Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Homer and a Suicide: The Life of a Gay Red Sox Outfielder?



Ted Williams homered in his last at bat off Jack Fisher of the Baltimore Orioles. Williams was supposedly the only player in the history of baseball to retire after sending one deep. The great John Thorn found that hard to believe and through research discovered others who homered in their final at-bat. You can read his piece on that right here.
Splendid Fenway Finale
Ted Williams was not the only player to do it and he wasn't even the only Red Sox outfielder to do it. Chick Stahl did it first on October 6, 1906 off of Tom Hughes of the New York Highlanders (Yankees). It was Chick Stahl's 36th and final home-run of his very successful career. He was just 33 years old and had played in his final game. Nobody knew it at the time.
Stahl hit .305 for his career, led the league in triples in 1904 and would be a key player in the Boston Americans (Red Sox) winning the 1903 World Series.
A month after his last game Stahl would get married but in March of the next year he would kill himself by drinking carbolic acid.
Why did he kill himself? Glenn Miller wrote this great piece for the Naples Herald where he goes over all the possible reasons.
“Boys, I just couldn’t help it,” Stahl supposedly said as he was dying. “It drove me to it.”
This happened in Indiana while with the team following Spring Training in 1907.
The first theory is he had impregnated a girl who was blackmailing him. Writer Al Stump wrote about this theory in 1959. Some felt Stump made this story up and Stump's credibility has taken a hit in recent years as there were many inaccuracies found in his famous book about Ty Cobb.
The second theory is a simple one. Chick was depressed for much of his life and the stress of managing a team and a new marriage got to him.
The third theory is a very interesting one. Was Chick Stahl gay? Chick was known to be like most ballplayers in that era and have a girl in every city. Of course people who try to hide that they are gay tend to be very public about their encounters with people of the opposite sex. Were these ladies just "beards"? Maybe not. In 1902, a woman reportedly was carrying a gun in her jacket with the intentions of shooting Chick Stahl. Cops found out about her plan early enough that they stopped her. Was she mad at Chick because of all the other women or all the other men? Nobody knows. Of course she could have just been a psycho like Harriet Byrd in The Natural. Does anyone know why she felt the need to shoot the great Roy Hobbs? Was it because he didn't like reading books or because he wanted to walk down the street and have people say "there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was"? I vote she was just crazy. Back to Chick Stahl.
The gay theory does have more juice though. David Murphy, a close friend of Chick, killed himself two days after Chick's suicide. Murphy left a note with directions that he wanted to be buried next to Chick. This sounds like more than just friends to me.
It is sad but fascinating story. The Red Sox outfielder/manager who homered in his last at-bat and then killed himself  for mysterious reasons. Check out Glenn Miller's piece for even more details on the life of Chick Stahl.

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