Walker pictured c. 1908 coaching Utah State's football team
March 21, 1884|
|Died: February 1, 1958
Oak Park, Illinois
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|June 28, 1910 for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 1915 for the Brooklyn Tip-Tops|
|Earned run average||4.00|
Frederick Mitchell Walker (March 21, 1884 – February 1, 1958), nicknamed "Mysterious", was an American athlete and coach. He was a three-sport athlete for the University of Chicago from 1904 to 1906 and played Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Superbas, Pittsburgh Rebels and Brooklyn Tip-Tops.
He earned the nickname "Mysterious" after pitching under a pseudonym for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in 1910. He also served as a college basketball, baseball and football coach at numerous colleges and universities, including Utah State University, University of Mississippi, Oregon State University, Carnegie Tech, Washington & Jefferson College, Williams College, Dartmouth College, Michigan State University, DePauw University, Loyola University New Orleans, University of Texas, and Wheaton College.
Athlete at University of Chicago
He attended the University of Chicago where he played football, baseball and basketball. He played at the halfback position for Amos Alonzo Stagg's Chicago Maroons football teams from 1904 to 1906. As a freshman in October 1904, Walker suffered a concussion during a practice session when he collided with another player. The injury initially appeared not to be serious, but later that night Walker became "temporarily deranged" and, during his "delerium" he believed he was playing a football game against Northwestern that was scheduled for the following week. He was a member of the 1905 Chicago Maroons football team that defeated Michigan by a score of 2-0 ending a 56-game unbeaten streak for Fielding H. Yost's "Point-a-Minute" teams. Walker played a strong first half in the 1905 win over Michigan, but was forced to leave the game at the start of the second half due to a knee injury. In November 1906, the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote: "Fred Walker is playing his third year on the maroon team and is considered to be one of the best all round players in the country. Last year in the backfield, he is being used at end this season."
Walker was also one of the most dependable pitchers for the Maroons' baseball teams for three years, also coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg, and won one varsity letter in basketball. In one season, he pitched in every baseball game except two for the University of Chicago.
Coaching career and professional baseball
|Sport(s)||Football, basketball, baseball|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Washington & Jefferson (assistant)
Rhode Island State
|Head coaching record|
College Football Data Warehouse
After graduating from Chicago in 1907, Walker was hired as the athletic director and coach of four sports at Utah Agricultural College, now known as Utah State University. His 1907 Utah Aggies football team finished the season with a 6-1 record and outscored opponents 184 to 25. The 1908 team began the season 4-0 after scoring 138 points to 6 for the opponents. However, during the 1908 football season, one of Walker's football players was killed during a game, and the sport was abolished at the college. He spent the latter part of the 1908 season as an assistant coach under John P. Koehler at Denver University.
In the summer of 1908, Walker played semi-professional baseball for the Rogers Parks team on the north side of Chicago. His pitching for Rogers Parks brought Walker to the attention of Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who reportedly told Walker to "name his terms."
In 1909, Walker returned to the University of Chicago as an assistant football coach under head coach Stagg. In 1910, he coached the University of Mississippi baseball team and led them to the southern college championship. At the conclusion of the college baseball season in 1910, Walker left Mississippi and joined the Cincinnati Reds as a pitcher. He appeared in one game for the Reds, pitching three innings on June 28, 1910, and allowing four hits and one earned run.
Walker finished the 1910 season playing baseball for the San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League. He appeared in 11 games for the Seals and compiled a record of 6–4 with a 2.68 earned run average.
While playing for San Francisco in 1910, Walker identified himself as Frank Mitchell, leaving off his last name. Mystery surrounded his appearances in the Pacific Coast League. Some accounts indicate that he wore a mask while pitching for the Seals. After he won both games of a doubleheader over the Los Angeles Angels in early September 1910, allowing seven hits in the first game and six in the second, the Los Angeles Times first referred to him as "Mysterious Mitchell," reporting as follows:
"The big feature of this first double-header was the work of the iron 'busher' who heaved in both games. In the first, of ten innings, he allowed but seven hits, and in the second, of seven innings, six swats were made off him. ... Hash Mitchell, the mystery that came from nowhere to pitch four straight victories for the Seals ... Every one watched Mitchell in the hope that they might guess who he is by looking at him, and while they were gazing they saw some real spit ball pitching that was remarkable for the amount of juice he used to deceive the local batsmen."
