Jim Riley, A Man For all Seasons

rileybaseball

Bayfield, New Brunswick native Jim Riley is the answer to an interesting trivia question.  He is the only athlete to play in both the NHL and MLB.  Very little is known about his early life.  What is known is he was born on May 25, 1895 to an American father and Canadian mother.  The family left New Brunswick for Calgary in 1906.

First, his hockey career.  He played the 1914-15 season with the Calgary Victorias of the Alberta Senior League.  Riley went on to play eight seasons of major league competition from 1915-24 (he did not play in 1918-19 due to military service).  He played one season with the Victoria Aristocrats and the balance with the Seattle Metropolitans, both of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.  He was a member of the 1917 Stanley Cup champions in Seattle, playing in another finals in 1920 losing to the Ottawa Senators. Riley would also be among the league’s leading scorers during his time in Seattle.  After his last season in with the Metropolitians (1923-24), he would take two seasons off to focus on his baseball career.  Riley played with the Dallas Texas in 1926-27.  Later the season, he was a member of the Chicago Black Hawks (three games) and Detroit Cougars (six games).  These would be the only NHL games he would play.  He would not appear on the score-sheet during these three games in Chicago.  Riley did record two assists and 14 penalty minutes in Detroit.Once he played in the NHL, Riley played one more season of professional hockey (1928-29) with the Los Angeles Richfields of the California Professional League.

His baseball career was not terribly memorable.   Riley played four games with the St. Louis Browns (at second) in 1921 and two games with the Washington Senators (at first) two years later.  Not only did he only play a whopping total of six MLB games, but Riley would go 0-14 in these games.  He did however record three base on balls, scoring one run.  His fielding was no better, recording four errors in 37.0 innings in the field.  Riley’s first season of professional baseball was in 1921, slitting the season between the Vancouver Beavers (Pacific Coast International League) and the Terre Haute Tots (Three I League).  He also spent his time with the Browns this season.  In addition to his time with the Senators, Riley would play professionally until 1932.  He would make stops with teams like the Salt Lake City Bees, Shreveport Gassers, Mobile Bears, Dallas Steers, Fort Worth Panthers, San Antonio Indians, Topeka Senators and Baton Rouge Senators.  While with the 1926 Steers, Riley won a Texas League championship and a Dixie Series title over New Orleans of the Southern League.

Riley would continue to live in Texas the rest of his life.  He died of (lung and stomach) cancer in Seguin (Texas) on May 25, 1969; his 74th birthday.  He was inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

For the trivia fans out there, Riley played with the following Hall of Famers in his career:

Victoria Aristocrats: Lester Patrick

Seattle Metropolitians: Frank Foyston, Hap Holmes, *Lester Patrick, Jack Walker, Gordon “Doc” Roberts

Chicago Black Hawks:  Dick Irvin, Babe Dye, George Hay, Hugh Lehman and Mickey MacKay

Detroit Cougars: *Hap Holmes, *Frank Foyston, Frank Fredrickson and Duke Keats.

St. Louis Browns: George Sisler

Washington Senators: Sam Rice, Bucky Harris and Walter Johnson

By my count that he was teammates with 16 Hall of Famers in his major league career.

NOTE: Andy Kyle played in the Majors in 1912 with Cincinnati and National Hockey Association with Toronto in 1917.  The NHA was a forerunner to the NHL, making Kyle the first to play major league hockey and baseball.  Riley remains the only athlete to play NHL and MLB.

Seattle Hockey Story on Riley

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