Cooperstown Confidential: What really happened with Fritz Ostermueller and Jackie Robinson

By all accounts, 42 is a wonderful movie, beautifully filmed and superbly acted. It is a film that does a skilled job in telling the story of Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the major leagues and the season-long struggles that he faced as the game’s greatest racial pioneer. It is a film that may earn Harrison Ford an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Branch Rickey.

But there is an ongoing controversy with this film, and it involves the characterization of former Pirates pitcher Fritz Ostermueller. The veteran moundsman is seen intentionally throwing a pitch at Robinson’s head, hitting him with that pitch, and then attempting to insult him with a dismissive and racially tinged remark.

The portrayal has drawn the wrath of Ostermueller’s daughter, who contends that her father was not a racist, but a kind and open-hearted man. “I’d just like people to know that the man that they portrayed was not Fritz Ostermueller, was not my dad,” said his daughter, Sherrill Ostermueller Duesterhaus. “It was Hollywood taking maybe a little piece of history and rewriting it their way.”

“I can understand Hollywood making a good story,” said Sherrill, “but not at an expense of someone else and someone else’s memory and legacy.” Sherrill may not be the most objective source on the subject, but it’s also safe to say that she knew her father better than most people did.

Ostermueller is no longer around to defend himself. Diagnosed with cancer in 1956, he died one year later, at the age of 50. He has been gone for nearly 60 years. So we are left to rely on the testimony of others, a group that includes his surviving family members.

Who was the real Fritz Ostermueller? That is a question that historians like myself are trying to contend with as the film continues to enjoy a successful run in theaters nationwide.

There are at least two clear mistakes in the film’s characterization of Ostermueller. 42 shows him to be a right-handed pitcher; baseball fans who recall the 1930s and 40s will surely remember him to be a left-handed pitcher, and a good one at that. He won 114 games over a decade and a half, finishing in the top 10 in league ERA three times.

Far more importantly, the film shows the Ostermueller/Robinson incident to involve a beanball that nails Robinson in the head. The incident refers to a game between the Dodgers and Pirates at Forbes Field on May 17, 1947. In the top of the first inning, Ostermueller hit Robinson with a pitch, marking the fourth time that Jackie had been hit overall that season. But in actuality, when Ostermueller hit Robinson with a pitch that day, it was in the left arm, and nowhere near his head.

My first reaction to hearing of such inaccuracies was this: if the filmmakers couldn’t correctly identify Ostermueller as a left-handed pitcher, and couldn’t accurately portray Robinson being hit in the arm instead of the head, then what else did they get wrong in portraying Ostermueller? Why should we believe anything that 42 says, or even hints at, about the career of Fritz Ostermueller?

First off, let’s provide a biographical summary of Ostermueller. Born in Quincy, Illinois, he was raised on a dairy farm. After some experience playing in a church league and then for his college team, he signed with Quincy’s minor league club and began working his way up the professional ladder within the Cardinals’ organization. A stint at Rochester showcased him as a star; he led the International League in ERA and drew interest from several major league teams.

With their expansive minor league system and a strong major league rotation, the Cardinals had no room for Ostermueller. The Red Sox purchased the talented left-hander and assigned him to work with Hall of Fame southpaw Herb Pennock, who helped him refine his control. As a rookie in 1934, Ostermueller pitched very well, finishing in the top 10 in ERA among American League hurlers.

Ostermueller’s performance began to dip in his second season. As the decade continued, his ERAs rose into the high 4.00s, even though he reached double figures in wins in 1938 and ‘39. His performance seems to have been affected by arm problems that he first encountered in 1937, resulting in eventual surgery.

The Red Sox ran out of patience with Ostey in 1939. After the season, they sold him and veteran right-hander Denny Galehouse to the St. Louis Browns. The war years brought Ostermueller a considerable level of tumult. He struggled so much that the Browns sent him back to the minors. After he returned, he was hit in the elbow by a batted ball and had to undergo another surgery. As a result of the injury, he came up with a distinctive delivery, which mimicked the motion of a rocking chair and caught the attention of fans and writers.

