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April 13, 2017

Raymond C. Boyd – Big League Pitcher

Raymond C. Boyd – Big League Pitcher

By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

With the opening of baseball season, here is a look at another Hamilton County player who made it to the big leagues – Raymond Boyd.  His Wikipedia entry is slim, but he did have a very interesting career and life.

He was born in Hortonville in 1887 to a moderately prosperous family.  His uncle Thomas was a state legislator for many years.  At first, he played on local teams – Noblesville in 1906, and Atlanta in 1908.

Sometime around 1907, he began playing in Iowa for the Western League.  He became famous for his spitball and sportswriters nicknamed him “Saliva Ray” and called him the “slobber sizzler”.

He would return to Hortonville in the off-season to see family and friends.  He married Flora Peirce of Noblesville in March of 1909.  By June of that year, he had started on a good record with the Burlington team, pitching a shut-out against Jacksonville, Illinois, and only allowed two runs against Waterloo, Iowa, in a 15 inning game.  Tragically, Flora contracted blood poisoning (sepsis) and died on October 12. She was 23 years old and they had been married for only eight months.

He returned to baseball the next year and played for the Ottumwa “Speed Boys” in the summer of 1910.  He was moved up to the St. Louis Browns in September and October.  After a few unsuccessful games, he was sent back to Ottumwa.  He was much more successful there and was called the “premier pitcher” of the Central Association league, helping the team to win the 1911 championship.


He was then sold to the Cincinnati Reds in July of 1911.

This was a chance to really prove himself, pitching to such people as Grover Cleveland Alexander during a game against the Philadelphia Athletics in September of 1911.  Unfortunately, he did wild pitches, but was still effective and allowed only six hits.  The game was lost due to poor fielding.  It was the same in October in a double header against the St. Louis Cardinals.  In the last game of the season against the Chicago Cubs, his batting helped to score the winning run.

Evidently his playing was not good enough since he was sold to the Birmingham, Alabama, Barons in February of 1912.  There is no record of his performance, but it was apparently unsuccessful due to physical problems with his right arm.  He came back to Indiana and married Evangeline Carey in February 1913.  Reports of his marriage say that was a recruit for the Chicago Cubs at that point in time.  In February of 1914, reports said that he was negotiating a contract with the Indianapolis Federals. However, by September, he was back playing for Noblesville.

He signed with the Oakland, California, Oaks in October of 1914.  He was known for his joking and his teammates nicknamed him “Nuts”.  Just before going on the field in the opening game of the 1915 season against the Chicago White Sox, he got a telegram announcing the birth of his daughter Willadean.  Despite the distraction, he did great job of pitching (although the team lost the game).  In a game against the Venice Tigers, the crowd was very hostile with booing and catcalls when he walked onto the field.  He responded by helping to beat the Tigers by a score of 5-3.  He injured his wrist and had to quit for the season.  He came back to Hortonville and worked on his brother’s farm.

At spring training in 1916 for the Oaks, Boyd and Clint Prough were known as real jokesters.  Unfortunately, this was apparently not so successful a season.  He pitched shutouts and low scoring games, but had trouble with endurance.  When the season ended in October, he returned to Hortonville, only to have his father die in November.

He demanded a salary increase in 1917 and was let go by the Oaks.  He then tried out for the Columbus, Ohio, Senators managed by Joe Tinker.  He didn’t succeed because he was playing for the Bloomington, Illinois, Bloomers in early summer. At the start of WWI, he requested a draft deferment because he was supporting his wife and child.  There is no record of military service for him.  He was playing for Kokomo in July.

Boyd seems to disappear from the record in 1918, even though his son Frank Wendell was born in October.  He was probably retired, since the 1910 census & his 1917 draft registration list his occupation as “baseball player”, whereas the 1920 census says his occupation is “Farmer”.  However, the census is definitely wrong in one aspect.   The information was recorded on March 15, 1919.  Boyd died on February 17, 1920 of influenza and pneumonia – another victim of the Influenza epidemic.  His wife and two children survived.  Raymond Boyd is buried at Summit Lawn Cemetery in Westfield.