Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who Was Buddy Myer?

Curiosity is a blessing and a curse. The Fan told you about Josh Borenstein's list the other day. A prominent name on that list was Buddy Myer. Who?? The Fan had never heard of Buddy Myer and according to Josh's list, the guy was a pretty darn good ballplayer. Then how come the guy's name has never come up?

Well, curiosity is an overwhelming thing sometimes. So the Fan went to the good old stat sources for this very good player from the late 1920s through the 1930s. We'll get to some of those nuggets later. All the sources list Charles Solomon "Buddy" Myer as having been born in 1906 in Ellisberg, Mississippi. And they list his death in 1974. But that information wasn't good enough for the Fan. Who was he? Where did he come from?

So the Fan did some digging. It's what the Fan does. If you have ever checked out the links to the right of these posts, the Fan makes a living of sorts tracking down ghosts of the past. Almost as much of the Fan's time is spent on as on What was found for old Buddy Myer is interesting.

Okay, we know that his full name was Charles Solomon Myer and we have his birth date. And of course, a census search came up empty for Charles Myer in Mississippi. Such is the life of a genealogist. After much fiddling around, a hit was finally found on a "Charlie" Myer that fits our description perfectly in Ellisberg. Bingo. But the Fan had found one web article that mentioned that Buddy's parents had sent him to college at Mississippi State. But the 1910 census only shows his mom, Maud, and his siblings. Where was dad?

Of course, Buddy wasn't alive in the 1900, so using a search for Maud Myer turns her up with her husband, Charles Solomon (!) who was born in 1867 in Mississippi to a German father and a Mississippi mother. So what happened to Charles Solomon Myer, Senior? And, yes, our Buddy Myer was a Junior. Then it struck the Fan that in his original 1910 census search for "Charles Myer," a few hits had occurred but they were all too old to be Buddy. So the Fan retraced his steps.

And that's when thunder struck. There he was, Charles Solomon Myer (who had been a salesman in the 1900 census by the way), born 1867, is listed in the 1910 Mississippi the state insane asylum as a patient in Jackson, Mississippi. He was still there in in 1920 and 1930. How tragic!

So not only was Buddy Myer overlooked as one of the best second basemen of the 20th Century, but his life was tragic.

Charles, the elder, was the son of Solomon and Amanda Myer. His father was a German immigrant and a merchant once he had come to this country. And his father was quite old when Charles was born (in Solomon's late 40s).

Of course, there isn't time to complete the big dig on what happened to Buddy's father and follow up on the particulars. But, probably with the help of either a scholarship or perhaps with merchant Solomon's money, Buddy did go to college and finished there before starting his major league career.

And it was a very good career, all played with Washington except for a short stint with the Red Sox. He piled up over 2100 hits and a .303 Batting Average. More impressively, his lifetime OBP was .389. He had no power, but second basemen of that era weren't supposed to. His best year was 1935 when he had 215 hits good for a league leading .349 average. He also had 96 Walks that year and scored 115 runs while driving in 100 (with only 5 homers!). He was fourth in MVP voting that year.

Myer came to the big leagues as a shortstop, but he made too many errors there and was moved to second base. There he excelled and ended his career with an above league average fielding percentage and Range Factor.

After looking at all this information, the Fan has become smitten with Myer's story and firmly believes Myer should have gotten some serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. He overcame a lot and was a really good player for a long time in the majors.

This one was for you, Josh.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Good stuff. Thanks for the dedication, William.