Archive 2008 - 2019

Holliston’s Long and Glorious Baseball History: A 4-Part Series; Part III

by Joanne Hulbert

Part III:  Early 20th Century Holliston Baseball Standouts


A lengthy list of baseball icons familiar to baseball historians includes Hugh Jennings, Rabbit Maranville, Hugh Duffy, Jesse Burkett, Hugh Bradley, Buck O’Brien, Boston Globe sportswriter Tim Murnane, Nuf Ced McGreevey, and John I. Taylor, owner of the Red Sox.  Today we’ll look at a few early players from the early 20th Century.

There are two Fred Tenneys listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia. Both have a connection with Holliston.

The better-known Fred Tenney, player for the Boston Braves from 1894 to 1911, in his later years, retired to Holliston and lived with his daughter on Norfolk Street. Many recall him at Goodwill Park watching the local town teams play.

The lesser-known Fred C. Tenney was Holliston’s Superintendent of Schools during the 1890s. He introduced four (rather than 3) years of high school and also advocated for physical education as part of the school curriculum.  Fred C. was a pitcher in 1884 in the Union Association, a professional league that lasted just one year. Fred C. is still with us, as he is buried at Lake Grove Cemetery.

In 1908, another memorable moment in Holliston’s baseball history, Holliston saw the arrival of John J. O’Brien, president of the Boston Postal Union and a member of the Winter League--the off-season version of the Royal Rooters.  O’Brien bought the Sunset Farm located on Miller Hill.  Here he hosted many baseball notables for chicken dinners, an occasional cockfight, and athletic games (including baseball on a diamond constructed by the same field architect as the recently built Fenway Park).  

O’Brien left Holliston in 1916, moving to Milton, eventually becoming an announcer at Fenway Park. This position predated PA systems.  O’Brien eschewed the use of a megaphone because he felt his voice carried far enough with out it.

At Shea’s field, Winthrop Street, circa 1904

In 1906, Timothy Kenney, age 20, attended spring training with the Boston Americans, soon to be known as the Boston Red Sox. The team was in need of a catcher, possibly to replace the ailing Lou Criger.

Tim gained fame with teams in Holliston and Marlboro, earning that rare chance to try out for the Boston team. The Boston Post featured him as a rising star, a photogenic phenom. But alas, he did not get a contract.  He returning home to join a semi-pro team in North Adams, where he pursued a part time baseball career. While Tim worked off-season at Goodwill Shoe Company, Arthur A. Williams, factory owner and promoter of baseball, organized the Goodwill Shoe Company team before World War I. 

In our next installment, you’ll read of our 19th century baseball roots!