Ed Doheny

Ed Doheny

November 24, 1873
5' 10"
165 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-16-1895 with NY1

WikipediaEdwin Richard Doheny (November 24, 1873 - December 29, 1916), was a former professional baseball player who played pitcher in the Major Leagues from 1895-1903.

There are few strange and sad stories in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates than that of pitcher Ed Doheny, a man with lots of talent, yet would succumb to mental illness not only costing him his career, but his life for all intents and purposes.

Early life

Born in Northfield, Vermont, both his father, James, and his mother, Mary, were Irish immigrants. Northfield land records indicate that James' occupation was "railroad laborer," and the modest cottage on the east side of King Street where the Dohenys lived still stands at the foot of Turkey Hill. A sandlot star in his hometown at age 14, Ed soon outgrew the competition he could find in central Vermont.

Graduating to the minor leagues, Doheny crossed the Canadian border in 1894 and pitched for Farnham, Quebec. The next year he returned to Vermont and pitched for St. Albans, Vermont. That year, a Boston sportswriter earned $100 for putting the National League's New York Giants on to Doheny. Major-league success seemed at hand for the 21-year-old Vermonter, whom the Boston Globe described as a "stonecutter".

Major leagues 1895-1902

He began his time in the show with the New York Giants in 1895, pitching rather unsuccessfully for six and a half seasons, accumulating a 37-69 mark before the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him in June of 1901 for Heinie Smith. Ed had gotten off to a 2-5 start that season in New York, but would become an immediate hit in Pittsburgh going 6-2 the rest of the way with a 2.00 ERA, helping the club to their first National League pennant.

After a 16-4 performance with a 2.53 ERA in his first full season in a Pirate uniform in 1902, Doheny would hurt his ankle leaving him out of the post-season challenge series against various American League all-stars.

1903 season

The Massachusetts resident followed up his fine '02 campaign with a 16-8 mark in 1903. He had become an integral part of the strong Pirate starting rotation, yet in 1903 it all fell apart for the southpaw. Ed was first suspended on May 17th after brawling with the Giants during a 3-2 victory.

In late July 1903, for reasons unknown, Doheny developed a "dead arm." Frustration mounted when he could no longer snap off his feared curve ball.


Committed and death

In lieu of his customary jovial approach to life, he turned caustic and bitter against his teammates and himself. He eventually went AWOL from the team after exhibiting some strange behavior and arguing with his teammates, especially after he drank. As it turned out, Doheny had been convinced he was being followed by detectives and went home to Andover, Massachusetts.

In the dressing room prior to the last game of the season, when he was told he would not pitch in the first championship series, he clenched his fists and started to swing wildly at anyone within reach. His teammates quickly subdued him; one of them summoned the police. Within minutes, Doheny was escorted in handcuffs from the locker room and driven to Danvers Asylum for the Criminally Insane in Danvers, Massachusetts.

Doheny returned to the team on August 15th and even though he was pitching fine, he really wasn’t the same man that he had been in the past. Things became worse as the month went on; he became more paranoid and irrational. On September 21st, Doheny left Pittsburgh in the company of his clergyman brother, who escorted him home again to get some treatment.

The team felt bad for their teammate and sent his uniform back to Massachusetts to try and cheer him up. Apparently, it had the wrong effect, as Doheny thought it was a sign that he was going to make a comeback and pitch again. On the evening of October 10th, after being informed that the Pirates had just lost Game 7 of the 1903 World Series, Doheny forcibly ejected his physician from his house, saying that "he did not need his attentions any longer." Early the next morning, Doheny attacked Oblerin Howard, his "faith cure doctor and nurse," with an iron stove poker, rendering him bloodied and unconscious. Doheny's wife rushed to the neighbors for assistance. Dressed in his nightclothes at the doorway to his house and armed with the iron poker, Doheny held off the police for an hour with threats to kill the first man who approached him. Finally overpowered by the police, Doheny was taken to the police station where, under the direction of Judge Andrew C. Stone, two doctors pronounced him insane.  Doheny was committed on October 14 to the Danvers Asylum for the Criminally Insane, but did not respond to treatment. He remained a patient at the hospital until his death thirteen years later at the age of 43. His cause of death was listed as pulmonary tuberculosis.



    * New York Giants (1895–1901)
    * Pittsburgh Pirates (1901–1903)

Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
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Ed Doheny, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
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