The Tragic Death of Rayville Native Hervey Mangham: LSU Baseball Star Dies From Accident On The Ball Field (ca., 1908)

Hervey Mangham, in the 1907 Edition of LSU’s Gumbo Yearbook

Hervey Mangham was born the tenth of ten children. His mother and father faced heartbreak after heartbreak earlier in their marriage. All five of their first five children died in infancy or at a very young age. So by the time the 1890s came around, young Hervey no doubt found good favor as a result of being the “youngest,” and in part, because his father Wiley P. Mangham had created an extremely profitable enterprise with his newspaper business. But when the young Hervey Mangham was just seven years old, his father Wiley P. Mangham would die suddenly at the age of 58. The father would never have the fortune of seeing his youngest son’s great success on the baseball diamond at Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge.

Hervey continued to excel in school locally in Rayville, and by 1905, young Mangham, age 17 years, chose Louisiana State University. This was significant, especially for someone coming out of rural northeast Louisiana. Most families relied on their sons and daughters to remain close and help cultivate the land or pick up the pieces of a family business. Records clearly reveal that only one or two other students his age from rural Richland Parish would join him as he headed south toward’s the state’s flagship university. Little doubt remains, however, that young Hervey’s decision would open doors and provide for great new opportunities. Based on his early collegiate successes, its clear he was quickly becoming a very promising young collegiate.

1906 – Young Hervey Goes to LSU in Baton Rouge

This First Year (Freshman)

The year was 1906 and in Hervey’s freshman year, he was named a starter in right-field for the L.S.U. Tiger baseball team. Hervey didn’t just limit himself to baseball, however. He joined the LSU tennis team and was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. And since LSU was a military training academy, Hervey served as a cadet in Company B. As a freshman in 1906, the LSU Tiger baseball team went 14-9 under coach Dan A Killian.

LSU’s Baseball Team in 1906, Hervey Mangham’s Freshman Year

The Second Year (Sophomore)

By 1907 and back on campus, Hervey had been promoted up to “Corporal Mangham” in the military academy at LSU, and as a sophomore, he once again was named the starting right fielder for the “fighting Tigers.” That year, they went 8-11 under new coach J. Philips.

The Third Year (Junior)

By 1908, after what was probably a hot summer back in Rayville, Louisiana, Hervey entered his Junior year and was truly becoming the big man on campus. As a cadet, he became Lieutenant Mangham. The Tiger baseball season of 1908, however, was dreadful.  Under their third coach in three years, Edgar Wingard took the team to 16-22-1. But that long 1908 season was cut short for young Hervey. It was a season he, unfortunately, would not finish.

Tragedy Strikes

On April 10, 1908, the LSU Tigers baseball team made the trip up to Jefferson-Point, just north of Vicksburg. They stayed close throughout the game, but in a critical play for the Tigers, young Mangham slid into second base, with his head hitting the knee of the fielder on the base, and it was such a blow that he had to be removed from the game. Mangham was clearly proving his tenuous, competitive spirit on the ball-field.

Weeks later, in the same 1908 season, the Tigers were again on the road in a game against Chamberlain Point Academy in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Young Hervey Mangham, like always, would be the starter in right field for the LSU Tigers. But tragedy would soon draw near. During the heated game between these two clubs, Young Hervey was mortally struck in the left temple with a baseball. The game stopped. People came together in prayer that he would be ok. But he was taken to a sanitarium in Vicksburg, and it was there that he died. He was just 19 years old in 1908. As news began to reach his home, as well as his friends back at LSU, all were devastated.

News Accounts of the Tragedy

“No larger number of people, both white and colored, ever attended a funeral in this town, which attested their universal love and respect for the memory of this good young man whose gentle and kind disposition made every one who knew him a friend.” “He leaves an older brother, our representative-elect, H.A. Mangham – a mother, the widow of the late Wiley P. Mangham, and two sisters. Mrs. Erma Jones, and Mrs. Eunice Trezevant, to mourn his loss.

The Natchez Newspaper, as reported on April 21, 1908

Though unrelated to this tragic incident, yet somewhat ironically, only one month after Hervey’s death, the song “Take me out to the Ball Game” was officially registered, on May 2, 1908. The next time you’re out at the baseball park, and this age-old anthem is played across the baseball field, think also about these old times of 1908, when the birth of the song first began. And perhaps also, you might take a moment to pause and remember young Hervey Mangham, the promising young cadet from Rayville, Louisiana, that played right field for the Fighting Tigers of LSU. – Luke Letlow, author

From the 1908 GUMBO Yearbook

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