Bassett Family Association Database

Charles Edwin Bassett

Male 1863 - 1942  (79 years)

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  • Name Charles Edwin Bassett 
    Born 9 Feb 1863  Central Falls, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 28 May 1942 
    • 1880 Federal Census of Lincoln, Providence County, RI
      Eliza Bassett 70 F MA MA MA Head Keeping House
      Charles E. 17 M RI RI MA Grson Machinist

      1910 Federal Census of Pawtucket, Providence County, RI (28 Apr 1910)
      Charles E. Bassett 47 M RI MA US Head Officer Police Force
      Florence M. 40 F RI RI RI Wife
      Geroge E. Sprague 34 M RI RI RI BrotherL Usher Theatre
      (Living on West Avenue) (2nd marriage for both, married 6 years, no children)

      1910 Federal Census of Cranston, Providence County, RI (18 Apr 1910)
      Warren H. Bates 31 M RI RI RI Head Driver Express ??
      Edith G. 46 F RI RI RI Wife
      Francis E. Bassett 11 M RI RI RI Stepson
      (Married 5 years, 3 children, 1 living) (His 1st marriage, her 2nd marriage)

      1920 Federal Census of Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island (9 Jan 1920)
      Warren H. Bates 40 M RI RI RI Head Inspector Railroad
      Edith G. 55 F RI RI RI Wife
      Francis E. 20 M RI RI RI Stepson Inspector Railroad
      (Living on Warwick Neck Road)

      1920 Federal Census of Pawtucket, Providence County, RI (24 Jan 1920)
      Charles E. Bassett 56 M RI RI RI Head Officer Police Force
      Florence 50 F RI RI RI Wife
      (Living at 7 Jefferson)

      1930 Federal Census of Pawtucket, Providence County, RI (16 Apr 1930)
      Charles E. Bassett 67 M RI RI US Head Guard Bank
      Florence M. 60 F RI RI RI Wife
      (Married at 33 & 23) (Living on Hughes Avenue)

      Charley Bassett, Utility Infielder
      Copyright Rick Stattler, 2002

      Charles Edwin Bassett was born on February 9 1863 in the industrial village of Central Falls (which was then located in the town of Smithfield, Rhode Island). He was the son of William H. Bassett and Frances (Smith) Bassett, but his mother died three years later of "insanity" at Butler Hospital. Although his father remarried and worked steadily as a carpenter, he was apparently unable to care for young Charley properly.
      Charley lived with his grandparents Thomas and Eliza Bassett in Central Falls. Grandpa Bassett died in 1877, and Charlie was soon working as a machinist to help support his grandmother. He began playing baseball with various amateur teams in Pawtucket from 1877 to 1881, and then enrolled at Brown University in Providence. 1
      Bassett quickly established himself as a star for the school's baseball team. He played third base and batted third in the lineup. Even after a long professional career, Bassett remembered these college games against Harvard and Yale days as the high point: "There was a thrill and a romance to them that I never obtained years later, even in the world series games. We were playing for the love of it, for the sport, and money never entered into it." His .448 batting average was the best of all college players in the country in 1883, and he reluctantly signed a contract with the major-league Providence Grays in mid-November, with the understanding that he would remain in school and play for the Brown team through the end of the 1884 spring semester. 2
      After the school year was over, Bassett played major-league ball for the 1884 Grays as their rarely used twelfth man. At 5'10", Bassett was one of the tallest men on the team, but rail-thin at 150 pounds. His first official game was on July 22, filling in for the regular second baseman.
      This debut was a controversial game. A Providence player, Charley Sweeney, stormed off the field in the eighth inning, forcing the team to finish the game with only two outfielders. While the rest of the team crumbled, one sharply hit ball "was cleverly stopped by Bassett behind second, before reaching the unprotected centre field." 3
      The Grays recovered to win the pennant on the strength of Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn's 60-win season, then they won the first world championship series that October against the New York Metropolitans.
      Bassett did little to contribute to this glory, however, finishing with a weak batting average of .139 in 27 games. He never did return to the university for his senior year. Instead, he married Ethel Gertrude Esten of Lincoln, R.I. in November of 1884. He went on to a nine-year career as a major league infielder with Providence, Kansas City (where he met famous outlaw Frank James), Indianapolis, New York, and Cleveland. During his team's Boston trips, Bassett often commuted down to Pawtucket and Central Falls after the games to spend time with his wife and family, and even to watch local minor-league games on his days off.4
      During the off-seasons, Bassett and his wife continued to live in Central Falls with his aged grandmother Eliza Bassett. However, she died in September of 1889. Her obituary mentioned her grandson "the well-known base ball player." She left an estate worth more than eight thousand dollars, but no will, so everything was divided between Charlie's father and aunts and uncles. Charlie got nothing, and had to find a new place to live.5
      He was voted the best third baseman in the National League that year, for which he received a floral wreath inscribed "Boss of Third" in a pre-game ceremony. Bassett spent five years playing minor league baseball from 1893 to 1897, and then retired from the game.6
      Charlie found permanent employment as a Pawtucket police officer shortly after his playing career came an end, and enjoyed regaling members of the force with stories of his baseball days. After receiving his pension from the force in 1924, Bassett worked as a bank guard at Rhode Island Hospital Trust in Providence.
      Bassett retired in 1932. His wife Florence purchased a house on 364 Power Road in Pawtucket, in the quiet suburban neighborhood of Fairlawn. Charley remained a baseball fan to the end, attending games at Brown on a regular basis, and using his free major-league lifetime pass to visit Fenway Park on occasion, although he was no longer able to drive. He was interviewed in 1940, and stated that his only complaint about the modern game was the size of the fielder's gloves. He showed the reporter "his strong, broad hands, of which almost every finger has been broken, attesting to the uncounted times they stopped whizzing horsehide spheres with no protection other than rugged skin."7
      Bassett died of heart and kidney problems at Memorial Hospital on May 28 1942, aged 80 years old. He was buried in the Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls. Three years after his death, he was named to the all-time all-Rhode Island all-star team by the Providence Journal. Bassett's widow Florence died in 1961. Charley Bassett's only child Francis worked as an inspector for the railroad, and settled in the Auburn neighborhood of Cranston, raising a son named Charles Warren Bassett (1929-1999) and a daughter named Marion Sprague.8

