This Evening Express photo shows former Boston Red Sox player Harry Lord stands with Babe Ruth in Portland, a few years before Lord died in 1948. Deb McCleery photo

Researching the life of Mainer Harry Lord, who played for the Boston Red Sox during the early 1900s, was like completing a huge jigsaw puzzle for Bob Muldoon.

Bob Muldoon, a 1981 Bates College graduate, stands at the plate after reciting the poem, “Casey at the Bat” in full regalia. Submitted photo

Muldoon, a 1981 Bates College graduate, has always been fascinated with Major League Baseball players from the early part of the 20th century.

”I believe I had read a book on baseball history and saw (Lord) went to Bates,” Muldoon said recently from his home in Boston. “I have always been interested in early baseball history before 1940, roughly, because as a kid, I read books about colorful players back then. Rube Waddell was one of my favorite players. He would turn cartwheels on the mound. He chased fire engines during games. He ate animal crackers in bed.” 

Muldoon said Waddell, who played for a variety of major league teams from 1897 to 1910, was like a man-child, and sparked Muldoon’s life-long curiosity and appreciation for baseball’s colorful characters who gave America’s pastime pizzazz. 

Muldoon once worked for the Hartford Whalers doing online promotions and writing player profiles before the team left town to become the Carolina Hurricanes in North Carolina. He also wrote a novel about the team called “Brass Bonanza Plays Again,” which was published in 2011.

“It is about a fictitious player who is not a mercenary like other players who just go to play for another team,” Muldoon said. “This guy suffered like fans and had a breakdown when the team left and lived under bridge and he found a way to reunite the Hartford Whalers for a last game. So it is a love story really based on my experience with the team.”

ALL ABOUT HARRY

Muldoon’s fascination with Lord’s life, which took many twists and turns before he died, pushed Muldoon to learn more about the .278 lifetime hitter (in 972 professional games), who was born in 1882 and died in 1948.

“I knew Harry Lord was at Bates in 1904 as freshman,” Muldoon said. “So it turns out he didn’t graduate from Bates, despite what Wikipedia (says) — and even newspaper accounts from his era would say, ‘Harry Lord, the brainy Bates College graduate.’

“He was there one year. He started as a 22-year-old freshman. He had graduated from Bridgton Academy and he played football for Bates. There was another guy named Bob Messenger, who was on the team at the same time, who ended up playing four years in the major leagues, also. So Bates had two major league baseball players in the backfield of their football team and they played Holy Cross, who had (Lewiston native) Bill Carrigan, who ended up being Harry Lord’s teammate on the Red Sox in 1908.

“It was fascinating the way this story was unfolding. Flash forward to the baseball season. So Harry Lord is on the team playing third base and leading off, which he ended up doing in the major leagues.”

Through his research, Muldoon came upon a mystery halfway through the Bates baseball season in 1904.

“But after 10 games, he disappears and he shows up three games later playing against Bates for a semi-pro team called the Portland Pine Tree Athletic Association,” Muldoon said. “He got tired of Bates and then he plays against Bates a couple of games later. He dropped out Bates in 1905, towards the end of his freshman year. It turned out he met a woman, kind of fell in love with her, decided, ‘Well I better drop out of Bates and get married.’”

Lord took a regular job as as some kind of collector, but quickly decided that profession wasn’t for him.

“(Lord) was on a ferry coming back from Portland, and he bumped into his old Bates football coach, Royce Davis Purinton,” Muldoon said. “The old coach said, ‘Why don’t you try baseball?’ So he played for the Worcester (minor league) team and the Providence team, and he started excelling, and from Providence, he just jumped to the Boston Red Sox at the end of the season in 1907. At some point, Harry Lord from Bates College was the captain of the 1909 Red Sox.”

Harry Lord, back row, fourth from left, with the 1901 Bridgton Academy’s Champions of Maine baseball team. Bridgton Academy photo

But Lord ended up getting traded during Boston’s 1910 season.

