When he was seven years old his parents placed him in St. Mary's Industrial School (Baltimore), an institution for underprivileged boys. His days at St. Mary's were spent learning the tailor's trade and practicing baseball in his spare time. He began to play semiprofessional ball in Pennsylvania and was signed by the Baltimore Orioles (International League) in 1914. That same year he was sold as a pitcher to the Boston Red Sox of the American League.
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