Leo Christopher “Lee” Magee
Born: Leopold Christopher Hoernschemeyer
Born: June 4, 1889 - Cincinnati, OH
Died: March 14, 1966 - Columbus, OH
Career BA: .276
St. Louis Cardinals NL (June 4, 1889 - March 14, 1966)
Brooklyn Tip-Tops FL (1915)
New York Yankees AL (1916–1917)
St. Louis Browns AL (1917)
Cincinnati Reds NL (1918)
Brooklyn Robins NL (1919)
Chicago Cubs NL (1919)
Another player on the Deadball Era’s disturbing list of unsavory characters, Lee Magee was linked to gambling and throwing games. His first mistake was to hang around with Hal Chase, the most notorious of the lot. A decent offensive player, Magee started in the minors in 1906 and got his shot in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1911. In 1915 he jumped to the Federal League as player-manager of the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, and batted a career high .323 in the new league. After the FL folded, he was purchased by the Yankees, traded to the Browns and quickly traded again to the Cincinnati Reds. His offensive numbers were adequate, but he was considered a poor base runner and was below average defensively.
While he was with the Reds, Magee took a detour down the path of professional suicide with the help of his friend and teammate, Hal Chase. Evidently, in June of 1918, both players agreed to throw a ballgame against the Boston Braves and each wagered $500 in the form of a check. The Reds ended up winning the game because Chase double-crossed Magee. As a result, Magee sang like a bird and blew the whistle. He was immediately shipped off to the Brooklyn Robins and then to the Chicago Cubs. In the meantime, the gambler that handled the wagers sued Magee because the ever-bright Magee stopped payment on his check since the Reds had won. After all of this came to light, the Cubs tossed him. Magee sued the Cubs for back wages but lost in court. More importantly, this entire scenario brought Hal Chase’s dishonesty out in the open and Chase was eventually blacklisted forever. Lee Magee and Hal Chase deserved each other. Both players were an embarrassment to the game.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html