“In 1910, he was hit by a pitch by Walter Johnson (Washington Senators) — also known as Big Train,” Muldoon said. “He ended up getting in a dispute with the Red Sox …

“The Red Sox ended up trading him to the Chicago White Sox in 1910. He was captain of the White Sox in 1911. In 1914, he had a contract dispute with Charles Comiskey and was released by the White Sox in 1914. In 1915, he played in the Federal League for the Buffalo Blues. He returned to coach the Bates baseball team in 1918. He stayed one year and Purinton became the Bates AD.”

Lord’s baseball career ended early in 1920 and he returned to Maine to become a business man, and he also dabbled in local politics. He opened up a coal business, a grocery store and became a state representative late in life.

AN ARCHIVAL ADVENTURE BEGINS

Muldoon found Lord’s professional baseball career intriguing for two reasons: Lord played third base for a handful of games at Bates, and the research also gave Muldoon an opportunity to help another Bates College graduate interested in establishing a hall of fame.

“This was fascinating, given my connection to Bates as an alum and given my interest in early baseball,” Muldoon said. “I felt a little connected to Lord (who was born in Porter, Maine, in 1882) . I didn’t know much about him.”

Muldoon’s interest in Lord peaked after learning California lawyer and 1973 Bates alumnus Ira Waldman, who played football for the Bobcats, is one of the driving forces to establish a sports hall of fame at Bates.

“I connected with him online about this idea,” Muldoon said. “It just sort of spurred me. Maybe I can help researching Harry Lord.”

Waldman aided Muldoon’s endeavor and pointed Muldoon to Bates’ digital archives of newspapers and yearbooks. Muldoon pored through the Bates digitalized material, “and it was like putting a puzzle together. The things I found were amazing. It turns out he didn’t graduate (from Bates).”

“Let’s put it this way. For the last three or four years, there has been a lot of talk about establishing the Bates athletic hall of fame, but not nearly enough done to get it in motion, and the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped,” Waldman, who labels himself the “pusher” for this project, said. “What I have said is very much on the radar of Jason Fein, who’s the (Bates College) athletic director, and Eric Foushee, who coordinates major gifts, especially among the athletic alumni. I think it is going to happen at some point in the next couple of years.”

Bob Muldoon, left, stands with retired Hartford Whalers player Ed “Boxcar” Hospodar at a minor league game in Hartford. Submitted photo

But Bates College is dealing with the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, and so a project like a hall of fame will have to wait.

“Due to COVID and the current priorities in trying to get the college running for the winter semester, some other priorities have been put on hold,” Bates athletic director Jason Fein said. “Nothing has changed regarding the hall of fame. It’s still an idea and something we would like to explore pursuing in the future.” 

Waldman said he has no official role, but he enjoys using his influence to see that the project comes to fruition.

“I have been pushing for Bates to develop it for every sport,” he said. “My particular focus has been the old-time athletes who could be forgotten, and discovering things about them that are sort of unknown.

“For example, have you ever heard of an old Bates athlete named Oliver Cutts? He is truly one of the great Bates athletes, coaches and athletic directors whoever set forth on that campus, in addition to being a world-class debater — a jock who debates.”

Cutts, a North Anson, Maine native, played football at Bates and Harvard University as a law student.

THE $64 QUESTION

Lord spent less than a year as a student and coached for little more than a year at Bates College. When the the school’s hall of fame is created, does Lord’s name belong in it?

“The question is: Does Harry Lord go in it for only a year at Bates,” Muldoon said. “It is an interesting question. I would say yes because he was there a whole year and people do associate him with Bates.”

Waldman said Lord’s nomination to a Bates hall of fame depends on what concept the hall will adopt when it comes to admission into the hall.

“My view is you go back and you really name more of all of the old-timers than you might think from the first class, because they are not going to show. They are not alive,” Waldman said. “If you can find some of their family, great. So make a pretty sizable class of these old timers and do the research.

“Does Harry Lord belong? Absolutely! We are the keepers of the flame.”


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