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A Long Way Down From The Pitcher’s Mound

June 2024
1min read

Among the Chicago White Stockings stars who took part in Spalding’s baseball tour around the world in 1888 (see A MERICAN H ERITAGE , October, 1977) was John K. Tener, a veteran righthander. Tener retired from baseball two years later, but, as Michael Goodman of Brooklyn, N.Y., has written us, his career had just begun. The Irish-born ex-ballplayer worked his way up to the presidency of the First National Bank of Charleroi, Pennsylvania, formed a successful brokerage firm, then entered Republican politics and, as the protégé of Pennsylvania boss Boies Penrose, became first a congressman ( 1909–11 ) and then governor of his state (1911–15).

But through it all Tener never forgot his first love. During World War I he was president of the National League, declaring baseball the “watchword of democracy” in the struggle against the Kaiser. His governorship was best remembered for the construction of roads and street railways, and once, Goodman writes, after the governor had signed three important traction bills in a single day, a lawyer remarked that they would become a monument to his career. Not so, replied Tener wistfully. “I once shut out the Giants.” 112

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