#175: Who’s on First

175.1  Were I writing a book, or even a newspaper column, I would make sure my “facts” were nailed down solid. With a blog, I can tolerate some loose ends…because it’s so easy to go back and make corrections and updates. What’s more, that’s sort of the point of a blog…you’re sharing your interests with others, both for their enlightenment and yours, because they may be able to further your knowledge with some of their own. Thus, as we embark on a series on the Boys of Summer, genealogical fungoes from the world of baseball, there may be holes in my research here and there. Fine…they’ll get plugged eventually…I hope!

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175.2  Basically, I’ll just be grabbing random connections as I find them and checking them out. And as a warm-up, we’ll revisit a couple I’ve done recently. In Related How Again? #161, I mentioned that Uncle Wiki’s list of married cousins credits Zack Wheat with marrying his “2nd cousin” Daisy Forsman. Chart 569 says otherwise…they were 1st cousins once removed, she being the daughter of his 1st cousin.

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175.3  Then there are the 2 Boone dynasties…2 brothers on the one hand, a grandfather, father, and 2 sons on the other. They cropped up in Related How Again? #134, as we were investigating the relationship of Richard “Paladin” Boone and Pat Boone to Daniel Boone… and just to review, Richard is a 4G grand nephew…Pat has no connection as far as anyone can tell. But from Chart 468, we see that Ray was Daniel’s direct descendant, 4G grandson…and Ike was Daniel’s 2G grand nephew…Ray to Ike, 4th cousins twice removed.

175.4  And a word about “family dynasties” in baseball…many researchers limit this to major leaguers, and that is their privilege. Me, I cast my net more broadly to include minor leaguers as well…I’m counting all professional ballplayers, who got paid to do this for a living. I found a site that also took that tack and one they mentioned was the Mantle Dynasty…I have long known of this clan and it was about time to see what was what.

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175.5  No problem with Mickey and his brothers. He was the oldest of 5 children, 4 of them boys. And no mystery how he came to be a switch-hitter…Grampa Charlie was left-handed and threw to him that way…his father Mutt was right-handed. Identical twins Roy Dean and Ray Dale were 4 years younger than the Mick and neither were switch-hitters…oddly enough one was a righty, the other a lefty. Both were signed by the Yankees and had brief careers in the lower minors. As you can see above, their signing was a pretty big deal in the newspapers…and stories always mentioned the how the baby of the family, Larry (above, right) a.k.a. “Butch,” was determined to also follow in his famous brother’s footsteps. Instead, he found success in college playing basketball, and spent his life coaching basketball and football at both the high school and college levels.

mm jr175.6  Of Mickey’s 4 sons, only the eldest played pro ball, Mickey Mantle Jr., who died in 2000 at age 47. He followed in his twin uncles’ footsteps, with several truly dismal seasons in the low minors in the late 1970s…again, accompanied by tremendous press coverage, which apparently didn’t help. Incidentally, he probably wasn’t a true junior…one source gives his middle initial as E., and if that stands for Elvin, from his grandfather, that wouldn’t surprise me in the least. And you’ve probably heard this before, but in case you haven’t: Mickey Sr. was not a Michael…he was named after this father’s favorite player, Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane. The Mick once remarked how he was glad his dad didn’t know Cochrane’s real first name was Gordon, no offense to you Gordons out there!

175.7   But there were 2 Mantles that needed checking…and one was easy, “cousin” Max Mantle…signed by the Yankees in 1954 after playing several years in an amateur industrial league…where, according to one newspaper report, he batted .866 (Really?) He was assigned to the McAlester Rockets of the Class D Sooner State League…records show “Maxie” Mantle indeed batted .234 that year, and looks like it was one and done for him. Anyway, he’s Mickey’s 1st cousin, and it was smooth sailing once I realized that Mickey’s uncle is more often referenced by his nickname “Tunney” than his given name Eugene.

175.8  The one I suspected as being misidentified was “3rd cousin” Ryan Mantle. Drafted by the Giants in 2008…to great fanfare, what else is new…he played 3 nondescript seasons in the minors and is now out of baseball. But that’s what everyone said…Mickey’s 3rd cousin. Look at the years of birth in Chart 620. Is it possible for 3rd cousins, who by definition are of the same generation, to be born 55 years apart?

chart 620

175.9  Yes…possible, but not likely. Taking a generation as 25 years, you’d more expect Mickey and Ryan to be genealogically separated by 2 generations, and so they are: 2nd cousins twice removed. But it makes me wonder how the media comes up with these relationships…perhaps they simply ask the person involved or the family, and go with whatever they’re told.You would think if anyone could get it right, the family itself could, but that’s often not the case. So how is Mickey’s 2nd cousin Marvin Sr.’s grandson thought to be Mickey’s 3rd cousin? What about Marvin Jr.? Is he Mickey’s 2½th cousin? Well, maybe Marvin Sr. was abbreviated from “2nd cousin” to simply “cousin”…making Marvin Jr. a 2nd cousin and Ryan a 3rd cousin, as if Marvin Sr. were a 1st cousin. But then why aren’t Marvin Jr. and Ryan simply “cousins” as well? Typical of the type of gobbledegook you get when, with all due respect, people haven’t the foggiest idea what they’re talking about.

