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Cal Broughton - Evansville's First Professional Baseball Player and Evansville's First Police Chief
Researched and Written by Ruth Ann Montgomery
Cal Broughton's Stats

For more than 115 years, Evansville fans have been watching local ball players win and lose at the game of baseball. One of Evansville's first baseball teams was organized in March 1880 with livery stable owner, Matt Broderick, as Manager.

The team called themselves the Evansville Mutuals. Mutuals was a common name for local ball teams. Cal Broughton was catcher, Bayard Andrews, pitcher; Morehouse, Owen, F. Broughton on the bases; Heath, shortstop; and Purdy Thompson and Hunt in the field. Two men acted as extras, John Silverthorn and A. Broughton.

The team played neighboring towns and competed for prize money offered to the winning team. The Mutuals always drew a crowd. The players knew there was potential for baseball professionals to become rich playing ball and one of the team members, Cal Broughton, had ambitions to be a professional ball player.

Professional baseball had been in existence since 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stocks team became the first team to be openly paid for playing ball. That year, the Stocks had an annual payroll of $9,300 and the star of the Cincinnati team, short-stop George Wright, was paid $1,400. His fans said he was worth every penny of it.

In the next few years, new teams formed all over the country, both professional and local teams. Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, St. Louis and Louisville, all had ball teams that were part of the National League by the late 1870s.

Americans were ready for professional ball and Evansville, in the 1880s, was ready to give one of their locals to the great game. They were counting on their favorite catcher, Cal Broughton to bring fame to the community.

Broughton was born on the family farm near Albany in December 1860. His father was a farmer and Cal helped with the farm work, pursuing his love of baseball in his spare time.

The local teams usually began practicing in March and the season ended in September. One of the first reported matches was between the Evansville Mutuals and the Janesville Mutuals for a prize of twenty dollars at Evansville's Fourth of July celebration in 1880. Evansville's team won with a score of 32 to 20.

In December 1881, Cal Broughton married Harried Chase in a double wedding ceremony with Mr. and Mrs. George Henry Howard at the Grand Hotel in Janesville. The newly married Broughtons settled on Cal's family farm. During the winter months, Cal farmed but during the summer, his work was on the baseball diamond.

In the next two years, both Janesville and Beloit teams used Broughton as their catcher. Then in 1882, Cal Broughton was hired by the Cleveland Indians. The Cleveland team was a member of the National League and they kept Broughton for just one season and the following year let him go.

As it has always been with the game of baseball, the early days of the sport were precarious for ball players and teams. The Cleveland team was in fifth place in 1882. Just as they do today, professional teams changed their staff to try to make a winning team for their fans.

In September 1883, Cal Broughton was hired to play for the American Association team, the Baltimore Orioles. His stay on this team was also short.

In 1884, Milwaukee, in the Northwestern league, bought Broughton in 1884. That year, the Milwaukee team won 27 of the 28 games it played. The pitcher for the team was Ed Cushman and Broughton considered him to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

The following year, Broughton was playing for the St. Louis Browns. However, in August 1885, he was purchased by the New York Metropolitans, who had also bought Cushman. Broughton once again had a chance to catch for his favorite pitcher.

For the next five years, Broughton played with five different teams. Although Broughton never reached the salary of George Wright, by May 1886, he had been hired by a Savannah, Georgia team for $1,200. He was still playing the catcher position.

In the next few years, he shifted ball teams every season. In 1887, he was once again hired to be the catcher for the Milwaukee team. The local newspapers described his season with the Milwaukee club as first rate.

However, the next season, "Cal Broughton, the champion catcher of the west", as the Evansville Review named him, was playing for Detroit. The reported salary was now $2,100.

The Detroit Sluggers made a trip through the south before the regular season games opened in the spring. Cal Broughton left Evansville the 15th of February in 1888 to join the team in Detroit.

For two years, in 1889 and 1890, Cal played for the St. Paul professional team. Then he was transferred to Seattle to play in the North Pacific league in 1890. His last year in professional baseball was in 1891 when he played for a team organized in Lowell, Massachusetts. After his years as a professional ball player, Cal returned to make his home in the Evansville area.

He never gave up his love for baseball, and while Cal turned to other professions for a living, he continued to play with local teams. In August 1891, Cal Broughton and Fred Gillman played ball with the Edgerton Club. In later years, Broughton and Gillman would team up again, in keeping Evansville safe from crime.

The two men, Gillman and Broughton played together on local ball teams throughout the 1890s. In 1896, Evansville's team became the State Champions. Gillman and Broughton are pictured together for the team photograph, Broughton sporting a handle-bar mustache typical of professional ball players. That same year, Broughton mangled and dislocated his thumb while playing ball in Durand, Illinois.

In 1895, Broughton and his wife, Harriet moved to Evansville. Mrs. Broughton opened a restaurant on West Main Street and Cal purchased a billiard parlor on the north side of East Main Street. (The building has since been torn down and the site is now the east side of the Union Bank and Trust building.)

In early April 1899, Calvin C. Broughton became Evansville's first police chief. At that time the chief of police was elected by the people. David Johnson and Walter Tullar also ran for the position. With a total of 139 votes, Broughton was the people's choice for police chief, and he remained in that position for the next seventeen years.

