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June 27, 2013

In a snap!

Sherman ‘Snapper’ Kennedy’s journey took him from Conneaut to the majors... for 1 game, but he later become a professional in a second sport

Fifth of a Series...

Sherman Montgomery Kennedy is far from the most well-known athlete to ever come out of Conneaut. In fact, most have probably never heard nor read his name previously.

However, Kennedy, who was known to most as “Snapper,” for unknown reasons, may very well have been the best athlete to ever come out of Conneaut.

After all, how many gentlemen who hail from the city located the city located in the extreme northeast corner of Ashtabula County can lay claim to being a professional athlete?

But it doesn’t stop there, though.

Sherman Montgomery “Snapper” Kennedy was a professional — in two sports — including a trip to the majors in baseball.

Getting started

Kennedy was born on Friday, Nov. 1, 1878 on the east side of Conneaut.

Not much is known about the son of Benjamin Franklin and Clara (Fenton) Kennedy during his days growing up here in Ashtabula County.

The oldest of five children — and the only boy — Sherman was followed by sisters Neeta, Charlotte, Lois and Sarah.

By the time he turned 18 and graduated from Conneaut High School, he had already caught the eye of baseball scouts.

Kennedy, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound switch-hitting infielder-outfielder who threw right-handed, signed on with the Cedar Rapids Rabbits, a Class B team in the Western Association, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 1897, Kennedy jumped headlong into professional baseball player, appearing in 122 games — 116 at shortstop, four as an outfielder and two as a pinch-hitter — and he performed well.

In his inaugural season, Kennedy hit .297, socking 37 doubles, seven triples and three home runs. On a team named the Rabbits, he had perhaps the most hop in his step, stealing 43 bases and scoring 119 runs, going 141 for 509 at the plate.

However, Kennedy suffered some type of injury late in his rookie season and though its nature has been lost to time, it caused him to sit out the 1898 season.

In 1899, he returned to the game, signing on with the Class F New London Whalers of the Connecticut League.

Kennedy did a little of everything as he tried to bounce back from the unknown injury, appearing in 37 games in the outfield, one at third base and even pitched in 14 games.

He hit .244, going 59 for 242, scoring 34 runs and stealing five bags.

On the mound, Kennedy made 13 starts and one relief appearance, posting a 7-6 record. He completed 12 of his 13 starts, even throwing a shutout.

He would never again appear on the mound.

Kennedy married the former Eva Celia Palmer, herself a Conneaut native from the Clarks Corners section of town, on Aug. 11, 1900.

Eva was 14, Sherman 21at the time of their  marriage, one that would span almost a half-century, 45 years.

He began the 1900 season with the Whalers, appearing in six games from May 10 through June 5, but suffered another injury that ended his season prematurely on June 5.

Kennedy was off to a good start that season, hitting at a .308 clip (8 for 23), with a double and three runs scored when the injury bug bit.

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