In 1943, Ostey volunteered to enter the military as part of the World War II effort, but an examination showed him to have arthritis, resulting in his rejection for military service. The Army later reclassified him, allowing him to serve briefly in 1945.

In July of 1943, the Browns traded Ostey to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Bobo Newsome. He seemed to find a home with the Dodgers, where he pitched well in relief for the balance of 1943 and the first half of 1944.

Despite his solid pitching, the Dodgers cut him loose in midseason and tried to send him to the minor leagues, a move that Ostey protested. Dodgers GM Branch Rickey didn’t like Ostermueller, whom he referred to as “not my kind of a pitcher.” Part of the dislike stemmed from the feeling that his veteran left-hander drank too much. As sportswriter Tim Cohane once wrote: “[Ostermueller] has been known occasionally in the past to quaff a species of liquid refreshment more stimulating than beef tea.” Rickey took note of the habit, and Ostey never forgave Rickey for the slight.

May I Have Your Autograph, Please?
The payoff of being polite.

Initially signing with the Reds, Ostermueller then signed with Pittsburgh and emerged as an effective pitcher for the Pirates over the next three and a half seasons. It was with Pittsburgh that Osty coined the famous saying that was originally credited to his Hall of Fame teammate, Ralph Kiner: “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs; single hitters drive Fords.”

Though Ostermueller was now in his late thirties, he put up two of his best seasons in 1945 and ‘46, winning a combined 25 games. (I guess it was quite appropriate that Ostermueller was nicknamed “Old Folks.”) The consummate crafty left-hander, he relied on control and deception. In some ways, Osty enjoyed the last laugh on Rickey.

Ostermueller remained an effective pitcher in 1947, Robinson’s rookie season. But his career took a downturn in 1948, forcing him into retirement.

As a pitcher, Ostermueller had an uneven but respectable 15-year career. He showed resiliency in coming back from multiple surgeries, and overcoming multiple rejections from various teams.

Now for the more pertinent issue. In trying to come up with answers about Ostermueller’s character, I began my search by examining his file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. It is a decent-sized file, with about 40 or so newspaper clippings. Unfortunately, most of the clips are pre-1947, so they give us no indication as to his feelings regarding race relations. Of the few articles that are dated from 1947, there is no discussion of the game in which he hit Robinson with a pitch; there is not even a passing mention of the now-famous incident.

In looking at the articles post-1947, there are just a few mentions of Ostermueller’s pitching career, along with two different obituaries. Once again, the articles offer no discussion of the Robinson incident, and no examination of his racial attitudes. In a column written by Pittsburgh writer Al Abrams, Ostermueller is described as “a particular favorite” of the writer. There is certainly no indication that he was any kind of a racist or a hater.

So based on his clippings file, Ostermueller looks good. But the absence of any written allegations of racism does not necessarily make him innocent of the charges posed in 42. After all, the issue of race was not always discussed in the mainstream press, even in 1947 when Robinson was making history.

Having exhausted Ostermueller’s clippings file, I next made my move toward the Internet, trying to read as many biographical articles as possible. One of the best sources comes from SABR’s Biographical Project, which features an extensive bio written by John F. Green. There is not a single mention of Jackie Robinson, or even the words “race” or “racism” in this lengthy article, which is perhaps the most extensive biographical effort made of Ostey’s career. Similarly, I found no evidence of race being brought up in other Internet articles that predated the ongoing issue surrounding 42.

That leaves us with one other avenue, and that is perhaps the most useful source in a story of this kind. Are there any surviving teammates of Ostermueller who might give us some insight into his character? This is where the helping hand of a Pittsburgh writer named Bob Hurte, who is a friend of mine, comes into play. A historian and budding author, Hurte has communicated in recent years with one of Ostermueller’s teammates, a man who seemed to have first-hand knowledge of Ostey’s feelings. At the time of Hurte’s conversation with him, this player preferred to remain anonymous; he did not want to publicly impugn his late teammate or his family, nor did he want to become embroiled in a public controversy. But this player told Hurte that Ostermueller did portray bigoted sentiments during his time with the Pirates. The unnamed teammate said that Ostermueller once referred to Robinson by saying, “I’m going to hit that black bastard.” Based on that remark, the teammate believed that Ostermueller threw at Robinson intentionally, and for reasons having to do with race.