Broughton was paid $35 a month and this salary never changed as long as Broughton was chief. His staff was small. Fred W. Gillman, his fellow baseball team mate, became the assistant Chief of Police and also acted as City Clerk. C. G. Mihills was the night policeman.

Big crimes were usually not the work of local people. The homeless people, called tramps, in those days regularly road the railroad trains from town to town looking for shelter and food. They were often considered troublesome by the townspeople and Broughton met every train stopping in Evansville to prevent the tramps from getting off the train and bothering local citizens.

Just a year after being elected Police Chief, Broughton became a local hero. In September 1900, three men robbed railroad workers in a box car near Merrimac, Wisconsin. The workers were pushed from the box car and the robbers road the train as far as Evansville. In the meantime, the railroad workers jumped on another train and it arrived at the Evansville depot before the first train had left for Janesville. They alerted the local authorities.

The police discovered that the criminals had already left the box car and were walking along the tracks to Janesville. Chief Broughton and Fred Gillman hired Charles Winship to drive them in his livery rig and they overtook the three suspects just a few miles east of Evansville. Both the robbers and the policemen were armed and they fired shots at each other, but Broughton and Gillman managed to capture the thieves, handcuff them and bring them to the city hall jail.

Feeling that the jail was secure, Broughton and Gillman left the men alone for several hours. When the Chief returned to the jail to check on his prisoners, Broughton discovered that the three had escaped. The men had taken an iron bar from a ventilator between the cell and the fire engine room, pried open the jail door, broken glass in another door, and unlocked a second door with a key that had been left in the lock. Then they raised a front window in the city hall and left town in broad daylight with no one noticing them.

When Broughton discovered the escapees, he got a posse together and went to the corn fields south of the city looking for the men. Two of the men were found hiding in the corn shocks, but a third, known as "Toronto Jimmy", a notorious safe cracker, and post office robber was captured several days later in Portage, Wisconsin.

Broughton collected evidence from the spot where the men had been found. A large blue handkerchief was tied around dynamite, caps and fuses that could be used for blowing up safes.

The capture of the criminals earned Broughton a reputation for protecting the lives and property of the local citizens. The following year, in November 1901, Cal Broughton, together with Fred Gillman, C. G. Mihills, H. W. Fellows and Charles Winship were awarded $600 for the capture of robbers who had taken money and stamps from the Footville Post Office.

The Baker Hardware Store was robbed in May 1905 and Broughton captured the burglars even though he had to fight with them. The store owners were so pleased that they gave Broughton a new Colt revolver to show their appreciation. Another suspect was captured in Baraboo after he tried to sell jack knives with the name F. A. Baker & Company on them.

In addition to his police work, Broughton also performed other functions for the city. He and Gillman cleaned the jail by order of the City Council. In 1911, after the city installed the sewer system, the City Council made Broughton the inspector for the installation of the new sewer work to be installed. In 1915, he was also made street commissioner and was given another $30 each month, besides his regular salary of $35.

It was during his time as police chief that Broughton also captured Evansville's first car thieves. In June 1913, a Ford car was stolen from the barn of Thomas Steele, who lived in Union township, about a mile west of Evansville. The car was found abandoned and covered with hay in an old barn near Portage. Broughton captured one of the car thieves, Bert Krueger, near Spooner Wisconsin on June 9.

The justice system worked much faster in those days, or perhaps there were fewer criminals, because Krueger was brought before a judge in Janesville on June 11, two days after Broughton captured him. Krueger was found guilty of the car theft and sentenced to four and a half years in prison at Waupun.

Ray Norton, the second thief, was captured in South Dakota and Broughton went by train to bring him back to Wisconsin for trial. After Norton pleaded guilty before Judge Fifield, (the same judge who had tried and sentenced Krueger), he also was sent to Waupun.

The Chief of Police continued to watch every incoming train for hobos and tramps that might try to get off the trains at the local depot. If any tried to leave the cars, Broughton fired his revolver into the air and scared them back onto the train.

Through the seventeen years that Broughton was Chief, Fred Gillman acted as his assistant. Gillman also had a reputation as one who would chase down criminals. In 1916, Gillman got news that a robbery had occurred in Poplar Grove, Illinois and the thief had boarded the train in Beloit. When the train arrived in Evansville, Gillman boarded the train, nabbed the robber and arrested him as the train arrived in Madison. He returned the suspect to Belvidere, Illinois for trial.

When Broughton decided to give up his job as chief, Gillman was his logical successor. In January 1917, Fred Gillman replaced Broughton as police chief. Gus Jewel became Gillman's assistant.

Broughton went to work for the D. E. Wood Butter Company for several years. Then in 1927 he once again entered police work, this time as Gillman's assistant.

In 1931, the Broughton's celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Harriet died in 1934 and Cal became an invalid two years later. He was cared for by Mr. and Mrs. O. C. Jones at their home on South Madison Street.

Broughton maintained his interest in baseball and had a radio by his bedside to listen to the ball games and baseball news. By the late 1930s, another Evansville boy had become a professional player. One of Cal's last requests was to know whether or not Stanley "Pop" Sperry had started spring training.

Cal Broughton died in March 1939, at the age of 78. He was one of Evansville's heroes.

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