Newport eight: A forgotten legacy of baseball players - LINK nky (2024)

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Newport eight: A forgotten legacy of baseball players - LINK nky (1)byMarc Hardin

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Kentucky has been the birthplace of more than 340 major league baseball players, with nearly 50 hailing from Northern Kentucky. Eight are from Newport, as recorded by Baseball-Reference.com, a comprehensive database of baseball statistics. Here is a condensed version of their collective story.

The Newport Eight: A Forgotten Legacy

In the annals of major league history, the Newport Eight stand as a largely overlooked ensemble of ballplayers. All originated from a bygone era. Kid Baldwin, John Dolan, Alamazoo Jennings and George Miller carved out their entire careers in the 19th century. Rudy Hulswitt and George Textor concluded their professional journeys before 1920. Tommy Reis and Frank Williams graced the field in the 1930s and ’40s, respectively. Several played for the Reds and a few were catchers.

Here is a closer look at the eight major league baseball players born in Newport, Kentucky.

Kid Baldwin: Star-crossed Catcher. Baldwin was the most recognized defensive player of the eight and he played in the second-most games with 441. He led the league in caught stealing percentage in 1890 and twice ranked third in the league in fielding percentage. He also ranked second in double plays turned by a catcher two times. Baldwin’s seven-year career was predominantly with the Reds from 1885-90. He batted .221 lifetime. The 5-foot-7 Baldwin hit seven homers, most of any of the eight. He was a brash 20-year-old while joining the Reds in 1885. He hit just .135 in 126 at-bats due in part to practice habits.

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“Baldwin says the chances of some of the Cincinnatis dropping dead or breaking a leg are very slim. He is resting and will join Tony Mullane in the grandstand,” wrote Sporting Life on March 11, 1885. “He says there is no use to practice when he does not have the opportunity to play.”

Baldwin hit an umpire while arguing a call and narrowly escaped arrest in a spring training game in New Orleans. He was out of baseball at age 25. Baldwin died at age 32 in 1897 at Longview Asylum Cemetery in Cincinnati. He was committed to the asylum by a judge of the probate court. According to The New York Times, Baldwin was a “hopeless wreck from dissipation.”

Rudy Hulswitt: Starting Shortstop. Hulswitt led the Newport Eight with 644 games and 2,426 plate appearances over seven seasons from 1899 to 1910. Accumulating 564 hits, he maintained a .253 batting average. He homered off Covington native Howie Camnitz who won 133 games. Hulswitt ranked fourth in the National League in fielding percentage in 1902 while hitting a career-best .272. But his overall defensive ledger is marred by an NL single-season record 81 errors at shortstop in 1903.

Hulswitt’s tenure included one season with the Reds as their regular shortstop in 1908. He also held a starting position for the Philadelphia Phillies. Post-playing days, Hulswitt transitioned into scouting and coaching. In 1923, he managed the Danville Veterans of the Three-I League. After scouting for the Red Sox, he joined their coaching staff from 1931 to 1933.

Alamazoo Jennings: One-Game Wonder. Born Alfred Gorden Jennings, he made a single appearance as an emergency catcher in 1878 with the injury-depleted Milwaukee Grays. It was forgettable with four errors and ten passed balls. He had three plate appearances with a walk. His throwing arm and hitting side are unknown. There is no known photo. The only known depictions of Jennings are drawings. He later umpired. He passed away at age 43 in Cincinnati and rests at Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate.

“As an amateur he played with the Ludlows,” said Jennings’ Nov. 10, 1894 obituary. “His title (Alamazoo) was bestowed by sportswriter O.P. Caylor and he has carried it ever since the day that he accumulated more passed balls than any catcher.”

Frank Williams: Newly Recognized Major Leaguer. Williams was a 5-foot-7 left-handed outfielder and part-time first baseman in the Negro Leagues. He was posthumously acknowledged as a major leaguer following MLB’s recognition of the Negro Leagues’ significance. Williams, known for his versatility and nicknames — Shorty, Lefty and Wizard — made it into 35 career games. These appearances came most notably in 1946, when he got into 30 for the Homestead Grays and the Chicago American Giants. He was a .276 lifetime hitter in 123 at-bats. His three-year career was interrupted by military service.

John Dolan: One-Year Success Story. Dolan, a right-handed pitcher, logged the most innings among the eight, totaling 286.2 from 1890-1895. His peak was 1891 with the Columbus Solons of the American Association. He pitched 203 innings and secured a 12-11 record. Dolan’s five-year career spanned five teams, including a two-game stint with the Reds as a rookie.

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George Textor: Switch-hitting Catcher. Textor had a two-year career in the Federal League. He played in 25 games. He was a rookie with the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1914 and hit .175. Textor hit .333 in six at-bats in 1915 for Newark. He was a teammate of future Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame great Edd Roush. He managed a semi-pro team in Massillon, Ohio.

George Miller: Catcher Turned Umpire. Miller’s major league career spanned 17 games across two seasons seven years apart with the Reds. He hit .162 in 1877. He hit .250 in 1884. His time as a player was interspersed with duties as a National League umpire. One of his teammates was Hall of Famer Candy Cummings, widely credited with inventing the curveball.

Tommy Reis: The Reliever. His sole major league season came in 1938 with the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Bees. Reis pitched in four games for both teams. His eight relief appearances culminated in a 0–1 record and a 12.27 ERA. He was the last surviving player who appeared at the Baker Bowl, home of the Phillies until 1938. He’s buried at St. Stephen Cemetery in Fort Thomas.

Baseball-Reference.com has Orlie Weaver born in Newport, Kentucky. A birth certificate shows he was born in Newport, Tennessee, according to the Society of American Baseball Researchers. At Wikipedia.com, Weaver’s birthplace is listed as Newport, Tennessee.

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Newport eight: A forgotten legacy of baseball players - LINK nky (2024)

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