James B “Jim”
Prendergast was born on August 23, 1916 in Brooklyn, New
York. He played baseball for Brooklyn Technical
High School team and was signed by the
Dodgers upon graduation and sent to
but didn't play.
"Bob [Quinn, Dodgers GM]
got me a job playing semi-pro ball up around
Pennsylvania," he told The
Sporting News on April 21, 1948, "where Gene McCann, Yankee
scout, saw me and asked me if I'd like to sign with the Yankees.
I nearly fainted dead away, but before I did, I signed."
Prendergast played for
the Butler Yankees of the Penn State Association in 1936. He
advanced from Class D to Class B the following year when he
joined Augusta at the start of
the season, but despite an 8-6 record with Augusta he was sent back down to Class D ball
with Palatka of the Florida State League.
In 1938, Prendergast
joined Birmingham of the Southern
Association. He was 3-3 in 12 games for
and also pitched for Seattle and Hollywood of the Pacific
Coast League that year. In 1939, Prendergast began a three-year
association with Little
of the Southern Association. In 1941 he was 15-16 with a 4.14
ERA. It was his last season before four years of military
originally been classified 4-F but was reclassified by his draft
board in February 1942, passed his Army physical and was
inducted on April 1, 1942. Stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia,
he pitched for the Fort Benning Infantry School All-Stars and
beat his old team, the Birmingham Barons, 7-2, on April 11,
He attained the rank of
lieutenant in December 1943, and continued to play baseball at Fort Benning
in 1944 with the First Student Training Regiment Wolves. The
team included Brooklyn's Boyd Bartley.
Attaining the rank of
captain he later served in France,
southern Germany and Austria
with the 36th Infantry Division, and played ball with
the 36th Infantry Division Texans team after
surrendered. On July 24, 1945, he played against the 106th
Infantry Division at
in a game dedicated to comrades lost during the
"In 1946 I worked out
with Cincinnati," he recounted in The Sporting News on
July 3, 1957, "and one morning Giles told me he was sending me
to Syracuse. I told him he
couldn't because of the GI Bill of Rights. I said it required
them to keep me for a year. Then I learned baseball had its own
GI Bill, one month. It was a stronger bill than any Congress
could make, I guess. Anyway I called Happy Chandler. Mr Chandler
said: 'Now, James, we're going to take care of all servicemen.'
They took care of me. I was sent to Syracuse."
Prendergast was 17-10
with Syracuse in 1946 and was 20-15 with the club
in 1947 but left the Reds’ organization and was signed by the
Boston Braves. He made his major league debut with
on April 25, 1948 and made 10 appearances for a 1-1 record. By
July 1948 he was with
of the American Association where he was 5-8.
Prendergast was back
with Syracuse in 1949. On opening day April 23,
1950, he narrowly missed throwing a no-hitter for the Chiefs,
allowing just one hit in the ninth inning with two out. Only
five balls reached the outfield as Syracuse defeated
In 1951 he filed a
$150,000 suit against Organized Baseball accusing them of trying
to maintain a monopoly "by having the right to blacklist any
major league player for five years for violation of the reserve
clause and to continue his ineligibility for an indefinite
the legality of the Reserve Clause that binds a player to one
club until he is either transferred or his contract cancelled.
He questioned the right of the Syracuse club, after a salary dispute, to
transfer him to the Beaumont (Texas League) club and his
suspension for failure to report. He claims his potential
earnings would have been at least $50,000 but the restrictions
of the reserve clause, and triple damages were sought under the
provision of the anti-trust law. This lawsuit was dismissed but
he started another claiming he was barred from playing in Cuba after his
Jim Prendergast never played organized baseball after the 1950
season. He became a beer salesman in Buffalo and passed away
in Amherst, New York on
August 23, 1994 – his 78th birthday.