Jamestown Evening Journal


BILLY WEBB is dead!

Those words passed among Jamestown’s sports populace today and imparted a wealth of sorrow.

He was Jamestown’s biggest baseball figure, and as well known in the local bowling realm. At times he interested himself in other sports and he was, indeed, an all-round sportsman.

The life of Billy Webb was given mostly to public entertainment, particularly the athletic sort. He was also identified with amusement activities at Celoron Park. Thruout his career of more than 20 years in this section, he was forever in the public eye, except when he retreated to the bosom of the home he loved so well.

Death struck sharply, but not wholly unexpectedly. Run down in health for the last four or five years, Webb’s condition did not become really alarming until about a month ago when he was seized with what was reported to be a stroke. He rallied, got about again, but a second stroke followed. The instincts of a life of continued and ofttime feverish activity made it difficult for him to remain in bed and get the rest he needed. He rallied from the second shock and was about as late as yesterday, talking with this writer late in the afternoon. He remarked that he was feeling much better, but because of the cold weather couldn’t make up his mind whether to go to Olean to witness a boxing show staged by a club with which he had been identified until his recent illness.

“Well, perhaps I better not go. I’ll step over to the house and listen to the radio. Hope this weather breaks for the boxing show here Friday. See you tomorrow, so long.” Those were the last words this writer was to hear from Jamestown’s baseball and all-round sports idol.

Billy Webb came to Jamestown about 20 years ago to play ball with the local club in the Inter-State League, at that time managed by Hugh Shannon. On the field he seemed too small for professional pastiming. But he had a mighty physique for the size of it, and plenty of natural ability, both afield and at bat. He made good and eventually became manager of the local club. For a time, too, he manged the Warren entry in the Inter-State League. He returned to Jamestown and later organized an independent professional club which brought him his most wide-spread renown. His “Spiders” licked everything in their class on occasion, and sometimes set back a major league opponent playing an exhibition game here.

Billy Webb rated as the most successful feat in his baseball career the game a few years ago in which his team vanquished the then powerful Boston Braves by 3 to 0. Swat Erickson didn’t allow a hit until two were out in the ninth, when Richberg, a pinch hitter, shot a grounder between first and second. Erickson tripled in the third inning to score all of Jamestown’s runs. Webb was simply overjoyed.

The Spiders opposed such teams as the Homestead Grays, original Cuban Giants, Crawfords and others. In this venture Billy was associated with the late Lehman G. Peterson, who passed away suddenly a few years ago in the Freebrook Pine Street alleys. The Spiders drew large crowds and were a fine paying proposition for both owners. The careers of Webb and Peterson were parallel in an unusual way. They were baseball partners and both were linked with the Freebrook bowling interests here. Besides, they were staunch friends and confidants. Early this morning, perhaps after Billy’s soul had fled its mortal frame, two kindred spirits linked hands in the great Valhalla, where they shall remain forever after.

Possessed of a friendly disposition, a keen sense of humor, good sportsmanship, a sense of loyalty to his friends, and a keen director of athletic activities, Billy Webb’s way to success was made easier by a spirit of determination. His home life, where he will, of course, be missed the most, was ideal. His passing is a matter of deep regret. May his soul rest in peace!

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.