Cal Broughton - Evansville's First Professional Baseball Player
and Evansville's First Police Chief
Researched and Written by Ruth Ann Montgomery
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
In September 1883, Cal Broughton was hired to play for the American
Association team, the Baltimore Orioles. His stay on this team was
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
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
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
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
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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