Jerome Utley

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Jerome Utley
Jerome Utley (1903).jpg
Utley, 1903
Born January 7, 1881
Stanton, Michigan
Died April 24, 1959(1959-04-24) (aged 78)
Occupation Baseball player and coach

Jerome Adams "Jerry" Utley (January 7, 1881 – April 24, 1959[1]) was an American baseball player and coach, contracting engineer, hotelier and boxing promoter. He played and coached college baseball for the Michigan Wolverines baseball team in the early 1900s. He also briefly coached and played minor league baseball from 1905 to 1906. After retiring from baseball, Utley had a successful career as a contracting engineer on building projects in Detroit. From 1931 to approximately 1948, he had an ownership interest in the Hotel Playa Ensenada, later renamed the Hotel Riviera del Pacífico, a luxury hotel in Baja California, Mexico. He also briefly had a partnership with Jack Dempsey as a boxing promoter which included promoting the 1933 heavyweight championship match between Max Schmeling and Max Baer.

Early years[edit]

Utley was born in Stanton, Michigan, the son of Rev. Wells H. Utley and Emma (Adams) Utley. He attended Central High School in Detroit in approximately 1899.[2]

Baseball player and coach[edit]

Michigan coach Skel Roach with captain Utley (right).

After graduating from high school, Utley entered the University of Michigan as an engineering student. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1903. While attending Michigan, he was a pitcher for the Michigan Wolverines baseball team from 1900 to 1903.[3][4][5] After receiving his degree in 1903, Utley returned to Michigan as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines baseball team in 1904.[6] The Wolverines had a 10–5 record in Utley's only season as the head coach.[7]

In August 1903, Utley moved to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to play for the Calumet baseball team and work as an engineer in one of the area's mines.[8] In 1905, he was the manager of the Hancock Infants of the Copper Country Soo League. In 1906, he played minor league baseball for the Houghton Giants of the Northern-Copper Country League.[9]

In 1907, Utley was hired as the baseball coach at Detroit College.[10]

From 1908 to 1910, Utley was the star pitcher, and in 1909 the team captain, for the Detroit Athletic Club baseball team.[11][12][13][14][15][16] He also returned to the mound in 1913 as a pitcher for the Euclids, a semi-pro baseball team in Detroit.[17][18][19]

Engineering career[edit]

Utley became a contracting engineer in Detroit. As of September 1918, he was self-employed as an engineer with an office at the Penobscot Building in downtown Detroit.[20] In his 1922 history of Detroit, Clarence Burton included a profile of Utley, noting: "Jerome A. Utley, a contracting engineer of Detroit who has executed many important contracts, has had broad experience in this line of work and his standing in engineering circles of the city is an enviable one. ... Industry is the key which has unlocked for Mr. Utley the portals of success and thoroughness and diligence have characterized all of his work. His professional standing is of the highest and through his labors he has contributed in substantial measure to the development and improvement of Detroit, being recognized as a most progressive and public-spirited citizen, whose influence is at all times on the side of advancement and improvement."[2]

Census records indicate he was unmarried and living in Detroit with his brother Stuart and sister Beatrice in 1910 and with his sister Beatrice Utley in 1920 and 1930.[21][22][23]

Utley was a member of the First Congregational Church, a Mason, and a member of the Detroit Athletic Club.[2]

Hotel Playa Ensenada[edit]

In his later years, Utley was best known for his role as the owner of the Hotel Playa Ensenada, later renamed the Hotel Riviera del Pacífico. The hotel was a luxury resort built in the late 1920s during Prohibition, included a casino, and was located approximately 75 miles south of Tijuana. Jack Dempsey, the world heavyweight boxing champion, was one of the original owners, and guests included Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst, Johnny Weissmuller and Myrna Loy. By 1931, the hotel's debt burden had become a problem, and Utley made a substantial investment in the hotel.[24][25] Following Utley's investment, the hotel's business dropped off, as Prohibition was repealed in the United States and gambling was outlawed in Mexico. Utley became the hotel's principal owner in the 1930s, and the hotel was closed in 1938.[24][26][27]

Utley also formed a brief partnership with Dempsey to promote boxing matches. Dempsey and Utley were the promoters of the June 1933 heavyweight championship match between Max Schmeling and Max Baer.[28][29][30]

During World War II, the hotel as used as a military headquarters to guard against a Japanese attack on the United States through Baja California. After the war, Utley re-opened the hotel. Described as "a seventy-year-old bachelor," Utley fell in love with Marjorie King Plant, described as "an attractive blond woman in her early forties."[24] Utley gave the hotel to Plant in approximately 1948, but later learned that she had married a Mexican lawyer. Utley filed a lawsuit against Plant, and she sold her interest in the hotel and returned to California.[24] Utley died in 1959.


