Title: Baseball Player
Birthdate: August 8, 1861
Death Date: August 29, 1923
Plot Location: 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 poor fatherless white boys.
At a time when the use of child labor was the norm and recreational activities for children were limited, John’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 the Philadelphia Athletics. “Jocko” played professional baseball from 1884 through the 1893 season. These baseball cards show that he was both pitcher and catcher for the St. Louis Browns. He occasionally played first base and was on several other teams, including the Athletics.
In 1887 he married Isabella McFarland and they raised five boys: Walter (1888-1919), William (1889-1932), and John (1892-1920), Edwin (1906-1961), and Charles (1913-1958).
After leaving baseball, the 1900 census listed his occupation as a carpenter. He also invested in real estate in South Philadelphia. John remained loyal to Girard College and often visited the campus on Founder’s Day.
The 1910 census shows he was a Tipstaff, a bailiff or court officer. The name came from the short metal-tipped staff that the person in that position carried, and was permitted to use to maintain order. It’s not hard to imagine John wished he could swing it like a baseball bat.
On August 29, 1923 John suffered a heart attack and died at his home on Sears Street. Edwin and Charles later moved with Isabella to New York. They buried her here beside her husband after she died in 1944.
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