Penacook New Hampshire Sportsman and Coach: Robert Abial "Red" Rolfe (1908-1969)

“Red” Rolfe signed with the New York Yankee’s baseball team in 1931 … and never looked back.

Robert "Red" Rolfe, The Pride of Penacook, wearing his Yankee uniform.

Robert “Red” Rolfe,
The Pride of Penacook, wearing his Yankees uniform.

Red Rolfe was born 17 October 1908 in Penacook, New Hampshire. He started his baseball career at Penacook High school, followed by Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College and the major leagues.

After graduation from Dartmouth College he played for Albany in the Eastern league in 1931, moving up after two seasons of play as shortstop in the Newark Bears in the International league, and then joined the Yankees as their regular third baseman from 1934-1942, accumulating 1,394 hits while batting .289.

He led the American League in triples (15) in 1936 and in runs (139), hits (213) and doubles (46) in 1939.

Rolfe compiled a life time batting average of .297, hitting over .300 mark in 1935, 1936

Robert Abial "Red" Rolfe

Robert Abial “Red” Rolfe

and 1938. He played in four (one source says six) World Series from 1936 through 1939, striking out only 9 times in 116 times at bat.

Chronic colitis brought his major league career to an end in 1940. He served the Yankees as coach and then went to Yale where he handled baseball and basketball teams. From Sept 11 1942 to 1946 he was a member of the Yale coaching staff.

In the closing weeks of the 1946-47 basketball season, Rolfe coached the Toronto Huskies in the pre-NBA Basketball Association of America. He managed Detroit from 1949 through the first half of 1952. From 1954 until his retirement in 1967, he was athletic director of his alma mater, Dartmouth College.

The book, “New Hampshire Notables,” provides more biographical information: “Director of Athletics, Dartmouth College; educated Darthmouth College, A.B. 1931; played professional baseball following college, short-stop and 3d baseman, New York Yankees, 1934-35, 3d baseman 1936-42, lifetime major league batting average of .293, played in 6 World Series; member various American League and major leauge all-start teams and of Yankees’ all-time all-star team played in All-Star Games; coach of baseball, basketball, Yale University 1942-46, coach N.Y. Yankee 1947; scout, director minor league clubs, manager Detroit Tigers baseball club; Director of Athletics Dartmouth since 1953; member Phi Sigma Kappa; Sphinx. Resided 6 Conant Road in Hanover, New Hampshire.”

In 1947 he was living in Hampden CT, with a vacation camp near Lake Winnepcoket in Webster NH.

See his family tree and more personal information below.


Further Reading:

Test your Knowledge – New Hampshire Baseball Quiz [Museum of New Hampshire History]

Red Rolfe’s Grave


Henry Rolfe, son of Richard & Agnes Rolfe, b. 1585 Downton, Wiltshire England. He married 28 May 1621 in Whiteparish Wiltshire England to Honour Parke. She b. abt 1593. With his wife Honour Parke, and his brother John, with his wife Esther, were in Newbury MA before 1642, when he was a proprietor. He died early in 1643. No record is found of his being admitted a freeman, perhaps owing to his early death. His wife died at the house of Thomas Blanchard in Charlestown MA 19 Dec 1650.
Children of Henry & Honour Rolfe:
1. Hannah Rolfe, b. in England abt 1622; m. Richard Dole in 1647 [these are my 8th great grand-parents]
2. Ann Rolfe, b. abt 1626 in England; m1) Thomas Blanchard, had two children; m2nd) Richard Gardner of Woburn  MA and had 10 children.
3. John Rolfe, b. prob in England; m 1656 Mary Scullard, lived a short time in Newbury MA, removed to Nantucket MA and after that to Cambridge (now Arlington) MA.
4. +Benjamin Rolfe, b. 1638 in Newbury MA

