Garrett Cowls, 81, Succumbs Suddenly

Garrett Cowls

Camden Courier-Post – October 1, 1930

‘Grandfather of Baseball in Camden’ Stricken With Indigestion

Camden’s “Grand Old Man of Baseball” is dead.

Garrett Cowls, who bore the title of “grandfather of baseball in Camden” died at noon yesterday, surrounded by his treasured keepsakes, in the parlor of his home, 416 Taylor Avenue. He was 81 years old.

In excellent health almost to the last, Garrett, as he was fondly called by the hundreds of baseball players whom he managed in his long career, was seized suddenly with indigestion. A physician was summoned. He seemed to improve. He lay down on a couch to rest and death gave no warning.

Old-timers in the realm of sports who long since had lost their “hitting eyes” were shocked last night when informed of the passing of their old “boss.”

Famous 60 Years Ago

Tears glistened, unashamed, in the eyes of these stars of the past as they recalled the successes and failures of this man who had grown wrinkled and gray, but retained the admiration and respect of baseball players throughout the country.

The laurels he won with his youthful Star team more that 60 years ago; the stirring battles he annexed with the old Independents of 1885–1889; the merry times he enjoyed while pilot of the Greater Camden club in 1890–94, and the triumphs with more modern teams of the current century were all recounted by these “veterans” as they gathered in little knots on street corners or in lodge rooms to discuss the passing of their old friend and advisor.

Cowls was well under voting age when he organized his first ball club. It was called the “Stars” and most of those connected with the outfit long since have died.

Shortly after the “Stars” had disbanded Garrett enlisted and served four years in the Army during the Indian Wars of 1870-1874. But his interest in baseball was more keen than ever when he returned home and he organized a local baseball team that made a great reputation ion the more than five years of existence.

Won 104 Out of 129

Cowls managed his greatest team in 1892. It was called the Independents and made a country-wide reputation. The club played 129 games during that year and won 104 of them. Cowls gained the reputation of being one of the best pilots in independent baseball and several of the stars of the club moved up into the major leagues.

William “Kid” Gleason, a member of the 1892 Independents, attributes part of his success to the baseball knowledge gained while playing for Garrett Cowls.

For three straight years, back in the early nineties, it was a baseball team guided by Cowls that won the championship of the South Jersey League. This organization consisted of clubs from Cape May, Atlantic City, Millville, Bridgeton, Burlington, Bristol, and Trenton, besides Camden.

As late as 1916 he was identified with baseball when he managed the Camden A.C. nine, playing at Third and Erie streets.

Predicted A’s Would Win

Cowls rated “Rube” Waddell and “Babe” Ruth as the two greatest ball players of all time. he was a great admirer of Connie Mack and only a few days ago predicted that the Athletics would win their second straight world championship.

His birthday, in recent years, were occasions calling for gatherings of old friends and ball players, when the game “in the good old days” would be discussed.

Among his most treasured keepsakes was an engraved baseball sent to him several years ago by “Babe” Ruth and autographed, “From Babe Ruth to Garrett Cowls, grandfather of baseball in Camden.”

He had been employed by the Victor Company from the time Eldridge R. Johnson had founded it, and continued with RCA Victor’s subsidiary, RCA Photophone Company. He had worked on Monday and had not been ill until the time of the fatal attack.

He is survived by three children, a daughter, Mrs. Laura Hamilton, 2610 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City; Harry Cowls, a son with whom he lived, and Elmer Cowls, an employee of the new York Yankee baseball club, who resides in New York City.

A grand-daughter, Kathryn Hamilton, is a well-known musical comedy star.


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