Steve with Baseball Personalities
Frank Haraway (1916-2005) Frank was a longtime sportswriter for the Denver Post and the first official scorer of the Colorado Rockies, who had a special connection to the Urban Shocker story. When the Yankees released Urban in the summer of 1928, because he too ill to pitch any longer, he travelled to Denver and joined the Piggly Wigglies, a semi-pro team owned by Frank’s father, for the Denver Post Tournament. Franks’ father owned the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain (which he later sold to Safeway) and sponsored the team for the competition. Eleven years old at the time, Frank remembered the Yankee star’s arrival that year, more than seventy years earlier.
Frank watched that tourney from behind home plate in his wheelchair; he had developed tuberculosis of the bone as a child and had only recently emerged from a full-body cast. Frank recalled overhearing a doctor telling his mother that her son would not live to be an adult because of the disease. Frank overcame his disability and lived a long and full life, getting around with crutches for much of his life. As his daughter has written, "My father lived his adult life, with his crutches, at speed."
Frank wondered if Urban took advantage of the situation- if he knew just how sick he was, and Frank’s father did not. Ironically, his father ended up paying for the train expenses that took Urban’s body back to St. Louis for burial, just a few weeks after he had paid to bring Urban to Denver.
When Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig barnstormed in Denver after the 1927 season, the bedridden Frank could not come to the game. When his dad gave a ball to the Babe and Lou to sign for Frank, the Babe suggested that he and Lou go to Frank’s bedroom and sign it in his presence. That was a visit that remained vivid in Frank’s mind for the rest of his life. He also enjoyed telling me the story of how he lost that ball—a painful experience at the time that he could sigh and somewhat laugh at years later. When Frank was playing in a pick-up game as a child (in his wheelchair), the ball the kids were using unraveled in the ninth inning. The game appeared to be over, until Frank suggested that they use the ball he had in his bedroom—that Ruth-Gehrig ball. Frank wheeled home and got it, only to see a batter foul the ball off. Frank watched in horror as the ball rolled into a storm sewer.