The baseball oracle from Rome, N.Y.
A man who spent the last four months of his life in Amsterdam was living in Rome, N.Y., when he correctly predicted the outcome of 21 St. Louis Cardinals baseball games at the end of the 1930 season.
According to his son, James J. Sheridan III of Amsterdam, James J. Sheridan II was operating a candy store called the Smoke Shop in Rome when he began sending uncannily accurate telegrams to the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Charles “Gabby” Street. The messages predicted the outcome of pending games and often gave Street instruction on who should pitch.
According to a 1930 column by Harry T. Brundidge in the St. Louis Star about “this fellow Sheridan in Rome, N.Y.,” the first telegram came Sept. 9 when the Cardinals were in fourth place, “Do not worry, you will lose today, regardless of your pitching choice; you will win the next three.”
That day the Cardinals lost to the New York Giants before winning the next three games. The following day another message promised, “Everything O.K. You will win two and lose one.”
Street read the prediction to the team. “Say,” he exclaimed, “it’s from the same nut who sent me the telegram in New York.” But the Cardinals performed as the “nut” predicted.
The telegrams continued, and on the final weekend of the season, St. Louis hosted Pittsburgh for a four-game series. Street received a telegram stating, “Have no worries. Pitch (Burleigh) Grimes and (Jesse) Haines in first two games and Cards are in the bag. The pennant will be clinched Friday so you can have some rest.”
Grimes pitched a shutout. Haines helped clinch the pennant the next night as St. Louis won again.
The Cards moved into the World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics. A telegram from Sheridan said Sylvester Johnson should pitch. He warned Street that St. Louis would lose two in a row if Grimes pitched that day. Street ignored his oracle, put Grimes on the mound and St. Louis lost two games.
The next telegram from Sheridan in Rome said, “Don’t worry. I’m praying. (Bill) Hallahan and Haines will win Saturday and Sunday. I’ll wire you about Monday’s game.” Hallahan and Haines won their two games.
The Monday telegram failed to arrive. Team members were reportly unsettled by their loss of direction from Sheridan and lost Monday’s game.
A final telegram arrived before game six, “Hallahan and Haines will win the championship for St. Louis tomorrow and Thursday.” For the first time, Sheridan was wrong. Philadelphia defeated St. Louis by a score of 7 to 1 and won the World Series.
Sheridan left Rome in 1931 and lived in other valley municipalities such as Herkimer. In late 1934, the family moved to Stewart Street in Amsterdam. He was working as a cigar salesman. Overwhelmed when he lost that job, Sheridan sent a goodbye note to a friend, a reporter at the Rome Sentinel. The reporter contacted the Recorder newsroom in Amsterdam, and their reporters went to Sheridan’s house; the 42-year old already had hanged himself.
The Sentinel wrote in an editor’s note following Sheridan’s death, “This fellow Sheridan of Rome, N.Y., was one of the best-liked men ever to live in this city. Although beset by financial difficulties, he seldom lost his smile for his friends, his spirit of good fellowship. Many Romans knew and liked Jimmie Sheridan.”
James Sheridan III, now 86, said his mother Ursula and two sisters briefly went on welfare but his mother soon found work in finance. Ursula Sheridan became well-known for operating a finance company on Chuctanunda Street in Amsterdam.
Bob Cudmore is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach him at 346-6657 or email@example.com.