By Bill Schock
Betcha you K. C. Royals fans didn’t know Nebraska’s first Major League baseball player came from Falls City.
He did, and his name was Charles S. Abbey. He played in the outfield for the Washington Senators in the National League from 1895 to 1897.
All of the research for this story was done by John Martin of Falls City, who was tipped off by his son, Chris of Omaha, whose hobby is genealogy from a census record.
Charlie was born on a farm near Salem on Oct. 14, 1866, and attended Falls City Schools. His professional baseball career spanned 11 seasons. He played for Beatrice and Kearney teams; he spent some time in the Minor League before joining the Senators in 1983.
Prior to his five years in Major League baseball, Abbey batted .281 with three of seven runs, 493 hits, 67 doubles, 46 triples, 19 home runs, 280 RBI’s and 93 stolen bases in 452 games. He batted and threw left handed. He led the Majors in assists as an outfielder (34), committed eight errors in 148 chances.
His obituary in the Falls City Journal noted that his baseball career ended when he was run over in an traffic accident in Washington D.C., and one of his arms was amputated. Afterward, he served as an umpire a couple of games.
In the museum to Nebraska Major League Baseball, Charlie is listed as number one in the alphabetical list, but his hometown is listed as Omaha. Martin has been trying to get that changed to Falls City. Also on the museum list is Jim Bethhe of Falls City. In this writer’s memory, the Bethhe family moved from Falls City to Kansas City and Jim’s professional baseball career took off from there.
Abbey died at the age of 59 in San Francisco, CA, on April 27, 1926. His body was returned to Falls City for burial in Steele Cemetery. His burial was in the Abbey family plot in the cemetery, and his tombstone simply reads ‘Charlie.’ Incidentally John Martin’s grandmother, the late Mrs. Edgar Schock, was Charlie Abbey’s niece