There Was an Old-Timey Baseball Team of Death Row Prisoners
The Yankees line-up of the 1920’s was called “Murderers Row” because of their hitting prowess. They really don’t deserve that moniker because not a single one of them (that we know of) every actually murdered a person. There was a team from about a decade earlier that really deserved to be called “Murderers Row” because every player on the team had been condemned of a capital offense. This is the story of the Wyoming State Penitentiary team of 1911.
That’s the cover of a book that came out in 2014. When I first heard about this I assumed that they had all kinds of prisoners on the team. Robbers, arsonists, cattle rustlers and, yes, maybe the odd murderer or two. How wrong I was. Upon reading excerpts from the book I discovered that the team was made up solely of condemned murderers because the warden “thought they would be more motivated to win”. Not making any of this up.
Why would they be more motivated to win? As the book explains the warden had a compelling policy when it came to his team of killers: win and we’ll postpone your execution date; lose and we’ll speed things up.
Seriously! The warden was a combination of Eddie Arnold from “The Longest Yard” and Commodus from “Gladiator”. Don’t feel like legging out that run to first base? You’ll be glad to know you can rest all you want…after your execution! In the middle of a slump? We’ve got a hangman that can end ANY slump…permanently ! And this wasn’t a secret! People watching KNEW these players were going, sooner or later to the gallows.
Here’s another team pic of the all-dead-men-walking team:
A couple of things to note here.
For starters, the team was integrated all the way back in 1911. So…good for them, I guess?
Also…what’s the deal with that kid in the front row? Did HE kill a guy too? Say what you will about Texas but we only execute people with the MENTAL age of an 8-year old. I had to look this up and it turns out the kid was the team mascot and the warden’s son. What an awesome dad! “Here, son…you get to hang out with these adult murderers and rapists.Who probably hate me, your father, with a seething white-hot rage. Welp…have fun boy!”
Here’s a trailer about the book. I guess books now have trailers, too.