Rogers Hornsby of the St. Louis Cardinals seemed to have a knack for finding trouble.
In part three of this five part historical series, Andrew Martin takes a look at some of the trouble Hornsby ran into over the course of his life. You can read more of Andrew’s baseball history on his website.
With his .358 career batting average, Rogers Hornsby rates as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. While the “Rajah” dominated on the field, his life was full of struggles and controversy. In particular, he was a regular in the legal system, constantly popping up in investigations and law suits. As the years have passed, much of his troubles have been forgotten. However, it is a fascinating study to explore the near constant nature of his connection with trouble.
Case 8: Finances were just not Hornsby’s forte. He was sued by Dr. John H. Barto alleging that he had not been paid $387, dating back to January through March, of 1925, for the ongoing treatment of Hornsby’s pregnant wife, Jeannette. Barto obtained a judgment in his favor from a justice of the peace court in 1928, but Hornsby’s attorney later secured a reversal in a city circuit court on a technicality.
Case 9: Another accusation about a failure to pay a debt came in 1929. Hornsby had done improvements on his farm near Anglum, Missouri, and employed contractor Fred Newhausen to help with some specific projects. Hornsby changed his mind on the location of nests in a hen house, requiring extra work to be done. The lawsuit charged that he did not pay for the extra work, and asked for $500 in restitution. Newhausen claimed that the additional money was owed because the changes to the hen house were not part of the original contract he had agreed to with Hornsby. Keeping in line with previous lawsuits, this one was also settled out of court.
Case 10: In May, 1931, Hornsby and his wife Jeannette were named as co-defendants in a damage suit brought by Mrs. Rebecca Winner, who sought $15,000 in damages. Winner claimed she had been struck by a car driven by Mrs. Hornsby on July 14, 1930. The injuries she suffered incapacitated her, preventing the continuation of her occupation as a mid wife. While the suit was in the papers briefly, it too disappeared as quickly as it came; suggesting yet another settlement.
For as successful as Rogers Hornsby was on the baseball diamond, his life off the field was one of trouble and scandal. Although his legacy has notoriously labeled him as a hard man who thought of little else other than baseball, his personal issues have largely been ignored. While many of the cases he was involved in were personal in nature, he has not received the same amount of scrutiny as other Hall of Fame players with their own issues. Hornsby was a fantastic player who had a much more interesting and troubled life outside of the game than he is typically attributed, which deserves to be part of his story.