Ed Swartwood
Major league player - Pittsburgh Alleghenys


Ed Swartwood was one of baseball’s earliest stars.  An impressive batter, Swartwood also made a name for himself as a leader and a motivator, ending up as Team Captain in almost every team to which he belonged. Swartwood played in the majors for nine years, more often than not as first baseman or starting outfielder, and he logged a career batting average of .310

Swartwood was born in northern Ohio in 1859 and was playing baseball for The Cleveland Red Stockings by 1878.  Middle fielder, Sam Wise, organized an independent team in Akron, Ohio in 1879 and Swartwood left a team in Detroit to sign on as first baseman.  He left the Akrons after a year but returned in 1881.  The 1881 Akrons were considered the strongest non-league team of their time and Swartwood was a player who stood out even among such early luminaries as Tony Mullane and Bid McPhee. Beyond his technical skill on the field, he had a sterling reputation as an honest, gentlemanly player who was gregarious and well liked. He played three seasons with The Akrons before going with the major leagues, first for a year in Buffalo and then for The Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He is cited by several historians of the game as Pittsburgh’s first major league “baseball star.”  Players in the early days of the game, however, did not enjoy the star-level salaries of modern times.  Swartwood supplemented his player’s salary first by selling cigars and later by tending bar—a deal where he got a percentage of the door based on the fact that his reputation brought in the customers.

In 1883, Swartwood married Pittsburgh native, Anna Knethler.  Although Pittsburgh traded him to Brooklyn in 1885, Swartwood now considered Pittsburgh his home. When Brooklyn sought to trade him in 1887, Swartwood asked for an outright release.  A couple times after leaving the Brooklyn team he was taken up by one team or another (notably hitting .327 in 126 games with a club in Toledo, Ohio in 1890) but by 1893, his career as a ballplayer had come to a close.  He had been working as an umpire as early as 1893 and he continued as such until at least 1901.

It was in 1901 that Swartwood was made a Police Sergeant for Allegheny County.  He proved to be a natural and soon moved up in the ranks to Deputy Sheriff.  His duties as such included overseeing legal executions both in Allegheny County and in neighboring counties where assistance was needed.  Swartwood died in 1924 at age 65.