This entry in response to the episode Perfect Week.
Roosevelt Peter “Mustache Pete” Drexel
February 1, 2010
Roosevelt Peter “Mustache Pete” Drexel (pronounced Muss-tash Peet Drex-ull – August 9th, 1873 – September 20th, 1910) was an American major league baseball player who played in the National League for nine seasons. Drexel led the league in strikeouts his rookie year, and threw a perfect game on the last day of the season in 1896.
Drexel was born in the tiny farm town of Skokie, Illinois. The youngest of eleven children, Drexel was a rapscallion with a nose for trouble that followed him around throughout his life. And that nose was broken quite a few times because of that trouble. While deer hunting one day with three of his brothers on their property, Pete saw a four-point buck, took aim and fired his rifle. The backfire knocked the young Drexel down, where he landed face first into a pile of mud. When he got back up from the ground, the mud was caked all over his top lip, forming what gave the appearance of a thick black mustache. His brothers dubbed him “Mustache Pete” and the name stuck with him for the rest of his life.
Two of Drexel’s brothers played on the Skokie Sentinels, a semi-pro team made up mostly of farmers, bricklayers and self professed “man-whores.” “Mustache” Pete Drexel, thought too young to take the field, spent the games selling bathtub gin to fans in the stands. One particular game, after a foul ball came his way, he threw it back to the pitcher and nearly knocked his glove off. The team was so impressed they offered “Mustache” Pete a contract that very day. Pete was hesitant to sign until several attractive females in the stands referred to him as “resembling a more handsome Abraham Lincoln.” Pete quickly became the team’s number one pitcher and won the hearts of fans and the local Skokie girls alike.
Two years into his Skokie Sentinel days, a scout for the Chicago Cubs, impressed by “Mustache” Pete’s play, as well as his thick, luxurious mustache, offered him a contract with the big league club. Pete signed the deal, and put a provision in the contract that he “be paid half in cash and half in snuff.”
During his time with the Cubs, “Mustache” Pete was a fan favorite as a fun-loving, womanizing flame throwing right-hander. It is believed that Drexel coined the term “mustache ride” during one of his many encounters with the friendly ladies of Chicago.
THE LABRADOR INCIDENT
On September 27th, 1903, “Mustache” Pete Drexel was pitching the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Red Stockings. While in mid windup, a Labrador retriever (belonging to the head groundskeeper) ran onto the mound and attacked Drexel.
Apparently mustaches reminded the dog of its original abusive owner and thus showed no mercy on Drexel, attacking his face, arms, and legs until the home plate umpire was able to distract the dog by grabbing a bratwurst from a fan and throwing it into shallow left field, thus coining the term “hot dog.”
There is some controversy to how the Labrador managed to reach the field. At the time, rumors abounded that the mad beast had been purposely set on Drexel by none other than Marcus Diller, Drexel’s rival both on the mound and in the bedroom. No formal accusations were ever made, though with Diller’s close ties to the Chicago underworld, this was hardly surprising. What is known, is that for the rest of his life, “Muttonchops” Marcus Diller, no matter how hard he tried, could never manage to grow a mustache.
Unfortunately, “Mustache” Pete never fully recovered from the injuries sustained and was forced to retire from professional baseball soon after.
LIFE AFTER BASEBALL
After his dog-attack injuries forced him from the game, Drexel settled down on a tiny farm on the outskirts of his hometown in Illinois. There he married Shirley Johnson, a widower and heiress to the Johnson Magnet fortune, and they had no children. At the age of 37, he died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail.
Notes and Trivia
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