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George Dumont

George Dumont

Position(s):
P
Nicknames:
Pea Soup
Born:
November 13, 1895
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
163 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-14-1915 with WS1

George Dumont
by Bill Nowlin
It’s a good thing George Dumont was a pitcher.  As a batter, he left something to be desired. In 94 major-league at-bats, Dumont struck out 44 times – almost half the time. He did get a few hits – six of them in four seasons, including one double and one triple. He drove in four runs, but his career .064 batting average was certainly not going to get him very far.

As a pitcher, we have to admit he wasn’t any great shakes, either, with a 10-23 record – but a very good 2.85 earned run average. True, he wasn't as good as his Washington Senators teammate Walter Johnson - but almost no one was. His 2.55 ERA was still better than the team average in 1917, his most active year, though his 5-14 record didn't reflect his relative stinginess.

The more he pitched, though, there was one measure which deteriorated each of his five years in the majors: his WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched). Each year his WHIP was worse than the year before.

Dumont was born in Minneapolis on November 13, 1895. He was still 19 when he broke in with the Senators on September 14, 1915. All four grandparents were Canadian, though his father John - a pattern maker - was a New York native, and his mother Sarah (Ryan) had been born in Vermont. The 1900 census recorded that both parents spoke French as their main language. George had three older sisters, three older brothers, and one younger brother.

George attended North High School in Minneapolis and started playing ball soon afterward. When he completed his player questionnaire for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he reported his first year of professional baseball as 1913 but the first record we have shows him in 1914 playing for the Fargo-Moorehead Graingrowers in the Class C Northern League. He pitched 163 innings and put up a 9-6 record. The Minneapolis Millers (Class A, American Association) saw him 3-3 in another 59 innings.

In 1915, Dumont pitched for the Graingrowers all year long, and threw an impressive 279 innings, becoming a 20-game winner (20-10). He was a September callup for the Senators, and enjoyed a spectacular debut on September 14, facing the visiting Cleveland Indians and throwing a two-hitter, only letting one Cleveland player get as far as second base. He was tough; he'd suffered from the intense heat just the day before, but "Monte" threw a complete game under the "broiling sun" and won, 3-0. It was close the whole way; neither team had scored until Washington got one run in the bottom of the seventh. The only disappointment might be the four bases on balls he allowed. [1] His second start was another shutout, 6-0, against the Browns - and it was another two-hitter, the second hit only coming in the St. Louis ninth.

He started two other games in 1915, and appeared in relief in two others, throwing 40 innings on top of the 222 in the minors. His big-league record that year was 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA. That's the kind of season that gets you invited back, and Baseball Magazine even - prematurely - dubbed him the best right-hander in the American League. [2] He was 2-3 with Washington, missing a few weeks in early May with a tonsillectomy. He had a few scattered starts - two in April, one in late May (a 2-1 three-hitter against the Athletics), and even into mid-July. He struggled with another illness in July, losing a reported 15 pounds (he reported his playing weight as 175 and stood 5-foot-11.) Senators manager Clark Griffith wasn't able to give him enough work, so sent him back to his hometown team, the Millers. There he got in 146 innings and put up an 11-6 record. It wasn't as easy for Griffith to get him to Minneapolis as he would have liked; twice, other clubs claimed him on waivers, frustrating the transfer before it finally went through.  His last appearance with Washington had been to close out a game against the Indians with 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball on July 31.

Dumont stayed with Washington throughout 1917, starting 23 games and relieving in 14 others. As noted above, he had that excellent 2.55 ERA but unfortunate 5-14 record in 204 2/3 innings of work, losing a discouraging number of 1-0 and 2-1 games broken only by back-to-back shutouts in early June and a 2-2 tie game. Baseball Magazine called him the "disappointment of the year." [3]

 He celebrated the start of the new year by marrying Gladys Manila Berglund on New Years Day 1918. Her parents had both immigrated from Sweden in 1881 and 1882 respectively. The couple had one child, George Jr., born in 1919. With the world war on in earnest, Dumont elected essential defense work rather than enlisting or being drafted into the armed forces. He took up work with the Harlan Steel plant at Wilmington, Delaware ,and pitched in the Bethlehem Steel League. Before leaving the big leagues, he'd been 1-1 (5.14 ERA) in 14 innings of work. The shipyard league played at a high level, and Dumont was "the best pitcher" in the league, lamented Clark Griffith when he parted company with his pitcher early in 1918. [4]

