Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Famed Pelham Athlete Bob Cremins Made the Boston Red Sox Team in 1927

He knew he was ready.  He looked sharp that evening during the twilight baseball game at City Park in New Rochelle.  He was Bob Cremins, famed local athlete and talented pitcher for the Pelham Firemen baseball team.  That evening he faced the New Rochelle Elks and held them to five hits and a single run in a strong 7 to 1 victory for the Pelham Firemen.  Yes, he was ready.

After the victory, Cremins packed his bags.  The next morning, he departed for Boston.  He knew he was good enough to make the Boston Red Sox.  It was time to try out for the team and show Pelham -- and the world -- he was good enough. 

Local baseball was a big deal in Pelham during the Roaring Twenties.  Bob Cremins, an exceptional multi-sport local athlete, was a big deal in local baseball.  Born in Pelham Manor on February 15, 1906, Cremins batted left and threw as a lefty.  He was 5 feet 11 inches tall and reportedly weighed 178 pounds when he tried out for the Boston Red Sox during the 1927.

Robert Anthony "Bob" Cremins, who lived virtually his entire life in Pelham, was a four-letter athlete in high school.  He attended the Grand Central Art School and became a cartoonist for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.  He was elected Town of Pelham Receiver of Taxes in 1932 and held that position for 32 years until 1964.  In 1964 he was elected Pelham Town Supervisor and served on the Westchester County Board of Supervisors.  He managed a boxing gym and a schooner sailing business on Long Island Sound.  He died on March 27, 2004 at the age of 98 and was buried on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 following a funeral at St. Catharine's in the Village of Pelham.  

It turned out that when he departed for Boston on that fateful day in 1927, Bob Cremins was indeed ready for the Big Show.  Though the Boston Red Sox team that year has since been described as "talent starved," Bob Cremins made the team as a relief pitcher.  As the New York Daily News noted in his obituary published March 31, 2004, the first batter he reportedly faced in the majors was no other than Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees.  Cremins forced him to ground out to the first baseman.  During his stint in the Majors, he was known as "Crooked Arm Cremins."

In a superb article about Cremins by Bill Nowlin published by the Society For American Baseball Research, Nowlin quotes Cremins from an interview regarding how he made it the Majors:

"Our parish priest knew the Boston Red Sox manager, Bill Carrigan, so in 1927 he told me to go see him and ask him for a job. So, I took the train to Yankee Stadium where the Red Sox were playing that week, but I lost my nerve and I came home.

When I confessed my fear to my brother he said, 'You go back tomorrow. Don’t come home until you get the tryout, or I’ll beat you up!'

The next day I went back down and I met the manager [Bill] Carrigan as he was going in to the stadium. I asked him for a tryout and he said, 'No way.' And I said 'Look, my parish priest sent me down here to talk to you. You know him. He said you would give me a tryout.'

He finally gave in and said, 'Do you have your uniform? Go put it on.' Since I had my baseball uniform from the fire department team in Pelham, I was ready to go. 'I pitched batting practice that day and I must have impressed them because after batting practice they said that they would sign me up after they got back to Boston. I was so excited, but I didn’t drink to celebrate that night. I have never smoked and I only took five cups of coffee in my whole life. I went to Boston and they signed me up right off the bus and I pitched batting practice every day.

Then one day we were playing the Yankees and we were behind 13-1. Carrigan asked for a volunteer to go in and pitch and I said, 'I do.'

He said, 'Warm up because I’m going to put you in.' 

'I had been pitching batting practice that day so I went down to the bullpen and tried to get myself warmed up. So I went in at the eighth inning and who comes up [in the ninth] but Babe Ruth.

Our catcher signaled for a fastball and my first pitch was low. The catcher came out and said, 'God damn it, Cremins, I signaled for a fast ball!'

I said, 'I’m throwing it as hard as I can.'

I don’t remember what I threw next, but I know I was just trying to reach the plate. The second pitch Ruth grounded out to first base.

Then Gehrig came up. He hit a bullet to center field and it went between the hands of the outfielder and they gave Gehrig a two-base hit, but it was really an error.

I finally retired the side and the next day a sports writer wrote, 'The thing you can say about Cremins is that he is the only one to get the Yankees out.'

Source:   Nowlin, Bill, Bob Cremins, Society For American Baseball Research SABR.org (visited Jan. 27, 2018).

Bob Cremins had a rather brief career in the majors.  His Major League debut was August 17, 1927.  He faced only 24 batters in the Majors before he injured his arm and quit the Red Sox in 1928.  His baseball career has been described thusly:

"In four relief appearances, Cremins posted a 5.04 earned run average without a decision in 5 1/3 innings pitched.  According to Baseball Almanac, Cremins faced Babe Ruth once and retired him on a grounder to first base.  His career ended in 1928 due to an arm injury."

Source:  "Bob Cremins" in Wikipedia -- The Free Encyclopedia (visited Jan. 27, 2018). 


"BOB CREMINS  Pitcher of the Pelham Firemen's Team who left
Pelham on Tuesday for Boston to join the squad of the Boston Red
Sun, Jul. 29, 1927, Vol. 18, No. 23, p. 12, col. 3.  NOTE:  Click on
Image to Enlarge.

Detail from Photograph of Bob Cremins Available Via SABR.org.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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"Cremins and Lohman Leave Firemen For Higher Circuits
Bob Cremins Goes to Boston For Tryout With Red Sox and Ed. Lohman Leaves For Buffalo to Join Havana Cubans

Following the twilight game against the New Rochelle Elks at City Park, Monday evening, which he won 7-1, allowing the antlered tribe but 5 hits, Bob Cremins packed up bag and baggage and departed for Boston where he will make an attempt to break into the big league circles with the Boston Red Sox.  Always a favorite with the baseball fans of Pelham, more so since he has aided the firemen nine to a number of victories, Bob has the well wishing of all the sport fans of Pelham in his latest venture.

'Cannonball' Ed Lohman also has left the fold of Broege, Zernoski and Company, to travel in faster company, that of the Havana Cubans.  Lohman left Sunday night for Buffalo where he will join the Cubans who are a touring nine playing all over the country."

Source:   Cremins and Lohman Leave Firemen For Higher Circuits -- Bob Cremins Goes to Boston For Tryout With Red Sox and Ed. Lohman Leaves For Buffalo to Join Havana Cubans, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 29, 1927, Vol. 18, No. 23, p. 12, col. 3.

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