On this day in 1921, the 67 year old Sports Editor at the New York Telegraph had just finished a column for the coming edition, when he suffered a fatal heart attack and died. The newspaperman was William Barclay Masterson, better, but still not well enough known as Bat Masterson, the man who had possibly the coolest career path of the 19th and well into the 20th Century. He left the family farm in Wichita with his brothers when he was a late teenager, taking a travelling gig as a buffalo hunter. No, really. Then just as a sideline, he became an indian scout in the war against the Comanche and Kiowa nations. He got into a gunfight over a girl in 1876 and took a slug to the pelvis, but was soon back up and working as a lawman at first with his older brothers, then as a deputy to Wyatt Earp, yes that Wyatt Earp. He got a reputation as a cool hand who could handle bad men, and as a bad enemy to make…he got fatal revenge on the all the killers of both his brothers…one in a legendary gunfight at the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City. Yes that Dodge City. Wyatt Earp moved him out to Tombstone, yes, he was there too, to help deal faro at the Oriental…then later Bat moved on to Denver where he became good friends with Almanac of Absurdities favorite, the infamous con man Soapy Smith. During this time, Masterson tried to publish one newspaper of his own, and wrote occasional pieces for existing periodicals…just keeping his hand in. The wild west got tamed, but not Bat Masterson. Wildly exaggerated press accounts of his already formidable exploits had turned him into a pulp hero, and Bat Masterson cashed in on his fame by moving east. Now travelling in smart circles, he found himself friendly with Theodore Roosevelt, who hired Masterson to serve as a US Marshal for Federal Court Proceedings in New York, a job he held until Taft got elected and fired all of Teddy’s friends. At the same time he started writing for the Daily Telegraph, the bookie’s newspaper in New York, where he found his final career home. He lived well as a leading sports writer and dined out on his wild west adventures and had a sideline of buying beat up old six guns at pawnshops, carving notches in the handles and selling them for a handsome profit. Look! Bat Masterson’s gun! If you had to be someone in the 19th century, Bat Masterson was a pretty good choice if you ask me.
Album Notes: Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. “Mr. Meany’s Mediocre Machine”, “Pennsylvania Rose” & “Good Timey” Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks. Some audio may be used under the Fair Use Doctrine.