Born: August 8, 1861
Died: August 29, 1923
Plot: Section 124, Lot 150
John Milligan was born in Philadelphia in 1861 where his family resided on Lombard Street. Shortly after his birth, John’s mother passed away and a brief 8 years later, his father also died. Now an orphan, his uncle Thomas Dunbar was named his guardian. In January 1870, John was enrolled in Girard College by his uncle. Girard College, named for Stephen Girard who was a sea captain, mercantile owner, financier and philanthropist, opened in 1848 as a boarding school for fatherless boys. At a time when the use of child labor was the norm and recreational activities for children were limited, Milligan’s enrollment at Girard proved to be a fortunate choice. Girard provided the time and space for athletics in addition to a curriculum based on “practical education” to provide basic skills and advanced training for a career. John was a fair student, but his athletic ability made him a stand out member of the baseball team.
Upon his graduation, he apprenticed as a blacksmith. In addition to shoeing horses for five years, he managed to continue playing ball and was eventually noticed by the manager of Philadelphia Athletics. He made his major league debut with the A’s on May 1, 1884. During a career that lasted until 1893, Milligan played for multiple major and minor league teams. He occasionally played first base but was mostly known for his catching, batting and fielding skills. Jocko Milligan remained loyal to Girard College, often visiting the campus on Founder’s Day. When he retired from baseball, he invested in real estate in South Philadelphia and served as a Tipstaff (a bailiff or court officer named after the short, metal tipped staff they carried).On August 29, 1923 John “Jocko” Milligan suffered a heart attack and died at his home on Sears Street. He was survived by his wife Isabella, several children and grandchildren.