Saturday, June 4, 2011
The team at the left was called the Veedersburg Little Jersey Baseball team. They beat the Ladoga Leaders and Eddie Summers in a Championship game played on Sept. 25, 1902. The writer of the Crawfordsville paper wrote under the headline: FADED HOPES The Championship goes to the Veedersburg Team--Ladoga Threw the Game Away. Pre-game news labeled the game as the game which would decide the championship of the two counties of Fountain and Montgomery The Leaders lost 6-3. Eddie Summers played 1st base and had three hits in four times at bat.
The team below is another Veedersburg team of the early 1900's.
Oren Edgar Summers, nicknamed “Kickapoo” or “Kickapoo Chief,” because of his Kickapoo Indian ancestry was raised on a farm near Ladoga and attended the Ladoga schools. He was an outstanding athlete in high school and once competed in a track meet in which the Ladoga Leader of Mar. 27, 1903 reported that, “Edgar Summers stood first in the pole vault, running broad jump, running high jump, standing hop, step and jump, and running hop, step and jump, giving him a total of five firsts.” He is one of only two Montgomery County athletes to play Major League baseball. The other was Dick Dietz, who played for the Giants. Ed attended Wabash College in 1903 and at the age of 19, played football and coached the team. He returned to Wabash after his playing career was over and coached the baseball team in 1916 to a 9-6 record. The Little Giants split two games with Purdue, lost to Illinois, Michigan, and Notre Dame, and defeated DePauw twice. According to the Wabash Magazine of the fall of 2008, “Students touted him for his baseball knowledge and leadership. The entire performance of the Little Giants reflected the highest credit upon the coaching of Summers,” wrote one student. (See the entire article in another place in the blog)
After college, he played minor league baseball in Marion, IN, Springfield, OH, and Grand Rapids, MI before joining the Indianapolis Reserves in the American Association in 1906 and 1907. His contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in 1908 and he pitched for them until rheumatism forced his retirement in 1912.
Eddie’s pitching was a major factor in the Tigers’ winning the American League Pennant in 1908 and 1909. He had a 24-12 record in 1908 as a rookie with the Tigers, where he was a teammate of Ty Cobb. He pitched (and lost) two games in the 1908 World Series against the Chicago Cubs who had the legendary Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play combination. The Cubs won the series 4-2 that year. Eddie still holds the American League record for the longest scoreless game ever pitched by a single pitcher-18 innings in a 0-0 tie with the Washington Senators in 1909. This record was mentioned in the July 16, 1997 edition of USA Today.” He went on to pitch 31 consecutive scoreless innings against Philadelphia, Cleveland, and the New York Yankees. He is also the only “switch pitcher” in the history of the Major Leagues. He would pitch normally with his right hand and throw “junk” with his left hand; he was also one of the earliest knuckle-ball pitchers although he really threw the “knuckler” with his fingertips on the ball. He had a record of 19-9 his second year as the Tigers returned to the World Series against Pittsburgh losing in seven games. Throughout his career, Eddie was under treatment of rheumatism, and was always under intense pain when he pitched. This ailment forced him to retire after only five years in 1912.
Eddie was also a “switch hitter.” In 1910, Ty Cobb, the major leagues reigning home run champ, was out of the Tigers’ lineup for a game with an eye injury. During this game, Eddie took it upon himself to provide the punch for a win at Bennett Park. He hit a pair of two run homers (the only two of his career), and pitched the Tigers past the Philadelphia, 10-2. This was quite an achievement for anyone in the dead-ball era, particularly a pitcher. The newspapers reported that it was the 1st time in modern big-league history that a pitcher had accomplished that feat. “The day will live long in the history of Detroit baseball,” one scribe wrote. “Ty Cobb sat on the bench to see a new batting king arise, at least for one day.”
After his retirement, Eddie Summers worked as a welder for Prest-O-Lite in Indianapolis. He died on May 12, 1953, at the age of 69 and is buried in the Ladoga Cemetery.