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Al Jennings

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Alfred Gorden Jennings

  • Bats Unknown, Throws Unknown

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[edit] Biographical Information

Al "Alamazoo" Jennings caught one game for the 1878 Milwaukee Grays as a fill-in. He had a horrid day defensively, with four errors and 10 passed balls, catching the hard-throwing Mike Golden. He was a sporting promoter and sometime umpire (working in the 1884 UA and occasionally in the American Association). who was well-enough known in Cincinnati that when King Kelly did his stage routine, at least once he joked by introducing himself as Alamazoo Jennings.

"As an amateur he played with the Mohawk Browns, the Copeks, the Ludlows, the Stars. . . His title was bestowed by O.P. Caylor and he has carried it ever since the day that he caught Mike Golden of the Milwaukees and accumulated more passed balls than any catcher had ever done before, or since. . . After leaving the diamond he commenced his career as an umpire and for years he drifted from one league to another. . ." - from his obituary in Sporting Life, November 10, 1894

[edit] Article about Alamazoo's Game

The Milwaukee Sentinel of August 19, 1878, ran this story originally from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here is the portion related to Alamazoo Jennings; it relates the events surrounding Jennings' lone major league game, for the 1878 Milwaukee Grays:

"[Bill] Holbert was so badly hurt in Tuesday's game that he was sent home yesterday. [Charley] Bennett has a thumb as big as a young pup, and [Will] Foley's hands gave out in Wednesday's game. Manager Chapman's supply of catchers having thus run out, he telegraphed for one of the three he left behind him, namely, [Jacob] Knowdell. But Knowdell was fishing when the telegram reached Milwaukee, and he didn't get it until too late to reach Cincinnati in time for yesterday's game.

No matter, however, for Al Jennings threw himself into the breach. Al has umpired an occasional game, and several times played with the boys down in Mill-creek. But he looked so large and handsome and so very like a catcher that Manager [Jack] Chapman was mashed, and straightway engaged him, and clinched the bargain with a dinner. When Al pulled on his sole-leather gloves and posed near the grand stand at three o'clock, the crowd scarcely breathed. Zip came the ball from [Mike] Golden's hand; bang it went against the back-stop, because Al had stooped too late to pick it up. It took several minutes for him to gauge the speed of Golden's pitching, but he got it down fine at last, and stopped a ball, every once in a while. But the low comedy parts came in when the new catcher went up close behind the bat. A batter had but to get on first base and the run was scored. They went to second and third without danger, and tallied on a passed ball. Be it said to his credit, though, that Jennings never flinched, but stood up against Golden's hot pitching with great nerve and stood the punishment bravely. He was strong enough last night to whisper that if Knowdell doesn't get here by to-morrow he is willing to catch for [Sam] Weaver, but Weaver says he'll paralyze him if he attempts it." Milwaukee lost the game the day Jennings caught, 13 to 2.

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