Ty Cobb’s Jesuit

After Ty Cobb was suspended in the spring of 1912 for attacking a fan, his teammates walked out in support. But the Tigers had a tough game coming up against the World Series champion Philadelphia Athletics, so owner Frank Navin recruited local players in the Philly area to fill in for them. Among them was Aloysius J. Travers (1892-1968), a student at the Jesuit-run St. Joseph’s University. On May 28, 1912, Travers became (in)famous for his one and only major league appearance. Pitching a complete game against the formidable Athletics, he set a record that is till unsurpassed, allowing 26 hits and 24 home runs against fifty batters, walking seven and striking out one. His lifetime ERA was 15.75. The Batter’s Box website bestows the Allan [sic] Travers award for “that player who was the least valuable to his team over the course of the season.” But what most people don’t know about Travers is that he joined the Jesuits after college, and was ordained a priest in 1926. Father Travers spent most of his career at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, using stats language to grade exams. For example, “IT” stood for “imminent tragedy,” while “IPI” meant “inform parents immediately.” He also took it good-naturedly when students asked: “Father, could you tell us about your baseball career?” Michael Steltenkamp, a Jesuit historian, says of Travers: “The legacy of Al Travers had nothing to do with failure. Instead, he bequeathed to his fellow priests the Hall of Fame memory of a man whose well-known stats did not tell the whole story. For those who went beyond those stats and got to know him, he was a winner.”

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