Harry Gilbert Gleason was born on March 28, 1875, in Camden, New Jersey, to William Gleason and Ellen Mars Ivins, making him the eighth child among ten siblings in the Gleason family. His father, a Civil War veteran, worked as a foreman for the Pennsylvania Railroad on their Camden docks. Initially residing at 646 John Street (later renamed Locust Street) during the 1870s, the family moved to 404 North Front Street, near the northwest corner of Front and Linden Street, by the time of the 1880 Census. The family included older siblings Walter, Hannah, William J., Isaac, Theodore, and Samuel, as well as a younger brother, John. Subsequently, a sister named Marion was born shortly after the 1880 census, while another sister, Ellen, had sadly passed away by the time of the 1900 Census.
Harry’s father also served with the Camden Fire Department during two periods from 1872 to 1874 and from 1872 to 1877, just like his uncle Alfred Ivins. Other family members, including Barton Lane, James M. Lane, and John Streeper, served in various roles with the Fire Department.
The Gleason family relocated to 606 Federal Street by 1890. Harry and his brothers grew up playing baseball and generally followed their father’s path, working for the railroad. His brother William J. Gleason excelled in baseball and played semi-pro during the season while working as a brakeman. William eventually made it to the major leagues, playing for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1888.
Harry and another brother, Isaac “Ike” Gleason, also pursued careers in baseball. Harry’s talent as a prospect was recognized, and he played for several teams, including the Springfield club in the Eastern League. His fielding skills were commendable, but his hitting needed improvement. In 1900, he joined the Utica Pentups in the New York State League, where he performed well and was eventually called up to play for the Boston team in the American League, marking his entry into the major leagues. Harry played for Boston in 1902 and 1903, then spent two seasons with the St. Louis Browns. Despite his strong fielding, Harry struggled as a hitter and faced contract disputes, leading to his return to minor league baseball until 1911.
While trying his hand at railroad yard work, Harry Gleason had a near-fatal incident. However, he had learned shoemaking from his grandfather Alfred Ivins and operated a shop at 525 Federal Street in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1920, he transitioned from the shoe business and began working as an usher at the Camden County courthouse. Later, he joined the Camden County Sheriff’s office as a writ-server in December 1926, where he remained until his retirement in 1949.
Harry Gilbert Gleason passed away on October 21, 1961, and his final resting place is at Locustwood Memorial Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
On the surface, Harry Gleason’s career wasn’t noteworthy. But there’s so much more to Gleason’s story.
Harry Gleason was a professional baseball player out of Camden, who also worked at a railroad yard. His brother went on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies.