Frederick Martin Stoehr (1887-1952) was a right-handed pitcher from Altoona, PA who played in the southern minor leagues from 1908-1910. He broke in with the 1908 Roanoke Tigers (Virginia League) and later that season played for the Anderson Electricians (Carolina League). When Anderson’s season was completed he returned to Roanoke for the balance of their season.
In 1909 he re-signed with Roanoke, only to be released in late April. He joined the Goldsboro team (Eastern Carolina Association) where he compiled a 16-13 record for the fourth place finishing Giants. The following year he returned to Goldsboro with high hopes for the season, but by early July he asked for his release and joined the Wilmington Sailors. Not much is known about his career with Wilmington, but by 1911 Stoehr was out of professional baseball and had moved back to Altoona where he lived the rest of his life.
I acquired an archive of 79 letters written by Stoehr while he was pitching during the 1908-1910 seasons. The recipient of the letters was Mary Mae Boslet to whom he was engaged in 1908. The two married after his first season of professional ball (October 27, 1908). Their first child, who died in infancy, was born during the 1909 season, and their second was welcomed in 1910.
Stoehr’s letters are fascinating for the information they provide about the life of a minor league baseball player living and playing in the southern leagues in the early twentieth century. His story, with a few exceptions, could be the story of players following the same dream of professional baseball in contemporary times. When he’s losing he grouses that the fielding was bad, and his teammates didn’t hit. He rarely mentions that he pitched poorly!
What is especially injteresting in his letters is the way players were treated by management during Stoehr’s era. Since there was no collective bargaining agreement a player could be released at any time and replaced with someone else. Similarly, players could request their release and go to another team, or leave the game entirely. The letters show that baseball was a much different game in 1908-1910.
I have included selected letters for public consumption. In the future I intend to write a much longer description of Stoehr’s life, and of life in the southern minor leagues. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading his words.
June 2, 1910
July 8, 1910