A couple of days ago I wrote a column on famous people from Darke County. According to Google, there were 11 athletes and 44 famous people. Of course Google was wrong as the Friday morning gang at Double M Diner discussed. After the column came out, Claude Sowry, a friend of mine, said there was another, a man named Otto “Jelly” Burns. Otto Burns was a major league pitcher that apparently held the record for most innings pitched in a game. So, I proceeded to find out what I could about the man, but Google had nothing!
Fortunately, I have friends. Yeah, I know, hard to believe, but I do, really! I first heard from Rita McCans, who is soon to be my neighbor, that her Grandfather used to call Otto’s recreation hall Jelly’s pool hall. Mose Hupman played pool and cards for money and spirits when Jim, Rita’s dad, was growing up. Thanks to Rita for that information!
Sunday, while watching golf and the NASCAR race, I get a message from my old football officiating buddy, Mike Holzapfel. Mike went on the Duck Duck Go search engine and found out a lot of information on Otto Burns.
He lived at 518 Euclid Avenue in Greenville. Otto Abraham “Jelly” Burns was born on April 3, 1886, he played Baseball from 1906 to 1915. In 1909, he pitched, now get this, a 26 inning game for Decatur, Illinois in the Three I league! 26 Innings! If a player now pitches more than 80 pitches, or 6 innings, he has to be carted off on a stretcher, taking oxygen, and can’t sit up and take broth for 3 days, while his arm recovers from the disasterous beating it has incurred!
Anyway, I digress; “Jelly” operated his recreation hall from 1938 to 1962 when he retired. His wife was Jeanette (Longnecker) Burns. She died on December 27, 1955. He was a member of the First United Church of Christ. “Jelly” died on November 8th, 1978 at the age of 92. He is buried in Greenville Union Cemetery, Section 24, Lot 20 space 10.
Otto Burns sounds like a fascinating man. I am going to go to the cemetery and look his headstone up and see if there is some reference to his playing days, and other information on it. This man should not be forgotten.
So, that is the short story of a famous athlete that Google didn’t know, but my friends did. Huh……who would have thought that Claude, Rita and Mike were smarter than Google…..especially Mike! (sorry old friend, had to take that shot!) Thank you Claude, Mike and Rita, you helped more people learn about a long forgotten famous athlete from our hometown.
I never thought I’d say this, but maybe I should listen to you more often……..I….uh….will think about that, and take that under advisement! Friends are the best, I have the best, and I learn an awful lot from them……and at the coffee shop!