Philip Bartelme

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Philip Bartelme
Philip Bartelme.jpg
Phillip Bartelme cropped from 1909 Michigan football team photograph
Born (1876-08-16)August 16, 1876
Died May 3, 1954(1954-05-03) (aged 77)
Citizenship United States
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Athletic director
Known for Second athletic director at University of Michigan, 1909-1921

Philip George Bartelme (August 16, 1876 – May 3, 1954), also known as P.G. Bartelme and sometimes spelled "Barthelme", was the second athletic director of the University of Michigan, holding the position from 1909-1921. Bartelme is credited with bringing the sports of basketball, hockey and swimming to varsity status at Michigan and with leading Michigan back into the Big Ten Conference after its withdrawal in 1907. The only athletic directors to serve a longer tenure at Michigan are Fielding H. Yost (1921-1940), Fritz Crisler (1941-1968), and Don Canham (1968-1988). After leaving Michigan in 1921, Bartelme spent the rest of his career in the world of professional baseball, serving as the president of the Syracuse Stars (1922-1925), the head of the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system in the 1930s, president of the Sacramento Solons (1936-1944), and a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bartelme's baseball career was closely tied to that of Branch Rickey, who Bartelme had hired as Michigan's baseball coach in 1910.

University of Michigan

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Bartelme was a student manager for the 1902 Michigan Wolverines football team. On November 1, 1902, Michigan played Wisconsin at Marshall Field in Chicago before a crowd of 23,000 persons. The stadium became so densely packed that one of the temporary grandstands hastily erected to support 400 persons collapsed, injuring several persons. The game was stopped for ten minutes while order was restored, and Bartelme immediately gave the order that no more tickets were to be sold. Thousands were turned away.[1]

Bartelme became Michigan's second athletic director in 1909 following the resignation of Charles A. Baird. He was appointed to the position on March 24, 1909 by the university's Board of Regents at a salary of $2,700 per year.[2] He took over the position on July 1, 1909.[3][4] 1909.[3][4]

When Bartelme took over as athletic director, Michigan had withdrawn from the Western Conference. One of his principle accomplishments was the return of Michigan to the conference. In September 1909, Barthelme made his views known:

"I always have thought that Michigan's place is in the conference, and moreover, I have thought that when conditions were so we could return, it would be the only thing for us to do. However, I am not so sure that that time has come."[5]

He noted that the "training table" was the biggest obstacle to Michigan's rejoining the conference. Bartelme noted that the training table was "a great factor in getting the men into the condition necessary for hard football" and avoiding serious injuries.[5]

Bartelme is credited with bringing the sports of basketball, hockey and swimming to varsity status at Michigan[6] He also oversaw the construction of the Athletic Administration Building and hired the university's first full-time director of intramural sports.[6]

In 1921, Bartelme led an investigation to determine whether Vernon Parks, the captain of Michigan's baseball team and leading pitcher in the Big Ten Conference, had played baseball for Portland in the Pacific Coast League under the assumed name, Harold Brooks. Barthelme noted, "This Brooks won 90 percent of his games I am told. I have seen his picture and I am certain he is really Vernon Parks, our star pitcher. If the charges are true, there is no doubt that the University of Michigan will take drastic action."[7] Parks admitted to Bartelme that he had played for Portland and at the same time resigned from the Michigan team.[8]

Career in baseball

Relationship with Branch Rickey

Branch Rickey in 1912

While serving as athletic director, Bartelme was responsible for giving Branch Rickey his start in baseball administration. Michigan's baseball coach quit in 1910, and Rickey, who was then a law student at Michigan, applied for the job. Rickey asked every alumnus he had ever met to write letters to Bartelme on his behalf. Bartelme recalled, "Day after day those letters came in."[9] Bartelme was reportedly impressed with Rickey's passion for baseball and his idealism about the proper role of athletics on a college campus.[10] Bartelme convinced the dean of the law school that Rickey could handle his law studies and serving as the school's baseball coach.[11] Bartelme reportedly called Rickey into his office to tell him he had the job if only "to put a stop to those damn letters that come in every day."[12] The hiring also marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship and business relationship between Rickey and Bartelme. Bartelme and Rickey worked together for most of the next 35 years, and in 1944 a California newspaper noted: "He and Rickey have had a close association in baseball ever since Bartelme was head of the athletic department of the University of Michigan where Rickey took to baseball just as a means to build up his failing health."[13]

Syracuse Stars

In 1922, Bartelme purchased a one-half interest in the Syracuse Stars baseball club of the International League.[14] John Conway Toole, president of the league, said at the time, "Mr. Bartelme was a high type sportsman and would be a valuable addition to the league."[15] Bartelme joined his friend Branch Rickey as a partner in ownership of the Stars.[14] In late 1923, Bartelme and Rickey proposed moving the Syracuse team to Montreal.[16][17] However, the Stars remained in Syracuse with Bartelme acting as the club's president from 1922-1925.[18]

Bartelme sold his interest in the Stars in January 1926.[19][20] At the time of the sale, the Syracuse Herald praised Bartelme for his contributions to Syracuse baseball:

"Bartelme worked hand in hand with the Cardinals club during his three years and a half here and gave Syracuse the best baseball it has ever enjoyed."[20]

Among Bartelme's most profitable moves was his sale of slugger Jim Bottomley to the St. Louis Cardinals for $30,000. The Stars had acquired Bottomley for $1,000, and he quickly became a sensation while playing for the Stars.[20]

Brick tile business in Florida

Upon selling his interest in the Syracuse Stars, Bartleme went into business with a manufacturing concern in St. Augustine, Florida.[19] Bartelme invested considerable money in a firm constructing hollow brick tile for the building business in Florida. With Florida experiencing a building boom in 1926, Bartelme reported that he felt that his entire time must be devoted to his new business.[20]

