Charles Baker (Smiling Bock)
- Bats Unknown, Throws Left
- Height 5' 9", Weight 181 lb.
- Debut April 28, 1901
- Final Game May 13, 1901
- Born June, 1879
- Died August 17, 1940 in New York, NY USA
Bock Baker had a very unique major league career. In his first game with the Cleveland Blues on April 28, 1901, he gave up 23 hits and 6 walks in a start, leading to 13 runs and a loss. He then was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics on May 1, when he gave up 6 hits and 6 walks in 6 innings, leading to another 11 runs, in his only game on May 13. That was the end of his major league pitching career.
There is some confusion as to who exactly this man was. He was confused with a number of other contemporary baseball players, including Del Baker, who later found fame as manager of the Detroit Tigers. They are obviously different persons. The birth date listed for him in most reference sources - July 17, 1878 - is most likely not his. It belongs to a man who was a janitor and undertaker in Buffalo, NY, who is described as "short and stout" on his World War I draft card. One of the few things known about the pitcher Bock Baker is that he was a tall man, "another Amos Rusie" as contemporaries described him.
Other things known about Bock Baker are that in 1898, he was signed by a team in Troy, NY. Newspaper accounts say he was 20 years old, of German descent, and had played as a semi-professional in Albany, NY and Rennselaer County. He was a tall man with an excellent fastball, who was also a decent hitter and fielder, but lacked foot speed. He was apparently recruited by a number of teams in the Eastern League, but his parents objected to his moving away from home. His name is given as "Charles" and his home town as Watervliet, NY. Later that year, he was signed by the Springfield Ponies of the EL. In 1901, after his disastrous stay in the American League, he turned up in July with the Albany Senators of the New York State League.
Baker was still with Albany in 1902 as well as with Utica of the same league, and in 1903 shows up with the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. The trail goes cold after that. This record is not consistent with what is currently in the minor league database next to his name, but that is a function of the difficulty of separating the various Bakers who were active in professional baseball at the turn of the 20th century.
Of his later life, the only known reference at this time is that he attended his mother's funeral in Watervliet in October 1916. Census records from 1880 and 1900 list him as Charles Baker, born in June 1879, son of George Baker, a butcher born in Germany circa 1846. He is still listed as living with the family in 1900, with his occupation being "clerk". The death date in 1940 listed for him may or may not be correct. The rest of his life still needs to be traced.
- "It's Not Too Late to Turn Bock", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, September/October 2009, pp. 2-3.