Benjamin Rolfe, son of Henry Rolfe, b. 1638 in Newbury MA; m. 3 Nov 1659 in Newbury MA to Apphia Hale, only dau of Thomas Hale, an early settler of Newbury MA, and the ancestor of the Hales in New England and New York. She was b 1642 in Newbury MA. He was a weaver. They lived in Newbury MA where all their children were born, and where he died August 1710, and she d. 24 Dec 1708.
Children of Benjamin & Apphia (Hale) Rolfe:
1. John Rolfe, b. 12 Oct 1660; removed to Woodbridge NJ after 27 Apr 1685 and there m. Sarah Moores. [a 2nd source says he m. Dorothy Nelson 1689-90]
2. Benjamin Rolfe, b. 13 Sep 1662; graduated from Harvard College 1684, ordained a minister at Haverhill Jan 1694; chaplain to the colonial troops at Falmouth 1689; m. Mehitable Atwater 1693. Killed with his wife and two children by the Indians at Haverhill MA 29 Aug 1708. Only his daughter Elizabeth lived, and m. Rev. Samuel Checkley and had issue.
3. Hannah, b. 1664-65, m. John Whipple
4. Apphia Rolfe, b. 8 March 1667; m. John Jepson
5. Mary Rolfe, b. 16 Sep 1669, died young
6. Samuel Rolfe, b. 14 Jan 1672-3, m. Sarah Jepson
7. Mary Rolfe, b. 11 Nov 1674, died young
8. +Henry Rolfe, b. 12 Oct 1677; m. Hannah Tappan
9. Elizabeth Rolfe, b. 15 Dec 1679; m. Eleazer Putnam
10. Nathaniel Rolfe, b. 12 Nov 1681; m. Anna Tappan
11. Abigail Rolfe, b. 5 May 1684; m. Nathaniel Boardman
12. A daughter, b. — 1685

Henry Rolfe, son of Benjamin & Apphia (Hale) Rolfe, b. 12 Oct 1677; he was ancestor of the Rolfe family of Concord NH; m. 1705 to Hannah Tappan (1679-1758). She d. 2 Jan 1758 in Newbury MA in her 79th year. Had 6 or 7 children. Farmer. Member of Newbury MA House of Representatives 1723, 1725, 1727, 1730, 1734, 1736-40, 1743, 1744; selectman of Newbury MA 1719, 1727, 1730; moderator 1735, 1736, 1739, 1740, 1743-44, 1746-47; justice of the peace 1736; captain of militia 1721; Most of his years in the HR were full of committees. Voted for Explanatory Charter of 1725.
Children of Henry & Anna (Tappan) Rolfe:
1. Henry Rolfe, b. 21 Oct 1706 Newbury MA; m. 6 Dec 1738 to Elisabeth Toppan
2. Hannah Rolfe, b. 7 Nov 1708 Newbury MA; m. Col. Stephen Emery
3. Benjamin Rolfe, b. 8 July 1710 Newbury MA; m. Sarah Walker
4. Elizabeth Rolfe, b. 14 Jan 1712 Newbury MA
5. +Nathaniel Rolfe, b. 26 Jan 1713 at Newbury MA, d. at Concord NH 1808; m. Hannah Rolfe
6. Mary Rolfe, b betw 1715-1722 Newbury MA; m. James Judson

Nathaniel Rolfe, son of Henry-3 Rolfe, b. Newbury MA 1712, d. at Concord NH Dec 1808;  m.  26 May 1742 in Newbury MA to Hannah Rolfe, dau of John & Judith (Dole) Rolfe. She b. 25 Dec 1720, and d. March 12 1794 [Deaths at Concord NH 1792-1836, NEGHS Register]. They had 9 children. They moved to Concord NH and settled on what was later the city farm in Ward 3.
Children of Nathaniel & Hannah (Rolfe) Rolfe:
1. Hannah Rolfe, b. 19 Apr 1743 in Newbury MA
2. +Nathaniel Rolfe, b. 29 Aug 1744 in Haverhill or Newbury MA
3. William Rolfe, b. 5 March 1748 Haverhill MA
4. Judith Rolfe, b. 25 Nov 1749 Haverhill MA
5. Benjamin Rolfe, d. 30 Oct 1749
6. Benjamin 2nd, b. 31 May 1752/53 Concord NH, m. Molly Sweat and removed to Rumford, Maine. d. 1 Oct 1828 Rumford ME. Had children including John, b. Concord NH 7 March 1785, d. 23 Apr 1854, m. Betsy Abbot. They had a son Dr. Enoch Carter Rolfe.
7. Mary Rolfe, b. 23 May 1753 Haverhill MA
8. Jane Rolfe, b. 28 Dec 1759 in Haverhill MA
9. Elizabeth Rolfe, b. 4 Feb 1762 in Haverhill MA
10. Henry Rolfe, b. 1765 in Haverhill MA

