The story of Bill Rumler sounds like the script for a Sunday Night Movie. Born to immigrant parents in the Mennonite community of East Milford Nebraska, Bill grew up to be a Major League Baseball player, a central figure in a major scandal and chief of police of Milford Nebraska.
Bill's first professional baseball experience came with a barnstorming team called the Cherokee Indians. The team played town teams and traveled the midwest. Bill took up the name "Black Hawk" while playing for the team.
His play for the travelling team led to him being picked up by Great Bend in the class "D" Kansas State League. In 61 games he batted .314 and stole 22 bases. The league folded in mid summer and he was picked up by Burlington in the Central Association. He managed a .337 average for the remainder of the 1913 season. His play attracted the attention of the St. Louis Browns. He was acquired by the Browns and started the 1914 season as their backup catcher.
He rode the bench for the Browns in 1914. He caught nine games and played in the outfield for a few more games. His .174 batting average led him to be farmed out to a minor league team for the 1915 season.
In 1915 Bill found himself in Atlanta Georgia. He was the Crackers regular catcher and was fourth in the Southern Association in home runs for the year.
1916 found Bill playing for Little Rock. He was one of the leading hitters in the Southern Association with a .337 average. Branch Rickey picked Rumler up to play for the Browns in 1917. In 78 games he managed a .261 average.
He was drafted into the army in 1918. He spent most of the year playing ball at Ft. Riley. In September he broke his leg in a game. The armistace was signed and he was discharged from the army in December.
After being discharged from the Army, Rumler was picked up by Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League. 1919 was a good year for Rumler as he led the league with a .362 average. The Brown's tried to get Rumler back but Salt Lake and the Browns could not come to an agreement on price so Rumler remained with Salt Lake for the start of the 1920 season.
At this point things get very murky. Rumler was accused of being in cahoots with gamblers to "throw" the 1920 pennant to Vernon. Although the other players involved in the scandal were given lifetime suspensions from baseball, Bill was given a five year suspension. A good synopsis of the allegations and analysis of Bill's alleged participation is provided in the references below (Bleacher Bum). The sports writers spilled a lot of ink on the scandal.
Bill then played "outlaw" baseball. While it is known that he played for Minot and Hibbing, his participation and whereabouts were lost after playing in 1923 for Canton in the Outlaw Mid-West League.
In 1929 at the age of 39 he returned to play in the Pacific Coast League. The Salt Lake franchise had moved to Hollywood and Bill joined the team for the 1929 season. He played in 140 games that year and managed a .386 average.
In 1930 he battled a number of injuries including a broken leg in August. He still managed a .353 average in the 95 games he played.
In 1932 Bill was named manager of the Lincoln Links a class "D" Nebraska State League club. Milford's town band played for the opening game of the Links and a large number of Milford townfolk came to Lincoln for the game. Bill responded with a 3 for 5 night with all three hits being doubles.
His managing career came to an end on June 22nd in McCook. Bill had an
altercation with an umpire in which he slugged an umpire. In Bill's
"I really got into it with him. He poked his nose into my face, so I lowered the boom on him -- right on the nose."
That ended his managerial career as the league suspended him for inciting a riot and fined him $25.00. The team was 12-26 at the time and one place out of last place. He was replaced as manager and his tenure in organized baseball was over.
Rumler returned to Milford after World War II and became the town's chief of police. He retired in 1964. He died in 1966 in Milford.
|1913||Great Bend||Kansas State||61||.314|
|1914||St. Louis Browns||American||33||.174|
|1916||St. Louis Browns||27||.324|
|1916||Little Rock||Southern Assn.||75||.337|
|1917||St. Louis Browns||American||78||.261|
|Independent League Years|
|1921||Minot N.D.||Went by name of Moore|
|1922||Hibbing Minn.||Mesaba Range|
|Back in Organized Ball|
|1932||Lincoln Links||Nebraska State||17||.340|
"The Bleacher Bum" Sports Collectors Digest, 9/17/1993
Lincoln Star Newspaper, May 1932
Nebraska Minor League Baseball Home