175.10  Next, another Hall of Famer, Johnny “The Big Cat” Mize…and we have a inset 2couple on him: he’s said to be Babe Ruth’s “cousin” and Ty Cobb’s “distant cousin.” Now with the Bambino, it’s thru marriage…Mize is presumably related to Ruth’s second wife, Claire/Clara Mae Merritt, whose first husband was Frank Bishop Hodgson. I say presumably because there is a hole in Chart 621…Clairie’s material grandparents are still, to me, in hiding…everyone else was easy to find, so that’s strange. Her paternal grandfather was obviously a Riley, which matches Mize’s paternal grandmother Emma Riley…but how these 2 Rileys are related, if at all, is the question…if siblings, Mize and Ruth would be 2nd cousins-in-law. And if the Rileys aren’t related, we would look to Claire’s maternal grandmother, who could be a Mize, Loudermilk, or Brown, and we’d still have 2nd cousins.

chart 621

175.11  This is a good time to remind you that when searching thru 2 individuals’ pedigrees, finding the same surname is usually where they’re related, but not always. And even if they are related thru that shared surname, the further back it is, the chances increase that there may be more connections thru other families.  I like to give examples from “The Andy Griffith Show,” since practically everyone is familiar with the characters. And here, the relevant parties are Gomer and Goober Pyle. They are said on the show to be cousins, and we take that as 1st cousins, since there is no evidence to the contrary.

175.12  The normal assumption for 1st cousins with the same last name is their fathers are brothers. Fair enough…very likely…but still, we don’t know that for an absolute certainty. Their mothers could have been sisters and married  2 unrelated men named Pyle…and when I say that, I acknowledge that “unrelated” could mean 5th cousins, something like that. That’s the general caution…in this specific case, what makes it interesting is that the first time we hear Goober’s last name…Andy is introducing him to somebody…it’s Beasley. After that, it’s Pyle for the duration. And given that there are several other Beasleys in Mayberry, this is a Fan Logic Game tangle just begging to be sorted out…someday, dear friends.

chart 622

175.13  As to Johnny Mize and Ty Cobb, I’ve seen it said they were “distant cousins”…and some folks who like to live dangerously actually specify “2nd cousins.” As you can see in Chart 622, each does have a Mize in their grandparents’ generations…trouble is, Francis Mize and Sicily Mize were not siblings, nor were their fathers, so we must push it back further. Parenthetically, do you suppose they say “2nd cousins” because they think that is what “distant cousins” means? Sounds par for the course.. At any rate, Chart 623  was assembled by comparing numerous Mize, Cobb, and other family trees…and it gives Johnny Mize and Ty Cobb as 4th cousins once removed…yeah, that’s distant!

chart 623

175.14  True, I did encounter a few lone voices crying in the wilderness…one asserts that Henry Thomas…known as “H.T.”…was not the son of Jeremiah Sr., but the son of Jeremiah Sr.’s son Joshua by his first wife…making Mize and Cobb half-4th cousins twice removed. Another claims Jeremiah Sr. and Joshua were not father and son, but brothers…resulting in 5th cousins once removed. But I believe Chart 623 is correct, except for one nagging point…a few genealogies do not list H.T. among Jeremiah Sr.’s sons, neither by his first wife Grace, last name unknown, nor his second wife Tabitha Edmunds, Jeremiah Jr.’s mother. But most do, and this is confirmed by an article concerning the history of Lunenburg County, Virginia published in the Atlanta Journal, Feb 27, 1921…which adds its own interesting twist.

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175.15  Because of this adoption, it might appear that Thomas was actually H.T.’s son and Williamson’s brother, in which case Johnny Mize and Ty Cobb would then be 3rd cousins once removed. But they’re not…and I’m pretty damned sure of it! Still, I wonder if the Sabermetrics crowd could weight in on this? Next week, second inning…

wicked ballsy

wb As Baby Boomers growing up, we heard a lot about Ty Cobb…do you realize he lived until 1961? We were told that he was the only plausible challenger to the Babe as the greatest player that ever lived…altho in our youthful innocence we might have proffered such names as Williams, Mays, Mantle, DiMaggio, only to be scornfully slapped down by the old-timers…like your dad! We heard about his sky high batting average and his super-aggressive style of play, sharpened spikes and all that…altho to put it in perspective, most players filed ’em to get a better grip, and it’s hard to imagine that baseball wasn’t policed by a quid pro quo…you do it to me, I’ll do it to you. As we got older, we came to learn about his racist streak…calling Babe Ruth a “nigger,” altho he was hardly the first to do that…in the Baltimore reform school where the Babe spent most of his youth, his nickname was “Niggerlips.”

But here’s something perhaps you didn’t know: Ty Cobb’s mother killed his father. The whole story is pretty fascinating, really. Ty’s father William Herschel Cobb was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Georgia when he married one of his pupils, Amanda Chitwood. He was 20, she was 12…Lord knows what went on behind closed doors…suffice to say she gave birth to their first child, Tyrus Raymond, when she was 15. His father would go on to become school superintendent, state senator, then a newspaper publisher. By the time Ty had left home to play ball professionally, his mother had been married 22 years altho still a youthful 34 years of age. Suspecting her of infidelity, William feigned an overnight trip, snuck back to the house, up the second floor balcony, and was shot dead by his wife as he crept past the darkened bedroom window.

Legend has it it was a shotgun, but court records clearly state it was a pistol…one he had bought her for protection…never mind that at the time of his death, he was also armed with a handgun. And based on these bare facts, it seems strange that it went to trial, but it did…probably because he was so well-liked in the community. In the end, she was acquitted. 3 weeks after the death of his father, Ty Cobb made his debut in center field for the Detroit Tigers.

TBT, as a kid I had Ty Cobb as the greatest baseball player…I tended to side with the underdog and perceived him as such in the argument with Ruth. Today, I give the nod to Ruth but it’s tough because they represented diametrically opposed philosophies of the game. Cobb naturally hated the long-ball approach, but the game was, even back them, inexorably headed in that direction. And who was the only player to ever hit over 50 homers and strike out less than 50 times in a season? Johnny Mize, NY Giants, 1947…now there’s something we’re unlikely to ever see again, sez me.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved



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