Joseph A. Cross
born Joseph Kirz
- Height 5' 11½", Weight 165 lb.
- Debut September 5, 1888
- Final Game September 5, 1888
- Born January 6, 1858 in Chicago, IL USA
- Died April 2, 1933 in Cleveland, OH USA
Joe Cross was the eldest of the Cross big league ballplaying family: Lave, Amos and Frank also saw action. The family patriarch, Joseph Kirz (or Kriz), was from Bohemia and emigrated to the United States with his wife, Mary, just before Joe's birth in Chicago. The family moved to Milwaukee, before settling in Cleveland, where the brothers learned to play baseball. Joe was a semipro player around Cleveland, playing for the Cleveland Forest Citys and Cleveland Graphics starting around 1879 and into the 1880s. He pitched for Altoona in 1887.
What is most interesting about Joe is that he was also a major leaguer - albeit for a brief stint - and that this was not discovered until decades after his sole appearance. In a September 5, 1888 American Association game between the Cleveland Blues and Louisville Colonels, a player named Cross is shown in the boxscore as playing left field and striking out in his only at-bat for Louisville. Because Lave Cross was a catcher on the team, it was long assumed that it was he who played that game. Evidence found in 2012 indicates that Lave injured his knee on September 2nd and did not play again until September 13th. In addition, the report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer stated: "While at bat in the seventh inning, Cook caught a swift pitched ball on the hand and had to retire. Vaughn took his place behind the bat, Ramsey went to left field and Cross of the Graphics, a brother of Lave, a Louisville catcher, took the latter's place in right." A later article is entitled "Two Local Players Borrowed To Fill the Positions On the Diamond", and refers to Billy Crowell by name, while the other is "Young Cross, a local player". That is unlikely to be Lave, who was indeed a rookie, but had spent the whole season with the Louisville team. This discovery means that there were four Cross brothers who played major league baseball, and not three as originally thought.
Joe became a cigar maker after his baseball days. In later entries in census forms and city directories he is listed as a caulker, a store keeper, a machinist, and an employee of Cleveland's Division of Water. He died in Cleveland in 1933; his obituary mentions that he was married to Lena Reamer and the couple had one daughter, Liddia.