War over, Dumont - who had somehow unaccountably picked up the nickname "Pea Soup" - was part of a three-way mid-January trade that placed him with the Boston Red Sox. Hal Janvrin of the Red Sox went to Washington, while Red Sox pitcher Slim Love went to Detroit; the Senators sent Chick Shorten and Eddie Ainsmith (via Boston) to Detroit, and the Tigers packed Ossie Vitt off to Boston, where he counted Dumont as one of his new teammates. [5] It was Vitt the Sox had sought the most, though the Boston Globe dubbed Dumont a "fine young pitcher." Word came out that Boston's Harry Frazee had offered Griffith $10,000 for Dumont early in 1917, only to be out-bid by the Tigers offering $15,000. Griffith decided to keep his man. [6] The Washington Post summed up Dumont's time with the Senators: "Dumont has been with the Nationals several years and he has failed to set the league afire in that time." Even though he had "pitched a fair aritcle of ball in the workingmen's league" during 1918, the paper recalled his 1917 season as one where he got little run support but also wrote - perhaps reflecting a bit of constitutional frailty - that despite his pitching well and not often scored against, "he couldn't go the route." [7]

The Red Sox were the reigning world champions, having won their third crown in four years, but 1919 was a disappointing season both for the team and for Dumont. The Sox ended up in sixth place, 20 1/2 games out of first place behind the shortly-to-be denigrated Chicago White Sox. With the team throughout the season, Dumont was 0-4, with a 4.33 earned run average, only accumulating 35 1/3 innings worth of work. It was the end of his time in major-league baseball. His final game in a major-league uniform was pitching an exhibition game in Portland, Maine and beating the local nine, 8-6, in part thanks to teammate Babe Ruth, who doubled and hit one of his last home runs as a member of the Red Sox.

Dumont was out of baseball for the following three years, before coming back with 10 seasons of pitching in the minors. He was sold to Toledo on February 2, 1920, along with catcher Norman McNeill and outfielder Joe Wilhoit. Dumont didn't like the deal that Toledo offered and took a job in an independent league, pitching in Janesville, Wisconsin for the Samson Tractors team in the Central Industrial Baseball League. A year later, Samson had run short on money and wasn't able to pay him. He was still under contract to the Red Sox, who arranged to sell him to Minneapolis, contingent on the approval of Commissioner K. M. Landis. Because Dumont was a "jumper," Landis denied his appeal. There was a rule providing for a three-year suspension; Landis suggested that there were extenuating circumstances and perhaps the three years need not be rigid but that the application for reinstatement was "at least one year premature." Landis further said that Dumont "the fact remains the player, in defiance of his reserve obligations, without notice or explanation, deliberately chose to place himself outside of organized baseball for a full year." [8]

He missed 1921 and (again being denied reinstatement in early 1922 on the grounds that he had played in 1921 on teams which had "harbored ineligible minor league players." [9] After being out of ball for three years, he was released to the Atlanta ballclub by Boston owner Harry Frazee on February 17, 1923, some 11 days after he was reinstated by Landis. [10] Finally back in Organized Baseball, Dumont played the full year for the Crackers in the Southern Association and was 16-11 (3.29). In February 1924, he signed with the New York Yankees. He trained in the spring with Miller Huggins and the Yankees, but there was apparently something of a personality clash. It was reported that "Huggins finds that Gene [sic] has had so much experience that it is difficult to tell him anything." [11]

Dumont was 17-7 with Atlanta in 1924, but finished the season back in Minneapolis, 2-1 in three games. He pitched in 1925 and '26 for the Millers, a mediocre 22-23 combined, ill again for a period of time in 1925. The Cincinnati Reds purchased his contract in May 1926 but left him with Minneapolis. After two losing seasons with the Little Rock Travelers (and a bit of time with Atlanta again at the end of 1928), Dumont was back with the Millers again for three more seasons - 1929 through 1931, his third stint with the team, 29-10 over the three years.)

His last year in baseball was split between the Dallas Steers and the Omaha Packers in 1932.

After baseball, Dumont worked at two jobs - he was a foreman at Durkee Atwood, a car parts manufacturer in Minneapolis, and also owned a local tavern. He died of coronary thrombosis on October 13, 1956, a month before he would have turned 61.

Sources

In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed his player file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the online SABR Encyclopedia, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com.

[1] Washington Post, September 15, 1915
[2] Baseball Magazine, July 1916
[3] Baseball Magazine, Issue 2, 1918
[4] Boston Globe, January 18, 1919
[5] New York Times, January 18, 1919
[6]  Boston Globe, January 18, 1919
[7] Washington Post, January 18, 1919
[8] Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1921
[9]  Christian Science Monitor, March 10, 1922
[10] Washington Post, February 7, 1923 and Boston Globe, February 18, 1923
[11] New York Times, March 18, 1924

This biography can also be found at SABR Bio Project

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