Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Brief Sketch of Jul Kustus, A Few Cartoons & a Short Mention of Elijah McCoy

Jul Kustus was a professional baseball player who briefly made it to the major leagues in 1909 only to be shipped back to the minors where he spent the great majority of his baseball career. Known as a fleet footed defensive whiz and base stealer, his hitting abilities were not quite so renown, though he hit for a fairly good average in many seasons. He batted a mere .145 in 1909 with the Brooklyn Superbas before being shipped off to Rochester, or was it Syracuse? Whichever, he never would return to the major leagues and died just 7 short years later from TB at Eloise.

At the turn of the last century artist's impressions were the main pictorials in all newspapers. While searching for Kustus I came across a few of the cartoons above. Since Kustus was known for his running abilities it's only fitting that they both depicts a stolen base attempt. Unfortunately he was out in both instances. Which pretty much sums up his short stint in the big drink though he did have a few game saving catches and winning hits along with his foibles.

An aside to the short career and life of Kustus is the fact that nobody seems to know where the guy is buried. Most online baseball biographies list his internment at Detroit Memorial Park West in Redford, Michigan but the cemetery wasn't even founded until 1925 and was established for black folks -- it was also the first black-owned business in Michigan -- who often weren't allowed to be buried among their white contemporaries. Since Kustus's death pre-dated the existence of the cemetery and he was German it's an inaccuracy at best. That leaves the question: where is Kustus buried?

All I know for certain is that his death certificate states that he was buried in Detroit and the undertaker was M. C. Haley, a prominent practitioner in his field. Somebody has to know.

In a coincidental note, fellow Eloise alum and famous inventor Elijah McCoy is buried at Detroit Memorial Park East, a sister site to the aforementioned memorial garden, located in Warren, Michigan.

Yes, the phrase "the real McCoy" is associated with one of his many inventions, a machine that lubricated engines and spawned many inferior copycats by other inventors, though there is dispute whether the phrase originated with the invention itself.

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