by Frank Hyde
February 15, 1950
Part 4 of 4
Swat's Top Thrills on Sandlots Against Boston Braves, Hornell
One of Swat Erickson's biggest regrets is missing the World Series by one year.
The big Swede left Washington for Minneapolis in 1923 and the following year Bucky Harris, the old "Boy Wonder," brought the Nats home in the van of the American League race. Washington went on to beat the Giants in the World Series and register the only Senator triumph in the classic. The Nats made the series in 1925 and again in '33, but that 1924 win over McGraw's Giants was the first and only victory in the big show.
"I went down to see the Series," Swat laughs today," and told Buck, 'see when you got rid of me you won.'"
Trying to condition himself too hurriedly proved Swat's undoing at Minneapolis. A cold in his back sidelined him and he decided to return to Jamestown. About that time Donnie Bush, seeking a good relief chucker, wired an offer from Indianapolis, but the Big Swede was adamant.
Tried Comeback at Toronto
Hope always flares anew, however, when spring rolls around so in 1925 Swat headed for Toronto. "I realized then I could never get in proper shape. It was cold up there and I couldn't shake off my lame back."
That was the end of organized baseball for Swat Erickson, but two of his greatest thrills were to come from sandlots. One was a one-hitter against the Boston Braves at Celoron Park, and the other was a no-hit job against Hornell in the old Western New York League.
Of course, a two-hitter he beat Red Faber of the White Sox in 1918, the year before they became infamous Black Sox in the World Series scandal of '19 gives the big fellow a terrific amount of satisfaction.
That 3-0 victory over the Braves at Celoron Park on Aug. 8, 1930 - almost five years after Swat bid goodbye to the organized game - probably marks one of the most remarkable temporary returns to form in baseball annals.
Manager Bill McKechnie brought his Braves to Jamestown for another routine exhibition with Billy Webb's Spiders. Swat opposed Danny Hansel, the former Villenova College ace, and it was big Swat himself who lived up to his nickname by doubling with the bases full in the second inning to produce the game winning margin.
Lance Richbourg, who pinch-hit for Hansel with one gone in the ninth broke up Swat's no-no with a dinky roller between first and second. Swat fanned eight that day, twice getting Wally Berger and George Sisler with his wiff ball. Only nine men faced him in the first three innings.
No-Hitter at Hornell
Hornell was "loaded" with a host of imported stars the day Swat turned in his no-hitter for Elmira.
So potent was the giant's stuff that day the not a single drive was hit to the outfield and when the game was over the three Elmira gardeners called for the ball and tossed it around between them. "We just want to say we handled a ball," one explained.
Today bid Swat and the missus lives quietly in their comfortable home on Mattson Road. The old fastballer, looking fit and formidable, has enough land to "do a little gardening on" as he puts it, during his spare time from his job at Art Metal.
A son, Burwin or "Little Swat" and his wife and son, also make their home with the elder Erickson. Burwin hurled for the Jamestown Falcons for one season before the war and was in two campaigns with the Flock since hostilities ceased. Today "Big Swat" looks to his grandson, Dennis, to carry on the Erickson tradition in baseball.
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.