St. Louis Cardinals

In March 1928, Bartelme and Branch Rickey purchased the Dayton baseball franchise in the new Central League, and Bartelme became the club's president.[21] According to a biography of Rickey, Bartelme was set back by "business losses in Florida" and was brought to St. Louis by Rickey as an office administrator.[22]

By 1929, press accounts identified Bartelme as assistant to Rickey for minor league relations.[23][24] Bartelme continued to serve as vice president in charge of the Cardinals' minor league operations during Rickey's time in St. Louis.[25] In December 1935, press accounts referred to him as the head of the Cardinals' chain of baseball farm teams.[26]

During Bartelme's tenure, the Cardinals' farm system produced the stars who would form the core of the Gashouse Gang teams of the 1930s, including Pepper Martin, Dizzy Dean and Joe Medwick—players who were integral parts of the 1934 Cardinals team that won the World Series. The farm system operated by Rickey and Bartelme was so successful that Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis twice released over 70 of the Cardinals' minor leaguer players. Nevertheless, Rickey and Bartelme's farm system remained, and similar systems were adopted by every major league team within a few years.

Sacramento Solons

When the Cardinals purchased the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League in December 1935, Bartelme was sent to California to take over as the club president. Bartelme was president of the Solons from January 1936 until February 1944, when the Cardinals pulled out of their interest in the Sacramento club.[25] The Oakland Tribune noted that Bartelme was "one of the finest men in baseball and is well liked in Sacramento."[27] The Tribune's sports editor, Lee Dunbar, referred to Bartelme as "one of my favorite people."[28]

Brooklyn Dodgers

After the Cardinals sold the Solons, Bartelme was again hired by his old friend, Branch Rickey, who had then taken over as president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bartelme remained in Sacramento and became a scout for the Dodgers in California.[28]

Family and death

Bartelme died on May 3, 1954 in Carmel, California at age 75.[25] He was survived by his wife Mina Chase Bartelme.[25]


  1. ^ "Michigan Downs Wisconsin, 6 to 0 Fierce Struggle on the Gridiron of Marshall Field, Chicago". The Anaconda Standard. 1902-11-02.
  2. ^ "Barthelme Head of U. of M. Athletics". Boston Morning Journal. 1909-03-25.
  3. ^ a b "New Athletic Director". San Jose Mercury News, published as The Evening News. 1909-07-01.
  4. ^ a b "New Director Takes up Work at Michigan 'U'". The Duluth News Tribune. 1909-07-08.
  5. ^ a b "Look forward to Minnesota Game. Michigan Men Regard Meeting with Gophers as Most Important Gridiron Battle". The Duluth News Tribune. 1909-09-12.
  6. ^ a b Bruce Madej; Rob Toonkel; Mike Pearson; Greg Kinney (1997). Michigan: Champions of the West, p. 27. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-57167-115-3.
  7. ^ "Wolverine Officials to Run down Charges Made Against Parks". Duluth News Tribune. 1921-03-19.
  8. ^ "Star College Pitcher Admits Use of Alias. Vernon Parks Beaver under Name of Brooks". Morning Oregonian. 1921-03-22.
  9. ^ Murray Polner; Branch B. Rickey (2007). Branch Rickey: A Biography, p. 57. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-2643-8.
  10. ^ Lowenfish, p. 49
  11. ^ Lowenfish, p. 50
  12. ^ Polner, p. 57
  13. ^ "Bartelme Is Scout". Fresno Bee Republican. 1944-06-20.
  14. ^ a b "Landgraf Retires as Star Head; Sells to Philip Bartelme; Stars Change Hand in Deal Closed Today; Landgraf Will Be Succeeded by Former Director of Athletics at Michigan". Syracuse Herald. 1922-07-03.
  15. ^ "Barthelme Buys Interest In Club". Salt Lake Telegram. 1922-07-03.
  16. ^ "Chance To Obtain Skeeter Franchise if Bartelme and Rickey Do Leave Syracuse". Syracuse Herald. 1923-11-21.
  17. ^ "Bartelme Finds Guarantee Handicap in Montreal Consideration". Syracuse Herald. 1923-12-13.
  18. ^ "Blott Rejects Bartelme Offer and Will Join Cincinnati Reds: Boss of Stars Makes Strong Effort to Land College Catcher". Syracuse Herald. 1924-06-17.
  19. ^ a b "Giles Buys Half of Syracuse Club". The Lincoln Star. 1926-01-10.
  20. ^ a b c d "Bartelme Sells His Stock in Syracuse Club to Warren Giles". Syracuse Herald. 1926-01-10.
  21. ^ "Bartelme Is President of Dayton Club". Syracuse Star. 1928-03-08.
  22. ^ Lee Lowenfish (2007). Branch Rickey:Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman, pp. 182-183. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1103-1.
  23. ^ "May Establish League in Illinois Towns". Jefferson City Post-Tribune. 1929-02-12.
  24. ^ "Three-Eye League Is To Be Revived". Jefferson City Post-Tribune. 1934-01-24.
  25. ^ a b c d "Phil Bartelme, Ex Solon President, Dies in Carmel". Fresno Bee Republican (AP wire service story). 1954-05-04.
  26. ^ "Capital Revives Baseball Hopes". Modesto Bee And News-Herald. 1935-12-20.
  27. ^ Lee Dunbar (1944-02-15). "On the Level". Oakland Tribune.
  28. ^ a b Lee Dunbar (1944-04-17). "Bartelme Now Dodgers Scout". Oakland Tribune.
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