Cannonball Titcomb

Ledell Titcomb (August 21, 1866 – June 8, 1950)—often erroneously referred to as "Cannonball" or "Cannon Ball" Titcomb—was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for several teams in the National League and American Association. Born in West Baldwin, Maine, he pitched a total of five seasons, finishing with a 30–29 record and a 3.47 earned run average. Titcomb pitched a no-hitter on September 15, 1890, against the Syracuse Stars, a 7-0 victory. Also, in two games at third base, he fielded all five of his chances cleanly, while putting up a respectable 2.50 range factor. Titcomb died at the age of 83 in Kingston, New Hampshire, and was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Kingston.[2]

Ledell Titcomb[1]
Cannonball Titcomb.jpg
Born: (1866-08-26)August 26, 1866
West Baldwin, Maine
Died: June 8, 1950(1950-06-08) (aged 83)
Kingston, New Hampshire
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
May 5, 1886, for the Philadelphia Quakers
Last MLB appearance
October 15, 1890, for the Rochester Broncos
MLB statistics
Win–loss record30–29
Earned run average3.47
Career highlights and awards

Early baseball careerEdit

At the age of 18, Titcomb made his professional baseball debut for the Haverhill, Massachusetts, team of the Eastern New England League.[3]

Major leaguesEdit

Titcomb made his Major League debut on May 5, 1886, for the Philadelphia Quakers in a game against the New York Giants. Philadelphia lost 4-2.[4] He would finish the 1886 season 0-5 in 5 starts with a 3.73 earned run average. Titcomb would split the 1887 with the Philadelphia Athletics (AA) of the American Association and the New York Giants. He also played for the Jersey City Skeeters of the International Association in 1887. He would stay with the Giants for the 1888 and 1889 season. 1890 was his final Major League season, and he spent it with the Rochester Broncos. On September 15, Titcomb threw a no-hitter against the Syracuse Stars. He would finish his major league career with a 30-29 record, a 3.74 earned run average, and 283 strikeouts.[5]

Return to the minor leaguesEdit

In 1890, Titcomb played in the minors for the Rochester Hop Bitters of the Eastern Association. Titcomb pitched in one game for the Providence Clamdiggers, pitching in one inning.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Titcomb was the son of Joseph J. Titcomb, a carpenter, and Fanny M. Titcomb.[7] He was married to Margaret B. Titcomb, and they resided in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.[8]

Fictitious nicknameEdit

Posthumous chronicles and reference works about Titcomb refer to him as "Cannonball" (or "Cannon Ball") Titcomb, thus assigning him a nickname which was never used during Titcomb's playing days and did not appear in newsprint until Titcomb was 82. SABR historian and author Bill Lamb[9] researched the origins of the nickname and in Fall 2016 published an article in the SABR quarterly newsletter Nineteenth Century Notes debunking the nickname. After analyzing between 600 and 700 newspaper articles mentioning Titcomb, Lamb discovered that, "For the most part, Titcomb was identified by last name only during his pro career. On at least 17 occasions, however, 'Ledell Titcomb' appeared in newsprint. At no time whatsoever during his professional playing career did the putative nickname 'Cannon Ball'/'Cannonball' appear in the newspapers that covered Titcomb." Lamb further wrote, "A search for the surname Titcomb in newspapers published from the start of Titcomb's playing days in 1884 until the day before his death in June 1950 via GenealogyBank yielded 10,458 page hits. Linkage of the word 'Cannonball' with 'Titcomb' promptly reduced that number to zero." After his playing days, during which Titcomb worked in shoe manufacturing, reported Lamb, he was accorded "sparse newspaper attention. ... But on the odd occasion when his name did appear in print, it was always given as 'Ledell Titcomb,' never as 'Cannon Ball'/'Cannonball' Titcomb." The nickname first appears in print in 1948, two years before Titcomb's death. The Haverhill [Massachusetts] Gazette published a profile of the long-retired player, and the article included the following passage: "Those who remember Titcomb will recall that his pitches were so fast that the only fellow who could catch them was Bill (sic) Robinson, who later became manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. His mates at Haverhill nicknamed him 'Cannonball' after he split a plank with a pitched ball." However, the unsubstantiated claim was unattributed in the article. When Titcomb died in 1950, the Gazette repeated the nickname in an obituary which included numerous biographical errors. Thereafter, obituaries appeared in the Associated Press and in The Sporting News, both of which drew upon the Gazette obituary, repeating the erroneous nickname as well as the factual errors.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lamb, Bill, "Ledell (Not Cannonball) Titcomb: Tracing the Origins of a Dubious Nickname," published in Nineteenth Century Notes, Society of American Baseball Research, Nineteenth Century Committee, Fall 2016
  2. ^ "Ledell Titcomb's career statistics". Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  3. ^ 1885 Haverhill at Baseball-Reference (Minors)
  4. ^ 1886 Philadelphia Phillies Game Log
  5. ^ Ledell Titcomb at Baseball-Reference
  6. ^ 1891 Providence Clamdiggers at Baseball-Reference (Minors)
  7. ^ Census entry for Ladell Titcomb. 1880 United States Federal Census. Year: 1880; Census Place: Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: 542; Page: 109D; Enumeration District: 424; Image: 0662; FHL Number: 1254542.
  8. ^ Census entry for Ledell Tilcomb. 1920 United States Federal Census. Year: 1920; Census Place: Kingston, Rockingham, New Hampshire; Roll: T625_1013; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 127; Image: 999.
  9. ^ SABR BioProject biographies written by Bill Lamb, posted at The Society for American Baseball Research
  10. ^ Lamb, Bill, "Ledell (Not Cannonball) Titcomb: Tracing the Origins of a Dubious Nickname," published in Nineteenth Century Notes, Society of American Baseball Research, Nineteenth Century Committee, Fall 2016

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Gus Weyhing
No-hitter pitcher
September 15, 1890
Succeeded by
Tom Lovett