September 2 – Happy Birthday G. Wallace McQuatters

wallymcq222It was Herb Shuttleworth who convinced the Board of Mohawk Carpets to purchase a Canadian American League franchise in 1938 that would become the Amsterdam Rugmakers, a Class C minor league affiliate of the mighty New York Yankees. But it wasn’t Shuttleworth who made the operating decisions for the organization. That job belonged to a young tax accountant in Mohawk’s finance department by the name of G. Wallace “Wally” McQuatters.

McQuatters was born in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 2, 1898. His dad Andrew had been born in Scotland and came to this country as an exercise boy with a prominent Scottish racing stable that ran its world class racehorses at the Saratoga flat track. The elder McQuatters then switched to the Sanford racing stable and moved his family to Amsterdam in 1901, where he would go onto become a highly effective jockey for the champion thoroughbreds trained at Hurricana Farms.

While his father helped the Sanford family gain fame in their favorite sport, Wally would do the same for Amsterdam’s second royal family of carpet. He went to work for the Shuttleworth’s as a Mohawk tax accountant in 1928. When the Rugmakers were purchased, a new tax entity called the Mohawk Mills Association was formed to run them and Herb Shuttleworth appointed McQuatters the General Manager and Treasurer of that association. At first, he was still expected to fulfill his full-time accounting duties with the rug company. If he had any doubt of what his priorities were, the annual stipend of just $100 he received for running the baseball operation served as a clear reminder. But over the course of the next decade, not only did McQuatters leadership help create a very good winning baseball team and a beautiful minor league ballpark, his ability in the front office earned him the respect of such notable big league baseball executives as the legendary Yankee GM, George Weiss.

Since all the player personnel decisions were made by the parent organization, McQuatters job was to make sure the team had everything it needed to compete at home and on the road, get the community to support the club and keep the MMA operating in the black. In Amsterdam, NY native David Pietrusza’s excellent book,  “Baseball’s Canadian American League,” the author describes two instances that provide a glimpse of just how all-encompassing McQuatter’s Rugmaker responsibilities were.

Herb Shuttleworth wanted to install lights at Mohawk Mills so that workers in the Amsterdam mills, could get to the games easier and more frequently. He and McQuatters drove down to GE in Schenectady and spent $10,000 for a state-of-the-art set. When they had all been installed, Shuttleworth and McQuatters walked out to the power shed that was located at the outer edge of the park to turn them on. When Shuttleworth saw the size of the power box and switch and realized how much power was about to flow through it to turn on all those lights, he coyly told McQuatters he could have the honor of pulling the switch. When McQuatters demurred to his boss, Shuttleworth insisted, this time a bit more sternly and a very nervous Wally did as directed and the diamond at Mohawk Mills Park was artificially illuminated for the first time in its history.

On July 12, 1942, just eight days before the Rugmakers were scheduled to play an exhibition game against the parent club Yankees at Mohawk Mills Park, an arsonist(s) set fire to the wooden grandstands and they burned to the ground. The business manager of the arch-rival Gloversville Glovers called up McQuatters and graciously (yeah right) offered the use of his team’s park for the Yankee exhibition. The offer was quickly refused and McQuatters went to work. Not only did he get the entire grandstand rebuilt in ten days, he increased its capacity by 200 seats to boot. McQuatter’s thought his biggest challenge in the rebuild would be the park’s lights. The heat of the blaze had actually softened the metal poles that held them high in the air. The weight of the lights then bent the poles over till the tops were touching the ground. But the baseball Gods were with McQuatters because as the poles cooled, they straightened and by the time the grandstand work had been completed the poles were perfectly erect once again. The Yankees came to town on July 20, 1942 , a record crowd of over 4,000 fans showed up and a city that needed a reprieve from the horror of entering a World War were treated to a glorious day of baseball.

When the Yankees ended their affiliation with the Rugmakers after the 1951 season, McQuatters continued on as Mohasco’s tax department head and manager of the Mohawk Mills Association until he retired on the last calendar day of 1958. That retirement did not last very long.

On the evening of May 22, 1960, he suffered a stroke in the kitchen of his home at 293 Guy Park Avenue. Rushed to nearby St. Mary’s Hospital, he died at noon the next day. He left behind his wife, the former Stella Donohue and three adult children. He was just 61 years of age.

This September 2nd Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant wrote many episodes of Gunsmoke, one of the most popular television series in history.

This September 2nd Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant was a good and longtime friend of mine who loved this City deeply.

This September 2nd Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant developed a process for manufacturing synthetic quartz, which changed the world’s electronics industry.

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