The following week, the buzz surrounding "Mysterious Mitchell" continued to grow. Following a game in San Francisco, the press reported that Mitchell remained the focus of attention:
"Mysterious Mitchell furnished the sensation at Recreation Park once more this afternoon when 8000 wildly excited fans upset baseball tradition. ... Until after the game the twirler created as much interest and excitement as the contest itself as there was still more to follow. He was the center of a throng as he left the stand and when he went to the offices of the baseball company, several hundred people gathered to look at him and call for a speech."
On September 19, 1910, Chicago sporting writers identified Mysterious Mitchell based on a photograph published by the Los Angeles Times as Fred Walker, the former pitching star for the University of Chicago. The press reported that Walker had signed earlier in the summer with the New York Giants but "got into trouble with a chambermaid at a hotel where he stopped, who accused the young pitcher of attempted assault." Following the accusation, Walker had disappeared leaving no trace until his photograph appeared in the Los Angeles Times. For the rest of his career in baseball, Walker was known as either "Mysterious Walker" and "Mysterious Mitchell."
In 1911, Walker coached the baseball team for the Oregon Aggies. His Oregon Aggies team lost the championship by a half game. During the winter of 1911–1912, Walker served as the coach for a basketball team in San Francisco. He was discharged in January 1912 after striking a referee in an altercation that grew out of a disagreement in a game. Members of the team petitioned to have Walker reinstated, contending that the referee's conduct justified the blow.
In 1912, Walker signed with the Cleveland Indians and appeared in one game, pitching one inning and giving up no hits and no earned runs. In the fall of 1912, Walker served as the head football coach at Carnegie Tech. After pitching in the major leagues, he returned to Carnegie Tech as football coach in the fall of 1913 and played professional basketball that winter for Pittsburgh.
In 1913, Walker returned to Major League Baseball as a pitcher for the Brooklyn Superbas. He appeared in 11 games for Brooklyn in 1913, pitching 58-1/3 innings and compiling a 3.55 earned run average. In August 1913, The Pittsburgh Press wrote of Walker: "Fred Walker, otherwise known as 'Mysterious Mitchell,' who is pitching for Brooklyn, appears to be a perfectly good topnotcher for about four innings. After that -- well, he hasn't won any laurels as a stayer."
In 1914, Walker pitched for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League. He appeared in 35 games for the Rebels in 1914, pitching a career-high 169-1/3 innings with a record of 4–16 and a 4.33 earned run average. He ranked ninth in the Federal League with 16 losses in 1914 and led the league with 12 wild pitches. During the fall of 1914, Walker served as an assistant football coach under Bob Folwell at Washington & Jefferson College.
In 1915, Walker played his final season of professional baseball with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League. He appeared in 13 games for the Tip-Tops in 1915, pitching 65-2/3 innings with a 3.70 earned run average. He appeared in his final Major League game on September 29. In 1916, Walker played minor league baseball, playing for teams in Albany and Utica, New York. In the fall of 1916, Walker returned to the University of Chicago as an assistant football coach under head coach Stagg.
He also served as an assistant baseball coach in the spring of 1917 at the University of Chicago. During the summer of 1917, Walker played minor league baseball for New Haven in the Eastern League. In September 1917, the Williams College athletic council announced the hiring of Walker as the college's football coach. Walker served as the head football coach at Williams College in 1917 and led the team to the first undefeated season in the school's history. The 1917 Williams team defeated traditional football power Cornell 14-10 in the second game of the season and finished the season with a 20-0 win over rival, Amherst College.
In December 1917, Walker was hired by Dartmouth College as the school's head basketball coach. After the basketball team lost the first 20 games of the season, the Dartmouth Athletic Council discontinued Walker's services in February 1918. At the time, The New York Times wrote: "The dissatisfaction of the student body, together with methods of coaching that were described as not in keeping with the council's idea of how a Dartmouth team should be coached, were given as the reasons for releasing Walker."
He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in February 1918, but spent the summer playing minor league baseball for the Newark Bears and Binghamton Bingoes. He appeared in 20 minor league games in 1918, with a record of 8–9 and a 2.58 earned run average. Following the United States' entry into World War I, Walker served as the athletic director for the Second Naval District at Newport, Rhode Island.
