Friday, December 3, 2010
Baseball and Genealogy Research
George Edward “Duffy” Lewis is buried in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Londonderry. He played for the Red Sox, Yankees and Senators from 1910 to 1921. He died in Salem, New Hampshire on 17 June 1979. This was a big story back in 2000 when John Clayton, reporter for the Manchester Union Leader newspaper, wrote two articles about Duffy and mentioned how his grave was unmarked. Money was raised from readers for a nice marker, engraved with his wife’s name, too. The Union Leader is available on microfilm in the Manchester public library.
This got me to thinking about researching baseball in the family. Sure, there were lots of members of the family, male and female, who played on school, youth, town and local teams. I remembered that in my own family tree James Ebenezer Ferrin (1848–1935) was an early organizer of baseball teams in Essex County, Massachusetts. He did a lot to make the game popular in Massachusetts. He was also famous around town for witnessing General Lee surrender at Appomattox, and was the last surviving veteran of the Civil War in Peabody, Massachusetts. This information came from a few lines I read in the book Capt. Jonathan Farren of Amesbury and some of his Descendants published in 1941.
I knew that David Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society was a big baseball fan, so I asked him about researching early baseball. I was interested in finding out more information on James Ebenezer Ferrin. He recommended the website http://www.retrosheet.org/ or an inquiry to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
James E. Ferrin was not listed at the http://www.retrosheet.org/ website. The Baseball Hall of Fame was very accommodating, and answered several email inquiries, but had no information on early baseball in Essex County, Massachusetts. They suggested several Massachusetts baseball researchers who specialized in the time period, and to look in newspaper articles in the 1860s and 1870, right after the Civil War, when baseball was becoming popular. So far I haven’t found much, but then again, I haven’t found any other information at all on James Ferrin – no marriage, no descendants, end of the line? I’ll continue to look, because Essex County is a big place, and there were a lot of little newspapers all over at that time period.
For early baseball see SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) http://sabr.org/
Baseball Biography Project Website: http://bioproj.sabr.org/
Duffy Lewis’s Biography
Dom DiMaggio’s Biography
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo