Kharacters in the Kitty
By Larry Edmundson
To my knowledge there have been only two former Kitty Leaguers elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Albert "Red" Schoendtist played briefly for Union City in 1942. Kevin McCann reported on his story in a previous edition of The Bullpen. The other man was Edd J. Roush.
Edd Roush was born in Oakland City, IN on May 8, 1893. The veterans committee elected him to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. He should have been there sooner.
Roush was a natural left hander who learned to play baseball right-handed because there were no left-handed gloves available to him growing up. He began his career with Evansville of the Kitty League in 1912. He played shortstop. A shoulder injury weakened his right arm and caused him to switch back to a lefty and move to the outfield. It was a fortuitous injury, as he became the leading center fielder of his day, rivaled only by the great Ty Cobb.
He played briefly for the White Sox in 1913, making $100 a month. The next year he signed with Indianapolis in the Federal League for $2000 per year. The Federal League was an attempt to establish a "third" major league. The first year with only six teams, there were few players of major league ability, although all the managers were former major leaguers including Cy Young, manager of the Cleveland team. The next year the Federal League expanded to eight teams including Newark where Roush played for a salary of $4000. Open warfare broke out between the two recognized major leagues and the Federal league in 1914 with considerable litigation to follow. The result was the fold-up of the league after 1915. The better players were put into a pool and sold with the New York Giants claiming Rouse. He played 39 games for them in 1916, hitting only .188 when he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He had ten great years with the Reds.
He became the premier center-fielder in the National League. Rouse hit over .300 eleven consecutive seasons. He struck out only 260 times in an 18 year career. Roush led the National League in hitting in 1917 and 1919 with averages of .341 and .321. Both years the second place runner-up was Rogers Hornsby. In 1921 he had his best year when he hit .352 and .351 in 1923. Twice he had 27 game hitting streaks.
Money was a force throughout his career and rarely did a year go by that he was not a hold-out. He was said to always be in great physical shape and did not care for spring training. He was traded to the Giants in early 1927 where he signed a $22500 contract. Following an injury in 1928 and the beginnings of aged legs in 1929 the Giants gave him a salary cut to $15000 for the 1930 season. Roush sat out the entire season. In 1931 he was sold back to the Reds where he finished his playing days after one year.
Edd Roush, former Kitty Leaguer died in Bradenton, Florida on March 21, 1988.