The Sept. 22 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly features Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf ’05, one of three alumni currently in the major leagues. In all, there have been 25 Tigers to reach baseball’s highest level. Some lasted only one game, while others played for a decade or more. Brief bios of each are included below.
Moe Berg ’23
Perhaps the most famous of Princeton’s pro ballplayers, Berg played for five major league teams in the 1920s and ’30s and served as a spy for the American O.S.S. before and during World War II.
Dan Bickham 1886
Bickham’s pro pitching record included just one game: A nine-inning victory over Philadelphia, a team that had battered Bickham’s Princeton squad in an exhibition a few months earlier.
Charlie Caldwell ’25
A seldom-used pitcher for the 1925 Yankees (a rare losing team during the Babe Ruth era), Caldwell became better known as a football coach, guiding Princeton to a school-record 24 straight wins from 1949 to 1952.
John Easton ’55
Easton signed as a free agent with the Phillies after graduation and reached the majors twice, in 1955 and 1959. He also served in the Navy, according to his PAW memorial, and had a long career as an executive at Public Service Electric & Gas.
Hyland Gunning 1912
Gunning’s major league run was short, lasting just over a month with the Red Sox in 1911. He managed one hit in nine at bats while playing first base.
Homer Hillebrand 1904
Homer was Hillebrand’s given name, not an indicator of his power hitting. In fact, Hillebrand was a pitcher, winning eight of his 12 decisions in three years with the Pirates.
Duke Kelleher 1916
Albert Aloysius Kelleher, a 5-foot-7-inch backup catcher for the Giants, played just one game in the majors and never came to the plate as a batter.
Charles “King” Lear 1914
The Cincinnati right-hander was, like many pitchers of his time, a durable thrower. Of his 19 major league starts, he completed 12. His career record was 7-12.
Leonidas Lee 1878
Born Leonidas Funkhouser, the St. Louis shortstop and outfielder was the first Princetonian to play in the majors – and, in the days before NCAA rules, the first to return to Old Nassau and play his senior season after his pro debut.
Walter “Waddy” MacPhee ’22
MacPhee played two games for the Giants in the last week of the 1922 season. He had two hits – including a triple – in seven at-bats.
Thomas McNamara ’22
McNamara, a classmate of Waddy MacPhee, also started and finished his major league career in the summer after graduation. His lone appearance, as a pinch hitter for the Pirates, was in June 1922.
Arthur “Dutch” Meier 1902
Though he only played one season – with the 1906 Pirates – Meier was a regular contributor, appearing in 82 games. He batted .256 for a team that featured Hall-of-Fame shortstop Honus Wagner and fellow alum Homer Hillebrand 1904.
Ross Ohlendorf ’05
A star on two Ivy Championship teams, Ohlendorf debuted with the Yankees in 2007 and pitched well enough in September to earn a spot on the playoff roster. He’s been a starting pitcher for the Pirates since 2008.
Ted Reed 1913
Reed played 20 games for the 1915 Newark Pepper of the Federal League – then considered a major league. He backed up player-manager Bill McKechnie, a future Hall-of-Famer who coached the Pirates and Reds to World Series titles.
Roger Salmon 1915
Salmon was a perfect 1-0 in the majors, pitching two games in 1912. According to his PAW memorial, he did not graduate from Princeton but he did earn enduring fame among classmates by leading the freshmen to the inter-class baseball title.
Dave Sisler ’53
The son of Hall-of-Famer George Sisler and the brother of major leaguer Dick Sisler, Dave was the lone pitcher in the family. His 38 wins stood as the most by any Princetonian for 46 years until Chris Young ’02 passed that mark in 2008.
Charles “Dutch” Sterrett 1912
In two years as a utility player for the Yankees, Sterrett batted .253. His manager during the second season was Frank Chance of the Cubs’ legendary Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance infield.
Roy Talcott ’43
Talcott’s 26 pitching wins at Princeton remains a school record nearly seven decades after his graduation. In his lone appearance for the Boston Braves, he faced five Philadelphia batters and gave up two runs.
Bob Tufts ’77
When Tufts debuted with the Giants in 1981, he was Princeton’s first major leaguer in nearly two decades. The 6-foot-5-inch pitcher made 27 appearances in three seasons. After baseball, Tufts earned his M.B.A. from Columbia University and started a career on Wall Street.
Bobby Vaughn 1909
After an unsuccessful stint with the New York Highlanders in 1909, Vaughn played in the minor leagues and earned a second chance with the Federal League’s St. Louis Terriers in 1915. He played in 144 games, batting .280 and leading the league in sacrifice bunts.
Will Venable ’05
Venable, known on campus for his basketball skills, played in the NCAA Championships of both basketball and baseball. Three years into his major league career with the San Diego Padres, he already has more home runs (25) than any other Princetonian and ranks second among alumni in hits, behind Moe Berg ’23.
Elwood “Woody” Wagenhorst 1888
At Princeton, Wagenhorst and his teammates were on the losing side of one of the era’s most remarkable pitching performances: a 20-strikeout game by Yale’s Amos Alonzo Stagg in May 1888. Later that year, the Tiger third-baseman played two games for the National League’s Philadelphia Quakers before starting a career as a congressional aide in Washington, D.C.
Fred Winchell 1908
Born Frederick Cook, the right-hander was 0-3 as a pitcher with the Cleveland Naps in 1909.
Stephen White 1911
Though his major league career spanned just over one month, White managed to pitch in both the American and National leagues, appearing in four games as a reliever. He later became a high-school teacher and coach in Princeton and Boston.
Chris Young ’02
Young, like Will Venable ’05, starred in both basketball and baseball at Princeton. A standout starter for the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres, he is the only alumnus to play in the major league all-star game, pitching for the National League in 2007. Young’s 47 pitching wins lead all alums.
UPDATE: David Hale ’11 joined the list of Princeton major leaguers in September 2013. Click here to read about his debut outing.