For about three years beginning in 2012, today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant shared the story of his life with the readers of the Amsterdam Recorder via a steady flow of weekly Letters to the Editor. Though they were filled with great homespun type humor that in many instances made me laugh out loud, there was a poignancy to them that touched my heart and the hearts of an entire community.
James Joseph Sheridan III was born in Watertown, NY on November 7, 1926. The beginning of his childhood was a lot happier time for him and his family than the end of it would prove to be. His Dad was an intelligent and engaging man who moved his family to Rome, New York and opened up a popular candy and tobacco store in that city called the “Smoke Shop.” A huge Cardinal fan, the elder Sheridan gained quite a bit of national notoriety toward the end of the 1930 Major League Baseball season, when he began sending telegrams to Gabby Street, then the St. Louis Cardinal manager, in which he’d predict the outcome of the team’s upcoming games and also advise the skipper which pitchers he should start in those contests. Amazingly, Sheridan’s dad accurately predicted the outcome of 21 straight games and probably would have become a lot more famous if his final prediction, a Cardinal victory in Game 7 of that year’s World Series had not been wrong.
With the Great Depression in full swing, the senior Sheridan closed his store in Rome and moved his family eastward through the Mohawk Valley, working as a cigar salesman and finally settling in a home on Stewart Street in Amsterdam. Today’s Birthday celebrant and his two older sisters became students at St. Mary’s Institute. But the family’s World came crashing down when Jim Sheridan II lost his salesman’s job sending him into a deep depression, which resulted in his suicide.
To say the tragedy changed young Jim’s life would be an understatement…