Harry Kingman

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Henry Lees Kingman

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Biographical Information[edit]

Harry Kingman was born in China, the son of Henry and Anna Kingman, New York Congregationalist missionary and chaplain at Pomona College. He is the first, and still the only Major League Baseball player born in mainland China.

He played ball four years in college, one year in the minor leagues in 1913 with a cup of coffee for the New York Yankees in 1914. He spent the entire year on the New York roster in 1915, but did not play in a game. He was sent back to the minors (Guelph), but he refused to report and retired from baseball.

He participated in five sports in college: baseball, basketball, tennis, track, and swimming. He is the only major league ballplayer to come out of Pomona College.

Kingman took a job as a counselor at the University of California at Berkeley's YMCA facility, Stiles Hall, in 1916, starting a long connection with that institution. Kingman was drafted into the Army in 1917, serving out most of his duty at Fort Lewis, Washington, before returning to Berkeley and Stiles Hall in 1919.

In 1921 the YMCA offered Kingman a chance to go back to China to work as a missionary and physical education teacher in Shanghai, and he jumped at the chance. He returned to Berkeley in the winter of 1927 and went back to work at Stiles Hall. In 1931, he was promoted to General Secretary of Stiles Hall, a position he would hold until 1950. Kingman also served as the Cal junior varsity baseball coach during these years.

After retiring from Stiles Hall in 1957, Harry and Ruth Kingman moved to Washington, DC and started yet another career. The two of them formed their own two-person political lobbying organization, "The Citizens' Lobby for Freedom and Fair Play". Their principal interest was civil rights.

While most biographies of baseball players are pieced together from interviews and newspaper clippings, Harry Kingman had such a distinguished and far-ranging post-baseball career that one can research him by accessing a collection of his private papers at the University of California at Berkeley, which includes a handwritten letter by Mahatma Gandhi and a postcard from H.G. Wells.

He died at age 90, having suffered from dementia, died from a heart attack and was cremated.

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