Just inside the entry to the Western State Hospital Cemetery in Ft. Steilacoom Park stands a covered kiosk with information about the cemetery’s restoration project under “Grave Concerns.” There are about 3,000 patients buried there.
This weekend, Oct. 25, Make a Difference Day 2015, Laurel Lemke, Grave Concerns president, said they planned to mark 30 more grave sites..
On the far left side is posted a feature story about one burial. Former News Tribune writer Bart Ripp wrote the story about patient #1395. Until about a dozen years ago #1395, Charles V. Faust, was just a number in the Hospital’s record book, but there was more to his life.
Faust was born on Oct. 8, 1880 in Marion, KS. The eldest of six children born to German immigrants John and Eva Faust, he was said to be slow-witted. Undoubtedly that was a disappointment to his father, John, who’d hoped his son would one day take over the farm’s operation. But Charlie was a child of the bleak plains country, and, until the summer of 1911, just plodded his way along. A trip to the county fair changed his life after he met a fortuneteller.
Late that summer the lanky 6ft. 2 in., 180 lb. 30 year old, told New York Giant owner John McGraw that a fortuneteller had predicted that Charlie would pitch the Giants to the Championship. (The Giants were based in New York from 1883-1957 when they became the SF Giants). McGraw gave Faust a tryout. It soon became apparent that Faust was not a ballplayer, but McGraw played a joke on the earnest young man and had him run the bases. Faust arrived at home plate dusty and disheveled, his clothes ripped to shreds. Final score that day was 9-0 for the Giants. Because of Charlie’s presence and base running skills, the Giants won the next two games as well. McGraw gave Charlie the run-around, though, when it came time to return from St. Louis to New York. Charlie was left behind when the train pulled out of the station…but when the Giants arrived at the Polo Grounds, Charlie was there, determined to achieve the fame the fortune teller had predicted—he would pitch the Giants to their championship.
Throughout the season, however, McGraw kept Faust out of the games while Faust doggedly stayed around. He was good for morale, and the fans loved him. After the Giants won the pennant, McGraw relented, seeing no reason to deny Faust his dream, and he pitched in the final inning of the World Series. The Giants, though, lost.
Faust hoped to return the next season, but McGraw wouldn’t change his mind.
In the end, Faust, only 35, diagnosed with dementia, succumbed to tuberculosis, dying on June 18, 1915 at Western State Hospital where he’s buried. His story remained buried, as well, until 2000 when former Giant centerfielder Fred Snodgrass told the story “In the Glory of Their Times” to sportswriter Lawrence Ritter.
Schechter concluded, “Faust has become a cult figure among baseball aficionados, deservedly so considering the incredible performance of the Giants under his influence.”
Thanks to Bart Ripp of the News Tribune and Gabriel Schechter, “The Rube Who Saved McGraw’s Giants,” Los Gatos, CA, Charles April Publications, 2000.
The Grave Concerns Association is a volunteer organization dedicated to the restoration of the historic Western State Hospital Cemetery located on the grounds of Fort Steilacoom Park. The organization grew from John Lucas’s desire to rededicate the prairie cemetery where more than 3,000 former patients are buried, but few markers were visible in 2000.
Grave Concerns is a 501C3 organization, registered as a nonprofit in the State of Washington which raises funds to replace deteriorating numbered markers with names etched in granite. It organizes installation events, celebrations, fundraiser projects, and provide educational opportunities and outreach. They also team with community organizations and businesses to complete their mission: to restore and enhance the patient cemetery.