  1. ^ The Michigan alumnus, Volume 65. Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. 1958. p. 344. 
  2. ^ a b c Clarence Monroe Burton, William Stocking, Gordon K. Miller (1922). The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701–1922, Volume 3. p. 663. 
  3. ^ "Utley was a puzzle: Detroit boy's curves fooled the maroon batsmen yesterday; Score was 6 to 3 in favor of the Ann Arbor aggregation". Detroit Free Press. June 9, 1901. 
  4. ^ "Utley captain again". Detroit Free Press. June 17, 1902. 
  5. ^ "Utley did great work: michigan all but shut out oberlin nine". Detroit Free Press. April 30, 1903. 
  6. ^ "To adopt graduate coaching: Belief That Michigan Will Turn Both Baseball and Football Tuition Over to Alumni". Chicago Daily Tribune. October 19, 1903. 
  7. ^ Rich Adler (2004). Baseball at the University of Michigan. Acadia Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 0-7385-3221-5. 
  8. ^ "Utley joins calumet: Has position at mines, and will also play ball; Blanks for Mt. Pleasant". Detroit Free Press. August 6, 1903. 
  9. ^ "Jerome Utley". 
  10. ^ "Detroit college gets Jerry Utley as coach of baseball candidates: Team This Season Will Play No Games With the High School Nines". Detroit Free Press. March 10, 1907. 
  11. ^ "D. A. C. Still unbeaten, blanks team: Utley Pitches Three-Hit Game and is Given Support; Score is 4 to 0". Detroit Free Press. June 28, 1908. 
  12. ^ "Utley elected D. A. C. Captain: Star Slabman Will Lead Delta Team on the Diamond This Season". Detroit Free Press. June 3, 1909. 
  13. ^ "Utley blanks the HILLSIDES: Visitors Are Unable to Connect With D. A. C. Captain's Assorted Benders". Detroit Free Press. June 20, 1909. 
  14. ^ "D. A. C. Hammers rival pitchers: Cleveland Athletic Club Proves Easy Mark for Delta Sluggers; Three slabmen given enthusiastic reception; Forest City People Are Unable to Make Much Headway Against Utley". Detroit Free Press. July 18, 1909. 
  15. ^ "Soldier hurler is massacred: Van Sickle, Twenty-sixth Infantry's Pride, is Prey to D. A. C. Boys. DELRAY ATHLETICS GIVE BAD FIELDING EXHIBIT Lathers and Lerchen Lead the Clubbers--Utley Allows but Three Hits". Detroit Free Press. July 28, 1909. 
  16. ^ "Crescents lose to D. A. C. Team: Seven-Inning Game Featured by Pinch Stick Work of the Winners". Detroit Free Press. June 19, 1910. 
  17. ^ "Utley to pitch for Dean's men". Detroit Free Press. July 3, 1913. 
  18. ^ "Utley to duel Jack Carroll: Stellar Hurlers Will Ascend Hill at Euclid Park This Afternoon". Detroit Free Press. July 4, 1913. 
  19. ^ "Utley vs. Owen-Killian; Star Pitchers to Appear at Euclid Park May 30". Detroit Free Press. May 28, 1913. 
  20. ^ Draft Registration Card completed by Jerome Adams Utley dated September 12, 1918. Residence 146 Forest Avenue. Office 718 Penobscott Building. Date of birth January 7, 1881. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Registration Location: Wayne County, Michigan; Roll: 2023749; Draft Board: 1.
  21. ^ Census record for Stuart W. Utley (manufacturer steel work), Jeroma A. Utley (engineer, city engineer), and Beatrice M. Utley. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Detroit Ward 1, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_679; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0014; Image: 941; FHL Number: 1374692.
  22. ^ Census record for Jerome A. Utley, age 39, occupation contracting engineer. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Detroit Ward 6, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_806; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 217; Image: 860.
  23. ^ Census record for Jerome A. Utley (contractor, mechanical engineering) and Beatrice M. Utley at 1455 Burlingame Avenue, Detroit. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 1037; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 1079; Image: 910.0.
  24. ^ a b c d Maria Eugenia Bonifaz De Novelo (Spring 1983). "The Hotel Riviera del Pacifico". The Journal of San Diego History. 
  25. ^ "Dempsey Planning to Reopen Mexican Resort". The Hartford Courant. June 11, 1931. 
  26. ^ "Port project brings 3 million suit; Once headed by Dempsey". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 29, 1937. 
  27. ^ "Mexico Authorizes Casino, Utley Says". Albuquerque Journal. November 19, 1935. 
  28. ^ Samuel B. Cohen (June 12, 1933). "Sayings of the Spectator". The Meriden Daily Journal. 
  29. ^ Westbrook Pegler (June 8, 1933). "Fans rush for tickets to Baer fight tonight: Schmeling Is Favorite in Dempsey's Show; Fans Rush to Buy Tickets for Baer Bout". Chicago Daily Tribune. 
  30. ^ Westbrook Pegler (June 16, 1933). "Sweet charity bitter pill to fight business: Somebody's Always Taking Promoters' Profits". Chicago Daily Tribune.