#Shortstops: A tribute to Addie

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Dylan Drolette

Addie Joss was one of the most dominant pitchers of the early 20th century. Between 1902 and 1910, Joss racked up 160 wins for the Cleveland Naps (now known as the Cleveland Indians) – doing it all with an absurdly low 1.89 ERA. Aside from his accomplishments on the field, Joss was also a contributing columnist to his hometown newspaper, the Toledo News-Bee. Joss was a well-known and well-loved man. His sudden death from tubercular meningitis on April 14, 1911 rocked baseball to its core.

Joss was only 31 when he died, leaving behind a widow and two small children. At that time there was no players’ union in the major leagues and Joss’ family was left without any sort of pension to survive on. This panoramic photo represents how the players of the American League responded to the crisis.

The support from across the American League in the wake of Joss’ death was immediate and continual. In defiance of an order from American League president Ban Johnson, all of Joss’ teammates attended his funeral on April 17, 1911. Soon after a plan was put in motion to hold a benefit game to raise money for Joss’ family. The date for the game was set as July 24, an off day for the American League. At Cleveland’s League Park, the Cleveland Naps, featuring such future Hall of Famers as Nap Lajoie and Cy Young, played against a team comprised of the American League’s best and most famous players. Walter Johnson from Washington Senators, “Smoky” Joe Wood from Boston Red Sox, Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford from the Detroit Tigers, Eddie Collins of the
Philadelphia Athletics – no player refused to come. When asked why, the manager of the All-Stars Jimmy McAleer responded: “The memory of Addie Joss is sacred to every one with whom he ever came in contact. The man never wore a uniform who was a greater credit to the sport than he.”

On July 24, 1911, American League players held a memorial game in honor of the late Addie Joss, a future Hall of Famer. All proceeds from the game went to Joss's family. PASTIME (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

The All-Stars won the game 5-3 and raised $12,914 for Joss’ family, more than double what Joss had made during his final season in 1910.

There are a few interesting details in this photograph. Cleveland outfielder Jack Graney appears in the photo twice. Graney is the third man from the left and the man on the very far right. Graney had run behind the photographer as the photographer had scanned from left to right to capture all of the players in a panoramic photo. It is perhaps for this reason that Joe Wood, sixth from the right, has his head turned to his left, causing his face to be slightly blurred. Ty Cobb, third from the right, is shown wearing a Cleveland Naps road uniform instead of a Detroit Tigers uniform. No one really knows why Cobb is wearing a Naps uniform, but it is possible that he had forgotten (or even lost) his Tigers uniform when he traveled to Cleveland.

Joss was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978.

Dylan Drolette is the former photo archives assistant at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

To the top
To the top

Part of the SHORT STOPS series