Our Documentary Heritage showcases holdings drawn from the vast collections of the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Herbert Jefferis “Herb” Pennock (1894-1948) was born and raised in Kennett Square, Chester County. He was reared in the Religious Society of Friends, or Quaker, faith. He was the son of Mary L. (Sharp) and Theodore Pennock, a well-to-do businessman whose lineage in Pennsylvania stretched back to 1685, when Christopher Pennock immigrated to Philadelphia from Ireland.

Nicknamed the “Squire of Kennett Square,” Herb Pennock began his professional baseball career with the Philadelphia Athletics. His father wanted him to attend the University of Pennsylvania after high school, but Athletics manager Connie Mack (1862-1956) persuaded him to join his team as a left-handed pitcher in 1912. Pennock jumped from high school ball straight to the major leagues.

Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 165 pounds, he was a master of the curveball. His easy, fluid pitching delivery sometimes gave the impression that he was not putting forth much effort. He played with the Athletics until midway through the 1915 season when Mack released him and the Boston Red Sox picked up his contract. Later, Mack would refer to this as his greatest mistake.

Pennock served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. His Veterans Service and Compensation File – held in Record Group 19, Series 91, at the Pennsylvania State Archives — reveals that he enrolled at the age of 22 at the Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 12, 1917. He was placed on active duty on January 2, 1918, as a seaman second class and served overseas from May to December 1918, spending most of his time in London, England. He was placed on inactive duty on December 21, 1918, and was later honorably discharged from the Navy on September 30, 1921, with the rank of yeoman first class. Pennock missed the entire 1918 baseball season because of his wartime service. He was paid a bonus of $120 in 1934 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for his military service during the war.

In a baseball career spanning 22 years, Pennock played for the Philadelphia Athletics (1912-15), the Boston Red Sox (1915-17, 1919-22, 1934) and the New York Yankees (1923-33). He won 241 games and lost 162, with an ERA of 3.60. He was on seven Major League Baseball world championship teams: one with the Athletics, two with the Red Sox and four with the Yankees. Pennock was noted to be a “big game” pitcher. During his career, he won a total of five World Series games and lost none.

After his playing career concluded, Pennock became a coach for the Boston Red Sox from 1936 to 1938. Thereafter, he helped lead the Red Sox minor league system. In late 1943 he became the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, a job he held until his death on January 30, 1948, at the age of 53. Pennock was inducted posthumously into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.

 

Richard C. Saylor is an archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives and author of the award-winning book Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders.