by Frank Hyde
July 9, 1953
Swat Erickson Served With Giants, Tigers, Senators; in 144 Games
Never heard of the guy? Sure you have. We mean Swat Erickson. That's better, eh?
The lanky Matson Road strawberry grower is one of the three old-timers and one of a panel of six nominated for the Hall of Fame. The election is now on and balloting ends next Wednesday at midnight.
On the ballots with Erickson are old-timers Ray Caldwell and Hugh Bedient and later-day candidates Irv Noren, Sal Maglie and Nellie Fox.
Swat Erickson came to Jamestown from Johnsonburg, PA with his parents when he was 14, starred with semi-pro teams for a time, then moved into the pro ranks, finally making the big-time with the New York Giants in 1914.
He served with Detroit in 1916 and 1918-19, going to the Washington Senators late during the latter season. He remained with Washington through the 1922 season.
Erickson appeared in 144 major league games in seven years, winning 40, losing 50. His busiest campaign as a 14-15 season with the Senators (1916) and he had some great seasons in the high minors, once winning 20 games for Rochester of the International
Oddly enough, one of Swat's greatest performances - the one he is most remembered for - came at Celoron's old ballyard, when he stopped the Boston Braves with one lone hit and a 1-0 shutout on August 8, 1930.
The Braves, then managed by Bill McKechnie, were on a tour during a four-day opening in the National League schedule.
Lance Richburg, a pinch hitter with one out in the ninth, singled to save the mighty major leaguers from the ignominy of a no-hit, no-run, shutout at the hands of Erickson and Billy Webb's Spiders.
Swat campaigned against every big name in the American League, including Babe Ruth, whom he faced many times.
"Ruth was the greatest slugger of them all, don't ever let anyone tell you any different, but Walter Johnson was the greatest pitcher," Swat told a writer a couple of years ago.
Swat played with Jim Thorpe, the great Carlisle Indian, better known for his football exploits, when Thorpe was with the Giants.
Erickson beat Red Faber of the White Sox with a two-hitter in 1919, had a one-hitter against Detroit while with Washington and had a no-hitter for Elmira against Hornell in the old Eastern League.
So tough was the Big Swede that not a single ball was hit to the outfield and when the game was over his garden mates raced in, called for the ball, and passed it around among themselves. "We just wanted to say we handled the ball once," one of them explained.
Erickson, like most of the grand old-timers, is a fine personality. Never too busy to talk baseball, even today, Swat follows the big-league races closely and can spin many an interesting yarn of the yesteryears.
Erickson, like the other five candidates for the first Hall of Fame, went from Jamestown to spread the city's name and fame as a producer of outstanding sports personalities.