Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Relatives in Pro Sports

George A. Wood Baseball Card, from the United States Library of Congress Collection.

Some of you may know of Jenkins relatives who are active in professional sports. Lorie Kane, born in Charlottetown, PEI, has been an LPGA touring professional since 1995. Did you know that her great-great grandmother was Isabella Jenkins of Johnston’s River and Covehead, PEI? Dion Phaneuf is an All Star defenceman with the NHL Calgary Flames. Many of you are aware that his grandmother is Roma (Jenkins) Phaneuf of Summerside, PEI.

But I’ll bet many of you have not heard of baseball’s National League Home Run Champion from the family? He was almost certainly the first Prince Edward Island born player in the Majors. His name was George A. (Dandy) Wood.

Mary Ann Jenkins was born 12 March 1836 in Pownal, Lot 49, PEI, oldest daughter of James MacBriar (Scilly) Jenkins and Sarah Wood. She was married on 25 October 1855 at "Springfield", a pleasant farm in China point, Lot 50, to Joseph A. Wood, born in 1824 in Alexandra, Lot 49. Joseph was a first cousin of his mother-in-law Sarah. Mary and Joseph’s first child, George A. Wood, was born on 9 November 1858 in PEI, as were his siblings Amos (born about 1861) and Roscilla (born about 1863). Some time between 1863 and 1869, the family emigrated to the United States, settling in Boston, MA. There, about 1869, was born their fourth and last child Loronia. George was a great-great grandson of Nicholas (Henckel) Jenkins, our immigrant ancestor.

George began his professional baseball career on 1 May 1880 at age 21 with the Worcester Ruby Legs of the National League. This League had been founded in 1876 with eight teams, but there was a great turnover during those early turbulent years. Worcester, MA, joined the League in 1880, but was gone by the end of the 1882 season. With so many teams coming and going, players changed teams frequently, and George was no exception. After beginning his career with Worcester in 1880, he played with the Detroit Wolverines (1881-1885), Philadelphia Quakers (1886-1889), Philadelphia Athletics (1890-1891), Baltimore Orioles (1889, 1892), and Cincinnati Reds (1892). In 1891 he was both player and manager of the Athletics in the American Association. In 1881 he was among the National League leaders with a .421 slugging percentage. In 1882, his .269 batting average was well above the team average; the year in which he led the League in home runs and was runner up in triples.

Wood also participated in an early integrated baseball game. The Chicago Tribune reported on the game as follows: "A very singular contest took place at New Orleans, La., on April 4, 1880, when five Northern professionals succeeded in defeating the colored professional nine of that city by a score of 17 to 3." According to the account reported 14 months later in the Chicago Tribune of July 1881, Tim Keefe pitched, Charlie Bennett caught, John Sullivan played first base, while Wood and George Creamer "were entrusted with the onerous task of filling the other six positions."

George died on 4 April 1924 at age 65 in Harrisburg, PA. He was buried in Union Street Cemetery, Franklin, MA.

Article references included "The Baseball"; ""; ""; and ""

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