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Harry Chapman

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 26, 1885 Severance, KS
Date and Place of Death:    October 21, 1918 State Hospital No. 3, Nevada, MO
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Catcher
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: US Army
Area Served: United States

Harry E. Chapman was born on October 26, 1885, in the small town of Severance, Kansas, about 80 miles northwest of Kansas City. A semi-pro player for many years, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound catcher began his pro career in baseball at the age of 24 in 1910 with the Concordia Travelers of the Class D Central Kansas League, batting just .193. The following year with the Travelers he got off to a flying start and was hitting .335 in 48 games before joining the Topeka Jayhawks of the Class A Western League. Chapman batted .240 in 62 games with the Jayhawks.

Chapman was with the Sioux City Packers of the Western League in 1911 and despite batting only .238 in 99 games, his solid defense and strong arm attracted the attention of the Chicago Cubs. Three weeks short of his 27th birthday, Chapman made his big league debut with the Cubs on the last day of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago’s West Side Grounds. Handling 10 chances, including three assists, behind the plate, Chapman was also 1-for-4 at the plate with a triple, an RBI and a stolen base.

Two months later the Cubs traded Chapman to the Cincinnati Reds and he made just two pinch-hitting appearances before joining the Atlanta Crackers of the Class A Southern Association. Chapman quickly became a fan favourite with his expert handling of the pitching staff and his timely hitting. In 65 games he batted .290, helping the Crackers clinch the Southern Association pennant. The hopes of Cracker fans that Chapman would return for the 1914 season were dashed, however, when he joined the newly formed and outlawed Federal League. Playing for the St. Louis Terriers as the club’s third string catcher he appeared in 64 games and batted .210 as the Terriers finished last. The following year, with the Terriers as pennant contenders up until the last day of the season, Chapman shared catching duties with Grover Hartley, and batted .199 in 62 games with 29 RBIs.

The Federal League disbanded after the 1915 season and St. Louis Terriers’ owner, Phil Ball, bought the American League St. Louis Browns. As a Brownie, the 30-year-old Chapman appeared in 18 games and batted .097 before joining the Little Rock Travelers of Southern Association. He batted .265 in 43 games and hit .259 in 131 games for the Travelers in 1917.

Chapman’s pro career ended after the 1917 season as he entered military service later that year. Five days short of his 33rd birthday, Harry Chapman died from influenza induced pneumonia at State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada, Missouri on October 21, 1918. He is buried at McPherson Cemetery in McPherson, Kansas.

Date Added: July 9, 2012 Updated May 9, 2015

 

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