Monday, February 08, 2010

Chris Doherty's Baseball Connection

Joe Hoeffel’s connection to the Green Bay Packers (his grandfather was a coach for the team) is common enough knowledge to be in his wikipedia entry. You may not know that another Democratic gubernatorial candidate has an ancestor with a notable sports connection.

Chris Doherty, currently the mayor of Scranton, is the great grandson of Hugh Ambrose “Hughie” Jennings, who played baseball and managed teams in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He played for the Baltimore Orioles (with John McGraw), the Brooklyn Superbas, and the Philadelphia Phillies, and managed the Detroit Tigers. Under his guidance the Tigers won three pennants in a row, 1907, 1908, and 1909. Jennings is the subject of Ee-yah: The Life And Times Of Hughie Jennings, Baseball Hall Of Famer by Jack Smiles. The book outlines not only his baseball career but his childhood as the son of immigrant coal miners in Pittston.

A 1915 New York Times article .paints this picture of young Jennings as

Back in the summer of 1891, a young chap with carmine-colored hair and a face sicklied all over with polka dots, was catching for a baseball team representing Leighton, Pa., where he had signed that spring. Leighton was, at that time, a beautiful place of 3,000 inhabitants, but this young man was lost in that community, for of the 3,000 residents, all were Dutch except two, an Irish saloon-keeper and his sister, and Hughie Jennings, having considerable Irish blood coursing through his system, was a welcome addition to this very small Irish colony.

His managerial style was described in 1920 as “puts everything out in front,” “doesn’t believe in behind-the-scenes stuff,” “believes in keeping initiative and aggressiveness alive.” Outing Magazine in 1909 said of him:
The nine works for Jennings because it loves him. It respects him, it respects his ways. If feels ashamed to lose. He has infused into it an esprit de corps based not on wages but on compelled admiration for its leader.

He died in Scranton in 1928. According to his obituary he had been very active in city affairs, Trader’s Bank, Knights of Columbia, Elks, Kiwanis, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and others.

In addition to baseball skills he is also credited with popularizing two phrases, “Eh-yah,” which was said to mean something like “watch out!” and “attaboy,” which is still used today.

Mayor Doherty’s mother Grace was Jennings's grand-daughter; he has continued family tradition by naming one of his sons Hughie. Chris Doherty is an avid baseball fan. Over the course of several years Doherty and his family visited every major major league baseball stadium, finishing in 2006.


“’Attaboy,’ our best tribute is now laid to Hugh Jennings,” New York Times Feb 19,1928

“Big Daddy,” Times Leader, Aug 7, 2005 [review of Eh-yah, by Jack Smiles]

Brown, Stacy, “Mayor completes stadium tour,” Times-Tribune Sept, 3, 2006.

“Hugh Jennings dies after long illness,” New York Times Feb 1, 1928

“Hugh Jennings: Why his team wins,” Outing magazine Aug. 1909.

“Jennings started career as catcher,” New York Times, Apr 25, 1915.

Mathewson, Christy, “Good managers are never easy to find,” New York Times Feb 15, 1920

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