Nathaniel Rolfe, son of Nathaniel/Henry Rolfe, b. 29 Aug 1744 in Haverhill, Essex Co MA; d. 15 Nov 1829 in Concord NH; m. widow Judith (Walker) Chandler, dau of Timothy & Sarah (Burbeen) Walker, and widow of Capt. Abiel Chandler. She b. 24 Dec 1744 in Rumford [Concord], Merrimack Co NH, and d. Aug 27 1806 in Concord NH [NEGHS Register]. He settled in Concord near the mouth of the Contocook River.
Children of Nathaniel & Judith (Walker) Rolfe:
1. Abiel Rolfe, b. 6 Apr 1781 in Concord NH, d. 19 Feb 1840 in Concord NH; unmarried
2. Jane Rolfe, b. 21 Jan 1783 in Concord NH; m. 1805 Nathan Chandler; had issue
3. +Capt. Henry Rolfe, b. 31 Aug 1785 in Concord NH

Capt. Henry Rolfe, son of Nathaniel & Judith (Walker) Rolfe, b. 31 Aug 1785 in Concord NH; m. 13 Sep 1808 to Deborah Carter. She b. 18 Apr 1786 in Concord NH and d. 11 Jan 1849 in NH. He d. May 30 –, age 74.
Children of Henry & Deborah (Carter) Rolfe:
1. Judith Walker Rolfe, b. 30 Jan 1809 in Concord NH; m. 1838 Jacob Whidden; had issue
2. Jane Chandler Rolfe, b. 4 May 1810 in Concord NH
3. Rhoda Carter Rolfe, b. 20/26 May 1812 in Concord NH; m. 1834 David Farnum; had issue
4. +Nathaniel Rolfe, b. 1 Jan 1814 in Concord NH
5. Phebe Whittemore Rolfe, b. 17 June 1815 in Concord NH; m. 1840 Horatio N. Harvey; had issue
6. Timothy Carter Rolfe, b. 9 May 1817 in Concord NH; m. 1844 Eliza Ann Emery; had issue
7. Henry Rolfe, b. 26 Jan 1819 in Concord NH; m. 1843 Abiah P. Atkinson, had issue.
8. Deborah Rolfe, b. 8 Feb 1821 in Concord NH; m. John A. Holmes of Londonderry NH
9. Col. Abial Rolfe, b. 29 March 1823 in Concord NH; attended Concord NH school; owned a lumber mill; influential, was a Whig. In command of a militia company. He died age 70; He was engaged in the manufacture of doors, sashes and blinds; he represented the town in the state legislature, was appointed to Governor Goodwin’s staff for two years (receiving his title of Colonel). In 1882 he was elected Ward Assessor. He was also a bank messenger in Penacook in addition to working in insurance; he married Sarah Elizabeth Call. They had one child Lydia, b. 18 May 1849.
10. Lydia Rolfe, b. 1 Apr 1825 in Concord NH, d. 28 July 1849
11. Martha Farnum Rolfe, b. 28 Jan 1828 in Concord NH; m. 15 Aug 1854 to Rev. Anson A. Baker. Had one child.

Nathaniel Rolfe, son of Henry & Deborah (Carter) Rolfe b. 1 Jan 1814 in Concord NH; m. 1 Jan 1839 to Mary Jane Moody, dau of Joseph & Hannah (Foster) Moody. She b. 21 Jan 1817 in Canterbury NH and d. 8 Aug 1876 in Canterbury NH. Farmer and lumberman in Concord NH. He carried on a large trade and furnished lumber for the frames of many of the great mills at Lawrence and Lowell MA.
Children of Nathaniel & Mary J. (Moody) Rolfe:
1. Charles Moody Rolfe, b. 18 Aug 1841 in Concord NH; a well-known manufacturer of Concord NH; m. Maria L. Morrison and had three sons–Harlow, Henry and Ben, and a dau, Mary, who was later a medical student in Boston MA.
2. Joseph Henry Rolfe, b. 1 March 1843 in Concord NH; a NH Sharpshooter during the Civil War. Later a resident of Minneapolis MN dealing in real estate and operating a plan for the manufacture of dredging machines.
3. +Abial/Abiel Walker Rolfe, b. 21 Jan 1844 in Concord NH
4. John Holmes Rolfe, b. 1 Oct 1847 in Concord NH
5. Mary Lancaster Rolfe, b. 3 Oct 1852 in Concord NH; died at age 9.
6. Arthur Foster Rolfe, b. 2 July 1858

