Saturday, November 10, 2007
On May 15, 1890, Fred Dunlap was released by Pittsburgh. A series of leg injuries had limited Dunlap to a total of 147 games in 1887 and 1888 and had essentially ended his usefulness as a baseball player by the time he was thirty years old. In his last full season in the major leagues in 1889, Dunlap hit a mere .235 with an OPS+ of only 74.
After his release, Dunlap joined a very good New York Giants Players League team for one game. It's ironic that at the end of his career Dunlap finally fulfilled his desire to play in New York and was able to do so in a league that was created by a labor movement that he had helped facilitate. The following year, his playing days came to an end after he managed to play in only eight games for the Washington Nationals of the AA.
Dunlap, who was known to be thrifty, had made a lot of money while playing baseball and "being of an economical turn he put away a great deal of this sum." The Brooklyn Eagle, in an 1895 article, wrote that "his savings was turned into real estate and out of these investments he has grown comparatively rich." When Al Spink ran into Dunlap in 1901, the former second baseman told him that he had saved most of his money and invested it in Philadelphia real estate. He also claimed to have $100,000 in the bank.
The last year of Dunlap's life was a difficult one. Although the circumstances are unclear, sometime in 1902 Dunlap lost his savings and investments and fell on hard times. Financially ruined, he was described in his final year of life as living as "a pauper". While no one seems to know what happened to Dunlap's money, it's probably safe to assume that he lost his investments in the economic instability of the era rather than through dissipation.
Fred Dunlap died on December 1, 1902 at the age of 43 of a "tubercular distended rectum". At the time he was living in what is variously described as an alms house or a seedy rooming house. His body lay unidentified in a Philadelphia morgue for some time until it was finally identified by a former teammate. Since Dunlap had died destitute, he was to have been buried in a potter's field until a local sportswriter arranged for him to have a proper funeral. According to Spink, "(his) funeral...was ignored by the professional players of the Quaker City with whom he was never a favorite." The sportswriter who had arranged Dunlap's funeral later told Spink that "(there) was not enough friends of Dunlap at his funeral to bury him and we had to call on the hack drivers to make up the list of active pall-bearers."