      1 1865 R.I. Census, volume 10, page 217; 1870 U.S. Census, North Providence district 1, page 345 (William H. Bassett without Charles); 1875 R.I. Census, Lincoln district 2, page 45; (Charles with grandparents); 1880 U.S. Census, Rhode Island E.D. 117, page 8 (with grandmother); Rhode Island marriages, 1862 page 556, 1866 page 556; Rhode Island deaths, 1866 page 944 (insanity of mother); Pawtucket / Central Falls directories, 1869-1878; Providence Evening Telegram, May 5 1893 (early career, 1877-1880); Historical Catalog of Brown University, 1764-1904 (Providence: Brown University, 1905). Rick Harris was helpful in sharing some of his own Charley Bassett research.

      2 "Pawtucket's Diamond Veteran in First World Series," clipping from a Rhode Island newspaper dated spring of 1924, in Bassett's file at the Brown University Archives; Richard V. Reynolds, "When Providence Won the First World's Championship," Providence Sunday Journal, May 26, 1940, VI-3 (based on an interview with Bassett); Sporting Life, July 8 (average), November 21 (signing) 1883; Providence Journal, February 25 1884 (report date).

      3 Providence Journal, July 23 1884

      4 Rhode Island Marriage Records, (get citation); Reynolds, ibid (Frank James).; Pawtucket Evening Times, November 1 1886 (back in Rhode Island), August 9 1888 (visits); Pawtucket Evening Tribune, June 23 1890 (watching games).

      5 Pawtucket / Central Falls directories, 1882-1890; 1885 Rhode Island Census, town of Lincoln (alphabetical, shows Charles E. and grandmother Eliza Bassett together); Pawtucket Evening Times, September 26 1889 (Eliza Bassett obit); Central Falls probate records, volume 18, pages 104, 276-277, and volume 20, pages 24, 213-214, in Central Falls City Hall.

      6 Reynolds, ibid (Boss of Third)

      7 Reynolds (quote); Providence and Pawtucket directories; "Brown University Graduate Records"survey filled out by Bassett's widow on June 13 1942 at the Brown University Archives (son's birth); 1905 R.I. Census; Pawtucket deeds at Pawtucket City Hall, 317:2 (364 Power); obituary of Mrs. Florence Bassett, Pawtucket Times, October 30 1961.

      8 Death certificate at R.I. State Archives, May 1942 #320; "Brown University Graduate Records" survey, ibid; obituary in Brown Alumni Monthly , Summer 1942; Pawtucket Times, May 28, 1942, page 1 (obit), October 30 1961 (widow's obit); Providence Sunday Journal, April 13 1945, VI-2 (all-star); 1930 U.S. Census, Rhode Island E.D. 11, page 1 (Francis and family); Providence Journal-Bulletin, January 29 1999 (grandson's obituary).
    Person ID I33269  1A William Bassett of Plymouth
    Last Modified 15 Feb 2017 

    Father William H. Bassett,   b. Abt 1838, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Deceased 
    Mother Francis Smith,   d. 1866, Butler Hospital Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F12123  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Edith G. 
    +1. Francis Esten Bassett,   b. 22 Mar 1899, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 15 Feb 2017 
    Family ID F12125  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Florence 
    Last Modified 15 Feb 2017 
    Family ID F12126  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart