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Harry Price

Harry O. Price, born March 5th, 18411 in New York2, was Major League baseball executive who owned 1884 Pittsburgh Union Association baseball franchise and later became manager of Whittington Park in Hot Springs, AR. Price lived much of his later life in Hot Springs.

Biography

Harry Price was born in New York and lived most his life in Cleveland, OH, Pittsburgh, PA, and Hot Springs, AR. In 1881, he moved from Cleveland to Pittsburgh and became a successful pool room operator and bookmaker for bets made on local sports. It was through this latter capacity that Price helped gambler George "Pittsburg Phil" become one of the richest and most famous horse racing bettors in the country. Price's pool room in Pittsburgh was shut down in 1888 as a result of local legislation that forbid such establishments.3

In late August 1884, Price acquired the failing Chicago Browns franchise in the Union Association and moved the team to Pittsburgh.4 During the remainder of August and midway through September, Price's club posted a descent 7-11-1 record, but nevertheless disbanded after the team's September 18th game. The Union Association folded in January 1915.

Price moved to Hot Springs in the early 1890s and in 1894 became the first manager of Whittington Park, a local amusement park. Under Price's management, the park's baseball field became the spring training site of numerous major league teams. Price's connections to Cleveland and Pittsburgh were undoubtedly major factors in the Cleveland Spiders' and Pittsburgh Pirates' decisions to establish training camps in Hot Springs around the turn of the century.

Price died in Hot Springs on October 19th, 1909 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Hot Springs.1

Excerpts

"Harry O. Price, one of the best known of sporting men of the West died at his home here tonight after two weeks’ illness. His last appearance in public was presiding judge at the races during the recent state fair. Price was a resident of Cleveland for many years and a leader in sporting circles there. He came west about fifteen years ago."5

"Capt. Harry O. Price, aged 68, a widely known sporting man, who conducted a large pool room in the old White house in Fifth avenue here from 1881 to 1888, is dead at his home in Hot Springs, Ark., after two week’s illness. He was manager of the famous Whittington training park in Hot Springs for many years and induced Col. Barney Dreyfuss to take the Pittsburgh baseball team there each spring for training for the last eight years. Capt. Price is said to have won and lost a large sum of money when he was in Pittsburgh, but he left here when the Brooks law compelled the closing of pool rooms on July 14, 1888. He was a close friend of John Newell and M. J. Connelly, “Buck” Cornelius, and of Samuel Hyams, who is now in the Hotel Newell recovering from the amputation of his left leg. Capt. Price was one of the best known sporting men of Pittsburgh in the eighties. He was born in New York, but lived many years in Cleveland before coming to Pittsburgh in 1881. With J. B. Sawyer, E. R. Gasper and “Pony” Glessner, he opened a large pool room in the old White house, near the Grand Opera house in Fifth avenue. There all kinds of betting on race horses, baseball and all other forms of sport was conducted freely. It was Price’s pool that the late “Pittsburgh Phil,” George Smith, placed his first bet on a race horse, winning $78 on a combination. Price and “Pittsburgh Phil” became close friends, and it was due to the latter’s success in wagering here that he became on the famous plungers on the American turf several years ago. Price was highly esteemed by the sporting fraternity owing to his generosity. He never allowed a bettor who had lost all his money to depart without returning to him sufficient funds to tide him over any difficulties. Among his close friends here were Frank Hathaway, John Staley, Mike Hughes, Nate Fields, Samuel English, Samuel Hyams, William Martin, who died two years ago in New York, and John Loomis, all well-known sporting men of Pittsburgh, many of whom are still alive. In 1883 Capt. Price managed to the regatta on the Allegheny river which up to that time was the largest ever held in America. After going to Hot Springs he opened a pool room and later became manager of the Whittington training park. His last public appearance was as presiding judge at the races held in Hot Springs at the state fair. Capt. Price’s health had been failing for the last two years, since his wife died, but he lived to see the Pittsburgh baseball team win the world’s championship, one of his last wishes. His last visit to Pittsburgh was about two years ago. One of Price’s closest friends in Pittsburgh is Samuel Hyams, aged 62, of 1805 Fifth avenue. For the last nine months he has been critically ill. He had been in the Mercy Hospital eight months from blood poisoning, which necessitated the amputation of his leg above the knee, and he is now recovering in the Newell hotel. He was deeply affected when told his friend, Capt. Price was dying."3


"The Pittsburg management heard with regret of the death of Captain Harry O. Price, of Hot Springs, whose name has been linked for years with the training trips of the Pirates tot the Ozark Valley hamlet. Captain Price was known the land over as a square sport. He had won several fortunes in various ventures. Once a Cleveland citizen he drifted to Hot Springs about 12 years ago and made it his home. His daughters took an active part in charitable work in the vapor city and their Sunshine Home has brought smiles of gratitude from many an unfortunate being. Captain Price was ever in fine favor with the Charles McKee, a well-known Pittsburg attorney, owner of many business interests in Hot Springs. Mr. McKee relied upon Harry Price to watch his affairs in the Arkansas city. Well they were attended to. One Winter a wild west show entered on the Pirates’ camping ground. A sketch artist with the troupe took a chance with an oil painting of Whittington Park. He painted true to life the diamond, the famous mountain side, with its spring house, etc. Captain Price secured this painting and gave it to the Pittsburg Club. It now ornaments a bulletin within a stone’s throw of Forbes Field. Hot Springs will be remodeled for the 1910 training. The hillside will be razed some and the players will bat toward the street, thus giving them more territory."6