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ITALY, TEXAS
Hometown of Baseball’s First “Bad Guy”
Cousin to be his chauffeur, and when they got to another town, he would put signs all over the car announcing that he was going to play that night and then drove the car and the signs around town.
    A first baseman, he hit .341 for the Chicago White Sox as a rookie in 1928. In his first game with the White Sox on August 8, 1928, he collected three singles and a triple off Boston's Red Ruffing. At the time, he reportedly had a wardrobe of 50 suits, 100 hats, 40 pairs of spats, a half-dozen tuxedos and attire for golf, riding and yachting. .
    In the 1929 off-season, he actually began a boxing career. Fighting as Art "the Great" Shires, he had several celebrated bouts, including one match against a member of the Chicago Bears. After demanding $25,000 contract for the 1930 season, he settled for $10,000. He later was traded to the Washington Senators, where he made speeches about the evils of politicians.  Along with his boxing exploits (his final record was 5-2 with five knockouts), Shires organized barnstorming tours with a semipro basketball team, worked in vaudeville, acted in two movies, sold insurance, moonlighted as a bouncer, managed a minor league ball club, lost a small fortune in real estate and endured a very ugly and publicized divorce,  
Had Reputation of Being a “Jerk”
    His actions for being a character on and off the field earned him the reputation of a jerk through his headline grabbing remarks, disdain for authority, and publicity stunts. In the ring, he appeared in gaudy trunks and a red robe that had "Art The Great" in bold white letters on the back.
After the 1929 season, Shires threw himself a homecoming parade. He hired an entire band when he got off the train in Dallas to make the 30 mile trip to his home in Waxahachie.  With large painted signs reading The Great Shires," he paraded down Main Street.
    During a trip to New York, it was reported, he attended a musical. As he walked down the aisle to his seat. the audience began clapping and cheering. So he bowed to the left and then to the right. The only problem was that the applause wasn't for him. It was for actors Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Crawford who were also making their way to their seats.
    After one of his fights, Shires told the press, "I came along at just the right time for you. During the last year there hasn't been much to write about - the inauguration of a president, the Graf Zeppelin, the stock market crash, a few catastrophes here and there, but there wasn't much doing at all until I showed up."
    In December 1929, he told a group of admirers, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, if perchance you haven't heard of the "Great One" before, it's me, myself, in person. Look me over. I'm the guy who forced Ty Cobb out of baseball and Jack Dempsey out of the ring. You may get the idea them guys didn't like me? You're right, they didn't. Cobb quit cold when he saw me in the big leagues.
KO’d His Manager Twice
    The 6-foot-1, 190-pound red-headed first baseman's temper was well documented and quite often landed him on the front page of the sports section. Along with a lifetime batting average of .291, Shires busted up teammates, umpires, the club secretary, hotel detectives and opposing players. He twice kayoed his manager Lena Blackburne in locker room fights. A UP reporter wrote in February 1929, "Shires is rated as the best man in the league with his fists."
    After his first fight in which he knocked out "Mysterious" (AKA Diving Dan) Dan Daly in the first round, he thought about changing his title and calling himself "King Arthur. The self-proclaimed author, lecturer,  vaudeville actor, and  singer told reporters that one of his favorite songs was "I May Be Wrong But - I Think I'm Wonderful."
    Injuries would eventually catch up with Shires, and it was one to his knee that ended his final baseball season in 1932 while with the Boston Braves. He attempted to work his way back up to the big time with the minor league Toledo Mudhens, but his heart was never fully into it.
    Shires rode out the Depression era as a professional wrestler in the Southwest. An automobile accident in 1937 left him with a damaged back, but he continued working as a wrestler and referee. Fifty pounds overweight and hobbling on old baseball knees, Shires boasted that wrestling needed him the way baseball needed Babe Ruth. Besides, he added, it paid better than managing a minor league team.
    In 1948, Shires famous temper got him in trouble one more time, when  he beat and kicked William "Hi" Erwin, a former player for the Columbus Red Birds during a drunken argument. Erwin died nine weeks later. Shires was arrested and charged with murder. After a lengthy trial, Shires was cleared of the charges, escaping with a $25 fine for aggravated assault.
    With a nasty divorce and murder trial behind him , he faded off into the sunset and helped to manage a small restaurant in his hometown
    Shires died  in Italy, Texas of lung cancer at the age of 60, on July 13, 1967, and is buried in the Italy Cemetery.
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Former gas station in Italy, Texas
Art “The Great” Shires
Major League Baseball’s
Original “Bad Guy”
Italy’s Most Famous
Native Son
Art “The Great”
Major League baseball player Charles Arthur Shires was born  in Italy, Texas on August 13, 1907. He attended high school in Waxahacie where he was a baseball and football star.
    One of the great self-promoters in baseball history, and baseball’s first bad guy, Shires enjoyed a  short but colorful career in the big leagues. With his gregarious and combative personality, Shires often argued with his managers and teammates. He promoted himself by calling himself Art "The Great" Shires.
    While in the minors he hired his
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