Detroit Tigers History: Remembering Allan Travers

Allan Travers appeared in just one game for the Detroit Tigers. The circumstances around his only professional baseball appearance are worthy of remembrance.

The circumstances surrounding Allan Travers making his only Major League appearance with the Detroit Tigers stem back a few days before his outing occurred. A fan by the name of Claude Lueker began to heckle Ty Cobb, who went into the stands with a bat and pummeled the heckler. The fact that Lueker did not have any hands did not matter to Cobb, who said he didn’t care if Lueker did not have any feet.

In response, Cobb was suspended indefinitely and fined $50, a princely sum in those days. In solidarity for their teammate, and with the blessing of team owner Frank Navin, the rest of the Tigers went on strike, refusing to play until Cobb was reinstated. Faced with that threat to his power, American League president ban Johnson ordered Navin to field a team, or to be faced with a large fine.

Well, he did just that. Manager Hughie Jennings recruited seven players from nearby St. Joseph’s University. Along with two coaches, they took the field on May 18, with Allan Travers heading to the mound. Travers, incidentally, was not even a part of the school’s baseball team, and played amateur ball on the side.

On the positive side, Travers threw a complete game. However, he allowed 24 runs, 14 earned, on 26 hits and seven walks. Amazingly, he struck out a batter. That performance actually did not result in the most hits or runs allowed in a game, as Dave Rowe allowed 35 runs on 29 hits in his outing in 1892.

When the Tigers returned the following day, Travers went back to his studies, never to return to a professional field again. He graduated from St. Joseph’s, and then entered the seminary, becoming a Jesuit priest. The only priest to ever play in the Majors, he taught religion and Spanish at St. Francis Xavier High School, and later served the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the same role.

Travers did not like to talk about his outing with the Tigers for quite some time, but finally opened up about his experience. He said he pitched because the pitcher was going to make $50, while the other players would get $25. The rest of his Tigers teammates, aside from the members of the coaching staff, were people that he found on a street corner. Aside from Billy Maharg, who had another appearance with the 1916 Phillies, and was later a key part of the Black Sox Scandal, the replacement players never appeared in another Major League game.

Born on this day in 1892, Allan Travers had a strange journey to his one day as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Of all the players to appear in one game, Travers may be the most infamous.

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