Ray Kolp as a ten-year-old leaning on elbow at bottom right in a Kolp family reunion picture taken around 1905 in front of Nicolas Kolp's home on West Maple Street in New Berlin, Ohio:
Ray Kolp had two sisters, Joyce and Euphrasia, and one brother Earl. His Father was Peter Frank Kolp (1866-?) and his Mother was Elizabeth Edington Kolp, pictured above as the two standing persons farthest to the left. His parents divorced in 1923. His Grandparents Catherine Weisz Kolp and Nicholas Kolp are the oldest couple seated in the center. Nicholas' brother, Henry Kolp, is seated on his left. (Three Kolp brothers married three Weisz sisters in 1851, 1853, and 1855.) The Kolp line back from Peter is Nicholas Kolp (1822-1905), Pierre Kolp (1778-?), Petrus Kolp (1732-1805), and Pierre Kolp (1685-1779.) Ray's Grandfather Nicholas Kolp arrived in New York City in May 1847 on a ship named "Stadt Antwerp."
Here is a close-up of the young Ray Kolp from the above picture showing stylish button details on his shirt and pants:
Ray Kolp in front row second from right in 1909 photo (with permission from North Canton Heritage Society) of the New Berlin baseball team:
Ray Kolp similarly pictured (with permission from North Canton Heritage Society) as a teenager on the New Berlin, Ohio team. Notice the cigar in the coach's hand. Ray Kolp is the second from the right, holding the glove. Regrettably his face is blurry:
Ray Kolp was in the army at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1918, being discharged as a sergeant in December 1918. Here is a picture of Ray "Jack" Kolp in uniform on the front steps of St. Paul Catholic Church in North Canton, Ohio. Picture below with permission from North Canton Heritage Society.
Ray Kolp playing on the company team, before playing in the major leagues. (Hoover suction sweepers were invented in Canton, Ohio, and first manufactured in New Berlin, Ohio in the early 1900s). Picture appears with permission from North Canton Heritage Society. Ray Kolp is tellingly featured in the center of the back row:
Ray Kolp playing under the name "Jack Culp" for the Akron Gay-lords in 1919 as pictured in the June 13, 1919 Akron Beacon Journal:
This Hoover Suction Sweeper team beat the American Bridge Company team for the Class AAA National Baseball Federation championship on Saturday, October 4, 1919 in 14 innings by a score of 6 - 5 in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Ray Kolp started at shortstop and closed the game as the pitcher, striking out five. Players on the team included Storch, Schiltz, and Evans.
The Hoover team's win in the N. B. F. was noted in the following picture from the Cleveland Plain Dealer of November 2, 1919 with Ray Kolp in the top row far right:
Ray Kolp long had the nickname Jack Kolp, as mentioned in many Canton Repository newspaper articles, starting as early as 1912.
Ray Kolp played for the Hoover Sweepers and the Akron Gay-lords in 1919; he played for the Akron Numatics and the Massillon Agathons in 1920. The Akron Numatics was the Akron team in the semi-pro International League. Ray played for the Akron Numatics with Olympian and teammate Jim Thorpe in 1920 before becoming a St Louis Brown in 1921. (Also in 1920, Jim Thorpe played football for the Canton Bulldogs in the first year of what became the National Football League, in Canton Ohio, 24 miles south of Akron Ohio.)
In 1919 Ray Kolp played on the Hoover Sweeper team in North Canton, Ohio, using his real name, along with teammates H. Storch, C. Evans, and P. Evans (see picture and caption above). Also in 1919 in Akron, Ohio, 18 miles north of North Canton, Ray Kolp strangely played under the name Ray Culp for the sandlot Akron Gay-lords with the same three teammates (see other picture and caption above).
Then in 1920, Ray Kolp, still using the name Ray "Jack" Culp, moved up to minor league ball playing for the Akron team (the Numatics) in the International League along with Jim Thorpe. Ray had a rocky relationship with Dick Hoblitzell, the Akron manager, and Ray finally quit the team and joined the Massillon Agathons for a short time beginning August 29, 1920.
