"Take Me Out To The Ballgame" - via Doc Gill
Written by: Karen Bazzani Zach
Although Warren Darst Gill lacked less than a month of being 74, a ripe age in 1952, his professional baseball career wasn't long-lived, a totally different story indeed. Playing a month of the 1908 Pittsburg Pirates season, he was built like a ball player, 6'1" tall and weighing 175#. At age 29, he was strong, and a good 1st baseman; he however made a crucial mistake that almost cost the Pirates the game on September 4th when he missed 2nd base. He made it into home but the crowd and Cubs were all amiss. Luckily for our subject, the one and only umpire missed it and declared the Pirates victorious. Within the month of his pro career (August 26th to September 29th) Gill hit 14 RBIs and batted .224. During this short season, Warren was nicknamed "Doc." This was due to him working on his dentistry degree at Washington University (St. Louis). Although his great hurrah as a pro lasted shy of a season, he had been playing baseball for at least ten years in the minor leagues and played a few afterwards.
Of course, the best thing about this man is that he has great Montgomery County connections. Warren Darst Gill's birth took place in Ladoga, Indiana four days before Christmas in 1878. His parents James H. and Mary Myers Gill were married in Montgomery County four and a half years before (29 May 1874) and he was their first born. Brothers Byron (1881) and Roy (1883) along with sister Verna (1885) were added to the Gill family before they moved from our fair county. It is not exactly known when they left Indiana but it was sometime between Verna's birth and the 1895 Butler, Lincoln County, Kansas census. In the US census, 1900, (Benton) in Cedar County, Missouri, his father was a farmer and Warren D, age 21, is listed as a "ball player." A Kansas City, Missouri newspaper article in May 1912 discussed the Miller's team, although this researcher could find little on that team at all except that they were in the American Association minor league. It was noted that "Dr. Warren Darst Gill has been playing great ball for Cantillon's flag winners. Gill has many friends in Kansas City who are glad to know the dentist is setting a hot place for the other first basers of the league. Gill is one of the cleverest fielders in the Association, a speedy base runner and when hitting as he has been this season is invaluable to the club that has his services."
He obviously loved the game, not giving it up until later that season although it had been predicted the year before was his last when he had played for Minneapolis. In the March 8th, 1912 Kansas City, Missouri Star, he was noted to be playing indoor baseball - "In the KCAC Indoor Baseball League last night a fellow by the name of Wintermote, walloped himself 3 hits while Dr. Warren Darst Gill didn't get a blow. Looks like drafting material," and that it was bringing Gill into his final season. From then on, Warren Darst Gill practiced his dentistry for at least 35 years, passing away in Laguna Beach, California on November 26, 1952.
Warren's direct ancestors, the Harshbargers, Myers, and Gills, were all very early settlers in the Ladoga area. Jacob Harshbarger came to Montgomery County about 1831, taught one of the first schools in the vicinity, and was a farmer owning over 3,000 acres which was an amazing amount in the times. He was also a miller. Warren's ancestor, John Myers came to Ladoga two years later at the age of 60. He came to eventually own 1300 acres and had the first flour mill. Warren's grandfather Jonathan Gill came to Ladoga about 1835 and spent some of his time here as a produce dealer.
Although it is not known for sure, it is probable that he received his name from Warren Darst who taught English at the Ladoga Academy. Warren's wife, Ida may have also taught Music there. Certainly, Warren Darst was held in high esteem, eventually becoming a professor at the old Northwestern Ohio Normal School that later was Ohio Northern University. He was known as one of the "Big Four", owners of the Normal and all four taught at ONU. Certainly, James H. and Mary Myers Gill would have known him well in Ladoga, and with teachers in their backgrounds, it seems logical with such an odd name that Warren Darst Gill was named for Warren Darst, the beloved teacher.
Gill's marriage to Nellie (maiden name and date unknown) was short-lived with Nellie passing in 1908. He evidently remarried and was divorced by 1920. Again, he married Alice Emma Augustine in November of 1922. She was five years older than Warren and died the 22nd of November in 1950, thus they were married for 28 years, this marriage and his dentistry career being long-lived. It doesn't seem that Warren Darst Gill had children but he was close to Alice and her first husband, Henry Anderson Kyer's daughter, Muriel Tholen.
On his WWI draft card, he is listed as having brown eyes and brown hair with light complexion. Same on the WWII card but his hair had grayed. He did serve in the Spanish-American war.
What an interesting and unusual life our Warren Darst Gill had from his beginnings in little Ladoga, Indiana, to his baseball career, his three marriages and his long practice in dentistry. So, rest assured that Warren Darst Gill had some deep Montgomery County roots and well deserves to be listed in the Who's Who of Montgomery County.
Note: You can find a nice picture of him in his Pirates' baseball uniform here: findagrave.com "https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/59805736/warren-darst-gill"
References also used: baseballref.com; US census records; California Death Record; WWI & WWII Draft Cards; articles from the Kansas City Star 3-8-1912; Arkansas City, KS Daily Traveler 12-2-1952; Grand Forks Daily Times 11-27-1922; Grand Forks Daily Herald 8-31-1911.
Note 2: Thanks so much to Bill B, my historical researchin' equal and two great folks from the mailing lists, Adam and Darla P. for helping me out so quickly and efficiently when I asked for help to find more about WDG's life. You rock !!! kbz