My Irish Ancestry, Folklore and Songs, In Preparation for St. Patrick's Day

This week leading up to St. Patrick's Day I'm going to share a bit of my ancestry with you along with some Irish folklore, songs and history.

I'll start with my great grandfather Tom J. Loftus (1856-1910), since I don't want his accomplishments to be forgotten. He was Irish and was proud of it. Can you tell? His parents immigrated from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. Tom was about as famous in America as one could hope for, given that by the last decade of his life baseball was America's favorite pastime. You see, he was a Major League Baseball (MLB) player who later coached/managed several MLB teams across the country, like the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators, and the Chicago Orphans, later to be known as the Cubs, which he co-owned with Albert Spalding (yes, that Spalding). Being a manger also meant he was the recruiter. He helped the American League to start up (in 1901) to rival the National League, that gave rise to the World Series. When the Three Eyes League (or "Three I's League" representing Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa) had major rifts between them, Tom was the only one they could all agree to manage it. He was a life-long friend of Charles Comiskey, having first played ball with him in Dubuque, Iowa. In fact, Tom earned the two highest accolades that could be given: "Baseball Man" (or "Man of Baseball") and "Magnate." Here's part of his obituary on the front page of the sports section in the Chicago Tribune, April 17th, 1910:

Here's another picture of him as the manager of the Washington Senators:

The following information about Tom was gleaned from Albert Spinks's book, The National Game, published in 1910, the year he died.

Tom Loftus was a prominent 19th century baseball man who was involved in the game for more than 25 years. A player, captain, manager, and team president, Loftus was a person who did much to bring the game into its proper sphere and was one of the great builder's up of the national game.

Loftus was born in St. Louis in 1856 and first gained notice on the baseball field while playing for the 1875 St. Louis Reds. In 1876, Loftus was regarded as the best player on the Red Stockings.

Living a rather nomadic baseball life, Loftus played with a Memphis team in 1877, captained Peoria in 1878, and joined the Dubuque nine in 1879. Loftus would call Dubuque home for the rest of his life, even as his baseball career took him from city to city.

The 1879 Dubuque Rabbits were an outstanding baseball team. The nine consisted of Loftus, Charlie Comiskey, Old Hoss Radbourne, the Gleason brothers, Tom Sullivan, Billy Taylor, William Lapham, and Larry Reis. Loftus played second base as the team won the championship of the Northwest League and a victory over Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings.

In 1882, Ted Sullivan, who had put the Dubuque team together, went to St. Louis to manage the St. Louis Browns and brought the core of his Dubuque team with him. Loftus, Comiskey, and the Gleasons all joined Sullivan on the Browns. Coming down with a serious illness, Loftus played in only six games for the Browns in 1882 and 1883.

In 1884, Loftus's health had recovered enough for him to sign with Milwaukee in the Union Association as both player and manager. However the illness had taken its toll and Loftus only played the early part of the season before retiring as player and devoting his full time to managing.

Over the next seventeen years, Loftus would manage numerous teams. In 1885, he returned to St. Louis to skipper the Whites. From 1887 to 1889, Loftus managed in Cleveland. He then managed two seasons in Cincinnati from 1890 through 1891. In 1894, Loftus was managing the Columbus Western League team and remained there until 1900 when he took the manager's job with the Chicago Orphans of the NL. In 1901, Loftus took his last baseball job, managing the Washington Senators. Staying in Washington for two seasons, Loftus also served as team president.

Retiring from the game in 1902, Loftus returned home to Dubuque to devote himself full time to his business interests, specifically the ownership and management of a hotel. He received numerous offers to return to the game but preferred to remain in Dubuque.

While no longer active in the game, Loftus was still a respected figure in baseball circles. While he was not active in the game from 1902, he was one of the counselors of both big leagues and was regarded as one of the substantial men in baseball. His advice was sought and heeded. Ted Sullivan would write that Loftus was twenty years ahead of his time when he was playing and remained so throughout his baseball career. Henry Chadwick regarded Loftus as one of the greatest baseball men who ever lived.

Loftus was one of the best fellows ever prominently identified with the game. He died at his home in Dubuque on April 16, 1910.

The following can be found in the Encyclopedia Dubuque. [It got his middle initial wrong].
LOFTUS, Thomas E. (St. Louis, MO, Nov. 15,1856--Dubuque, IA, Apr. 16, 1910). Baseball player. Loftus came to Dubuque in 1879 as captain, manager, and second baseman of Dubuque's baseball team. With such players as Charles Albert COMISKEY and Charles Gardner RADBOURNE, Loftus' team won the championship of the Northwest League that included Rockford, Illinois; Davenport, Iowa; and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Loftus moved to St. Louis as captain in 1882, but poor health caused him to return to Dubuque, a situation that allowed Comiskey to demonstrate the abilities that made him a baseball legend. Having regained his health by 1884, Loftus returned to active play and worked with teams in Cincinnati and Cleveland. In 1894 he helped organize the Western League that eventually became the American League.

As a baseball player, Loftus was the first to promote teamwork instead of single player technique. Because he was not a hard hitter, Loftus developed techniques now recognized as fundamentals. In addition to mastering the placement of hits, Loftus was the first to develop the bunt. He also held the record for stolen bases.

In 1879 during the off-season, Loftus opened a pool and billiard room on Main Street. In 1883 he was persuaded to operate the LORIMIER HOUSE buffet with William Flynn as a partner. In 1892 Loftus left the Lorimier House to work in the Julien Hotel (now the HOTEL JULIEN DUBUQUE). He later operated the buffet at the newly opened BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING.

Given the opportunity to decorate the buffet as he saw appropriate, Loftus installed a marble bar, onyx columns, and expensive paintings and pictures of baseball players.

Passage of the mulct law, banning buffets in basements, forced the closing of the buffet at the Bank and Insurance Building in 1908. Loftus waited one year and then purchased the restaurant business of Walter Dick and renamed the establishment, "The Stag." This he operated until his death.
Now for an Irish adopted song, Danny Boy, which I dedicate to the memory of my great grandfather: