Harry Chapman (1887-1918) was a native of Severance, Doniphan County, Kansas.
In 1910, after playing semi-pro baseball for several years, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Chapman, a catcher, went pro in 1910 with the Concordia Travelers of the Class D Central Kansas League. The next year with the Travelers he was batting .335 when called to the Topeka Jayhawks of the Class A Western League, where he played 62 games with a .240 average.
In 1912 he joined the Sioux City Packers of the Western League and despite batting only .238 he was called up to the Chicago Cubs , where he played the last game of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was 1-for-4 at the plate with a triple, an RBI and a stolen base.
Prior to the 1913 season he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he pinch-hit in two games. He was sent down to the Atlanta Crackers of the Class A Southern Association, and batted .290, as the Crackers won the Southern Association pennant. In 1914 he decided to join the new third ‘major’ league, the Federal League, signing with the St. Louis Terriers. He was the third string catcher, appeared in 64 games and batted .210 as the Terriers finished last. The following year, with the Terriers as pennant contenders he shared catching duties with Grover Hartley, and batted .199 in 62 games with 29 RBIs.
The Federal League disbanded after the 1915 season and Terriers’ owner, Phil Ball, bought the St. Louis Browns (became the Baltimore Orioles in 1953). As a Brownie in 1916, Chapman appeared in 18 games and batted .097 before he was sent down to the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association, where he batted .265 in 1916 and .259 in 1917.
If you’ve been keeping count, not including the 126 games he played in the Federal League, his MLB career spanned just 21 games. His greatest value as a catcher was said to be his ability to calm down pitchers.
With baseball behind him, at the end of 1917 he joined the army. He died from influenza-induced pneumonia at State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada, Missouri on October 21, 1918, and is buried at McPherson Cemetery in McPherson, Kansas.
He was one of the eight Major League Baseball players to die in the First World War.