Bowl (1936) and the very first Cotton Bowl (1937), finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting for 1936. Baugh was “the greatest athlete I ever saw,” said Meyer ( ...

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Beckley, Jake (04 August 1867–25 June 1918), baseball player, was born Jacob Peter Beckley in Hannibal, Missouri, the son of Bernhardt Beckley, a brick mason, and Rosine Nith. As a youth, Beckley played with the various semipro baseball teams in and around Hannibal. His batting prowess earned him the nickname “Eagle Eye.” His professional career began in 1886 with Leavenworth, Kansas, in the Western League. Bob Hart, a former Hannibal teammate who pitched for Leavenworth, knew the club needed some new players and suggested Beckley, who became the starting second baseman. Beckley had a fine year, hitting well above .300. In 1887 he switched to first base, a position he played for the next twenty years. Early that season his contract was sold to the Lincoln, Nebraska, team where he continued to dominate Western League pitchers, maintaining a season average above .400 at a time when walks were counted as hits....

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Bender, Chief (05 May 1884–22 May 1954), baseball player and manager, was born Charles Albert Bender at Partridge Lake, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, the son of Albertus Bliss Bender and Mary Razor, farmers. His father was of German-American descent, and his mother, whose tribal name was Pay shaw de o quay, was a half-white member of the Mississippi band of the Ojibwa (Chippewa). The family moved to Brainerd, Minnesota, on White Earth Indian Reservation during the 1880s, but at age seven Bender was placed in the Educational Home in Philadelphia, an Episcopal school for white and Indian orphan and destitute children. Although he returned to Minnesota in mid-1896, he soon ran away and enrolled at the Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he played baseball and football under the legendary coach Glenn Warner. After leaving Carlisle in February 1902, he pitched for nearby Dickinson College. That summer he played for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Athletic Club, using the surname Albert to protect his college eligibility. There, he pitched a 3–1 win over the Chicago Cubs. Jess Frisinger, a scout for ...

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Braddock, Jim (07 June 1906–29 November 1974), world heavyweight boxing champion, was born James Walter Braddock in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan, New York City, the sixth child of Joseph Braddock, an English-born furniture mover, and Elizabeth O'Toole Braddock. Soon after his birth, the family soon moved to Guttenberg (later North Bergen), New Jersey, where he attended St. Joseph Parochial School. His schooling ended at age thirteen after he knocked out another boy in a fight. He worked as a telegraph messenger, errand boy, printer's devil, and teamster and began his amateur boxing career at age seventeen, turning professional at age twenty, in 1926. He was managed throughout his boxing career by Joe Gould, who renamed him “James J. Braddock,” after former heavyweight champions ...

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Bresnahan, Roger Philip (11 June 1879–04 December 1944), baseball player, coach, and manager, was born in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Michael Bresnahan and Mary O’Donahue, immigrants from Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. As a youth, Bresnahan played baseball on amateur teams in Toledo, and at age sixteen he earned money playing on a club in Manistee, Michigan. In 1896, while with Lima in the Ohio State League, he impressed scouts with his strong arm, quickness of foot, and all-around ability. The next year he made his major league debut as a pitcher for the Washington Senators of the National League and hurled a shutout in his first game (28 Aug. 1897), finishing the season with a 4–0 mark. The following spring he got into a salary dispute with the Senators and refused to sign. As a result, he played in only a handful of minor league games in 1898 and 1899, and in 1900 he appeared in just one major league contest, as a member of the Chicago club in the National League....

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Brouthers, Dan (08 May 1858–02 August 1932), professional baseball player, was born Dennis Joseph Brouthers in Sylvan Lake, New York, the son of Irish working-class immigrants Michael Brouthers and Mary (maiden name unknown). He was raised in nearby Wappingers Falls, where he attended school until age sixteen. Brouthers was recruited by the semiprofessional Wappingers Falls Actives baseball team, beginning a lifelong career....

