John Watt and Elizabeth Cook Watt (my 3x great grandparents) had 9 children, among them Sarah Elizabeth Watt and Solomon Watt. Sarah Watt married Jacob Foreman and they are my 2nd great grandparents. Solomon Watt, my 3x great uncle, married and had 9 children one being George Watt the subject of this blog. George Watt is my 1st Cousin 3x removed.
Both Sarah and Solomon’s children were born in Pike County, Illinois. Sarah and Jacob Foreman’s children in the small town of Time, Illinois and Solomon’s children nearby in Milton, Illinois. Both families were farmers. The families were close and their children attended the same schools growing up as evidenced in Robert Sidney Foreman’s autograph book from 1886.
When I researched the census for the Watt family I found that George Watt had left the farm country in Illinois in 1898 and settled in Little Rock, Arkansas and his job was listed as baseball player in the 1900 census. More research revealed he played as a relief pitcher for the professional minor league team called the Arkansas Travelers from 1898 to 1908.
The 1901 Arkansas Traveler Team
The Dead Ball Era 1900 to 1919
At this time the games tended to be low scoring, dominated by such pitchers as Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, and Grover Cleveland Alexander to the extent that the period 1900–1919 is commonly called the “Dead-ball era”. The term also accurately describes the condition of the baseball itself. Baseballs cost three dollars apiece, which in 1900 would be equal to $88 today; club owners were therefore reluctant to spend much money on new balls if not necessary. It was not unusual for a single baseball to last an entire game. By the end of the game, the ball would be dark with grass, mud, and tobacco juice, and it would be misshapen and lumpy from contact with the bat. Balls were only replaced if they were hit into the crowd and lost, and many clubs employed security guards expressly for the purpose of retrieving balls hit into the stands—a practice unthinkable today.
As a consequence, home runs were rare, and the “inside game” dominated—singles, bunts, stolen bases, the hit-and-run play, and other tactics dominated the strategies of the time. – from the Arkansas Travelers Archives.
From the Archives of Professional Minor League Baseball Statistics from the Southern League which included the Arkansas Travelers:
In its early years, the Texas League, like any new business, was struggling to stay organized and turn a profit. The Spanish-American War stopped operations in 1898, as would other wars in later years. From 1899 through 1902, only the southern teams survived under another league designation, and the northern cities, except for a one-year run by Dallas, struggled to find organization. Travel was a major concern as new railroad tracks were still to be laid and a wagon trip between cities was an all-day or two-day excursion.
These archives show George Watt played from 1902, when he would have been 26 years old to 1910 in the Southern League as a relief pitcher with statistics showing 178 games played; 69 wins; 67 losses. Games started 31, innings pitched 447, hits allowed 370, runs scored 82, and base on balls 86.
George’s last two years in the Southern League were with the Zanesville, Ohio team which was part of the Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland League. He continued to play baseball until 1918.