Arthur Earl “Art” Wilson
Born: December 11, 1885 - Macon, IL
Died: June 12, 1960 - Chicago, IL
Career BA: .261
New York Giants NL (December 11, 1885 - June 12, 1960)
Chicago Chi-Feds/Whales FL (1914–1915)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1916)
Chicago Cubs NL (1916–1917)
Boston Braves NL (1918–1920)
Cleveland Indians AL (1921)
As catchers go, Art “Dutch” Wilson was pretty darn good. Wilson came up to the big leagues in a reserve role for the Giants to back up Admiral Schlei and Chief Meyers. As backup catcher, Wilson did a nice job defensively, and he even chipped in with a .303 batting average in 109 at-bats in 1911. Wilson’s big break came when he jumped to the Federal League and batted .291 and .305 respectively in 1914 and 1915. This gave him some exposure, and once the Federal League folded he was given the opportunity to get back into the National League.
As is sometimes the case, Wilson’s baseball legacy is unfortunately attached to a single play. Dutch Wilson was the Cubs’ catcher in the famous “double no-hitter” game that took place between his Chicago team and the Cincinnati Reds on May 2, 1917. That day, pitcher Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds hooked up for one of the most famous pitching duels of all time. Through the first nine innings, both men threw no-hitters in an amazing performance. With the game going into extra innings, both pitchers remained on the mound. In the tenth, Vaughn finally gave up a hit to infielder Larry Kopf, which broke up his no-hitter.
To add insult to injury, after a comedy of errors with dropped fly balls and poor defensive play, Jim Thorpe of the Reds laid down an inadvertent bunt, and with Kopf on third and a play at the plate, Wilson was instead concentrating on Thorpe running up the first base line. Wilson was not prepared when Vaughn fielded the bunt and made a clean throw to the plate, and the ball bounced off his chest protector. Kopf scored and the Reds won the game. Vaughn was disappointed, the fans were disappointed and Wilson was devastated. A pretty good catcher made a costly mental error. It happens. Sadly, Dutch Wilson always carried the baggage as the catcher that lost the “double no-hitter” game. If you look at his whole body of work, however, with a .261 lifetime batting average and a nice .972 fielding percentage, Wilson deserves a better legacy.
– 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