Sometimes when I am knee deep in a project, I need to divert my attention for a few minutes to help get me past a stumbling block. The first of yesterday’s diversions was Ernest G. “Ernie” Ovitz, a member of the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at the University of Illinois.
The first mention of Ovitz comes in the April 1906 Shield of Phi Kappa Psi . “…Ovitz, our new pitcher, has everything that a pitcher needs. Incidentally the only thing that keeps Ovitz from wearing a Phi Psi pledge button is that his father is opposed to fraternities, but we hope to overcome that objection shortly, and put a pin on him.” By the October issue, the situation has changed, “We take great pleasure in announcing the names of the following men who are wearing the pledge button of our fraternity : Ernest G. Ovitz, ’09, of Mineral Point, Wisconsin…” (that list of pledges included Clarence F. Williams, ’10, of Elgin, Illinois, whose nickname “Dab” was known to generations of Phi Psis as the fraternity’s Executive Secretary/Director and who, along with W. Elmer Eckblaw, an Acacia friend who later went on to serve as that fraternity’s National President, is given credit as a co-founder of the football homecoming weekend).
In 1907, it was reported that Ovitz and two other Phi Psis were elected to the Yoxan honorary junior and senior society. Another chapter report in the Shield noted that Ovitz had pitched in the Illinois-Williams baseball game and that he had led the grand march at the Prom on “December 13 in spite of the superstition connected with the date and the whole chapter at tended to see him do it.” He also bowled on the chapter’s intramural team.
Ovitz, along with another Phi Psi, were elected to Shield and Trident, the senior society. Another chapter report noted that the “whole school was thrown into an uproar a few weeks ago, because of the fact that Brother Ovitz had become entangled in the mazes of red tape and had been declared ineligible for the Varsity nine. Ernie was the mainstay of the pitching staff and his loss would have been a serious matter. The matter was agitated by various student organizations and the result was that the Council of Administration reconsidered the matter and Brother Ovitz will face the sluggers from Chicago in the next game.”
It was this mention of Ovitz that had me googling, “Varsity baseball pitcher, has joined Dubuque in the Three I league, and is making a hit with his fine playing. He received offers from the Boston Americans and the Chicago Cubs, but refused to accept because of desires to enter Northwestern Medical School next fall, where he will complete his medical course.” What did he do? Did he play major league baseball or did he finish medical school? He did indeed play major league ball, as a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs during the 1911 season. He pitched two innings in the one game he played. He spent the rest of his career as a doctor.
I also took the time to read a blog post about Sam Becker, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon at Miami University in Ohio. I encourage you to read it, too.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the birthday of a very important founder of Chi Omega, Dr. Charles Richardson, “Sis Doc,” who was also a member of Kappa Sigma. Sis Doc and I share a birthday with Elvis Presley, an honorary member of the Arkansas State College chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon. Today, Elvis would have turned 81.
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/