It is the player’s prerogative to remain anonymous. And it is certainly ethical for Hurte to respect the player’s right to privacy. At the same time, Hurte believed (and still believes) that the teammate is a credible source, one without an axe to grind. He believed the teammate when he described Ostermueller in such a way. And I happen to think that Hurte is being perfectly forthright and sincere here, to the point that I am willing to use Hurte as a secondary source.

Now for some readers, that might not be good enough. And I understand that. But given the passage of time, and the lack of eyewitnesses surviving from the 1940s, it is the best we have to go on in trying to reconstruct events from nearly 70 years ago.

So what conclusions can we draw from this experience? First off, 42 erred badly in its characterization of Ostermueller, particularly in showing him to have hit head Robinson in the head, when he did not. That’s an important detail to miss, and one that exaggerates the severity of the incident.

Second, Ostermueller does not seem to be completely innocent. Based on the recollections of a teammate, Ostermueller had racist feelings, and allowed those feelings to manifest themselves in the form of a hateful incident. That doesn’t necessarily make Ostermueller any different from many players of that era, but it is an incident that is definitely part of the Robinson story.

Both the filmmakers and Ostermueller appear to have made mistakes. Let’s hope the final record reflects those shortcomings.

References & Resources
Fritz Ostermueller’s biographical file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library


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Bruce Markusen is the manager of Digital and Outreach Learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He has authored seven baseball books, including biographies of Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Ted Williams, and A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, which was awarded SABR's Seymour Medal.
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Jim
Guest
Jim

Nothing in the Sporting News about it that I could find.

Thank you for the article.  I heard the producer wanted it to be as factual as possible.  How could he miss the handed-ness?  I can understand the location of the HBP, the arm is not too sexy, but the head is.

KB
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KB

Also, that pitch would have hit him in the head if Robinson didn’t bring his hand up to defend himself. That’s why it hit him in the wrist.

Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider
I knew that Robinson had been spiked repeatedly and so forth but never heard that he was actually beaned.  If this incident was made up, ie, showing him getting hit in the head instead of the arm, that’s pretty problematic IMO.  It’s one thing to hit someone in the arm, whether intentionally or not, another to hit him in the head.  This is always the problem with historical movies, including “Lincoln.”  There is always a tendency to play loose with the facts-indeed, often a necessity-for dramatic purposes. Whether Ostermueller was a racist or not, he doesn’t deserve to be tarred… Read more »
Renee
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Renee

You’re kidding right..amazing how ppl are still trying to act like racist ppl don’t exist. He was a racist and any actions he did were racially motivated. Whether it was in the arm or head…

Daniel
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Daniel

Renee you are right if his intentions were to hit Robinson based on race is wrong but the movie 42 is based on true events if Robinson wasn’t hit in the head but the left arm them the film makers had a duty in my opinion to portray the actual events that happened and not use creative license the movie 42 is a good movie based on (true) events and the film makers should of respected everyone’s actions right or wrong that were portrayed in the movie

Brendan Barnett
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Brendan Barnett
You’re wrong. I HATE that people just automatically SAY racist. Were you there? NO. Fritz was MY grandpas uncle who grew up watching this man play ball! MY grandfather says he was NOT racist. If the producer wanted to be so factual how did he mess up the fact that Fritz was a LEFT HANDED pitcher. They threw Fritz under the bus Big time. Fritz grew up in a family that accepted people of all races and I will defend him because he can not defend himself now. Fritz was known as one of the ”old men” in the game… Read more »
KB
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KB

Wendell Smith wrote about how that pitch would have hit him in the head if Robinson hadn’t brought his hand up to defend himself. That’s why it hit him in the wrist.

