Frank Bliss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Frank Bliss
Frank Bliss.jpg
Born: (1852-12-10)December 10, 1852
Chicago, Illinois
Died: January 9, 1929(1929-01-09) (aged 76)
Nashville, Tennessee
Batted: Unknown Threw: Unknown
MLB debut
June 20, 1878, for the Milwaukee Grays
Last MLB appearance
1878, for the Milwaukee Grays
MLB statistics
Batting average .125
Home runs 0
Runs scored 1

Frank Eugene Bliss (December 10, 1852 – January 9, 1929) was an American baseball player. He played college baseball at the University of Michigan from 1869 to 1873 and played for the Milwaukee Grays in Major League Baseball during the 1878 season.

Early years[edit]

Bliss was born in Chicago in 1852. He moved with his parents, Edwin J. Bliss (a carpenter) and Mary (Osborne) Bliss, to Ann Arbor, Michigan at age five and attended the public schools in Ann Arbor, graduating from high school in 1869.[1][2][3][4][5]

University of Michigan[edit]

Bliss enrolled at the University of Michigan as a civil engineering student in 1869. He played college baseball there as a catcher from 1869 to 1873.[3][6][7][8] Teammate Frederick Stearns said of Bliss: "He was a wonder. Besides being a great catcher, he had the unusual distinction of always playing with his trousers tucked in long boots."[9][10] Baseball historian Peter Morris has cited Bliss's use of long boots as an early innovation of protective gear for catchers, i.e., an early form of shin guards.[11]

Bliss graduated from the University of Michigan in June 1873 with a degree in civil engineering.[2][12] Bliss worked as a civil engineer from 1873 to 1875 in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.[3] In the fall of 1877, he returned to the University of Michigan as a student in the law department and received an LL.B. degree in the spring of 1879.[2]

Professional baseball[edit]

In 1876, Bliss was the catcher and team captain on the West End Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An account of the 1876 West Enders noted that Bliss was a fine catcher "with great skill and nerve and throws to the bases with notable accuracy."[13] The 1876 West Enders played seven games against teams from the National League.[13] After the 1876 season, Bliss sued the West End Club claiming that the team had agreed to pay him $1,300 but paid him less than $300. No record has been found of the lawsuit's outcome.[14]

During the summer of 1877, Bliss played for minor league teams in Janesville, Wisconsin, and Buffalo, New York.[15]

In June 1878, the Milwaukee Grays lost their catchers to injuries and signed Bliss. Bliss was a law student at Michigan at the time, but he left school to join the Grays. Bliss made his Major League Baseball debut on June 20, 1878, as the battery mate to pitcher Mike Golden. Bliss was responsible for seven errors, including six passed balls, in the game.[16] Two days later, he appeared in his second and final game for the Grays, this time as a third baseman. In two games for the Grays, Bliss had one hit and scored one run in eight at bats and compiled a .124 batting average.[1][17]

Bliss was the first Michigan Wolverines baseball player to play in Major League Baseball.[18]

Later years[edit]

Bliss was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1879. He began practicing law in Cleveland with the Herrick & Herrick firm. In 1881, he married Louisa Sarah Fish and moved to Brooklyn, Ohio. He continued to practice law in Cleveland. He served for several years as a member of Brooklyn's village council and was elected mayor of Brooklyn Village in 1888.[2][19] Bliss and his wife Louisa had four children, Frank Bronson Bliss (b. 1883), Carl Edwin Bliss (b. 1885), Eugene Frederick Bliss (b. 1887) and Louise Mary Bliss (b. 1889).[20]

Bliss died of pneumonia, with influenza a contributing cause, in January 1929 at Nashville, Tennessee.[21]


  1. ^ a b "Frank Bliss Statistics and History". Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Student Profile: Frank Eugene Bliss". University of Michigan Law School. 
  3. ^ a b c Frank E. Bliss (1923). The Class of Seventy-Three of the University of Michigan From Its Entrance in 1869 to 1923. C. M. Burton. p. 40. 
  4. ^ 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Ann Arbor Ward 1, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M653_563; Page: 516; Image: 515; Family History Library Film: 803563.
  5. ^ 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Ann Arbor Ward 6, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M593_707; Page: 117A; Image: 238; Family History Library Film: 552206.
  6. ^ The University Palladium for 1870-71. The Secret Societies of the University of Michigan. 1871. p. 57. (Bliss listed as catcher for the Class of 1874, "First Nine")
  7. ^ The University Palladium for 1871-72. The Secret Societies of the University of Michigan. 1873. p. 60. (Bliss listed as the catcher for the Class of 1873 "First Nine")
  8. ^ The Palladium for 1872-1873. The University of Michigan Secret Societies. 1873. p. 75. (Bliss listed as the catcher for the University of Michigan "First Nine"; also captain of the "Senior Nine")
  9. ^ Peter Morris (2010). Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero. Government Institutes. p. 96. ISBN 1566638704. 
  10. ^ "Early Days", by Frederick K. Stearns, The Michigan Alumnus, November 2, 1922.
  11. ^ Peter Morris (2010). A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball. Ivan R. Dee. ("It seems likely that these boots were intended to act as shin guards.")
  12. ^ Calendar of the University of Michigan for 1873-4. University of Michigan. 1874. p. 20. 
  13. ^ a b Dennis Pajot (2009). The Rise of Milwaukee Baseball: The Cream City from Midwestern Outpost to the Major Leagues, 1859-1901. McFarland. pp. 37, 39. ISBN 0786439513. 
  14. ^ Pajot 2009, p. 46.
  15. ^ "Frank Bliss Minor League Statistics & History". 
  16. ^ Pajot 2009, p. 65.
  17. ^ "Frank Bliss Stats". Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  18. ^ Rich Adler. Baseball at the University of Michigan. p. 11. 
  19. ^ The Bench and Bar of Cleveland, by James Harrison Kennedy, Wilson Miles Day, 1889, p. 306.
  20. ^ Barbarowa Genealogy, Brooklyn Village, Ohio.
  21. ^ Tennessee Death Certificate for Frank E. Bliss, lawyer, born in Illinois Dec. 10, 1852, died January 9, 1929, at Nashville. Tennessee State Library and Archives; Nashville, Tennessee; Tennessee Death Records, 1908-1959; Roll #: 1; Certificate #: 524. Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1951 [database on-line].