Dutch Leonard, American hero

There have been two pitchers named "Dutch" Leonard, which is confusing.

You might know the second Dutch Leonard as an outstanding knuckleball pitcher, mostly with bad teams, from the late 1930s through the early ’50s.

You might know the first Dutch Leonard for his feud with Ty Cobb, which grew so bitter that Leonard implicated Cobb and Tris Speaker in a bribery scandal, which got Cobb and Speaker temporarily suspended; upon investigation, the Commissioner overturned that, and Leonard was essentially never heard from again.

Before all that, Leonard had been an outstanding pitcher, and his 0.96 ERA in 1914 remains the all-time record in the modern game. 

Here’s something I didn’t know.

When Japanese-Americans, citizens and non-citizens alike, were removed from their homes and businesses in 1942 and sent to concentration camps, many of them lost those homes and businesses forever. Here is Richard Reeves, writing in his recent book Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II:

A few white neighbors promised to look after homes and farms — some kept the promises, some did not. In Sacramento, a state agricultural inspector named Bob Fletcher agreed to take over the maintenance of three Japanese farms with ninety acres of vineyards. He paid the mortgage and taxes in exchange for 50 percent of the profits. When the war ended, the Nitto, Okamoto, and Tuskamoto families returned; their land and their profits were waiting for them. The same kind of thing happened in Fresno, where a prosperous local farmer, a retired major league baseball player named Hubert "Dutch" Leonard, who had won 139 games as a pitcher in the American League between 1913 and 1925, agreed to manage a Japanese farm and turned over $20,000 in profits after the war. But such stories were rare.

Leonard seems to have been generous of spirit, and could afford to be generous of wealth; at his death, his estate was said to be worth $2.1 million, an immense sum in those days. Not bad for a guy whom Ty Cobb reportedly called a Bolshevik.