Another Baseball Photo of Pee Paw

This week I was considering writing about secrets, but I decided that could wait.  But once a secret is told, it can’t be untold, now could it?  And some secrets need to stay secret.  Instead of writing about that, I found this photo that invited me to talk about it.  It might have come from the Secret Collection, but I’m not sure.  I know that it came from one of my cousins and I need to get a better scan or photo of it.  I like the old timey look of the photo and it’s another photo of my grandfather during his baseball days.

Circa 1920 – My grandfather Robert Joseph Landry, Sr. is the third from the left in the back with his arms folded. I don’t know the team name or the location. He was a semi-pro baseball player.

I was thinking that I didn’t want to overdo it with photos of my grandfather with a baseball.  But when I looked for others that I had shared, I realized that it’s been almost five years since I posted one.  I am definitely not overdoing it!  I posted one of him with a group of players from Beaumont, Texas, and another one of him with fellow soldiers during the Great War (WWI).

I really like those other two photos, but they were more posed or staged.  This one looks a bit more casual.  Just a bunch of guys gathered around the dugout after a game for a quick photo.  There are even a few photo bombers in the background.   It was taken about a hundred years ago, most likely somewhere in Southern Louisiana.  He played semi-pro baseball during that time.

Enhanced view of Pee Paw from the previous photo.

I don’t have many details about exactly when he played or where he would go to play, but thankfully we do have a few photos from back during that time.  I do know that Robert Joseph Landry, Jr. was born in Westlake, Louisiana, on Jan. 9, 1893.  He spent his childhood in Westlake and I’m sure lots of that time was spent playing baseball.  The sport was growing in popularity and by the 1920s it was the national pastime. 

In order that someone becomes a semi-professional in a sport, they had to be really dedicated to it.  He must have loved it and spent a lot of time playing in order to improve his skills.  He was a pitcher and he must have been pretty good at it.  In those days Americans were starting to pay more money to be entertained by athletic contests.  It was the heyday for American baseball and my Pee Paw was in the thick of it.

I have a copy of an interview of him by Bob House of the House of Sports.  I think it was in a newspaper.  It quotes ‘Pappy’ Landry as saying, “Back in those days the boys didn’t mind laying the dough on the line to get a first class pitcher for a Sunday contest and I picked up quite a few dollars until my arm went dead.” He took part in the ‘Sawdust Baseball Circuit’ that thrived during the saw mill era of Southwest Louisiana.  Bob House declared that Pee Paw was “quite a slabster” in his day, even after his arm ‘went dead.’  He played for teams like Oakdale or Lake Charles, anyone willing to ‘lay the dough on the line’ to get him to pitch for them.  I love the old phrases they used! 

But his participation was interrupted by World War I.  That didn’t stop him from playing baseball, though.  He was on a team with his fellow soldiers.  He wasn’t a soldier for very long and didn’t enter any conflicts.  He was still in training when the war ended.  He also suffered from some hearing damage as a result of the military.  He had one last thriller of a game before he decided to marry Erie Patureau in November of 1921.

The Game to End All Games was back in 1920 when the Marksville Independents went to Lake Charles to tackle the potent Lake Charles Athletics.  Pappy Landry was working as a conductor on the street car for Gulf States at the time.  He was minding his business one day when the manager from the Marksville team hopped on his trolley and proceeded to talk him into pitching for his team.  The Marksville team’s pitcher had gotten sick and they were in a pinch.  He had inquired about a local pitcher and was told that Pappy Landry was the man he sought.  And sought him he did.  After a bit of discussion, the terms were agreed upon:  if the team won, Pappy would get 50 bucks; if they lost, he got 25.

The big day was on a Sunday evening.  Pappy had to work that day, but he finished up a 2 p.m.  He decided to stop for a bowl of chili to fuel him for the big game.  He walked into the park with glove and shoes in hand.  The Marksville team manager gave him a uniform for his team that Pappy changed into.  When he came out onto the field, the local fans were not happy to see their Pappy wearing the opposing team’s uniform.  Yet when the game progressed and Pappy was putting his ‘dead arm’ to good use and striking out the Lake Charles team, they started cheering him on!  He ended up winning the big bucks, which was a fitting ending to his days on the Sawdust Circuit.

2 comments

  • Wow, Pappy had quite a baseball career, and that story of earning “big bucks” pitching for the Marksville team is terrific.

  • Loved this one. My granddaughter, Anna Morton is following in her great great grandad PeePaw’s footsteps. She led her team to another championship as the pitcher last week.

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