Dan Holmes
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Dan Holmes

Top notch work as always, Bruce.

I haven’t seen “42”, mostly because I have never seen a baseball biopic that was worth a damn. Sounds like this one is shoddy too, if they can’t get basic information correct.

I always thought it was ironic that probably the most interesting baseball player in history, Moe Berg, has never had a full-length movie made of his life. In berg’s case there wouldn’t be any need for reckless embellishment.

bucdaddy
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bucdaddy

Bob who? You don’t mean Bob Hertzel, do you?

Also, Sherrill Ostermueller Duesterhaus is a great, great name. Just sayin’.

Lou D.
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Lou D.

Hollywood takes liberties in film to make a composite of characters to fit the back story. In this case I’d say they used a composite of pitchers from that era which ended up being Ostermueller. Hence the right hander. It is believable that there probably were many pitchers at that time that tried to hit Jackie Robinson in the head so again that’s Hollywood using artistic license. After all Field of Dreams would have you believe Shoeless Joe Jackson threw left handed and batted from the right side (Ray Liotta). In fact he was just the opposite.

studes
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studes

Terrific job, Bruce.  Thanks for sharing your research—that part of the movie bothered me too.

John C
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John C
How much of the reason Ostermuller hit Robinson was because of his race, or because in the 13 games prior to that one, Robinson had hit safely in every one, and raised his average from .227 to .290? Throwing at his arm suggests that Osty was trying to send a message to a red-hot hitter who just happened to be black. If he was motivated by racial hatred, then he really would have thrown at Robinson’s head. He may not have liked having to compete against a black player, but my guess is that he was doing exactly that—doing something… Read more »
Joe Distelheim
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Joe Distelheim

One nice side note, from Jonathan Eig’s “Opening Day,” which recounts Robinson’s first season:  The next time Robinson played and Ostermueller was on the mound, Robinson stole home on him—the steal that began Robinson’s reputation for pulling off that feat.

Strong piece, Bruce.

Bruce Markusen
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Bruce Markusen

Bucdaddy, the writer is Bob Hurte, just as the article says. He is a Pittsburgh area writer.

Paul W Dennis
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Paul W Dennis

Hollywood definitely plays fast and loose with facts they find inconvenient. Jackie Robinson was very much a Christian and his faith was a very strong part of his character. But as in the Johnny Cash biopic I WALK THE LINE, Hollywood has eradicated that aspect of Robinson’s life, thereby turning the film into fiction – again

John Fox
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John Fox
We’re over thinking this, i believe.  The producers were looking for somebody who hit Jackie Robinson with a pitch at the appropriate part of 1947.  Oh, and that person had to be dead, so they couldn’t sue.  Whether it was a right or left handed pitcher, whether the hbp was in the arm or the head didn’t matter, they just wanted to advance their narrative.  The Hollywood types would just assume any pitcher who hit Jackie Robinson would have to be a racist, pretty much by definition, at least their definition. A similar example from another sport is the movie… Read more »
Michael Caragliano
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Michael Caragliano
Here;s another possibility…. what if Ostermueller hit Robinson, or disliked him, or whatever, simply because he was Branch Rickey’s pet project. You said, Bruce, that Ostermueller wasn’t fond of Rickey after he let him go, so what if his dislike of Robinson was less racially-motivated than it was personally by extension? You can’t get back at Rickey, so you drill his player in the arm. In fact, I wonder now how Ostermueller fared against Brooklyn in the later years of his career. As for 42 itself… well, it was a solid movie, but you always go into a movie with… Read more »
djm
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djm
Adding to the list of sports pics playing with the truth and, in particular, with a dead man’s reputation, there’s Cinderella Man.  Max Baer is portrayed as a cruel, thoughtless killer in the boxing ring when it’s on pretty much every record that he was a charming, humorous, good-time playboy who was plagued with nightmares about an opponent’s death.  When movies are based on true stories, the “based” is often just as operative as the “true”. I’d shrug such inconsistencies off except when you attach a man’s name to it – especially a dead one; then there’s something particularly odorous… Read more »
bucdaddy
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bucdaddy

Thanks, Bruce. I asked because I used to work with and for Bob Hertzel, who covered MLB beats for several papers, notably Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and IIRC wrote a couple of books about the Reds, “Charlie Hustle” and “The Big Red Machine.”

