Greasy Neale Essentials

Positions:
Bats: L Throws: R
72 Weight: 170
Born: 11 5, 1891 in Parkersburg, WV USA
Died: 11 2 1973 in Lake Worth, FL USA
Debut: 4/12/1916
Last Game: 6/13/1924
Full Name: Alfred Earle Neale

 

Batting .357 in a World Series win would be by far the biggest sports accomplishment of most athlete’s lives. For this man it is just one of many and maybe not one of the first few you’d list.

Earl “Greasy” Neale was born in 1891 in Parkersburg, WV. He enrolled in West Virginia Wesleyan and played football and basketball there while playing semi professional baseball. Reds owner Gary Herrman sent a scout to see Neale in Class B Wheeling, West Virginia in 1915 and the Reds signed him but he continued to play in Wheeling.

In the offseason he took a job as college football coach at Muskingum College. He made his major league debut in 1916 and batted .262 with 5 triples and 17 steals for the Reds playing left fielder. At the end of the season, he went back to Wesleyan as coach. Neale moved to left field to make room for Edd Roush and may have had his best season in 1917 batting .294 with 9 triples, 3 hrs and 25 steals. In the fall his Wesleyan team was a 3 TD underdog to West Virginia University and beat them 20-0.

In 1918 Neale batted .270 with 11 triples 23 steals for the club. That fall Neale became player-coach of the professional Dayton Triangles who went 8-0 in the Ohio League winning the championship and beating 5 future NFL teams along the way. 2 years later the Triangles would themselves be in the NFL.

During the Reds pennant run in 1919 he batted .242 with 12 triples and 28 steals. He played much better in the Series and if there were a World Series MVP in 1919 and it may have been awarded to Neale. He batted .357 and none of the other regular batters batted higher than .269. He was head coach in football and basketball at Marietta college in 1919 and 1920.

He batted .255 with a career high 29 steals in 1920. He and Jimmy Ring were traded for future Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey that offseason. In 1921 he signed a secret $6,000 deal with the Phillies. He played only 22 games in Philadelphia. The Reds claimed him off waivers but scoffed at the price. Commissioner Landis ruled in Neale’s favor. Neale batted .235 with 12 steals in total.

That fall he coached Washington and Jefferson College after 2 years at Marietta. His 1921 team beat Pitt, Syracuse and Detroit on the way to an undefeated season. Even though there were undefeated teams from the east from more traditional football schools Washington and Jefferson was selected to the Rose Bowl. The school could only afford to send 11 players west. Neale said his team wouldn’t allow any points vs Cal and they didn’t. Ending in a 0-0 tie against the 14 point favorite Golden Bears. Washington and Jefferson’s Charles West was the first black QB in Rose Bowl history. Herb Kopf, brother of Neale’s teammate Larry was the first freshman to play in the Rose Bowl.

In 1922 Neale was a reserve on the Reds batting .233 in only 43 AB’s. Neale went 0 for 4 in 3 games in 1924 to end his major league career. Neale spent 1923-1928 as head coach of the University of Virginia in both football and baseball. In 1929 he was a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals but he and his manager were dismissed before the season was over.

In 1930 he became head coach of the professional Ironton Tanks. In his one season he beat both the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. He spent 1931-33 as WVU head football coach.

Neale finally reached the NFL in 1941 taking the head coaching job of the Eagles a job he remained in until 1950. From 1944 to 1949 his teams finished first 3 times and second 3 times and won the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championships.

Greasy Neale was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969 and the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame in 1987 for his accomplishments as a coach. Neale died in 1973 at the age of 81, he is buried at Parkersburg Memorial Gardens in Parkersburg, WV.

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