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LEAD PHOTO – Leonard “King” Cole, the Toledo native who pitched in the major leagues in the early 20th century and allowed Babe Ruth’s first hit, will be honored with a celebration the weekend of April 29.

TOLEDO — On the weekend of April 29, 2023, the Tama-Toledo Chamber of Commerce in Toledo will hold a memorial service to honor the life of Leonard “King” Cole.

Leonard Leslie Cole was born on April 15, 1886 to Hiram Henry and Cora A. Cole. In the Cole family in Toledo. He attended public schools in Toledo and at age 14 was sent to an industrial school for boys in Eldora. He briefly attended Leander Clark College in Toledo.

During his childhood, Cole had an affinity for baseball and established himself as a talented pitcher for Toledo. In 1907, she joined the Bloomer Girls baseball team, playing against men’s city, semi-pro and minor league teams.

Cole moved to semi-pro clubs in Ottumwa, Tecumseh, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio before settling in as a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs in 1909.

In 1910, Cole went 20-4, helping his team win the National League title, and he was named Rookie of the Year. He had the highest winning percentage as a no-hitter pitcher in both the minor and major leagues.

Cole was later traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1912 and did not play in the majors in 1913. He then played for the New York Yankees in 1914-1915 and helped introduce the baseball world to George Herman “Babe” Ruth. On October 2, 1914, he doubled to Babe Ruth, Ruth’s first hit in the major leagues.

Cole finished his baseball career with a 54-27 record and 298 strikeouts.

In 1915, Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer and later died on January 6, 1916. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo.

Cole left an underappreciated but memorable mark on the baseball world.

“King” Cole Day will be a free, family-friendly event focused on America’s favorite pastime, baseball. With wishes for a short exhibition game between the South Tama baseball team and another local school district and other community events.

If you would like to help plan or contribute to this event or learn more about the effort, please call the TT Chamber at (641) 484-6661 or (641) 484-2007. Meetings are currently held monthly at the Toledo Fire Station.

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