1890’s BASEBALL PIONEER
LIVED AND BUILT HIS HOME IN ABERDEEN
Located Across RT 40 From Cecil Federal Bank
For over 100 years, baseball has been a part of Aberdeen’s community. The prowess of members of Aberdeen’s teams - the old Nonpareils, Aberdeen’s teams in the Tri-County League, and the Canners in the Susquehanna League - were a source of pride. Long before TV, the Sunday ball games of the Canners at the school field (now Festival Park) and later at the ball park constructed on Old Philadelphia Road, brought out large crowds to cheer on the local lads.
From the ranks of Aberdeen baseball players have come professionals such as Frank Todd, Oscar Jacobs, Lester German, Bill Ripken (the elder) and his younger brother, Cal, Sr., and the latter’s sons Cal, Jr. and Billy. Cal Ripken, Jr., of the Baltimore Orioles is in the MLB Hall of Fame and is a product of local home town Little League and Aberdeen High School baseball
A century ago, there was a major league baseball player who called Aberdeen “home.” His name was Lester Stanley German, son of David and Mary Forthyse German. Les, as he is known in baseball history, was born June 2, 1869. Some twenty years later, he was pitching for Brooklyn Baltimore, which means the club’s franchise changed during the year. The team played in the American Association which was, in 1890, a major league. Les German remained a major league player through the 1897 season.
The Garretson Family Bible shows that Lester Stanley German and Alice Mary Garretson of Aberdeen were married in August 1895. They built the large Victorian home at 17 North Philadelphia Blvd. (Now Route 40) then known as Broadway. It is just across the street from Cecil Federal Bank. The house has been converted to modern use, by adding a store front. Les and Alice lived here happily, according to family, when Les was not traveling with a team - either New York or Washington of the National League. Alice went with Les on the road trips until she became a mother.
After the two boys were born, Alice remained at home Les made the rounds with his team. The little fellows died very early in their lives and are buried at Baker’s Cemetery, at the top of the hill, where Alice and Les are both at rest. Alice died at the age of 34 in 1908 and several years later Les married again to another member of an old Aberdeen family, Grace Evans. They had a daughter, Ruth, and a son, Crosby. Much of their time was spent in Florida, but they kept the home on Broadway in Aberdeen. Lester passed away in 1934.Lester’s major league career came to an end following the 1897 season. He was, insofar as can be determined, traded to a team in San Francisco where the cold wind and dampness of the bay area gave him a sore arm. He then began a new career as a trap-shooter. A born athlete, he was hired by the Dupont Powder Company to do trap-shooting in exhibition matches. He often performed with the famous Annie Oakley.
The Aberdeen census of 1900 lists Lester German as a clerk. He sold guns and ammunition locally. He was quite a celebrity, both as a ball player and a trap-shooter, and local sportsmen depended upon him to choose their firearms. He was known for his big appetite, and he carried food with him at all times.
Les German pitched in a total of 129 major league games. Winning 34 and losing 63, he was the starting pitcher in 92 games and a reliever in 37. His earned-run-average for six years was 5.49. His best season was 1894 when he won nine games and lost eight for the Giants. His worst season was in 1896 when he won only two and lost 20. He was not exclusively a pitcher, for he appeared in 14 games as a third baseman, two as a outfielder, and two as a second baseman. His lifetime batting average was .206, with 408 at bats, 106 hits, including eight doubles, three triples, and three home runs, and 48 runs-batted-in. In all, he played in 147 ball games at the major league level. German played with the Brooklyn-Baltimore franchise in 1892; with New York in 1893, 1894, 1895, and part of 1896; with Washington during part of 1896 and all of 1897.
In the 1893 season, German was the most successful pitcher against his old club, the Baltimores, in the east, and against the St. Louis Browns in the west. Three of the eastern teams and two of the western did not win a game against him. In fact, German and Wilson were the best working team of the New York Batteries in 1893 according to the 1894 edition of Spalding’s Official Guide to baseball.