So the name similarity and line of work are purely coincidental; you can understand why I was bumfuzzled there for a minute.

Eric O
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Eric O

In a time when we know for sure every other player was racist, why do this? To create tension in the movie? Eyewitness testimony is so unreliable, but why not believe a 9,000yr old guy that could be remembering events in his own way.

InnocentBystander
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InnocentBystander
I agree with John Fox’s interpretation that the movie is just trying to advance their narrative. Hollywood doesn’t know or care if Ostermueller was really a racist or not. Let’s put it another way, Bruce has the wherewithal to do all of this research (great job, by the way). And the *only* thing he can come up with is one story from an anonymous source to a writer that he’s lucky enough to know personally. That’s it. Does anybody believe that Hollywood did a fraction of this research? Or they happened to also get the same story from Hurte? I’m… Read more »
Greg Simons
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Greg Simons

Eric O: “In a time when we know for sure every other player was racist.”  Really, every single MLB player in 1947 was racist?  That’s a bold – and certainly incorrect – blanket statement to make about several hundred men from 66 years ago.

chuck andelman
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chuck andelman

In a PRE World War II poll of Major League baseball players, 80% said they wouldn’t object to playing with a Negro.

Marc Rettus
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Marc Rettus

I took that as meaning half the league was racist . 🙂

WS
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WS

Thank you. It needed to be said.

Will
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Will

I would agree that not “every” white player in MLB was racist in the 40’s since as a % there are so many interracial children out here, even back then so OBVIOUSLY ( besides rape that is) there were and still are a WHOLE LOT of non racist white people who LOVE some black people, and vice versa! LOL… just trying to add some levity to this conversation.

Jim
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Jim

Now I know why I don’t watch movies, it’s all garbage.  Problem is others do and think it’s all truthful and act on it.  Same as television.  We have become a non-thinking society.  Just follow the person with the loudest sound track.

Wonder what else in 42 is a bald faced lie.

Robert Haymond
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Robert Haymond

This was an excellent piece on history and historical methodology.  It just happens to be about baseball.  I’ve really appreciated the exercise.  Furthermore, the following commentaries have been educational, especially Michael’s, which suggest an alternative motive for the hit-by-pitch but not beanball.  thanks to all of you starting with Bruce.

Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider
There are a lot of issues with making racism with respect to Jackie Robinson a black and white issue (I know, it’s a bad pun).  As Yehoshua noted,it was a much rougher time, with less sensitivity toward people’s feelings. Using ethnic slurs was a regular way that ballplayer’s spoke.  Another issue is that players were terrified for their jobs.  In the days before free agency, the teams treated players like so much cattle, unless they were stars like Williams or DiMaggio. Professional baseball was mean because players knew they could lose their jobs at any time-and, for a lot of… Read more »
Jim
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Jim

No, the producer said he tried to make the movie as factual as possible and he failed miserably, which makes him a liar. 

I understand it is a good movie if you don’t know anything about Jackie Robinson and there are now two generations of those people.  But having grown up in that era, I have heard, it is more a refresher course. 

I have not seen the movie as I refuse to pay theater prices to get shot or have someone yell and scream.  I am awaiting Netflix.

Marc Rettus
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Marc Rettus

Jim, you are probably a bigoted conservative.

Well, that’s what the bigoted liberal wrote right before you.

And quit with this “pointing out facts” nonsense. FACTS DON’T MATTER!!!!!!!!

🙂

Greg Simons
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Greg Simons

Marc Schneider – “Frankly, I suspect that a lot of the anti-Hollywood comments here come from conservatives who just don’t like Hollywood liberals.”

Really?  That’s quite presumptuous.

