John Carl

From BR Bullpen

John H. Carl

  • Bats Unknown, Throws Unknown

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

John Carl played one game for the Baltimore Canaries in 1874, as an emergency replacement at catcher. His one game for the Canaries came when the team was missing its two regular catchers, Pop Snyder and Charlie Gould.

Nothing was known about him save for his last name, and a first effort at identifying him came up with Lew Carl, who had been a captain in the Civil War and began playing amateur baseball after the war, although he was in his 30s, and who served as an umpire and official scorer, and as an officer for various baseball clubs. However, upon further study, his candidacy was found wanting, as there was no evidence that he was still playing actively at any time in the 1870s never mind in 1874, when he would have been 42, which would make him an odd choice to fill in for a top professional team.

Looking for a better candidate, researchers from SABR found references to two ballplayers named Carl active in the area, who turned out to be brothers, J. Carl and L. Carl, who were teammates on the Wilmington Quicksteps in 1877. The question was who was the major league player. One of the Carls is also listed on the roster of the amateur Peabody Club of Baltimore from 1874 to 1876, and with Manchester in 1877 in addition to Wilmington. This is the same player, as indicated by various news clippings. A third brother, Fred Carl, was active on various minor league clubs in later years and also appeared in the majors.

Census records identified the two Carls as John, born in 1854 and Louis born in 1857 (Frederick was born in 1859). John and older brother William are listed as butchers in various Baltimore city directories, while Louis is a grocery employee, and eventually also became a butcher. What makes John the likely player is that he was a catcher and older than Louis, who was a shortstop and would have been only 17 at the time of the 1874 game. Given the player in the National Association game performed adequately at a very difficult defensive position, it was likely that he was an experienced amateur catcher, making John the most likely candidate. Other clippings confirm that John (or Johnny as he was also called) continued to catch with Manchester and other teams. Thus, the SABR Bio Research Committee determined in 2020 that John, and not the older Lewis or his younger brother Lou, was the man who had a one-game career for the Canaries.

Related Sites[edit]

  • "Lewis Carl Found", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, September/October 2000, p. 1.SABR newsletter
  • "Lewis Carl", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, January/February 2011, p. 2.
  • "John Carl Found", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, September/October 2020, pp. 1-5.