‘King’ Cole Day: A Baseball Celebration

Leonard “King” Cole of Toledo was a major and minor league baseball player in the 20th century, playing for the Chicago Cubs and later serving up Babe Ruth’s first double as the pitcher for the New York Yankees. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT AND SHARON MANFU

On the weekend of April 29, 2023, the Tama-Toledo Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a memorial dedication in Toledo to honor the life of Leonard “King” Cole.

Leonard Leslie Cole was born on April 15, 1886, to Hiram Henry and Cora A. Cole in Toledo. He attended Toledo public schools and, at 14, was sent to the Industrial School for Boys in Eldora. He briefly attended Leander Clark College in Toledo.

Throughout his childhood years, Cole had an affinity for baseball and established himself as a talented pitcher for Toledo. In 1907, he joined the “Bloomer Girls” baseball team playing against men’s town, semi-pro, and minor league teams.

Cole moved on to semi-pro clubs in Ottumwa, Tecumseh, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio, before settling in as a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs in 1909.

In 1910, Cole had a record of 20-4, helping his team win the National League pennant, and he became the “Rookie of the Year.” He had the highest winning percentage as a no-hitter pitcher in both the minor and major leagues.

Cole was later traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1912 and didn’t play in the majors in 1913. He then went on to play for the New York Yankees from 1914-1915 and helped introduce the baseball world to George Herman “Babe” Ruth. On Oct. 2, 1914, he gave up a double to Babe Ruth for Ruth’s first hit in the major leagues.

Cole finished his baseball career with a 54-27 pitching record and 298 strikeouts.

Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1915 and later died on Jan. 6, 1916. He was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo.

Cole left an underappreciated yet memorable imprint on the baseball world.

“King” Cole Day will be a free, family-friendly event focusing on America’s favorite pastime, baseball. With desires for a short exhibition game by the South Tama Baseball team and another local school district and other community activities.

If you would like to help plan or contribute to this event or learn more about the effort, please call the T-T Chamber at (641) 484-6661 or (641) 484-2007. Meetings are currently being held monthly at the Toledo Fire Station.