At the end of World War I, Walker was hired as the athletic director and head basketball coach at Rhode Island State College, now known as University of Rhode Island. During the 1919 basketball season, Walker led the Rhode Island Rams to a 7-1 record; his .875 winning percentage is the highest among all basketball coaches in the school's history. Walker also coached the school to its first ever basketball victory over Brown University's varsity. Walker left Rhode Island abruptly when the school refused to increase his $3,000 salary. The school's Board of Managers refused to reconsider even after receiving a petition signed by 147 of the school's 255 students.
From 1919 to 1920, Walker served as the athletic director and football and baseball coach at the New York Agricultural College, now known as State University of New York at Farmingdale. In June 1920, Walker resigned his position after one year. He stated that his decision was due to the failure of the legislature to appropriate funds to carry on the athletic program at the school.
In September 1920, Walker returned to the University of Chicago as an assistant football coach under Amos Alonzo Stagg. In February 1921, Walker signed a three-year contract to serve as the athletic director and head football, basketball and baseball coach at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. In his one year as the head basketball coach, Walker led the Tigers to a 17-3 mark in 1921-1922. He led DePauw's 1921 football team to a 4-3 record.
In August 1922, Walker was hired by Michigan Agricultural College, now Michigan State University, as advisory coach of the football team and as head coach of the basketball and baseball teams. In two seasons at the head basketball coach at M.A.C. from 1922 to 1924, Walker's teams had a record of 20–19. From 1924 to 1925, Walker served as the basketball and football coach at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. In November 1924, Walker was haled by the Chicago Daily Tribune as "Drury's miracle man" when he took "a team of light recruits" and developed them into one of the most sensational elevens in the history of the Missouri Conference."
From 1926 to 1927, Walker served as athletic director and coach at Loyola University New Orleans. In his one year as the head basketball coach at Loyola, Walker lead the team to a 12-6 record, including three wins over LSU. In September 1927, Walker was hired as the head basketball coach at the University of Texas. He remained in the position from 1927 to 1931, compiling a 51–30 combined record during his four-year stint as head coach at Texas. Walker led the Longhorns to an 18–2 overall record and 10–2 conference record during his second season. He was terminated following the Longhorns' 9–15 season in his fourth year.
In August 1932, Walker was appointed as the head football coach at J. Sterling Morton High School in Cicero, Illinois. In October 1932, he was dismissed after Major W.P. MacLean, head of the school's physical education department, charged that Walker was inefficient, had been late for classes, had allowed students to take out uniforms and equipment without making a deposit, and had allowed the shower rooms dirty during the football season. Nearly 300 citizens and parents crowded into the school's regular board room to protest the action. Walker was reinstated after the school superintendent issued a report declaring the charges against Walker to be "petty and trivial." Two weeks after Walker's reinstatement, the individual who had made the charges against him was removed from his position at the school.
From 1936 to 1940, Walker coached baseball, football and basketball at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. In May 1937, he was also named athletic director at Wheaton College. Walker was the head coach of the Wheaton football team for four years from 1936 to 1939 and compiled a record of 11-14-4. In January 1940, Walker announced that he would resign his coaching position effective in June 1940. He noted that he was dissatisfied with the ouster of the university president, James Oliver Buswell, and he intended to devote more time to his security business.
Walker retired from coaching in 1940 and worked in the investment business. He was a vice president of Chesley and Co. from 1952 to 1958. In February 1958, Walker died suddenly from a heart attack at his home in Oak Park, Illinois.
- "Fred Walker, Ex-Athlete and Coach, Dies". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1958-02-02.
- "Injured In Football Game. Player Becomes Deranged: Loses Mind Temporarily as Result of a Collision Brought About through an Error in Receiving Signals". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1904-10-18.
- "Fred Walker Takes Michigan Aggie Job". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1922-08-31.
- "Good Baseball Job For Fred Walker". The Deseret News. 1908-12-14.
- "Three Clever University of Chicago Football Players". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1906-11-09.
- "Colleges Want to Land Fred Walker". The Day. 1917-08-31.
- "1907 Utah State". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "1908 Utah State". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "Midway Star For Comiskey: Pitcher Fred Walker Expected to Sign Sox Contract; Coming To See 'Old Roman'; Football Coach Prefers Diamond to Gridiron for a Regular Job". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1908-12-09.
