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Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Knox, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Sangamon)
Daniel Dugdale “Father of Seattle Baseball”
Major League Debut May 20, 1886
Dugdale was born in Peoria, Illinois, on October 28, 1864, to Irish immigrants (they are on this ships list of passengers coming to the United States) Edward Dugdale and Rebecca Lyons. His youth is not documented until he begins playing baseball. In 1884, he signs as a catcher for the Peoria Reds of the Northwestern League. From there, he lays on a multitude of teams (Hannibal, Leavenworth, Keokuk, and Denver) in the Midwest League. It was in 1886, he signs a major league contract with the Kansas City Cowboys in the National League. In his debut, he collected two hits as the Cowboys won 5-4 despite three passed balls from “Dug”.
His defense behind the plate wasn’t very good and he converted to third base and the outfield. But at 5’8″ and 180 lbs., he had trouble moving around the field. It was his bat that kept him employed. He was able to stick around the game through the 1895 season. He was a back-up player and that gave him a reason to leave. He was also unhappy with the sportswriters talking about his weight which had ballooned to almost 300 lbs. He left the major leagues and return to his hometown in Peoria.
Back home, he purchased a share of the Peoria Distillers and became their manager and they finished second in his first year. He spent some time in Minneapolis in the off-season but returned to Peoria to manage again. The Distillers did poorly and Dugdale decided to move west and follow the gold where he was part of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. His move to Alaska stopped in Seattle and he took a job as a brakeman for the railroad. While there, he made several attempts to begin a baseball team in Seattle.
By 1902, he was deeply entrenched in Seattle baseball and got a team in the Pacific Coast League. He became a celebrity and a successful baseball owner. He funded the construction of Yesler Way Park in 1907 and became friends with Connie Mack. This got him into the door of the major league ownership group. Things were moving and it wasn’t long before Seattle had a major league franchise. This was all due to the work and money of Daniel Dugdale. Those efforts afforded him the title of “The Father of Seattle Baseball.”
He got involved in politics and was appointed to the Washington Legislature in the 34th District from the Democratic Party. His wife Mary died in 1933 and he moved in with his sister for a short period of time prior to his death.
On March 9, 1934, he was crossing the street on Fourth Avenue South in Seattle when he was hit by a city light truck and died at Providence Hospital three hours later. He was 69 years of age at his death.
For more information, check out the Society of Baseball Research information on Dugdale.
Other Central Illinois Bios:
Allyn Stout (Peoria) Larry Simpson (Springfield) Fred Beck (Havana) Carl Vandagrift (Cantrall)
Emmett Seery (Princeville)
George Radbourn (Bloomington)
Eric Weaver (Springfield)
Daniel Dugdale (Peoria)
Billy Rogell (Springfield)
Harry Staley (Jacksonville)