Marc Rettus
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Marc Rettus

AND BIGOTED!!!

I’m surprised Marc Schneider’s bigotry and intolerance is tolerated. 🙂

Yehoshua Friedman
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Yehoshua Friedman
I don’t even think that players were necessarily racist (implying an ideology of hate and sense of superiority) even if they used racial or ethnic epithets. If you knew that the guy on the other team was black, Jewish, Irish or Italian, you used eptithets to get under his skin even if you may have a player of the same ethnicity on your team who was your best buddy. Granted, at the time of Robinson that didn’t exist yet. But it was quite common to call an Italian guy a wop or spaghetti-bender or whatever just to try to make… Read more »
Martin
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Martin

He hit him on the left arm, yes. But he was aiming for the head, it just so happened that Jackie’s left arm was in the way.

Brendan barnett
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Brendan barnett

It was a brush back pitch. If Fritz wanted to hit him in the head he would have.

Greg Simons
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Greg Simons

Martin – I don’t mean for this to sound snide, but how do you know?

chuck andelman
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chuck andelman
Just saw 42 again. One of the major figures- in many ways- that was on the Pirate club in ’47 was Hank Greenberg, their first baseman. Greenberg had to take a lot of anti -semitic slurs during his playing days,though he acknowledged it was a different order than what Robinson had to put up with. He also had no Branch Rickey figure telling him not to retaliate physically. Greenberg was perhaps the most supportive of Robinson of any ballplayer of the Dodgers’ opponents. Seeing as the Pittsburgh ownership had to literally beg him not to retire after his trade from… Read more »
Brendan barnett
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Brendan barnett

Fritz is my grandfathers uncle. He was more know for giving up a couple of jacks to Ruth late in Ruths career. My grandpa says Fritz was NOT a racist.

Richard Neiswonger
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Richard Neiswonger
I watched Fritz pitch many a time when I was a kid.. My favorite pitcher at that time was Rip Sewell. Sometimes Fritz and Rip would team up on Sunday doubleheaders.. For 75 cents I sat in the hot left field bleachers and saw two games. I used to pack a lunch an jump on the street cars.. Why do I remember Fritz so well? Because he was a southpaw just like me and as a kid I even change my wind up to emulate him when I pitched.. In the movie he was portrayed as a righty and didn’t… Read more »
Marc Rettus
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Marc Rettus

In a May 5, 1997 Sports Illustrated article (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1010023/6/index.htm), it was written; …Pittsburgh pitcher Fritz Ostermueller nearly beaned him with a rising fastball—it struck Robinson’s arm as he jerked it up to shield his head…

This was written 17 years ago.

Marco
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Marco
There is a thing that people miss here. This is no documentary. “Based on the true story” is an indicator for the fact that it’s based on the true story but not necessarily THE 100% true story. So for the flow of a film and the drama a bit of alteration is fine. If I want to see something 100% factual correct I really watch a documentary or read one. If I watch a Hollywood film then I want to be entertained by it mostly. Also I am glad the writer of this article dug so deep to find the… Read more »
KB
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KB

Well stated…

Theresa MJ
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Theresa MJ
This writer could have had another confirmation. Ralph Branca is still alive. In the movie he goes after Fritz O. after the pitch that hit Robinson. So, big deal, it was his arm and not Robinson’s head, which BTW could have ended his career as well. Jackie needed both arms I believe to continue to play baseball. FO certainly knew that as he required surgery according to this article. I grew up as a Pirates fan and still love the Steelers. Pittsburgh was a lousy team at that time. That soon changed when Rickey, who sent the Hall of Fame,… Read more »
Mike
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Mike
Did you attempt to contact Sherrill Duesterhaus as a source for this story? You contend that you could’t find any newspaper articles related to this incident, yet according to this article: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3259230 Such a newspaper clipping does exist and Sherrill Duesterhaus has it. How hard did you look? Your conclusion leans heavily toward a conviction of racism for Fritz Ostermueller based on a secret informant who doesn’t mind trashing a man’s reputation as long as he can be a coward while he does it (if he even exists). Your smoking gun in this conviction is the phrase “I’m going to… Read more »
Bruce Markusen
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Bruce Markusen

Mike, please look at the dates of the articles. My article appeared on May 10, 2014 (and was actually submitted the night before). The Huffington Post article appeared the next day, May 11, so I did not see it before finishing my article.

