Skip links

Fr. Allan Travers: The one-game pitcher who might have saved the Detroit Tigers

The worst pitcher ever to take the mound for the Detroit Tigers became a Catholic priest.

Granted, Allan Travers was already on the path to the priesthood before suiting up for Detroit on May 18, 1912. But his story — and place in baseball history — is the prime example of being in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time).

Travers played in only one game, but one was enough to show that God had plans for him that didn’t involve the Big Leagues.

The story begins, as most stories of Tigers lore do, with Ty Cobb.

The Tigers were in New York on May 15 to play the Highlanders (the precursor to the Yankees). Cobb was playing in the outfield when he was verbally abused by a New York fan who was using profanity and racial slurs to describe Cobb’s play.

Cobb — never known for keeping his cool — stormed into the stands and unleashed a volley of punches on the fan. Tigers players rushed to the scene of the chaos, yelling at Cobb to lay off the man, who was missing one hand and three fingers on his other hand after suffering an industrial accident.

Cobb didn’t care and continued the barrage.

Ban Johnson, president of the American League, happened to be at the game, checking on the family-friendly excitement of what was turning into America’s pastime.

Having one of the league’s star players beat up a disabled spectator didn’t jibe well with Johnson’s vision for baseball, so Cobb was suspended indefinitely.

The Tigers felt Cobb’s punishment was unfair, so the players voted to strike until Cobb was reinstated for the club’s next game in three days against the two-time defending World Series champion Philadelphia Athletics.

Read more at Detroit Catholic

Share with Friends: