Will the Real John Tobin Please Stand Up!
No, the John Tobin we have been looking for is John Lawrence Tobin. Tobin's claim to fame is that he hit 4 Home runs in a game on June 15, 1936 while playing for Marshall in the East Texas League. This feat was discovered by Davis Barker several years ago. Barker is an expert on minor league ball in East Texas. He also finds that Tobin played in 4 games for Tyler of the East Texas League in 1931.
The Howe News Bureau has a contract card for him, and it lists his minor league record:
1934 Paris-Lufkin West Dixie League 3b-ss 125 G
1935 Jacksonville West Dixie League ss-of 93 G
1936 Marshall/Henderson East Texas League ss-3b, 143 G
1937 Charleston Middle Atlantic League 3b, 14 G
1937 Palestine East Texas League 3b, 58 G
The card gives his year of birth as 1908, and there is a note that he was made a free agent by the New York Giants in 1933.
The Baseball Encyclopedia has a listing for John Martin Tobin. He pinch hit for the New York Giants in 1 game on September 22, 1932. He was born on January 8, 1906 at Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, and he died on August 6, 1983 at Rhinebeck, NY (Rhinebeck is near Kingston, NY). We have not found a contract card for John Martin, nor have we been able to conclusively find him playing anywhere else in Organized Baseball other than the one pinch hitting appearance for the Giants.
A player named Tobin (no first name) played in 24 games for Muskogee and Hutchinson of the Western Association in 1932. He played shortstop and hit a miniscule .174. This is hardly the kind of hitting record that would normally rate a promotion to the majors.
All this raises several questions: Were John Martin Tobin, the Giant, and John Lawrence Tobin, the minor league player, one in the same person? What was John Martin doing in 1932 to deserve being signed by the Giants late in the season? What was he (or the two John Tobins) doing in 1933?
I am hoping that someone in Massachusetts can check the local papers on the occasion of Tobin's debut with the Giants. If he was still living in Massachusetts, it would be worth mentioning in the paper. Also, if someone has access to a Kingston paper, maybe it had an obit on Tobin. Kingston had several papers and the Kingston Library has several newspapers on microfilm, but they don’t loan out their microfilm.
By Bob McConnell