Precisely why Ray Kolp used the name Ray Culp in Akron in 1919 and 1920 is not totally clear, but the name confusion is mentioned twice in Akron newspaper sports-articles and once in a New York Times article. The newspaper explanations point to contract issues and player restrictions in the semi-pro leagues aimed at limiting players jumping from one team to another. Various newspaper articles mention Ray Kolp signing contracts with a Terre Haute IN team and a New Castle PA team around this time even though he never actually reported to play for them.
Ray Kolp from one of the early years with the Browns:
Early in his pitching career with the St. Louis Brows, Ray Kolp seemed to have a jinx over the Cleveland Indians, able to beat them consistently. Pitchers' jinxes were the subject of a sports article by Billy Evans printed in the Jackson Citizen Patriot in Michigan and in the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina in August 1922, with this graphic of Ray Kolp:
And another shot winding up:
Snapshot of St. Louis Browns in Spring Training 1921 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. A guess is that Ray Kolp is in the middle row, fifth from the right:
Here is a 1922 Williards Chocolate baseball card. Compare the background to the picture above:
And here is one with the follow through:
And here is the back of a card from Canada half in French:
Here is front and back of the Ray Kolp card in the 1994 The Sporting News "Conlon Collection:"
This is a team picture from 1922 with the St. Louis Browns taken August 16, 1922. Ray Kolp is the fellow seated front row left, but it doesn't look much like his other pictures. His catcher Pat Collins is in the front row too, three persons down from Ray Kolp. This picture is for sale at pro.corbis.com.
Recent picture for sale on eBay:
This is a 1930 Cincinnati Reds team photo showing Ray Kolp, with his hair parted in the middle, third from the right in the second row from the bottom:
Below is a casual snapshot from 1930 or 1931 of Ray Kolp and fellow Reds pitcher Benny Frey. Ray Kolp is about 35 years old in this picture, and Benny Frey is around 24. They were roommates on the road and shared an interest in fishing. Benny Frey was a right-handed sidearm pitcher from Michigan who in 1936 suffered an arm injury that sadly ended his career.
Here are the same two friends side-by-side at spring training for pitchers probably at Tinker Field in 1930 in Orlando, Florida. From left to right, the Reds pitchers below are Ray Kolp, Benny Frey, Doug McWeeny, Red Lucas, Ownie Carroll, Jackie May, Pete Donahue, Ken Ash, Eppa Rixey, Larry Benton, Archie Campbell, and Si Johnson.
Here is the same picture in the Orlando newspaper from March 8, 1930:
Notice the first two autographs below:
And another photo of Cincinnati's Ray Kolp from an October 2008 sale on eBay:
In addition to the Willard Chocolate card above, Ray C. Kolp is also card number 45 in the 1924 set of cards from Diaz Cigarettes, a Cuban company that also issued sets in 1923 and 1924 with players from the Cuban Professional League. The set with Ray Kolp has 136 pitchers from the U.S. majors, showing a black and white photo of the player with the team name above and the player name and position below. Each card measures 1 3/4” by 2 1/2”. Here it is from an eBay sale for $127 in October 2010:
And here is the back of the card:
The above Diaz cigarette card is clearly from this photo contributed to this website by the grandson of a friend of Ray Kolp from the 1960s:
The Cincinnati Reds played an exhibition game against an O-P (Ohio-Pennsylvania) League amateur team in Canton, Ohio at Lakeside (next to Meyers Lake) on June 20, 1927, as reported in this article from the Canton Repository the next day. Winning Cincinnati pitcher was Ray "Jack" Kolp:
Adding a bit to the name confusion discussed above, from 1963 thru 1973 there was another pitcher from Texas with the similar name Ray Culp, spelled differently but pronounced the same:
By the way, there have been no other Kolps in the majors, but there have been several Culps such as William Culp in 1910 from Ohio and Benny Culp in 1942 from Philadelphia.
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