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Anyone Seen Pierre Lamere? : Lefty Blasco Needs Just One More Photo to Complete His Collection of Every Cub

June 18, 1986|RICH TOSCHES | Times Staff Writer

To say that Clarence (Lefty) Blasco is simply looking for a picture of Pete Lamere is not at all accurate. Not unless you also believe that the FBI just looked for Patty Hearst, and Tom Lasorda merely looks for Italian food.

Blasco, 64, has been searching the earth for more than 30 years for a picture of Pierre (Pete) Lamere. Not a picture of Lamere shaking hands with a president or a picture of Lamere standing atop Mount Everest. Any picture of Lamere will do. At this point, Blasco might be thrilled to death to get a stick-figure sketch on a bar napkin with the words "Pete Lamere" scrawled at the bottom.

Who, you ask, is Pete Lamere? He was a catcher who played in three major league games. Two with the Chicago Cubs in 1902 and one with Cincinnati in 1907. His major league statistics are 2-for-11 at the plate, two errors, one passed ball. Sort of a turn-of-the-century Bob Uecker.

Where, you ask, is Pete Lamere? He is dead. Been dead since 1931.

Why, you ask, does Blasco's urge to locate this man's picture make a salmon's urge to swim upstream seem no more than a whim? Because if he gets that picture, Blasco will have a photograph of every Chicago Cub. Pay attention here. He means every Chicago Cub. Ever . Between 1900 and 1986, 1,235 men have worn a Chicago Cubs uniform. Blasco has a photograph of 1,234 of them.

He needs Lamere.

Oh sure, he can always fall back on his photo collection of every Cleveland Indians player since that team joined the American League in 1901, all 1,216 of them.

Or he can relax with the knowledge that he has in his possession perhaps the only complete photo guide of every All-City football team in the history of Erie, Pa.

But Blasco, who grew up in Erie and said he developed his strong attachment to both the Indians and Cubs as a child, won't rest, not even on those lofty achievements. Not until he has a Lamere, whose brief major league stint was discovered by Blasco during an examination of several baseball record books during the 1950s.

Blasco, who retired from American Sterilization Co. in 1983 after 42 years with the firm, stood in his den in Van Nuys recently, looking through black-framed glasses at stacks of loose photographs and even higher stacks of photo albums. This is both his hobby and his obsession. There is no golf or fishing for Blasco.

In one special book, he has written, in pencil, the name of every Chicago Cub and Cleveland Indian of whom he has a photo. Beside each name is the man's birth date, place of birth and the circumstances of the picture. Some are in the minor league uniform of the Maine Guides. Or the Buffalo Bisons. Or the Peoria Chiefs. But all played with either the Cubs or Indians.

And so did Pete Lamere.

"I know everything you want to know about Pete Lamere," Blasco said. "Just everything. He was born in December, 1873, in New York City. He died Oct. 10, 1931, in St. John's Hospital in Brooklyn. His wife's name was Ellen, and they had no children. His mother was named Catherine and his father was Edward. Edward B. Lamere. He had two brothers, Edward and Henry, and a sister, Josephine. Ellen, his wife, died March 5, 1964, in Melrose, Mass."

You thought Blasco was kidding when he said he knew e verything about Pete Lamere? He wasn't.

He knows that Lamere played in 71 games as a catcher for New London, Conn., of the Eastern League and batted .294 in 1898. And that he played in 18 games and batted .257 for Providence of the Eastern League in 1899. And that in 1903, Lamere was the catcher for Poughkeepsie in the Hudson River League season opener. The starting pitcher for Poughkeepsie that day? Ernie F. Lindemann Jr.

There is more. Much more. Lefty Blasco does indeed know everything about Pete Lamere. And he has been close, oh so close, to getting a picture.

"He played for the Providence Grays in 1899, and a friend back East found a picture years ago of the 1899 Providence Grays," Blasco said. "He mailed it to me. I was so excited. I got the picture, and Lamere wasn't in it. He must have missed the photo day or something. That's as close as I've come."

Blasco's baseball journey through the 20th Century has not, however, gone on without its bright moments. You don't accumulate pictures of every Cleveland Indian and darn near every Chicago Cub without some pretty big moments.

Take for example his long search for a photo of J.A. Costello, who is listed in the record books as having batted just once in the major leagues, for the Indians in 1912. Blasco couldn't find his picture. Anywhere. And for good reason. There was no J.A. Costello.

"The guy's name was really Kenneth L. Nash," Blasco said. "They brought him up from the minor leagues, but he didn't get to start, so he was mad. When the manager finally sent him up to pinch hit, he gave the umpire the name J.A. Costello. That's how it was recorded.

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