Biography of Joseph W. Shea
San Francisco, CA Biographies





JOSEPH WILLIAM SHEA
Famous among the old time professional baseball players in California was the late Joseph William Shea, who was also a man of exceptional artistic talents. He was born in San Francisco on March 17, 1868, and was a son of James and Delia (McGuire) Shea. The father owned a city block on Vallejo street, bounded by Mason and Taylor, and conducted stores dealing in wholesale plumbers' supplies. The Spanish Church now stands on property which once belonged to the Shea family.

Joseph W. Shea attended the public schools, then St. Joseph's Academy, which was taught by the Christian Brothers, and graduated from this institution on the completion of a high school course. He became attracted to the game of baseball when a mere lad; he was devoted to the game from the start. He played here and there among the neighborhood teams and juvenile nines until he eventually became a member of the Pioneers, which was a very high class organization. From one team to another he stepped, always improving his status, and developing himself into a star ball player. He played with the Greenhood-Morans, a widely known team, and he also played with an Oakland team, and one in Seattle. Later, he joined an eastern team, his reputation having gone across the country. During all this time when he was playing baseball and gaining well deserved popularity, he was working as an outdoor sign painter. He was gifted with real artistic talent, and, had he been fortunate enough to have received proper training, his name would have geen known in classical art as well as on the baseball diamond. He worked Satdays and Sundays, and wherever he worked he played his favorite game. He eventually became a member of the Crown Distilleries, one of the noted semi professional teams of that day, and for a number of years he traveled up and down the Pacific coast, going as far south as Mexico City. With the Greenhood-Morans, Mr. Shea first played professional baseball, prior to that time having been an amateur. Colonel Robinson owned the Greenhood-Morans and made of them a professional team. Mr. Shea was short stop, and was a consistent hitter. He invented the slide to bases, the players hitherto having stolen bases standing up, and it is said that he was the one to discover Walter Johnson, who became perhaps the world's greatest pitcher and is now manager of the Washington Club of the American League.

After the fire of 1906 in San Francisco, Mr. Shea established a painting shop at Van Ness avenue and Grove street, and within two weeks had twenty men working for him. While so engaged he suffered an injury which caused him to remain in the hospital for a long time, and after he had recovered he became an employe of Haas Brothers in outdoor advertising work. He remained with this firm until the time of his death, which occurred November 18, 1930.

Mr. Shea was married on March 16, 1905, to Miss Mary Murray, who survives him. They became the parents of two fine children, namely : Marjorie J., who is a student at the University of California in Berkeley; and Murray Joseph. The latter in 1931 was named winner of a four year scholarship by St. Ignatius high school. He was a pupil of the Star of the Sea school. and was one of six boys to be honored in a city wide competitive examination among two hundred honor students from the parochial schools.

Mr. Shea was happiest when in the company of his family, and to them he gave all of his time available away from his work and appearances on the baseball field. The memory of his fighting heart, his skill, and his good fellowship will be remembered long by those who knew him. Many of the thousands of people who have watched his performances on the field do not know that he possessed the talent and the soul of an artist. In his work in outdoor advertising, this skill found some manifestation, but the opportunity was limited. His family have now several paintings which he executed, which are definite and convincing proof that he could have achieved fame as an artist if he had received the proper training during his youth. Mrs. Shea and the children who survive him reside at the family home situated at 1115 Balboa street in San Francisco.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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