Yes, things were a little different in baseball in the 1910s. Turner got to play one game for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1915.
Turner was a Pennsylvania high school baseball star, but that success never translated to pro ball. He lost 22 games in 1914 with a 5.03 ERA while pitching for the Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern Association) and Toledo Mud Hens (Southern Michigan League), for instance.
The book Connie Mack: The Turbulent and Triumphant Years, 1915-1951 by Norman Macht states that Turner came to Philly’s Shibe Park in September 1915 to talk with the legendary A’s manager. As an audition, Mack sent him out against the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 24. The A’s had already lost more than 100 games at that point, so it was a low-risk move.
Turner got pounded for six runs (five earned) in two innings against the Sox. He walked three and gave up a homer to Shoeless Joe Jackson in a 12-5 loss, leaving him with a 0-1 record and a 22.50 ERA.
After a couple more failed minor-league campaigns and a year overseas during World War I, Turner came back to Mack. By then, Mack was looking for a scout who knew when a player was no good, and Turner said that he had personal experience in knowing when a player was no good. Turner became a scout for the A’s until 1922, when he became a manager of the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. Along the way, he was named athletic director of Dartmouth College in 1919.
Turner’s relationship with the Beavers is a little confusing. In 1924, the Beavers were sold to… someone. Officially, it was John and Tom Shibe, sons of the late Benjamin Shibe and co-owners of the A’s, along with Mack. Turner was to be their team president and run it independently of the A’s. Tom Shibe isn’t listed anywhere as an owner in the PCL records, but Turner is.
Did the Shibe brothers help finance Turner, who lacked the money to buy the Beavers outright?
At any rate, the Athletics made a trade with Portland nine days after Turner took over, acquiring a young catcher named Mickey Cochrane for $35,000 and five players. Cochrane would spend nine years of his Hall of Fame career with the A’s, winning two World Series titles. Pretty good trade for the A’s, and incredible timing, too.
Turner sold his interest in the Beavers in 1933. He died on February 25, 1962 from cancer and congestive heart failure. He had turned 72 five days prior. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
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