Because I am writing a story about Portland kids in 1903, I need to learn about things that kids liked back then. Auntie Bridgett found a magazine article that gave me a wonderful insight: Baseball!
It turns out that the first Oregonian who played Major League Baseball was born right here in Portland in 1871. His given name was Walter Edward Parrot, but his nickname was ‘Jiggs’, though no one seems to know why.
His father Thomas and mother Anneliza were pioneers, coming across the plains in covered wagons. Thomas was a good musician, lead a brass band, and opened up a music store here in Portland. They had seven sons and one daughter. The whole family loved baseball, but Jiggs and his brother Thomas Jr., called ‘Tack’, were the best. They both played for the amateur East Portland Willamettes, which later became the Webfeet. Major League scouts came by and hired Jiggs to play second and third base for the Chicago Colts, and the next year, returned to hire Tack as a pitcher.
Jiggs had four good seasons in Chicago, but he started having health troubles and had to return to the minor leagues, and after a few more years he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, hoping that the warm climate would be better for his lungs. He lived there only a year before dying in 1898, at the age of 26. His brother brought his body back home to be buried at our Lone Fir Cemetery.
Knowing that this interesting, sort-of-famous baseball player is so close, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to see if we could find him. Fortunately, there is a website called “Find a Grave”, which tells you what plot of the cemetery a person is in, and the Lone Fir Cemetery site that gives a map of the cemetery. Putting those together, we walked straight to the Parrott family,
There is a beautiful tall obelisk with the family name on it, surrounded by smaller markers for the kids, Thomas, and Anneliza. Jiggs was the first to pass away, followed by his father Thomas in 1899. The whole family, as far as Mom, Dad, and the boys, are buried near each other beneath a magnificent elm tree. Their daughter, Jennie Parrott Green, is buried at Rose City Cemetery with her husband’s family.
It felt good to celebrate and appreciate the life of this young man. He had so much promise and wasn’t allowed to live his life as he wanted. I am glad to be able to remember him.