- "Mysterious Walker profile". baseball-reference.com.
- "Mysterious Walker profile". baseball-reference.com.
- "Lee Magee To Recall Pitcher Fred Walker". The Pittsburgh Press. 1915-07-02.
- "Two Victries Go To Busher: Mysterious Iron Man Mitchell Wins Double-Header". Los Angeles Times. 1910-09-11.
- "Fans Clamor For Mitchell: Cheer Mysterious Man When He Is Removed". Los Angeles Times. 1910-09-18.
- "Sigh of Relief: Big Mystery May Be Ended; Mitchell May Be Walker of New York Giants; Games in Which he Pitched Must Be Thrown Out; Twirler Ran Away from Fair Gotham Chambermaid". Los Angeles Times. 1910-09-20.
- "Mysterious Mitchell Dropped as Coach". Los Angeles Times. 1912-01-18.
- "New Spirit Shown at Carnegie Tech". The Pittsburgh Press. 1913-11-30.
- "Eastern Association". The Hartford Courant. 1914-01-29. ("Fred Walker, the pitcher who was with Bridgeport in 1908, is on of the strongest men in basketball. In Pittsburgh the other day he made a bridge of his chest and allowed Manager Harry Smith of Newark and two other players to stand on him.")
- "Baseball Notes". Pittsburgh Press. 1913-08-13.
- "Cardinals Sign Fred Walker". The New York Times. 1918-02-16.
- "Fred Walker to Coach Williams College Eleven". The Christian Science Monitor. 1917-09-12.
- "Williams Finishes Without a Defeat; Boynton Runs Wild Over Amherst and Keeps Slate of Team Clean for Year". The New York Times. 1917-11-18.
- "Walker to Coach Dartmouth Men: Successful Williams Football Instructor Will Have Charge of Basketball Team at Hanover". Christian Science Monitor. 1917-12-04.
- "Fred Walker To Coach Dartmouth Basket Team". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1917-12-15.
- "Dartmouth Drops Coach; Fred Walker Released Following Season's Basket Ball Fiasco". The New York Times. 1918-03-01.
- "Newport Boys Are Ready For Rivals; Coach Fred Walker Anxious to Have Team Meet Great Lakes in War Work Sports Drive". The New York Times. 1918-10-24.
- "2009-2010 URI Record Book". University of Rhode Island. 2009. p. 117.
- "Walker at Rhode Island". The Pittsburgh Press. 1919-01-24.
- "Seek Game With Cornell; New York Aggies Will Also Meet Georgetown on Gridiron". The New York Times. 1919-12-08.
- "Colgate Scores 16 RUNS in One Inning; Up-State Collegians Start Slowly, but Finally Defeat N. Y. Aggies, 19 to 1". The New York Times. 1919-04-07.
- "Fred Walker Resigns as State Aggie Coach". The Pittsburgh Press. 1920-06-24.
- "Fred Walker Returns to Maroon Moleskins as Stagg's Assistant". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1920-09-29.
- Walter Eckersall (1921-02-23). "Fred Walker Signs as Sport Diretor of De Pauw Teams". Chicago Daily Tribune.
- "DePauw Fans Return from Indianapolis After Disappointing 22-0 Loss to Wabash". DePauw University. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "Walker Repeats Miracle Stuff With Drury Team". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1924-11-16.
- "Three Brothers on Drury Team". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1925-10-18.
- "Loyola Wants Game With Carnegie Tech". The Evening Independent. 1926-11-30.
- "2009-2010 Loyola Wolfpack Men's Basketball Media Guide". Loyola University. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "Walker To Coach Texas Basketball". The Victoria Advocate. 1927-09-23.
- "Fred Walker is Named Morton Football Coach". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1932-08-14.
- "Besiege School Board to Fight Ouster of Coach: Closed Meeting Is Held in Morton High". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1932-10-25.
- "Walker, Morton Coach, Cleared by School Board". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1932-11-15.
- "Morton High's Chief Removes Physical Head". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1932-11-30.
- "Fred M. Walker Named Wheaton Athletic Head". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1937-05-31.
- "2008 Thunder Football". Wheaton College. p. 8. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "Walker to Quit Next June as Wheaton Coach". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1940-01-25.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Baseball Almanac
- Mysterious Walker at the College Football Data Warehouse
- Mysterious Walker at College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com