Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dear Santa Claus ...

On December 13, 1887, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lamented that ...

an Eastern magazine is making some very ugly flings at that dear old saint of Christmastide, Santa Claus. ... The magazine in question says it is not good to bring children up in a belief in Santa Claus [and] therefore dear old Santa Claus must be banished. ... The Post-Dispatch thinks not. The Post-Dispatch has written to Santa Claus about the matter and he has written back. His letter is as follows:

The paper urged all “the little folk” to write to Santa Claus care of the Post-Dispatch, and for many days afterwards they published those letters. One such letter appeared in the December 17 issue of the newspaper:

There’s little doubt that the Hogg brothers, seven-year-old Andy and six-year-old Willie, were fans of the American Association St. Louis Browns. Just months earlier, the club had captured its third straight American Association pennant and the boys lived just three miles south of Sportsman’s Park.

But Willie Hogg was much more than just a fan. He was quite an accomplished baseball player. In fact, Willie eventually became a major league pitcher, tossing for the New York Yankees from 1905 through 1908. Fittingly, the very boy who had asked Santa for “base ball pictures” in 1887 posed for this photograph as a rookie major leaguer in 1905:

But on December 8, 1909, nearly 21 years after the Hogg brothers wrote to Santa Claus, the baseball world was shocked by the news of Willie’s death, the 28-year-old succumbing to the ravages of Bright’s disease.

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