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Toledo's own "King" of baseball

August 7, 2013
By Joyce Wiese , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Leonard Leslie "King" Cole was born in Toledo on April 15, 1886, son of Hiram H. and Cora Alice Phillips Cole.

In his early years, he attended Toledo Public Schools and later for a while, he attended Leander Clark College.

During his youth, he showed unusual skill as a baseball player. Cole made a name for himself pitching for a local nines in Toledo. He briefly joined hte barnstorming "Bloomer Girls" in 1907. The "Bloomer Girls" was a team made up of mostly girls and occasionally fresh faced young men, most notably Rogers Hornsby and Smoky Joe Wood, all with hopes of catching the attention of a professional team.

His efficiency increased as he got older. Cole landed a position with the Bay City, Mich., team in 1908. Bay City was an organization belonging to the Southern Michigan League. The Bay City club won the Pennant that year, and the pitching of Cole attracted the attention of the scouts for the Chicago team of the National League. The Chicago National League team became the Chicago Cubs that same year. This is where Cole made his Major League debut, stopping the Cardinals 8-0. On July 31, 1910, Cole pitched a 7-inning no-hitter for a 4-0 win over St. Louis. The game was then called off due to weather.

Leonard "King" Cole achieved his greatest fame as a member of the Cubs. In 1910, he won 20 of his 24 games and was a great factor in winning the last Pennant won by the Evers-Tinker-Chance aggregation. It was his first year in the majors. He was heralded the tallest pitcher in the National League and his success was in great measure due to his deceptive wind up.

The following season, Cole again ranked among the leading pitchers, having gained confidence as a result of his brilliant debut of the preceding season, and also because of the fact that he twirled eight innings of the only World Series game the Cubs won from the Athletics in 1910.

In 1912, "King" lost his effectiveness and was traded with Artie Hoffman to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Tommy Leach and Lefty Letfield. This change didn't benefit Cole, whose work was so poor he was released to Columbus. "King" had a great season in 1913 and that fall was drafted by the New York Yankees.

On Oct. 2, 1914, Cole gave up a double to Babe Ruth. This was Ruth's first hit in the Major Leagues.

During spring training, "King" Cole complained of pain in his groin. Doctors found a malignant tumor and performed surgery. His prognosis was not good, with estimates of only several months to live. The "King" had one more royal act to perform however. He worked himself back into shapea and rejoined the Highlanders in July. He struggled early, but showed some of his royal pitching skills in August, pitching well in relief. On Sept. 20, he pitched in two innings of relief. It was his last game pitched, as well as his last win in baseball.

Cole finished his career with a pitching record of 56-27 and a 3.12 ERA. He also had 298 strikeouts during his Major League career.

In November, his cancer had spread and his condition got worse. He died on Jan. 6, 1916, just 15 weeks after his last big league win.

The funeral services for Leonard "King" Cole were held in Toledo at the home of his grandmother, Mrs. S. Phillips. The remains were interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo.



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