Grave Story: Pat Hynes (1884-1907)

Here lies outfielder/pitcher Pat Hynes, another one of baseball’s forgotten tragic tales. His major-league career lasted just two years, as he was shot to death in a barroom fight on his 23rd birthday. Hynes played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1903) and St. Louis Browns (1904).

Patrick J. Hynes was born in St. Louis on March 12, 1884. He was a lifelong baseball fan and was captain of a local team called the Ben Millers when he was 13 years old. He was part of an active St. Louis semipro scene at the turn of the century and played in the city’s Trolley League. By 1903, he had gone to Vicksburg, Miss., to join the Vicksburg Hill Billies, which played in the Cotton States League. He didn’t stay there long, though. He had a 7-4 record as a pitcher and a .257 average as a batter. But on July 20, Hynes bolted from the team and returned to St. Louis. One of his teammates was another St. Louis native named Pat Casey, and it seems like the two friends were determined to stick with each other. When Vicksburg sold Casey’s contract to a team in Pine Bluff, Ark., Hynes skipped his next start to catch a train back home. According to The Vicksburg American, Hynes “requested that this paper state for him that he loved the people of Vicksburg, and his last words that he hopes the burg will land the pennant.” Vicksburg manager Billy Earle didn’t see the departure on quite so friendly terms and vowed to have the player blacklisted throughout the country.

Hynes returned to St. Louis to see his hometown Cardinals put together a rather futile season. The team would go on to finish in last place, with a 43-94 record. He pitched for a local team called the White Seals when the Cardinals came calling for his services. He made his major-league debut on September 27, 1903, as part of a doubleheader against the visiting Phillies. It was a shaky start. He gave up 10 hits and 6 walks while allowing 6 runs (4 earned) in a 6-3 loss. Considering the Cardinals’ general lack of talent, he at least demonstrated he was no worse than the rest of the team. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was impressed with his effort at least, even if the paper repeatedly mis-spelled his last name.

“P.J. (and other initials) Hines, who has been throwing puzzlers to the opponents of the White Seals baseball team all summer with excellent effort, is probably a fixture on the staff of the Cardinals,” the paper reported. “Hines displayed some nervousness at his first big league appearance, and that before a home crowd of 800 persons – many of them friends. He was wild but gave glimpses of enough to indicate that he is worth a further try-out.”

It would fall to the other St. Louis team to give Hynes another shot. The Cardinals didn’t retain him, so he signed with the St. Louis Browns in 1904 after playing briefly with a semipro team in Poplar Bluff, Mo. The Browns decided to take advantage of his other abilities, however. He pitched a little toward the end of the season and won his one and only major-league game on September 8 with a complete game victory over the Detroit Tigers. But when Hynes played, it was usually in right field. He cracked a pair of doubles on August 10 against the Boston Red Sox and scored 3 runs in an 8-4 win. In 66 games, Hynes batted .236 with 7 doubles and 3 triples, driving in 15 runs. He remained in St. Louis in the offseason and played football with the Ben Millers team as a halfback.

Hynes was a surprise release at the end of the Browns’ training camp in 1905. Manager Jimmy McAleer thought he needed a little more professional experience and saw him as a part of the 1906 roster instead. He worked out a deal to send Hynes to the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. When he played, Hynes was a popular player with the Millers. But he only got into 27 games, hitting .260 and achieving a 5-3 record on the mound. His arm was sore and he left the team in the summer to return to St. Louis and recuperate.

The Browns still had the rights to Hynes’ services and sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1906. He initially decided to retire for a bartending job in St. Louis, but he eventually reported and batted a steady .260 in 85 games. He still couldn’t stay out the news for the wrong reasons. In August, he and Brewers manager Joe Cantillon were suspended five games each for assaulting a spectator at a game. The fan had thrown an empty beer bottle at a player who had dropped a fly ball, and the pitcher and manager went into the left field bleachers to throw punches.

In his two seasons in the major leagues, Hynes had a .233/.245/.284 slash line as a batter. He had 60 hits, including 7 doubles and 3 triples. He drove in 15 runs and scored 23 times. He also stole 3 bases. As a pitcher, he had a 1-1 record in 6 games, with a 5.66 ERA. He completed 2 of his 3 starts and struck out 7 batters in 35 innings while walking 13. He also played in 112 games in the minor leagues, with a .259 batting average and 2 home runs.

Hynes had already agreed to return to Milwaukee for the 1907 season when he went out drinking with Michael Hessian in St. Louis – presumably to celebrate his 23rd birthday. It was the morning of March 12, 1907, by the time the two men entered the saloon of Henry Von Stein Grover, located at 6116 Easton Ave. Hynes ordered two beers from bartender Louis W. Richardson, who asked for payment after the beers had been downed. What follows is Richardson’s account, published in the March 12 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and was corroborated by a witness, William O. Stansbury.

“Hynes answered me jokingly, ‘Oh, that’s all right. I know Harry. Just charge this to the house.’ I told him that we didn’t do business that way. I said that a stand-off didn’t ‘go’ because we couldn’t pay rent that way.

“Hynes made an answer and lost his temper. He picked up the pretzel bowl and threw it, just missing my head, and striking the sideboard back of the bar. Then he threw the spiceholder at me. The mop next caught his eye, and he began to flourish it in the air. Making motions as though he would hit me, he ran behind the bar.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 12, 1907.

“I thought it was time to defend myself, and, taking a revolver from a drawer, I leveled it at Hynes. It didn’t stop him, and I shot twice.”

The paper wrote that Richardson struck Hynes just above the left eye with one of the shots. (The official death record said he was shot in the lungs, not the head.) The other shot went wide and embedded in the bar’s woodwork. Hynes died at about 2:45 in the morning of his birthday. Back in his room at his parents’ house, his suitcase was ready to be packed for his trip to Milwaukee. He had received but not opened a telegram from a Milwaukee sports editor asking for a photo. Hynes was survived by his parents and two sisters, all of whom said that Hynes was not a heavy drinker and didn’t have a temper.

Hynes’ death initially was ruled a homicide. A coroner’s jury deliberated over the cause before determining that some other witness accounts didn’t line up with Richardson’s story. They stated that Hynes was standing in front of the bar and not making an effort to attack the bartender when he was shot down. On March 20, a grand jury ruled that Richardson had indeed acted in self-defense, and the case never went to trial.

Pat Hynes was buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

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