Stanford's First All-America: Tom Workman

With the Cardinal baseball team surging strongly of late, we thought we would reach back for a diamond dandy of yesteryear and present a 1972 column by Palo Alto Times columnist Dave Wik at the time of the passing of Stanford's first-ever All-American, baseball's Tom Workman, a star first baseman on the 1913-15 Cardinal teams of neary a full century ago!

Today we remember and honor the late local sportswriter Dave Wik, whose terrific "Sports Notes" column (edited by the great Walt Gamage) in the wonderful, but now long-defunct Palo Alto Times, garnered a regular following. We are republishing Wik's March 27, 1972 piece here so that today's new generation of Stanford fans can enjoy some of the outstanding Stanford-focused content that once was produced so plentifully in these parts.


Stanford's First All-America: Tom Workman

 

Funeral services were held in Los Angeles this past week for Stanford's first All-America athlete, Tom Workman, 81, a member of the 1913-15 baseball teams. The passing of Workman, who was a first baseman, leaves only three members still alive of the celebrated 1913 squad, considered  among the finest ever developed at Stanford.

 

Those remaining are third baseman Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey Sr. of Menlo Park, father of the San Mateo County congressman; right fielder Henry ("Heinie") Beeger of Redwood City and shortstop Zebulon (Zeb) Terry of Los Angeles. McCloskey and Beeger are both 81 years old and Terry is 80. McCloskey and Workman had remained close friends through the years.

 

"He was a great guy and a great player," said McCloskey of Workman, who graduated together along with Pete Sr.'s wife from Stanford in June of 1915.

 

"I have never seen a better first baseman in all the 60 years I've watched Stanford play baseball," added McCloskey. "The only one who comes close to him is Mark Marquess, Stanford's assistant coach (and now in his 34th year as the Cardinal head coach!) who won All-America recognition in 1967."

 

McCloskey accumulated several scrap books during his college baseball career. One portion was set aside for Workman and his selection to the All-America team in 1915, which appeared in, of all places, Vanity Faire magazine, a forerunner to another women's publication, Vogue.

 

On the same all-star squad were two famous sports names, both pitchers. One was Robert Neyland of West Point, later to become a general and then a highly-successful head football coach at Tennessee (thus, "Neyland Stadium"), and George Sisler of Michigan, one of pro baseball's immortals (a HOF 15-year career with the St. Louis Browns).     

 

Workman and McCloskey are among the eight members of the '13 team, which posted a 15-5-1 record, to be accorded places in the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame: The lone regular missing from the honor list is pitcher Ray Maple.

 

"That had to be an oversight," said McCloskey, "because Maple was the one that held us together. If we had two more pitchers of the caliber of Ray Maple, I don't think there was anyone who could beat us."

 

The strong-armed Maple, McCloskey recalls, once went through a stretch of 29 innings without giving up a run and had to pitch most of the games since the team lacked pitching depth. Al Gragg, a utility man and the only other player on the squad to win a letter, "spelled Maple now and then."

 

However, the real individual star of the '13 team, says McCloskey, was Terry, who will celebrate his 81st birthday in June. "Zeb Terry is my all-time, All-American Stanford shortstop. I've seen a lot of wonderful shortstops, but none never as good as Zeb Terry."

 

"I think he's the most remarkable baseball player who has ever lived. He was little; 5-9 and 129 pounds. But he was fast and had an arm like a rifle."

 

Following graduation, Terry, who captained the '13 and '14 teams, went on to play in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox.

 

The '13 team, which also won 13 of 20 games in touring Japan and Hawaii that summer, got together in 1950 to initiate Stanford's most valuable player award to be presented at the end of each season.

 

"That first year there were only five of us' remaining," said -McCloskey. "We each chipped in $10 to buy a watch."

 

"Since then we've set up a fund where there is enough money from the interest to buy a watch each year and perpetuate the award."

 

McCloskey hasn't been able to attend a Stanford baseball game the last three seasons because of ill health. But he follows the team's progress religiously in newspaper sports sections.

 

He was elated when he learned his alma mater won the annual Riverside Inter-collegiate Tournament Saturday night by beating Arizona State, the nation's #1-ranked team, 9-2, in the championship game.

 

"Ray Young is doing a great job," praised McCloskey.

 

"Ray is probably the best baseball coach Stanford has ever had. And he was a great player for Stanford."

 

"We could have used him on our team."


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