Cal Broughton -
Evansville's First Professional Baseball Player and Evansville's First Police Chief
Researched and Written
by Ruth Ann Montgomery
In the next few years, new teams formed all over the country, both professional and local teams. Cleveland,
Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, St. Louis and Louisville, all had ball teams that were part of
the National League by the late 1870s.
Americans were ready for professional ball and Evansville, in the 1880s, was ready to give one of their locals
to the great game. They were counting on their favorite catcher, Cal Broughton to bring fame to the
Broughton was born on the family farm near Albany in December 1860. His father was a farmer and Cal
helped with the farm work, pursuing his love of baseball in his spare time.
The local teams usually began practicing in March and the season ended in September. One of the first
reported matches was between the Evansville Mutuals and the Janesville Mutuals for a prize of twenty dollars
at Evansville's Fourth of July celebration in 1880. Evansville's team won with a score of 32 to 20.
In December 1881, Cal Broughton married Harried Chase in a double wedding ceremony with Mr. and Mrs.
George Henry Howard at the Grand Hotel in Janesville. The newly married Broughtons settled on Cal's family
farm. During the winter months, Cal farmed but during the summer, his work was on the baseball diamond.
In the next two years, both Janesville and Beloit teams used Broughton as their catcher. Then in 1882, Cal
Broughton was hired by the Cleveland Indians. The Cleveland team was a member of the National League
and they kept Broughton for just one season and the following year let him go.
As it has always been with the game of baseball, the early days of the sport were precarious for ball players
and teams. The Cleveland team was in fifth place in 1882. Just as they do today, professional teams
changed their staff to try to make a winning team for their fans.
In September 1883, Cal Broughton was hired to play for the American Association team, the Baltimore
Orioles. His stay on this team was also short.
In 1884, Milwaukee, in the Northwestern league, bought Broughton in 1884. That year, the Milwaukee team
won 27 of the 28 games it played. The pitcher for the team was Ed Cushman and Broughton considered him
to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
The following year, Broughton was playing for the St. Louis Browns. However, in August 1885, he was
purchased by the New York Metropolitans, who had also bought Cushman. Broughton once again had a
chance to catch for his favorite pitcher.
For the next five years, Broughton played with five different teams. Although Broughton never reached the
salary of George Wright, by May 1886, he had been hired by a Savannah, Georgia team for $1,200. He was
still playing the catcher position.
In the next few years, he shifted ball teams every season. In 1887, he was once again hired to be the catcher
for the Milwaukee team. The local newspapers described his season with the Milwaukee club as first rate.
However, the next season, "Cal Broughton, the champion catcher of the west", as the Evansville Review
named him, was playing for Detroit. The reported salary was now $2,100.
The Detroit Sluggers made a trip through the south before the regular season games opened in the spring.
Cal Broughton left Evansville the 15th of February in 1888 to join the team in Detroit.
For two years, in 1889 and 1890, Cal played for the St. Paul professional team. Then he was transferred to
Seattle to play in the North Pacific league in 1890. In September 1890, he was back in Rock County and
playing for a Beloit team.
His last year in professional baseball was in 1891 when he played for a team organized in Lowell,
Massachusetts. After his years as a professional ball player, Cal returned to make his home in the Evansville
He never gave up his love for baseball, and while Cal turned to other professions for a living, he continued to
play with local teams. In August 1891, Cal Broughton and Fred Gillman played ball with the Edgerton Club. In
later years, Broughton and Gillman would team up again, in keeping Evansville safe from crime.
The two men, Gillman and Broughton played together on local ball teams throughout the 1890s. In 1896,
Evansville's team became the State Champions. Gillman and Broughton are pictured together for the team
photograph, Broughton sporting a handle-bar mustache typical of professional ball players. That same year,
Broughton mangled and dislocated his thumb while playing ball in Durand, Illinois.
In 1895, Broughton and his wife, Harriet moved to Evansville. Mrs. Broughton opened a restaurant on West
Main Street and Cal purchased a billiard parlor on the north side of East Main Street. (The building has since
been torn down and the site is now the east side of the Union Bank and Trust building.)
In early April 1899, Calvin C. Broughton became Evansville's first police chief. At that time the chief of police
was elected by the people. David Johnson and Walter Tullar also ran for the position. With a total of 139
votes, Broughton was the people's choice for police chief, and he remained in that position for the next
Broughton was paid $35 a month and this salary never changed as long as Broughton was chief. His staff was
small. Fred W. Gillman, his fellow baseball team mate, became the assistant Chief of Police and also acted as
City Clerk. C. G. Mihills was the night policeman.
Big crimes were usually not the work of local people. The homeless people, called tramps, in those days
regularly road the railroad trains from town to town looking for shelter and food. They were often considered
troublesome by the townspeople and Broughton met every train stopping in Evansville to prevent the tramps
from getting off the train and bothering local citizens.
Just a year after being elected Police Chief, Broughton became a local hero. In September 1900, three men
robbed railroad workers in a box car near Merrimac, Wisconsin. The workers were pushed from the box car
and the robbers rode the train as far as Evansville. In the meantime, the railroad workers jumped on another
train and it arrived at the Evansville depot before the first train had left for Janesville. They alerted the local
The police discovered that the criminals had already left the box car and were walking along the tracks to
Janesville. Chief Broughton and Fred Gillman hired Charles Winship to drive them in his livery rig and they
overtook the three suspects just a few miles east of Evansville. Both the robbers and the policemen were
armed and they fired shots at each other, but Broughton and Gillman managed to capture the thieves,
handcuff them and bring them to the city hall jail.