Now, even if I had seen the article, I’m not sure that Sherrill is the best possible source on this particular story. I believe she was born in either 1947 or ’48, so she would have been too young to remember this incident specifically. The player who was my source was a teammate of Ostermueller.

Sherrill Duesterhaus
Guest
First, I would like to say that the story of the baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, is an inspiration to us all. I cannot imagine the courage that this man showed. But this “authentic” movie was marred with untruths about a long forgotten Pirate pitcher, Fritz Ostermueller. It is a shame to honor one man at the expense of another’s. Fritz was a 39 year old, soft throwing, left hander who had intended to retire after the ’47 season. He only returned in ’48 because the Pirates called and asked him back and he couldn’t resist the call of spring training.… Read more »
Kyle C
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Kyle C
I am from Quincy, IL and have been around Mr. Ostermueller’s kids and grandkids, and I just happen to be black. I was not old enough to personally meet Mr. Ostermueller, I have met those who he has left behind and I will tell you that they are beautiful people, both inside and out. I was VERY good friends and teammates with one of his grandson’s, knew his granddaughter (BEAUTIFUL young lady, both inside and outside), their younger brother and their parents….NEVER EVER A SINGLE HINT OF RACISM in them AT ALL! And again, thought I have never met Mr.… Read more »
Marti
Guest
Marti

Fritz was my uncle’s brother. I was told he only had one daughter, nicknamed Chi Chi, who was biracial. This doesn’t sound like he was a racist. His wife & daughter lived close to my parents, but I never met them. I maybe wrong about this, but I hope his daughter lets me know.

Sherrill Duesterhaus
Guest

Marti see reply on Hardball Times site

Sherrill Duesterhaus
Guest

Marti….who was your uncle? Yes, I am Chee Chee (that is the way my Dad spelled it)…but I am not biracial…I am an adopted Heinz Variety of Irish, Scott, English and a tad of Dutch thrown in for good measure. Where did you live? Sorry we never met. Fritz and Faye were great parents and neither of them were racist…I believe the movie people picked a name and went with it…they did no research on my Dad whatsoever!

Ralph Ostermueller
Guest
Re: the likelihood of Fritz O being as racially biased, if at all, as is portrayed in 42: My dad was Fritz O’s 2nd cousin (I’m told), and I’ve met & stayed in contact with Fritz’ daughter, Sherrill. My family (in St. Louis) visited the ‘Quincy Ostermueller’s” ( a relatively large & mufti-generation group) in Quincy and in St. Louis more than a few times that I recall, & my Mom & Dad stayed in touch with them always. My dad secured a signed baseball from Fritz to me as a gift in 1945, & my mom tells me that… Read more »
Ralph Ostermueller
Guest

Apologies…Correction to my earlier posting…the Ostermueller family in Quincy was a MULTI-generation group & NOT a mufti-generation group, as I originally wrote…no particular Islamic background or lineage that I know of)…even SPELL CHECK has its limitations…

Rafael
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Rafael

Robinson’s hit by pitch was Ostermueller’s only one in 1947, so it seems intentional.

Jerry Stern
Guest
Jerry Stern
The best evidence is that the ball was on its way for Robinson’s head until Robinson blocked it with his hand/wrist. It is also clear that Rickey’s and Robinson’s “great experiment” was hated by almost all players and Major League team owners. Half of the Dodgers did not want him to join the team. So, let’s be realistic about the high-minded Ostermeuller. He wasn’t one of the few players who was rooting for Robinson. Remember please: he did hit Robinson, and rationalizing that it was because Robinson had stolen home earlier in the season off him or that it was… Read more »
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