I came across the above 1911 M116 Sporting Life Baseball card at an Sterling Sports Auction and scratched my head, a bit. I though to myself, who is this poorly colored former Brooklyn Dodger/Robin ballplayer? So I went digging, and came to find out that he was a fast rising catching prospect for the franchise before an unfortunate play at the plate stalled his career.
Ross Emil "Tex" Erwin, originally from Forney, Texas (no surprise given his nickname), began as a 19-year old in the Texas League in 1905. He had slashed .293/.293/.359/.652 that rookie campaign, and caught the eye of the scouts. By the next season Tex would find his way onto the roster of the St. Paul Saints of the Class A American Association. Although his numbers declined he nevertheless stepped onto a Major League ballfield for Detroit in 1907. He would be a Tiger for only a few games.
In 1908 he went to Rochester and continued to hone his craft. Soon, the Robins came calling and he finally donned a Brooklyn jersey for the 1910 season. While there he would share catching duties behind Brooklyn stalwart Bill Bergen until he finally broke out at the plate in 1911. That year, while catching roughly half the teams games, he would slash an impressive .271/.367/.445/.811. The next season saw a steep decline, but he continued to play half of Brooklyn's games.
Then the 1913 season came around and fate would come calling. During a June game against the Cubs, Heinie "The Great Zim" Zimmerman came barreling towards the plate, and slid into home. The ensuing crash would follow Erwin for the rest of his career. Tex had suffered two broken bones and would only play sparingly from then on. The 1914 season would be the last season he'd play on a Major League field.
He still played professionally for several more years, even becoming an umpire for a couple of stints, but the promise of Major League fame and riches never came to fruition. Tex Erwin would retire from the game in 1921.
Below is an fantastic Bain News Service photo of Tex from 1913 - just in case you thought the photo on the card above did him little service.
Below is Erwin's career statistics, via Baseball-Reference:
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