From the “Stories of our Dearly Departed” series from Kelly Grimaldi, Historian and Associate Director for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.
A few years ago, Albany Diocesan Cemeteries launched “Stories of our Dearly Departed”, a series featuring stories and photographs of those who are buried within our 19 upstate NY cemeteries.
Our hope is that people will enjoy reading about the lives of our community members just as much as we enjoy learning about them from the families we serve and in the information we find throughout our archives. There are so many fascinating stories buried within these Sacred Grounds!
When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016, I had no idea how that would impact St. Mary’s Cemetery located in Troy, New York. But boy did it!
The last time the Cubs won the World Series was in 1908 and on the team was Troy native Johnny Evers, second baseman. Described as a slight man (he was 5 foot 9 and only weighed 125 pounds), Evers was not built to drive home runs but that in no way diminished his worth to his team and the game of baseball in general. His accomplishments are well documented on the internet for anyone interested in the details of his career, so I won’t recap them here except to paraphrase the Baseball Hall of Fame on a few key points:
Johnny Evers was a scrappy, acrobatic player with a vast knowledge of the game he loved to play. His knowledge and determined style of play lead his teams to five National League pennants and three World Series titles in the first years of the 20th century. Born in Troy, NY in July of 1881, Evers made his big-league debut at the age of 21 in 1902 with the Chicago Cubs. He retired in 1918 having batted .300 or higher twice in his career, stole 324 bases and scored 919 runs. His scrappy personality often led him to argue with umpires resulting in numerous suspensions. His combative playing style and sharp tongue with the umpires earned him the nickname “The Human Crab”.
As his plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame states “John Joseph Evers – The Trojan – Middle-Man of the famous double play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance…” Johnny Evers is a legend in baseball and in Troy NY, and he has not been forgotten.
When the Cubs won the Series in 2016, it was the first time they did so since Johnny’s day in 1908.
Hundreds of visitors visited his gravestone located in Section C in St. Mary’s Cemetery that year to share their excitement and pay their respects in a show of love and respect for a man who dedicated his life to the game he played so well.
John was also a devoted family man. He and his wife Helen Fitzgibbons were married in 1909 and a son, John Evers, Jr. was born a year later. Tragically, their daughter, Helen, born in 1911, died of scarlet fever at the age of three years in 1914. One would think given his illustrious baseball career, the Evers Family lived a comfortable life after John’s retirement in 1918 (the year of the Spanish Flu Epidemic), but that was not entirely true. By 1936, John Evers was in bankruptcy after the sporting goods store he opened in Albany in 1923 fell into financial trouble. Likely the Great Depression of the early 1930s played a part in his struggle to make a living. He did not lose the store, however; it was passed down to his descendants.
In 1942 Evers suffered a stoke that caused paralysis of his entire right side. He spent the last five years of his life bed-ridden or in a wheelchair until a cerebral hemorrhage caused his death on March 28th, 1947 at the age of 65. It is sad to think of this once scrappy, vibrant baseball player unable to do the basic things in life that we all take for granted. His wife lived another 27 years before dying at age 85 in Childs Nursing Home.
I am glad to know Johnny Evers is not forgotten as he rests in peace with his parents, wife, and young daughter in beautiful St. Mary’s Cemetery. Rest in peace Johnny. – By Kelly Grimaldi
Do you have a story of an ancestor and/or loved one buried in one of our cemeteries that would be interesting to highlight in our “Stories of our Dearly Departed” series?
We are looking for stories of those buried within the following 19 cemeteries:
St. Agnes, Menands • Most Holy Redeemer, Niskayuna • St. Anthony’s, Glenville • Our Lady of Angels, Colonie • Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick’s in Watervliet • Our Lady Help of Christians and Calvary in Glenmont • St. Agnes, Cohoes • St. Patrick’s, Coeymans • St. Jean de Baptiste, St. John’s, and St. Mary’s in Troy • Sts. Cyril & Method and Holy Cross in Rotterdam • St. Joseph’s, Waterford • St. John the Baptist and St. Mary’s in Schenectady • St. Mary’s, Coxsackie
If you have a story for us, contact Kelly at 518-350-7679 or [email protected].