Friday, November 9, 2007

The Sad, Lonely Life Of Fred Dunlap

Fred Dunlap was born in Philadelphia on May 21, 1859. It was in Philadelphia that Dunlap learned to play baseball and was discovered by the Cleveland League team.

Orphaned sometime before his tenth birthday, Dunlap never attended school, could neither read nor write, "and the people that he lived with cared little were he went." Al Spink wrote in The National Game that "when he was not 'at home' eating his meals he was out...hitting fungoes, catching the ball, throwing it...the lad learned nothing but ball-playing, it was his only source of delight."

I find Spink's choice of words rather sad. Dunlap didn't have family. He had "the people that he lived with". Home was only a place to eat meals and sleep. Dunlap, who never married, lived his entire life alone, with no family and few friends.

Without trying to psychoanalyze him, it seems that much of Dunlap's behavior can be explained by this upbringing. The fights, the interpersonal difficulties, the moving from team to team, the preoccupation with money, the "me first" attitude-all of this can be seen as the behavior of a man who never learned to trust people. It doesn't take Freud to see a person in Dunlap who lost his parents at a young age and never was able to form strong bonds with people ever again.

Dunlap tried to replace personal relationships with money in an attempt to find the security that he lost when he was a boy. Ironically, Dunlap lost his fortune around the turn of the century and died broke and alone.

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