Abial/Abiel Walker Rolfe, son of Nathaniel & Mary Jane (Moody) Rolfe, was b. 21 Jan 1844 in Concord NH, and d. 24 Feb 1926 in Concord NH; He married 17 Feb 1870 in Concord NH to Georgianna  “Georgie” Judith Gage, dau of Isaac K. & Susan/Sarah Gage (Johnson) Gage.  She b. 16 Jan 1848 in Fisherville [Concord] NH, and died 3 Apr 1944 in Concord NH. In business with his brother Charles, establishing in 1866 a door, sash and blind mill, employing about fifty men, in addition to general farming. His cause of death was epithelioma of the right side of his face.
1900 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Concord Ward 1 > District 147
Rolfe, Abial W. Head W M Jan 1844 56 married 30 yrs NH NH NH manufacturer
Rolfe, Georgianna J. wife W F Jan 1848 52 married 30 yrs 3 ch 3 living NH NH NH
Rolfe, Herbert W. son W M May 1875 25 single NH NH NH
Rolfe, Frederick J. son W M Nov 1879 20 single NH NH NH
-?- Elizabeth boarder W F Jan 1872 28 single NH NH NH
Wilson, Florence L. Boarder W F Jan 18– 23 single Ohio NH NH bookkeeper
Rolfe Joseph H. brothe4r W M March 1843 57 married 6 yrs NH NH NH
Rolfe, Eva P.E. sis-in-law/wife W F Dec 1867 32 married 6 yrs 0 ch 0 living NY NY NY
Children of Abial W. & Georgianna J. (Gage) Walker:
1. Harry Gage Rolfe, b. 5 July 1872 NH; m1) 15 Jun 1898 in Concord NH to Mary Florence Symonds, dau of Joseph & T.S. Ann (Little) Symonds of Concord NH. She b. 26 Feb 1876 in NH and d. 7 Apr 1904 in Concord, NH of “la grippe.”  They had son Richard b Oct 1899 NH who m. Marjorie E. Hill; Harry G. m2nd) 23 May 1916 in Concord NH to Alice Emery Bliss, dau of Jason Henry & Florence A. (Russell) Bliss. She was b. Jan 1878 in CT and d. 27 Feb 1942 in Concord NH; Resided Concord NH.
2. +Herbert Wilson Rolfe, b. 14 May 1875 NH
3. Frederick “Fred” Isaac Rolfe, b. 26 Nov 1879 NH, d. Dec 1967 in Concord NH; m.  21 February 1914 in Concord NH to Edna Gray, daughter of Guy W. & Nancy O. (Walker) Gray.  She born — and d. 10 Mar 1941 in Concord NH. They had children (1) Bertha M., born 1 May 1914 and d. 3 March 1989 in NH and (2) Olive Walker Rolfe, b abt 1916 in NH; m. 15 Feb 1939 to Arthur Toof Henderson, son of Ross Linn & Vivian Ida (Toof) Henderson.

Herbert Wilson Rolfe, son of Abial Walker & Georgianna Judith (Gage) Rolfe, was b. 14 May 1875 in Concord NH and d. 4 Dec 1937 in Concord NH. He married 4 Jun 1901 in Penacook NH to Lucy E. Huff, daughter of Albert A. & Hannah H. (Glines) Huff.  She was b 29 Apr 1877 in Concord NH.  Occupations include glazier, foreman of a saw mill [census] and foreman of a box shop [WWI Draft Reg Card]. Resided at 11 Penacook Street, Penacook, NH.
1920 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Concord Ward 1 > 65 [Penacook St]
Rolfe, Herbert, Head M W 43 married NH NH NH Foreman, saw mill [b abt 1877]
Rolfe, Lucy E wife F W 42 married NH ME NH
Rolfe, Helen L. dau F  W 16 single NH
Rolfe, Florence M. dau F W 14 single NH
Rolfe, Robert A. son M W 11 single NH
Rolfe, Elizabeth Y. dau F W 8 single NH
Rolfe, Marge E dau F W 4 single NH
—living next door—
Rolfe, Abial Head M W 76 married NH NH NH Buyer, Sash & Blind Co
Rolfe, Georgina J. Wife F W 72 married NH NH NH
Rolfe, Fred son M W 40 married NH book keeper, cotton mill
Rolfe, Edna dau-in-law F W 38 married NH ME NH
Rolfe, Bertha, granddau F W 5 single NH
Rolfe, Olive, granddau F W 4 single NH

Children of -- Rolfe: Florence, Robert and Helen. Photograph courtesy of Rebekah Rolfe Sutherland, and used here with her permission.