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Brown, Johnny Mack (01 September 1904–14 November 1974), college football player and film actor, was born John Mack Brown in Dothan, Alabama, the son of John Henry Brown and Hattie McGillary. Brown’s father owned a small retail shoe store in Dothan that brought the family only a small income. Johnny had to go to work at an early age selling newspapers. He spent much of his youth fishing, hunting, and playing football and other sports with his five brothers. Brown attended Dothan High School, where he earned letters in track, baseball, and football and was an all-state football player. In 1923 Brown earned a scholarship to play football all four years at the University of Alabama....

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Brown, Mordecai Peter Centennial (19 October 1876–14 February 1948), baseball player, was born in Nyesville, Indiana, a rural community near Terre Haute, the son of Peter P. Brown, a farmer, and Jane Marsh. At the age of seven, Brown caught his right hand in a feed cutter on his uncle’s farm and lost the top joint of the index finger and use of the little finger. With the hand still in a cast, he broke the other two fingers, which remained permanently deformed. Brown’s crippled hand enabled him to throw a natural sinker ball and a sharper-breaking curveball that batters found difficult to hit; the hand also earned him the nickname among fans of “Three Finger.”...

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Browning, Pete (17 June 1861–10 September 1905), baseball player, was born Lewis Rogers Browning in Louisville, Kentucky. Very little is known of his parents and early years. As a child Browning contracted mastoiditis, a middle ear infection. Because the illness was never properly diagnosed or treated, Browning suffered from it his entire life. Periodically his ear filled with fluid, rendering him totally deaf. His condition embarrassed him, and he missed so much school because of it that he never attained literacy. Nonetheless he developed athletic prowess in shooting marbles, ice skating, and playing baseball. The pain from his condition led Browning to drink heavily from an early age, though very few people ever knew of his medical problems, and many criticized what they perceived as Browning’s moral weakness....

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Burkett, Jesse Cail (12 February 1870?–27 May 1953), baseball player, was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. His parents’ names are unknown, and little is known of his youth; Burkett never knew his actual birthdate. Some sources list it as 4 December 1868. Burkett stood 5′ 8″ inches, weighed around 150 pounds, and threw and batted left-handed. He began his professional baseball career as a pitcher and showed tremendous promise, winning 27 games at Scranton, Pennsylvania (Central League), in 1888 and 39 games at Worcester, Massachusetts (Atlantic Association), in 1889. His major league debut came the following season with the New York Giants. Control problems sent him reeling to 10 defeats in 13 decisions with a lone victory in 12 starting assignments. That was the downside. However, Burkett’s biggest break also occurred that year when Giants manager Jim Mutrie began playing him in right field between pitching turns. Burkett answered with a .309 batting average, the second best on the team. Although his fielding needed polish, his good speed and strong arm promised better defense ahead....

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Camp, Walter Chauncey (07 April 1859–14 March 1925), football coach and administrator, was born in New Britain, Connecticut, the son of Leverett L. Camp, a schoolmaster and publisher, and Ellen Cornwell. Camp attended Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, Connecticut, before enrolling at Yale University in 1876. On graduation with a B.A. in 1880 and the honor of being named class poet, he studied medicine for two years at Yale. He gave up his medical studies and joined the Manhattan Watch Company, a New York City firm, in 1882. The following year he began a lifetime career with the New Haven Clock Company, becoming president in 1903. Camp married Alice Graham Sumner, sister of the famed Yale economist and sociologist ...

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Campanella, Roy (19 November 1921–26 June 1993), Negro League and major league baseball player, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Campanella, an Italian-American fruit stand owner, and his African-American wife, Ida Mercer. Campanella grew up in the Germantown and Nicetown neighborhoods of Philadelphia. There he caught briefly for the Simon Gratz High School team before joining a black semiprofessional team, the Bachrach Giants, at the age of fifteen. A year later he quit high school and joined the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro National League (NNL). There ...

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Carey, Max George (11 January 1890–30 May 1976), Hall of Fame baseball player, known as Scoops, was born Maximillian Carnarius in Terre Haute, Indiana, the son of contractor Frank August Ernst Carnarius and Catherine Augusta Astroth. That Carey pursued a career in baseball was unexpected, given that he began a six-year program in 1903 to prepare for the Lutheran ministry. But the 5′ 11½″, 170-pound student also played for Concordia College and sought a tryout with the South Bend team of the Central League in the summer of 1909....