Grave Story: Charlie Guth (1856-1883)

Here lies Charlie Guth, who pitched one game for the Chicago White Stockings in 1880. His grave is unmarked, but this is approximately the location of Section A, Lot 246. 

Charlie Guth and members of his wife’s family are in an unmarked grave in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

There’s more information about Guth’s stint in the majors than there is about the rest of his life. He was a Chicago native who was born sometime in 1856. He was an amateur player with the Athletics, a city team. While in Chicago he was in charge of the uniform department of Al Spalding & Brothers, the sporting goods company.

September 30, 1880, was the last game of the season. The White Stockings were completing one of the best seasons in National League history to that point, with a 66-17 record. Manager Cap Anson sent the amateur Guth to the mound against Buffalo, rather than his usual pitchers Fred Goldsmith and Larry Corcoran. Guth “proved to be an entire success for seven innings, during which time the Buffaloes earned first base but once… His variations of curve and speed are extremely puzzling,” reported the Chicago Tribune. He “visibly tired” in the eighth, allowing several hits and wild pitches. Sloppy defense by the Stockings didn’t help either, and a 9-1 rout in the 7th turned into a 10-8 squeaker. Guth got the complete game win, leaving the Stockings with 67 wins and a .798 winning percentage. Guth struck out 7, walked 1 and threw 4 wild pitches. Just 5 of the 8 runs against him were earned. He also singled and walked in 5 trips to the plate. He has a 1-0 record and 5.00 ERA for his career.

Guth’s life was tragically short. He married Lizzie Rowlands on March 7, 1883 in Chicago. Shortly after that, the Guths moved to Massachusetts, where he worked at Wright & Ditson, a sport clothier founded by baseball star George Wright. Charlie Guth died on July 5, 1883 in Cambridge, Mass., at the age of 27 from asthenia, which is a general weakness or loss of strength. He’d been married 4 months.

“Charles J. Guth, for several years in charge of the uniform department of Al. Spalding & Brothers, Chicago, and afterwards with Wright & Ditson of this city in the same capacity, recently died in Boston,” read The Boston Globe on July 15. “He was well known in the leading amateur base ball circles of Chicago as a fine pitcher. He was of a very sunny and genial disposition, and his death will be regretted by his many friends in the West.”

While Lizzie fades out of history as far as I can tell, Guth is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, in the same plot with several of her relatives.

Interesting fact: by working at Spalding and Wright & Ditson, Guth was employed by two baseball pioneers (Al Spalding, George Wright) in businesses that are still around to this day.

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