Happiness & Long Life for All its Residents #89

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Jun 22nd, 2022

“Erie can justly lay claim to being the incubator of the national sport.” This is according to John G. Carney’s 1957 book “The Saga of Erie Sports”.  That is quite a statement!  He writes that when the French arrived in the area in the mid-1700s, they found the native people playing the game of lacrosse.  When the British later arrived, they played cricket.  The combination of the two sports eventually turned into the game of baseball.

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Baseball was an easy and inexpensive game to play.  Baseballs were initially made by tightly binding cloth rags.  Then, string from packages was saved and wound into the proper sized ball.  Eventually, a rubber interior was added with string wound around that.  A bat was produced by cutting a straight limb from a tree.  One end was cut and shaped for a handle.  Flat stones were used for bases and an old flat pan was used for home base. 

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The game further developed in Erie with the designation of one player dedicated to pitching, the other as the catcher.  Tony Mullane, the “Count of Macaroni” who was part of that development became known as the greatest ambidextrous pitcher of all time.  He is credited with winning 302 games in thirteen seasons of playing in the Big Leagues.  No one ever knew which hand he was going to throw with.   

In addition to Tony, there have been thirteen other Erie County men who have made it to the Big Leagues.  They are listed below in alphabetical order, and I found information on them on the website  I did not realize there is a young man right now from Harborcreek who is playing for the Baltimore Orioles and he is in the Erie line-up below.

Lou Bierbauer                         Born  Sept. 28, 1865               Played 1886 - 1898 

Bill Carrick                               Born Sept. 5, 1873                   Played 1898 – 1902

Dell Darling                             Born Dec. 21, 1861                  Played 1883 – 1891

Mark Esser                              Born April 1, 1956                    Played 1979

Tim Federowicz                      Born August 5, 1987                Played 2011 – 2019

Gussie Gannon                       Born Nov. 26, 1873                 Played 1895

Eric Helfand                            Born March 25, 1969              Played 1993 – 1995

Tom Lawless                           Born Dec. 19, 1956                 Played 1982 – 1990

Isaac Mattson                         Born July 14, 1995                   Played 2021 – Now

Mike Morrison                        Born Feb. 6, 1867                   Played 1887 – 1890

Bob Raudman                        Born March 14, 1942              Played 1966 – 1967

Charlie Strick                          Born Sept. 15, 1858                Played 1882

Dave Wickersham                  Born Sept. 27, 1935                Played 1960 – 1969

For a more in-depth look at Erie baseball, go to our website  Hagen History Center volunteer Barry J. Gray wrote an excellent  9-part series about the sport beginning in April of 2021.  Thank you, Barry, and now go out there to cheer on your favorite team whether that is in the stands or in front of the television!