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Great Depression 1930s Great Depression 1930s

That Pride of Playing Professional Baseball

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1930s Depression From our Book of Records Page 4 by staff @ baseball historian

We’ve interview many baseball players of the past that remembered the days of the Great Depression of the 1930s. One thing stands out, they loved the competition of playing professional baseball, loved it so much that they played for almost no money at all.

Many fans forget in this time frame there was an obligation to serve in the United States Military.

A few of the well-known baseball players of this era – Del Baker, Dennis Burns, Billy Mullen and Bud Stapleton

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Del Baker Detroit Tigers Catcher, Born in Sherwood, Oregon. Del Baker played in the majors from 1914-1916 with Detroit as the club’s starting catcher prior to serving in the U.S. Military during World War 1. In 1914 he started the season with the Tigers at age 22 and batted .214 in 43 games. After serving in the military he returned to baseball playing in the minors. Going forward to 1930 at the age of 38, Del Baker was the player/manager for the Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, had a .259 batting average and sterling .984 fielding percentage in 67 games as the Explorers catcher. “I loved baseball. It was my life, and I especially liked to manage the younger guys.”

Dennis Burns Pitcher, Born in Tiff City, Missouri. Dennis Burns played pro baseball for a living. He started back in 1921 and played thru 1941, including two years, 1923-1924 as a pitcher in the major leagues for owner/manager Connie Mack of the old Philadelphia Athletics. Dennis Burns career stats are most impressive. In 16 minor league seasons he posted a 156-183 record, with a 3.54 ERA, yielded 3.357 hits in 2,943 innings spanning 549 games. In his first pro season, 1921, he was 23 years-old and posted a 17-17 record with Suffold B League, then moved up to Shreveport TL A where he pitched in 1922-23. Pitched in majors in 1923 and 1924. Three years later, Dennis Burns was pitching for Fort Worth Texas League, 1926-28, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. In 1930 he had a 11-10 record in 209 innings for the Beaumont Explorers, pitching for manager Del Baker. Fast forward Dennis Burns pitched three seasons, 1937-39, for the Neosho Yankees of the Arkansas/Missouri D baseball, and managed them in 1938-39, and later in 1941 for St. Joseph/Carthage at age 43.

Billy Mullen, Third Baseman and Pinch-hitter St. Louis Browns 1920-21, 1928, Brooklyn Dodgers 1923, Detroit Tigers 1926. Minors thru 1939 at age 43. A good hitting, third baseman Billy Mullen played 5 years in the major leagues. On January 15, 1927, Detroit traded Mullen and three other well-regarded baseball players to the old St. Louis Browns for 3 players in what was called at the time, ‘a blockbuster trade’.

In 1930 during the Great Depression when many in our nation were losing their jobs Billy Mullen, at the age of 34, was playing baseball for the Beaumont Exporters, he batted .299 with 19 doubles, 7 homers in 298 at bats, spanning 80 games.

Billy Mullen is the co-author of the book ‘Playing the Percentages in Baseball’.

Bud Stapleton, First Baseman, Born in 1901 in Bridgeport, Conn. Frank Stapleton started in professional baseball during the Dead Ball Era with Pittsfield of the Eastern League Single-A and hit .295, .263, .251 and .270 while averaging 26 doubles per season, 1921-1925. During his early games in the Dead Ball Era when the focus was in the infield with bunts, slap hits, hard sliding with spikes held high, and the baseball stars had names like Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers) Solly Hofman (played on 4 Cubs pennant winners) George Sisler, Bill ‘Baby Doll’ Jacobson, etc., Bud Stapleton was a fans favorite. He was a first-class batsman and coild hold his own among the aggressiveness of this era. At the age of 29 he hit .291 formanager Del Baker and the 1930 Beaumont Exporters. When the Great Depression came, Bud Stapleton continued playing the game he loved – baseball. At the age of 34-35 he played in D baseball with Rogers of the Arkansas/Missouri League, 1935-1936.

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