Lou Gehrig - Dead for 25,184 consecutive days and still counting
Okay, I know this is a bit more obscure than most baseball facts, but I wondered where I should go to see the most burial sites of former (and dead) pro Baseball players. Little did I suspect that I should bypass the northeast United States and look right at St. Louis to find the most dead ballplayers.
An astounding 180 Baseball Players are laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis. While there are no hall-of-famers, there are plenty of good ballplayers just waiting to get the chance to play one more heavenly game. On your next trip to the Gateway City, make sure that after you take the little elevator to the top of the 530-foot tall arch that overlooks this beautiful landscape.
As you take your stroll down memory lane, you can imagine talking pitching to 13-year veteran Urban Shocker. The St. Louis Browns are certainly not as well known as the Cardinals, so most people don’t realize that for most of his 13 year career, Jack Tobin manned the outfield. He put up a respectable .309 lifetime average and even once led the league with 18 triples.
Of course there were a wealth of players who played before the turn of the century and we shouldn’t forget them now. Although he played mostly in the late 1800s, Mighty Joe Quinn made 7,352 plate appearances in his career and saw the rules of the game change slightly. During his tenure it was still considered an out if a ball was caught by an outfielder on one hop.
Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn New York has an amazing collection of dead ball players. To date, 38 players are buried in this cemetery. Most of them were players in the pre-modern era and are largely unknown, but there are a few more memorable names there. Tommy Clarke was a catcher for nine years with the Reds from 1909-1917 and finished out his career with the Cubs in 1918. Despite his longevity at that position, he had a very pedestrian .265 lifetime average.
Calvary Cemetery in Woodside New York also has 38 former Major Leaguers buried there. If you ever wondered where diminutive hall-of-famer Wee Willie Keeler is laid to rest, look no further.
Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn is the eternal home for 39 players. Included in this group is Hall-of-Famer Joe Collins and Dodger slugger Gil Hodges. I list it here for the simple reason that this funeral home was just down the street from where my mother grew up.
On the West Coast, the best bet to see a lot of dead ballplayers is in Culver City California, where 21 former major leaguers are buried. They aren’t particularly well known, but the list includes Sloppy Thurston, Rip Russell, and Peanuts Lowrey.
Inglewood Cemetery hosts 36 former ball players at its eternal home. Wahoo Sam Crawford whose Hall-of-Fame plaque hangs in Cooperstown is here. So is another hall-of-famer, Browns shortstop Bobby Wallace. In case you didn’t know, Wallace had 2,309 hits and a sizzling .268 lifetime batting average. He was voted into the Hall-of-Fame by the Veterans committee in 1953 and is arguably a serviceable ballplayer with a reputation for great defense.
But the record for number of baseball players buried in on the west coast belongs to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma California. No fewer than 55 former major leaguers are laid to rest. The names here are notable to say the least.
Joe DiMaggio leads the way, along with teammate Frank Crosetti. The otherwise forgettable Cy Falkenberg is buried here, and I wouldn’t even mention him among the others except for the fact he was the pitcher to give up Ty Cobb’s very first hit.
Since this is a story about all the famous ‘’first’s’’ in baseball, I thought it necessary to point this out. While making your tour around the flowers and the serenity of the trees, make sure to visit the gravestone of George ‘’High-Pockets’’ Kelly, a slick fielding first baseman and hall-of-famer. There are many more headstones to admire while on your tour through the very distant past.
The highest percentage of hall-of-famers buried in one cemetery is New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore. It certainly seems to be the hall-of-fame of cemeteries. Here you can find 18 former players and an amazing total of four happen to be in Cooperstown. Ned Hanlon, Joe Kelley, ‘’Uncle’’ Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw are all talking baseball on the clouds. All but Joe Kelley played with McGraw in Baltimore. I guess there’s nothing closer to being a teammate for forever.
Speaking of hall-of-famers, one can make a unique summer travel itinerary by seeing the graves of the following players: Ty Cobb, Rosehill Cemetery in Royston Georgia; Both Leo Durocher and Don Drysdale are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Los Angeles; Willie Wells, Evergreen Cemetery, Austin Texas; Pee Wee Reese, Rosehill Cemetery in Louisville Kentucky; Willie Stargell, Oleander Memorial Gardens, North Carolina; Pie Traynor, Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh; Satchel Paige, Forest Hills, Kansas City; Buck Leonard, Gardens of Gethsemane, North Carolina; Rogers Hornsby, Hornsby-Bend Funeral Home in Austin Texas.
In case you were wondering, there are just 16 former ballplayers who made it all the way to Arlington National Cemetery. Lu Blue played for Detroit, St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox and finally in Brooklyn. Blue grew up in the Washington D.C. area and enjoyed skipping school in order to watch his beloved Senators play baseball. His idol however was Ty Cobb, whom he would end up playing for in the 1921 season. In the spring of 1918, he signed up for service in World War I.
If you are ever interested in finding out which of the baseball alumni are buried in your state, check out this link: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/graves/baseball_graves.shtml