Feeling that the jail was secure, Broughton and Gillman left the men alone for several hours. When the Chief
returned to the jail to check on his prisoners, Broughton discovered that the three had escaped. The men had
taken an iron bar from a ventilator between the cell and the fire engine room, pried open the jail door, broken
glass in another door, and unlocked a second door with a key that had been left in the lock. Then they raised
a front window in the city hall and left town in broad daylight with no one noticing them.
When Broughton discovered the escapees, he got a posse together and went to the corn fields south of the
city looking for the men. Two of the men were found hiding in the corn shocks, but a third, known as "Toronto
Jimmy", a notorious safe cracker, and post office robber was captured several days later in Portage,
Broughton collected evidence from the spot where the men had been found. A large blue handkerchief was
tied around dynamite, caps and fuses that could be used for blowing up safes.
The capture of the criminals earned Broughton a reputation for protecting the lives and property of the local
citizens. The following year, in November 1901, Cal Broughton, together with Fred Gillman, C. G. Mihills, H. W.
Fellows and Charles Winship were awarded $600 for the capture of robbers who had taken money and stamps
from the Footville Post Office.
The Baker Hardware Store was robbed in May 1905 and Broughton captured the burglars even though he had
to fight with them. The store owners were so pleased that they gave Broughton a new Colt revolver to show
their appreciation. Another suspect was captured in Baraboo after he tried to sell jack knives with the name
F. A. Baker & Company on them.
In addition to his police work, Broughton also performed other functions for the city. He and Gillman cleaned
the jail by order of the City Council. In 1911, after the city installed the sewer system, the City Council made
Broughton the inspector for the installation of the new sewer work to be installed. In 1915, he was also made
street commissioner and was given another $30 each month, besides his regular salary of $35.
It was during his time as police chief that Broughton also captured Evansville's first car thieves. In June 1913,
a Ford car was stolen from the barn of Thomas Steele, who lived in Union township, about a mile west of
Evansville. The car was found abandoned and covered with hay in an old barn near Portage. Broughton
captured one of the car thieves, Bert Krueger, near Spooner Wisconsin on June 9.
The justice system worked much faster in those days, or perhaps there were fewer criminals, because Krueger
was brought before a judge in Janesville on June 11, two days after Broughton captured him. Krueger was
found guilty of the car theft and sentenced to four and a half years in prison at Waupun.
Ray Norton, the second thief, was captured in South Dakota and Broughton went by train to bring him back to
Wisconsin for trial. After Norton pleaded guilty before Judge Fifield, (the same judge who had tried and
sentenced Krueger), he also was sent to Waupun.
The Chief of Police continued to watch every incoming train for hobos and tramps that might try to get off the
trains at the local depot. If any tried to leave the cars, Broughton fired his revolver into the air and scared
them back onto the train.
Through the seventeen years that Broughton was Chief, Fred Gillman acted as his assistant. Gillman also
had a reputation as one who would chase down criminals. In 1916, Gillman got news that a robbery had
occurred in Poplar Grove, Illinois and the thief had boarded the train in Beloit. When the train arrived in
Evansville, Gillman boarded the train, nabbed the robber and arrested him as the train arrived in Madison. He
returned the suspect to Belvidere, Illinois for trial.
When Broughton decided to give up his job as chief, Gillman was his logical successor. In January 1917, Fred
Gillman replaced Broughton as police chief. Gus Jewel became Gillman's assistant.
Broughton went to work for the D. E. Wood Butter Company for several years. Then in 1927 he once again
entered police work, this time as Gillman's assistant.
In 1931, the Broughton's celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Harriet died in 1934 and Cal became an
invalid two years later. He was cared for by Mr. and Mrs. O. C. Jones at their home on South Madison Street.
Broughton maintained his interest in baseball and had a radio by his bedside to listen to the ball games and
baseball news. By the late 1930s, another Evansville boy had become a professional player. One of Cal's
last requests was to know whether or not Stanley "Pop" Sperry had started spring training.
Cal Broughton died in March 1939, at the age of 78. He was one of Evansville's heroes.
Since the spring of 1880, Evansville fans
have been watching local ball players win
and lose at the game of baseball. One of
Evansville's first baseball teams was
organized in March 1880 with livery stable
owner, Matt Broderick, as Manager.
The team called themselves the Evansville
Mutuals. Mutuals was a common name for
local ball teams. Cal Broughton was
catcher, Bayard Andrews, pitcher;
Morehouse, Owen, F. Broughton on the
bases; Heath, shortstop; and Purdy
Thompson and Hunt in the field. Two men
acted as extras, John Silverthorn and A.
The team played neighboring towns and
competed for prize money offered to the
winning team. The Mutuals always drew a
crowd. The players knew there was
potential for baseball professionals to
become rich playing ball and one of the
team members, Cal Broughton, had
ambitions to be a professional ball player.
Professional baseball had been in existence
since 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stocks
team became the first team to be openly
paid for playing ball. That year, the Stocks
had an annual payroll of $9,300 and the
star of the Cincinnati team, short-stop
George Wright, was paid $1,400. His fans
said he was worth every penny of it.