Ollie Pickering and His “Texas Leaguer” Legacy

OLLIE PICKERING FATHER OF THE TEXAS LEAGUER

OLLIE PICKERING
FATHER OF THE TEXAS LEAGUER

Ollie Pickering was born April 9, 1870 in Olney, Illinois. He was a 5’11”, 170 lb. center fielder who batted left and threw right. “Pick” began his professional baseball career at the age of 22 with the Houston Mudcats of the Texas League in a trek through the majors and minors that finally concluded at age 52 with the 1922 Paducah Indians. Interesting to note that Pickering could have become famous for a career that was long. Instead, he achieved recognition for hits that were both too long and two short at the same time.

Here’s link to the career record of Ollie Pickering:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=picker001oli

Back in 1892, legend has it that a 22-year old ballplayer named Ollie Pickering hopped a freight train to Houston, dropping in on Houston Mudcats Manager John McCloskey on May 21st to apply for a job on his player roster. Pickering’s physique and athletic movements apparently counted far more to McCloskey than his unkempt appearance, and the Houston manager was short an outfielder, anyway, going into a game to be played that same day.

McCloskey picked up Pickering on the spot. He had him cleaned up with a shave and a haircut and provided him with a uniform – and then told him to show up at the ballpark for the game scheduled for that afternoon. Pickering showed up, all right. He went to bat seven times and, each time he did, he softly stroked a looping, dink fly ball  beyond the first base side infielders that then landed before the right fielder could keep it from touching the ground – or else – he hit the same kind of lazy looper just beyond the reach of the third base side infielders that also touched down before the left fielder could catch it. – News of Pickering’s feat spread rapidly to the rest of the country and, because these easy to spot soft sailing singles all look so much alike, and because they took place every time in Pickering’s  seven-single Texas League game in Houston, these seven dwarf hits, and all of the thousands that have since followed them off all the bats of countless others, have became best known forever from that day as “Texas Leaguers”.

Have a peaceful Sunday, everybody – and don’t forget to move your clocks an hour forward.

 

Thank you, Darrell Pittman, for this article from the April 21, 1906 issue of The Sporting Life.

Thank you, Darrell Pittman, for this relevant article from the April 21, 1906 issue of The Sporting Life.

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3 Responses to “Ollie Pickering and His “Texas Leaguer” Legacy”

  1. nicko03 Says:

    Thanks for sharing this story as I grew up about 35 miles from Olney and their HS was in the same conference as my HS.

  2. Tom Hunter Says:

    Another of many theories about the origin of the phrase “Texas Leaguer” is that old ball parks in the Texas League had no fences, so the outfielders had to play deeper than usual to prevent balls being hit over their head; and that it was also a sarcastic reference to eveything being bigger in Texas. I do like the connection to the Houston Mudcats of Ollie Pickering of Olney, Illinois–home of the White Squirrels.

  3. Leland Hall Says:

    Great story of an undying legend. Bar room trivia.

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