Many years ago I asked my uncles, Paul and Phil White, if they ever knew a major league baseball player. They quickly answered that Topsy Hartsel had worked at Guy Gilson's Eating Place. He was a short order cook in the place we often called "A Greasy Spoon."
According to the records found by the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Association, Tully Frederick "Topsy" Hartsel was born in Polk, Ohio June 26th, 1874, and died in Toledo in 1944. He was 5 feet 5 inches and weighed 155 pounds. Topsy played in the majors fourteen years from 1898 to 1911. He broke in the Louisville lineup in the 1898 National League and in 1900 with Cincinnati, in 1901 with Chicago, and then in 1902, he joined Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics.
The outfielder had a lifetime batting average of.276 in 1354 games. He led the American League in walks four times and in most runs scored once. Hartsel p1ayed in several world series games and was with such immortals as Home Run Baker, Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, and Harry Davis. In 1910 and 1911 the Athletics were World Champs. In 1909 Philade1phia had the first stadium made of concrete and steel. Topsy was there in the opener for the Athletics.
One wonders, with today's money in sports, how these men existed in the era of the early professional sports. It had to be for the love of the game. They certainly didn't have a comfortable living after they retired.
Story by former New Londoner Bill Dunn