Monday, February 07, 2011

Clarence Howard, Sandusky Crescents

In the Sandusky Library's collections are two photo postcards showing the Sandusky Crescents baseball team in 1912. We don't know much about the Crescents, but it appears that they were one of several baseball teams that played in the area at the time. The Crescents players were all very young men -- the few that we were able to successfully research were age 15-17 at the time of these photos. There were other teams from Castalia, Bay Bridge, Fremont, and other nearby places, who seemed to play not in a league, but as individual teams challenging each other on weekends.

What makes these photographs historically interesting, however, is the Crescents' star pitcher, Clarence Howard, an African-American on an otherwise all-white team. (It is a strange pleasure to see that Sandusky baseball was integrated some thirty-five years before the Major Leagues.) He also pitched for a team called the Sandusky Giants; an article in the July 19, 1912 Sandusky Register reported that he pitched a no-hitter for the Giants against a team from Fremont at an A.M.E. church outing at Rye Beach. (The only run that Fremont scored was when the Sandusky second baseman let the ball go by because he found a pocketbook on the ground; after the game, he was reported as saying "it was a good thing he found that purse, as it would have been scandalous to bring the boys all the way from Fremont and then shut them out.")

Sadly, Clarence Howard's life ended tragically and prematurely while a soldier in France during the First World War, when he was killed by the accidental discharge of a weapon in the barracks. He was 22 years old. His body was eventually returned to Sandusky, where he received a military funeral and burial in the American Legion plot in Oakland Cemetery.

The Crescents players are: Joe Schmitt, Bill Nottke, Larry Clark, Paul Mielke, Art Mielke, Ray Diehl, Gus Fehr, "Irish" Connors, Clarence Howard.


PalmsRV said...

What a sad end for such a promising young man from Detroit.


Ed Daniel said...

An interesting but sad story about Mr. Howard. Appropriate that you posted this article in February, Black Hisgtroy Month. It would be interesting to know of the origins of the members of the black community who moved into Sandusky over the decades. When I was growing up on Fifth Street in the 1940's and 50's, there were many black families who lived nearby on Third and Fourth Streets, most likley due to the proxmity of the Farrell-Cheek Foundry on First Street. During WWII, there was a factory on Warren Street, between Jefferson and Monroe, that was a segregated (black-only) work site that made products for the war effort. My dad was instrumental in gettig the manager of that plant, a Mr. Comeaux (a native of New Orleans), into membership in the Sandusky Council of the Knights of Columbus, the first black man admitted to that Council.