Chadwick’s Neighbor

The 1865 Atlantic

The 1865 Atlantic

Frederick William Hotchkiss Crane was born 4 November 1840 in Saybrook, Connecticut. In the picture above, he’s the man on the right of the top row. Of the 1865 Atlantic, he had one of the longest careers and one of the most interesting neighbors.,

The son of a minister, Fred Crane was, by 1860 known as one of the better young players in the northeast. Whether his father’s connections with a “higher power” helped or not is unknown. He came to the attention of the Enterprise, one of the junior teams in the New York area and was signed as a second baseman. He played with them in both 1860 and 1861. He was good enough that the top-tier teams in Brooklyn wanted him. Ultimately, that meant the Atlantic, the Eckford, and the Excelsior. He was lured in 1862 to the Atlantic, where he stayed through 1865. He was a good enough hitter, but was primarily famous as a good fielding second baseman. Remember, this is an era when players were near the bag and had no gloves, so “good fielding” doesn’t mean exactly the same then as it means now.  His numbers are no where near complete, but a newspaper source indicates that in one 18 game stretch in 1865 he scored 71 runs, which is a lot even for that era.

He was good enough that the Athletic, the premier team in Philadelphia, wanted his services. In 1866 he jumped to them. There seems to be no information on what inducements were offered so there is no actual evidence that he was being paid. But whatever made him go to Philadelphia, it wasn’t enough to make him happy. By August 1866 he was back with the Atlantic and still considered a prime second sacker.

With the formation of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1871, Crane remained in Brooklyn with an Atlantic team that did not join the new league. By 1873 he was ready to move on. He played one game in the Association for the Elizabeth Resolutes of New Jersey going one for four (a single) in four at bats. He picked up an RBI and held down his usual second base. He went back to the Atlantic and in 1875 was with them when they finally joined the Association. He played 21 games, moving from first base to shortstop to the outfield over the 21 games. He managed 81 at bats, 17 hits. One was a double. He scored seven runs, had four RBIs, and struck out four times. It was the end, as far as I can determine, of his baseball career.

Unlike some players, Crane had outside interests. He sang in a Brooklyn city choir (no info on whether he was a bass or baritone) and went into manufacturing. He specialized in machinery, setting up a factory in New York City (not Brooklyn). He made good money and was able to buy a substantial home in Brooklyn.

The house was on the same block as Hall of Fame writer and statistician Henry Chadwick’s house. The two men liked each other and became friends. Frankly, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall listening to some of their conversations about early baseball.

Fred Crane died 7 April 1925 in Brooklyn. He, along with many of the early pioneers to Brooklyn baseball, buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


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