Charleroi’s John K. Tener rounded up the first Congressional Baseball Game

June 16, 2017
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National Library of Congress photo
Pennsylvania Gov. John K. Tener of Charleroi, a former professional baseball player, throws out the first pitch at a baseball game in 1914 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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A John K. Tener baseball card

John K. Tener has been forever etched in local history as helping to put Charleroi on the map before becoming the 25th governor of Pennsylvania.

A day after the shooting of a U.S. representative and others in Alexandria, Va., during a practice for the annual and relatively obscure Congressional baseball game, the Charleroi entrepreneur was recalled as being the first U.S. representative to organize the matchup while he served in the U.S. House in 1909.

“We’re not surprised if he started it, as he was also instrumental in starting leagues here,” said Nikki Sheppick, chairman of Charleroi Area Historical Society.

Tener also fielded Charleroi’s first community baseball team in 1891, a year after the glassmaking boomtown was settled, said Sheppick, adding that she believed the incident in Alexandria was un-American.

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, was fatally wounded Wednesday by Capitol police after he critically wounded U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who joined other Republicans on the practice field in advance of the charity baseball game that was played Thursday. Also injured in the shooting were a police officer, lobbyist and congressional staff member.

The game’s website states it pits Republicans against Democrats in an annual event that is “enjoyed by thousands” and helps to create friendships across the aisle.

The Democrats won, 26-16, in the inaugural game organized by Tener, who was a National League pitcher and first baseman before turning to politics.

Sheppick said her society came across information while researching Tener that indicated he was connected to the Congressional Baseball Game.

The Society for American Baseball Research states on its website that few people could “match the versatility” of Tener. He left professional baseball in 1910 and moved to Charleroi, where he was a cashier at First National Bank in the new town. He later organized the Charleroi Savings and Trust Co. and Mercantile Bridge Co., which built the old Charleroi-Monessen Bridge.

He was born one of 10 children in County Tyrone, Ireland, on July 25, 1863, to George and Susan Wallis Tener. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1908 as a Republican and served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1911 to 1915.

Sheppick has said Tener established financing as governor that resulted in major improvements to Pennsylvania roads in a program that would evolve into the state Department of Transportation.

Tener went on to be elected the National League’s eighth president in 1913. He died from heart disease May 19, 1946, and was buried in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Today, the public library in Charleroi is named in his honor.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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