Tacks Latimer

From BR Bullpen

Clifford Wesley Latimer

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 160 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Tacks Latimer played a few seasons in the big leagues, but the most interesting parts of his life happened many years after he retired from playing professional ball.

Although he played only 27 games in the major leagues, those 27 games were spread out over five years on five teams.

He had a cup of coffee on the Louisville Colonels in 1899, their last year of existence as a major league team. He was 21 at the time, the same age as Tommy Leach, while Honus Wagner was 25 and Fred Clarke was 26.

Latimer hit .276 for the Colonels, and while that was four points below the team batting average of .280, it should have been promising for a 21-year-old kid. However (see below), injuries got in the way of future success.

SABR Reasearcher Jon Daly's biography of Latimers calls his story one of "murder and redemption".

Latimer said his nickname, "Tacks", was given to him by someone that went around handing out nicknames. Latimer didn't like his, thinking apparently that it referred to a person who was touchy, and Latimer didn't feel it was appropriate to him at all.

He missed most of the 1900 season because of malaria, and much of 1902 due to a fractured finger.

His minor league career started in 1895 and lasted till 1910.

He was a part-time scout even while playing minor league baseball, and eventually became a full-time scout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was a police officer and then stripped of his position (apparently unfairly). He and his former superior, who was apparently a crooked cop, got into a fight not long afterwards, and Latimer shot him dead.

Tacks worked for Pinkerton as a railroad detective. He discovered that his boss, Charles Mackrodt, was involved with some thefts and he informed his Pinkerton superiors of his boss's crimes. Pinkerton stripped Mackrodt of his position and it appears that shortly after that, Mackrodt resigned. As a result, Mackrodt lost his Pinkerton pension.

Mackrodt is alleged to have shot at Latimer in an attempt to kill him before Mackrodt approached Latimer in the street one day and challenged Tacks to a duel. According to witnesses, Tacks did not want to fight, but eventually went into an alley. Four shots were fired - one hit Mackrodt in the heart. That shot entered Mackrodt from the back suggesting that he was shot while trying to get away. That single piece of evidence was what sent Tacks to life in prison. Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder. Later, in the pen, he helped the guards deal with a prison break and became a hero. He also helped when a deadly fire started in the pen. He was eventually pardoned.

After all of his prison experiences, when he got out, his wife having divorced him, he re-married and had a child in 1933.

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