Children of Herbert & Lucy E. (Huff) Rolfe: Florence, Robert and Helen. Photograph courtesy of Rebekah Rolfe Sutherland, and used here with her permission.

Children of Herbert & Lucy E. (Huff) Rolfe:
1. Helen L. Rolfe, b. 11 September 1903 in Concord NH, died February 1989 [SEE photograph at left]
2. Florence Mary Rolfe, b. abt 1906 NH; m.  21 Aug 1933 in Concord NH to George William Randall, son of Donald A. & Mary (Worthen) Randall; had children Donald and Judith who had much of “Red” Rolfe’s  memorabilia in 1993.
3. +Robert Abial Rolfe, b. 17 Oct 1908 in Penacook NH, d. 8 July 1969 in Gilford NH [See photograph on left].
4. Edward N. Rolfe, b. 29 Oct 1910, d. 31 Oct 1910, age 2 days “of heart disease”
5. Elizabeth “Betty” Gage Rolfe, b. abt 1912 NH; m. 3 Sep 1937 in Concord NH to Maurice Bennett Foss, son of Charles Albert & Rosa Hill (Bennett) Foss. They had a daughter, Carol.
6. Marjorie “Marge” E. Rolfe, b. 12 August 1915 in Concord, NH

Robert Abial “Red” Rolfe [this story is about him] was born 17 Oct 1908 in Penacook NH, and d. 8 July 1969 in NH of ulcerated colitis. SS#001-01-1856. His nickname was “Red, the Pride of Penacook.” He was 5 ft 11-1/2 inches tall, and weighed 170 pounds (in his prime). His first game for the New York Yankees was played 29 June 1931, and his last game 27 Sep 1942. He batted left and threw right-handed. He married 1934 to Isabelle “Isabel” A. Africa, dau of Walter G. & Maude Africa of PA.  She b. 8 Apr 1907 in NH, and d. 2 Dec 1998 in New Hampshire. In 1920 living in Manchester NH with her parents. In 1993 his wife Isabel was living in Penacook with Red’s sister Marjorie. Rolfe Field in Dartmouth NH is named after him. He was a star on a team of superstars. Rolfe received Hall of Fame votes, but never really came close to being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Rolfe met Robert Frost (the poet) at a Dartmouth English Department dinner, in the poet’s honor, where he was seated next to Frost. “All Frost wanted to do was talk baseball,” Red’s nephew, William Randall stated. Rolfe owned a automobile service station in Penacook during his time he played professional baseball, working in the station himself during the off season, pumping gas and repairing automobiles.  This gas station later became Simoneau’s Texaco Station.

[Editors Note: article and photographs updated January 2015]

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8 Responses to Penacook New Hampshire Sportsman and Coach: Robert Abial "Red" Rolfe (1908-1969)

  1. Pingback: Penacook New Hampshire’s First Female Legislator, Physician, Educator and Civic Leader: Mary Louise (Rolfe) Farnum (1870-1965) | Cow Hampshire

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  4. Marlise Tellander and Virginia Henderson Rolfe says:

    This is wonderful. Rolfe is my family name and I did not know a lot of this. I have a D.A. Fisher painting. Do you know more about him? Why is Penacook called Fisherville?

  5. Ray Carbone says:

    Very surprised no mention of Rolfe’s role in promoting the Concord Sunset League, the oldest “after-supper” amateur league in America.

    • Janice Brown says:

      You just did, Ray. Entire books could be written about Red Rolfe. I just scratched the surface and tried to offer some information not usually seen in articles about him. Thanks for letting me know about the Concord Sunset League!

  6. Chris Jones says:

    My grandfather was Bob Rolfe’s first cousin and I have a photo of the Penacook baseball team if anyone is interested.

  7. Pingback: New Hampshire Tidbits: The First Settlers of Concord | Cow Hampshire

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