On the Topic of Gruesome 19th Century Ballplayer Deaths

Bergen Article

The author, in the midst of conversation with viscount of the internet Rob Neyer last week, inquired of that latter party which — of all the horrifying and notable deaths died by 19th century ballplayers — which of them he (i.e. Neyer) regarded as particularly emblematic of that time. Neyer’s answer: a drunken Ed Delahanty, having just alighted from a train by order of its conductor, falling into Niagara Falls. A strong entry, one is forced to agree.

By means of social media, American wordsmith Josh Wilker submits another worthy candidate — namely, the case of Boston catcher Marty Bergen. Widely praised for his defensive prowess, Bergen was also a victim of mental illness. In January of 1900, at age 28, he murdered his wife and two children by means of an axe, before using a straight razor to slice his own throat — an endeavor he pursued with such enthusiasm, a Wikipedia contributor relates, that he “nearly beheaded himself.”

*Image from January 20, 1900, edition of New York Times.

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The Bergen brothers were odd. Marty you covered, his brother Bob is probably the worst hitter to have a career of any length.