Well… here it is… the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Finally, after 8 posts worth of beardy’s ramblings, we’re finally going to get to the part where Ruth and Dutch are in the same town. This has to be the meeting we’ve all been anticipating for weeks now, right?
I’ll be up front with you, and let you know right now that this story does not end the way I wanted it to. There is no smoking gun to be found here. Nothing that ties this all up in a neat little bow. That’s not to say I didn’t find anything at all. I uncovered a ton of information on Ruth’s appearance in Williamsport, PA on 10/31/23, just nothing that correlates his appearance to Donald “Dutch” Schneider. To be honest, at first it was a little disconcerting. I mean, Dutch had spent almost his entire life up until this point in Hughesville, which was just a stone’s throw from Williamsport proper. As of the 1920 census, only 3 years before Ruth appears in Williamsport, Dutch is still residing in Hughesville with his parents at the tender age of 18.
Where he ends up after that is a story that has yet to be uncovered, but one I am still determined to tell. I’ve gotten a lot more personal information about him over the past month, from various members of his family, but that, as they say, is a story for another day.
I’m going to chronologically lay out the information that I found for the exhibition game that the Bambino played just a stones throw from where Dutch grew up. Way back when I wrote the first post on this topic, about a month ago, it was extremely difficult for me to find any information about Ruth in Williamsport. There were mentions here and there, but nothing that really proved anything. Whenever the terms “baseball” and “Williamsport” were entered into a search engine, 95% of the results were about little league (which makes sense). One of the only things I was able to find was a real estate listing for a property in Williamsport that used to belong to C. Luther Culler.
At the time, Culler’s name meant nothing to me, so I decided to do a little research, and uncovered that he owned the largest furniture manufacturing company in Williamsport. It immediately dawned on me that census records listed Dutch’s father’s occupation as a wood worker in a furniture factory. I wouldn’t find out for a few more weeks that Dutch himself was also a wood worker at a furniture factory. One of his daughters told me that he used to walk from Hughesville to Williamsport every day to go to work, which was about 10 miles each way. No one seemed to know which furniture factory he worked at though, so I can’t definitively say that he worked for the Culler Company.
After posting the first piece of this story, Tunguska from Long Fly Ball To Because , left a comment with a link to the book Williamsport: The Grit Photograph Collection. The Grit used to be one of two major newspapers in Williamsport in the earlier portion of the 20th century, and at the time I had been fruitlessly attempting to locate it’s online archives (which don’t exist). Anyway, that link from Tunguska contained a photograph depicting the Culler furniture factory and it’s now infamous giant chair on the roof.
Not only that, but the caption for the photo also mentions the Ruth home run story.
For the longest time, these 2 sources, and a few fleeting mentions in various baseball books, was the only evidence I had on Ruth’s game in Williamsport. I decided it was time to go a bit further, and start contacting some of the local historical societies to see if they had any handy information on his visit. As we’ve seen previously, entire towns were shut down for the day when he came through, so I was pretty confident it had to have been something that was talked about, and documented. Along with the Lycoming County Historical Society, I also contacted the Lycoming County Genealogical Society as well, thinking that any information on Dutch was good information. Both of those contacts proved invaluable, and I want to thanks them both for assisting me with my research. The Lycoming Historical Society was able to give me some basic information on the local baseball climate of the time, and was also able to back up the story that Ruth played a game in Williamsport on 10/31/23. For a small fee, they also offered to dig through the newspaper archives, and make some photocopies for me of everything they could find on not only Ruth’s visit, but local amateur teams as well. I have yet to take them up on this offer, but most likely will in the near future.
Up until two weeks ago, the Lycoming Historical Society was the only response I’d gotten to my requests for assistance. I say up until two weeks ago because it was at that point that I received an email back from Bill and Kim at the Lycoming Genealogical Society. I’d almost forgotten I had even contacted them to begin with. They did not do any genealogical research for me, since I hadn’t paid them for any services, but they did send me the most definitive evidence I have on Ruth’s game in Williamsport. What they had unexpectedly attached was the box score for the game, which while giving us all the information we need on Ruth, doesn’t mention Dutch Schneider at all.
Well…. it looks like the story of Dutch and the Babe didn’t go down in Williamsport on 10/31/23 after all. It seemed like the most obvious place to start looking, since it brought the Bambino virtually into Dutch’s backyard, but it’s not the only place to look. Ruth barnstormed through Pennsylvania in 1921, and 1926 as well. He wasn’t in Williamsport, but he was in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area both times. This ends up becoming significant down the road, but you’ll have to wait till next time for that one. I still can’t shake the fact that the Culler factory was right next to the ball field, and that there is a chance that Dutch could have worked there around that time. It just seems too coincidental not to have some significance, but there’s nothing to back it up, so we must march onward. For now, this concludes the search for both Babe Ruth, and Donald “Dutch” Schneider in the fall of 1923.
This is the eighth of a series of posts documenting my attempts to not only track Babe Ruth’s barnstorming trip of 1923, but to also track down my wife’s great-grandfather, who is believed to have played against him in a game that year. CLICK HERE to read other posts from this series.
Dedicated to Donald G. Schneider, 1933-2011, son of Donald M. “Dutch” Schneider.