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ROWLAND, Clarence "Pants"

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ROWLAND, Clarence "Pants." (Platteville, WI,Feb. 12,1879--Chicago, IL, May 17, 1969). Team owner, manager, scout, umpire, league president, and general manager. The parents of Clarence Rowland brought their son to Dubuque soon after he was born. He attended PRESCOTT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and two years of high school. In 1895 he was president of the Bon Ton Club for young adults. (1) It is believed the future baseball great earned his nickname during a baseball game playing for the Dubuque Ninth Street Blues in Dubuque when he wore an oversized pair of overalls to a game. The incident led to his nickname, "Pants." (2)

Rowland's high school ended at the age of sixteen when he showed more interest in being a bellhop at the HOTEL JULIEN. He found time for semi-pro baseball and organized the Rowland Colts. These became the Dubuque Models when a local store offered the team free uniforms for the advertising they would create. Rowland rented a park that often sat 1,000 spectators with players earning from $4-$7. (3)

In 1902 Rowland attended a Three-I League meeting in Chicago in search of a franchise. Despite a lack of financial backing, he showed up at the home of Charles Albert COMISKEY on morning between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. and made his "pitch." Impressed with Rowland's attitude, Comiskey farmed out to Rowland a pitcher and out-fielder upon which to start a team. (4) The Dubuque Shamrocks finished 7th in the 1903 season with a record of 49-72. (5) Rowland did not continue with the team perhaps thinking he was worth more than the $125 per month he received. He worked four years at the WALES HOTEL again taking the catcher/manager positions of the Dubuque team in 1907 and 1908. (6)

In 1909 his team in Aberdeen, Washington finished third in the Northwest League. In 1910 his Winnipeg team finished second. Rowland returned to Dubuque as the Three-I franchise’s manager and owner from 1911-13. (7) Getting the support of the city and raising $2,500 earned him the title "Father of the Three-I League" for Dubuque.

In 1914 Rowland managed the Peoria Chiefs to the championship of the Three-I League. (8) Rowland's managerial work in Peoria led Al Tierney, the president of the Three-I League, to recommend Rowland to Comiskey, owner of the White Sox. In referring to Rowland, Tierney said: (9)

           (Rowland) was one of the cost businesslike managers in baseball, and that,
           given a fair chance, he would be certain to make his mark in the major
           leagues...he is one of the three greatest minor league leaders the game
           has ever seen.

When Comiskey decided to change managers for the 1915 season, he shocked the baseball world by choosing Rowland, a man who had never played professionally and continued to manage the bar at the Wales Hotel during the off-season. Rowland's critics quickly found a new nickname for Rowland--"The Busher from Dubuque." (10) Rowland's sudden rise in baseball, however, was great publicity for the White Sox. In March, 1915 Rowland and the White Sox were featured in a newsreel shown at the MAJESTIC THEATRE. (11)

Eddie Cicotte and Clarence "Pants" Rowland. Photo courtesy: http://www.baseballhistorycomesalive.com/?p=4461#jp-carousel-4464
1917 announcement. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

Rowland quickly proved his ability. On Rowland's advice, the White Sox brought up several promising players from Peoria including future Hall-of-Fame member Urban "Red" FABER. Rowland suggested to Comiskey that he give Faber a chance to prove himself as a potential major league player. (12) Rowland might be credited with helping to make commonplace the idea of platooning – playing right-handed batters to face left-handed pitchers, and vice versa. In his first year Rowland's White Sox finished 93-61, third in the American League. They finished second the following year. In 1917 the White Sox had a 100-54 record before defeating the New York Giants in the World Series. WORLD WAR I took away a lot of the talent in professional baseball, and the White Sox failed to return to the World Series.

Comiskey removed Rowland from his manager's role in 1918. The fact that he got away from Chicago prior to the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal probably saved his career. Rowland's record was 339-247.

In 1919 he returned to the minor leagues as a part owner and manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. He managed the Columbus Senators for two years and then worked as an American League umpire fro 1923 to 1927. For part of 1928 he managed the Nashville Volunteers and then scouted for the Cincinnati Reds for two years. He bought the Reading Keystones from the Chicago Cubs in December 1930 and then worked as a scout for the Cubs from 1933 to 1941. (13)

Rowland was considered one of the sport's best team leaders. He restrained himself in dealing with his players and expected the same behavior in them. Few of his players, therefore were ever lost to any type of suspension. He "cajoled and jollied his men." (14)

In 1943 Rowland was the manager of the minor league Los Angeles Angels and received The Sporting News' title of Minor-League Executive of the Year. (15) The same year he was hired by the Pacific Coast League (PCL) to be its league president. None other than Philip K. Wrigley owner of the Chicago Cubs remarked upon the news that Rowland was

    "the best posted man in baseball." It's kind of 
    surprising to me that Rowland had to go away to be 
    fully appreciated. It's like the saying, 'A prophet 
    has no honor in his own country.' (16)

Rowland remained in this position until 1954. (17) Before the American and National leagues had teams west of St. Louis, the PCL worked hard to become a third major league. The effort failed until the efforts of Walter O'Malley of Brooklyn, but Rowland earned a place in the PCL Hall of Fame in 2005. (18)

In the mid-1950s, Rowland briefly held the position of executive vice president (general manager) for the Chicago Cubs. At his death, he was an honorary vice-president. (19)



1. "Social World, The Dubuque Herald, December 12, 1895, p. 2

2. "Pants Rowland," BR Bullpen Baseball-Reference.com. Online: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Pants_Rowland

3. Woodruff, Harvey (Chicago Tribune) "Mr. Pants Rowland," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, October 16, 1917, p. 17

4. Ibid.

5. "Pants Rowland...

6. Knight, Bill. "Some Baseball History to Think About as Spring Training Begins," The Community Word, Feb. 15, 2012. Online: http://thecommunityword.com/online/blog/2012/02/15/some-baseball-history-to-think-about-as-spring-training-begins/

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. "Pants Rowland"

10. Cooper, Brian. "A Century Ago, County Boasted Baseball Glory," Telegraph Herald, October 22, 2017, p. 1B

11. "Rowland and Sox at the Majestic," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, March 8, 1915, p. 7

12. Ibid

13. "Pants Rowland".....

14. "Pants Rowland is Dead at 91; A Colorful Baseball Veteran," New York Times, May 18, 1969, Online: http://www.thedeadballera.com/Obits/Obits_R/Rowland.Clarence.Obit.html

15. "Pants Rowland"

16. Dunkley, Charles. "Rowland, Dubuquer, Praised by Wrigley," Telegraph-Herald, January 19, 1944, p. 15

17. Ibid.

18. Cooper

19. "Pants Rowland is Dead..