November 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Ted Beard

January 7, 2011 by · 5 Comments 

Today, Ted Beard turns 90 years old. For those not familiar with his body of work, let me tell you something about him and his life growing up on a farm in Frederick County, Maryland. He’s not the only big-leaguer from around these parts. Over in the tiny town of Woodsboro, where Ted’s from, there was one other major leaguer, named Archie Stimmel.  He pitched for the Reds just after the turn of the century (not this one; the previous one) and lived in Woodsboro his whole life. He’s buried there, too.

Anyway, it seems Archie was a bit of a story teller; loved being a celebrity around town, telling tales of his experiences as a teammate of Wahoo Sam Crawford. I can’t say for sure, but I imagine that young Ted probably knew Archie, probably grew up listening to his stories.

The Keller brothers are from Frederick County, too. They grew up in Middletown, which is about twenty miles southwest of Woodsboro. Charlie, of course, was the oldest. He was five years older than Ted and was growing up on a farm the same time as Ted. I imagine most of you have heard of Charlie– went to the University of Maryland and then to the Yankees. You know, DiMaggio’s teammate? That’s right; that Charlie Keller. Well, Charlie and Ted once appeared together at a sports banquet at the Woodsboro fire house- famous big leaguers addressing some sports group.

Charlie’s brother, Hal, was eleven years younger than Charlie. He tried to make it as a big-league catcher with Washington but wasn’t as good as Charlie, so Hal went into front office work instead and was wildly successful. Worked for the Senators for many years; even went to Texas with them, then went to Seattle. Hal didn’t know Ted, but back in those days the local newspaper, The Frederick News, used to run a daily feature called “How They’re Hittin’”, and both Ted’s and Charlie’s major league averages would be posted. Hal followed those results when he was a kid, keeping track of his brother, so he knew all about Ted Beard.

There was another Keller brother, too, named Hugh. He was the middle son and just two years older than Ted. Word has it that Hugh was a mighty fine ballplayer himself, maybe as good as Charlie. Even went to the University of Maryland like Charlie. But World War 2 stole his career, so Hugh played semipro ball around Frederick County instead of trying to make it in the pros. Ted and Hugh were playing semipro ball at the same time in Frederick County and probably played against each other. At least, that’s what Hal thinks.

Anyway, one week in 1942 the Pirates came to Frederick– that’s the capitol of Frederick County, just ten miles from Ted’s home in Woodsboro– and held a tryout camp. Ted went there and made good, ended up signing a contract with Pittsburgh. Went into their minor league system, then to the military for a couple of years, and then made it to the majors in ’48. No use boring you with details. Ted didn’t turn out to be much of a major league hitter- except for one thing, and it’s a big one: in July 1950, he hit a home run over the roof at Forbes Field. It was amazing. He ended up hitting only six in his short career and one went out of Forbes Field. Not only that, but earlier that same season he hit one on top of the right field pavilion roof at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

You know what was most amazing about those shots? Ted was a little guy: just 5’8” tall, about 160 pounds. Imagine a guy of that size hittin’ those home runs.

Well, Ted didn’t do very well in the majors, but he had quite a minor league career. In 1953, in fact, he hit four home runs in one game during the first week of the Pacific Coast League season and then later that month he went 12 for 12. The league record was 13 straight; unfortunately, though, on his thirteenth trip, Ted flied out. But in his next two at bats, he then singled two more times. Imagine: 14 hits in 15 trips. Now that’s pretty good hittin. They gave him an award for that hittin’. It’s on display back in the Hall of Fame Sports Museum in Frederick County.

Oh yeah, and one more thing. Ted gained most of his fame playing at Triple-A Indianapolis with the Indians. One year, guess who his roommate was? Roger Maris! I can’t say for sure, but I think Ted really got a kick out of that.

Those folks in Indy took to calling him ‘The Arm’, on account of his throwing. Man, he could fire that ball. He set assists records—31 in one season! Back when he was playing semipro ball in Woodsboro, Ted was a pitcher, so I guess that explains his arm.

And he was fast, too; once raced Bobby Thomson as a matter of fact, although Ted lost. Of course, Thomson was way bigger than Ted. Ted got out of the blocks pretty fast, but Thomson, with those long strides of his, passed Ted like he was standing still. But Ted sure stole a lot of bases.

Anyway, if you see Ted today at his house in Indy, wish him a happy birthday. 90 years old—Wow! It seems like only yesterday when that ball went out of Forbes Field. I wonder what ever happened to it? Oh well, it don’t matter. It’s the memories that count.

Happy Birthday, Ted.

This tongue- in- cheek summary is basedon Ted Beard’s formal bio posted today on the SABR BioProject website. Find it at www.bioproj.sabr.org. Also, next month, in time for spring training, Chip’s article on Charlie Keller and the 1941 World Series will appear in Maple Street Press’s Yankees Annual 2011.

Comments

5 Responses to “Happy Birthday Ted Beard”
  1. Robin Beard Foster says:

    Dear Chip, Ted Beard is my father and I just wanted to Thank You for the amazing biography and this article above. I’ve sent this along to many friends and the response has been tremendous. Everyone expressed enjoyment reading the bio and commented on your ability to capture the moment. Again, Thank You so much for remembering an “old timer”. (as my dad would say)

    Sincerely, Robin

  2. Chip says:

    Robin, thank you very much for writing. Nothing to me is more important than knowing that you were pleased with the bio. I live near Frederick County and visited both your dad’s hometown, Woodsboro, and the Frederick County Hall of Fame, and it was a pleasure getting to know him. My best to you and your family.

  3. Laura Beard says:

    Chip,
    Just wanted to thank you again for the time and effort that you put into Ted’s
    biography. My children and grandchildren loved it. I even forwarded it to a
    neighbor.
    The best to you in 2011.
    Laura Beard

  4. Chip says:

    Mrs. Beard, I truly couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks so very much for helping me. I enjoyed it immensely.

  5. Hi Robin, I can’t believe your dad has turned 90! Best Wishes to him!I always have wondered where you have been.Always following your dad with the Team to great locations when you were growing up. My husband and I go to Indy with the Grandkids to watch the Indianpolis Indians play and always enjoy it! I’ve pointed out the banner of the great Ted Beard at the entrance of Victory Field to my oldest grandson and told him of fun times at your house. Please get in touch! Happy Birthday Ted and many more! Your Fallcreek Elementary friend, Robin Mitchell Smith@Robin Beard Foster -

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