February 18, 1875|
|Died: July 14, 1960
|July 1, 1895, for the Chicago Colts|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 8, 1898, for the Chicago Orphans|
|Earned run average||4.18|
|Career highlights and awards|
A skilled athlete who excelled in baseball, Thornton pitched Snohomish, Washington, to the state's amateur championship in 1893. In the spring of 1895, two Cornell College graduates who owned the Snohomish Tribune arranged a scholarship for Thornton to attend Cornell. He dominated the college competition and was invited to a tryout with the Chicago Colts (later the Chicago Cubs) National League baseball team. He made his major league pitching debut July 1, 1895, while still enrolled at Cornell.
He pitched a no-hitter on August 21, 1898 against the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, a 2-0 victory. In 1896, Thornton married a Cornell teacher, Sarah Andrews Hackett, director of the School of Oratory and Physical Culture. She was 26, and he was 21. After a salary dispute ended his major league baseball career, the Thorntons returned to the Pacific Northwest, where Walter played semi-pro ball and worked in Everett, Washington. In 1901, Thornton compiled what is arguably the county's best baseball team. The Everett semi-pro team won its first 27 games and shut out professional teams from Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma.
In 1910, an evangelist named Billy Sunday, a former professional baseball player for the Chicago White Stockings and the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, brought a six-week religious campaign to Everett. Thornton became a lifelong follower of Sunday and his religious teachings. He later moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s, after Sarah's death, to become a street preacher and help the poor. In July 1960, Thornton died in a Los Angeles hotel, and was cremated.
August 21, 1898