PAOLA — Eighty-six years ago this week, William “Dutch” Fehring made his Major League debut for the Chicago White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox were playing the New York Yankees on the road at “The House that Ruth Built” on June 25, 1934.
It would be the only game Fehring ever played in the Show, but it became one of those “Field of Dreams” moments brought back to life by one of the more than 1,000 letters the late Tom Reed wrote to players from the glory days of the game.
Two of the letters Reed sent out went to William “Dutch” Fehring and Harry “Slim” Kinzy.
The two were roommates with the Chicago White Sox in 1934, staying at the Breewood Hotel in Chicago where they had a nice suite for 50 cents a day.
Fehring entered the game at Yankee Stadium as a defensive replacement. Kinzy came out of the bullpen to pitch in relief.
The Yankees were winning the game, 10-2. Earl Combs led off the inning with a home run against Kinzy. Ben Chapman reached base safely, bringing up Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig.
Gehrig, the “Iron Horse,” laced a shot to deep center field. White Sox outfielder Mule Haas caught up with the ball that had rolled past him and fired it to Al Simmons, who had come over from left field.
Simmons threw the ball to shortstop Luke Appling, who fired home as Gehrig was charging down the third-base line in an attempt for an inside-the-park home run. Gehrig slid, but Fehring tagged him out at the plate.
Gehrig was credited with a triple after being tagged out. He already had a single, a double and a home run, so the triple gave him the cycle.
Collecting autographs of baseball players from the glory days of the game was a passion for Tom Reed, who owned Park Square Emporium in Paola for more than a decade. Tom Reed married Chalen Asher Reed in April of 1997. The couple moved to Horton where Tom opened the Electric City Emporium and Chalen continued her work as a pharmacist. Tom, a 1981 graduate of Paola High School, passed away in July and Chalen passed in December.
Tom Reed was a huge Kansas City Royals and Chiefs fan. He was buried in Chiefs and Royals jersey and jacket.
He was at Kauffman Stadium in 1985 to see the Kansas City Royals capture the World Series.
“My greatest thrill as a baseball fan was the chance to attend games one, six and seven of the 1985 World Series in Kansas City,” Reed wrote in an autograph letter. “The stadium just erupted in game six when Dane Iorg drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. After the game seven blow-out, I was one of the many who jumped onto the field to celebrate. The highlight of my summer is playing slow pitch softball. My fielding skills aren’t the greatest, but I really enjoy hitting.
“It must have been an incredible experience to be a professional baseball player,” he wrote. “Although I will never have that thrill personally, writing to big-leaguers really helps bring the excitement of the game to life for me.”
Tom Reed was featured in a story on the front page of the Miami County Republic on March 3, 1997, for using his autograph letters to reunite teammates William “Dutch” Fehring and Harry “Slim” Kinzy after 62 years.
While working on Tom Reed’s estate, his sister, Barbara Hicks of Lawrence, found several autograph letters and pictures from Fehring and Kinzy. The letters provide even more information about that one-in-a-million time that an avid fan of the game helped battery mates from the 1934 Chicago White Sox team reunite after more than six decades.
“I am always interested in knowing more about the players,” Tom said during an interview in 1997. “That story about one game brought it to life for me.”
Fehring sent Reed an article about the White Sox game against the Yankees in 1934.
“It seems like only a few months ago,” Fehring wrote. “But don’t ask me where my car keys are today.”
Reed accumulated thousands of autographs on index cards, baseball cards, letters, pictures and baseballs. Thirty-five years ago, Reed set out on a quest to catch up to the old timers, writing more than 1,000 autograph letters in 1985. He wrote a letter to every Major League player who debuted before 1940.
Tom reached out to Fehring and Kinzy not just as a fan, but also a fellow human being who happened to love the game of baseball. In some cases, he made new friends.
A daughter of one of the old ball players he wrote sent Tom a letter asking him to help cheer up her father. He was suffering from depression after having both of his legs amputated. She came across one of Tom’s letters to her father and asked if he would send another note to her dad.
“I got your address from your letters that daddy kept through the years,” the lady wrote in a letter to Tom. “I thought if some of you would take the time to drop him a card or a note of encouragement, it would help lift his spirits greatly. To my knowledge, daddy has always answered every request asked of him. Please do the same for me.”
