Doc Gautreau

From BR Bullpen

Walter Paul Gautreau
(Punk)

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Biographical Information[edit]

High school yearbook photo.

Doc Gautreau was a diminutive infielder who played mainly for the Boston Braves in the 1920s. He was born in Cambridge, MA in a French-Canadian family that had emigrated from New Brunswick. His height is listed between 5' 2" and 5' 4", hence his nicknames such as "Peewee", "Kid" or "Midget". While his family was French-speaking, he did his schooling in English, first at the Cambridge High and Latin School, and then at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, a common destination for players of French-Canadian background in those years, which he attended from 1922 to 1925.

Originally a catcher and third baseman in college, he eventually moved to second base, which became his regular position. He was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics immediately after graduation, playing four games for them in 1925, going 0 for 7. Connie Mack then sold him to his hometown Braves, where he immediately found regular work, getting significant playing time from 1925 to 1927. He hit .262 the first year and .267 the second, before falling to .246, playing between 68 and 87 games per year. Given his small size however, he did not hit a single major league home run. In 1928, the Braves acquired superstar Rogers Hornsby to play second, and that was it for Doc as a major leaguer: he played only 23 games, getting 18 at-bats, with Boston that season and spent most of the year with the Providence Grays of the Eastern League, where he hit a sparkling .335.

In spite of his modest achievements, Gautreau had been quite a popular player with the Braves, as a hometown boy, and he would again find the same sort of popularity when his contract was sold to the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1929. The Royals liked to put players of French background under contract, and a number of them were big stars with the team, such as Del Bissonette and Gus Dugas. Gautreau was not a big slugger like those two, but he proved to be equally popular with his hustling play and solid defense. He spent five full seasons in Montreal, from 1929 to 1933, playing a minimum of 136 games each year and hitting as high as .312 in 1932. Gautreau used his knowledge of French to give interviews on French-speaking radio, make product endorsements, and eventually to be named the team's manager during the 1932 season, when Ed Holly took a leave of absence and then resigned from the job. He kept the position at the start of 1933 but found the stress of the job too much while playing every day and quit the managing part on May 25th, citing health reasons.

In 1934, he played for the Watertown Townies of the Northeastern League, where he hit .388 and the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. That was the end of his career in organized baseball, but he continued to play and manage for a number of years after that, in semi-pro and non-affiliated leagues. He was also a high school coach, until joining the Braves organization as a scout in 1952. He stayed with the team after its move to Milwaukee. Among his protégés were two other French speakers, Roland Hemond and Roland Gladu. In 1961, he followed Hemond to the expansion Los Angeles Angels, staying with them until 1969. His final position was with the MLB Scouting Bureau in 1970, where he was the chief scout for the Rocky Mountain region at the time of his death.

Gautreau married Susan Carruthers in 1936 and had one daughter, Marjorie, born in 1927. He was inducted in the Holy Cross Hall of Fame in 1981.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Yves Chartrand: "Walter-Paul (Doc) Gautreau", in Gilles Janson, ed.: Dictionnaire des grands oubliés du sport au Québec, 1850-1950, Les éditions du Septentrion, Quebec, QC, 2013, pp. 193-195. ISBN 978-2-89448-725-9

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