Not only did Tom to that, he also sent letters to each of the teammates who were still alive and asked them to write as well.
Tom would make donations to charitable organizations and causes at players’ requests. Families would reach out to him about their loved one recovering from surgery or moving to a nursing home and Tom would send the player a letter about the good old days and what it must have been like to play Major League Baseball.
Fehring caught one game for the Chicago White Sox in 1934. It was his only season in the big leagues.
Kinzy, who also played that one season with the White Sox, was a relief pitcher. He pitched in 13 games in 1934 with a 0-1 record.
Their lives went in different directions after the 1934 season. Fehring coached at Purdue and Stanford universities. He settled in Memo Park, Calif. Kinzy moved back to Texas, living in Fort Worth.
Out of the blue in 1996, Tom wrote thank-you notes to some of the players he had written nearly a decade earlier. Two of those notes went to Ferhing and Kinzy.
Tom obtained black and white pictures of Fehring and Kinzy through George Brace, a photographer who worked in Chicago for several decades.
Tom’s time was rewarded with personalized autographed pictures for his collection. He sent extra copies for the players.
In one of his letters, Reed told Fehring where Kinzy was living.
Fehring dropped his former roommate a note. Fehring wrote Kinzy and told him he would be in Dallas (January 1997) for a coaches convention and would like to see him, if possible.
Kinzey, his wife Anne, and their son Norman, a Dallas attorney, went to see Fehring and his wife, Edna.
Fehring wrote Reed a note to thank him for putting him in touch with his teammate.
“Thanks to your thoughtfulness, and after 62 years, I was able to spend a few hours with my battery mate,” Fehring wrote. “We had a great time reviewing games and memories of rooming together.
“Now that we made contact, we plan to keep in touch in our remaining years,” Fehring wrote. “Thanks again Tom for making it all happen. Hope things are going well in all aspects. You are most thoughtful and I hope someday we’ll meet.”
Fehring was a graduate of Purdue University where he lettered nine times in football, basketball and baseball. He was part of the Boilermakers national championship basketball team in 1932. Fehring was the traveling roommate of John Wooden. When the UCLA Bruins were looking for a basketball coach, he put in a good word for his friend. It turned out to be the greatest hire in the history of college basketball with Wooden winning 10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row.
Fehring coached baseball at Purdue University and at Stanford University. He would attend the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., every summer and invited Tom and Chalen to be his guests for a late honeymoon. Tom and Chalen took him up on the offer and got to visit with Dutch and Edna.
Tom and Dutch would continue to correspond and meet at the College World Series. The letter from Dutch about reuniting with his teammate left a lasting impression on Tom.
“It gave me goose bumps all over,” Reed said in an interview for the story that ran in March of 1997. “I don’t know how to express it. I thought it was pretty neat for them to be reunited after 62 years.”
Fehring and Kinzy did not play in many Major League Baseball games, but they are part of the game’s colorful history, Reed said.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if they played one game or thousands,” he said. “They played Major League Baseball.”
Kinzy wrote several notes of thanks for Reed on pictures from his glory days with the White Sox.
“Thank you Tom for remembering me,” Harry H. “Slim” Kinzy wrote. “What a joy it is to hear from old friends. Times have changed from 1910, the year I was born at a saw mill in East Texas.
“It was nice to hear about Dutch Ferhring,” Kinzy wrote. “Come July 17 (1997), I will be 87 and have been married 57 years to Anne.”
Fehring was born on May 31, 1912. He married Edna on June 7, 1939. He passed away at the age of 93 on April 13, 2006.
Kinzy was born on July 19, 1910. He passed away at the age of 92 on June 22, 2003.
Tom Reed was the son of the late James Ross and Lorraine Heuerman Reed. He is survived by his sister Barbara (Joe) Hicks of Lawrence, and brother Jim (JoAnn) Reed of Olathe.
Chalen Asher Reed was the daughter of Ken and Mary Asher of Louisburg. She is also survived by sisters Kenna Valentine (Gary) of Lenexa, Danielle Iacovetto (Alex) of Eagle, Colo., Farrah Burg (Andrew) of Olathe; and brother Jarratt Asher (Tara) of Louisburg.